BELTURBET BOMBING 28th DECEMBER 1972
Monument in Belturbet to Geraldine O'Reilly and Paddy Stanley, who were killed in a car bomb explosion at The Diamond, Belturbet, Co Cavan on 28th December 1972.
28th December 1972
At 10.28pm on Thursday 28th December 1972 the second in a series of three co-ordinated bombs exploded in a red Ford Escort car at Main Street, Belturbet, Co, Cavan. Two young teenagers, Gerladine O'Reilly, aged 15 and Paddy Stanley, aged 16, lost their lives. Eight others were seriously injured.
A bomb had previously exploded in a blue Morris 1100 car on Fermanagh Street, Clones, Co. Monaghan at 10.01pm seriously injuring two men. A third bomb exploded outside the licensed premises of Hugh Britton at Mullnagoad, near Pettigo, Co. Donegal, it had been left near the gable wall. No one was injured but the pub was extensively damaged.
The cars used in Clones and Belturbet had been stolen in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, earlier that evening and the locations of all three bombs were in a radius of 20 miles ofEnniskillen.
Geraldine O'Reilly, who was on her Christmas holidays from school, had got a lift into Belturbet in her brother's car to buy chips. The explosion occured while she was in the shop, waiting to be served. She sustained massive head injuries from flying shrapnel and died instantly while her brother, Anthony, who was parked outside, was seriously injured.
Paddy Stanley was also on his Christmas holidays from school in Clara, Co. Offaly. He had taken a holiday job as a helper on a Calor gas delivery lorry. While making a delivery in Belturbet there was a problem with the lorry and the driver decided they should stay in Belturbet overnight. When the bomb exploded, Paddy was in the public phone kiosk on Main Street, trying to telephone his parents to tell them he would not be home. He suffered massive head injuries and was killed instantly.
The Criminal Investigation
The Ford Escort car that exploded in Main Street had been stopped at a Garda checkpoint at Aghalane Customs Post on the border. The driver of the car failed to produce his driving license but was allowed to proceed because he gave a local address near Derrylin, Co. Fermanagh. Enquiries subsequently found that there was no one of that name living at the address given.
Within a few days, Chief Superintendent J.P. McMahon, from Monaghan, had been informed by the RUC that the leading suspect was Robert Bridge of Lisbellaw, Co. Fermanagh. A Superintendent at Ballyconnell Garda station received intelligence from an unkown source which also named Bridge along with two others. However, no request appears to have been made by the Gardai to have Bridge or the others questioned. Bridge was arrested by the RUC in June 1975 and charged with the murder of Patrick O'Reilly in County Fermanagh the previous month. It was not until 11th December 1975, six months after his arrest, that Gardai wrote to the RUC requesting that Bridge be questioned in relation to the Belturbet bombing. There is no record of the result of this request. No one has ever been arrested or charged with this atrocity.
The internal Gardai Photofit compiled at the time, and a notice detailing the vehicle used, are shown below:
28th December 1972 Photofit
The information below relates to photofit illustrations and documentation circulated internally by the Gardai in the aftermath of the incident.
BOMB 0UTRAGES IN BELTURBET CO CAVAN ON THURSDAY NIGHT, 28/12/72.
Refer to F.T, (1) No.101/72-3 re above crime, in which two people were killed by a car bomb explosion, the occupants of the get-away car used on the occasion, a blue Cortina, Reg. No. B1A-477, are as described hereunder.
The driver of the car, as described by a Garda and a civilian witness is shown in the Photo-FIT illustration depicted here.
Description: Man, 18yrs., 5' 8" or 9", thin build, long thin pale face, long dark brown hair (curly), curls all over head, hair very well groomed and coming almost to chin, staring type eyes, very conspicuous nose, very pale complexion, delicate looking, wearing dark blazer with shiny buttons, double breasted with wide lapels, maybe silver buttons, plain design, collar and tie, light coloured shirt and dark tie, neatly dressed; appeared to be clerical worker; wore a silver or steel band around his wrist - maybe a watch.
Descrtion of Girl in Rear of Car: 18-19 yrs., fairly tall, blonde hair coming down over shoulders, parted in centre and pushed away from forehead sharp featured, pale complexion, good looking, very light eyebows, long dark overcoat (maybe red), polo neck pullover.
Nos. 1 and 2 looked like brother and sister.
Description of two Men who got into same car. Both dark haired, hair not as long as driver's hair, both about 20 yrs., (appeared taller than No. 1 above), dark conservative clothes, well groomed; Northern accents, thought to be Belfast, both taller than driver. All appeared to be well dressed as if they were going to a dance or some function.
9th. January, 1973. - - Supplement 1/73
All communications for insertion in Fogra Tora Part I, should be forwarded to Fogra Tora Section, Technical Bureau, Dublin 8.
BOMB OUTRAGES IN BELTURBET, CO. CAVAN, ON THURSDAY NIGHT, 28/12/1972.
Refer to F.T.(1) No. 101/72-3, and No. l/73-l3, (Special Notice), and Ammendment on Page 5 same issue, in connection with above subject.
The lagoon blue Cortina car, Reg. No. BIA-477, stolen at Belturbet on the night of 28/12/72 and used as a get-away car by the culprits, when located in Northern Ireland, bore false registration plates.
It is now directed that a special look-out should be kept for any vehicle bearing the Reg. No. BIA-477. If it is located anywhere it, should be kept under observation, treated with extreme caution and preserved for technical examination by members from the Garda Technical Bureau.
D/Supt. D. Murphy, Belturbet, telephone Belturbet, Should be immediately informed of any sighting of the car. Information also to the Superintendent, Ballyconnell..
Issued by the Garda Technical Bureau.