‘It's part of history’ – Irish auction house defends sale of IRA rocket-propelled grenade launcher
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‘It's part of history’ – Irish auction house defends sale of IRA rocket-propelled grenade launcher

A DUBLIN auction house has defended its decision to sell a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launcher which may have been used by the IRA during the Troubles.

The RPG-7 will go under the hammer at Whyte’s Eclectic Collector Sale next month along with two inert rocket-propelled grenades, a disabled booster rocket and accessories.

Whyte’s describes Lot 247 as being consistent with those "used by the Provisional IRA in Northern Ireland from 1969 to 1998".

The auctioneer's full product description reads: "A Bulgarian-made, shoulder-launched, anti-tank, rocket-propelled grenade launcher, serial number 24-619 with electronic optical sight; together with two inert rocket-propelled grenade rounds, inert PG-7PM booster rocket in case, webbing strap, canvas cover, cleaning tools and accessory bag.

"With Birmingham Proof House deactivation certificate dated 28/08/2013. (6)

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"The RPG-7 was used by the Provisional IRA in Northern Ireland from 1969 to 1998, most notably in Lurgan, County Armagh, where it was used against British Army observation posts and the military base at Kitchen Hill in the town.

"The IRA also used them in West Belfast against British Army armoured personnel carriers and Army forward operating bases (FOB). Beechmount Avenue in Belfast became known as ‘RPG Avenue’ after attacks on British troops."

The weapon was deactivated in 2013 and comes with several accessories (Image: Whyte's)

The decommissioned RPG is just one piece to be auctioned on Saturday, April 6 under the category ‘Northern Ireland Conflict’, and is expected to fetch between €4,000 and €6,000.

Whyte’s have now defended the sale as a "part of history", adding that a number of similar militaria have been bought by collectors and exhibitors such as the Ulster Museum.

Managing director Ian Whyte told RTÉ News that the auction house sells "all sorts of weapons provided they are decommissioned and can’t be used again".

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He added: "We sell weapons dating back to the beginning of time. Some of the weapons we have go back a good bit before BC.

"It was in the collection of a Republican who decided to sell off his collection."

However, Kenny Donaldson of Innocent Victims United expressed his disgust at the upcoming sale.

He told the Belfast Telegraph: "At best Whyte’s is guilty of profiting from prejudice and at its worst it is an accessory to the selling of an armament which was used to wage terror against the people of Northern Ireland.

"Undoubtedly there is something very sinister in Whyte’s marketing of the item. The product description is crass given the tool of death and destruction that the RPG-7 was in the context of this place."

The RPG-7 was issued with a deactivation certificate by Birmingham Gun Barrel Proof House in 2013, according to the paper.

A member of staff said there is no way to know if the weapon was used in an attack.

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