James Stronge (Mid-Armagh MP)

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Major the Hon. James M. Stronge
Member of the
Northern Ireland House of Commons
In office
1969–1972
Constituency Mid Armagh
Member of the
Northern Ireland Assembly
In office
1973–1974
Constituency Armagh
Personal details
Born 21 June 1932
Died 21 January 1981(1981-01-21) (aged 48)
Tynan Abbey, County Armagh
Occupation Soldier, merchant banker, farm manager, reserve police constable

Major James Matthew Stronge (21 June 1932 – 21 January 1981) was a soldier and Ulster Unionist Party MP in the Parliament of Northern Ireland, and the later Northern Ireland Assembly. He was the son and heir of Sir Norman Stronge, Bt; they were both killed by the Provisional Irish Republican Army at his family home, Tynan Abbey.

Life and career

Born into an aristocratic family, he was educated at Eton College and Christ Church, Oxford. In 1967, he was appointed High Sheriff of Armagh.[1]

He served as Ulster Unionist Member of Parliament (MP) for Mid Armagh for three years until the prorogation of Stormont in 1972 and a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, 1973-1974.

Stronge was also an officer in the Grenadier Guards. Having withdrawn from political and military life, his main interests since were confined to merchant banking and service as a RUC Reserve Constable.

Death

Stronge was killed alongside his elderly father Sir Norman, by the Provisional Irish Republican Army in the library of his home, Tynan Abbey, on the evening of 21 January 1981.[2]

The Stronge family's home was then burnt to the ground. The bodies of father and son were later recovered from their blazing home. On seeing the explosions at the house (and a flare Sir Norman had lit in an attempt to alert the authorities), policemen and British troops arrived at the scene and established a road-block at the gate lodge. They encountered at least eight fleeing gunmen. There followed a gunfight lasting 20 minutes in which at least 200 shots were fired. There were no casualties among the security forces.[3]

Author Tim Pat Coogan stated that Sir Norman Stronge and his son were shot because sectarian assassinations were claiming the lives of Catholics, but did not state that they were involved in these killings.[4]

As Stronge was shot alongside his father, and it is not known who was shot first, he is presumed to have momentarily succeeded as 9th Baronet under the legal fiction known as the doctrine of survival.[5] (This claim is disputed.[6][7])

Son and father were buried in Tynan Parish church, at his funeral a telegram sent from the Queen (to one of Sir Norman's daughters) was read, it stated; "I was deeply shocked to learn of the tragic death of your father and brother; Prince Philip joins me in sending you and your sister all our deepest sympathy on your dreadful loss. Sir Norman's loyal and distinguished service will be remembered".[8]

In 1984, Seamus Shannon was arrested by the Garda Síochána in the Republic of Ireland and handed over to the RUC on a warrant accusing him of involvement in the killing of the Sir Norman and his son. The Irish Supreme Court considering his extradition to Northern Ireland rejected the defence that these were political offences saying that they were "so brutal, cowardly and callous that it would be a distortion of language if they were to be accorded the status of a political offence". The charges were later dropped against Shannon.[9][10]

Memorial

James Stronge is remembered with a tablet in the assembly chamber in the Parliament Buildings at Stormont.[11] He is also listed on the National Police Memorial Roll Of Honour.[12]

See also

References

  1. ^ "No. 2399". The Belfast Gazette. 6 January 1967. p. 4. 
  2. ^ Biographies of Members of the Northern Ireland House of Commons
  3. ^ Stronge of Tynan Abbey, Co. Armagh Turtle Bunbury
  4. ^ 'The Green Book: I' from 'The IRA' by Tim Pat Coogan (1993)
  5. ^ Burkes Peerage
  6. ^ The SCB
  7. ^ The SCB
  8. ^ Sir Norman Stronge and Son murdered by the IRA
  9. ^ Seanad Éireann - Volume 139 - 24 March 1994. Extradition (Amendment) Bill, 1994: Second Stage Oireachtas historical debates
  10. ^ House of Commons Hansard Debates for 10 Jun 1992 United Kingdom Parliament website
  11. ^ 'Memorials to the Casualties of Conflict: Northern Ireland 1969 to 1997' by Jane Leonard (1997) Cain Webservice
  12. ^ National Police Memorial Roll of Honour for Ireland Police Memorial Trust website. Accessed 27 February 2007
Parliament of Northern Ireland
Preceded by
Sir Norman Stronge, Bt
Member of Parliament for Mid Armagh
1969 – 1973
Succeeded by
Parliament abolished
Northern Ireland Assembly (1973)
Preceded by
New creation
Assembly Member for Armagh
1973 - 1974
Succeeded by
Assembly abolished
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