An Phoblacht Republican News, Iml. 9, Uimh. 19
Organisation: Sinn Féin
Publication: An Phoblacht Republican News
Issue:Volume 9, Number 19
Déardaoin 14 Bealtaine / Thursday 14th May 1987
Type:Publication Issue
View: View Document
Discuss:Comments on this document
Subjects: Loughgall Ambush

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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

7th November 2023

Many thanks to the person who forwarded this to the Archive.

This edition of An Phoblacht/Republican News joins others in the Archive, but is of particular interest since it reports on the death of the Active Service Unit led by Jim Lynagh at Loughgall in May 1987. At twenty-four pages it is these events which dominate the content.

As noted by Wiki :

The Loughgall ambush took place on 8 May 1987 in the village of Loughgall, County Armagh, Northern Ireland. An eight-man unit of the Provisional Irish Republican Army(IRA) launched an attack on the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) base in the village. An IRA member drove a digger with a bomb in its bucket through the perimeter fence, while the rest of the unit arrived in a van and fired on the building. The bomb exploded and destroyed almost half of the base. Soldiers from the British Army‘s Special Air Service(SAS) then returned fire both from within the base and from hidden positions around it in a pre-planned ambush, killing all of the attackers. Two of them were subsequently found to have been unarmed when they were killed.

A civilian was also killed and another wounded by the SAS after unwittingly driving into the ambush zone and being mistaken for IRA attackers.

The joint British Army/RUC operation was codenamed Operation Judy.[6][7] It was the IRA’s biggest loss of life in a single incident during the Troubles.

There is a broader context in which the ambush took place where Lynagh and others sought to press home a strategy of the destruction of British army and RUC bases and obstructing their rebuilding in order to ultimately prise away the grip of the security forces on more extensive areas.

Various articles offer individual portraits of the dead Volunteers and there are photographs from their funerals.

The headline is notable – entitled Loughgall Martyrs, with a subheading ‘Fuair siad bás ar son mhuintir na Éireann’.

The Opinion column argues:

ON FRIDAY EVENING, May 8th, a group of IRA Volunteers set out to attack the RUC barracks at Loughgall, County Armagh. They went with cour­age and skill and, above all, with com­radeship and a firm belief in the correct­ness of their action. They went as republican soldiers who had carefully planned and hoped to successfully inflict a maJor blow against part of the British war machine which occupies six counties of our country.


They did so because they were politicised and highly­motivated republicans committed to the armed struggle which is the only means by which the British government can be forced to break its stranglehold on political progress and peace.

The strength of that stranglehold was epitomised by the ambush at Loughgall. The IRA Volunteers were greatly outnumbered and outarmed by an occupying army with a vast array of military equipment and surveill­ance technology at its disposal. The Volunteers could have been arrested but it was never in the minds of the SAS to arrest them. They planned to take no prisoners and they took none, murdering an uninvolved civilian in the process.

Republicans do not complain about the way in which the British forces carried out their operation. Centuries of British terror have taught us to expect it.

The piece concludes:

The memory of the Loughgall Martyrs will be in the minds of republicans as we bring forward our struggle to victory. It will be in the mi”nds of the political activists of Sinn Fein as they take the war to the ground for so long occupied by those politicians who have made their peace with the war-mongers who carried out the Lough­gall massacre. It will be in the minds of their comrade Volunteers of the Irish Republican Army, the army of our country, as they take the war to the heart of the enemy and inflict mount­ing defeats on it until it has no option but to go, and go for good. The Loughgall Martyrs did not live to see the Ireland they fought for. Let us ensure that we in this generation fight on ever harder, ever stronger until we achieve the democratic socialist republic. Only then can we say that we have lived up to their memory and won their victory.

There is also a small piece on the civilian killed in the attack – Anthony Hughes.

The last page shows an IRA colour party firing shots in the air and is captioned: Loughgall will become a tombstone for British policy in Ireland and a bloody milestone in the struggle for freedom, justice and peace.

More from An Phoblacht Republican News

An Phoblacht Republican News in the archive


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