independent

Monday 17 June 2019

Funeral of Gibraltar Three passed through Dundalk

30 year release of State papers: The shooting of three IRA members in Gibraltar on March 6, 1988

Former Louth Deputy, Joe Farrell with a wreath for his cousin Mairead Farrell as the hearses carrying the remains of the Gibraltar Three passes through Dundalk in March 1988
Former Louth Deputy, Joe Farrell with a wreath for his cousin Mairead Farrell as the hearses carrying the remains of the Gibraltar Three passes through Dundalk in March 1988

The three Mairead Farrell, Daniel McCann and Sean Savage were shot dead by SAS officers, who claimed that they were organising a bomb attack on the changing of the Guard Ceremony at the governor's residence.

However the three were found to be unarmed and no bomb was discovered in their vehicle and a Thames Television documentary entitled 'Death on the Rock' revealed, that they were shot by the SAS without any attempt to arrest them.

This evidence directly contradicted the official version of events and backed up ongoing claims from republicans that British forces were operating a 'shoot-to-kill' policy.

Carmen Proetta, who witnessed the shootings first hand, said that the IRA personnel were unarmed and holding their hands up when they were shot.

Two days after the shooting, the Irish Government issued a statement saying it was 'gravely perturbed that three unarmed Irish people were shot dead in Gibraltar when they could have been arrested by the security forces involved'.

State papers released last week disclose government concerns that their murders 'was likely to be a propaganda victory for the Provisional IRA.'

Anglo-Irish Secretariat officials in Belfast warned their British counterparts of 'the likelihood of emotional or difficult scenes' when the remains of those killed were returned to Belfast and called for 'highly sensitive police handling of these cases'.

The funerals passed through Dundalk on the way from Dublin airport to Belfast and the Argus report at the time indicated that of up to 7,000 lined the streets.

Veteran Fianna Fail politician Cllr Joe Farrell laid a wreath on the coffin of his cousin Mairead Farrell, whose grandfather John moved from Hill Street to Belfast in the early 1900s.

There was a large contingent of media, including TV crews from the United States, Canada and Europe, to cover the event which passed off without incident.

However, at the funerals in Belfast's Milltown cemetery, loyalist gunman Michael Stone opened fire and threw hand grenades at mourners, killing three and wounding 50 people.

Three days later, two British soldiers were seized by a mob while driving through west Belfast during the funerals of those killed at Milltown.

The Argus

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