Paul Magee

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Paul "Dingus" Magee (born 30 January 1948) is a former volunteer in the Belfast Brigade of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) who escaped during his 1981 trial for killing a member of the Special Air Service (SAS) in 1980. After serving a prison sentence in the Republic of Ireland, Magee fled to England where he was imprisoned after killing a policeman in 1992. He was repatriated to the Republic of Ireland as part of the Northern Ireland peace process before being released from prison in 1999, and subsequently avoided extradition back to Northern Ireland to serve his sentence for killing the member of the SAS.

Volunteer, often abbreviated Vol., is a term used by a number of Irish republican paramilitary organisations to describe their members. Among these have been the various forms of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) and the Irish People's Liberation Organization (IPLO). Óglach is the equivalent title in the Irish language.

Provisional IRA Belfast Brigade

The Belfast Brigade of the Provisional IRA was the largest of the organisation's command areas, based in the city of Belfast. Founded in 1969, along with the formation of the Provisional IRA, it was historically organised into three battalions; the First Battalion based in the Andersonstown/Lenadoon/Twinbrook area of Southwest Belfast; the Second Battalion based in the Falls Road/Clonard/Ballymurphy district of West Belfast; and the Third Battalion organised in nationalist enclaves in the north, south and east of the city.

Provisional Irish Republican Army Disbanded Irish Republican paramilitary group

The Irish Republican Army, also known as the Provisional Irish Republican Army, was an Irish republican paramilitary organisation that sought to end British rule in Northern Ireland, facilitate Irish reunification and bring about an independent republic encompassing all of Ireland. It was the most active republican paramilitary group during the Troubles. It saw itself as the successor to the original IRA and called itself simply the Irish Republican Army (IRA), or Óglaigh na hÉireann in Irish, and was broadly referred to as such by others. The IRA was designated a terrorist organisation in the United Kingdom and an illegal organisation in the Republic of Ireland.

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Background and early IRA activity

Magee was born in the Ballymurphy area of Belfast on 30 January 1948. [1] He joined the Belfast Brigade of the IRA, and received a five-year sentence in 1971 for possession of firearms. [2] He was imprisoned in Long Kesh, where he held the position of camp adjutant. [3] In the late 1970s and early 1980s he was part of a four-man active service unit, along with Joe Doherty and Angelo Fusco, nicknamed the "M60 gang" due to their use of an M60 general purpose machine gun. [4] [5] On 9 April 1980 the unit lured the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) into an ambush on Stewartstown Road, killing Constable Stephen Magill and wounding two others. [6] On 2 May the unit were planning another attack and had taken over a house on Antrim Road, when an eight-man patrol from the British Army's Special Air Service arrived in plain clothes, after being alerted by the RUC. [6] A car carrying three SAS members went to the rear of the house, and another car carrying five SAS members arrived at the front of the house. [7] As the SAS members at the front of the house exited the car the IRA unit opened fire with the M60 machine gun from an upstairs window, hitting Captain Herbert Westmacott in the head and shoulder. Westmacott was killed instantly, and is the highest-ranking member of the SAS killed in Northern Ireland. [7] [8] The remaining SAS members at the front of the house, armed with Colt Commando automatic rifles, submachine guns and Browning pistols, returned fire but were forced to withdraw. [6] [7] Magee was apprehended by the SAS members at the rear of the house while attempting to prepare the IRA unit's escape in a transit van, while the other three IRA members remained inside the house. [9] More members of the security forces were deployed to the scene, and after a brief siege the remaining members of the IRA unit surrendered. [6]

Belfast City in the United Kingdom, capital of Northern Ireland

Belfast is the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, standing on the banks of the River Lagan on the east coast of Ireland. It is the largest city in Northern Ireland and second-largest on the island of Ireland, after Dublin. It had a population of 333,871 as of 2015.

Adjutant military rank

Adjutant is a military appointment given to an officer who assists the commanding officer with unit administration, mostly the management of human resources in army unit. The term adjudant is used in French-speaking armed forces as a non-commissioned officer rank similar to a staff sergeant or warrant officer but is not equivalent to the role or appointment of an adjutant.

Active service unit

An Active Service Unit (ASU) was a Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) cell of five to eight members, tasked with carrying out armed attacks. In 2002 the IRA had about 1,000 active members of which about 300 were in active service units.

1981 trial and escape

The trial of Magee and the other members of the M60 gang began in early May 1981, with them facing charges including three counts of murder. [10] [11] On 10 June Magee and seven other prisoners, including Joe Doherty, Angelo Fusco and the other member of the IRA unit, took a prison officer hostage at gunpoint in Crumlin Road Jail. After locking the officer in a cell, the eight took other officers and visiting solicitors hostage, also locking them in cells after taking their clothing. [10] [11] Two of the eight wore officer's uniforms while a third wore clothing taken from a solicitor, and the group moved towards the first of three gates separating them from the outside world. [11] They took the officer on duty at the gate hostage at gunpoint, and forced him to open the inner gate. [11] An officer at the second gate recognised one of the prisoners and ran into an office and pressed an alarm button, and the prisoners ran through the second gate towards the outer gate. [10] [11] An officer at the outer gate tried to prevent the escape but was attacked by the prisoners, who escaped onto Crumlin Road. [10] As the prisoners were moving towards the car park where two cars were waiting, an unmarked RUC car pulled up across the street outside Crumlin Road Courthouse. The RUC officers opened fire, and the prisoners returned fire before escaping in the waiting cars. [10] Two days after the escape, Magee was convicted in absentia and sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum recommended term of thirty years. [12]

Crumlin Road road in Northern Ireland

The Crumlin Road is a main road in north-west Belfast, Northern Ireland. The road runs from north of Belfast City Centre for about four miles to the outskirts of the city. It also forms part of the longer A52 road. The lower section of the road houses a number of historic buildings, including the city's former law courts and prison, whilst the road encompasses several large housing areas, including Ardoyne, Ballysillan and Ligoniel.

Crumlin Road Courthouse

The Crumlin Road Courthouse was designed by the architect Charles Lanyon and completed in 1850. It is situated across the road from the Crumlin Road Gaol and the two are linked by an underground passage.

Trial in absentia is a criminal proceeding in a court of law in which the person who is subject to it is not physically present at those proceedings. in absentia is Latin for "in the absence". Its meaning varies by jurisdiction and legal system.

Imprisonment in the Republic of Ireland

Magee escaped across the border into the Republic of Ireland. Eleven days after the escape he appeared in public at the Wolfe Tone commemoration in Bodenstown, County Kildare, where troops from the Irish Army and the Garda's Special Branch attempted to arrest him, but failed after the crowd threw missiles and lay down in the road blocking access. [10] He was arrested in January 1982 along with Angelo Fusco, and sentenced to ten years imprisonment for the escape under extra-jurisdictional legislation. [2] Shortly before his release from prison in 1989 Magee was served with an extradition warrant, and he started a legal battle to avoid being returned to Northern Ireland. [2] [13] In October 1991 the Supreme Court in Dublin ordered his return to Northern Ireland to serve his sentence for the murder of Captain Westmacott, but Magee had jumped bail and a warrant was issued for his arrest. [12]

Wolfe Tone Irish revolutionary, leader of the 1798 rebellion

Theobald Wolfe Tone, posthumously known as Wolfe Tone, was a leading Irish revolutionary figure and one of the founding members of the United Irishmen, and is regarded as the father of Irish republicanism and leader of the 1798 Irish Rebellion. He was captured at Letterkenny port on 3 November 1798, and he died sixteen days later in unclear circumstances.

County Kildare County in Leinster, Ireland

County Kildare is a county in Ireland. It is located in the province of Leinster and is part of the Mid-East Region. It is named after the town of Kildare. Kildare County Council is the local authority for the county which has a population of 222,504.

Irish Army land warfare branch of Irelands military

The Irish Army, known simply as the Army, is the land component of the Defence Forces of Ireland. Approximately 7,300 men and women served in the Irish Army on a permanent basis as of May 2016, and there were 1,600 active reservists, divided into two geographically organised brigades. As well as maintaining its primary roles of defending the State and internal security within the State, since 1958 the Army has had a continuous presence in peacekeeping missions around the world. The Army also participates in the European Union Battlegroups. The Air Corps and Naval Service support the Army in carrying out its roles.

IRA activity in England

Magee fled to England, where he was part of an IRA active service unit. [12] On 7 June 1992 Magee and another IRA member, Michael O'Brien, were travelling in a car on the A64 road between York and Tadcaster, when they were stopped by the police. [14] [15] Magee and O'Brien were questioned by the unarmed police officers, who became suspicious and called for back-up. [14] Magee shot Special Constable Glenn Goodman - who died later in hospital - and then shot the other officer, PC Kelly, four times. [14] PC Kelly escaped death when a fifth bullet ricocheted off the radio he was holding to his ear, and the IRA members drove away. [14] Another police car began to follow the pair, and came under fire near Burton Salmon. [14] The lives of the officers in the car were in danger, but Magee and O'Brien fled the scene after a member of the public arrived. [14] A manhunt was launched, and hundreds of police officers, many of them armed, searched woods and farmland. [14] Magee and O'Brien evaded capture for four days by hiding in a culvert, before they were both arrested in separate police operations in the town of Pontefract. [14]

A64 road

The A64 is a major road in North and West Yorkshire, England, which links Leeds, York and Scarborough. The A64 starts as the A64(M) ring road motorway in Leeds, then towards York it becomes a high-quality dual carriageway until it is east of York, where it becomes a single carriageway for most of its route to Scarborough.

York Historic city in the north of England

York is a city and unitary authority area in North Yorkshire, England, with a population of 208,200 as of 2017. Located at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss, it is the county town of the historic county of Yorkshire and was the home of the House of York throughout its existence. The city is known for its famous historical landmarks such as York Minster and the city walls, as well as a variety of cultural and sporting activities, which makes it a popular tourist destination in England. The local authority is the City of York Council, a single tier governing body responsible for providing all local services and facilities throughout the city. The City of York local government district includes rural areas beyond the old city boundaries.

Tadcaster town in the Selby district of North Yorkshire, England

Tadcaster is a market town and civil parish in the Selby district of North Yorkshire, England, 3 miles (5 km) east of the Great North Road, 12 miles (19 km) north-east of Leeds, and 10 miles (16 km) south-west of York. The River Wharfe joins the River Ouse about 10 miles (16 km) downstream from it.

Imprisonment in England

On 31 March 1993 Magee was found guilty of the murder of Special Constable Goodman and the attempted murder of three other police officers, and sentenced to life imprisonment. [16] O'Brien was found guilty of attempted murder and received an eighteen-year sentence. [14] On 9 September 1994 Magee and five other prisoners, including Danny McNamee, escaped from HM Prison Whitemoor. [17] [18] The prisoners, in possession of two guns that had been smuggled into the prison, scaled the prison walls using knotted sheets. [17] [19] A guard was shot and wounded during the escape, and the prisoners were captured after being chased across fields by guards and the police. [19] In 1996 Magee staged a dirty protest in HM Prison Belmarsh, in protest at glass screens separating prisoners from their relatives during visits. [20] Magee had refused to accept visits from his wife and five children for two years, prompting Sinn Féin to accuse the British government of maintaining "a worsening regime that is damaging physically and psychologically". [20]

Gilbert "Danny" McNamee is a former electronic engineer from Crossmaglen, Northern Ireland, who was convicted in 1987 of conspiracy to cause explosions, including the Provisional Irish Republican Army's (IRA) Hyde Park bombing on 20 July 1982.

The dirty protest was part of a five-year protest during the Troubles by Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) prisoners held in the Maze Prison and a protest at Armagh Women's Prison in Northern Ireland.

Sinn Féin is a left-wing Irish republican political party active in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

In January 1997 Magee and the other five escapees from Whitemoor were on trial on charges relating to the escape for a second time, four months earlier the first trial had been stopped because of prejudicial publicity. [21] Lawyers for the defendants successfully argued that an article in the Evening Standard prejudiced the trial as it contained photographs of Magee and two other defendants and described them as "terrorists", as an order had been made at the start of the trial preventing any reference to the background and previous convictions of the defendants. [21] Despite the judge saying the evidence against the defendants was "very strong", he dismissed the case stating: "What I have done is the only thing I can do in the circumstances. The law for these defendants is the same law for everyone else. They are entitled to that, whatever they have done". [21]

Extradition battle

On 5 May 1998 Magee was repatriated to the Republic of Ireland to serve the remainder of his sentence in Portlaoise Prison, along with Liam Quinn and the members of the Balcombe Street Gang. [22] [23] He was released from prison in late 1999 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, and returned to live with his family in Tralee. [24] On 8 March 2000 Magee was arrested on the outstanding Supreme Court extradition warrant from 1991, and remanded to Mountjoy Prison. [25] The following day he was granted bail at the High Court in Dublin, after launching a legal challenge to his extradition. [24] In November 2000 the Irish government informed the High Court that it was no longer seeking to return him to Northern Ireland. [26] This followed a statement from Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Peter Mandelson saying that "it is clearly anomalous to pursue the extradition of people who appear to qualify for early release under the Good Friday Agreement scheme, and who would, on making a successful application to the Sentence Review Commissioners, have little if any of their original prison sentence to serve". [26] In December 2000 Magee and three other IRA members, including two other members of the M60 gang, were granted a Royal Prerogative of Mercy which allowed them to return to Northern Ireland without fear of prosecution. [27]

Related Research Articles

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Francis Hughes was a volunteer in the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) from Bellaghy, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Hughes was the most wanted man in Northern Ireland until his arrest following a shoot-out with the Special Air Service (SAS) in which an SAS soldier was killed. At his trial, he was sentenced to a total of 83 years' imprisonment; he died during the 1981 Irish hunger strike in HM Prison Maze.

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The Maze Prison escape took place on 25 September 1983 in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. HM Prison Maze was a maximum security prison considered to be one of the most escape-proof prisons in Europe, and held prisoners convicted of taking part in armed paramilitary campaigns during the Troubles. In the biggest prison escape in UK history, 38 Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoners escaped from H-Block 7 (H7) of the prison. One prison officer died of a heart attack during the escape and twenty others were injured, including two who were shot with guns that had been smuggled into the prison. The escape was a propaganda coup for the IRA, and a British government minister faced calls to resign. The official inquiry into the escape placed most of the blame onto prison staff, who in turn blamed the escape on political interference in the running of the prison.

Angelo Fusco IRA member

Angelo Fusco is a former volunteer in the Belfast Brigade of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) who escaped during his 1981 trial for killing a Special Air Service (SAS) officer in 1980.

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Mountjoy Prison helicopter escape

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Captain Herbert Richard Westmacott was a British Army officer who became the first person to be awarded a posthumous Military Cross. As an officer of the Grenadier Guards on Extra Regimental Employment to the Special Air Service (SAS), he died in an encounter with the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA). He was the highest-ranking SAS officer to be killed in Northern Ireland during Operation Banner.

Larry Marley Member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army

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Christopher John Hanna, was a prison officer who held a senior position inside the Maze Prison, Northern Ireland. In June 1990 he was sentenced to life imprisonment at Maghaberry for helping the Provisional IRA kill colleague Brian Armour two years previously. He was also accused by former Ulster Defence Association (UDA) leader Andy Tyrie of complicity in UDA South Belfast brigadier John McMichael's death in 1987. McMichael was blown up by a booby-trap bomb placed underneath his car. According to Tyrie, Hanna gathered information about McMichael when the latter visited loyalist inmates. Hanna in his turn passed on the information to local Belfast actress, Rosena Brown with whom Hanna was infatuated. Brown, dubbed the "IRA Mata Hari", served as an Intelligence Officer of the IRA. Hanna also passed on information about Armour to Brown, who was named at Hanna's trial.

Rosena Brown is an Irish actress of television, cinema, and stage from Belfast, Northern Ireland who also served as an intelligence officer for the Provisional IRA. Dubbed the "IRA Mata Hari", she was named in the murder trial of prison officer John Hanna, who was charged and convicted of helping the IRA kill colleague Brian Armour. She allegedly persuaded Hanna into providing information on Armour which she then passed on to the IRA; however, she was not charged with complicity in Armour's murder. In 1992, she and two men were arrested when a booby-trap bomb was found in their car. In 1993, she was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment, but was released in December 1998 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

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1978 Lisnamuck shoot-out

On the night of 17 March 1978 at around 21:20 a Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) unit and a Special Air Service (SAS) unit became engaged in a shoot out in a field in Lisnamuck, near Maghera, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The leader of the IRA unit was Francis Hughes who was from Bellaghy, County Londonderry, who at that time was the "most wanted man" in Northern Ireland when a year earlier on 18 April 1977, Hughes, Dominic McGlinchey and Ian Milne were travelling in a car near the town of Moneymore when an RUC patrol car carrying four officers signalled them to stop. The IRA members attempted to escape by performing a u-turn, but lost control of the car which ended up in a ditch. They abandoned the car and opened fire on the RUC patrol car, killing two officers and wounding another, before running off through fields. A second RUC patrol came under fire while attempting to prevent the men fleeing, and despite a search operation by the RUC and British Army (BA) the IRA members escaped.

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