New documents reveal IRA man died in British army ambush

British soldiers on the streets of Belfast in the 1970s.
Connla Young

An IRA man shot dead by the British army almost 45 years ago was the victim of a planned ambush, recently discovered documents reveal.

Daniel McAreavey (21) was shot dead at the junction of Bosnia Street and Plevna Street in the lower Falls area following a republican bomb attack in October 1972.

Campaigners believe the Military Reaction Force (MRF), which is suspected of killing Catholic civilians, may have been involved in the ambush.

Just days before the ambush an MRF member was killed by the IRA in an ambush known as the ‘Four Square Laundry' operation.

The Republican Graves publication later said that Daniel McAreavey was armed with an Armalite and was providing cover when he was killed.

The British army later claimed that he was shot by a passing patrol after a blast bomb attack at a nearby observation post and shots were fired at troops.

Now documents recently uncovered by the Paper Trail charity reveal that the republican was in fact targeted in a planned ambush.

The secret file from the 2nd Battalion of the Anglian Regiment records that McAreavey was caught in an “area ambush”, which the charity says is “military parlance for multiple, connected kill zones”.

The record for October 6, 1972, shows that:“Area ambush in Raglan St – Plevna St – Osman St. Daniel McAreavey shot dead and two gunmen wounded by SF (security forces).”

Paper Trail spokesman Ciarán MacAirt, who found the file said it “completely subverts the British narrative of an accidental patrol that happened upon the scene.”

“The role of the MRF in the ambush is easily proved or disproved by documents the family's solicitor will seek in court but we can be sure that the British Army's area ambush was a deliberate plan to trap and kill its targets,” he said.

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