Tony Sharp was author of the Waendel Journal blog, is a Conservative Councillor in Wellingborough and has a special interest in Northern Ireland matters.

In 1986 the Irish Republican Army (IRA) used a JCB digger with its front bucket loaded with explosives, to ram into a Police Station before detonating it.  So one year later, reports of a stolen JCB alerted the Security Services that another devastating IRA attack could be in preparation.

E4A, the Royal Ulster Constabulary’s (RUC) covert intelligence unit, found the stolen digger hidden on a farm and based on further intelligence believed that the IRA in East Tyrone was behind hatching a plot.  This belief was given further credence when reports came in of a blue Toyota van being stolen by masked men.  Such a modus operandi had been used before to facilitate the transport of IRA terrorists to large scale attacks.

Further intelligence gathering confirmed that an attack had been planned and also revealed the place.  It was to be the RUC Police Station at Loughgall in County Armagh.  A surveillance team was tasked with monitoring the JCB to give warning of when the attack was underway.

On Friday 8th May 1987, close to Loughgall, the JCB was moved from the farm building where it had been hidden.  A small number of RUC officers were left in the police station as decoys, along with some members of the Special Forces regiment of the British Army, the Special Air Service (SAS). They would be warned when to take cover or join the ambush.  Outside the police station more SAS troopers laid in wait to ambush the IRA terrorists if they commenced an attack.

That evening the stolen Toyota van was seen driving past the police
station, probably scouting the area. A short while later it returned
followed by the JCB. In the bucket of the JCB was a large oil drum and
in the cab of the digger were three masked men.

The JCB broke through the fence surrounding the Police Station and the
masked men exited the cab.  One of them lit a fuse on the oil drum to
trigger a massive explosion.  At the same time a further five men armed
with an array of weapons got out of the Toyota van and opened fire on
the police station.  The SAS ambush team opened fire on the terrorists
and within moments all eight IRA members lay dead.

The oil drum bomb detonated, destroying the police station.  Had there
been no intelligence about the attack, a number of police officers and
civilian staff would have been murdered.  During the ambush, two
completely innocent men who were driving home from work while wearing
boiler suits drove into the security cordon.  Believing them to be part
of the IRA attack, troopers opened fire, tragically killing one of
them.  No police officers or SAS troopers died in the attack.  The
objective of the attack was thwarted and eight dangerous terrorists
would never again have the chance to kill.

Why is this story significant? 

Fast forward to January 2009.  A ceasefire is in place in Northern
Ireland, the IRA is pledging not to resort to terrorist actions, there
has been a massive scaling down of military presence and a shaky
Assembly in Stormont is presiding over a devolved province.  A
‘Consultative Group on the Past’, co-chaired by Lord Eames and Denis
Bradley, comes up with a new way of spending British taxpayers’ money
to help maintain the ‘peace’.

It recommends to the Government that the families of all those who died
during the IRA’s (and its various offshoots, splinters and nationalist
fellow travellers) campaign of terror and the equally sickening orgy of
violence perpetrated by terrorists of the various Loyalist groups,
should be paid £12,000 in compensation.  Among the families who would
receive these payments are those of Patrick Kelly, Jim Lynagh, Padraig
McKearney, Declan Arthurs, Seamus Donnelly, Eugene Kelly, Gerry
O’Callaghan and Tony Gormley.  These are the eight IRA terrorists who
were killed during the commission of their carefully planned attempt to
murder police officers at Loughgall police station.

These men were not innocent people who died because they were caught up
in terrorist outrages.  They were the people committing terrorist
outrages.  Between them they had already murdered police officers,
civilians and other terrorists.  Had intelligence not learned about
their plan at Loughgall, many more people would be dead now.  They
rejected civilised norms and carried out a bloodthirsty campaign of
murderous violence.  Their deaths came about as a direct result of that

Why should a single penny of taxpayers’ money go to the families of
these men?  What crass, moronic and repugnant idiocy holds sway over
members of the ‘Consultative Group on the Past’ that they could
consider it appropriate that the families of terrorist killers should
be given money by a society that suffered at the hands of their
parents, offspring and siblings?  Why should a society that has been
offended against so much over the course of four decades by the
behaviour of such people – nationalist and loyalist – have insult added
to injury?

It defies belief that our society can be sickened and disgusted by evil
and repulsive people who pay the families of suicide bombers to commit
their homicidal terrorist outrages, yet be asked to pay £12,000 to the
families of terrorist killers of the same ilk.  There can be no clearer
indictment of the obscene moral relativism that is increasingly
infesting the value set of people who inhabit these shores.

It would be an injustice, a moral outrage, a perversion of our society
to agree to pay compensation for the demise of people who died as a
result of their passion for terror, death and destruction.  All right
thinking people must stand against this unbelievable recommendation and
arrest the slide of this country into the moral abyss.

Only the families of innocents should be compensated for a failure of
the state to protect them from violence.  The perpetrators of that
violence deserve nothing but the kind of contempt they showed for all
of us through their actions.