Thursday, 6 October 2011

Dublin-Monaghan was Ireland's 9/11

Last month people in America and around the world commemorated the ten year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. On that day 3,000 civilians were murdered by Al Qaeda.

In response to this massacre the US government launched a massive worldwide campaign to destroy Osama Bin Laden's group. It invaded Afghanistan and removed the Taliban from power because they were sheltering Al Qaeda.

It got a resolution in the United Nations which called on all countries “to work together urgently to bring to justice the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of those terrorist attacks and stressed that those responsible for aiding, supporting or harbouring them would be held accountable.”

George Bush said that anyone helping terrorists were terrorists. The US built the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and kidnapped and tortured people it suspected of being involved in the 9/11 attack.

It eventually caught up with Osama Bin Laden in May of this year and killed him.

Now imagine that the US had taken a different approach to the greatest single act of murder against its citizens. Imagine that the investigation had been wound down after two months. Imagine that leads were not followed up and that US authorities ignored strong evidence that a foreign government had helped the terrorists to carry out their bloody attack.

Imagine that survivors who were campaigning for justice were placed under surveillance by the FBI. Imagine that police and Department of Justice files on the case went missing. Imagine that for years there was no official commemoration of the event and that the families had to campaign for a monument to the victims.

Imagine that the Taliban refused to share information they had on the attack but the US continued to have friendly relations with them. Imagine that Al Qaeda carried out more terrorist attacks on America while the Taliban continued to give them shelter.

It's hard to imagine such a scenario, but one just like it happened, and continues to to happen, in Ireland.

The Dublin-Monaghan bombings were Ireland's 9/11. It was the single biggest crime in the history of the State. 33 people were killed, including one pregnant woman, when bombs went off in Dublin and Monaghan town in 1974.

The UVF were suspected at the time of being behind the atrocity, and they finally admitted responsibility in 1993. Evidence suggests that the loyalist paramilitary group did not act alone, and that the British government's security forces, MI5, the British Army and the RUC, may have helped them to carry out the terrorist attack.

As you might guess from the paragraph above, the Garda investigation into the attack was stopped after two months and leads indicating UVF involvement weren't followed up. The families of the victims were outraged and began a campaign to find the truth. Garda Special Branch officers surveilled the families at protests and commemorative events. Garda and Department of Justice files on the case have disappeared, presumed destroyed.

The families eventually forced the government to holding an inquiry into the attacks. It concluded that the allegation that British forces were involved in the attack was “neither fanciful nor absurd” but that as the British government refused to cooperate with the inquiry, it could not give a definitive answer. A parliamentary report o inquiries into other loyalist attacks in the Republic accused the British government of engaging in 'international terrorism'.

Earlier this year newly-elected Taoiseach Enda Kenny asked David Cameron to hand over files the British government it has on the bombing. He refused. This is how things stand at the present – the Irish government half-heartedly asks the British government for the files, they say no and we say ok, no worries.

Given the way the Irish and British states have dealt with the attacks since 1974, it's hard not to suspect that both governments are happy to allow the situation to remain as it is.

All the while the British government was, at best, refusing to reveal all its knew about loyalist attacks in the Republic, at worst, actually involved in them, the Irish government was helping the British government to stop the IRA from attacking the UK.

If you're not from Ireland you may be totally baffled as to the reasons the Irish government has basically covered up Ireland's 9/11. If you're Irish you may have an idea, but it'll most likely be one that is almost never openly discussed in Ireland.

It's got to do with the implications of possible British involvement in the attack. If it so happened that the British government organised the bombing, it would mean that they had launched a terrorist attack on their nearest neighbour and had committed an act of war. This would have massive international repercussions.

More importantly for Irish governments, it would cause massive outrage in Ireland.

The main priority of the Irish establishment since the beginning of the Troubles has been to maintain 'stability' south of the border. This means keeping support for the IRA in the Republic as low as possible. If it were known that Britain bombed Ireland, support for the IRA could grow. Looking the other way with regards to the Dublin-Monaghan bombing was done in the name of protecting the State.

Unfortunately the 'State' in this case does not include the citizens of the State, and more specifically the 33 citizens killed on 17 May 1974. They, their families and the truth have been sacrificed in the name of the 'State'.

Since 1974 Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour, the Progressive Democrats, the Green Party and Democratic Left have been in power and have been involved in this scandal. Remember this the next time you hear people from these parties pontificating about law and order or morality.

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