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Representatives of Justice for the Forgotten,
Families and friends and all affected,
Thank you for inviting me to lay a wreath today on behalf of the Government on the 45th anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. I want to express mine and the Government’s sincere and heartfelt condolences to the families whose loved ones were killed and to those who were injured in the terrible events of 17 May 1974.
On a personal level, I want to say that this commemoration is important to me and as a Minister, I have endeavoured to be here, to show my support and solidarity over the years.
I know that this is another difficult day for each person who is here to remember loved ones lost in this atrocity and for those of you who were injured in bombings and all who were present that terrible day.
It is, frankly, hard to believe that on a day such as this all those years ago, ordinary people going about their daily lives had those lives so callously and brutally attacked. But, like so many other incidents of dreadful violence on this island during the troubles, that was the tragic reality for those caught up in the horrific bombings on that day.
I want to state clearly and unequivocally the Government’s continued support for victims and survivors of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. We will persevere relentlessly in our efforts to seek out the truth behind those events and, hopefully, to secure some measure of comfort for you.
The Government has worked consistently to implement the previous all-party Oireachtas motions which call on the British Government to allow access by an independent international judicial figure to all original documents in their possession relating to the Dublin-Monaghan bombings. I know you are frustrated that these motions have not yet been responded to and I share your frustration. However, I want to assure you that we will not give up in our efforts.
Last week, the Tánaiste, Simon Coveney, and myself were in London for the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference – a body established under the Good Friday Agreement to promote bilateral co-operation at all levels on all matters of mutual interest within the competence of both Governments. We were clear with our hosts, Chancellor David Lidington and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley, of the urgency of progressing this matter and the need for a concrete response from the British Government.
The Government is also determined to achieve progress with the establishment of the institutions for dealing with the legacy of the past that were agreed as part of the Stormont House Agreement. I am pleased that all-party talks have reconvened in Northern Ireland and I am hopeful that these will deliver a successful outcome leading to the re-establishment of the power sharing institutions in Northern Ireland. Dealing effectively with the legacy of the past will be one way to honour the memory of all those killed and injured in the dark days of the troubles, including those victims of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings who are foremost in our thoughts today.
The Irish Government is determined to play our part in ensuring that the Stormont House legacy bodies are established in a way that will meet the legitimate needs and expectations of all victims and survivors. The Tánaiste continues his work with the British Government and the Northern Ireland parties to achieve this.
I also continue to work hard to see these institutions established. As Minister for Justice and Equality, I am bringing forward new legislation to provide for the co-operation of the Irish authorities with the legacy framework for the benefit of victims and survivors and for our society as a whole
Twenty-one years on from the Good Friday Agreement, it is important that we remember what has been achieved since 1998, renew our commitment to the full promise and spirit of the Agreement and challenge ourselves to take up the crucial work of reconciliation.
The Government will remain steadfast in our role as a co-guarantor of the Agreement and the peace process. We will continue to support the consolidation of peace in Northern Ireland and ensure that we never return to those days of violence which still cast a shadow on our island and which are to forefront of our minds at today’s event.
We will not forget our duty to victims and survivors and to society as whole; conscious that the best tribute that we can make to those we have lost is to build a truly reconciled future.
Thank you again for the invitation to be here with you today.