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Ballinamore 1983

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  • #16
    Garda Commissioner says Don Tidey kidnapping still under investigation

    Updated / Friday, 24 Sep 2021 16:12

    By Paul Reynolds
    Crime Correspondent
    The Garda Commissioner has said the kidnapping of Don Tidey in 1983 is still under investigation and a serious crime review of the case is under way.

    Drew Harris said they were reviewing documentation and looking towards advances in forensics.

    Fifteen Scott Medals for bravery were presented today to retired and serving gardaí and their families for their roles in the rescue of Mr Tidey.

    The supermarket executive was kidnapped outside his home in Dublin in November 1983 and held captive for 23 days by an armed IRA gang before he was rescued by the gardaí and the Defence Forces.

    Garda Gary Sheehan and Private Patrick Kelly were shot dead in the incident.

    Surviving gardaí and the families representing their loved ones who have passed away said they are grateful and honoured that their courage has now been recognised.

    Commissioner Harris accepted that 38 years was a long time to wait to honour the bravery of those involved but he said the organisation had been traumatised by the IRA murders and was focused on the investigation.
    A search in Ballinamore Co Leitrim for Don Tidey
    The Scott Medal is the highest award that can be bestowed by the Garda Commissioner and is awarded for "most exceptional bravery and heroism involving the risk of life in the execution of duty".

    Fifteen Gold, Silver and Bronze medals were presented to serving and retired gardaí today, four of those posthumously to family members including the Gold medal for Garda Gary Sheehan.

    He and Private Patrick Kelly were shot dead by the armed IRA gang which kidnapped Don Tidey as he took his 13-year-old daughter to school in November 1983.

    The supermarket executive was held captive for 23 days and found following an intensive Garda and Army search and a shoot-out in Drumcroman Woods, Derrada in Co Leitrim.

    The IRA gang went on the run but were stopped by a Garda four days later who managed to disarm one of them and get descriptions and registration before they held him at gunpoint and tied him up.

    Fourteen of today's Scott Medals were awarded to gardaí for their actions on the afternoon Don Tidey was rescued, 16 December 1983, the other for the events at the checkpoint four days later.

    Businessman and kidnap victim Don Tidey after his release in 1983 (Pic:

    Don Tidey kidnapping case still under investigation (
    For now, everything hangs on implementation of the CoDF report.


    • #17
      Citations for today's medals can be found Here>!OFBD57
      For now, everything hangs on implementation of the CoDF report.


      • #18
        ‘The goal was to free Don Tidey. And we freed Don Tidey’ – 15 gardaí decorated for bravery

        Posthumous gold Scott Medal awarded to Garda Gary Sheehan who was killed by IRA

        about 3 hours ago
        Conor Gallagher Crime Correspondent

        Former supermarket boss Don Tidey speaking to Margaret Sheehan, mother of Garda Gary Sheehan, and her daughters Grainne and Jennifer, after their brother was posthumously awarded a Scott Medal for bravery at a ceremony in Dublin Castle. Photograph: Alan Betson

        When Nacie Rice thinks back to 1983 and the operation to rescue Don Tidey, his main memory is the sight of trainee gardaí running for cover as IRA gunmen fired automatic weapons at them from up a hill.

        “It’s something that still sticks in my mind. Their caps were falling off and there was shooting.”

        One of the earliest lessons drilled into trainee gardaí in Templemore is to hold onto their cap, whatever happens. As a result, the recruits in Leitrim that day were going back to get their hats instead of sprinting for the safety of the woods, recalls Rice, who retired from the Garda as a deputy commissioner in 2013.

        “We had to use almost bad language to get them to never mind your cap, just get into cover. It was that surreal.”

        For Rice, who was then a detective sergeant, the ordeal was just beginning. He went further up the road where he met Tidey in the company of a garda and a soldier.

        “I said to myself, ‘This is great – we’re going to get home for Christmas.’ I didn’t know anybody had been killed at this stage.”

        Rice and another garda were taking Tidey to safety when they heard a car “roaring” down the road. An IRA gunman leaned out sprayed the group with automatic fire, hitting Det Garda Donie Kelleher.

        Rice returned fire with his revolver “just to put them off” before assisting Kelleher. He then took Kelleher’s Uzi machine gun and set off after the car. He found it down the road, empty except for an abandoned rifle.

        His account was one of many shared on Friday morning at a ceremony outside Dublin Castle to award Scott medals for bravery to 15 gardaí involved in the operation to rescue the prominent businessman from his kidnappers.

        Tidey, a supermarket executive, was kidnapped outside his home in Dublin in November 1983 as he took his daughter to school. A nationwide search operation was launched by the Garda and Defence Forces which, 23 days later, convened on an isolated area around Derrada Wood in Leitrim.

        One of those involved in the operation was Det Supt Bill Somers, a trained Garda negotiator. It was Somers who first located Tidey. He put his revolver to the side of the businessman’s head and told him to identify himself. Tidey responded: “Do you not recognise my accent?”

        Somers’s eldest son, John, recalled on Friday not knowing whether his father was alive or dead as they listened to the news of the operation on the radio.

        It was a close-run thing. His father was one of those strafed with rifle fire by the IRA men as they brought Tidey to safety. Somers got Tidey to a ditch where they spent the next three hours until the operation came to an end.

        John recalled seeing the three bullet holes in his father’s coat before it was taken away as evidence. “He was in shock but he was still alive.”

        Many who attended the ceremony wondered why it has taken so long to recognise the bravery of the 15 gardaí. This is particularly true for the Somers family. Bill died in 2010 at the age of 69. His wife, Helen, died in March.

        Somers was a “very humble individual”, according to John. “My Mum more than anything else would have liked to be here accepting it.”

        The medals may never have been awarded if not for the work of a now-senior garda who has campaigned in the background for years. He was a recruit at the time and was sitting beside Garda Gary Sheehan on the bus when they were being ferried to the search area. Sheehan, along with Army Private Patrick Kelly, was killed by IRA gunmen during the operation.

        The memory of Garda Sheehan, who would have been 61 on Friday, was at the centre of the proceedings. Of the 15 recipients, he was the only one awarded a gold medal by Garda Commissioner Drew Harris.

        “We wonder what his life would have been like had he not been murdered almost 38 years ago on that ill-fated day,” his youngest sister, Jennifer McCann, said. “Would he have been married and had children and grandchildren? Would he have stayed in the force like his father and grandfather?”

        She said her family were grateful Garda Sheehan “did not die in vain” and that Mr Tidey has had all this time with his family.

        The family made a choice not to become bitter, she said. “Although the perpetrators of this terrible crime have not being brought to justice, they know who they are. Their friends and family know who they are.”

        Mr Tidey, now in his mid-80s, was also present at the ceremony. He could be seen examining the medals and conversing with his rescuers and their families.

        Over the years there has been criticism of the rescue, including the decision to send trainee gardaí such as Sheehan on such a dangerous operation.

        “The goal was to free Don Tidey. And we freed Don Tidey,” said Rice. “We were searching a huge area. The fact that we came upon Don Tidey was in itself a damn good result.”

        Over the years rumours have spread that Garda Sheehan’s and Pte Kelly’s deaths were a result of friendly fire. These have been upsetting and frustrating for their family and colleagues.

        “This is all smoke and mirrors,” said Rice. “Of course it’s easy to deflect. That’s what people do. “

        The deaths of Sheehan and Kelly were the work of “common criminals”, he says. “Certainly as far as I was concerned they were not freedom fighters. No freedom fighter would tie up a man and keep him like a wild animal for weeks on end and shoot an unarmed garda and shoot a soldier.”

        ‘The goal was to free Don Tidey. And we freed Don Tidey’ – 15 gardaí decorated for bravery (
        For now, everything hangs on implementation of the CoDF report.


        • #19
          Originally posted by na grohmiti View Post
          Citations for today's medals can be found Here>!OFBD57
          No individual citations?


          • #20
            THE uniformed garda sergeant stuck a cocked .38 Smith and Wesson revolver through the open car window and rammed it against my head as I slowly inched the steering wheel over to swing the Mazda 323 off the country road.


            • #21

              Garda video of today's ceremony.
              For now, everything hangs on implementation of the CoDF report.


              • #22
                This is well worth watching.

                RTÉ Archives | War and Conflict | Don Tidey Rescue (

                How a kidnap ended in a Leitrim wood with a shootout as Don Tidey captive for 23 days was freed.

                Supermarket boss Don Tidey was kidnapped on 24 November 1983 and was held captive for 23 days.

                Presenter Pat Kenny introduces a report on how the search in difficult terrain of Leitrim culminated in the release of Don Tidey.

                The area known as Derrada is located about four and a half miles from the town of Ballinamore, County Leitrim about ten miles from the Northern Ireland border. Don Tidey was being held captive in a wood at Dromcroman. After his release, Don Tidey accompanied by two policemen as made their way to the back road to Ballinamore. The kidnappers made their escape from the wood in the opposite direction with hostages in tow. The hostages were abandoned en route and the the kidnappers made their way to the house of Charlie McTague where they picked up a blue car and drove along the back road into Ballinamore. On the way, the kidnappers encountered the group accompanying Don Tidey.

                Reporter Brendan O’Brien explains how events unfolded.
                The intensive countrywide search for Don Tidey ended here in Drumcroman Wood, Derrada, four and a half miles from Ballinamore.

                A 25 man search team, including armed Gardaí and soldiers, swept through the wood. A well concealed hideout was discovered and one of the kidnappers was spotted in the bushes dressed in Irish army battledress. Shots were fired and a stun grenade was thrown. Garda recruit Garry Sheehan and army Private Patrick Kelly were killed.

                One of the kidnappers held a disarmed soldier at gunpoint. Other Gardaí who were in hiding were ordered out of under threat of their lives. Two soldiers who had been protecting the rear of the search party were ordered to surrender their weapons and were taken hostage. The gang now had seven hostages and took them back up through the wood. Three kidnappers were then joined by a fourth and possibly a fifth gang member. Some of the search party gave chase for a time but kept their distance for fear that their comrades would be shot. In the confusion, Don Tidey found himself free and was rescued by two Garda recruits.
                He was shouting ‘I’m Don Tidey’ but they did not recognise him.

                Dressed in army combat gear, the Gardaí feared Don Tidey might be one of the gang members. They took off his Wellington boots to prevent him from running away. Garda Inspector in charge Seamus O’Hanlon from Carrickmacross radioed for reinforcements but was unsure of his exact location and gave the wrong side of the wood.

                The headquarters radio officer who knew the area best was at lunch. Army and Garda reinforcements were sent to the wrong location near Derrada Post Office. Rosaleen and PJ Prior who live in the area heard the sound of gunfire. In all the confusion, Gardaí thought they had captured an escaping kidnapper outside Deradda Post Office. Hugh Prior was stopped and detained under Section 30 of the Offences Against The State Act. He was driven away by a uniformed Garda with an armed detective in the backseat. Gardaí heard a message over the radio saying
                For Christ’s sake, don’t shoot at the blue car. It’s got a Garda in it and a prisoner.

                Hugh Prior said he was taken along the road to the intersection near Rosaleen Prior’s house. Shots were fired and Hugh Prior was grazed in the lower neck. Meanwhile, the kidnappers had taken their hostages across fields in the other direction. The hostages were then released. The gang then retreated to Charlie McTague’s house.

                Back in the wood, Don Tidey was bundled down towards the road as they still were not convinced he was the kidnapped victim. Detective Garda Seamus Fleming from Monaghan met them along the way and recognised Don Tidey.

                Back at Charlie McTague’s house, the kidnappers took a blue Opel Kadett and took off at high speed. This was just minutes after Gardaí had heard a message directing them not to shoot at the blue car. Within minutes, the kidnappers had reached the spot on the road where Don Tidey and the group of Gardaí were heading. The gang sprayed automatic fire at the group. Further along the road, unarmed Garda recruit Kevin Ring let off the handbrake of a Garda car to block the gang racing towards him and dived for cover. His plan worked and the Opel Kadett screached to a halt. The gang jumped out and ran across open fields. Two armed detectives arrived at the getaway spot and began firing at the kidnappers. However, they got away unharmed.
                Don Tidey was found in a very remote wood and he was freed alive in a highly dangerous situation where two men did lose their lives.

                This episode of ‘Today Tonight’ was broadcast on 11 January 1984. The presenter is Pat Kenny and the reporter is Brendan O’Brien.
                For now, everything hangs on implementation of the CoDF report.