Grief and anger mark 50th anniversary of Dublin-Monaghan bombings

Matter of ‘profound regret’ that nobody has been made accountable for worst atrocity of Troubles, says President Michael D Higgins

President Michael D Higgins has criticised the “manifest failure” on the parts of the British and Irish governments to bring the perpetrators of the Dublin-Monaghan bombings to justice.

More than 1,000 people turned out for a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the bombings. The spouses, children and grandchildren of those who were killed were present at the memorial in Talbot Street in Dublin, along with the survivors.

The worst terrorist atrocity of the Troubles, which left 34 people dead and 300 injured, has left a legacy which went beyond the pain and grief caused by the no-warning bombs.

It was a matter of “profound regret”, the President said, that “no one group or institution has been made accountable for these atrocities”.


The President directed his ire, in particular, at the British government which signed up to the Stormont House Agreement in 2014. It was supposed to deal with the legacy issue of the Troubles and was followed a year later by the setting up of the International Commission for Information Retrieval. In 2020 the two governments recommitted to the Stormont House Agreement under the New Decade, New Approach agreement.

Instead, the British government enacted the Legacy Act last year closing off avenues for the families of victims of the Troubles.

The President was applauded loudly by the crowd when he said that a strategy of “feigned amnesia is simply not an option” and the 50th anniversary was a “salutary reminder of the urgent need to find an ethical and comprehensive way to deal with the legacy of the Troubles in their totality”.

In attendance at the 50th anniversary commemoration were Taoiseach Simon Harris, Tánaiste Micheál Martin, PSNI chief constable Jon Boutcher and Sir Iain Livingstone, who is heading up Operation Denton, which is looking into the activities of the loyalist Glenanne gang, the chief suspects in the Dublin-Monaghan bombings.

Mr Livingstone has already stated that there was collusion between loyalists and rogue elements in the British security forces. His task will be to “define the character, the nature and the extent of that collusion”, he told RTÉ's Prime Time this week.

The wreathes, cards and messages piled up on the memorial located at Talbot Street just 100m from where a bomb went off on May 17th, 1974. One photo frame spelled out in scrabble letters, “fifty years gone, Dublin-Monaghan murdered RIP” along with photographs with the O’Brien family who were wiped out in an instant that day – John and his wife Anna O’Brien and their children Jacqueline (16 months) and Anne Marie (four months).

U2 drummer Larry Mullen and his friend Gavin Friday laid a wreath on behalf of U2, who wrote the song Raised by Wolves in 2014 about the atrocity.

The wreath quoted lyrics from another U2 song, California, “There’s no end to grief/That’s how I know/There is no end to love.”

A wreath in the shape of a teddy bear remembered one of the youngest victims, the unborn child, “Baby Doherty”. She perished along with her pregnant mother, Colette, in the bombing.

Her daughter, Wendy, survived and was present at the commemoration with her son Tyler (18). Wendy was a year and 10 months old when she was found wandering the streets after the bombing.

“There is no closure, there are no answers and the silence from the Government is deafening. Here we are at the 50th anniversary and we are where we were 10 years ago,” she said.

“I stood here 10 years ago with him [Tyler] in his Communion suit. Here is a grown man now and nothing has changed.”

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times