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Charles "Charlie" Breslin (September 5, 1964 – February 23, 1985), was a volunteer in the West Tyrone Brigade of the Provisional Irish Republican Army from Strabane, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland.[1][2][3][4][5]

Background[edit | edit source]

Breslin was from the "Head of the Town" area in Strabane, close to the border with County Donegal. At the age of 15, Breslin, who had an easy going disposition, became an avid reader of Irish history and politics and joined Na Fianna Éireann, a republican scouting movement.[6][7]

Paramilitary activities[edit | edit source]

On February 23, 1985, Breslin, Michael Devine (22) and David Devine (17), volunteers within the Provisional Irish Republican Army, were shot dead by undercover British Army members (Special Air Service), while returning arms to a dump, in a field, off Plumbridge Road, Strabane.[8][9]

The undercover soldiers were aware of the arms dump after being tipped off by an informer. Over 200 shots were fired at the trio and Breslin was hit 13 times.[10][11][12]

Shoot-to-kill policy[edit | edit source]

The families, many in the local community and across Ireland, believed these, and other deaths, were part of a wider British government "shoot-to-kill" policy, where Irish republican paramilitaries were summarily executed without any attempt at arrest.[4][6][13]

The families of the three IRA members that were killed claimed they were ambushed after a stake out by the SAS. In February 1987, a pathologist at the inquest stated two of the victims had been shot 28 times, mostly while on the ground and that the third victim had been hit on the bridge the of the nose. All three had single bullet wounds to the head.[14][15]

Damages from the Ministry of Defence[edit | edit source]

Substantial damages were awarded to the families of Breslin and the Devine brothers by the Ministry of Defence on 7 May 2002, as part of a Belfast High Court settlement brought as a result of the shootings.[16]

The events of the shooting are also remembered in a song called British Justice (Shoot To Kill Policy).

Memorial attacked[edit | edit source]

In February 2005, in excess of a thousand people went to the graveside of Charles Breslin and the Devlin brothers to mark the 20th anniversary of the shooting and hear an oration given by Gerry Adams. Members of the Police Service of Northern Ireland were accused of desecrating the graves of the volunteers, although Superintendent Raymond Murray of the PSNI denied that they had any involvement.[17][18][19]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

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