Former IRA bomber Donna Maguire, once the most wanted female terrorist in Europe, has been confronted in Newry by an Australian film crew making a documentary about the murder of two tourists in Holland.
Australian lawyers, Stephan Melrose (24) and Nick Spanos (28), were shot dead in Roermond 20 years ago by an IRA unit who mistook them for British soldiers. Maguire was arrested four weeks later in a forest near the Belgian-Dutch border after a farmer heard shots and uncovered an arms cache.
The IRA woman and three men were charged with the double murder. The court heard Maguire was a key IRA figure. Despite what the prosecution believed was a strong case, Maguire and two of the men were acquitted; the third man had his conviction overturned on appeal.
Maguire was later convicted of the attempted murder of British soldiers at Osnabruck army base in Germany. Now aged 43, she lives in Upper Faughart, Dundalk, with her husband, convicted IRA bomber Leonard 'Bap' Hardy and their children, who go to school in Newry. The documentary on the double murder, and the confrontation with Maguire, will be shown on Australia's Channel Seven today.
The film-makers allege that British intelligence had advance knowledge of the IRA attack but failed to prevent it, probably to protect informers in the IRA team. Award-winning investigative journalist Ross Coulthart said: "I approached Donna as she waited in her car to pick up her children from school.
"I asked her if she had anything to say about the murder of two innocent Australians in Holland. She said nothing. I told her we had assurances from the Dutch prosecutor that she could never be prosecuted again and this was an opportunity for her to tell her story but she didn't reply.
"She looked very shocked to see our film crew. I asked her if she ever thought her IRA past would catch up with her but she said nothing."
"Donna Maguire clearly loves her children, and good on her, but it will amaze Australians that former IRA members are living normal lives while the families of IRA victims are still in such pain," he added.
Four months before the double murder, Maguire was acquitted in a Dublin court of possessing explosives and maps of a British army base in Germany. Her future husband Hardy was convicted.
In 1994, Maguire and two other IRA suspects were acquitted in Germany of the murder of a British Army soldier, although the judge said it was "clear they are members of the IRA". In 1996, Maguire received £13,500 compensation after tripping on a broken paving stone in Newry.