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IRA commander Bik McFarlane
"Bik" McFarlane: On the run for three years
From the BBC News archive
From the archive: "One of the biggest search operations in the province is now underway"
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Break-out 1983
On 23 September 1983, the Maze suffered the largest break-out by prisoners from a British prison.
In a carefully planned operation, 38 IRA inmates, some of whom were armed with hand guns, hijacked a prison meals lorry and smashed their way free after quickly overpowering prison officers.
One prison officer, James Ferris, died of a heart attack and six others suffered gun shot wounds or stabbings.
Within days, 19 were recaptured. The remainder escaped - including the Provisional IRA leader in the Maze, “Bik” McFarlane. Two are still fighting extradition to this day. While McFarlane was later extradited from The Netherlands, the escape of experienced IRA men was a massive boost to its campaign.
One of the escapees was involved in the 1984 Brighton bombing of the Conservative Party's annual conference.
Other break-outs did not go as planned. In 1984 UDA member Benjamin Redfern tried to escape in a waste lorry - but died from injuries after becoming trapped in its crushing mechanism.

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