Tuesday 29 September 2020


The Provisional IRA shot dead a pensioner on the outskirts of Newry.  The 74-year-old was travelling in a car driven by his son-in-law when they were ambushed on Quay Street.  Shots were fired by at least three gunmen, but despite both men having been struck the driver continued.  The son-in-law intended to drive directly to Daisy Hill Hospital on the other side of town, but the car broke down at the junction of River Street and William Street.  The terrorists pursued the car and further shots were fired before the gunmen fled in a Ford Cortina.

Around 25 rounds were fired during the attack.  Joseph Skelly was hit in the head and back and died two hours later in hospital.  His 53-year-old son-in-law was hit in the back and remained seriously ill in hospital, but survived.  A van driver was also injured during the shooting when one of the bullets hit his vehicle and showered him in broken glass.  Two female pedestrians were treated for shock.

Mr Skelly was in a business partnership with his son-in-law and he regularly helped out at their brass lamp manufacturers on Greenbank Industrial Estate.  They had been at work on the day of the attack and were on their way home for lunch when it happened.  Mr Skelly, a father of three, lived with his daughter and son-in-law following the death of his wife.  His son-in-law was a former RUC reservist, but the attack was described as sectarian in nature.  The murder was the fourth in Newry over an 18-month period, all of which were of prominent Protestants in the largely Catholic border town.  The murders were seen as an attempt to drive out the minority Protestant population.

Joseph Skelly

A 22-year-old man from the Irish Republic was later convicted of three of the Newry murders, including that of Joseph Skelly.  As he was led from the dock he shouted "Up the Provos".