Glorifying Gibraltar bomb team must end: DUP MLA

A Sinn Fein poster advertising the unveiling of a mural tribute to the three IRA members shot dead in Gibraltar by the SAS
A Sinn Fein poster advertising the unveiling of a mural tribute to the three IRA members shot dead in Gibraltar by the SAS

A series of events commemorating three IRA members shot dead while on a bombing mission in Gibraltar has been described as “simply wrong” by the DUP’s William Humphrey.

Mairead Farrell, Dan McCann and Sean Savage were killed by the SAS on March 6, 1988 while preparing for a bomb attack on a British Army parade.

Their target was the band of the Royal Anglican Regiment due to perform at a changing of the guard ceremony a few days later.

Republicans have organised a programme of tributes this week, including the unveiling of a new mural in Andersonstown last night, a vigil at the GPO in Dublin, and a run from Dublin to Belfast – following the route taken by the three hearses when the bodies were repatriated from the British overseas territory.

Mr Humphrey said: “Sinn Fein have been involved for some time now in a programme of glorifying terrorists and terrorism and that is simply wrong.

“It is incumbent on everyone to highlight what is right and what is wrong in society, and there certainly is no place, in 2018, for glorifying terrorists and terrorism.”

All three IRA terrorists were found to have been unarmed; however, a set of keys being carried by Farrell led police to a Ford Fiesta car in a Marbella car park. This vehicle contained a large quantity of explosives. It was claimed at subsequent inquiries that the first car was parked to secure a space for the second vehicle.

Fierce debate continues to rage around whether the use of the military in such circumstances – operating to different standards than civilian police officers – is compliant with international law.

When the case came before the European Court of Human Rights in 1995, the judges ruled by the narrowest of margins, a 10-9 decision, that the operation had resulted in the unnecessary deaths of three people who could have been arrested.

Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson, who served a prison sentence for her role in a 1980s IRA bombing campaign, paid tribute to Farrell as an ‘inspiration’.

In a Facebook message, Ms Anderson said Farrell “is still with us at every meeting we do,” and added: “Inspired by her back in the day and now.”