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Cathaoirleach of Monaghan Town calls for restoration of funding to Justice for the Forgotten

17 May, 2010


The Cathaoirleach of Monaghan Town Council, Cllr. Seán Conlon, speaking at the 36th anniversary commemoration of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, has called on the Irish Government to restore funding to Justice for the Forgotten, which it ended last year.

Cllr. Conlon (Sinn Féin) was speaking at the wreath-laying ceremony in Talbot St. marking the death on 17 May 1974 of 33 people in Dublin and Monaghan in the bombing which is believed to have been carried out by British forces in collusion with loyalist paramilitaries.

He said:
“It is with great regret that we note the decision of the current Government to end funding for Justice for the Forgotten. This is a totally unacceptable decision. I take this opportunity to call on the Taoiseach Brian Cowen and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Dermot Ahern to immediately restore funding so that Justice for the Forgotten can continue to work with and on behalf of the families in the search for truth and justice. I make this call on behalf of Monaghan Town Council which passed a motion urging the restoration of funding at its April meeting.

“It seems that An Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, in particular, has demonstrated little interest and less activity in this key legacy issue of the conflict. He needs to consider the facts.

“This was the biggest loss of life in a single day during the conflict. This tragedy and related attacks involving collusion were the most direct experience of the conflict by people in the 26 Counties. Survivors and victims on all sides need to be central to the ongoing development of the Peace Process and to the establishment of truth and justice. The British government bears direct responsibility.”

Full speech follows:

On my own behalf, on behalf of Monaghan Town Council and on behalf of all the people of the Town and the County of Monaghan I extend our sincerest sympathy and solidarity to the survivors and the bereaved on this, the 36th anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

On 17th May 1974 and in the harrowing days that followed, the people of Dublin and of Monaghan were united in grief after the terrible tragedy which visited our communities. Here in Dublin 26 people were killed in Talbot St., Parnell Street and South Leinster St., while in my home town of Monaghan seven people were killed.

No-one who has not experienced such tragedy and grief can fully realise the pain and loss of the survivors and the bereaved. We can only continue to sympathise with them and support them and do all in our power to help establish justice and truth.

Today’s ceremony is both in remembrance of those who died and also in solidarity with the living whose quest for justice and truth continues.

I commend Justice for the Forgotten for your great work over the years in highlighting the plight of those who died and those left behind by the tragedy of 17 May 1974. For years until the founding of Justice for the Forgotten this was indeed a largely forgotten tragedy, except of course by the families and by those who looked behind the veil of censorship and ignorance that existed in Ireland at that time.

The families were shamefully neglected by the State as represented by successive Governments. Nothing was done to pursue the investigation which was closed down within weeks of the atrocity. Nothing was done to challenge the British government which, through collusion, bore ultimate responsibility for these deaths. Nothing was done to assist the families in their great need.

Nothing was done until the establishment of Justice for the Forgotten. You maintained the pressure and ensured that the tragedy was finally recognised for what it was by the Government and by the Oireachtas. Your primary demand for a public inquiry was not acceded to, as it should have been, but the investigations commissioned by the Oireachtas were significant and served to keep the spotlight on the tragedy and its consequences for families.

It is with great regret therefore, that we note the decision of the current Government to end funding for Justice for the Forgotten. This is a totally unacceptable decision. I take this opportunity to call on the Taoiseach Brian Cowen and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Dermot Ahern to immediately restore funding so that Justice for the Forgotten can continue to work with and on behalf of the families in the search for truth and justice. I make this call on behalf of Monaghan Town Council which passed a motion urging the restoration of funding at its April meeting.

It seems that An Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, in particular, has demonstrated little interest and less activity in this key legacy issue of the conflict. He needs to consider the facts.

This was the biggest loss of life in a single day during the conflict. This tragedy and related attacks involving collusion were the most direct experience of the conflict by people in the 26 Counties. Survivors and victims on all sides need to be central to the ongoing development of the Peace Process and to the establishment of truth and justice. The British government bears direct responsibility.

My colleague Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has repeatedly called on the Taoiseach Brian Cowen in the Dáil to take a pro-active approach with the British government. In particular, we have called for the Taoiseach to press the British government on the all-party motion passed by the Dáil in July 2008 which called on the British government to allow access by an independent, international judicial figure to all original documents held by the British Government relating to the atrocities that occurred in this jurisdiction and which were inquired into by Judge Barron.

I again call on the Taoiseach to take a pro-active approach with the new British government. And I emphasise the importance of restoring funding to Justice for the Forgotten.

In conclusion I thank you for the invitation to participate in this ceremony and I offer my continuing solidarity and sympathy. END

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