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IRA man killed in ‘ambush’

MURDERED: 21-year-old Daniel McAreavey was shot dead in 1972; right, Ciarán MacAirt MURDERED: 21-year-old Daniel McAreavey was shot dead in 1972; right, Ciarán MacAirt
By Brónach Ní Thuama

RECENTLY uncovered British military archives show that an IRA volunteer shot dead by the British army in 1972 was the victim of a planned ambush.

21-year-old Daniel McAreavey was shot and killed in disputed circumstances at the junction of Bosnia Street and Plevna Street in the lower Falls area by British soldiers following a blast bomb attack.

Local witnesses at the time stated that Mr McAreavey was wounded and then executed. The British military claimed that one of their units happened to be passing when they were fired upon by a gunman and that they then engaged with him.

However, a classified file from the 2nd Battalion of the Anglian Regiment states that Mr McAreavey was caught in an “area ambush” which is military parlance for multiple, connected kill zones.

A record for October 6, 1972 read: “Area ambush in Raglan Street – Plevana St – Osman St Daniel McAreavey shot dead and 2 gunmen wounded by SF. (Security Forces).

Ciarán MacAirt of the charity, Paper Trail, who found the archives said: “This is an admission by the British Army that Daniel McAreavey was caught and killed in a deliberate British military ambush. This archive completely subverts the British narrative of an accidental patrol that happened upon the scene.

“Not only will the family be right to demand to know why Daniel was not arrested in the circumstances, but also which British military units were involved in the ambush. These files are from the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Anglian Regiment and yet the regiment does not claim the attack as their own. Instead they use the generic term SF or “Security Forces” which leads us to believe that another unit was involved.”

Mr MacAirt added: “We know from the same file that a covert and offensive British military unit supported the Royal Anglians in lower Falls at this time and had been involved in similar ambushes during the period. That unit was the clandestine Military Reaction Force (MRF).”

Mr MacAirt said the IRA had “seriously damaged the MRF’s intelligence gathering operations” a few days before in its attack on the Four Square Laundry van in Twinbrook. The IRA killed an MRF soldier on 2 October 1972 and shot dead two agents.

“So we may wonder whether its operatives were out for revenge against the IRA company it blamed for the attacks,” he said.

“The role of the MRF in the ambush is easily proved or disproved by documents the family’s solicitor will seek in court but we can be sure that the British Army’s area ambush was a deliberate plan to trap and kill its targets. There was nothing accidental in the deployment of British troops in the area at that time.

“Unfortunately too we see on the very same document how the British army considered the local area and its people. The British soldiers called the area of their ambush and kill ‘the Reservation’ as if this was some sick hunt and the people were animals.”

The McAreavey family are represented by two of the foremost human rights legal firms in Ireland, Ó Muirigh Solicitors and KRW Law.

Pádraig Ó Muirigh of Ó Muirigh Solicitors said: “The McAreavey family welcome this important evidence uncovered by Paper Trail. They have always held the view that their loved one was killed unlawfully by the British Army. In recent years new witness testimony has come to light from two individuals who spoke to the deceased as he lay injured after an initial burst of fire. Their evidence supports the proposition that the deceased had died after sustaining fatal injuries in a second burst of fire as he lay injured on the ground.

“This find by Paper Trail is further evidence of a cover-up in relation to the circumstances of Mr McAreavey’s death. It is clear that there was no adequate RUC investigation at the time. The Royal Military Police took the statement from the soldiers, a derogation by the police to the military of their duty to investigate. It is also highly unusual that there was no autopsy carried out on the deceased’s body.

Moreover, the McAreavey family were not even made aware that an inquest had taken place in April 1974.

“The McAreavey family have previously sought a new inquest into Daniel’s death and this new evidence will be brought to the attention of the Attorney General.”

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