Northern Ireland news

Family of lorry driver killed in IRA bomb at customs post fear return of hard border

Mary Casey's father Jack McCann was killed in an IRA attack on Newry customs clearance centre in 1972. Picture from The Irish Times

THE family of a lorry driver killed in an IRA bombing in 1972 have said they fear Brexit could spark violence along the border.

Jack McCann (60), a Catholic man from Inniskeen, Co Monaghan, was one of nine people killed in an IRA blast on August 1972.

Four customs officials, two lorry drivers and three IRA men died in the explosion at Newry custom clearing station.

The bombing was the worst attack on a northern customs post during the Troubles.

Mr McCann's daughter Mary Casey (67), who was 21 when her father was killed, has said she fears the return of border customs posts.

"I think there will be a hard border," she told The Irish Times.

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"I don’t know how else it is going to work, to be honest. It would be scary. I imagine it is going back to the way it was."

Mr McCann was killed along with fellow lorry driver Joseph Fegan (28), from Armagh.

Four customs officials were killed: Frank Quinn (30), Patrick Murphy (41), Michael Ronan Gilleece (32) and Marshall Lawrence (33).

The three IRA members – Noel Madden (18), Patrick Hughes (35) and Oliver Rowntree (22), all from Newry – were also killed.

Six other customs officials were injured, one seriously.

Mrs Casey said she was concerned about how young people, who did not have experience of the Troubles, will react to Brexit.

"An awful lot of people around here wouldn’t know," she said.

"You see if Brexit brings the violence back, they will be younger and they will have no fear because they won’t remember."

Frankie Quinn's brother Artie said the death is "still very raw" for his family, even after 46 years.

Mr Quinn said he is worried about what Brexit might bring.

"I would have concerns that the symbolism of check points, queues and lorries have to wait to get checked out - the symbolism of division and disruption that would not be desirable," he said.

"It would bring back memories of a time before when there was that visible division and nobody wants to see that again.

"If you take a straw poll around Newry, no one wants to see a return to that kind of violence no matter how romanticised it may be in the eyes of some. Only a minority would go to those lengths."

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