Paul Duffy 1957-78

From the book Lost Lives: 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

26 February 1978

Paul Duffy, Tyrone

IRA, Catholic, 20, single

A member of the East Tyrone brigade of the IRA, he was shot by undercover troops as he retrieved explosives from a derelict house near Washing Bay. He was hit in the forehead. He was given a lift to the house by a friend who was unaware of the purpose of the visit. The friend drove off and shots were fired after him, hitting him in the back. Charges against the wounded man were subsequently dropped. According to one report, Paul Duffy took a spur of the moment decision to move the explosives because two elderly brothers lived nearby. He is listed on the republican roll of honour as a member of the Tyrone Brigade of the IRA. From Carnan, Stewartstown, he was nephew of the late Paddy Duffy of Coalisland, a prominent member of the SDLP who later became chairman of the Northern Ireland Law Society.

From the book Tyrone’s Struggle: Ar son Saoirse na hÉireann: by Gerard Magee

Óglach Paul Duffy

Paul Duffy (age 20) was born on 29 June 1957 and grew up in the townland of Carnan, about three miles south of Ardboe. He was the eldest son in a family of eleven children to Thomas and Maura Duffy (née Davidson) with five brothers and five sisters. Thomas Duffy ran a dairy farm along with a pig unit, and being the eldest son, Paul was close to his father and was out working along with him from a very young age.

As he was growing up Paul began his education at St Bridget’s Primary School at Brocagh and then went on to St Patrick’s Academy in Dungannon. After leaving the academy he began an apprentice as a joiner with Fee-con construction company in Coalisland. Paul soon became skilled at the trade and worked on the roofs on many new bungalows that were built around the Lough Shore during the mid-1970s. He also worked in Dublin and in England for short periods before getting a more permanent job with John Laing Construction Co Ltd, Ligoneil, Belfast.

From his early teens Paul was a keen Gaelic footballer at school and with his local clubs. He played for both Mountjoy GFC and Ardboe O’Donovan Rossa GFC at minor and under-age level. Paul’s sporting endeavours, however, were severely curtailed during the summer of 1975 when he was seriously injured in a road accident. He lost a kneecap, and as a result he spent months in hospital and at home recovering in a plaster and was unable to do best man at his uncle’s wedding.

On Monday 21 February 1977 Paul was arrested from his home at Carnan, taken initially to Cookstown, and then flown to Omagh RUC barracks where he was tortured by the RUC for the next three days. Paul Duffy described what happened, ‘All the people who had been interrogating me knew I was in an accident and lost my kneecap. One of the methods of torturing me was to make me bend and squat with my knee bent and my arms out. This was an impossible thing for me to do due to my injury. Then they started knocking me on the knee and kicking me on it and twisting my foot to injure my knee.’

As a result of this, and numerous other injuries to his head and body, Paul was taken from the barracks to Omagh Hospital. Following his release, reports were made to the various doctors and to his solicitor and SDLP councillor, Patrick A Duffy, an uncle of Paul. In July 1979 – over a year after Paul was killed – this case of torture in Omagh Barracks was taken to Belfast High Court, and the British direct-ruler was forced to pay out costs to Thomas Duffy who took up the case on behalf of his deceased son.

Almost exactly one year after his torture in Omagh Barracks, Paul Duffy was shot dead in the Killygonland area of Ardboe in an SAS stakeout operation while unarmed on 26 February 1978. His companion was wounded after driving off to get assistance at Mullinahoe Parochial House. When the local priest reached the scene of the shooting, intending to administer the last rites, he was told by the British Army that there was no one there. He was then called out to the scene a second time.

Over the next few days thousands came to pay their respects and members of Ardboe and Mountjoy GFC formed a guard of honour at his funeral. His remains were taken to the Church of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Mullinahoe, and after the funeral mass, Volunteer Paul Duffy was laid to rest in the adjoining cemetery.

Location where Paul Duffy was shot dead on 26 February 1978 Details on back of photograph: A general view of the farmyard. The hayshed where the bombs were hidden is on the right of the picture. Army Information Services HQ Northern Ireland. 27 February 1978

Location where Paul Duffy was shot dead on 26 February 1978
Details on back of photograph:
A general view of the farmyard. The hayshed where the bombs were hidden is on the right of the picture. Army Information Services HQ Northern Ireland. 27 February 1978

 

B.36.

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