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The Dundalk Bombing

 Revised: October 17, 2006.

The Argus (Dundalk), 11 October 2006:


Oireachtas sub-committee hearing into Barron Report

Relatives tell of their sense of betrayal at collusion

Relatives of the two men killed in the loyalist bombing of Kay’s Tavern, Crowe St on Friday 19th December 1975 told members of the Oireachtas Justice Sub-Committee into the Barron Report of their sense of betrayal when they learned of allegations of collusion and have called for a public inquiry into the Garda investigation.

Hugh Watters, victim of the Dundalk bombing,  December 1975. Photograph courtesy of the Watters family.Mrs Margaret English told the hearing that her father, Hugh Watters, “was a quiet, innocent man. Some of his greatest words were those of human charity and human dignity and, therefore, it was shocking that he was killed in this way.

“I hate to say this but I only realised in 1998 that there was such a thing as collusion. I always thought that nobody could be got for Daddy's bombing; I thought the forensic evidence was not there. That is the way the family thought about it. When the peace agreement was made, I was so happy. I was delighted because at least then I could turn on a television. I would not look at the television because I was afraid of what I would see. Every time I heard about a bombing, I was taken back to my life so I always kept that away. I would not look at the television.

She recalled going to see John Wilson in 1998.

“I thought we were to talk about the peace we would have. I thought there would be rallies and everything. He asked me my story and I told him about Dad. His remark to me was: “Yes, that was the Robin Jackson gang that killed your Dad”. I said: “No, no. Nobody was got for Daddy's killing”. He went on and said: “Yes, that was a known fact”. I said it was not. We talked. When I went home I wondered to myself where that had come from. He had said to me: “Did you never hear of that gang?” I had never heard of anybody. That left me thinking about what was going on so I tried to push it back in my mind. I thought that if I could zip it back in again, I would not have to think about it again but I could not get rid of it.

“So I am appealing to all the Members of the Oireachtas to put this in God's hands and to go the road God would go - truth and justice. Truth and justice are all the families want. As Daddy used to say, and he never got it in his life, I would love you to show each of the families Christian charity. All we are looking for is Christian charity, truth and justice.

The aftermath of the bombing of Kay's Tavern Bar, 19 December 1975. No one has ever been brought to justice for this loyalist atrocity in Dundalk.

Maura McKeever, whose father Jack Rooney died three days after the bombing told the sub-committee that her mother was to attend the hearing but was unwell.

“I asked her last night what she would have said. She said that as two citizens of the State, two innocent victims, they should have been treated more fairly. Nobody wanted to know; nobody ever came near us to say anything. She is now 89 and she is still waiting for somebody to come and tell her there was collusion.”

“She has always maintained there was collusion. It was well known in the town. But she wants somebody to come and say: “Yes, you were right”. I have watched that woman for 30 years and it is very hard. It is very hard for me and it must be worse for her. I am very upset.

Jack Rooney, victim of the Dundalk bombing, December 1975. Photograph courtesy of the Rooney family.She says that she believes that when the Gardai got a warning that there was a bomb, “they should have gone around all the Government buildings and given some kind of warning. They should have had some kind of checkpoints but they had nothing. It was like, “Oh well, there is going to be a bomb. It does not really matter about these lives”. There were children on the street shortly before that bomb and some of them were injured. It did not seem to matter.

“I think the gardaí really failed and should have given some sort of warning. They were told and they should have done something about it.

“Then, when it actually happened, we got no support whatsoever. Nobody ever came near us and no garda even came to officially say this had happened. I have two aunts still alive and my father's brother only died a couple of years ago. They were long lived so he would have been alive. He loved Christmas and was quite happy in his life. He was a great man for everything and loved his community. He collected in the chapel but neither the Government, Garda nor the priests - nobody - came near my mother. It was like saying: “We will ignore it and it will go away”. Nobody cared and I am living with that. I knew there was collusion and I still say there was but where were you to go to get any answers because no one wanted to know? Even when we we had a  ceremony at the town hall and we had a plaque unveiled, they would not even stop the traffic on the street so that the man could talk. There was just no respect. Mammy got nothing - neither did Margaret's mother. There was nothing and it is still the same and I would like to see that change. I would actually like to see somebody come forward and say: "Yes, you are right; this is what happened" That is what I am really hoping for from today - that I will get some answers.

"I want a public inquiry because I feel we should have it. After all, the guards were supposed to be doing their duty and the Government was supposed to be doing its. We are citizens of this State. We are supposed to be protected by this State. We are not being protected. We have been ignored. It is a case of if you just go away, it will be fine. I am asking for a public inquiry today. I really feel we should get better treatment and I hope we do."


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The Argus, 11 October 2006:

Gardai criticised by group

The Gardai have been criticised for not disclosing vital information relating to the bombing of Kay's Tavern in December 1975 which left two local men dead.

The Justice for the Forgotten Group, which represents the families of those who were killed, has criticised the Gardai for withholding crucial files.

And Mr James MacGuill, who represents the families of the dead men, told the Oireachtas sub-committee on the Barron Report, that this has continued to the present day.

In his report, Mr Justice Barron concluded that the bombing of Kay's Tavern was carried out by loyalist extremists most probably associated with the mid-Ulster UVF. He concluded that it was likely that the attack was carried out on the initiative of a group largely consisting of UVF members. He determined that the security forces in Northern Ireland may or should have known who was responsible for the Dundalk bombing. He further concluded that actions of the RUC were designed to limit information relating to security forces' collusion in terrorist activity from reaching the public domain, which in turn did nothing to counteract such activity. He said that without proof as to who was involved in the bombing, allegations of collusion were impossible to prove or disprove. He held that the security forces in Northern Ireland did receive advance warning of an impending attack on Dundalk and this warning was conveyed to the Garda Siochana.

Mr MacGuill told the hearing that "from the point of view of Ms English, Ms McKeever and thair families. the loss of their loved ones was a terrible tragedy but it was a pure happenstance that many more people were not killed. This no warning bomb went off in the middle of Dundalk on a Friday evening in December.

"It appears that good information was made available to the authoroities here to the effect that there would be a bombing".

This, he stated, was "a matter of concern to the families who found this out for the first time in the course of Mr Justice Barron's review. A serious issue for examination here is whether there was a failure to deal appropriately with intelligence that was being received".

He said that the families of the dead men had never received the cooperation which they should have had from the gardai.

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Download the Barron Report into the Bombing of Kay's Tavern, Dundalk.


Copyright © 2005 the Ludlow family. All rights reserved.
Revised: October 17, 2006 .