The Patsy Gillespie Slaying – The Intriguing Aftermath & A McGuinness Connection

A final word on Martin McGuinness with this piece on the aftermath of the death of Derry man Patsy Gillespie, killed in the first of the IRA’s human bomb attacks in October 1990. Thanks to ‘J’ for bringing the following articles to my attention.

The first piece is from Wikipedia and describes what happened to Patsy Gillespie in some detail during the first of the three ‘human bomb’ attacks launched on October 24th. It took place at the Coshquin British Army Border post and resulted in the deaths of Gillespie and five British soldiers.

Patsy Gillespie, a cook at a British Army base, pictured with his wife, Kathleen

The other two attacks were at the Clohoge Border post outside Newry, where the driver escaped death but a soldier was killed. The third attack was in Omagh, near Lisanelly barracks where the bomb failed to explode.

In all three attacks the drivers were chosen because the IRA had accused them of collaborating with British security forces. Patsy Gillespie was a cook at a military base and had been warned by the IRA to stop working there. They were strapped into the driver’s seat of their vehicles and told to drive to their targets. The bombs were wired to detonate both by remote control and when the driver’s door was opened.

The aftermath of the ‘human bomb’ attack at the Coshquin checkpoint

The articles that follow the Wikipedia excerpt come from The Derry Journal, The Irish Times and The Irish Echo respectively. The Echo is published in New York.

According to which account you read, either the Times‘ or the Echo’s, Martin McGuinness’ brother Willie, who was forty-four years old at the time and from Lecky Road, Derry, was arrested by Irish police in the Co. Donegal village of Burt along with Anthony Heaney (45) from Casteldawson, Co Derry.

The Times says merely that the arrests were in connection with a bombing in October 1990 but the Echo gives more detail:

Heaney and McGuinness were arrested in October 1990 following an explosion at a Derry checkpoint being operated by the British Army and the RUC. Five soldiers and a civilian were killed and a number of other soldiers were killed.

Willie McGuinness, Martin’s younger brother (photo taken from Liam Clarke’s book ‘From Guns to Government’). He was arrested by Gardai shortly after the Coshquin attack. The photo is dated 1982.

Gardai in Donegal raided a house four miles from the blast a day later. They found seven men inside, including the owner and the applicants. They also found gloves, balaclavas and other clothing.

Both men refused to answer questions and in 1991 were sentenced to six months for failing to account for their movements. They were acquitted of charges of being members of an illegal organisation.

Willie McGuinness and Heaney appealed their conviction on constitutional grounds, saying that the obligation to account for their movement conflicted with their right to silence. The two men took their case to Europe where the Court of Human Rights. There were awarded £4,000 in damages and costs totalling over £20,000. The Irish government was obliged to foot the bill.


3 responses to “The Patsy Gillespie Slaying – The Intriguing Aftermath & A McGuinness Connection

  1. Pingback: Derry: i Provos tornano sulle strade, ma è una “recita” | Les Enfants Terribles

  2. Pingback: The Grand Illusion

  3. Pingback: Eddie Fullerton, Sinn Féin and IRA – The Irish Peace Process

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