04 June 2006

Breakthrough in Dublin Monaghan bomb inquiry

Sunday Times

Enda Leahy
June 04, 2006

A BRITISH Army intelligence officer has provided vital new evidence to Patrick McEntee in his inquiry into the Dublin Monaghan bombings of 1974, the largest terrorist attacks carried out in the republic, according to one of the victims.

Last week McEntee was given a two-month extension for his inquiry after reporting that he had made a key breakthrough in the investigation. He submitted an interim report to the government on Tuesday, which said he had met an unnamed source of information “outside the state”.

Edward O’Neill, whose father was killed in front of him by the bomb in Dublin, and who is suing the state in the High Court to establish a full and open inquiry, said political and intelligence sources informed him last week that McEntee had met Lieutenant Colonel Peter Maynard, now employed at the British Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Maynard was interviewed by a previous inquiry into the bombings, carried out by Justice Henry Barron, and was named in Oireachtas committee hearings following Barron’s report.

Maynard, an explosives and ordnance expert, was based in Northern Ireland at the time of the bombings and named in the House of Commons after visiting Dublin in 1974, two months after the attack, in an attempt to recruit a serving Irish army officer as a British agent.

According to O’Neill, Maynard may have supplied McEntee with the identity of gardai who acted as British agents or were involved in the aborted garda investigation following the bombings. The attacks, on May 17, 1974, involved the highest death toll in a single day during the Troubles, killing 33 people.

This weekend the MoD refused to deny the claim that the officer had cooperated with the inquiry. A spokesman said they could not comment and initially requested Maynard’s name be withheld because of “D-notice issues”. D-notices are issued to the media to prevent the publication of information judged to be a threat to national security.

It is understood that any interview with Maynard would have required the sanction of the MoD and a review of any possible breach of the Official Secrets Act.

Last week an Irish government official confirmed that McEntee’s interview “outside the state” was in London and that during “informal” exchanges with Irish officials, McEntee had been advised to continue his inquiry if he believed information could be gleaned in relation to the gardai and their 1974 investigation. McEntee refused to comment on the claim last week.

Barron’s inquiry found evidence that Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) terrorists who carried out the attack had help from British state agencies.

Previous reports into the bombings, including one from a British army bomb disposal expert who submitted a 100-page report to the Barron inquiry in 2003, suggested that the UVF terrorists who carried out the attacks were incapable of manufacturing the sophisticated explosives and timers used. It has been claimed that the material was supplied by the British military from explosives seized from the IRA.

Maynard may be in a position to offer an insight into possible links between British military intelligence and the UVF or British agents in the Irish security services. There is no suggestion that he helped supply explosives or was involved in the attacks or in any collusion with the UVF.

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