Dublin-Monaghan Bombs

UVF bomb kills 26 in Dublin, 17 May 1974

The Dublin and Monaghan bombs account for the single greatest loss of life in any one day of the Troubles and the biggest mass murder incident in the Republic of Ireland. The bombs exploded without warning on 17 May 1974 killing 33 men, women and children and injuring hundreds more. The three cars used in the Dublin attack had been stolen in Belfast and the car used in the Monaghan bomb had been stolen in Portadown.

Twenty-six people died in Dublin when three car bombs went off within minutes of each other during the Friday evening rush hour. The first exploded at 3.30pm at Parnell Street. Less than a minute later another bomb exploded outside O'Neill's Shoe Shop in Talbot Street and the third went off in South Leinster Street, near Dáil Éireann (the Irish parliament). In just 90 seconds the centre of Dublin was like a battlefield. Ninety minutes later in Monaghan, while customers at Greacen's Pub watched the horror of Dublin on the television, another car bomb parked outside exploded without warning killing seven people. One Dublin survivor who was five at the time told the Irish Times on the twentieth anniversary of the bombing that when he came to his senses some minutes after the explosion his bones were literally sticking out of his legs and that the huge piece of metal he felt protruding from his face and head had come from a blue Avenger car.

The attacks coincided with the Loyalist Ulster Workers' Council Strike. Sammy Smyth, a UDA spokesman at the time of the bombings, said: "I am very happy about the bombings in Dublin. There is a war with the Free State and now we are laughing at them." Although no loyalist group claimed responsibility at the time, the Ulster Volunteer Force admitted in 1993 that it carried out the attacks, "aided by no outside bodies". They were responding to a Yorkshire Television documentary, Hidden Hand: The Forgotten Massacre which alleged British intelligence had provided the bombers with military assistance. Previous UVF bombs were primitive devices. The Dublin and Monaghan bombs required an extraordinary degree of military sophistication.

Carnage on Talbot Street, Dublin

Since the broadcast, the relatives of those killed have sought to clear up the mystery of who was behind the bombing. The documentary alleged the Garda Síochana (Irish police) and the RUC knew the identity of the bombers in the days following the explosion. The relatives are concerned that successive Irish governments have done nothing to determine who was responsible and are campaigning for an independent inquiry. No one has yet been charged or convicted. There is suspicion that British military intelligence had been involved in the bombings.

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