The Irish safety forces got here face-to-face with the ruthlessness of the Provisional IRA at an remoted wooden outdoors Ballinamore, Co Leitrim in December 1983.
A gang, which had kidnapped the Quinnsworth chief govt Don Tidey 23 days earlier from close to his house in Woodtown, Co Dublin, responded to the invention of their hideout in Derrada Wooden by capturing lifeless with out warning Recruit Garda Gary Sheehan and Non-public Patrick Kelly.
They then took seven troopers and gardaí hostage and marched them throughout a subject out of the world, earlier than doubling again and choosing up, at a close-by farmyard, a blue Opel Kadett automotive with the keys within the ignition.
Det Gda Donal Kelleher was standing on a laneway close to a ditch with Mr Tidey, who had made his personal escape, alongside Det Insp Invoice Somers and Det Sgt Nacie Rice. They may hear the automotive coming at them at pace. Initially they thought it may be an unmarked garda automotive. Right away one of many gunmen opened up with a rifle from the again left-hand passenger window.
[ ‘The goal was to free Don Tidey. And we freed Don Tidey’ – 15 gardaí decorated for bravery ]
Det Gda Kelleher was hit by a bullet in each legs which handed by his left into his proper and lodged in his thigh. It was millimetres away from a foremost artery.
The gang continued to spray the gardaí with gunfire narrowly avoiding Mr Tidey. They deserted their automotive at a garda checkpoint and made off on foot, firing at gardaí as they fled. When Detective Superintendent Somers went house that night he discovered 5 separate bullet tears in his jacket.
No one was prosecuted for the murders of Recruit Garda Sheehan or Non-public Kelly. Their funerals had been nationwide events attended by the Taoiseach and president of the day and there was a ferocious backlash in opposition to the Provisional IRA within the Republic. The organisation had sought a ransom of IR£5 million from Mr Tidey’s employer Related British Meals (ABF), the homeowners of Quinnsworth, however neither the British nor Irish governments would enable a ransom to be paid.
The Authorities contemplated banning Sinn Féin because of Derrada Wooden, however determined that such a transfer may be counterproductive.
Det Gda Kelleher was 29 when he was shot. His youngest baby Lesley had been born simply 5 weeks beforehand. An extended and painful rehabilitation started on the Mater hospital earlier than returning to responsibility, however the psychological trauma took longer to heal. He resumed an extended and rewarding profession, rising to the rank of sergeant, earlier than ultimately retiring in 2009. In 2016 he developed a uncommon type of male breast most cancers, however recovered and have become an assiduous fundraiser for most cancers charities.
On September twenty fourth, 2021 14 gardaí, who had been concerned within the occasions of Derrada Wooden, had been lastly awarded Scott Medals at a ceremony in Dublin Fortress. Gary Sheehan was posthumously awarded a gold medal, the very best honour.
Conspicuous by his absence from the medal ceremony was Mr Kelleher. After 38 years because the occasions of Derrada Wooden, he had not anticipated nor sought a medal for his actions. It got here as a profound shock although that he had been excluded regardless of being critically wounded by the Provisional IRA.
“The large media consideration surrounding the medal ceremony introduced again so many recollections that had been suppressed because the occasion. For the primary time he started to share these recollections with these closest to him,” his widow Caroline recalled.
“He would dearly have beloved to have had the chance to have fun with those self same colleagues and pals with whom he shared the expertise, to alleviate these recollections in a lot happier circumstances and at last get closure on these occasions.
“Through the years Donal had additionally stored involved with most of the classmates of the late Garda Gary Sheehan and once more would have beloved the chance to fulfill and congratulate Gary’s mom and commemorate her son on that event.”
Following the ceremony Mr Kelleher contacted Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and requested him to stipulate why his actions on the day of December sixteenth, 1983 didn’t benefit consideration for inclusion within the ceremony alongside along with his different colleagues.
The response from the commissioner’s workplace on the time was non-committal. It gave a historical past of the Scott Medal, the explanations for awarding it, however not the the explanation why he had been excluded.
Mr Kelleher was additionally aggrieved to not have been invited to the award ceremony. He discovered about it by Mr Tidey. Through the years they’d developed a detailed bond. They final spoke by telephone on the thirty ninth anniversary of the occasions of that bloody day in Derrada Wooden and deliberate to fulfill up early within the new yr.
Sadly in early January the most cancers returned aggressively and Mr Kelleher died on February 4th this yr. He was 68.
Mr Kelleher’s household keep it has by no means been in regards to the medal, however, in excluding him whereas together with 14 colleagues, it was tantamount to blaming him for his personal accidents and suggesting he had not discharged his duties correctly.
This Friday he’ll obtain a posthumous bronze Scott Medal at a ceremony in Walter Scott Home in Dublin. A garda spokesman mentioned an inside overview of his case had been undertaken and a choice to lastly award him a Scott Medal was made earlier than Mr Kelleher died, however sadly was not conveyed to him in time.
Caroline Kelleher will settle for it on behalf of her late husband. It was a tricky resolution for her given what he had been by, however she feels it’s the proper factor to do for her and for her household.
On Friday Caroline will attend together with the couple’s two kids, Daniel and Lesley, their daughter-in-law Nikkie, son-in-law Mark, grandchildren Mae, Billy and Danny and Mr Kelleher’s brother James and sisters Margaret and Marie.
Caroline Kelleher admits will probably be a “bittersweet” day for all of them as they’re nonetheless grieving since his demise in February. “Donal was certainly immensely proud to be a member of An Garda Síochána – it’s due to this fact such a pity that he didn’t reside lengthy sufficient to see An Garda Síochána was equally as proud and to lastly honour him.”
Leave a Reply