Saturday, May 07, 2005

May 8th, 1987 - Eight Volunteers and One Civilian Killed at Loughgall

On May 8th, 1987, in the tiny village of Loughgall in County Armagh, eight IRA Volunteers and one civilian were killed by the S.A.S. in a joint shoot-to-kill operation with the R.U.C. The Volunteers, Jim Lynagh, Gerard O'Callaghan, Paddy Kelly, Pádraig McKearney, Tony Gormley, Declan Arthurs, Eugene Kelly and Séamus Donnelly of the East Tyrone Brigade, were engaged in an attack on the local RUC barracks.

Loughgall was a devastating blow to the IRA. It was the deadliest day for Óglaigh na hÉireann since the Irish War of Independence, and it nearly destroyed its East Tyrone Brigade. Many of the Volunteers killed were seasoned veterns and able leaders. It did, however, also manage to put the British in an uncomfortable spot. If, as the British government frequently insisted, there was no war in Ireland, then the shoot-to-kill operation (which was planned and approved at the highest level of the British government's administration) was a stark violation of Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights. If there was a war, then the British government was obliged to recognize that IRA prisoners had political status as prisoners of war. It would undo all the efforts made by the British government to paint the IRA as nothing more than criminals.
From the republican perspective, this was a tragic day in which eight brave Volunteers and one unfortunate civilian, Anthony Hughes, were killed by a foreign army occupying Ireland. From a British perspective, which maintains that there is no war, it would amount to yet another gross human rights violation - the murder of nine men. In order for it to be anything else, they would have to recognize the conflict for what it truly is - a war - and this would fly in the face of the stance they have long maintained. It would oblige them to recognize that every Republican Hunger Striker who went heroically to his grave fighting for political status was right, and that all Republican prisoners were entitled to such status. To date, the British government has neither been held accountable for it's actions in Loughgall, nor does it recognize the political status of Republican prisoners.

Vol Seamus Donnelly
Vol Tony Gormley
Vol Eugene Kelly
Vol Paddy Kelly
Vol Declan Arthurs
Vol Jim Lynagh
Vol Padraig McKearney
Vol Gerard O'Callaghan
Anthony Hughes

R.I.P.

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