• May 20, 2015


There was much tact and diplomacy as RTE covered the visit of Prince Charles to Ireland yesterday.

Most diplomatic were Gerry Adams and Martin McGuiness, perhaps with an eye to a possible pivotal role in a future 26 County government they were tight-lipped about the discussion they had with the heir to the British throne, saying just enough to appear conciliatory, but not enough to alienate their supporters.

RTE itself was even more diplomatic, particularly as ‘Six One News’ anchorman (reporting from Galway) Bryan Dobson linked to journalist Tommy Gorman in Sligo at Mullahgmore where Earl Mountbatten was killed by the IRA.

Tommy came out with one of the most skilled deployments of understatement when he said:

“On the other side you had a member of the British Royal Family who is currently (Colonel in) Chief of the Parachute Regiment which was involved in so many controversies during the troubles.”

‘Leave it out’ Tommy! ‘Controversies’? You mean murders!

The Parachute Regiment had a murderous record in Ireland as some protesters in Belfast were trying to remind the media in Ireland yesterday.

However, there was no room for the relatives of those killed by the Parachute Regiment in Ballymurphy amongst the carefully choreographed ‘vox pops’ of smiling Irish folk ‘delighted’ to have seen, met or even ‘shaken hands’ with HRH yesterday.

It was an hour later on the UK’s Channel Four news before the Ballymurphy relatives protest got an airing.

Anyway, just for the record here are some of those ‘Para controversies’ Tommy Gorman alluded to:

Ballymurphy (Belfast) massacre – 11 civilians killed by 1st battalion the Parachute Regiment between 9–11th August 1971 during Operation Demetrius.

Bloody Sunday (Derry) massacre -13 civilians killed (17 injured – one died later), again the 1st battalion Parachute Regiment involved – 30th January 1972.

Springhill (Belfast) massacre 9th July 1972 – 5 civilians killed – again Paras reportedly involved

On 9 March 1973 the Parachute Regiment arrived for duty in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast. Within days they had killed 28-year-old Eddie Sharpe and in the following weeks had shot dead a further four people from the area.
One of those killed was 12-year-old Tony McDowell. Tony was in a car being driven by his uncle when paratroopers opened fire, hitting the child in the back.

South Armagh schoolgirl Majella O’Hare was another victim of the Parachute Regiment. The 12-year-old was murdered near the churchyard at Ballymoyer, near Whitecross, on 14 August 1976.

The Para’s didn’t have a monopoly on the killing, however, and on the same day as Prince Charles Great-Uncle Earl Mountbatten was killed, 27th August 1979, at Mullaghmore, Sligo, 16 members of the Parachute Regiment and two soldiers from another unit were killed by the IRA in an ambush near Warrenpoint (Narrow Water) in Co. Down, leading to the scrawling of a deadly ditty in graffiti across N. Ireland.

“13 gone but not forgotten, we got 18 and Mountbatten”

Today Prince Charles is in Sligo remembering his Great-Uncle’s death.

However, many in Ireland will be remembering the deaths of so many innocent civilians at the hands of a Regiment of which he is the ‘proud’ Colonel in Chief.

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Celtic League


(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur.)


The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues

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