#OTD in 1973 – Eight IRA members (six men, two women – sisters Marian and Dolours Price) are convicted of the London bombings in March 1973 which killed one person and injuring over 200.

Dolours Price and younger sibling Marian were part of a four-strong IRA unit which planted four car bombs outside the Old Bailey courthouse. Two detonated, causing massive damage and injuring more than 200 people, but no-one was killed directly. One man later died of a heart attack he suffered at the time.

The IRA Volunteers had to be tried at Winchester Crown court as the Old Bailey was wrecked by the bombing. The trial took 10 weeks and was set amid extremely strict security. William McLarnon pleaded guilty to all charges on the first day of the trial. The jury convicted six men and two women of the bombings. The jury acquitted Roisin McNearney in exchange for information, and she was given a new identity. As her verdict was handed down, the other defendants began to hum the ‘Dead March from Saul’, and one threw a coin at her, shouting ‘Take your blood money with you’ as she left the dock in tears.

At the court, the judge sentenced the eight to life imprisonment for the bombings and 20 years for conspiracy, while McLarnon was sentenced to 15 years. As the eight were led to the cells below the court, several gave raised fist salutes to relatives and friends in the public gallery, who shouted ‘Keep your chins up’ and ‘All the best’. The Price sisters immediately went on hunger strike, soon followed by Feeney and Kelly, for the right not to do prison work and to be repatriated to a jail in Ireland. The bombers on hunger strike were eventually moved to jails in Ireland as part of the 1975 IRA truce agreed with the British.

In 1983, Gerry Kelly escaped from Long Kesh Prison, but was recaptured in 1986. He was a member of Sinn Féin’s negotiating team for the Good Friday Agreement. He is currently a member of Sinn Féin’s Ard Chomhairle (National Executive) and a Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly (MLA) for North Belfast.

In September 2012, Dolours Price claimed that Gerry Adams, as her ‘Officer Commanding’ in the Belfast Brigade of the Provisional IRA, ordered her to drive alleged informers from Northern Ireland into the Republic. They would later be executed. She also claimed Adams was involved in approving an IRA bombing campaign on mainland Britain, including the attack on the Old Bailey for which she served eight years in prison.

Photo: Marian and Dolours Price in Armagh Gaol.

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