Friday 13 March 2020


The Provisional IRA murdered a former British soldier on his farm near Pettigo, Co Fermanagh.  The farm was situated on the border with the Republic and 28-year-old Ronnie Funston lived there with his parents.  That morning he had gone out to feed the cattle shortly before 08:00, as he did every morning.  He was sitting in his tractor when two gunmen appeared and fired 18 rounds into the cab.  His body was discovered by his mother who described what happened at the inquest;

"As I was walking towards the silo pits the next thing I heard was automatic gunfire.  I was about 75 to 100 yards away.  After hearing the shooting, the tractor stopped.  On hearing this, I walked immediately towards where Ronnie had been working, calling out his name.  As I walked past a gap in the hedge I noticed two male persons running across the field towards the border.  When I arrived, I saw Ronnie slumped over the wheel of the tractor in the cab".
Ronald Funston's mother

The terrorists escaped on foot and crossed into the safety of the Irish Republic over a shallow riverbed.  The IRA claimed responsibility for the murder and stated that the victim was "a serving member of the UDR".  Ronnie had served in the Ulster Defence Regiment, but had left eight years earlier and no longer had any connections with the British Army.  His murder was widely seen as a sectarian killing aimed at driving Protestants away from the border.  In this respect they succeeded as the family later sold the farm and moved to a village a few miles further away from the border.

Ronnie's brother later described how the family had always got along with their Catholic neighbours, but after the murder felt betrayed as they were convinced someone had tipped off the IRA about Ronnie's movements and where to make the border crossing.

Ronnie Funston, a Protestant civilian murdered by the IRA

Ronnie Funston was survived by his parents and seven siblings.  Ulster Unionist MP Ken Maginnis raised his death in the House of Commons, describing it as part of the "IRA's genocide along the frontier".