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Mindless vandals target memorial to shoot-out soldier

THUGS have defaced a memorial erected to a soldier who lost his life during a shoot-out involving the IRA almost 30 years ago.

The memorial to Private Paddy Kelly in Moate, Co Westmeath, was daubed with paint.

The soldier (35) was shot dead along with recruit Garda Gary Sheehan (23) in Derrada Woods, Co Leitrim, during the rescue of millionaire kidnap victim Don Tidey.

Gardai in Co Westmeath are investigating the vandalism, which was condemned today by an Irish Army spokesman.


The two killings happened during an exchange of fire between the IRA and members of the army and the gardai in December 1983.

Paddy Kelly was a member of HQ Coy, 6 Infantry Battalion, while Gary Sheehan was a recruit member of the gardai from Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, whose father Jim was then a serving member of the force.

Private Kelly's son David recently confronted former IRA leader Martin McGuinness during his bid for the Presidency.

Holding a picture of his father, he told the Sinn Fein politician: "I want justice for my father, I believe you know the names of the killers. Tell me who they are."

David was just nine years old in 1983 when his father died.

During the encounter in Athlone, Mr McGuinness told Mr Kelly he did not know who killed his father. However, Mr Kelly dismissed this.

Cllr Tom Allen (FF) has expressed disappointment that the memorial had been defaced with black spray paint in recent days. He believes mindless vandals are responsible for the damage and he doesn't think Private Kelly's memorial was specifically targeted.

"His family live here in Moate and the family are a very respected family, I don't think this was trying to get at them," Cllr Allen said.

Cllr Joe Whelan (FG) agreed. "It's like all random acts of vandalism, there is no rhyme or reason to it," he said.