Under the cover of night the remains of an IRA hunger striker are moved from a grave in Leigue Cemetery, Ballina and re-interred in the Republican plot.

On 12 February 1976 Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) hunger striker Frank Stagg from County Mayo died in Wakefield Prison after a 62 day hunger strike. Frank Stagg’s final wish was to be buried in the Republican plot in Leigue Cemetery, Ballina beside the remains of Michael Gaughan.

Eight days later he was buried but it was to be a showcase burial by the IRA.

The Fine Gael Labour Coalition government at the time foiled this burial by having the body flown to Shannon Airport and then buried in Leigue Cemetery, near the family plot. Frank Stagg’s grave was covered with concrete to a depth of three feet to prevent the body from being disinterred and reburied by republicans. The plot beside Frank Stagg’s grave was available for purchase and it was bought by his brother George Stagg.

In November 1977, sometime after midnight, a group of men moved into the cemetery and went to the grave where Frank Stagg had been buried. They started to dig through the plot owned by George Stagg to recover Frank Stagg’s coffin.

The dug down and then from the side they extracted the coffin with body in it and moved it to the Republican Plot.

Local republicans are being questioned but it is not generally believed that it is local people who are responsible for it. If the perpetrators are found they can be charged with the crime of disinterring a body.

The message the family received said that the body had been buried in the Republican plot in the presence of a priest.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 6 November 1977. The reporter is Conor McAnally.