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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 October 2005, 15:07 GMT 16:07 UK
IRA kidnap victim returns to city
Irish police laid siege to the house where the industrialist was held
Irish police laid siege to the house where the industrialist was held
A former Dutch industrialist kidnapped by the IRA in Limerick 30 years ago is donating his papers relating to his ordeal to the city's university.

Dr Tiede Herrema, 84, returned to the city on Tuesday to give his collection to the University of Limerick's Special Collections library.

Dr Herrema, the Ferenka factory chief, was grabbed on his way to work in 1975.

The gang wanted a number of IRA prisoners released, but Mr Herrema was freed after a house siege.

He was abducted on his way to work at the factory in the Ballyvarra area on 3 October.

His kidnap caused outrage and thousands marched through the city of Limerick to condemn it.

For several days it was feared Dr Herrema was dead but more than two weeks later he was traced to a house in Monasterevin, County Kildare.

A siege ensued for 14 days before his release was secured.

His captors, Eddie Gallagher and Marion Coyle, were sentenced to 20 and 15 years in jail respectively.

Dr Tiede Herrema (centre) and two of his sons
I see them as children with a lot of problems. If they were my own children I would do my utmost to help them
Dr Tiede Herrema

In spite of fears that Dr Herrema's ordeal would traumatise him, he looked calm and collected at a news conference soon after his release.

He showed reporters a bullet from the gun which had been held to his head - it had been given to him as a souvenir by Gallagher.

Dr Herrema said there had been a few occasions when he had feared for his life, particularly in the first 48 hours after his abduction.

But he did not hate his captors who were the about the same age as his son, he added. "I see them as children with a lot of problems. If they were my own children I would do my utmost to help them," he said.

The files donated to the university include a letter from the former Taoiseach, Dr Liam Cosgrave, along with letters of gratitude to the government from the Ferenka company, as well as letters from well wishers all over the country.

Dr Herrema was made a Freeman of Limerick by the city authorities and he and his wife were granted honorary Irish citizenship.

He moved back to the Netherlands because his employers felt he was at risk in Ireland.

The Ferenka factory closed down after his departure, with a loss of 1,400 jobs.

Interviewed by the Irish Times in 1999, Dr Herrema said he had always believed his captors' sentences were too severe.

University of Limerick President Dr Rodger Downer said Dr Herrema's kidnapping was a significant part of Irish history and his calm, controlled behaviour during his ordeal in no small part accounted for his survival.


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