British authorities providing all the files in relation to Dublin-Monaghan bombings, says investigator

Former chief constable Jon Boutcher is investigating atrocities carried out by the loyalist Glenanne Gang

The former police officer responsible for investigating the Dublin-Monaghan bombings has said the British authorities are co-operating fully with his inquiry.

Retired Chief Constable Jon Boutcher is heading up a number of historic investigations into the Troubles. These include Operation Denton, an investigation into the activities of the Glenanne Gang, which was a deadly part of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in Mid Ulster that included rogue soldiers and police officers. It was blamed for around 130 sectarian murders during the 1970s and 1980s and operated mostly in counties Tyrone and Armagh.

The Glenanne gang is suspected of having carried out the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

The bombings on May 17th, 1974, resulted in the deaths of 33 people – 26 in Dublin and seven in Monaghan – on the worst day of the Troubles.


There have long been allegations that British government MI5 intelligence officers were involved in the planting of the bombs.

Mr Boutcher, the former chief constable of Bedfordshire Police, said he was “reasonably pleased” with the progress in relation to Operation Denton and he planned to provide the report next year, which will be the 50th anniversary of the Dublin-Monaghan bombings.

Mr Boutcher attended the 49th anniversary commemorations on Wednesday, along with hundreds of relatives and friends of the deceased at the memorial in Talbot Street.

He told The Irish Times that the families of the Dublin-Monaghan victims have been “really led down and failed in giving an understanding of what had happened and why it happened” by the authorities in both the UK and Ireland.

However, he added that he was “definitely getting the support of the authorities in the north of Ireland and in Westminster. I am getting all the material that they have. There are some challenges and there are some legal fights to be had and we have had them.”

Speaking at the event, Tánaiste Micheál Martin said the families involved were “reassured by him and have faith” that Mr Boucher will do his best to get to the truth of what happened during the bombings.

Mr Martin reiterated that the British government’s legacy bill, which would end all criminal investigations and inquests into the Troubles, is opposed by all parties on the island of Ireland. “It is not fit for purpose as it stands,” he said.

“I would urge the British government to pause this bill and come back to the table to find a common way forward centred on victims and human rights.”

Broadcaster Vincent Browne, who gave the main address, recalled being quickly on the scene after the bombing as he was then working in Independent House in Middle Abbey Street. His brother Malachy was a student doctor at the time and tended to the injured.

Mr Browne said so many stories related to the bombings were “heartbreaking”. Edward O’Neill (29), had been a father of five in Dominic Street. One of his sons was due to have his first the following day. Mr O’Neill was killed instantly in the bomb.

The grief of families was perpetuated by the decision by the gardaí to shut down the investigation just a month after the bombing.

Mr Browne said none of the 3,636 people listed in the Lost Lives book as having been killed in the Troubles had to die.

Families of the bereaved laid wreathes at the Dublin-Monaghan memorial. Among them were the Bradley family there to remember Josie Bradley (21), who was one of 11 people who died at Talbot Street.

Her twin Marion said she was totally lost without her sister even to this day.

“I found her the following day in Jervis Street Hospital. We are looking for justice. It is not too much to ask after all of these years. We need answers,” she said.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times