1971 Newry killings

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Newry killings
Part of the Troubles
Location Hill Street, Newry, Northern Ireland
Date 23 October 1971
Attack type
Shooting, mass murder
Weapons Rifles
Deaths 3
Non-fatal injuries
Perpetrators undercover British Army soldiers

On 23 October 1971 undercover soldiers from the British Army shot dead three unarmed Catholic civilians in disputed circumstances in Newry.[1][2]


The Irish Troubles broke out in August 1969 after the Battle of the Bogside and the Belfast August 1969 riots. Soon after the British Army was called in to restore order but events quickly shaped the conflict into a three-way urban guerrilla war with Loyalist Paramilitaries like the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) on one side, Irish Republican paramilitaries like the Provisional IRA (PIRA) on one side and the British state security services making up the other belligerent.

The killings in Newry on 23 October 1971 was one in a series of controversial incidents between 1970–1973 that involved the British Army shooting and killing Catholic Irish Nationalist civilians. During the Falls Curfew of July 1970 the British Army killed four Catholic civilians,[3] the next year in August 1971 (when internment was being introduced) during the Ballymurphy Massacre they shot dead eleven civilians including a Catholic priest and a 50-year-old mother of eight.[4] The most famous of these incidents was Bloody Sunday in January 1972 in which British paratroopers shot dead 14 civil rights protesters,[5] later on that same year British army snipers shot dead five civilians and injured two more Catholic civilians in an event known as the Springhill massacre.[6] These and similar events hugely boosted recruitment into the Official IRA and Provisional IRA among the Nationalist/Catholic people of Northern Ireland and to help to intensify the conflict further.

The shooting

The shooting happened when the undercover British soldiers who were lying in wait on a rooftop across the street believed they saw a robbery taking place at a bank and assumed the robbers were members of the IRA, Sean Ruddy (19), Robert Anderson (25) and Thomas McLoughlin (27) were all shot dead. The British army said they had received information that the Provisional IRA was going to launch an operation in the area. However none of those killed were members of any paramilitary group and local eyewitness claim the men were just having an argument with someone inside the bank and were not in the process of robbing it and that the army simply shot the three men in cold blood without the men posing any serious risk to the soldiers or anybody else near the area. The shootings were carried out by the British Armies Royal Green Jackets regiment. In 2011 the Northern Ireland Historical Enquiries Team (HET) released its four-year investigation into the shooting. The HET report concluded that the killings were "a tragedy that should not have happened". The report found there to be a "question mark" over the British Army's conduct when the three men were shot dead by soldiers who were lying in wait on the roof of the nearby Woolworth's building. Arthur Ruddy, brother of Sean Ruddy and a former nationalist councillor, said the four-year-long investigation by the Historical Enquiries Team had vindicated the family, who always maintained the 19-year-old's killing was unlawful.[7]

There was intense rioting by the nationalist community in Newry for several days after the killing of the three men, with people directing their anger towards soldiers by throwing stones and in some cases petrol bombs at them. During the funerals of the men killed most shops in the town closed out of respect to the dead men, except for the bank were the men had been shot at and the local post office. Both of these had their windows broken by youths throwing stones through them. After this there were further clashes with locals and the army, with the army firing CS gas and rubber bullets at the mourners. [8] [9] [10] [11]

Shootings in Belfast

On the same day as the Newry Killings the Provisional IRA's first two female volunteers were killed by the British Army or RUC. Maura Meehan (30) and Dorothy Maguire (19), were shot dead by the British Army (BA) in the Lower Falls area of Belfast. The Army said shots came from the car first & the army returned fire. IRA Belfast Brigade commander said the two women had been travelling the area warning people of British Army raids on houses. [12]

See also


  1. ^ "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". Cain.ulst.ac.uk. 1971-10-23. Retrieved 2017-01-22. 
  2. ^ "CAIN: Chronology of the Conflict 1971". Cain.ulst.ac.uk. Retrieved 2017-01-22. 
  3. ^ "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". Cain.ulst.ac.uk. Retrieved 2017-01-22. 
  4. ^ "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". Cain.ulst.ac.uk. Retrieved 2017-01-22. 
  5. ^ "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". Cain.ulst.ac.uk. Retrieved 2017-01-22. 
  6. ^ "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". Cain.ulst.ac.uk. Retrieved 2017-01-22. 
  7. ^ "Deaths of three Newry nationalists 'a tragedy' - Irish Republican News - Fri, Dec 2, 2011". Republican-news.org. 2011-12-02. Retrieved 2017-01-22. 
  8. ^ The Troubles 7, by Joe Baker - issuu
  9. ^ Eamon Collins (1997) - Killing Rage pp, 44-45
  10. ^ https://belfastchildis.com/2015/10/22/23rd-october-deaths-events-in-northern-ireland-troubles/
  11. ^ https://seachranaidhe1.blog/category/murdered-by-the-british-army/
  12. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/october/23/newsid_2489000/2489157.stm
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