TRANSCRIPTS OF OUR CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE JOINT OIREACHTAS SUB COMMITTEE
ON THE BARRON REPORT INTO THE DUBLIN & MONAGHAN BOMBINGS
Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights
Dé Máirt, 27 Eanáir 2004 - Tuesday, 27 January 2004
Hearing on the Barron Report
Chairman: Before we recommence questioning, for the public record, I invite Mr. Nigel Wylde to let us know his professional qualifications, his current job and how he fits into the role of expert in these matters.
Mr. Nigel Wylde: I am a former army officer. I was commissioned from the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, in 1968 and retired from the British army in 1991. In 1970, I was trained as an ammunition technical officer specialising in guided weapons, but part of the role of the ammunition technical officer is terrorist bomb disposal and explosive ordnance disposal of ordinary conventional munitions. From 1974 onwards I spent the summer from June through to October as the officer in command of No. 1 section of 321EOD unit in Belfast where I was responsible for all terrorist bomb disposals in that particular area. Stemming from that, I have given evidence in well over a dozen cases involving murder to straightforward conspiracy to create an explosion at the lower end of the terrorist scale. I have also given expert evidence in a number of cases in London, dealing with bombing attacks on the Israeli Embassy and various other Jewish premises at varying times over recent years.
As to professional qualifications, I am a graduate of the Army Staff College and I have a postgraduate diploma in law.
Chairman: Thank you very much, Mr. Wylde. I invite Deputy Costello to ask some questions.
Deputy Costello: I, too, welcome Mr. Wylde and most of the people before us.
I agree with your final statement. I am glad that you are here to assist us, not in any confrontational sense. We would certainly like to try to explore this as much as possible in as reasonable a fashion as possible. First, I put it to you directly that your reading of Judge Barrons report is coloured by a prior decision that only a public inquiry would resolve these matters to your satisfaction and that when you are considering all of the issues, you are considering them only in that context?
Mr. Ó Dúlacháin: I think you are correct to say our view has been coloured for many years as to how the truth would be ascertained. We have always held the view from January 1996, when Mr. ONeill and I were asked to assess matters, that the only effective vehicle for establishing the truth is a public tribunal of inquiry. We have always held that view, so it is not that we have approached Barron with any colouring other than a firm belief in what is the effective means and mechanism for establishing the truth. That is formulated not on any love or affection for public inquiries but on our understanding of what they can do practically and how they go about their work and from the experience in this State from the 1970s of the Stardust and many other tribunals that they are a public mechanism for investigating grave matters.
Deputy Costello: Truth is very difficult to define, as we know from the Bible. What is truth? Perhaps we could look at the terms of reference in appendix D of the Barron report to refresh our memories? There are four sets of terms of reference: the facts, the circumstances, the causes and the perpetrators of the bombings. In other words, what happened? Why did it happen? Who did it? How well has Judge Barron addressed these questions? The terms of reference cover the nature, extent and adequacy of the Garda investigation, including co-operation with the Northern Ireland authorities and the forensic evidence about which I would like to ask Mr. Wylde later. We must ask the reason there were no prosecutions and about the Hidden Hand documentary.
Which of these areas, do you think, has Judge Barron not addressed?
Mr. O Dúlacháin: I think he has examined them in the sense that he has gathered material relevant to them. In terms of a thorough examination, a thorough examination requires in the first instance that you have all the material before you, or all the material that can be reasonably ascertained. An assessment involves a process of analysing, comparing and questioning that material that comes before you. In our opinion, you cannot say that his report addresses the matter in a substantive sense because if you take that first matter, the facts, circumstances, causes and perpetrators, there are very significant gaps in the facts. There are considerable questions as to the perpetrators. In terms of perpetrators who may have had a hand or a hidden hand in it, the collusion theme runs through each of those terms of reference in one way or another. You cannot say he has addressed who the perpetrators are. What he has established is the limit of how far he could get through his investigative process.
Deputy Costello: I put it to you that he has identified perpetrators at various stages. What we have is a totality that appears to include all of the perpetrators but may not cover the immediate ones who did it. Is there anything to be gathered beyond the issue of identifying the individual perpetrators, the organisation that carried it out and the motive? The question of collusion is dealt with at a certain stage.
Mr. Ó Dúlacháin: First, in relation to Monaghan you can say that perpetrators or individuals may be identified and some of them may be linked to particular actions. In terms of Dublin, other than David Alexander Mulholland, there is nothing ascribed to any one of those identified. There is no role allocated, there is no particular part played in the events of the days ascribed to any person in relation to Dublin, other than David Alexander Mulholland.
The question of looking
further at those who are identified and those who are not identified is
a fact because the issue looms large as to whether these people were well
known to the security forces, remained in circulation, were allowed to
remain in circulation, were not questioned and were not, in respect of
some of them, even identified to the Garda as suspects. The issue of who
perpetrated this bombing, both in terms of individuals, organisations
and institutions, is not finally addressed in the Barron report. He has
gathered together the totality of knowledge that was available to him
at that time and at other times.
Deputy Costello: I will ask a question because this ties up with the truth and what is the truth in this particular issue. The individuals are addressed, the organisation is addressed, the motive is addressed and successive people, including the British Prime Minister and our own Ministers for Justice, have stated that there was not enough evidence to mount a prosecution. Where does one draw the lines with the truth? The people are identified but is the truth a question of prosecution for you?
Mr. Ó Dúlacháin: I can certainly say that there is truth in justice. The possibility of bringing forward a prosecution against any individual at this time may be extremely remote.
Deputy Costello: Mr. Justice Barron has addressed the issue.
Mr. Ó Dúlacháin: No, the
Deputy Costello: You say in your summary that he has not addressed it satisfactorily but about whose satisfaction are we talking?
Mr. Ó Dúlacháin: To address something satisfactorily you must do everything within your power to get the relevant evidence and information into the public domain and you must test it. The Barron process has not done that. He has not been able to gather everything that is relevant. Once it is gathered the matter moves into a realm whereby the only proper and appropriate assessment is an assessment in public where the parties can test it.
We deliberately used the phrase substantive. Has the matter been substantively addressed? No. Has Barron done a significant job in gathering together information? Yes, he has. However, there is a lot of information out there that has not been revealed or disclosed about the individuals who have been identified and those who have not.
Deputy Costello: That surely has yet to be proved. Judge Barron has addressed in a comprehensive fashion the terms of reference that he was asked to address.
You spoke very strongly about page 91 of the Barron report in relation to the Monaghan investigation and the Garda investigation in general, that it was inadequate and that Judge Barron just leaves it at that. He does not ask questions about why the Monaghan investigation was not pushed forward and pursued. However, in the second last paragraph Judge Barron states, The effectiveness of the police investigation is also affected by the manpower and technical resources available to it. He does not leave it hanging; he gives an explanation. He refers to the adequacy of the Garda investigation. If we take it that the manpower of the Garda in 1974 was at least a third less than it is today, is that not a coherent and valuable assessment?
Mr. Ó Dúlacháin: That is an aside or an observation. It is not effectively connected in any way with an assessment of the reasons being advanced. It does not address itself to the detail of what could have been done, what was done, or what should not have been done. It is an invitation to be cautious and not over-critical of individuals or institutions, and resources must be looked at. In no way has he measured resources and said that it was because of those resources that the investigation came to an end. No one, as far as we were aware, told the Garda in Monaghan that the investigation had to be wrapped up by the end of June and that it had to report by 7 July. There is no indication that the gardaí who participated in the Monaghan investigation were not available for the months of July, August and September. The manpower aspect is an aside.
Deputy Costello: Successive explanations of insufficient evidence have been given as to why no prosecution took place. Surely that has been addressed adequately.
Mr. Ó Dúlacháin: I do not think that has adequately addressed the question. It is drawing a conclusion from the obvious. Why was the evidence not there? Why was it not gathered? In a similar fashion, Belgium had a huge inquiry into circumstances arising out of failures and collapses in police investigations. You do not stop enquiring into what happened simply because you arrive at the conclusion that the evidence was not there, the investigation could not proceed to court, end of story. That is not an answer when you have a menu of issues affecting that investigation. It is a fair answer where there is no criticism of an investigation. Not every investigation will lead to a prosecution.
Mr. Costello: He carried out his work in a painstaking fashion. In appendix D he says that when he took over from the late Mr. Justice Hamilton he considered it necessary to re-interview persons seen by him. He was not leaving any stone unturned in his investigation. Is Mr. Ó Dúlacháin saying that he pursued his investigation in so far as he could but that by its nature, it had to be limited?
Mr. Ó Dúlacháin: Essentially so. What I am saying is that if one were to reverse tracks to December 1999, if the Government and Government institutions were to have revealed in December 1999 a quarter of what has come to light in the Barron report and if this and the various allegations had been presented to the committee then, I do not think any politicians asked to look at it would have been satisfied with anything other than a public inquiry as being the vehicle to, as far as possible, establish the truth, to get to what happened and to lead on to the other element of a public inquiry which is to learn lessons, to find out what has changed and move forward.
Deputy Costello: I put it to Mr. Ó Dúlacháin that perhaps the opposite is the case and that Mr. Justice Barron, by the nature of his inquiry, gleaned information that could not be otherwise gleaned. We have a number of unnamed sources from another jurisdiction who would, presumably, not attend a judicial inquiry and who would not wish to participate except in very specific circumstances.
Mr. Ó Dúlacháin: The unnamed sources are few in number and the material they bring to the Barron report is of a very limited nature. One example is where it refers to a UVF source who was active at the time but not involved. What comes out of that is an observation that another loyalist, who was in prison at the time, may have made the bomb six months earlier. The Deputy might ask Mr. Wylde whether the story line being fed through that source has any substance to it. In so far as those sources begin to affect the assessment and the evaluation, it is problematic. Certainly, there is some material which may have come to Mr. Justice Barron by reason of the methodology adopted but the vast amount of information which has come to him, he has extracted from public and official sources and from people who served in public office in this State.
Mr. Justice Barron states in appendix D: Within the jurisdiction
of the State, the inquiry is satisfied that it has received all relevant
documentation from official sources that has not been lost or destroyed
in the 30 years since the bombings took place. He is satisfied he
has received all that has not been lost or destroyed; he does not mention
documentation misplaced, stolen or otherwise. Is it not a reasonable statement
that all the relevant documents that are available have been pursued by
Mr. Justice Barron or does Mr. Ó Dúlacháin have something
to the contrary to say?
Mr. Ó Dúlacháin: I do not know what Mr. Justice Barron has or has not seen in that sense. Until one begins to pursue and participate in questioning - Mr. Justice Barron is relying on people telling him they have looked for evidence and information and on what others have said to him. His conclusion in that regard is based entirely
Deputy Costello: Mr. Ó Dúlacháin is speculating.
Mr. Ó Dúlacháin: I am not speculating because we know from the Department of Justice that there may have been something in 1974 which clearly indicated that material was generated in 1975. Further material, as it emerges, creates further lines of inquiry as to documents that did or did not exist. In addition to that, there is a huge range of witnesses who are in a position to give evidence and to be tested on their evidence as to what documents were created, where they went, the purpose they served and the discussions that took place.
Deputy Costello: I want to ask one question of Mr. Nigel Wylde, whose presentation was very important. With regard to the ammonium nitrate and fuel oil, on page 3, he says that such a bomb was never used before in the Republic. He disagrees with Judge Barrons findings, and is still of the opinion, as he states in the second paragraph, that the bombs were made with ANFO. However, on page 70 of the report, Judge Barron appears to agree with him on that. He states that the main loyalist improvised explosives are A, B, C and D, D being a mixture of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil, which is ANFO. He states that of the second two mixtures, by far the most common is the mixture of ammonium nitrate, sodium nitrate and sugar, which is usually packed in a beer barrel. Presumably, it is likely to be the same situation with regard to the ammonium nitrate and fuel oil, because residue and beer-keg fragments were found.
Mr. Wylde: Those are actually my words. They are taken from a report that I prepared for Judge Barron, and in certain cases they are a reflection of the words of a forensic scientist from Northern Ireland. The explosive mixtures A to C listed there are what are classed as low explosives. That means that if they are in the open, they will probably burn but they will not detonate. They have to be confined in an airtight, solid container, such as a gas cylinder. I have a photograph here that I can circulate which shows what I am actually talking about. The initiation of that device is through a detonator, usually attached to a piece of safety fuse - the detonator being what is called igniferous or plain - that is, it burns and is set off by burning. That is a very crude and very simple device, and it was the method that was employed after 1972 when, both in Dublin and in London, orders were laid by the respective Parliaments relating to the common 1875 Explosives Act, and various other Acts that were common as well, to restrict the amount of ammonium nitrate in fertilizer, so that if it was mixed with fuel oil, it would not lead to a detonation.
That comes to ammonium nitrate and fuel oil. Ammonium nitrate fuel oil is a high explosive. It detonates, depending on the quality of the mixture, at over 4,000 metres a second and can detonate at over 6,000 metres a second if it is commercially produced. It does not require confinement. What it does require, however, because they were operating with mixtures that were not pure ammonium nitrate, is a booster explosive. A booster explosive could be some form of chlorate mixed with nitrobenzene, which was quite common up until the 1972 regulations were introduced, both here and in Westminster, restricting the use of nitrobenzene. Therefore, that had virtually died by the end of 1973, and in 1974 we did not encounter any such explosives. It was unique, in any case, to the IRA. What was used, therefore, to ignitiate ANFO bombs was commercial explosive.
At that stage, the IRAs stocks of commercial explosives came from thefts that had occurred from the Irish Industrial Explosives factories in the Republic. The most notable explosive used was Frangex, which started being manufactured, if I remember correctly, in about 1972. The IRA managed to obtain large quantities of it. The loyalist terrorists, on the other hand, did not have that access. They had a little from quarries, as the IRA did. Again, with the tightening of the regulations, that access was denied to them. Even the quantities that they could obtain from Great Britain were virtually zero. The tightening up on commercial explosives was such that they simply did not have access to it. We had no finds at all of commercial explosives in the hands of loyalist terrorists during the summer of 1974.
The loyalists had to rely on stocks - primarily wartime stocks - of old military explosives, notably gun cotton or nitrocellulose, which came in blocks, as well as gun cotton primers. They could be set off and used as charges. By 1973, that had gone, and they were left with boosters, with extremely limited supplies of commercial explosives, which were used only sparingly and only under certain conditions. In the summer of 1974 in Belfast we encountered one bomb that could possibly be attributed to commercial explosives used by loyalist terrorists.
Chairman: Does that answer the members question?
Deputy Costello: Yes.
Mr. Wylde: Perhaps I might add that the method of making the ammonium nitrate that had to be employed after the restrictions were imposed was developed by the Provisional IRA. Its development started in the middle of 1973. I cannot be any more precise than that. It could have been March or August, but it was in the middle of that year. It involved recrystallising it. The process was obnoxious because of the fumes rather than the danger.
The loyalist terrorists did not have the knowledge of how to make that and probably did not gain it until late in 1976, 1977 or perhaps 1978. Therefore, if ammonium nitrate fuel oil was used in the explosions in Dublin, it would have to have come from one of five possible sources. The first was old stocks of fertiliser, but everyone was agreed that those had been taken away and probably did not exist in the quantities used. The second was pure ammonium nitrate, but they did not have access to that for the same reasons. It may also have come through a variety of ways. They may have hijacked it or stolen it from the Provisional IRA. I am not sure that either side would admit to that if that happened. It may also have come from confiscated stocks or because someone who knew how to make it had helped them. They did not have the knowledge of how to make it themselves.
Deputy Costello: Mr. Wylde is disagreeing with Mr. Justice Barron on that issue.
Mr. Wylde: Very much, and the evidence that I can put forward in support is not just my own.
Chairman: We will not go into that any further.
Mr. Wylde: Yes, but it is supported by written documents from others.
I thank those who are with us today. Perhaps I might begin with Cormac
Ó Dúlacháin and take him up on the analogy he used
before the committee today when he compared Mr. Justice Barrons
situation to a collapsed building where the architects have not fully
identified or brought to light. I will continue that analogy using the
evidence presented today by Mr. Nigel Wylde. When Mr. Justice Barron appeared
at the collapse situation, the crucial evidence needed had already eluded
How much time did the group spend with Mr. Justice Barron? Can it be calculated in hours or days?
You gave us what I would see as a certain type of conflicting information today when you referred to the parliamentary question dealt with by Deputy Davern which was in conflict with what you say Mr. Justice Barron said. I am interested in knowing if Mr. Justice Barron was made aware of that particular piece of information or was it information you came upon since your negotiations and discussions with him? In addition, is there other information and evidence that you have come upon since your discussions with him?
Mr. Ó Dúlacháin: First, I should explain that we had a limited number of meetings with Mr. Justice Barron over the course of three years. Effectively, our involvement with him ended last June or July. Over the previous three years we were involved with the commission from time to time on the basis of identifying tasks that we felt would assist the commission of inquiry, agreeing with the commission that they would be done and producing the result thereof. In its course we submitted in excess of 49 separate submissions on a whole range of issues and areas but having submitted them to Mr. Justice Barron we would not have had the benefit of whatever other information he had. Effectively, our role was to feed in information, to suggest lines of inquiry, to establish contact with witnesses such as Mr. Wallace, Mr. Holroyd and Mr. Weir, to obtain Mr. Weirs agreement to come back from Africa to meet Mr. Justice Barron in Paris and make arrangements in that regard, to conduct certain inquiries in Northern Ireland, to go North, to try to meet people, and source and locate experts such as Mr. Wylde and other ballistics experts. In that way we have participated in terms of feeding in but we have not been involved in an engagement with the information that has come to light here.
There is information that we would have had which would not have appeared relevant. We would have had in a database every question raised in the Dáil and Seanad in relation to these bombings or other bombings but the relevance of the questions raised and the answers given in 1975 would not have been obvious until the report emerged to us. That is an example. Another example is Mr. Wyldes own submission which indicates how a view taken by a commission as to what is important such as photographic interpretation unless put, tested or discussed with other parties can leave an inquiry to go off on a tangent which others subsequently disagree with.
In all, we have been working from the dark inwards - obtaining a little information, building on it and feeding in into the inquiry. There have been incidents where we have been able to locate information and feed it into the inquiry. The Fulton case is such an example in relation to the trial in Scotland. That arose from a detailed analysis by us of Mr. Holroyds notebooks. Obtaining Mr. Holroyds notebooks required us to go back to Yorkshire Television, to Duncan Campbell who had authored a book and documents. It involved establishing communications with the local library in Fife. It involved that local librarian doing research for us, digging out trial reports and putting information together but all of that information and all of that further investigation requires a database of facts with which to start. We were presented with more information, through the Barron report, which we believe enables us to pursue lines of inquiry that were not open to us. Our experience of unravelling the footprints of issues such as collusion is that it is found in the most indirect and obscure place. You would not expect to find, in a trial in Kirkcaldy in Scotland in September 1974, someone who is a known prime suspect in two jurisdictions in relation to bombings receiving references from Members of Parliament and indications that he has no criminal or paramilitary connections.
The process of investigating this type of atrocity is a huge exercise; it is not one that can be done like other exercises. In terms of a public inquiry, it is really the investigative enterprise that is important. It is the investigative enterprise that takes you there, and our sense of Barron is that he has brought it as far as he can. However, we believe that in the coming months other material will arrive. We have no doubt about that. We have had communication from people since the launch of the Barron report, since the focus on it, who, while not perhaps directly relevant to May 1974, are giving information about things happening in Dublin in 1973. All of that re-opens a sense of confidence in people coming forward. Mr. Wylde comes forward today; that encourages someone else to come forward tomorrow. There is a process of that public engagement that creates confidence in people to engage and disclose information. Once people see what someone else has said, it leads on and it builds gradually.
Deputy Hoctor: My two other brief questions are in direct relation to Mr. Ó Dúlacháins summary of his submission on Module 2. It states: An examination of the report establishes that many lines of inquiry have not been exhausted. Will Mr. Ó Dúlacháin elaborate as to which lines of inquiry he believes have not been exhausted?
Mr. Ó Dúlacháin: In terms of the lines of inquiry that have not been exhausted: first, with regard to the Garda investigations in Dublin and Monaghan, we have no comprehensive sense that we will understand what happened. We feel that we have a lot of facts but a superficial understanding of what was going on in terms of the direction and control of these investigations and of the interaction of that with the body politic.
With regard to the collusive elements, we now know that there are conflicting positions on information that was given in 1974 and information that has emerged subsequent to that. We know that on the question of collusion, Stevens took 12 years to get from a position to which there was no basis to a position that there was a basis. In that regard, we now have an emerging body of information about individuals, which is in itself incomplete. There is no full account of what is known about these individuals in terms of their involvement from 1974 onwards with other events and circumstances. It is only when the full picture emerges can one then go back and ask, Why were they involved in 1974? Who helped them? Who covered it up? Who participated? Our sense is of an incomplete picture in which there are certain individuals on whom there is a substantive amount of information, but many individuals on which it is extremely sketchy, and this in circumstances where we know that information exists. By way of example, we know, from the structure of the security forces in Northern Ireland, that there was a central registry, there was a Protestant desk and a Catholic desk, that on a week-by-week basis information was recorded on everyone who came to their attention. That is the system and that system has not brought forward the information, which would indicate an awful lot about the participants.
Deputy Hoctor: On page nine of the submission, and Mr. Ó Dúlacháin mentioned this in his opening statement, it is noted that the process of inquiry to date does not satisfy international standards for investigations into human rights abuses. I know he spoke about the right to life but I would like to hear more from him about that particular statement.
Mr. Ó Dúlacháin: The international standards are very simple. There should be an independent investigation that is adequately resourced. It should, as far as possible, do its business in public. There can be circumstances in which, for countervailing reasons, elements of it cannot be done in public, but it should be done in public. Finally, those who are affected and who have a real and immediate interest in what occurred should be full participants in the process. The standards become more elaborate as one goes on but the fundamentals are very much independent, in public and participation. The obligations then fall on states to co-operate.
Deputy F. McGrath:
I welcome and commend the legal team for Justice for the Forgotten. Its
earlier submissions were powerful and very professional. I hope they will
agree with me that there is substance in the Barron report. I was also
interested to hear Mr. Ó Dúlacháin mention the Stardust
tribunal because I was involved in that also. They were constituents of
mine also in Dublin North-Central. I also thank the families for last
Tuesdays submissions. It was a very difficult day and we understood
their trauma. I commend and thank them.
My first question is in regard to page 2 of the submission, which says that this committee has got to come to a decision on a matter of fundamental rights. It then talks about Article 40 of the Constitution on the right to life and Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Is Mr. Ó Dúlacháin stating clearly to the committee that the families and the legal team representing them believe that the people involved in this atrocity and those who failed to act or respond are guilty of breaches of these human rights articles and conventions?
Chairman: As a lawyer, and with the time as it is, I would ask Mr. Ó Dúlacháin to be as succinct as possible. I know that Deputy Finian McGrath has a number of questions. I do not mean any disrespect.
Mr. Ó Dúlacháin: If I might summarise, the European Convention on Human Rights talks primarily about the responsibilities of governments. It is governments or states that are to vindicate human rights.
Deputy F. McGrath: So they are in breach of it.
Mr. Ó Dúlacháin: No, what I am saying is that states, in the first instance, should not take life unless they are lawfully permitted to do so. If any state was involved, by its servants, agents or proxies, then there was culpability on its part. A special UN rapporteur was established under a UN motion with specific responsibility for looking at the whole issue of killings by state agents.
Case law has developed to say that the obligation to protect life has no meaning unless a state investigates it. It is not good enough for me to call to the local Garda station and say that my mother has been stabbed in the kitchen and for the Garda station to record it in a notebook. The obligation is to investigate. The right to life means nothing unless the taking of life is investigated.
Deputy F. McGrath: On page 5 of the submission the phrase collusion by omission is used. That is a pretty strong allegation, especially when one mixes these kinds of words with the missing files. What exactly does Mr. Ó Dúlacháin mean by the phrase collusion by omission? Can he be more precise?
Mr. Ó Dúlacháin: If the obligation to protect life also implies an obligation to investigate, when there is a failure to investigate one creates a climate in which the taking of life continues. It is in that sense that one must ask oneself whether there is a motivation or a reason, or in what circumstances that taking of life is not being investigated. It is that failure that creates the ongoing problem. In this case, let us be very clear, the people that Barron has begun to identify with the Dublin and Monaghan bombings are associated with other atrocities, both in the North and in this State. There is a linkage. There are very serious and grave issues arising from the failure of this investigation, not limited solely to those who died on 17 May.
Deputy F. McGrath: Nigel stated that the UVF did not have the bomb-making skills, the equipment or the know-how in 1974 and that this issue needs to be addressed. What do you mean by needs to be addressed?
Mr. Wylde: If you want to get to the background of the perpetrators of these terrible atrocities, you have to call true experts, not just myself - who was identified by Justice for the Forgotten about three years ago - but other people who have worked in this field over a number of years. There are people who are probably still alive today who were working in the intelligence area and in the field and who had to deal with UVF, UDA and Provisional IRA members who were committing terrorist acts. They have knowledge of the capabilities of the people who were involved in terrorism, and they can explain more adequately than I, looking possibly at this evidence 30 years after these terrible events, the state of knowledge and ability 30 years ago.
Deputy F. McGrath: Mr. Wyldes submission mentions the political response and appears to be disappointed by Barron. In the conclusion on page 276 , Barron states that the Government of the day failed to show the concern expected of it and showed little interest in the bombings. That is a very strong statement from Justice Barron.
On the issue of a full public tribunal of inquiry, what do you say to the critics? I am not included among them, by the way. Some of the submissions claim that an inquiry could go on for years, the families will suffer longer, justice will be delayed, the legal profession will make major financial gains and the families and the victims will be forgotten. Do you have any proposals and any ideas as regards options to get truth and justice with speed and efficiency? It is a view that the committee has heard and that has been expressed in submissions.
Chairman: That can be answered in a more detailed way in module 5. I ask Mr. Ó Dúlacháin to make just a brief reply.
Mr. Ó Dúlacháin: In summary, one is starting from a base on which a considerable amount of work has been done. In certain respects Barron has identified people who can be examined on issues. You are not starting in a greenfield site.
The question of how public tribunals operate is a matter that is taxing everybodys minds. It is certainly referred to in the Cory report, which recommended a public inquiry into the murder of Chief Superintendents Breen and Buchanan.
Thirdly, the Bloody Sunday inquiry and the way it has evolved is a question that might be addressed in due course with British Irish Rights Watch, because it certainly has views as to who has stretched it out, why it has become so large and why it has become so costly. We cannot answer the question of how it should be constructed, operated or what it should cost. What we are concerned with is whether this is the only practical model or structure for moving forward an issue that we say has to be moved into a public forum.
Deputy F. McGrath: Mr. Ó Dúalacháin said he was not happy with the political response. Two of his sentences were very strong. There is no beating around the bush.
Mr. Ó Dúlacháin: They are very strong but they are statements, and statements based on the lack of information as to what was happening in Government circles rather than the detail of what was happening.
Senator J. Walsh: Todays meeting is concerned with whether the independent commission addressed all of the issues in its terms of reference. There has been a lot of discussion on module 5 and I would like to avoid that in any of the answers, as I hope to avoid it in the questions.
I heard what Mr. Ó Dúlacháin said about the terms of reference of the Barron inquiry in so far as they apply to the facts, circumstances, causes and perpetrators of the bombings. I will return to this later.
With regard to the other aspects - the Garda investigation, the reasons there were no prosecutions and the issues raised by the Hidden Hand - the Forgotten Massacre programme, Mr. Ó Dúlacháin acknowledges that Mr. Justice Barron addressed those as comprehensively as he could within the constraints of available evidence.
Mr. Ó Dúlacháin: Mr. Justice Barron has revealed the information that is available about the Garda investigation but he certainly has not assessed it. There is no assessment as to why the seven leads we referred to were not pursued. There is no indication of whose responsibility it was to pursue it and there is no indication of what inquiries Mr. Justice Barron himself made to see what more can be said. If you simply take the docklands incident, that one alone, there are questions there that cry out for an answer, even as they come to Mr. Justice Barron. He does not address that, he just presents the cameos.
Those cameos are presented similarly in relation to the failures. Mr. Justice Barron identifies the failures but in no sense does he draw together a comprehensive picture of who was making decisions, in what sequence they were being made, why they were made and who is accountable. No one is ultimately held accountable in this report. In that sense, we say we do not believe it was Mr. Justice Barrons function to necessarily hold people accountable because his function was to carry out an assessment.
Senator J. Walsh: Mr. Justice Barron refers to the records being lost and states: It cannot be known at what point the chain was broken but that in itself is indicative of a carelessness which reflected the belief that no one was ever likely to be brought to account for the bombings. He also said that the inquiry examined allegations that the Garda investigation was wound down as a result of political interference but that no evidence was found to support that proposition. He came to conclusions on those issues. Whether one agrees with the conclusions or not is another issue but Mr. Justice Barron did reach conclusions. Would Mr. Ó Dúlacháin comment on that?
Mr. Ó Dúlacháin: He did. It is not a question of whether his conclusions are right or wrong but of whether you take the detail and substance of the report and say that the process of investigating these matters is at an end. It was not a question of us saying that if the Barron report arrived at no conclusions, then there should be a tribunal of inquiry. The report could arrive at different classes of conclusions, conclusions about different things. We can get hooked on the question of conclusions, but the reality is in the substance. It must be asked: is this investigation at an end?
Senator J. Walsh: With respect, the question before us is whether the independent commission addresses all of the issues covered in the terms of reference. I put it to Mr. Ó Dúlacháin that, from the body of the report and from his conclusions, Mr. Justice Barron has addressed those issues. While I acknowledge that we may not agree with some of the conclusions, he has addressed them.
Mr. Ó Dúlacháin: This is why in our opening submission we contend it is necessary to stall and think about what is meant by the use of the word addressed. I can advert to something; I can mention something; it cannot be said I did not address it. You have to decide to what extent he addressed it. You have to look at a range of issues and say, How far did he bring it? You have to ask yourself, Is the conclusion based on having travelled a mile down the road or having travelled ten miles down the road? The word addressed is a very dangerous, qualitative term; it can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. That is why we believe you have to come back and decide a measure against which you address it. We say that should be on the basis that it is a human rights issue, it is an issue of gravity and it is a matter of huge concern. Therefore, before you are satisfied that he has addressed it in the sense that he has fully discharged the investigation and assessment of this issue, you have to be satisfied that he has fully done so.
Senator J. Walsh: I refer Mr. Wylde to page 246 of the report. It states Irish Army EOD officer Commandant Boyle gave evidence to the tribunal to the effect that commercial rather than home-made explosives had been used. Dr. Donovans report concluded that The results suggest the use of gelignite/dynamite as the explosive substance. Following discussions with Mr. Wylde, the Barron report says, the use of ANFO in conjunction with a small amount of commercial explosives cannot be ruled out. I think I read somewhere - I cannot pinpoint where, perhaps it was in the submission - that you, in fact, had identified ANFO at all three sites. Is there a contradiction between what Commandant Boyle would have said and what you are saying?
Mr. Wylde: What we have here is confusion as to how assessments of the quantity of explosive used in explosions are made. From what I understand of what Commandant Boyle was saying - this has come as a result of subsequent correspondence - was that they had used the equivalent of so many pounds of commercial explosive to identify how big the bomb was. If you are looking at that as your assessment, 50 pounds of commercial explosive is the equivalent of 200 pounds of ANFO, because the ratio is four to one.
I believe he and his colleagues back in 1974 went to a table that they were given in the assessment of explosives and expressed it in terms of commercial explosive. He found no traces of anything at the scene. Whether Dr. Donovan was right or wrong in that assessment, I suggest - I have had correspondence with Mr. Justice Barron on this - that that assessment is somewhat questionable because of the capabilities and facilities available to Dr. Donovan at that particular time. That is in no way a criticism; they just had not been established properly. In particular, getting into technical detail, we talked about prills of ammonium nitrate and various items like that which, frankly, are not helpful to this investigation; they need to be examined by experts away from it.
Senator J. Walsh: In so far as Mr. Justice Barron did come to some conclusions on this matter - this is central to one of the key issues that he would have had to address - you make the point in your report that the key question was whether it was recrystallised ANFO. I think you say that if it was, the most likely source would have been confiscated stocks of IRA origin. You say, I have covered my reasons for saying this in my report to Justice for the Forgotten, dated 15 November 2001. What were those reasons? I do not think we have them.
Mr. Wylde: I have the report here. It is a matter of whether we can make it available to you.
Senator J. Walsh: Could we have a synopsis giving us just the actual reasons? I think that is
It is a five page report. It examines the five potential sources of ANFO
and the five types of ANFO. At the end it looks at the deposits that are
identifiable on the photographs in the stereo images that I have examined,
which are entirely consistent with recrystallised ANFO.
Senator J. Walsh: I turn to what I think was a crucial conclusion of Mr. Justice Barron on page 253 which states:
To sum up: although the use of electric detonators and timing devices was not usual for loyalist bombs at the time, there is evidence to suggest the UVF could have acquired the necessary materials and assembled the bombs without expert assistance.
In your earlier evidence to us, you said considerable skill was involved in making the three bombs simultaneously explode. I think you mentioned that the UVF did not have those skills. Will you confirm if I interpreted what you said correctly? I refer you to the bottom of page 252 of Mr. Justice Barrons reports, which states:
As for timing devices, former Lt. Col. Nigel Wylde told the Inquiry that improvised TPUs based on alarm clocks could be constructed and tested without any great degree of skill being needed. Details of how to do this were available to both republican and loyalist militants. Synchronisation of three TPUs each using the hour hand of an alarm clock would not be a difficult enterprise.
That seems to be somewhat at variance with the very positive way in which you gave evidence earlier today.
Mr. Wylde: I hope it is not. That is the first point. The key point, I think, is that if you are trying to make terrorist devices, you have to actually test them and retest them and retest them again. In this particular case, the timing devices will have used the hour hand. That means they will have had to have been set with great precision. That precision could be developed as a skill over a period of time - yes, I have no doubt about that - but it has never been shown before or since that the loyalists had actually bothered to do that, and yet here we have three bombs exploding within 90 seconds of one another. It was a formidable operation. You would have expected, as with the IRA operation shortly afterwards, ten, 15 minutes, yes, but 90 seconds, I think, is just too much - too professional.
Senator J. Walsh: I refer you to Colin Wallaces submission. I do not know if you have seen Lieutenant Colonel John Morgans submission but they would both have been along the same lines as you. From what you are saying, I think you are going to agree that your view of the overall operation was that it required a professionalism and a military training which was not available within the ranks of the UVF. Is that what you are saying?
Mr. Wylde: I think that is fair when you look at this. Cars were hijacked in Belfast. To avoid detection, they would have been exchanged at a car park or in an arrangement away from where the bombs were loaded to other drivers, possibly the drivers who brought them down here to Dublin. They would then have had the bombs loaded, not necessarily in the North - they could have been loaded anywhere in the South so the explosives would have had to have been moved. They would then have had to have been primed, somewhere preferably down here because of the tightness of the timing of the explosions. They would then have possibly had some sort of safety and arming unit in them so that the bombers were not actually at risk until they had walked away from that particular device - again, something that the loyalists did not employ at that time. Then, the team would have had to have had a getaway plan, all of which I covered in a substantive report which I provided to Justice for the Forgotten.
The planning of this operation was extremely competent. It was a very, very well executed terrorist attack and the result was a horrendous tragedy.
Senator J. Walsh: The whole question of collusion is a key issue in the report. During your time in the British Army in the North, what was your experience? Would you like to comment on that, and, in particular, on the conclusion of the report?
Chairman: It is not in our terms of reference to inquire into collusion. You may ask a different question.
Senator J. Walsh: I shall rephrase my question. Mr. Justice Barron came to the conclusion that in so far as there was assistance from any members of the British military establishment, they were of a low level and on an individual basis. I refer Mr Ó Dúlacháin to page 135 of the report dealing with the existence of a covert British Army unit based at Castledillon and an acknowledgement that Merlyn Rees was shown to have known of the units existence; to page 147, dealing with the issue of the appointed two, and the fact that the RUC inspector showed no surprise at seeing two RUC offices in the company of Robin Jackson and just waived them through; to page 176, dealing with Colin Wallace and the belief within the Lisburn headquarters that some of the explosives used in the Dublin bombings had been provided from security sources; to page 226, dealing with the comments of Sergeant John Weir, which refers to the arms amnesty, and that it was common knowledge among his colleagues that RUC officers gave the collected weapons to UDA members.
Chairman: Could you make your point?
Senator J. Walsh: I finally refer to page 230 of the report, dealing with the comment by Mr. Justice Barron when, having analysed the Protestant paramilitary groups on 16 March in the Fermanagh-Tyrone area he concludes that this was an indication of the level of intelligence available on loyalist groups. The report states: This seems particularly important. In the light of this intelligence coup, it is harder to accept the proposition that the bombings of 17 May came as a total surprise to the security forces in Northern Ireland. Has the report given enough weight to those particular areas which the commission was asked to investigate?
Chairman: Has it addressed the issues?
Mr. Ó Dúlacháin: No, I do not think it has. I think that the conclusions are more in the style of an attempt to summarise what is contained in the report and are indicative conclusions. I think as one goes through the report, the substance of the allegations and the facts relating to them gather together with greater force. Taking the material that emerges, we say there is a compelling argument to inquire further into the question of collusion, because it indicates a whole series and sequence of interrelated events and personalities that calls for a proper investigation.
Deputy F. McGrath:
Mr. Wylde, from the study of the 1974 Dublin-Monaghan bombings, are you
telling the committee that from your expertise and experience, loyalists
would not have had the ability to create such sophisticated bombs and
set them off in such a way without professional help?
Mr. Wylde: That is my view.
Chairman: Deputy Power, did you have an issue that you wanted to briefly address to Mr. Wylde?
Deputy P. Power: Four committee members asked the same question. Mr. Wylde, you speak with great authority on the point that the UVF did not have the expertise or ability to do what has been suggested. What is the basis of your authority and conviction? Is it just that they never did it before or since, or is it from your own personal knowledge?
Mr. Wylde: It comes from a variety of sources. First, from formal documents that have come in to the public domain - by that I mean British military documents.
Second, it comes from my own personal experience in south Armagh, north Armagh and Belfast of what loyalist terrorists were capable of throughout the mid-1970s and, third, I think it comes from discussions with colleagues when I was working in eastern Germany having done what was euphemistically referred to this morning as a special duties course which is a pseudonym for intelligence. We were collecting intelligence on the Soviet forces but the people who were involved had been working in an intelligence role in Northern Ireland and those people have exactly that same view that the loyalist terrorists did not have this capability.
Chairman: Thank you very much. I thank all of the representatives of Justice for the Forgotten, Mr. Cormac Ó Dúlacháin, in particular, for the number of hours he has spent here with the able assistance of Mr. Greg ONeill for which I thank him very much. I also thank Mr. Micheál OConnor and Mr. Nigel Wylde for elucidating on the whole explosives issue which we found very interesting and informative. You are all excused.