The remains of the car used in the Belturbet Bomb in December 1972. The loyalist bombing in Clones was coordinated with explosion on the same night in Pettigo and Belturbet. ©Photographed by Paddy Ronaghan.

New information emerges on bomb suspect

Following further revelations which point to the possible identity of one of the people involved in the bombing of Clones in December 1972, Cavan-Monaghan TD Pauline Tully has received assurances from the Minister for Justice that this new information will be forwarded to An Garda Síochána for their attention.

The information is particularly significant as the Clones bomb - in which there were people suffered serious injuries but no one died - was part of a coordinated plan of three loyalist attacks on border towns on a single night, December 28, 1972. Car bombs also exploded in Pettigo and Belturbet that same night, the latter of which killed two teenagers, Geraldine O'Reilly and Patrick Stanley.

The new information was unearthed from the British Ministry of Defence archives by University of Nottingham academic Dr Edward Burke and published in his university's blog.

Deputy Tully recently brought the matter to the attention of the acting Minister for Justice, Heath Humphreys.

“This new information may shed some light on the identity of one of the people responsible for the bombing of Clones in December 1972 as well as Belturbet and Pettigo the same evening," Deputy Tully said.

“It also reveals that the RUC failed to provide intelligence to An Garda Síochána of a car that they suspected was stolen earlier that day in Enniskillen by a loyalist paramilitary which may have prevented the attack.

“This is a shocking revelation as many people were injured in the three bomb attacks and in Belturbet two innocent young people lost their lives."


Dr Burke's contributions were central to the documentary ‘Belturbet: A Bomb That Time Forgot’ which aired on RTE in December 2020 and was repeated again this week.

“The documentary highlighted how the British army had colluded with a Unionist politician and loyalist paramilitaries in blowing up Aghalane bridge on the border between Cavan and Fermanagh.

“The Minister in her response said that ‘[t]he bombings were fully investigated by An Garda Síochána at the time with technical assistance from the Defence Forces and the close cooperation of the authorities in Northern Ireland.

“However, the point that the Minister seems to miss is the fact that these ‘authorities in Northern Ireland’ who An Gardai were in ‘close cooperation’ are the same people who it is revealed both colluded with the loyalist paramilitaries who blew up Aghalane Bridge and also failed to pass on information to An Garda Síochána which may have prevented one or more of the bomb attacks in Belturbet, Clones and Pettigo.

“I have contacted the Minister for Justice to ensure that this information is also brought to the attention of the Justice Minister at Stormont and the Police Ombudsman’s Office .”