| 20th JAN 2004 | 27th JAN 2004 | 18th FEB 2004 | 9th MAR 2004 | HOME |
Printer Friendly Version
for all 20 January 2004
Opens in a new window

Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights
Sub-Committee on the Barron Report

Dé Máirt, 20 Eanáir 2004 - Tuesday, 20 January 2004

Public Hearing on the Barron Report

      | PAGE 1 | PAGE 2 | PAGE 3 | PAGE 4 |
Printer Friendly Version
for this page
Opens in a new window

Chairman: Again, I very much thank the members of the Justice for the Forgotten group who have come here this afternoon to tell us their stories about how they have felt over the last 30 years and how the actual day affected them. I thank them very much for coming voluntarily. We are very grateful to them. We are looking at the Monaghan bombings first. Ms Iris Boyd and Mr. Brian Fitzsimmons are both very welcome.

Mr. Brian Fitzsimmons: I am representing my wife, Nora, and my son, Jerome, who were injured in the Monaghan bomb. The reason I am representing my wife is that she does not like to speak about it, it affected her that much. On the day in question my wife who is actually from Monaghan was going home to visit her mother and stopped in Monaghan town for my son wanted chips. She got him the chips in the café and next there was a big explosion which she thought was a gas cylinder which had gone off buy after the smoke had cleared away, she saw a hole which she climbed out through and pulled our son out. They were taken to hospital by some gent in a car. She was in hospital, I think, for three or four days.
I actually did not know anything about this until the Sunday - it was a Saturday night it happened - when my local parish priest came down and told me that he thought it was my wife who was in the bomb but it had come over on the media that she had two sons with her. I said to our local priest that it was not Nora because she just had Jerome with her but there was another young lad with him and they got mixed up, they were all in the same ward. I passed no more remarks about it but kept listening to the news and eventually I found out it was Nora. I had to get a car and drive to Monaghan Hospital but thankfully they were not too bad and they came through it well.

The after effects were the worst part of it. For a long time afterwards my wife would not go out and would not enter crowds or anything like that. Our social life was affected for a long time because we were very fond of dancing and going out to old time dancing events and she would not go to anything like that. Eventually, as time went on, we got it together again and got out again. It was terrible for a long time but we have got over it now. Thankfully, we still have her here, along with my son. Other people have lost their loved ones. I just happen to be one of the lucky ones.

Chairman: Thank you very much. Members of the committee might make further comments or ask questions.

Ms Iris Boyd: I thank the committee for giving me the chance to speak on behalf of my father, who was killed by the bomb in Monaghan. My mother passed away a few weeks ago, so it is very difficult for me to come here today, as the committee will probably understand. I feel my parents would want me to do this, which is why I am here.

My father and I were shopping together in Monaghan on 17 May 1974. My father had asked me to call and see his sister in law, my aunt, because she had been sick in hospital. When I called, she was out of hospital. Had she not been out of hospital we had intended to visit her that evening, but because she was out of hospital I stayed in her house and spoke to her for a few minutes. While I was there, a newsflash on television announced that a bomb had gone off in Dublin, and I said I would have to leave. My uncle arrived in from work and said that as he was going to do overtime he would go back to work. He then left the house just ahead of me. As I was saying goodbye to my aunt at the door, the bomb went off. That is how close I was to being killed by that bomb. I feel so lucky that I am here today to be able to give evidence on behalf of my father.

I went down town, where there was devastation. I could not get near the car. I was told that people thought there was going to be a second bomb. I could not get near the car and I collapsed. I was brought round by someone who gave me a drink of brandy. Then my cousin saw me and he brought to the hospital. The Civil Defence did a great job on that day in Monaghan and I must speak on their behalf. They were excellent. They were on the scene very fast and had taken my father even before the ambulance arrived. When they approached the hospital they could not get near it because of a funeral emerging. There were bodies everywhere. It was terrible.

My cousin could not drive through the gates of the hospital so I said I would walk. I went in and met the nun who was the hospital matron. She took me into her office and told me that my father was in a queue for the operating theatre. I wanted to see him but they would not allow it. To this day I regret that, because he was still conscious. The Reverend Ahearne then came in. He had been boarding a bus for Newry to attend some social event there when he heard about the bomb and came straight to the hospital. He came over to me and I said: "Please tell me the truth about how my daddy is." He checked and told me that he was not among the worst injured, that he could pull through though he had head injuries. I then thought of how I would be able to tell my mother. We owned a pub in our village and my father was very well known. Another publican saw me and he knew my Dad very well and he came in and stayed with me. He said we would somehow have to get round to telling my mother. At that time I was married and had a three year old son. I telephoned a neighbour and asked the neighbour to tell my husband who could maybe break it some way to Mammy that Daddy had an accident. My mother arrived down and she could not understand what was wrong because the traffic was diverted in the town.

Daddy was still upstairs in theatre and nobody was allowed up. It was hours before I could see him. When we did see him, he was unconscious. He had gone into a coma and never spoke, nothing. We asked if we could have him moved to the Richmond in Dublin to get him seen to. They said he could not be moved.
My father lived from Friday until Tuesday but he never spoke. We were with him in the end but life has been very tough. It has never been the same for us as a family. Everything changed. That is all I can say.

Chairman: You told us earlier on, Iris, at lunch time that you had this guilt and that you met a woman recently who helped to lift it.

Ms Boyd: At that time there was no counselling and my mother and I just walked the streets of Monaghan town for those four days because we could not settle ourselves at home and people were continually calling and inquiring. People were very good but we could not face them at home.

Over the years, I questioned why I did not get back earlier to the car. Why did I not leave my aunt and go back earlier to the car? Then maybe we would have been out of town and it would not have happened. Then I looked at it another way; if we had been back quicker, maybe I would have been caught in it too. I was terribly confused about it all. Over the years I carried a lot of guilt about not being able to be back on time.

On the 25th anniversary, which seemed to hit me very hard, my doctor said I would have to seek counselling. I went for open counselling to WAVE in Belfast, which is very good. One lady told me not to be carrying the guilt, that I was not responsible. She said:

My son was killed in a bomb in Belfast. He had never been in this bar before he went in on a Sunday morning and the bomb went off and killed him. He had every right to be in that bar whenever he wanted. You're father had every right to be in town just as you had every right to be in town but the bombers had no right to be there.

I had never thought about it like that before and it just lifted it all off my shoulders. It made me look at life so differently. I thought, "Yes, that's right. Why I am I blaming myself? It's not me who is to blame. They should not have been there. We had every right to be where we wanted to be. They had no right to be there." That changed it all for me. I did not have to go back. I was so thankful to that lady for saying that. Thank you.

Chairman: Thank you very much indeed, Iris. Sonya Askin could not make it today. Deputy Costello, do you have comments or questions?

Deputy Costello: Thank you, Chairman. I thank Ms Iris Boyd and Mr. Brian Fitzsimmons Recollecting the events is clearly a harrowing experience. We cannot imagine what the experience has been for them, so it is important we get a first-hand account of what they have been experiencing for the past 30 years.
I wish to ask the question I asked each of the other people in regard to Mr. Justice Barron. Part of the sub-committee's terms of reference is to examine whether all the issues covered by the terms of reference of the Barron inquiry have been dealt with. Was there any contact or communication between Ms Boyd and Mr. Fitzsimmons and Mr. Justice Barron? If so, what form did it take?

Mr. Fitzsimmons: I did not hear the question.

Chairman: I ask members to speak up because the acoustics are bad in this room.

Deputy Costello: My question related to any contact or communication Mr. Fitzsimmons had with Mr. Justice Barron on his inquiry.

Mr. Fitzsimmons: I had no contact whatsoever with Mr. Justice Barron.

Deputy Costello: He did not write to Mr. Fitzsimmons or-----

Mr. Fitzsimmons: No.

Deputy Costello: I ask the same question of Ms Boyd.

Ms Boyd: I have had no contact whatsoever from Mr. Justice Barron.

Deputy Costello: Will Mr. Fitzsimmons tell me what it was like living with an injured wife and son for the past 30 years?

Mr. Fitzsimmons: It affected me in so far as I had to stay very close to my wife all the time. I was very annoyed at what happened. As time went on, I more or less got back to living as normal but it was difficult at the start.

Deputy Costello: What was Mr. Fitzsimmons son's experience?

Mr. Fitzsimmons: My son was only four years of age and he did not know what had happened. He got over it quite quickly although his arm was affected.

Deputy Costello: Did Mr. Fitzsimmons or his wife have any counselling? Ms Boyd mentioned there was no assistance in terms of counselling for her.

Mr. Fitzsimmons: No, there was nothing like that. As a matter of fact, we actually knew nothing until Margaret from Justice for the Forgotten contacted us. That was the first we ever heard of anything and was years and years after the event. We just had to live on our own and put up with it. Our own local doctor attended mostly to my wife.

Deputy Costello: Is that the way it has been all of the time?

Mr. Fitzsimmons: That was the way it was until the Justice for the Forgotten group brought this all about. We knew absolutely nothing and were kept in the dark.

Deputy Costello: Ms Boyd very graphically described her experience. Is this the way she has felt over the past 25 to 30 years? Prior to receiving counselling, how much did this impact on Ms Boyd's life?

Ms Boyd: Everything is so vivid even today. The whole thing is so clear. I can still see it all today. My life really changed that day in many ways. Any time there was a bomb scare - I lived in Lisburn for the last 22 years - it would shake me and my mother to bits; we would react so differently from everybody else.

Our family has been very unfortunate in many ways because my cousin was Billy Fox, a TD who was shot only two months before my father was killed. My son was in the car behind the soldiers who were blown up in Lisburn. I asked Marie Smith, who was the first person with whom I had contact about this, if she could see whether there was a pattern of families being hit like this and she said that she had come across other families who had lost several members to bomb explosions, etc. I do not know why we have been so unfortunate. My father used to ask my cousins in the North how they could travel in and out of Belfast and avoid the bombs and he was killed by the one and only bomb exploded in Monaghan.

My family had a business but it was not the same after my father, who was the breadwinner, was killed. My husband and I had returned from England and my father had taken us under his wing. It was as if two families had lost their breadwinners. My mother and everyone else was devastated. We had planned to emigrate to Australia but we never got there. Everything changed after the bombing. We could not even find it in our hearts to continue with the business because my father had been the real business man. We could never follow in his footsteps.

Deputy Costello: I thank Ms Boyd and Mr. Fitzsimmons.

Deputy Hoctor: We must face the fact that the reality for the witnesses, who live in Monaghan, is different to that faced by those affected by the bombings in Dublin. Have they faced a different kind of isolation and abandonment from that to which those from Dublin who came before the committee this morning described? Perhaps, even in terms of this issue, what happened in Dublin is better highlighted than what occurred in Monaghan.

Ms Boyd: I do not think we have been left out. Justice for the Forgotten has taken us under its wing. Is that not the case Brian?

Mr. Fitzsimmons: Yes, I agree.

Ms Boyd: Those involved in that group have been wonderful. Families in Monaghan were very backward about coming forward at the beginning. I was the only one who did so for a long period. The Monaghan people perhaps looked at it in a different way. However, they had no need to because Margaret and her team in Justice for the Forgotten have been very good to us. I do not feel that I have been left out in any way. Do you, Brian?

Mr. Fitzsimmons: No, definitely not, and certainly not since Justice for the Forgotten became involved.

Ms Boyd: Yes.

Deputy Hoctor: We must salute the work of Justice for the Forgotten.

Ms Boyd: Yes.

Deputy Hoctor: Ms Boyd reiterated the fact that Justice for the Forgotten has embraced not only those from Dublin but people throughout country who were affected.
I sympathise with Ms Boyd on the death of her mother Lily in December. She has obviously felt the benefits of the counselling recommended by her general practitioner. Can Mr. Fitzsimmons indicate whether Nora and Jerome availed of any counselling and, if so, did it help?

Ms Fitzsimmons: No, they did not avail of any counselling at all. We dealt with it ourselves. As time went on we got over it.

Deputy Hoctor: I have no further questions.

Chairman: That was another heart-rending story. I thank Mr. Fitzsimmons and Ms Boyd for recounting their experiences.
We will now deal with the Talbot Street bombings. A number of people are present who were affected by these and I welcome them to our proceedings. We are grateful to them for attending. With us is Mr. Tim Grace whom I thank very much.

Mr. Tim Grace: Thank you, Chairman.

Chairman: I also welcome Ms Marie Sherry and I thank her very much. I saw Ms Michelle O'Brien there earlier today and she is also very welcome.

Mr. Tim Grace: My name is Tim Grace and my wife, Rita Bernadette, was killed in Talbot Street. She was a beautiful young woman, aged 34 years, in excellent health and in the prime of her life. She was born in County Tipperary and grew up in Tralee, County Kerry. We were in the seventh year of our marriage, living in Portmarnock with one child, a boy aged 13 months at the time. The Chairman and the committee members should consider the story that I am about to tell them very carefully inasmuch as it was total chance that my wife happened to be in the centre of Dublin that evening. It could just as easily have been the Chairman's wife or mother - or any person near or dear to him or to any member of the committee - as my wife.
On the Thursday night before the bombing, I was walking across the road from my home in Portmarnock and stepped on a nail, which went up through my shoe and caused me some difficulty. Our doctor lived next door. He came in and gave me a tetanus injection. He said that I would have to rest it for a couple of days, either by sitting down or taking to bed; it would have to be one or the other. On Friday, 17 May 1974, I would normally have been in the office, as had been usual for many years before. However, I was at home. At that time we had one car in the family. I had been reasonably successful in business. I had progressed from being chief chemist in my company to technical director and I had only recently been appointed managing director. I was at the zenith of my powers, as it were, business wise. As I said, I would normally have been in my office. We had one car in the family, although we could have afforded two, which was not very usual 30 years ago. It was not nearly as prevalent as it is now.

However, my wife would not take a second car from me because she was something of a fitness fanatic and very conscious of her figure. She wanted to walk a great deal, which she did. During the day and in the afternoon, I looked after the baby for my wife. She had been suffering from 'flu during the week. The baby was teething and she was not in the best form, so I said to her that she should take the car, go into town and have a look around. She went into town and parked the car in Gardiner Street, just around the corner from Talbot Street. She was obviously killed on the way back at 5.30 p.m. when the bomb went off. The elements of chance are, as I pointed out, colossal. I could go even more deeply into that, but I do not want to waste too much time.

When my wife did not come home at 6 p.m, I was looking after the little fellow in bed. I had taken him in there to keep him quiet. I came down at 6 p.m. I was feeling a little better and turned on the news. Of course, the news was that bombs had gone off in Talbot Street. There was no sign of my wife. I had expected her home at about 6 p.m. or 6.30 p.m. At 7 p.m. I was standing at the door looking down the road waiting. There was no sign of her. I went next door and borrowed a car from my neighbour and went into town. I went to where I would usually park the car at the end of Gardiner Street. There was one car in the car park - my white Mercedes. It was a very distinctive car and one I did not want to see. You have no idea of the horror of what was going on in town and the reaction of people at that stage. By the way, I could not make any telephone calls from Portmarnock as all the telephones jammed that evening and were jammed for several hours. One could not get through to anyone.

On the way into town, I called at Clontarf Garda station and there was no news. I went to the gardaí on duty on Talbot Street who were all clearly traumatised. I do not know how I was managing to observe all this at the time but I did, thank God, and held my emotions to some degree at least. I told the garda my wife was definitely involved and I had to search for her. I knew she was involved because the car was at the end of Gardiner Street. The garda was very helpful. He cleared a way for me and, where the gardaí had stopped a lot of cars, he let me drive to Jervis Street Hospital, to which he said all the injured had been taken.

I went to Jervis Street Hospital. Talk about horror. People were out of control there. The doctors and nurses could not control the situation. After some time, I managed to get a look at the list of injured. I was not looking for the dead at this stage as I was hoping for a lot better. She was not on the list of injured so I asked what other hospitals were admitting the injured. They told me the Rotunda was. I went to the Rotunda Hospital where there were no dead. There were six bodies in Jervis Street at the time and my wife's body was there, although I did not know it. I had left Jervis Street and gone to the Rotunda. There were no bodies in the Rotunda and she was not on the list of those injured.

I will always remember the sister on duty in the Rotunda who brought me into her office and gave me a cup of tea. It was the best drink I ever had in my life. I like a drink but, by God, that was the best drink I have ever had.

I went from there to the Mater Hospital where there were two dead - one male. I was getting to the stage where I would look at the bodies. When I was in Jervis Street, my instinct was to look at the injured first. The bodies in the Mater were those of an old woman and a man. I rang my brother who came in from Glasnevin and met me at Doyle's Corner and we decided to go to the morgue. There were no bodies in the morgue at the time. They were being moved from Jervis Street to the morgue and I think there was some confusion because they moved the bodies back again. I do not know exactly what went on.

I could not find my wife and I kept hoping that, if she was not on the list of injured, she had been close to the explosion, had a dreadful experience and was suffering from nervous exhaustion somewhere. That was my hope. I went home to Portmarnock with my brother that night. We got up early the next morning at about seven o'clock and went to the morgue. I finally identified my wife's body an hour later in the morgue. They had moved bodies from Jervis Street to the morgue and back again. I do not know what sort of confusion was going on. I can imagine there was considerable confusion because, in terms of trauma, all one had to do was look at them in Dublin that night. I hope committee members never have to see a night like that again in Dublin.

Afterwards, I was totally shattered and traumatised for a considerable time - for several years. However, I launched myself into the task of raising my infant son and developing my business, which proved therapeutic. I am happy that I have been successful in both areas. I am chairman of my company, which is the top company manufacturing construction chemicals in the country, and my son, now aged 30, is a senior business executive making a significant contribution to the development of the country.

I concur totally with Frank Massey's submission to the committee on the bombings and I would like members to consider that I have countersigned it. I have not had the opportunity to do so but I am willing to do so. I am disgusted and appalled at the immediate reaction of the Government in power in 1974.

Chairman: Unfortunately, Mr. Grace does not-----

Mr. Grace: I understand that. I have no fear. I do not require privilege. I am ready to meet anyone in a court of law on this matter.

Chairman: The difficulty is if the committee is dragged into it, all the proceedings will stop.

Mr. Grace: I concur totally with Frank Massey's submission. My consideration does not relate only to the Government of 1974. Subsequent Governments are also indicted.

The Chairman does not need to stop me. If he reads the Barron report, he will see the indictment of the people I am talking about - the political establishment and security forces of the time and subsequent political establishments. This indictment holds good to this day. I am a former chairman of the group, Justice for the Forgotten, and we have had to battle for many years to achieve the setting up of the Barron investigation. In our efforts we have been aided by a small number of Deputies from all political parties and, particularly, by the Taoiseach.
On reading the Barron report, it must be clear to all that a full, cross-jurisdictional, public inquiry is essential. A total of 34 people were murdered in cold blood in Dublin and Monaghan on 17 May 1974. The murder investigation was wound down by the Garda at an early stage and no one was ever charged. Surely this is the strongest case for a public inquiry in the history of the State.
I want to make some remarks about the legal profession. I have the greatest

Chairman: A number of people are waiting to speak. What we are looking at today is the actual personal bereavement and suffering experienced. There will be another opportunity to raise that matter when it comes up on the other modules and, through the legal representatives, something can be done in that regard.

Mr. Grace: I am talking about cost. One of the fears the sub-committee will have in facing this situation is the question of cost. It should, surely, be able to build in recommendations to control the cost of any such inquiry. I do not think that should be beyond its capacity.

Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Grace.

Mr. Grace: I have not quite finished but I will go no further on that.

I concur totally with Mr. Frank Massey's submission and am willing to countersign it. I hereby call on the sub-committee to recommend a full public cross-jurisdictional inquiry. The British must be involved. We cannot have an inquiry without their involvement. Such an inquiry will, in some way, help the victims of this terrible atrocity to finally lay their loved ones to rest.

Chairman: Before I ask Ms Marie Sherry and Ms Michelle O'Brien to say a few words, I ask Mr. Roice to join this group. I know you have some time constraints, Mr. Roice, and we can hear you after Ms Sherry and Ms O'Brien have spoken.

Ms Marie Sherry: I will be very brief because I do not like speaking in this type of setting. My name is Marie Sherry and I was injured in the Talbot Street bomb. I was very young and carefree. I was heading down to my aunt's in County Westmeath for a weekend. I was heading down to Busáras. I first heard the bomb go off in Parnell Street and my reaction was that it sounded like a bomb, not that I had ever heard a bomb go off before, but I continued on my way. That is how carefree I was at the time.

I walked straight into the Talbot Street bomb. My injuries were a fracture to my skull, hearing loss in my left ear and many cuts and bruises. Looking back, they were nothing compared to the absolute mental turmoil in which I have lived my life since that. I can only describe my life, particularly in my 20s and 30s although not so much now, as one of constant alert. For weeks and months after the bombs I used go home and say, "Mum, any news on those people who did the bombing? Was anybody charged?". There never was news. There were no names. Nobody was charged. I lived my life thinking, "These guys are walking around. They could be sitting beside me in the cinema. They could be on the bus. These guys are free to do the same thing again". It was just awful and it ruined my life. I did not want to go into town to socialise with my friends, I did not like being in a pub and I did not like being at the cinema. I got up in the middle of a cinema one night because someone stood up, probably to go to the toilet, but I was convinced he was up to no good. It was horrific. Only when one has been through it can one realise how horrific it is to live one's life like that. I wish it had never happened. It was just awful.

Where the Government was concerned, it was as if I never existed. I heard nothing from it. I did not hear about it doing anything about investigating the bombing. It was as if it had been wiped out and had never happened. Someone must be held accountable. There is only one way to do this and that is through a public tribunal of inquiry. It is the only answer. For closure for each and every one of us, that has to happen. There is no other way. That is all I have to say.

Chairman: Thank you very much, Marie, for putting it in such a straightforward way.

Ms Michelle O'Brien: I am the daughter of Anne Byrne who was killed on Talbot Street on 17 May 1974. I am here to speak on behalf of my father, Michael Byrne, and my brother, Trevor. On 17 May 1974 our day started like any other, and little did we know that by 5.30 p.m. that evening our lives would change forever. My dad came home at lunch time that day to drop my mother into town. I had just finished school and there was a neighbour doing some work in our house. My parents had only lived in the house for a short time which they had both worked hard to buy and my brother and I stayed at home with our neighbour.

I can remember hearing three loud bangs that evening as I stood in our house in Donaghmede. I asked what the noise was and our neighbour said it sounded like a gas explosion. When my dad arrived home from work that evening, our neighbour told him that our mother had not returned home. He started to search the hospitals and in the early hours of Saturday morning he found her remains in the morgue. He knew it was our mother because she had worn a green coat and by her wedding ring which I am very proud to wear today.

Our mother was buried on the following Tuesday which was my brother's birthday and to this day he has not celebrated his birthday. It took my dad 15 years to go up Talbot Street. When we were growing up, we were never allowed to go to town with our friends like other teenagers. My dad would drive us to town and wait for us, regardless of how long it took. He never drove up Talbot Street.

We have been involved in campaigning for the last 13 years. We were so shielded from what had happened to our mother that it was the 17th anniversary before my brother and I realised how huge this atrocity was. We grew up thinking that this had only happened to our family and over the last 13 years we have had to fight very hard to get where we are today. Successive Governments have ignored us and some of the media reckon we should just forget about what has happened. How can we? It is like throwing a pebble into a pond and the ripples keep on appearing. Each ripple represents a family still waiting for the truth and only when we know the truth, can we find peace and consequently allow all our loved ones to rest in peace. Basic justice and humanity demand no less.

Chairman: Thank you, Michelle. I know it was very difficult and painful for you to come up but you were determined to say your piece on behalf of your mother and you did it very well. Well done.

Mr. Edward Roice: Friday, 17 May 1974, was a turning point in my family's lives. It was the day I lost my beautiful 19 year old daughter, Siobhan. From that day our lives were never to be the same. It has broken our hearts and left my wife a very sad mother. We never thought that 30 years on we would still be struggling to get to the truth about how and why those 33 innocent victims died and we were neglected during the intervening years.

My wife and I were in our early fifties when Siobhan was murdered or, I should say, when the 33 people were slaughtered in the streets of Dublin, in our own capital city. My wife and I are now senior citizens in our early eighties, still trying to get answers to questions that have been denied us, with every obstacle put in the way of getting to the truth. There have been times when politicians have been co-operative but the other families and I have achieved more over the years due to persistence and commitment to achieve the truth that Siobhan and the other victims deserve.

Would anybody, as a parent, honestly not move every stone to get the answers? The truth is that justice has been denied to us over the 30 years. The members cannot sit there before us today and say that justice was achieved for those victims. They have been denied their lives and we, the families, are the only voices for those who were innocently going about their daily business. They had no choice, there were no warnings, and yet the families were expected to pick up the pieces and fragments of what was left of their lives and struggle on. That was, and remains today, a struggle to achieve the truth and to secure answers as to who allowed this atrocity to be covered up and why. Serious questions have to be addressed on this issue. As I previously stated, both my wife and I and our surviving children seek closure to this sad atrocity that occurred in our own capital and in the jurisdiction which the members were all elected to serve by the people of this State. The members all have a purpose to serve and this is their opportunity to help.

The families secured this inquiry finally. As a parent, I appeal to the committee members to do something that they would not deny their own children if the situation was reversed. Hopefully they will never experience the grief, loss and deep sadness that we still experience daily and that demands absolutely nothing less than a full public inquiry. I thank the committee.

Chairman: Mr. Roice, I thank you and your wife for taking the trouble to come up from Wexford today. It is appreciated.

Senator J. Walsh: Mr. Roice raised a few questions that will have to be foremost in our minds when we come to address the issues. The detail is still so vividly recounted by everybody, and particularly Mr. Grace, that obviously it was a moment in time that changed all their lives. Its effect on Mr. Grace is evident, but what effect did it have on the life of his son, of whom he is very proud, who obviously was very young?

Mr. Grace: If there was any good aspect of this awful atrocity, as far as I was concerned, it was that he was only 13 months old. Therefore, he never knew his mother. One of her elder sisters, who was one of the eldest of her family and about 15 years older than my wife, took him on for the first couple of years and helped me a great deal. He never knew his mother. He is one of the few people in our society who has grown to the age of 30 without ever knowing his mother.

I am happy to say he has turned out very well. He is a very good athlete. He was playing soccer at the centre of midfield for Drumcondra on Sunday. We were robbed by a referee, but never mind. We drew but we did not win and we should have. He is a good tennis player and golfer. God has given him a great many talents and maybe that is something that has come to him. As I said, he never knew his mother.

Senator J. Walsh: I remember when Drumcondra was in the premier division, or the First Division as it was then. Maybe it helped get them back there.

Mr. Grace: I am the current chairman of the club, for my sins.

Senator J. Walsh: Mr. Grace mentioned the sense of abandonment and this also came across strongly from Mr. Roice and others. Subsequent to the bombings, did Mr. Grace have any contact from any of the State agencies?

Mr. Grace: No. The only contact was when I was interviewed by who I believe were three legal persons about compensation. It was derisory, not so much in my case but in the case of a number of victims. That will come through to the committee in due course. No, we did not have any contact. There was no such thing as counselling or anything like that in those days. I had no contact from anyone.

Senator J. Walsh: Marie Sherry mentioned that she was readily able to deal with the physical injuries but that the mental turmoil was the major issue.

Ms Sherry: Yes.

Senator J. Walsh: I am trying to understand the mental turmoil. Was it flashbacks, a fear of it happening again or the fact that nobody was held accountable and brought to justice?

Ms Sherry: It was a combination of all three. It was, obviously, a flashback. It was that nobody was charged so these people were still walking around. That was the constant fear. They are still around so the same thing could happen today. That was it.

Senator J. Walsh: Ms O'Brien movingly gave details of the events as she saw them on the day. Obviously, there were effects in not being able to go into the city and so forth. What were the effects on the other members of the family?

Ms O'Brien: It affected us all in the same way. I was lucky enough that my Dad remarried and I have another two brothers and two sisters. However, the same rules applied for all six children. He just could not let us go. When I went on to have my first child, I was the same. I ended up going to counselling so I could let her go off, even with members of my family, because I was frightened in case anything would happen to her.

Senator J. Walsh: Mr. Roice said he has been trying to deal with this for the past 30 years. Had he any contact with politicians, even at local level, to see if the case could be advanced? Did he get any solace in that regard?

Mr. Roice: Contact with local politicians?

Senator J. Walsh: Either local or national politicians.

Mr. Roice: No. We brought Siobhan home from Dublin on a Monday and she was buried on the Tuesday. We had a few top people, as they may be described, at the funeral. Apart from that, nobody ever came near me or my wife as regards counselling or to ask how we felt. We might meet people in the street who would say: "How are you now?", "You will get over it" or the like. Nobody came to see if there was anything they could do or to ask how my wife felt about it. She was very upset. To this day it is the very same as it was 30 years ago. I have to show the hard face, as they say, and keep going. However, when I am on my own, I can feel as sorry or heartbroken as all the people here. We will never forget it. It was 30 years ago but it is the same as if it was only 30 hours ago.

Senator J. Walsh: There is still the same strong desire for closure on the issue.

Mr. Roice: More than ever now. It has gone too far, as the other speakers have said. The Dublin and Monaghan bombings are like dirty words to some higher ups. The attitude is to ignore it and maybe they will forget about it. But we will never forget. My time and my wife's time is possibly getting short and I hope, before I close my eyes, that something will come out of this. I appeal to the Chairmen and the members of the committee to do their best to press this case for us. We are tired waiting.

Chairman: Thank you.

      | PAGE 1 | PAGE 2 | PAGE 3 | PAGE 4 |
Printer Friendly Version
for this page
Opens in a new window

      | 20th JAN 2004 | 27th JAN 2004 | 18th FEB 2004 | 9th MAR 2004 | HOME |
Printer Friendly Version
for all 20 January 2004
Opens in a new window

Copyright © Justice For The Forgotten. All rights reserved.