Documentary on The Troubles shows the IRA's largest single loss of life during the conflict 4 years ago

Documentary on The Troubles shows the IRA's largest single loss of life during the conflict

It airs on Tuesday, don't miss it.

With the first three episodes of Spotlight on the Troubles: A Secret History proving to be very popular with viewers, the Spotlight NI series is now entering the late '70s and early '80s - an era when subterfuge, collusion, and deception became more prominent in The Troubles.


In the fourth episode, Jennifer O’Leary and the Spotlight team disclose new revelations about how agents of the British state infiltrated the IRA.

As the official synopsis states:

"By 1979, the British security forces believed the IRA had become so security conscious that they were impossible to penetrate. But reporter Jennifer O’Leary reveals how one weakness in the IRA’s internal security was exploited to unlock many of the group’s secrets.

"She charts how Britain used informers and combined that advantage in secret intelligence with the use of special forces to take on one of the IRA’s deadliest units – a strategy that culminated with the Loughgall ambush, when the SAS killed eight IRA men attacking a police station.


"The programme shows that the aftermath of the attack only made the IRA’s informer problem worse."

In terms of the main narrative focus, the Loughgall Ambush that took place on 8 May 1987 in the village of Loughgall, Armagh will be documented.

During this incident, an eight-man unit of the Provisional IRA's East Tyrone Brigade were shot dead after they loaded a 200lb bomb onto a stolen digger and smashed through the gates of the RUC barracks in Loughgall.

The bomb exploded and destroyed almost half of the base.


Soldiers from the British Army's Special Air Service (SAS) then returned fire both from within the base and from hidden positions around it in a pre-planned ambush, killing all of the IRA attackers.

It resulted in the IRA's largest loss of life in a single incident during The Troubles. The shooting lasted for about 10 minutes.

Innocent bystander Anthony Hughes was also killed during the firefight and another bystander was also injured.

In 2001, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that 10 IRA men, including the eight killed at Loughgall, had their human rights violated by the failure of the British government to conduct a proper investigation into their deaths.


The ruling also raised the question about why the killings occurred after long-running undercover intelligence operations offered the British state the alternative of capture and arrest.

The court did not make any finding that these deaths amounted to unlawful killing.

The next episode of Spotlight on the Troubles: A Secret History airs at 9pm this Tuesday 1 October on BBC One.