Stronge double murder detailed in government files

The ruins of Tynan Abbey Tynan Abbey was bombed after Sir Norman Stronge and his son James had been murdered

The murders of Sir Norman Stronge, 87, the former Stormont Speaker and his son, James, a leading unionist and part-time RUC officer are detailed in confidential files newly released in Belfast.

The two men were killed at their home, Tynan Abbey on the border in County Armagh in 1981.

A background paper for the Minister of State at the NIO, Michael Alison on 25 February, records that on the night of 21 January, an armed gang of ten men crossed the border, hijacked two vehicles and went to the isolated mansion where they murdered Sir Norman and his son.

They then bombed the Abbey before escaping.

Following the double murder, the Provisional IRA claimed responsibility, stating that it was a reprisal for recent attacks by Loyalists on Republicans.

Over the previous six weeks, four leading republicans had been murdered while, just a few days earlier, civil rights activist Mrs Bernadette McAliskey and her husband had been badly wounded.

In a memo on the file, dated 12 February, 1981, C Devenport, an NIO official, noted that during Question Time at Westminster, Rev Ian Paisley had asked the Secretary of State, Humphrey Atkins to confirm or deny that the Army patrol detailed to observe Tynan Abbey on the fatal night was 'being wined and dined in a well-known republican house in the area'.

Devenport informed Alison that, since Dr Paisley's assertion, the Ulster Unionist MP, Harold McCusker had written to the Secretary of State that the DUP leader's allegation of 'wining and dining' might have been based on a rumour that soldiers who were supposed to be defending the area 'had, in fact, been drinking in Hughes' Hotel, Middletown (South Armagh).'

The military had investigated this allegation and 'flatly denied it'.

Features & Analysis

  • SyedTanks instead of toys

    Lyse Doucet on the plight of children in Syria and Gaza


  • Silhouette of manSuper-shy

    Why do Germany's super-rich so often keep their heads down?


  • Detail from Gin Lane by HogarthMother's ruin

    The time was gin was full of sulphuric acid and turpentine


  • The two sisters in their bakery'Must be mad'

    Why two Spanish sisters started a bakery in a desert


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • EscaladeBling's the thing

    The ostentatious Cadillac Escalade cruises into 2015 with fuel-gulping gusto

Programmes

  • A sun bearThe Travel Show Watch

    The Borneo sanctuary coming to rescue of the world’s smallest bear

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.