Charles Haughey did not want IRA bodies in Dublin
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Charles Haughey did not want IRA bodies in Dublin

IRELAND's former Taoiseach Charles Haughey did not want the bodies of three IRA members shot dead by the SAS in Gibraltar to be taken home through the Republic of Ireland.

Archived British papers show the former Irish leader urged the RAF to fly the bodies of Daniel McCann, 30, Sean Savage, 24, and Mairead Farrell, 31 - who were gunned down as they walked towards the Spanish border - direct to Belfast.

The three were killed by the SAS in March 1988 because it was believed they were about to detonate a remote-controlled bomb in the British Mediterranean territory.

The papers, released by the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, reveal that the Irish Government felt that bringing their bodies through Dublin would have been a propaganda coup for Sinn Féin.

"Haughey this afternoon implored us personally through the ambassador in Dublin to ensure that the bodies of the three IRA terrorists shot in Gibraltar were kept out of the Republic at all costs," an official wrote.

"He made clear that he would not admit to this request in public."

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An inquest later found the British commandos acted within the law when they shot dead the unarmed republicans.

Critics of Margaret Thatcher's Government claimed it was part of an unofficial shoot-to-kill policy against the IRA.

At the trio's funerals in Belfast, loyalist gunman Michael Stone opened fire and threw grenades at mourners. Three died and 50 were wounded.

Three days later, two British soldiers were seized while driving through west Belfast during the funerals of those killed at Milltown.

They were dragged from their car and murdered. The disturbing scenes were recorded on television.