An absurd claim appeared in The Belfast Telegraph newspaper in relation to a “New IRA” attempt to bomb a car belonging to a female PSNI officer who had a young daughter – the claim was that the New IRA was copying ISIS-style attacks and that “even the most hardened of republicans” [meaning the IRA of the past 5 decades] would be ‘horrified’ by the attack.
This claim, by journalist Allison Morris, appeared to be sanitising the IRA’s own record of attacks on young mothers which failed to horrify any republicans – why wouldn’t the New IRA simply copy the IRA’s decades of murders of mothers, women and girls?
It is useful, therefore, to recall one of the IRA’s attacks on a young mother that set a standard on a par with ISIS.
On Saturday night, Oct 8, 1977 at a remote farmhouse in Tynan, County Armagh, very close to the Monaghan border, two young brothers were watching television with their grandmother.
The boys’ parents were out for the evening.
The boys’ sister, Margaret Ann – a 23-year-old single parent – was outside the small farmhouse in an equally small caravan with her 3 year old daughter, Crystal.
Unknown to this rural South Armagh Protestant family, three teenage IRA volunteers [the oldest was 16] were sneaking up in the darkness toward the house, one of them carrying a loaded Armalite rifle.
The first thing that the two young brothers and their grandmother knew of the evening’s events was when a milk churn crashed through the living room window, showering them with glass.
A gunman appeared and told them to tell their sister to get out of the Ulster Defence Regiment.
Moments later, the boys and their grandmother heard smashing glass outside the house and a fusillade of gunshots.
The 16 year old IRA gunman had smashed into the caravan and, finding Margaret Ann there, had shot her 10 times with the high velocity Armalite rifle at very close range.
As Margaret Ann fell onto a bunk bed, dying, she had no idea if her 3 year old daughter was alive or dead.
The young IRA gunman fired some more shots in the caravan and at the house and escaped.
Margaret Ann’s daughter, Crystal, was asleep behind a flimsy wooden partition in the caravan clutching a Kermit the Frog cuddly toy which was hit by a bullet – the toy, showing the bullet hole, was displayed in a number of national newspapers during the following days.
Prior to this attack, women part-time members of the Ulster Defence Regiment [known as ‘greenfinches’] were unarmed and – as commentators said in the following days – were only protected ‘by common decency’.
There was widespread shock and horror at this IRA murder of a young mother beside her 3-year-old daughter.
Within a week and following the discovery of a rifle dumped nearby, detectives of the Royal Ulster Constabulary had identified and arrested three teenage neighbours as the likely IRA murderers.
One was 16 years old, a second was 15 years old and a third was 14 years old at the time of the murder.
This was a classic Provisional IRA tactic – to corrupt and then send out young kids to commit foul deeds while the Godfathers sat at home safe and sound, and likely making regular contact with British Secret Service intermediaries, no doubt establishing their own immunity from prosecution.
The trial took place nearly two years later.
Described later by the trial judge as living near enough to the Hearst family to be described as “near neighbours”, it’s still difficult to comprehend how three young teenagers sworn into the IRA by older men could murder a young woman whom they obviously knew to have a 3 year old daughter.
The murder had as yet awakened no hint of regret or of repentance in any of the teenagers now sworn “to obey all orders” given to them by their local IRA commanders “under pain of death” themselves.
After making false claims about maltreatment, the alleged gunman, Ian Hegarty of Middletown, suddenly made a guilty plea.
His two co-defendants also sought and got plea deals.
What type of terrorist organisation corrupts young teenagers and orders them out to murder their neighbours?
A type of terrorist organisation deemed unfit to govern in the Republic of Ireland – SFIRA…
Who needs ISIS?
Did any of the Godfathers ever appear in court charged with Directing Terrorism during 30 years?
However, the Provos weren’t finished with the Hearst family.
A year after the Margaret Ann Hearst murder trial, while Margaret’s 52-year-old father – Ross Hearst – was visiting a friend on the Monaghan side of the border, he was abducted by three IRA gunmen at night.
Ross Hearst was not and never had been a member of the security forces. He was simply a border Protestant grieving for his daughter.
The following morning his burnt out car was found close to his body which had been dumped in a ditch.
Ross Hearst had been riddled with bullets.
The Provisional IRA later claimed that Ross had been an informer – this was the first time an ordinary Protestant civilian in the border area was so described by the IRA and the claim was ridiculed.
The Irish Times declared: “It has been clear for quite some time that the Provisional IRA have been carrying out a deliberate, ruthless campaign against Protestants in Border areas. This campaign threatens the very existence of Protestant families, and whole communities, in those areas.”
This was the very definition of ethnic cleansing.
A Monaghan man, Seamus Soroghan, was arrested in connection with the IRA’s sectarian murder of Ross Hearst.
Soroghan was working as a chef in Monaghan town and agreed to make his car and driving talent available to IRA murderers.
Soroghan’s 5 year sentence, minus almost a year on remand awaiting trial and given remission for good behaviour, would have been at most only 2 years for his part in Ross Hearst’s sectarian murder.
Over many years, a long succession of attempts at trials or extraditions of IRA suspects in the Republic of Ireland had failed on technicalities – barristers for the defence could easily find errors or loopholes in cases against their IRA clients which the prosecutorial authorities regularly failed to spot.
The Official Unionist Party’s legal affairs’ spokesperson, Edgar Graham, commented on the Republic’s failure to prosecute Soroghan for the murder of Ross Hearst:
Within two years of this comment, Edgar Graham himself was murdered by the IRA in Queen’s University, Belfast.
The “New IRA” needs no lessons from ISIS in how to manufacture Human Rights atrocities involving the murders of young mothers such as Margaret Hearst and Joanne Mathers, of abducted, tortured, executed and disappeared women such as Jean McConville [mother of 10 children], and the murders of Catholic school teachers such as Mary Travers or of women police officers such as Linda Baggley.
No, the home-grown IRA – whose members are now in government in Northern Ireland – was fully capable of giving lessons in all kinds of horrors, not forgetting the “human bomb” tactics which saw three men chained to bombs and ordered to drive them to targets – only one of the “human bomb” attacks succeeded, that of Patsy Gillespie.
Must The Belfast Telegraph newspaper now seek to sanitise the IRA’s appalling Human Rights’ record in order to sell more newspapers to the increased Sinn Féin electorate?
David Hearst, Margaret Ann Hearst’s younger brother who was 13 years old when the gunmen came to the house and murdered his sister, told his story:
If you were in any doubt about the IRA’s record on murdering women, girls and infant females, this video shows 120 names of its female victims of all ages: