Northern Ireland news

Step Inn bomb attack remembered 40 years on

Malachi McDonald speaking on the 40th anniversary of the Step Inn bomb attack in Keady, Co Armagh, in which his wife Elizabeth (Betty) died in August 1976. Picture by Mal McCann
Connla Young

THE husband of a woman killed in a UVF bomb blast four decades ago has said he wants to see those responsible for her death "shamed".

Malachi McDonald was speaking exactly 40 years after his wife Elizabeth, known as Betty to friends, died when a car bomb exploded outside the Step Inn in Keady, Co Armagh.

The mother-of-three was killed along with Gerald McGleenan (22) when the UVF’s notorious Glenanne gang targeted the mixed bar at around 10pm on August 16.

The gang, which included members of the RUC and UDR, is believed to have been responsible for the murders of more than 100 people in the 1970s.

The Cortina car used in the attack was hijacked on Belfast’s Shankill Road a week earlier and packed with 25lb of commercial explosives and 200lb of home made explosives.

An investigation by the police Historical Enquiries Team revealed that RUC Special Branch had "known the identities of those involved in the planning of the attack and placing of the bomb".

It also emerged that the house where the bomb was stored was owned by a part-time police officer and had been under British army surveillance in the days leading up to the attack.

The original target of the bomb team was a bar in Clontibret in Co Monaghan.

However, when the gang's scout discovered gardaí had the bar under surveillance they targeted the Step Inn.

No-one was ever charged with the bomb attack.

Mrs McDonald had worked as a nurse in England and America before moving home.

Her husband, who now lives in Pomeroy, Co Tyrone, says he has struggled to cope with his loss over the last four decades.

“I never put any pictures up, it was hard, you just said nothing,” he said.

“I pretended it never happened, I just didn’t think about it and it wasn’t in my face every day.”

Mr McDonald said he was “fed so many lies for years” and has no doubt there was collusion in the double murder.

He said wants to see a new inquest ordered by attorney General John Larkin in 2013 taking place.

“I would like this inquest to be over and this rotten RUC to be shamed for what they were,” he said.

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