Programme 2: Garda Seamus Quaid
Monday 26th January 2009
In October 1958 the fortunes of the Wexford hurling were vastly improved with the arrival of a new Garda recruit to the town. Seamus Quaid, came from a proud family hurling tradition in Limerick. On joining the team he became firm friends with Ned Wheeler a Wexford hurling hero. They eventually brought Wexford to the All Ireland Hurling Final in 1960, which they famously won.
In January 1972 a daring escape took place from the Maidstone Internee ship which was moored in Belfast Lough. Seven men darkened their bodies, sawed their way through a ship port hole and swam to shore. The magnificent seven, as they became known, appeared at a press conference in Dublin the following morning. One of the internees who masterminded the escape, Peter Rogers, moved to Wexford, where he settled down and got married but still carried on with republican activities.
The 13th October 1980 was to be a fateful day that would bring both men face to face with disastrous consequence. Peter Rogers was using his vegetable van to move a huge amount of arms and explosives. As a result of a bank robbery in Callan, Co. Kilkenny on the same day, Seamus Quaid and his colleague Donal Lyttleton were sent out to check Rogers's movements; they couldn't find him but when they were returning to Wexford that night they passed his van on a lonely Wexford road. Both men knew him well, Lyttleton left his gun in the police car. While searching the van Rogers pulled his gun, in the ensuing gun battle Donal Lyttleton managed to escape and tried and raise the alarm, Rogers was injured and managed to escape to his neighbour's house, the Kelly's. Seamus Quaid lay on the ground badly injured, within fifteen minutes he was dead.
The killing of Seamus Quaid shocked and outraged the Wexford community. The violence of Northern Ireland had come to their doors. There would be major fallout for many of those in the community who were caught up in the events of that dark night. The finger of suspicion would point in the direction of Ned Wheeler and The Kelly's.
The Garda ar Lár team revisit the scene of the crime and talks to those who knew and loved Seamus Quaid. Ned Wheeler talks of his admiration for his friend and team mate and of his upset at becoming embroiled in the events surrounding the killing. Mary Kelly talks about her neighbour Peter Rogers and of their difficulty of living in a community where they felt like suspects.
Reporter: Padraig O Driscoll
Producer: Niamh Ní Churnáin