Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the progress made regarding the Dáil Éireann motions on the Dublin-Monaghan bombings and the issues that continue to be left unaddressed for the families of those who lost their lives in the bombings. [3262/17]
Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan: My question relates to the Dublin-Monaghan bombings and the outstanding issues and various Dáil motions that have been passed. Has any progress been made on those motions and the outstanding issues?
Deputy Charles Flanagan: I thank the Deputy for raising this important issue. The House will be aware that dealing with the legacy of the past relating to the conflict in Northern Ireland is a major priority for me as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade and for my Government colleagues. This commitment is reflected in the Programme for a Partnership Government, which makes specific reference to pursuing the issue of the Dublin-Monaghan bombings. The all-party motion on the 1974 Dublin-Monaghan bombings adopted in this House on 25 May 2016 has, like those adopted in 2008 and 2011, been conveyed directly to the British Government. These motions call on the British Government to allow access by an independent, international judicial figure to all original documents relating to the Dublin-Monaghan bombings.
The Government is committed to pursuing actively the implementation of these all-party motions and has consistently raised the issue with the British Government. The Taoiseach has raised the issue with Prime Minister May, emphasising the Government’s continued support for the Dáil motions. I have also raised the issue on a number of occasions with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Mr. James Brokenshire, most recently at our meeting in Belfast on 19 January, just last week. In our discussions, I advised the Secretary of State that the Dáil motions represent the consensus political view in Ireland that an independent, international judicial review of all the relevant documentation is required to establish the full facts of the Dublin-Monaghan atrocities. I have also underlined to the Secretary of State that the absence of a response from the British Government is a matter of deep concern to the Government and the House. I emphasised the urgent need for a response from the British Government.
Secretary of State Brokenshire has acknowledged the importance that the Government and Dáil Éireann attach to this case. He indicated the British Government is still considering how it could respond in a way that would adequately address the motions and be consistent with its obligations. The Government will continue to pursue this matter with the British authorities, urging them to provide a satisfactory response to the motions that have been adopted by this House on a cross-party basis.
There are many families throughout these islands and beyond who continue to deal not only with the awful pain of losing a loved one but also with the struggle for answers decades after these traumatic events. Accordingly, the setting up of a new comprehensive framework for dealing with the past, as envisaged in the Stormont House Agreement, remains a priority for the Government.
Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan: I thank the Minister. We have had a number of engagements on this already, as have other Deputies. The Minister has met the relatives from Justice for the Forgotten. His Department funds the organisation. We have a Dáil group under Deputy Crowe’s chairmanship that meets regularly with the relatives. The Taoiseach attended the 40th anniversary, which is the milestone. The Minister was at the 41st anniversary and we are now approaching the 42nd. We have had three Dáil motions. I do not doubt the engagement the Minister has had but the answer the British Government is still considering leaves much to be desired.
I would ask about the current Secretary of State and the Minister’s perception of how serious he is on this. I would certainly have different views about the previous Secretary of State and her role in this regard. I would also ask the Minister about the talks going on between the senior officials in the Minister’s Department and the Northern Ireland Office about those undisclosed documents on the British side, and whether he is confident they will accept that this independent international inspector holds them.
Deputy Charles Flanagan: The Deputy is right that there have been contacts between senior officials of both Governments over recent times to explore whether a response to the Dáil motion that would be mutually acceptable to both sides can be found. As Minister, I continue to engage with the Secretary of State and with the Northern Ireland parties to ensure we can proceed to report progress on the wider legacy issues. In the course of my meeting last week with the Secretary of State, Mr. Brokenshire, I again raised the specific issue of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. I conveyed to him the dissatisfaction on my part and on the part of the Irish Government, and also the dissatisfaction of the House, that there has not been the level of progress on this issue that was envisaged on the matter of the Dáil motion. I agreed, however, that the contacts at senior official level would continue over coming weeks and months. I will be happy to keep the Deputy fully informed.
Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan: It is hard to understand why, after 41 years, the British actually fear the truth. We know how important the truth is for the relatives and victims. In 1993 there was a Yorkshire Television documentary, “Hidden Hand: The Forgotten Massacre”. I think that sums it up particularly well. It is a forgotten massacre and if it were not for the relatives, I am sure this would have been swept under the carpet. That documentary was explicit in naming names so, again, I come around to the fear of letting the truth be told in that it might clear people who were named in that documentary or further give to the relatives the information they need. With regard to Brexit, will it mean a further delay for the victims and the Justice for the Forgotten group?]
Deputy Charles Flanagan: I do not envisage the Brexit negotiations will impact directly on issues pertaining to the Stormont House Agreement in respect of the setting up of the legacy institutions. However, I would point out that there is an election in Northern Ireland. I urge all the parties involved in that campaign to ensure nothing is said in the course of the campaign that might make more difficult the setting up of an all-party Executive in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Good Friday Agreement after the election.
I hope the elections do not impact on progress in setting up the legacy institutions under the Stormont House Agreement. Progress on these issues remains a priority for me and the Government. Right up to the collapse of the institutions last week, there were efforts on the part of the parties in Northern Ireland and the two Governments to ensure progress could be reported on the outstanding issues pertaining to the setting up of the legacy institutions. Even though we are in an electoral cycle in Northern Ireland, I assure the House the Irish Government will remain steadfast in its determination and efforts to ensure the new institutions provided for under the Stormont House Agreement are realised at the earliest opportunity.