In Search of the Truth by Michael O’Connell
One of the 26 killed by the Dublin bombings in May 1974 lies covered on the path on South Leinster Street in Dublin with the remains of the bombed car smoulders in the background. Photograph: Tom Lawlor
In Search of the Truth: British Injustice and Collusion in Northern Ireland
They are some of the most controversial events of the Troubles: the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, the murder of Pat Finucane, the jailing of the Guildford Four. Michael O’Connell, a former criminal lawyer based in Nottingham, uses his extensive legal training to re-examine many of the northern conflict’s most notorious acts of collusion and injustice. What he brings is a fresh perspective – he wonders, for example, why the findings of the 1969 Cameron report that “a number of policemen were guilty of misconduct” following a civil rights march was not regarded as evidence of a “blatant criminal offence” that might be prosecuted. However much of the detail cited, though shocking, is far from new and his conclusions – that “the truth cannot be allowed to be established – too many fear the consequences” – largely echo the long-held concerns of many relatives and civil rights campaigners who have for decades sought to uncover the unsettling truth about what occurred. While any work that sheds light on the darker corners of our history is to be welcomed, readers may well come away feeling that too little has been illuminated.