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Sunday, 22 July, 2001, 16:38 GMT 17:38 UK
Memorial for ambassador
Christopher Ewart-Biggs: Murdered British Ambassador to Dublin
Christopher Ewart-Biggs: Murdered 12 days after arriving in Dublin
A memorial service has been held in Dublin to mark the 25th anniversary of the IRA murder of Britain's Ireland ambassador Christopher Ewart-Biggs.

Irish President Mary McAleese and members of the British and Irish Governments attended the memorial in St Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral.

The envoy was blown up in his official car by a land mine just yards from his official home in south Dublin on 21 July 1976.

It happened just 12 days after he arrived in Dublin to take up the post.

Northern Ireland Office private secretary Judith Cooke also died in the blast and Permanent Under Secretary Brian Cubbon was seriously injured.

'Violence for political ends'

The ambassador's driver, Brian O'Driscoll, survived the attack but was seriously injured.

His murderers were were unable to bury the ideals of reconciliation on this island for which Christopher Ewart-Biggs stood

Sir Ivor Roberts
Mr O'Driscoll, who is still employed at the British Embassy in Dublin, was also at Sunday's ceremony.

The IRA admitted causing the blast, but no-one was ever charged with the murders.

In an address at the memorial, the present day ambassador, Sir Ivor Roberts, described his murdered predecessor as "a diplomat of great intellect, devoted to his work".

He also recalled that in a briefing with journalists the day before he died, El Alamein veteran Mr Ewart-Biggs, who lost an eye in that conflict and wore a monocle as a consequence, declared: "I have one prejudice, acquired during the war - a very distinct and strong prejudice against violence for political ends."

Sir Ivor said: "If the last 30 years have taught us anything down the miserable catalogue of 3,000 lost lives in every quarter of the communities in Northern Ireland and, indeed, in this jurisdiction and in Great Britain and in various points of the European mainland -

"It is that the physical force tradition, which has so infected life on this island, and on that day 25 years ago, cast such a deep shadow over British and Irish relations, has been shown to have run its course."

"We have heard welcome, if belated, recognition of that from the leadership of the republican movement."

The ambassador added of the "evil men" behind the murder: "They were unable to bury the ideals of reconciliation on this island for which Christopher Ewart-Biggs stood, which his death paradoxically helped entrench more firmly and which today we have never been closer to achieving."

Literary prize

The envoy's widow, Jane, who later became a Labour peer, established an annually-awarded literary prize in memory of her husband.

It was most recently awarded to the book Lost Lives, chronicling those killed in the Troubles.

Lady Ewart-Biggs died in 1992.

Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen led the Dublin government representation at the service.

The British Government group was headed by Foreign Office Minister of State Baroness Amos.

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24 Feb 01 | Northern Ireland
Memorial prize for Lost Lives
08 Oct 99 | Northern Ireland
Turning the pages on lost lives
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