1981 – Northern Ireland civil rights campaigner and former Westminster MP, Bernadette McAliskey, is shot by gunmen who burst into her home at Coalisland in County Tyrone.

Josephine Bernadette Devlin McAliskey (born 23 April 1947), usually known as Bernadette Devlin or Bernadette McAliskey, is an Irish socialist and republican political activist. She served as a Member of the UK Parliament from 1969 to 1974 for the Mid Ulster constituency, in which role she famously slapped the Home Secretary, Reginald Maudling, as a reaction to his comments on Bloody Sunday. She lost her seat to John Dunlop of the Vanguard Progressive Unionist Party, after coming third in a four-sided contest in the general election of February 1974.

On 16 January 1981, she and her husband were shot by members of the Ulster Freedom Fighters, who broke into their home in Coalisland, County Tyrone. The gunmen shot McAliskey seven times in front of her children. British soldiers were watching the McAliskey home at the time, but failed to prevent the assassination attempt. An army patrol of the 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, heard the shots and rushed to McAliskey’s house. The paramilitaries had torn out the telephone and while the wounded couple were being given first aid by the troops, a soldier ran to a neighbour’s house, commandeered a car, and drove to the home of a councillor to telephone for help. The couple were taken by helicopter to hospital in nearby Dungannon for emergency treatment and then to the Musgrave Park Hospital, Military Wing, in Belfast, under intensive care. Three attackers, including Ray Smallwoods, captured by the army patrol, were subsequently jailed.

Bernadette Devlin McAliskey

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