New information on Belturbet bombing suspects

Morning briefing took place ahead of Crimecal appeal this evening- RTÉ1 at 9.35pm.

The description of the person believed to have driven the bomb carrying Red Ford Escort into Belturbet Town, an attack which claimed the lives of two teenagers, has been released by gardaí.

The photofit of the man taken from information supplied by authorities manning Aghalane Bridge Customs Post and a witness from the town’s main street is currently being re-examined as part of a renewed garda probe into the atrocity almost 50 years ago.

Later this month, December 28, will mark five decades since the bombing that killed Patrick Stanley (16) from Clara Co Offaly, and local girl Geraldine O'Reilly (15) from Drumacon, Belturbet.

Belturbet bombing

A briefing with new information took place at The Seven Horseshoes Hotel, Belturbet this morning, Monday, December 19, ahead of the larger public appeal to be aired on RTÉ’s Crimecall later this evening, RTÉ1 at 9.35pm.

The briefing took place mere metres away from where the explosion did occur outside what use to be Farrelly’s Bar and McGowan’s Drapery on the erneside town’s Main Street.

Geraldine O’Reilly (15) was from Drumacon, Staghall, Belturbet, Co. Cavan. Survived by her parents, Mary Kate (RIP) and Joseph (RIP) and seven siblings. She had come into town with her brother Anthony to get food from Slowey's chip shop. She was in the restaurant, when the bomb car, which was parked directly opposite, exploded resulting in Geraldine sustaining fatal injuries.
Patrick Stanley (16) was from Clara, Co. Offaly. Survived by his parents, Teresa (RIP) and Joe (RIP) and nine siblings. When the bomb exploded, Patrick Stanley was in the public phone kiosk on the Main Street, trying to telephone his parents to tell them he would not be home.

An Garda Síochána continues an open and active investigation into the murders of Patrick Stanley and Geraldine O’Reilly and the explosions in Belturbet, as well as those in Clones and Pettigo which all happened within 30 minutes of each other.

Following the most recent review of this ongoing criminal investigation a Senior Investigating Officer was appointed to lead the investigation and an Incident Room was established at Ballyconnell Garda Station in September 2022.

Assistant Commissioner Michael McElgunn, North Western Region, who has familial links to Belturbet, and Chief Superintendent Alan McGovern, Cavan/ Monaghan/ Louth Garda Divisions made the formal Public Appeal for Information at this morning’s briefing.

They also provided an update to media on the Garda investigation.

The purpose of the appeal is to identify the person depicted in a photofit of the driver of the stolen red Ford Escort as compiled by the Garda at the checkpoint at Aghalane Bridge on the evening of the 28th December 1972.

The unknown driver of the stolen red Ford Escort which carried the bomb across the border at Aghalane.

• To identify the person depicted in a photofit of the driver of a Blue Ford Cortina registration number BIA 477 stolen from Main Street Belturbet

• To identify the driver and occupants of the Blue Ford Cortina registration number BIA 477 stolen from Main Street Belturbet.

Description of Driver (Photofit): Man 18 years old 5’8” thin build, long thin pale face, long dark brown hair (curly), very conspicuous nose, wearing a dark blazer double breasted with wide lapels, collar and tie, wore a silver or steel band around his wrist.

Description of girl in rear of car: 18-19 years old, fairly tall, blonde hair coming down over shoulders, parted in the centre and pushed away from forehead, sharp featured, pale complexion, long dark overcoat (maybe red), polo neck pullover.

Description of Men who got into the same car: Both dark haired, hair not as long as the driver’s hair, both about 20 years, (appeared taller than (1) above dark conservative clothes, well groomed, Northern accents, All appeared to be well dressed

To identify individuals who were in Belturbet on 28th December 1972, one of whom was wearing a distinctive ‘DUNLOP’ jacket- 25/28 years, 5’11” to 6’0” approx., dark brown or black bushy hair, not too long, sidelocks, broad/round face, fresh smooth complexion, very well built, wore black leather or plastic ‘wet look’ jacket with zip fastener, high collar turned up at back, side pockets, the word ‘DUNLOP’ in white ¾” lettering on breast or sleeve of jacket, large grey or white squares on trousers, spoke with northern accent.

Two others: First Person: 23 to 25 years, 5’7” or 5’9”, straight dark coloured hair, medium length and well groomed, long oval shaped face, pointed chin, light build, wearing expensive looking black jacket, side pockets, bell bottom trousers, collar and tie. He wore a watch with gold bracelet.

Second Person: Somewhat similar in description to No 2

Gardaí are also looking for information in relation to the whereabouts of the registration plates from the lagoon blue Ford Cortina registration number BIA 477 which was stolen from Belturbet on 28th December 1972, the registration plates which have never been recovered.

Separately, the investigation seeks to establish the identity of the man who observed driving a stolen Morris 1100 in Northern Ireland on 28th December 1972 who is described as having missing fingers.

The car that contained the Clones bomb, a blue Morris 1100, registration number 431 LZ had been stolen from a car park in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh between 6.30pm and 7.35pm on 28th December 1972.

Gardaí say they have received information that a person who is missing some fingers was observed driving a stolen blue Morris 1100 on 28th December 1972 in Northern Ireland.

Patrick McCabe RIP

Any other additional information that may assist Gardaí in their investigation

Speaking today Chief Superintendent McGovern said: “There are people out there, who know who carried out these crimes. They may not have been able to speak at that time or since. Perhaps relationships have changed, and with the increasing passage of time, maybe they feel able to speak or as they are getting older, now may want to speak before an opportunity to do so is lost. I ask them to make contact with the investigation team and to help An Garda Síochána get answers for the families of those killed and injured in Belturbet, Clones or Pettigo.”

Appealing to the public Assistant Commissioner Michael McElgunn added: “We are appealing for people here and in Northern Ireland to consider the matters raised today – does anything jog a memory? Do you have any information that might assist? 50 years have passed; families have suffered indescribably; parents have gone to their graves without answers! Do you know something you have you held a secret for too long? It’s never too late to talk – please contact us.”

A dedicated investigation team under a Senior Investigating Officer has been established at an incident room at Ballyconnell Garda Station.

The Garda investigation team can be contacted at the following numbers; Ballyconnell Garda Station 049 9525580, the Garda confidential line Free-phone 1800 666111, Crimestoppers 1800 250025 or Crimestoppers Northern Ireland 0800 555 111.