Thomas McMahon (Irish republican)

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Thomas McMahon
Born1948 (age 6970)
Monaghan, County Monaghan, Ireland
Allegiance Provisional Irish Republican Army
Years of service1970–1990
Rank Volunteer
Conflict The Troubles

Thomas McMahon (born 1948) is a former volunteer in the South Armagh Brigade of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), and was one of the IRA's most experienced bomb-makers. [1]

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 South Armagh Brigade

The South Armagh Brigade of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) operated during the Troubles in south County Armagh. It was organised into two battalions, one around Jonesborough and another around Crossmaglen. By the 1990s, the South Armagh Brigade was thought to consist of about 40 members, roughly half of them living south of the border. It has allegedly been commanded since the 1970s by Thomas 'Slab' Murphy who is also alleged to be a member of the IRA's Army Council. Compared to other brigades, the South Armagh IRA was seen as an 'independent republic' within the republican movement, retaining a battalion organizational structure and not adopting the cell structure the rest of the IRA was forced to adopt after repeated intelligence failures.

Provisional Irish Republican Army Irish republican paramilitary organisation

The Provisional Irish Republican Army was an Irish republican paramilitary organisation that sought to end British rule in Northern Ireland, facilitate the reunification of Ireland and bring about an independent republic encompassing all of Ireland. It was the biggest and 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 an unlawful terrorist organisation in the United Kingdom and an unlawful organisation in the Republic of Ireland.

McMahon was convicted of the murder of Admiral of the Fleet The 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma and three others (two children and an elderly lady) at Mullaghmore, County Sligo, in the west of Ireland. [2]

Admiral of the Fleet (Royal Navy) highest rank of the British Royal Navy

Admiral of the Fleet is a five-star naval officer rank and the highest rank of the Royal Navy formally established in 1688. The five-star NATO rank code is OF-10, equivalent to a field marshal in the British Army or a marshal of the Royal Air Force. Other than honorary appointments no new admirals of the fleet have been named since 1995.

Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma British statesman and naval officer

Admiral of the Fleet Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, was a British Royal Navy officer and statesman, an uncle of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and second cousin once removed of Queen Elizabeth II. During the Second World War, he was Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia Command (1943–1946). He was the last Viceroy of India (1947) and the first Governor-General of independent India (1947–1948).

Mullaghmore, County Sligo Village in Connacht, Ireland

Mullaghmore is a village on the Mullaghmore peninsula in County Sligo, Ireland. It is a noted holiday destination, characterised by ocean views and a skyline dominated by the monolithic shape of Ben Bulben mountain. It is in the barony of Carbury and parish of Ahamlish.

He planted a bomb in Shadow V, a 27 ft fishing boat belonging to Mountbatten at Mullaghmore, County Sligo, near Donegal Bay. Lord Mountbatten was killed on 27 August 1979 by the bomb blast along with three other people: The Dowager Baroness Brabourne, Mountbatten's elder daughter's mother-in-law; his grandson Nicholas Knatchbull; and a 15-year-old crewmember Paul Maxwell.

Donegal Bay bay in Ireland

Donegal Bay is an inlet in the northwest of Ireland. Three counties – Donegal to the north and west, Leitrim and Sligo to the south – have shorelines on the bay, which is bounded on the west by the Atlantic Ocean. The town of Donegal and the River Eske lie at the head of the bay.

Doreen Knatchbull, Dowager Lady Brabourne, CI was an Anglo-Irish aristocrat, socialite and victim of the Provisional IRA.

The IRA claimed responsibility for the act in a statement released immediately afterwards. In the statement from the organisation they said: "This operation is one of the discriminate ways we can bring to the attention of the English people the continuing occupation of our country." [3]

McMahon was arrested by the Garda (the Republic of Ireland's police force) two hours before the bomb detonated, having been initially stopped on suspicion of driving a stolen vehicle. [3]

Garda Síochána police service of Ireland

An Garda Síochána, more commonly referred to as the Gardaí or "the Guards", is the police service of the Republic of Ireland. The service is headed by the Garda Commissioner who is appointed by the Irish Government. Its headquarters are in Dublin's Phoenix Park.

Republic of Ireland Ireland, a country in north-western Europe, occupying 5/6 of the island of Ireland; succeeded the Irish Free State (1937)

Ireland, also known as the Republic of Ireland, is a country in north-western Europe occupying 26 of 32 counties of the island of Ireland. The capital and largest city is Dublin, which is located on the eastern part of the island, and whose metropolitan area is home to around a third of the country's over 4.8 million inhabitants. The sovereign state shares its only land border with Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom. It is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the Celtic Sea to the south, Saint George's Channel to the south-east, and the Irish Sea to the east. It is a unitary, parliamentary republic. The legislature, the Oireachtas, consists of a lower house, Dáil Éireann, an upper house, Seanad Éireann, and an elected President who serves as the largely ceremonial head of state, but with some important powers and duties. The head of government is the Taoiseach, who is elected by the Dáil and appointed by the President; the Taoiseach in turn appoints other government ministers.

He was tried for the assassinations in the Republic of Ireland, and convicted by forensic evidence supplied by Dr James O'Donovan that showed flecks of paint from the boat and traces of nitroglycerine on his clothes. [1] He was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder on 23 November 1979, but was released in 1998 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. [4]

Dr James O'Donovan was, until his retirement in 2002, the senior forensic scientist to the Garda Technical Bureau of the Garda Síochána. He is most notable as a key witness in the Irish Republican Army murder of Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, and as the target himself of Irish criminal Martin Cahill.

The Good Friday Agreement (GFA) or Belfast Agreement was a major political development in the Northern Ireland peace process of the 1990s. Northern Ireland's present devolved system of government is based on the agreement. The agreement also created a number of institutions between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom.

After his release, Toby Harnden in Bandit Country reported that McMahon was holding a tricolour in the first rank of the IRA colour party at a 1998 IRA meeting in Cullyhanna. [5] However, according to a BBC report, McMahon has said that he had left the IRA in 1990. [2]

He has twice refused to meet Paul Maxwell's father, John, who has sought him out to explain the reasons for his son's death. In a May 2011 interview for The Telegraph, Maxwell stated that he had "made two approaches to McMahon, the first through a priest, who warned me in advance that he thought there wouldn't be any positive response. And there wasn't. I have some reservations about meeting him, obviously – it might work out in such a way that I would regret having made the contact. On the other hand, if we met and I could even begin to understand his motivation. If we could meet on some kind of a human level, a man to man level, it could help me come to terms with it. But that might be very optimistic. McMahon knows the door is open at this end."

He likewise refused requests from Knatchbull's twin brother, who lost an eye in the same explosion. The latter, however, has forgiven McMahon and other members of the IRA who committed the act.

His wife has stated "Tommy never talks about Mountbatten, only the boys who died. He does have genuine remorse. Oh God yes." [6]

McMahon lives with his wife Rose in a hillside bungalow in Lisanisk, Carrickmacross, County Monaghan. He has two grown sons. He helped with Martin McGuinness's presidential campaign in 2011, erecting posters for McGuinness around Carrickmacross. [6]

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  1. 1 2 Telegraph, 9 Aug 2009
  2. 1 2 "Republican trained by Libyans" BBC News, 8 August 1998. Accessed 26 January 2007
  3. 1 2 "BBC News On This Day"
  4. "1979 : IRA member sentenced for Mountbatten's assassination" Archived 10 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine .This Day in History. Accessed 26 January 2007
  5. Toby Harnden, Bandit Country -The IRA and South Armagh, Hodder & Stoughton, London 1999, ISBN   0-340-71736-X
  6. 1 2 Queen forced to put aside IRA murder of Lord Mountbatten to meet McGuinness from Daily Telegraph , 27 June 2012, retrieved 5 September 2014