BLOOD ON THE STREETS OF GIBRALTAR

Diarmuid Breatnach

On the 6th of March 1988, an undercover unit of the IRA in the Spanish State was being tracked by Spanish police.  As the unit headed in to Gibraltar, their surveillance was taken over by a British Army unit of the Special Air Service.  Very soon afterwards, the SAS attacked the IRA unit and shot them down, shooting them again with execution shots on the street.  The IRA unit were unarmed and there was no attempt made to arrest them.  The SAS claimed that they had a bomb ready to detonate but no such bomb was ever found.  The three Volunteers were Mairéad Farrell, Seán Savage and Daniel McCann.

Above: Gibraltar 3 murder scene. Below: Daniel McCann, Mairéad Farrell, Sean Savage. (Source: Stair na hÉireann)

A Gibraltar woman, Carmen Proetta, who witnessed the murders from her flat and testified to what she had seen was villified and libelled in the British media (she successfully sued a number of them later).  A Gibraltar inquest judged the killings to have been unlawful.  Amnesty International in Britain denounced the killings — one of the few occasions in which Amnesty criticised the British Government with regard to its conduct in relation to the 30 Years’ War in Ireland.

Almost two months after the shootings Margaret Thatcher and her Foreign Secretary Geoffrey Howe tried to prevent an independent British TV company’s documentary on the killings, Death On the Rock and the career of the lead Editor, Roger Bolton,  suffered severely, although an independent investigation of the program vindicated the program.

Coffins of the Gibraltar Three being carried through West Belfast (Source image: The Irish News)

Streets of Gibraltar song

By The Irish Brigade (long version) + verse by DB*

Chorus

Oh, sad are three homes in Belfast Town,

all Ireland shares their sorrow;

as they walked in the sun, the Brits drew their guns

and they died on the streets of Gibraltar.

1

They flew out of Belfast with an ambitious plan

to carry the struggle to free Ireland –

Mairéad Farrell, Seán Savage and Daniel McCann –

and they died on the streets of Gibraltar.

Chorus

2

Hidden eyes had been watching, they followed each one
They knew they weren’t armed, that none had a gun
They
gave them no warning and no chance to run
For the three must die on Gibraltar.

3

Each of them unarmed, without mercy gunned down, *

shot again in the head as they lay on the ground

by the Special Air Service, assassins of the Crown –

they were murdered on the streets of Gibraltar.

(Chorus)

4

The SAS stood there, so proud of their deed –

three more freedom fighters shot down in the street:

Mairéad Farrell, Seán Savage and Daniel McCann –

they died on the streets of Gibraltar.

5

Mairéad, while in prison we watched you with pride;
True to all you believed in and for this you’ve died
With two fine volunteers Dan and Sean by your side —
A part of us died in Gibraltar.

(Chorus)

6

It happens each time that a Volunteer dies —
They screen out the truth with a cover of lies;
But we know what happened on that warm peaceful night
The Brits planned their deaths on Gibraltar.

(Chorus)

And their blood stained the streets of Gibraltar.

End.

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