Saturday 3 December 2016

I want Adams to apologise for IRA bomb that killed friend, says garda

Rebecca Black

Published 19/10/2016 | 02:30

Gardaí inspect the remains of the IRA booby-trapped house at Garryhinch, Co Laois, which killed Gda Michael Clerkin and injured other gardaí. Photo: Frank McGrath Snr
Gardaí inspect the remains of the IRA booby-trapped house at Garryhinch, Co Laois, which killed Gda Michael Clerkin and injured other gardaí. Photo: Frank McGrath Snr

A Garda officer who escaped death in an IRA bomb that killed his friend has said he wants Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams to apologise.

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Retired Sergeant Jim Cannon saw his colleague Michael Clerkin die instantly in the blast at an abandoned farmhouse in Co Laois.

Sgt Jim Cannon, one of the gardaí injured in the Portarlington
blast that killed Gda Michael Clerkin. Photo Denis Byrne.
Sgt Jim Cannon, one of the gardaí injured in the Portarlington blast that killed Gda Michael Clerkin. Photo Denis Byrne.

Five Garda officers had been lured to the property by terrorists who claimed they were holding the then Laois-Offaly Fine Gael TD Oliver J Flanagan, father of the current Laois Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan.

It was just days after the Government had introduced the Emergency Powers Act following the murder of the British Ambassador Christopher Ewart-Biggs in Dublin.

Three of the survivors of the blast, believed to have been carried out by the IRA, were reunited on Sunday at a memorial mass for Garda Clerkin in Portarlington, which marked the 40th anniversary.

No one has ever been convicted of the bombing.

The remains of the IRA booby-trapped house at Garryhinch, Co Laois, which killed Gda Michael Clerkin and injured other gardaí. Photo: Frank McGrath Snr
The remains of the IRA booby-trapped house at Garryhinch, Co Laois, which killed Gda Michael Clerkin and injured other gardaí. Photo: Frank McGrath Snr

Mr Cannon - who suffered horrendous injuries and still receives treatment to this day - said he finds it very disappointing that the culprit was never caught.

He managed to dig his way out of rubble and stumble across fields through barbed wire to the closest house to raise the alarm before returning and helping to dig his colleagues out.

The former Garda Sergeant has called for Mr Adams to apologise on behalf of the bombers.

"We are the forgotten people," he said.

Gda Gerry Bohan, who was injured in the blast, at Gda Michael Clerkin’s funeral. Pic Matt Walsh
Gda Gerry Bohan, who was injured in the blast, at Gda Michael Clerkin’s funeral. Pic Matt Walsh

"I certainly would welcome an apology."

Kenny Donaldson from the South East Fermanagh Foundation victims' group said: "It is important that these families and the 60-plus civilian-based families in the Republic whose innocent loved ones were murdered by terrorists are remembered," he said.

A Sinn Féin spokesman said: "Sinn Féin in 1976 and since condemned this attack on the gardaí.

"We regret any loss of life during the conflict.

"All victims of the conflict have a right to the truth about the past.

"Mechanisms were agreed at Stormont House with a range of options to provide families of victims of the past with the maximum disclosure about the killings of their loved ones."

Irish Independent

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