IRA's Seventies Hit-List Reveals London Targets

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 106 months ago
IRA's Seventies Hit-List Reveals London Targets

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A newly-released list of bombing targets from an IRA unit that terrorised London during the Seventies shows the wide range of cultural and military buildings that were at risk.

The Balcombe Street gang, so named for the Marylebone address at which police apprehended them following a week-long siege in December 1975, ran a 14-month bombing campaign, setting off 40 explosions and leaving 35 people dead. That number included Ross McWhirter, a political activist and TV personality who had offered a reward for anybody wanting to inform on the gang.

But documents released by the National Archives, which consist of a purported list of targets found in a Stoke Newington flat that doubled as a bomb factory, shows that their ambitions were far greater: the National Gallery, Somerset House, the Imperial War Museum and the Queen's Art Gallery at Buckingham Palace were on the list, alongside military targets such as Sandhurst and Piccadilly's RAF Club, and strategic sites like the Post Office tower and the Crystal Palace transmitters. The group also planned to assassinate specific high-profile figures, including politicians and senior police officers, with a Law Society dinner to be held in January 1976 thought to be a target.

Instead, after the siege, which was broadcast on live TV to a rapt audience, the four-man gang were jailed until their release in 1999 under the Good Friday agreement.

Last Updated 28 October 2009