Marie and Anthony O’Reilly at the monument to the victims of the Belturbet Bomb.

‘No one will be brought to justice’ for Geraldine - brother

The brother of one of the victims of the Belturbet Bomb in 1972 has expressed his disappointment at plans by the British Government to introduce a statute of limitations that would end all prosecutions of ex-paramilitaries and former members of the security forces in legacy cases connected with the Troubles.

The Irish Government has said it will resist the amnesty proposal, which was announced by Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis. He informed MPs that it was a “painful truth” that criminal investigations were not likely to bring forward successful outcomes.

Anthony O’Reilly is the brother of Geraldine O’Reilly (15) who lost her life in the blast on December 28, 1972; along with Paddy Stanley (16) from Clara in County Offaly. Nobody has ever been brought to account for their deaths and the families continue to seek justice for their loved ones.

“It means that no one will be brought to justice for any of those crimes. I was always hopeful that somebody would be brought to justice, but now it is hard to know if they will ever be brought to justice in the wake of the announcement by Brandon Lewis,” Mr O’Reilly told the Celt.

“I doubt very much if people would come forward to a truth commission – I can’t see anyone admitting to anything,” he added.

Anthony’s wife Marie explained: “We have been getting on with our lives and want to think more forward than looking back. What is in the past, is in the past.

“I am disappointed for Anthony, because I would support him in anything he wanted.”

The British plan envisages the setting up of a new independent body, similar to South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It would be intended to assist families find the truth about what happened to their loved ones.

The information recovery body would have “full access” to information from State agencies and could take statements from individuals, according to a UK Government document.

Both the Taoiseach Micheál Martin and the Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney are opposing the plan, which they say is “wrong”.

“I don’t believe in a general amnesty for those who committed murder, whether they were State actors, or whether they’re involved in terrorist or illegal organisations,” said the Taoiseach.

“Our position as an Irish Government, shared with all of the political parties in the North and all of the victim groups, remain consistent with that of Stormont House,” said Mr Martin.

Garda reply ‘little use’

Meanwhile, a letter to An Garda Síochána about the prospect of further investigation into the Belturbet bombing yielded little satisfaction in the council chamber at the July meeting of the local authority.

Fianna Fáil councillor John Paul Feeley had put forward a motion at the January plenary meeting of Cavan County Council calling for a full investigation into the Belturbet bombing in light of evidence put forward in the RTE documentary ‘A Bomb That Time Forgot’.

Cllr Feeley’s January motion requested that files held by the British Government should be made available to the Irish policing body for examination and a letter was sent to An Garda Síochána requesting a re-examination of the evidence. At the July meeting of the authority, the reply from An Garda Síochána was submitted to the record.

Cllr Feeley said it was “not a great deal of use”.

The Fianna Fáil representative said ample evidence was uncovered in the documentaries that An Garda Síochána could use for the basis of a full review.