An Phoblacht

**Story from 20 May 2004

Remembering the Past: Mass murder averted by IRA Volunteer

Ten years ago this week, the UVF came south and attempted to blow up a republican function in the heart of Dublin. They were prevented from inflicting mass slaughter due to the intervention of a quick-acting IRA Volunteer, Martin 'Doco' Doherty.

On Saturday evening 21 May, the loyalist death squad entered the Widow Scallan's pub in Pearse Street in Dublin's South Inner City. The bar was already full to capacity, with a Sinn Féin POW function in full swing upstairs and a boxing match showing in the downstairs bar.

It was Martin who confronted the UVF death squad as they attempted to prime the bomb they were carrying, causing them to abandon their attempt at mass murder. Unfortunately, he paid the ultimate sacrifice for his actions, as he was shot several times.

After hearing several bangs, the bar manager rushed out, where he found Martin, lying fatally injured in the entrance leading to the function room. Another man, Paddy Burke, had also been injured, hit by a bullet fired through the main door.

By now, word had spread of the shooting and people began to leave the function. It was then that the detenator from the UVF bomb went off, causing further panic, as patrons scattered in all directions from the pub.

The actions of the Gardaí caused widespread anger at the time. The usual Special Branch presence, commonplace at any republican function at that time, was missing at the time of the attack. When they did eventually arrive, the Special Branch inflamed passions even more when several of its members were seen laughing and joking at the scene.

Sinn Féin Dublin City Councillor Christy Burke commented at the time: "It raises again the spectre of collusion. On every occasion that murders such as this have been carried out in Dublin, there has been British Intelligence involvement. The fact that commercial explosives were used raises the question of who supplied them."

The IRA's Dublin Brigade, in a statement issued on the Monday after the attack, paid tribute to their fallen comrade: "He died heroically in the defence of others at Widow Scallan's... his courage and quick thinking during the attack undoubtedly saved many lives."

The usual Free State media/political frenzy occurred after the killing. The most notable attacks came from the Progressive Democrats' Michael McDowell and Fine Gael leader John Bruton. Both lambasted Sinn Féin for holding functions in the first place. Ongoing dialogue with Sinn Féin was also criticised, in the months before the soon to blossom Peace Process.

Martin's funeral was also the subject of much criticism, as the same establishment figures attacked his right to a republican funeral. Hundreds turned out in Martin's native Finglas on Dublin's Northside to pay their respects.

During the funeral oration, Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle member Martin McGuinness said: "We have come to bury a brave republican Volunteer... As far as I am concerned he was a freedom fighter, a freedom seeker. He was trying to bring about a democratic Ireland. The opposition parties are nothing short of Quislings and West Brits. They don't want to talk about the causes of the conflict. Sinn Féin is trying to get all the parties involved in a Peace Process. We will not be distracted from that process."

Martin 'Doco' Doherty died whilst defending others at the hands of a pro-British death squad on 21 May 1994, ten years ago this week.

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