Barron Report: Conclusions

The following is an extract from Justice Barron's report:

The following is an extract from Justice Barron's report:

The conclusions of the Commission of Inquiry are contained in the Report itself and I will not repeat them in full here. Every effort has been made to address all the issues raised by the terms of reference, to the extent that the available evidence allows this to be done.

The facts, circumstances, causes and perpetrators of the bombings

The Dublin and Monaghan bombings were carried out by two groups of loyalist paramilitaries, one based in Belfast and the other in the area around Portadown / Lurgan. Most, though not all of those involved were members of the UVF. It is likely that the bombings were conceived and planned in Belfast, with the mid-Ulster element providing operational assistance.


The bombings were primarily a reaction to the Sunningdale Agreement - in particular to the prospect of a greater role for the Irish government in the administration of Northern Ireland - though there were other specific events in April and May 1974 which might have influenced the timing of the attacks.

The loyalist groups who carried out the bombings in Dublin were capable of doing so without help from any section of the security forces in Northern Ireland, though this does not rule out the involvement of individual RUC, UDR or British Army members. The Monaghan bombing in particular bears all the hallmarks of a standard loyalist operation and required no assistance.

It is likely that the farm of James Mitchell at Glenanne played a significant part in the preparation for the attacks. It is also likely that members of the UDR and RUC either participated in, or were aware of those preparations.

The nature, extent and adequacy of the Garda investigation, including the co-operation with and from the relevant authorities in Northern Ireland and the handling of evidence, including the scientific analyses of forensic evidence

The Garda investigation failed to make full use of the information it obtained. Certain lines of inquiry that could have been made pursued further in this jurisdiction were not pursued. There were other matters, including the questioning of suspects, in which the assistance of the RUCshould have been requested, but was not.

The State was not equipped to conduct an adequate forensic analysis of the explosions. This was because the importance of preservation, prompt collection and analysis was not appreciated. The effect of this was that potentially vital clues were lost.

Although the investigation teams had in their opinion no evidence upon which to found a prosecution, there is no evidence that they sought the advice of the Attorney General, in whose name criminal prosecutions were at that time still being brought. Had the Attorney General reviewed the file, it is likely that advices would have been given as to what further direction the investigation might take.

The reasons why no prosecution took place, including whether and if so, by whom and to what extent the investigations were impeded

A number of those suspected for the bombings were reliably said to have had relationships with British Intelligence and / or RUC Special Branch officers.

It is reasonable to assume that exchanges of information took place.

It is therefore possible that the assistance provided to the Garda investigation team by the security forces in Northern Ireland was affected by a reluctance to compromise those relationships, in the interests of securing further information in the future. But any such conclusion would require very cogent evidence.

No such evidence is in the possession of the Inquiry. There remains a deep suspicion that the investigation into the bombings was hampered by such factors, but it cannot be put further than that.

There is evidence which shows that the informal exchange of information between Gardaí on the border and their RUC counterparts was extensive. There is some evidence to suggest that some Garda officers, unwittingly or otherwise, may have been giving information to members of the British Army or Intelligence Services.

The Inquiry has found no evidence to support the proposition that such exchanges in some way facilitated the passage of the Dublin and Monaghan bombers across the border. Similarly, no basis has been found for concluding that the Garda investigation was in any way inhibited because of a fear of exposing such links.

The Inquiry has examined allegations that the Garda investigation was wound down as a result of political interference. No evidence was found to support that proposition.

However, it can be said that the Government of the day showed little interest in the bombings. When information was given to them suggesting that the British authorities had intelligence naming the bombers, this was not followed up. Any follow-up was limited to complaints by the Minister for Foreign Affairs that those involved had been released from internment.

The issues raised by the 'Hidden Hand' TV documentary broadcast in 1993

There is no evidence that any branch of the security forces knew in advance that the bombings were about to take place. This has been reiterated by the current Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and is accepted by the Inquiry. If they did know, it is unlikely that there would be any official records. Such knowledge would not have been written down; or if it was, would not have been in any files made available to the Secretary of State. There is evidence that the Secretary of State of the day was not fully informed on matters of which he should have been made aware. On that basis, it is equally probable that similarly sensitive information might be withheld from the present holder of that office.

The Inquiry believes that within a short time of the bombings taking place, the security forces in Northern Ireland had good intelligence to suggest who was responsible. An example of this could be the unknown information that led British Intelligence sources to tell their Irish Army counterparts that at least two of the bombers had been arrested on 26 May and detained.

Unfortunately, the Inquiry has been unable to discover the nature of this and other intelligence available to the security forces in Northern Ireland at that time.

As is made clear in the Report, there are grounds for suspecting that the bombers may have had assistance from members of the security forces. The involvement of individual members in such an activity does not of itself mean the bombings were either officially or unofficially statesanctioned.

If one accepts that some people were involved, they may well have been acting on their own initiative. Ultimately, a finding that there was collusion between the perpetrators and the authorities in Northern Ireland is a matter of inference. On some occasions an inference is irresistible or can be drawn as a matter of probability. Here, it is the view of the Inquiry that this inference is not sufficiently strong. It does not follow even as a matter of probability. Unless further information comes to hand, such involvement must remain a suspicion. It is not proven.