Derry shoot-to-kill remembered
Derry shoot-to-kill remembered

A vigil was held in Derry at the weekend to mark the 25th Anniversary of the murder of Eamonn “Bronco” Bradley, who was shot dead by the British Army’s Royal Anglican regiment on the 25th August 1982, aged 23.

The killing was one of those attributed to the British Army’s shoot-to- kill policy of deliberate assassination of prominent republicans during the conflict.

‘Bronco’ Bradley, an IRA Volunteer, had been playing pool with friends minutes before being gunned down without warning by British army soldiers on a Derry street.

The well known republican was shot execution-style, sustaining bullet wounds to the chest and head. He died instantly outside his local pub on a that summer’s afternoon, Wednesday, August 25, 1982.

Eye-witnesses reports described how the 23-year-old was shot in the back of the head as he lay bleeding from another wound in the carpark of the Shantallow House on the Racecourse Road.

Paul McCool, who had been with him when the shooting occurred, described the actions of the Royal Anglian Regiment soldiers that day as “cold blooded murder”.

His sister Catherine said: “We knew at the time that it was shoot to kill, it was obvious. At the time Raymond Gilmour was working as an informer and a lot of things were going on. A lot of people in the area were being lifted before my brother was shot dead. People later believed that Raymond Gilmour had something to do with it.”

Gilmour, a so-called ‘supergrass’ was pulled out of Derry by his RUC Special Branch handlers that month fearing that the IRA were about to catch him out.

Two weeks before the shooting, two friends of ‘Bronco’ had been detained at Castlereagh holding centre for six days. At the time of the shooting they claimed that their police interogators had shown a particular interest in Mr. Bradley.

A republican source said this week that the men were told that the authorities “were no longer interested in Bronco and that he was to be shot”.

After the shooting, Paul McCool said that he and his friend ‘Bronco’ had just left the pub to go home for the tea when a soldier grabbed him and told him to stay where he was. Another soldier immediately fired a shot, hitting Eamonn, he said.

Mr McCool was pushed over a car bonnet before hearing a further two shots in space of between five and ten seconds.

The killing drew widespread condemnation from the nationalist community. SDLP Mayor William O’Connell described it as “cold blooded and brutal”.

“No matter what Mr Bradley’s political affiliations were, his death was nothing less than first degree murder and I expect the soldier involved to be so charged.”

No soldier was ever brought to book for the killing.

Sinn Féin Assembly member Raymond McCartney, speaking after the vigil, has backed the Bradley family calls for an inquiry into his murder.

“Saturday’s vigil was a very poignant occasion and it was heartening to see so many people in attendance to honour his memory and show support for the Bradley family in their search for the truth,” said Mr McCartney.

“Just two weeks ago thousands of people from across Ireland attended a rally in Belfast .The objective of that march and rally was to draw attention to collusion and British state violence; a policy which resulted in many thousands of victims who were killed or injured or bereaved; and the administrative and institutional cover-up by the British government and its state agencies.”

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© 2007 Irish Republican News