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Dutch Courage - The Herrema Kidnap

SCANNAL looks back at the kidnapping of Dr. Tiede Herrema.

30 years ago, on the 3rd October 1975, a little known Dutch industrialist was kidnapped on his way from his Limerick home to the Ferenka Factory which he managed. Herrema was to become a household name, not only in Ireland, but around the world, as the international press headlined the tangled saga of love, politics and 1970s style republican terrorism.

Within hours of the abduction the kidnappers 'phoned in their demands for the release of three high profile republican prisoners - Kevin Mallon, Jim Hyland and Dr. Rose Dugdale, an English born heiress, who had been gaoled for her part in the Beit Art Robbery at Russborough House, Co. Wicklow. Dugdale was the key, she was linked politically and romantically with a Donegal republican activist: Eddie Gallagher. They had a child together and he very soon became the chief suspect together with a young 19yr old Derry woman - Marian Coyle.

The Coalition Government of Liam Cosgrave made it very clear from very start that there would be no release of prisoners, no room for compromise. A Nationwide Garda operation was mounted with almost half the force engaged in house to house searches and roadblocks. But Gallagher and Coyle had gone to ground in a "safe house" near Mountmellick, Co. Laois.

Days passed and the kidnappers sent taped messages from Herrema pleading for his life. The intervention of a Capuchin monk as a mediator proved fruitless. Gallagher asked for Phil Flynn - a trade union leader and Sinn Féin member at the time - to be brought in as an alternative mediator and while Gallagher began to lower his demands - the Government were steadfast but no closer to finding Herrema. Gallagher & Coyle had moved hideouts - this time to a council house in Monasterevin, Co. Kildare, which was itself searched by Gárdaí but the occupants were tipped off and the kidnappers hid with Herrema in the attic undisturbed. But 1410 St Evin's Park was to be scene of the final act in this drama when the controversial questioning of accomplices by the Gárdaí exposed the location. 18 days into the kidnapping, a dawn raid on the house failed to release Herrema and thus began the Siege of Monasterevin.

For a further 18 days, Ireland's and the World's press gathered. The Siege of Monasterevin was headline news every day. But behind the scenes what negotiations were going on to bring this dramatic standoff to an end after 36 days? - The longest and most dramatic kidnapping in Irish History.

Scannal brings us back to those dramatic days and talks to the people who were there - on the outside looking in - Government Ministers, Negotiators & even reporters, but also we talk exclusively with two of the people at the centre of the drama - Tiede & his wife Elisabeth Herrema. Today - 30 years on - they live in their native Holland but are still regular visitors to Ireland. They were granted Honorary Irish Citizenship in recognition of their ordeal and while they say they have put it behind them, in another sense: ".It doesn't ever stop!" ( Elisabeth Herrema)

Reporter: Garry MacDonncha
Producer/ Director: Kevin Cummins

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