I met Hain: Shane Paul

Shane O'Doherty in 1972.
Shane O'Doherty in 1972.

A former IRA bomber from Derry has revealed that he was the Provo who met with Peter Hain in the city’s Bogside in the early 1970s.

Shane Paul O’Doherty contacted the ‘Journal’ yesterday to say that he’s one of the unidentified people the former Northern Ireland Secretary of State refers to in his newly published autobiography.

In the book, entitled ‘Outside In’, Mr. Hain makes a brief reference to the episode which, he says, occurred during his first fact-finding visit to Derry as a “young radical” in 1972.

He writes: “In the old walled city of Derry, I had been ushered quickly into a car with a couple of young Provos and driven off for a ‘chat’, wondering whether I would ever be seen again.”

Shane O’Doherty - a former IRA explosives operative who was active in the Derry-Donegal region in the early and mid-70s - says he was just 17 years-old when he met Mr. Hain in 1972.

Mr. O’Doherty, who went on to serve 14 years in jail in England for his involvement in a letter-bomb campaign in London, told the ‘Journal’: “The chat took place in the back of a car in Beechwood Avenue only because on the day and at that time there was nobody else available at short notice to answer all his questions and to explain to him why young men might want to join the IRA and hit back at the British Army.”

The Derry man, who cut his links with the IRA while in prison in England, added: “I was grabbed from a house in the Bogside and asked to answer a stack of questions over about 45 minutes.”

Mr. O’Doherty recalled that, at the time, he was aware of Mr. Hain’s role in the anti-apartheid movement in England.

Mr. O’Doherty said that, during the “chat” with Mr. Hain, he was the “only ‘Provo’ in the car - the driver was a sympathiser.

“Little did we all know how our futures would work out,” he said. “52 weeks after our ‘chat’, I was in London bombing it.”

During his time as an IRA bomber, Mr. O’Doherty sent a bomb to Bishop Gerard Tickle, the Roman Catholic chaplain to the British Army, after reading a newspaper story quoting Tickle as saying British soldiers did nothing wrong on Bloody Sunday. The bomb, stuffed into a hollowed-out Bible, failed to detonate.

He also sent a letter bomb to 10 Downing Street, where it sat unnoticed in a wastebasket for 24 hours, while he also sent devices to the London Stock Exchange and the Bank of England.