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Kenny Donaldson of the South East Fermanagh Foundation. Brian Lawless/PA
Don Tidey rescue

Victims’ group seeks memorial for army private and garda recruit killed in 1983 rescue

Two members of the State’s security forces were killed during the operation.

A GROUP FOR victims of violence related to Northern Ireland has called for a memorial to commemorate two members of the Irish security forces killed by the IRA during a rescue mission 40 years ago.

On December 16, 1983, Private Patrick Kelly and garda recruit Gary Sheehan were killed in Derrada Wood, Ballinamore, Co Leitrim, during an operation to rescue Quinnsworth supermarket executive Don Tidey, who had been kidnapped for 23 days in Dublin.

The South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) said the Irish State was “rocked when two of its security force members were brutally murdered” during the operation.

SEFF’s director Kenny Donaldson said: “To this day, no-one has been held accountable for stealing away the lives of Recruit Garda Gary Sheehan and Pte Patrick Kelly.”

Tidey exited the ordeal physically unharmed.

Donaldson added: “There has been a wall of silence surrounding the atrocity which took place in Derrada Wood outside Ballinamore, Co Leitrim.”

He added: “It is nothing short of shameful that the case was all but airbrushed from wider public consciousness but through the efforts of the family in recent years to raise the profile of what happened, coupled with the new publication ‘Kidnapped’ by Tommy Conlon and Ronan McGreevy, there exists fresh impetus to finally place focus on something which most wished would just go away.

“We have been privileged to support the Kelly family and the Sheehans are also known to the organisation.

“It is absolutely essential that all that can be done is done to bring to account those responsible for the heinous murders of two young men, much loved and cherished by their families and others.

“It is also important that immediate steps are taken to commemorate the men; a memorial should and must be sited within Ballinamore village but also an appropriate acknowledgement made at the scene of the crime, at Derrada Wood.

“We stand willing to support others in ensuring that this is expedited at the earliest possible occasion, 40 years is long enough for families to wait for acknowledgement and recognition. The State should and must honour its own – men of courage, men of honour.”

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