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1982: RUC officers killed by IRA bomb

VIDEO : Blast blows a crater in the road

Three RUC officers have been killed by a bomb, planted by IRA terrorists, which exploded beneath their armoured police car.

The officers were investigating the report of a robbery in Lurgan near Belfast when the bomb exploded and sent their car 40 yards (36 metres) into a field and caused a crater 60ft (18 metres) wide and 25ft (seven metres) deep.

It is thought the officers, one of whom was a Catholic, died immediately.


"One utterly condemns what has happened in the last few weeks"

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Prior

The police officers were driving down a country lane when command wire, linked to a nearby hill, was used to detonate the bomb.

Chief Constable of the RUC Sir John Hermon said: "My reaction is one of horror and sadness. We have been taking maximum precautions - unfortunately not successfully on this occasion."

The policemen have been named as Sgt Sean Quinn, Constable Alan McCloy and Constable Paul Hamilton.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Prior, said, "I think they are going all out to try to wreck Northern Ireland and one utterly condemns what has happened in the last few weeks and days.

"Our hearts go out to those who have suffered, suffered terribly," he said.

The incident happened just hours after the funeral of Joseph Doneghan.

The Roman Catholic was murdered in revenge for the abduction of part-time UDR man Thomas Cochran.

At the funeral Bishop Cahal Daly said: "There is no distinction between Catholic tears and Protestant tears, they are all the same. These families are among so many before them who have been crushed by the madly careering engine of terror."

The recent attacks are thought to be in response to the new assembly proposed to govern Northern Ireland.

It is hoped that the assembly will turn proceedings back to politics and away from the current focus on violence.

In Context
The deaths of the three RUC officers came during a period of extreme tension in the province over plans for the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The Assembly was given monitoring, scrutinising and consultative functions. It was intended to make direct rule more accountable to local needs and allow elected representatives to contribute to the day-to-day government of Northern Ireland.

From the start neither the SDLP nor Sinn Fein members took their seats in the Assembly.

The Assembly was abolished in 1986 but reformed in 1998, as part of the Good Friday Agreement with all the main parties present.

The Ulster Unionists won the largest share of the vote for the 1998 assembly with 28 seats. The SDLP took 24 and Sinn Fein won 18.


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