British diplomats complained bitterly in private about the lack of security provided by the Irish authorities for Lord Mountbatten following his assassination by the IRA, it was disclosed today.
Mountbatten, a distinguished Second World War military leader and an uncle of the Duke of Edinburgh, was killed on August 27, 1979 when the IRA detonated a bomb on his boat at his Irish holiday home in Mullaghmore, Co Sligo.
Three other people died in the explosion. Later the same day 18 British soldiers — including 16 members of the Parachute Regiment — were killed in an IRA ambush at Warrenpoint, marking one of the darkest days of the Troubles.
In a telegram to Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington — released by the National Archives at Kew under the 30-year rule — the British ambassador in Dublin Robin Haydon said there was a widespread belief the attack on Lord Mountbatten could have been prevented.
He said the concerns about the level of security provided by the Garda Siochana were shared by local people who had “greatly liked and respected” the peer.
“For those men and women the horror of what happened was and still is very real and their shame is genuine. The more so because they must share the doubts which we in this embassy have that, had the Garda Siochana been more vigilant and conscientious, the murders might not have happened,” he added.
Mr Haydon said he had been told by Lord Mountbatten's daughter Lady Pamela Hicks that it was the first year when the boat did not have a police guard on it during the day.
“In the absence of an official report, it would be unwise to go into detail, but I must say I find it extraordinary that the boat was apparently not searched by the Garda before it sailed,” he said.
“It is even more extraordinary that, to my knowledge, no questions have been asked by the Irish media about the level and adequacy of Garda security for the Mountbatten family.”