Saturday 14 March 2020


The Provisional IRA shot dead an off duty soldier in Dungannon, County Tyrone.  Thomas Hardy, known by his middle name John, was a part-time member of the Ulster Defence Regiment.  In his other job he was a delivery driver for a meat processing plant and this was where he was shot.  After parking his lorry in a loading bay he was ambushed by two gunmen, one of whom was known to him.  A statement from the man was later read out in court: "I saw John Hardy come out, and he saw me at the same time.  I fired two or three bursts of automatic fire and saw him fall.  I saw his feet sticking out of the door, I heard him moaning.  I knew he wasn't dead so I fired at his head to make sure I killed him".  The shooter worked at the same plant and had taken the day off work so he could take part in Private Hardy's murder.

The killers were apprehended a mile from the factory after a disastrous getaway.  Their Vauxhall Astra got stuck in rough ground a short distance away, so they hijacked a passing car.  However, they somehow crashed this vehicle and attempted to flee on foot before being spotted by soldiers.

Four men from County Tyrone received life sentences for the murder, including the man who knew Private Hardy.

Private John Hardy

Private Hardy was 48 and lived in Dungannon.  He had served in the UDR for almost twenty years, since its foundation in 1970.  He had previously served with the Territorials.  He was survived by his wife and two sons.  Ulster Unionist MP Ken Maginnis had served with Private Hardy in the UDR for 11 years and was quickly on the scene after hearing of the attack.  He told reporters: "I knew him from the regiment, I knew him from church and I knew his wife and two children.  He was a quiet, sensible man whose main concern was for his family and after that for his job and the regiment.  In many ways he was the typical soft target the terrorists always go after.  Like every other UDR man he simply went about his normal work while daily running the gauntlet of IRA terrorism".