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Calls for Justice Minister to release Belturbet bombing files

A Freedom of Information request submitted by RTÉ’s This Week programme was refused earlier this year.

A memorial statue of Geraldine and Paddy in Belturbet
A memorial statue of Geraldine and Paddy in Belturbet
Image: KatherineKenny via Flickr/Creative Commons

FOLLOWING THE DENIAL of a Freedom of Information request, there have been calls for the files on the 1972 Belturbet bombing to be released.

Sinn Féin’s TD for Cavan-Monaghan Caoimghín Ó Caoláin has urged Justice Minister Alan Shatter to unlock the documents his department have kept in relation to the attack in which two teenagers were killed on 28 December 1972.

The call comes after it emerged that a similar request made by RTÉ under the Freedom of Information Act was refused.

Local girl Geraldine O’Reilly, aged 15, and Offaly native Patrick Stanley, 16, died when a car bomb exploded in the town 40 years ago yesterday. Their families continue to press for an inquiry.

“It comes as a further disappointment to the bereaved families in their search for truth and justice that files on the Belturbet bombing and the related bombings in Clones, County Monaghan and Pettigo, County Donegal on the same day, should be withheld by the Department of Justice,” said the Sinn Féin deputy. “Minister Shatter should release them without further delay and I am writing to him to request that he do so.”

A loyalist group is believed to be responsible for the events of 28 December but no person has ever been charged. Eight others were injured in the Belturbet explosion, while two were seriously injured in Clones.

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The Justice for the Forgotten group say that Geraldine was on her Christmas holidays from school on that ill-fated day and had travelled into the town with her brother to buy chips. The explosion happened when she was in the shop, waiting to be served. Her brother Anthony was one of the injured.

The second victim, 16-year-old Paddy Stanley was also on his holidays from school. He had taken a holiday job as a helper on a gas-delivery truck and the driver had decided to stay overnight in Belturbet because of a problem with the vehicle.

When the bomb exploded, the teen was in the public phone kiosk on Main Street, trying to telephone his parents to tell them he would not be home. He suffered massive head injuries and was killed instantly.

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