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Saturday 2nd August 2003


by Eamonn Lacey

  • The thirty-year anguish of a Fethard family came to an end when an inquest into the death of one of the victims of the "forgotten" Dublin bombing was reopened last week.

    The family of thirty year old CIE bus driver George Bradshaw, who was killed in a bomb blast in Sackville Place, Dublin in December 1972, have welcomed the re-opening of his inquest after a thirty year wait.

    On an emotional day for members of the Bradshaw family, last Friday the inquest into the death of George Bradshaw was reopened along with inquests into the deaths of two other CIE workers killed in separate bomb blasts in Dublin in the early seventies.

    The two tragedies predated the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1974 and the Bradshaw family and families of the other victims, have maintained that the deaths of their loved ones had been "swept under the carpet" in a "cover up" of the forgotten Dublin bombings.

    Following the hearing at Dublin city coroner's court last Friday Anna Cooke, a sister of George Bradshaw, said she was relieved that the death of her brother and others would at last be examined.

    "After thirty years of silence and waiting, last Friday was a beginning for what we hope is a detailed investigation into the bombings. We hope this will bring what happened over thirty years ago out into the open," said Anna who attended the hearing with her brother Pat and sisters Rose and Angela.

    George, who was one of a family of fourteen from Drumdeel, Fethard, was married to Kay when the tragedy occurred and they had two children, three year old Lynn and one year old Rory.

    "It was a long and heartbreaking thirty years on all of us. His life was precious to all of us but his death seemed to be forgotten because of the small numbers of fatalities involved in comparison to the bomb that everybody remembers occurred in Dublin and Monaghan in 1974. Everything about George's death and the two other CIE workers seemed to be overlooked after the larger atrocity of 1974,” said Anna Cooke.

    George Bradshaw was, killed with CIE colleague Thomas Duffy on December 1st 1972 when a car bomb exploded in Sackville Place. The two men were parked beside Cleary's shop and were the only fatalities in the blast. Two months later a twenty one year old Scottish man, Thomas Douglas, another CIE worker, was killed in a blast in the same place.

    "George was in the CIE canteen on break when a warning came and he went out and walked straight into the blast," said his sister.

    When the inquests into the deaths of the three CIE workers was reopened last Friday, coroner Dr. Brian Farrell told counsel for the families Cormac O'Dulachain extensive files were available to them and asked that they make additional updating statements.

    The coroner's court had already written to the Garda Commissioner requesting updated files on the deaths.

    Mr. O'Dulachain suggested that the inquest be adjourned until the Barron Inquiry's subsidiary report is completed. Judge Henry Barron is to publish the Dublin and Monaghan bombings report in September, the subsidiary report relating to the deaths of George Bradshaw and his CIE colleagues would follow shortly afterwards.

    Anna Cooke said she was delighted now that the circumstances surrounding the death of her brother would be properly investigated. She also hoped that a proper memorial to the men would be placed in Sackville Street.

    "In December 1972 they opened and closed inquests into the death of George and Thomas Douglas and we have heard absolutely nothing was done to investigate the deaths in the thirty years since, until last Friday," said the bomb victims sister.

    On the night of the bombings the Dail was debating a Bill to amend the Offences Against the State Act which would strengthen measures against the IRA and other terrorists. On the third night of the debate the Sackville Place bomb went off. It killed two people and injured 127 others. The bomb was to have an immediate political effect. The Dail voted for the amendment to the Offences Against the State Act which introduced special emergency powers to fight terrorism.

    The timing of the bombs led to conspiracy theories that they were planted in a British or loyalist operation, to influence the outcome of the Dail legislation. Over the thirty years no organisation has ever claimed responsibility for the Sackville Place bombings and nobody has ever been charged in connection with the atrocities.

    Mr. Justice Barron, who is bringing out a report on the Dublin bombings in 1974, is also finalising a subsidiary report dealing with the 1972 and 1973 bombings. He is expected to publish his reports in September.

    "We are relieved now that this procedure is now in place and we expect further developments in September. It is been a very difficult thirty years for us all, we are all getting older and we just want answers. We always felt if twenty or thirty people had been killed in the bomb more would be known about it. Thirty years has gone by and we felt out in the cold down in Fethard and nobody could give us any answers. We want to know what happened and hopefully now we will finally learn what happened," said Anna Cooke.

    Anna and the Bradshaw family have become involved with the Justice for the Forgotten Group over the years and she thanked them for their support and tireless work on behalf of all the families involved.


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