Friday 15 February 2019


The Provisional IRA attempted to murder two teenagers on the Highfield estate in West Belfast.  The attack was a disaster.

The gunmen were unaware of a nearby army patrol and were spotted as the attack was in progress. The IRA's James McGrillen had leapt from a car and shot both teenagers, but before he knew it he had been shot himself, by the British soldiers.  As the terrorists tried to escape they crashed into a garden.  The soldiers exchanged fire with a second gunman who exited the vehicle and managed to escape on foot.  McGrillen was found inside the car with a fatal head wound.  Two other occupants, both youths, were later jailed for unlawful wounding.  The Protestant teens who had been targeted were both seriously injured, but survived.

McGrillen came from a hardline republican family and was a second cousin of Bobby Sands.  His daughter was also shot dead by the army, 14 years later, after the stolen car in which she was travelling sped through a checkpoint.

Ballygomartin Road, scene of McGrillen's death