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Dublin bombing victim dies almost 50 years after atrocity

A man who was seriously injured in the loyalist bombings of Dublin in 1974 has died.

Derek Byrne was 14 when he was pronounced dead following an explosion in Parnell Street almost 50 years ago, but woke up three hours later in a morgue and was rushed to hospital for emergency life-saving surgery.

His death at the age of 63 came just days after he attended court in Belfast as part of a long-running claim for damages on behalf of victims.

On May 17 1974, three no-warning bombs went off across Dublin city centre and one in Monaghan town.

No-one has ever been convicted over the bombings but the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) admitted responsibility in 1993.

1974 bombings report in hands of Taoiseach
Thirty-five people, including two unborn children, died in the 1974 bombings (Niall Carson/PA)

An official memorial in the Irish capital honours the 35 victims of the bombings, which include two unborn babies.

It remains the single greatest loss of life on any single day of the Troubles.

The families, who allege collusion in the atrocities, have been pursuing damages in Belfast High Court since 2014.

Mr Byrne’s lawyer, Kevin Winters from KRW Law, said his client has joined the long list of Troubles victims who did not live to see the conclusion of their legal cases.

Mr Winters said: “We issued High court proceedings against the police, military and the Secretary of State for damages for conspiracy to murder and misfeasance amongst other torts in relation to collusion allegations around the Dublin-Monaghan Bombings.

“In December 2018 Derek was part of a large group of families of victims and survivors who travelled to Belfast to listen as the High court ordered the release of documents in their case.

“However the state immediately appealed the order and issued motions to strike the case out.

“Nearly five years on Derek returned to the same court to hear the defendants arguments to prevent discovery of material.

“He travelled wheelchair-bound on the train from Dublin. He did so knowing he was severely life-limited and very much against medical advice.

“Five days later he succumbed to his many illnesses and died.

“His incredible survival of that bomb blast was bookended 50 years on by his defiant act of attending court when at death’s door.”

Mr Winters said there was a “real poignancy” that Mr Byrne had died before hearing the outcome of the court case.

Kevin Winters of KRW Law said it was poignant that Derek Byrne had died before hearing the outcome of the case (Liam McBurney/PA)
Kevin Winters of KRW Law said it was poignant that Derek Byrne had died before hearing the outcome of the case (Liam McBurney/PA)

He added: “The recent positive soundings of the new (PSNI) Chief Constable (Jon Boutcher) on sharing of Troubles-linked information makes Derek’s passing even more acute.

“The anticipated impactful outworkings of Jon Boutcher’s culture change vision on information sharing is a welcome antidote to the last five years of attritional litigation on the Dublin-Monaghan bombings case.

“However his pronouncement comes too late for Derek Byrne.

“He is the latest victim of a litigation system which has timed out on hundreds of other next of kin and survivors who never lived to see the end of their cases.”

Mr Winters said: “Derek Byrne’s sad passing really ought to be a timely reminder of the need for urgent implementation of the litigation culture change recently advocated.”