Tuesday 10 December 2019


The Provisional IRA orchestrated the escape of one of their notorious killers from the Maze Prison in County Down.  Liam Averill had been convicted of the 1994 murders of two Protestant men in Garvagh, Co Londonderry.  Averill and an accomplice had shot the two men dead as they chatted in a parked car, while a third occupant was injured.  The IRA had claimed the men were loyalist paramilitaries belonging to the Ulster Defence Association, but this was never proven and the police considered it a sectarian attack.

Averill's escape from prison was planned in advance to coincide with a Christmas party for Republican prisoners.  Women's clothing had been smuggled in and as the party was in progress he changed into the gear and managed to walk out of the prison without being challenged.  He was reported to have fled to County Donegal in the Irish Republic and never returned to prison.  His life sentence was later dismissed and amnesty granted following the Good Friday Agreement.

Sinn Fein-IRA leader Gerry Adams met with the British Prime Minister in 10 Downing Street the day after Averill's escape.  Before his meeting with Tony Blair, Adams was asked about the escapee and responded:  "While there are prisoners, there will be prisoners who try to escape.  I tried it myself.  Liam Averill succeeded where I didn't.  Good luck to him".

Double murderer Liam Averill