Anniversary of last Crossmaglen soldier murder victim

On Sunday (December 30) it will be 25 years to the day since the last soldier to be killed in Crossmaglen was shot dead in the centre of the village.
Grenadier Guardsman Daniel BlincoGrenadier Guardsman Daniel Blinco
Grenadier Guardsman Daniel Blinco

Grenadier Guardsman Daniel Blinco was murdered just two weeks after Prime Minister John Major and Taoiseach Albert Reynolds signed the Downing Street Declaration in December 1993.

The declaration was described as “a charter for peace and reconciliation” on the island of Ireland and was followed by the IRA ceasefire eight months later in August 1994.

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Guardsman Blinco, 22, from Melbourne in Derbyshire had been on foot patrol in the south Armagh village – known in military circles as ‘XMG’ – when he was shot by an IRA sniper. It was his second tour of duty in Northern Ireland.

A few days after the shooting his grandfather, Reginald Blinco, told the Daily Telegraph that the shooting had been a “shocking response” to the Downing Street declaration.

“I had hoped there might be a chance for peace,” he said.

Mr Blinco added: “Daniel has died in vain, but then they all do, don’t they? He was an all-around sportsman and was in the Guards’ cycling and swimming teams, friendly and outgoing, 6’6” tall and handsome.”

On the 20th anniversary of the murder in December 2013, the people of Melbourne rededicated a bench in the town in memory of Guardsman Blinco following a Grenadier Guards parade in his honour.

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At the time, the guardsman’s sister, Joanna Swain, described the tribute as “beyond belief” and told the BBC: “It is absolutely wonderful that Daniel has not been forgotten.”

His mother Nina Blinco said: “We are overwhelmed – it is a wonderful thing that the people of Melbourne have turned out.”

Guardsman Blinco was one of ten soldiers and police officers killed in sniper attacks in the south Armagh area during a two-year period.