Teenage IRA bomber who now works with homeless

Shane Paul O'Doherty received 30 life sentences
Shane Paul O'Doherty received 30 life sentences

A former IRA man who wreaked terror on the streets of London when he was only 18-years-old has spent recent years working for the homeless in Dublin.

The story about Shane Paul O’Doherty from Londonderry – Atonement: A Would You Believe? Special – was televised last night at 10.30pm on RTÉ One.

After experiencing the aftermath of Bloody Sunday in his native city, the IRA teenager volunteered to go to London where he sent letter bombs to politicians including then Home Secretary Reginald Maudling, as well as generals and judges from addresses listed in ‘Who’s Who’.

But he began to have doubts about the violence when his victims – many secretaries or staff who had not been targeted but were blinded or lost limbs – gave evidence at his trial.

He was given 30 life sentences and while in solitary confinement he began to study the Bible. He eventually renounced the violence he once believed in.

Now an author working in a Dublin homeless shelter, the former IRA man recounted how he first joined the organisation when he was 15 in 1970 and thought of himself as a romantic republican hero.

Last night’s programme asked if he would always be known as the ‘baby-faced’ IRA bomber?

His wife Susie said she doesn’t see him that way: “I didn’t marry an IRA man; I married someone with a past.

“If you spent any time with Shane you’d realise he’s far from the IRA man.”