Aidan McAnespie

Part 1

Barry Lenihan reports on the events leading to the shooting of Aidan McAnespie on his way to a GAA game in Tyrone in February 1988, and hears what life was like in the border town of Aughnacloy; when there was a hard harsh frontier. 

 

Part 2 

Aidan McAnespie's father John explains why he wants to meet the soldier who killed his son, whilst Barry Lenihan goes through the various investigations -spanning three decades- into Aidan McAnespie's death. 


 

Part 3 

The McAnespie family call on the Irish Government to publish a special Garda report into Aidan's death- 30 years after it was submitted to the Department of Justice. 


Part 4

Tyrone GAA legend Peter Canavan and former GAA President Peter Quinn explain why they feel the GAA could do more to help the search for answers in the Aidan McAnespie case. Barry Lenihan outlines the numerous questions still outstanding in the case. 

Today cars pass freely between North and South on the Tyrone-Monaghan border at Aughnacloy, writes Drivetime reporter Barry Lenihan.

But, in 1988, there was a hard harsh border. A notorious checkpoint dominated local life.

Aidan McAnespie was constantly harrassed by police and soldiers for over 7 years when going through that checkpoint. He was an innocent man. He came from a republican family, but wasn't involved in violence. 

Aidan was constantly held up at the checkpoint- sometimes for up to four hours. Soldiers urinated on his car & in his lunch. They threatened to kill him on several occasions, and told his father they 'had a bullet for Aidan'. 

On the 21st February 1988, the 23 year old was on his way to a Gaelic  Football match, when he was shot by a soldiers in a look-out post. 

The soldier, 18 year old David Holden, claimed it was an accident, saying his wet hands had slipped when moving a heavy machine gun. 

Aidan McAnespie, the army said, died from a ricocheting bullet. This account was subsequently disregarded by investigators. No one has ever been prosecuted in connection with the killing. 

The Irish Government launched an unprecedented inquiry into the shooting. It was led by Deputy Garda Commissioner Eugene Crowley. The Haughey and Thatcher Governments clashed at the time, with Mrs. Tatcher telling Mr. Haughey to stop meddling with matters North of the border.

Crowley submitted his report to the Department of Justice in 1988, but it has never been published. 

A decision not to prosecute the soldier who fired the fatal bullet is being reviewed, but Aidan McAnespie's family say the Crowley report could play a pivotal part in that review if the Irish Government finally disclosed it. 

The Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan insists he can't. 

Aidan's brother Sean says he holds no hate towards the soldier who killed his sibling, but just wants the truth of what happened. Aidan's father John is 82, and fears he will never get a full and accurate account of what happened the day his son died. 

The Tyrone team stopped at a memorial to Aidan in Aughnacloy when they won their first All-Ireland in 2003. 

A GAA club has been formed in Aidan McAnespie's honour in Boston. 

A ballad in his memory is regularly sung by Celtic Fans at Parkhead. 

Aidan McAnespie's name may live on, but for his family- too many questions linger too.

And as the 30th anniversary of the shooting approaches, the search for answers goes on. 

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