Here are some interesting British Army documents retrieved from the Kew archive which, like many documents from that source, produce more questions than answers.
The documents are log sheets compiled in the control room of the British Army’s 3 Brigade in the mid-morning of 21st January, 1973. 3 Brigade was responsible at that time for military operations in the Border area, especially in south Armagh which was a Provisional IRA redoubt in the early 1970’s and for much of the Troubles.
The log sheets record how a car driven by Dolours (misspelled Dolores) Price and a man called Joseph Murphy from the Falls Road was stopped at the Dublin Road, British Army checkpoint at the Newry border at 11:05 a.m., identified and then tailed by an undercover British Army unit. The car was traveling northwards.
The car holding Dolours Price and Joseph Murphy was held at the checkpoint for fifty minutes and released at 11:55 a.m. by which time a covert car, code named C/S C2 had arrived in the area, signalling a readiness to follow the pair.
The military surveillance team followed them into Newry by car and then by foot into Newry town where Price and Murphy had parked outside a house in Church Street. It was now 12:55 pm.
In response to a query concerning the occupants of the house, a message from the Royal Hampshire regiment identified the occupants as Sheila White and Mary McClure.
Price and Murphy stayed in the house until around 1 pm. By 13:40 the car containing the pair had left Newry and reached reached Banbridge where it crossed into 39 Brigade’s area of responsibility.
The 3 Brigade log sheets then stop recording radio messages. Instead messages sent by the covert British Army car were received and logged by 39 Brigade and those log sheets have not been released by the Kew archive. So we do not know how this operation concluded.
The possible significance of this operation is that this covert surveillance of Dolours Price happened within weeks, possibly a few days, of the IRA’s disappearing of Jean McConville, and some six weeks or so before Dolours Price led an IRA bombing team to London.
A coincidence or something more tortuous?
It is always tortous…!