Irish bombings families appeal to queen ahead of visit

16th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Survivors and families of Ireland's worst ever terror attacks appealed to Britain's Queen Elizabeth II Monday to urge her government to release secret documents on the series of bombings in 1974.

The British monarch arrives on Tuesday for her first visit to the Republic since it won independence from the United Kingdom in 1922.

The start of the visit coincides with the 37th anniversary of car bombings in Dublin and Monaghan which killed 34 men, women and children.

A 10,000-strong Irish security force is being deployed to guard the queen.

An open letter from the Justice for the Forgotten group to the British monarch says her visit is a sign of improving relations.

"We are appealing, through you, to your Prime Minister David Cameron, to mark the occasion of this historic visit by a genuinely significant gesture of reconciliation," the letter says.

It urges him "to open the files" it claims were withheld from an Irish judge who investigated the bombings.

"Without this move, deeply troublesome questions remain unanswered," the letter says.

There have been allegations over the years that British forces in Northern Ireland colluded with hardline Protestant groups in planting the bombs.

Margaret Urwin, a spokeswoman for Justice for the Forgotten, told AFP they raised the issue with Irish Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore last week and want Prime Minister Enda Kenny to discuss it with Cameron, who is also due in Dublin this week.

Sinn Fein have introduced a motion in Ireland's parliament which will be debated on Tuesday and Wednesday repeating an all-party 2008 call for Britain to release all the files on the bombings.

"It is widely believed that this attack, involving the greatest loss of life of any incident in the conflict, was carried out with the involvement of British intelligence," said party spokesman Aengus O Snodaigh.

"With the Queen of England having been invited to visit the State on the anniversary of the bombings it will be rightly seen by many to be insensitive and offensive," he added.

President Mary McAleese describes the visit of the 85-year-old monarch as an "extraordinary moment in Irish history" in a TV documentary to be screened by state broadcaster RTE on Tuesday.

It was "a phenomenal sign and signal of the success of the peace process and absolutely the right moment for us to welcome on to Irish soil Her Majesty the Queen, the head of state of our immediate next door neighbours", McAleese said.

She said the visit came at a time when Ireland was "forging a new future, a future very, very different from the past, on very different terms from the past.

"I think that visit will send the message that we are, both jurisdictions, determined to make the future a much, much better place," McAleese said.

© 2011 AFP

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