1976 Step Inn pub bombing

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1976 Step Inn bombing
Part of the Troubles
Location Keady
Date 16 August 1976
Target Step Inn Pub
Attack type
Car bomb
Deaths 2 civilians
Non-fatal injuries
Perpetrator Glenanne gang

The Step Inn pub bombing was a car bomb attack carried out by the Glenanne gang, an Ulster loyalist paramilitary group.[1] The attack occurred outside the Step Inn Pub in Keady, County Armagh, when the pub was packed with people.


After the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire of 1975, attacks on the British security forces decreased, but loyalist paramilitaries, fearing they were about to be sold out by the British government and forced into a united Ireland, stepped up their campaign of sectarian killings of innocent Catholic civilians.[citation needed] The most famous Glenanne gang attacks of this period were the 31 July 1975 Miami Showband killings (in which three members of the popular showband were killed, along with two of the gang members carrying out the attack who were killed by their own bomb while priming it), and the 4 January 1976 Reavey and O'Dowd killings, when gunmen killed three members of the Reavey family and three members of the O'Dowd family.

The bombing

Catholic civilians Elizabeth McDonald and Gerard McGleenon were killed [2] and about 15 - 20 were injured. Ten days before the bombing, the RUC asked the British Army to put James Mitchell's farmhouse (a farmhouse used by the Glenanne gang) under surveillance because they had intelligence that a bomb was being stored there. According to John Weir, the bomb was to be detonated at Renaghan's Bar across the border in Clontibret, County Monaghan. On 15 August, Weir scouted the route to the pub but was stopped by Gardaí, who told him they were mounting extra security due to a warning from the RUC. Weir told the rest of the gang and they decided to attack Keady instead. The British Army surveillance operation was ended and the bomb attack went ahead. Weir, Mitchell and the others (all alleged members of the Glenanne gang) involved were not arrested and were allowed to remain in the RUC.

Aftermath and discovery of collusion

Serving police officers later admitted involvement in the attack. Senior policemen knew about the planned attack but failed to prevent the bombing and covered up their knowledge during the subsequent police investigation. The families of Elizabeth McDonald and Gerard McGleenan, who were killed in the attack, are being supported in their inquiries by the Pat Finucane Centre while the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) investigations discovered that RUC Special Branch received reliable intelligence that UVF members had a bomb ready for use in County Armagh 10 days before the attack.[3] They also reveal that the RUC failed to make any arrests despite knowing the names of several of those involved in the bombing – among them RUC officers, who were not questioned.

In 2015, Sinn Féin MLA Mickey Brady said the preliminary inquests into the killings of Elizabeth McDonald and Gerard McGleenan at the Step Inn must not be delayed, given that HET described the RUC’s handling of the case as "catastrophic".[4]


  1. ^ http://www.spinwatch.org/index.php/issues/northern-ireland/item/5587-lethal-allies-how-two-families-fought-for-the-truth
  2. ^ http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/cgi-bin/dyndeaths.pl?querytype=date&day=16&month=08&year=1976
  3. ^ http://irishpost.co.uk/troubles-unresolved-files-claiming-state-collusion/
  4. ^ http://www.sinnfein.ie/contents/34244


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