Thursday 27 February 2020


The Provisional IRA ambushed an RUC patrol in a country lane near the village of Aghagallon in County Armagh.  At around 15:20 hours the two constables had stopped their patrol car to investigate a suspicious vehicle.  As they were about to get out and inspect the car, gunmen opened fire from inside the vehicle.  Constable William Wylie was struck in the thigh and managed to return fire, but was hit again and died at the scene.  His colleague, Reserve Constable Ronald Macaulay, was struck in the chest.  Despite his injuries he managed to engage the terrorists in a firefight for around 15 minutes before they fled across fields.  He was also struck in the arm and stomach during the gun battle.  He was rushed to hospital, but died from his wounds four weeks later on March 25.

The funeral of Constable Wylie

In December 1973 three men were convicted of the murders and sentenced to life with a recommendation they serve 25 years.  Two of them came from nearby Lurgan, while a third came from the Republic.  The three men had dismissed their defence team earlier in the trial and sat with their backs to the court.  As they were sent down they shouted "Up the Provos".  A fourth man, also from Lurgan, was found not guilty of murder.  Unlike the others he had retained the services of his lawyer, but was found guilty of possessing illegal firearms and sentenced to seven years.

One of the men convicted of the policemen's murders was returned to prison in 2010 when he was reported to have become involved in the Continuity IRA.  IRA convicts who are found to have resumed paramilitary activity can be automatically returned to prison without trial.  However, Martin Corey was released two years later after successfully suing the British government over his imprisonment.  The 61-year-old's case relied on the European Convention on Human Rights.

The two policemen murdered by Corey and his accomplices were posthumously awarded the Queen's Police Medal for gallantry.  Constable William Raymond Wylie, 26, came from Lisburn and was survived by his wife and six-month-old child.  He joined the force in 1971.  R/Constable Ronald Macauley, 43, came from the village of Aghalee, less than two miles from where he was shot.

Const Wylie and R/Const Macauley