Below is a reply by the Minister for Justice to the most recent Parliamentary Question I tabled in Dáil Éireann regarding the bombing in Belturbet in December 1972.
For Written Answer on : 15/12/2020
Question Number(s): 464 Question Reference(s): 43504/20
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
To ask the Minister for Justice further to Parliamentary Question No. 8 of 10 September 2020, if she will ensure further investigations are carried out into the Belturbet bombing of December 1972 following the submission of a report to her Department (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Details Supplied) (Details supplied – Report by Edward Burke of Nottingham University and forwarded by Deputy Brendan Smith to the Minister for Justice on 10th September 2020).
I thank the Deputy for raising this matter. I know that he has campaigned tirelessly on behalf of the families for many years and, of course, I am in full agreement with him that the perpetrators of this atrocity should be brought to justice.
The bombing of Belturbet on 28 December 1972 was an appalling and callous act of violence that claimed the lives of two innocent young people and injured others. The pain and anguish caused was very evident in the RTE Investigates programme last night as family members recalled the events that took their loved ones away.
The dreadful effects of this attack last to this day; the suffering of those who have lost what was most precious to them goes on. That the perpetrators of this atrocity have never been held accountable for their crimes can only compound the sense of loss.
My deepest sympathies go out to the bereaved and injured and it is my firm desire that the perpetrators will face justice and the families find the answers they seek.
As the Deputy will be aware, the Garda Authorities have previously advised that the bombing and the murders were comprehensively investigated by An Garda Síochána at the time. The Defence Forces provided expert assistance and the investigation involved close liaison with the authorities in Northern Ireland. Despite every avenue of enquiry being pursued at the time there was insufficient evidence to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice.
The investigation into the bombing and the two murders has not been closed and An Garda Síochána will pursue any new evidence or information that is made available. An Garda Síochána would, of course, work in close co-operation with the PSNI where that could advance the investigation.
Following the Debate in the House in September, I arranged for a copy of the academic article referred to by Deputy Smith, which concerned inter alia the Belturbet Bombing and information on a potential suspect, to be forwarded to the Garda authorities for attention.
I have also requested an update from the Garda authorities on the investigation.
Most importantly, I appeal for anybody with any information that may be relevant to this case, even after nearly 50 years, to bring it to the attention of the Garda Authorities to aid their investigation.