The stories of the men, women and children who died as a result of the Northern Ireland troubles
By David McKittrick, Seamus Kelters, Brian Feeney, Chris Thornton and David McVea
3206. 3 June 1991
Lawrence McNally, Tyrone
IRA, Catholic, 40
From Annaghmore, Ardboe, he was one of three IRA men shot by the SAS as they travelled through Coagh in a stolen car. Such was the ferocity of the gunfire that the car burst into flames, having been hit by around 200 shots. Pete Ryan and Tony Doris were the other men killed in the shooting. Local people said the gunfire went on for ten minutes.
One man who lived nearby said, ‘I looked out and could see smoke coming from the car and there were police and soldiers everywhere. I don’t know if it was a gun-battle between the men in the car and soldiers, but there was an awful lot of shooting. It sounded like at least one machine-gun was being used.’ The RUC issued a brief statement. It said, ‘At 7.30am an army patrol intercepted an IRA unit on a mission in the village of Coagh. Three people are dead in a burnt-out car.’
The car the IRA men were using had been hijacked in Moneymore the previous evening, and it is believed that they were on their way to carry out an attack when they were surprised by soldiers and police who appeared to have been waiting for them. Rifles found in the car included a weapon which had been used to kill Leslie Dallas, Austin Nelson and Ernest Rankin in a Coagh garage 200 yards from the scene of this incident. It had also been used in the killing of Derek Ferguson two months previously. The IRA said the three men were on ‘active service’ but added that they had been killed in revenge for the deaths of three UDR soldiers, one of them Lance-Corporal Robert Crozier, a few days earlier at Glennane.
The DUP MP for the area, the Rev William McCrea, said, ‘They have fallen into the pit that they planned for others and justice has now been done.’ The SDLP deputy leader Seamus Mallon said, ‘Such statements ingrain further into the entire community the belief that violence works.’ Referring to the IRA men, the Labour spokesman for Northern Ireland, Kevin McNamara, said, ‘I would much rather people were behind bars than under the ground. Under the ground they tend to become martyrs. Behind bars they become the evil people they are and are arraigned before the civilised world for the type of plotting that they were doing.’
Lawrence McNally had been tried and acquitted in Dublin for the murder of former UDR member Harry Livingstone. His brother Phelim McNally had already been killed by loyalists. Unionists criticised Irish authorities when masked and uniformed IRA men escorted the cortège of Lawrence McNally through the village of Tyholland in Co Monaghan.
See also: Pete Ryan (3207), Tony Doris (3208)
3207. 3 June 1991
Pete Ryan, Tyrone
IRA, Catholic, 35
He was from Killycanavan in Ardboe. There was a heavy RUC presence at his funeral, which was delayed for around 30 minutes as police and Sinn Fein held discussions on how it should proceed. A priest described Pete Ryan’s death as ‘execution’, a comment which was criticised by unionist politicians.
See also: Lawrence McNally (3206)
3208. 3 June 1991
Tony Doris, Tyrone
IRA, Catholic, 21
He was from Meenagh Park, Coalisland. At the funeral a priest accused the RUC of mounting a ‘provocative’ display of strength. Referring to the police operations at the funerals of Tony Doris and Pete Ryan, the RUC said, ‘It is not acceptable that a terrorist organisation should be able to do as it pleases on such occasions and the presence of the security forces was intended to ensure that this did not occur.’ The Mid-Ulster MP the Rev William McCrea welcomed the security force operations at the funerals.
See also: Lawrence McNally (3206)