Friday, 23 August 2019

ON THIS DAY IN 1973, CORBYN'S MATES...

The Provisional IRA shot dead a middle-aged woman near the Irish border.  The gunmen were lying in wait at a rural crossroads near Newtownhamilton, County Armagh.  The intended target was reportedly a member of the Ulster Defence Regiment who drove a black Hillman Imp and lived near the junction.  The victim, Rita Meeke, drove a dark blue Hillman.  As she turned into the lane where the soldier lived she came to a halt and a witness described how she then tried to reverse back onto the main road.  However, it was too late and the terrorists opened fire.  Mrs Meeke was killed by multiple gunshot wounds to the head and police discovered 61 spent cartridges at the scene.  The witness described how three gunmen had opened fire - one with a machine gun, one with a rifle and one with a handgun.

Mrs Meeke, 53, was a widower whose husband Stanley had passed away several months earlier.  They were both Protestants and Unionists.  Stanley Meeke had been a Unionist councillor and farmer and his wife continued to manage their farm after his death.  She was also an insurance agent.  On the day of her murder she had been visiting her brother-in-law who was seriously ill in hospital.  She was on her way home when she was killed.

The UDR soldier who had reportedly been the intended target later appeared at the inquest into Mrs Meeke's death.  He explained how he had driven home that day in a borrowed Mini because his own car had a broken exhaust.  No-one was apprehended for the murder and the IRA neither apologised or acknowledged the attack.