Belfast Telegraph

I've no regrets: British heiress who became an IRA bomber

By Mark Hilliard

She was the heiress who gave up debutante balls, posh country life and a grand inheritance to become one of the IRA's most infamous female operatives.

But yesterday British-born Rose Dugdale dismissed the notion of IRA "atrocities" during an RTE radio interview, and said she had no regrets over her violent past - which included her partner kidnapping a doctor in an attempt to have her released from prison.

"I wouldn't accept that the IRA has carried out atrocities; I think that is your language, it is certainly not mine," she said.

"I think that is a fairly ridiculous statement because I think you have to judge everything in the context of the imperial army that was occupying our country."

The fascination surrounding this most unlikely terrorist was due to the fact that she hailed from English landed gentry in Devon, not something she is keen to focus on.

"I think we should go easy on the heiress stuff," she said. Ms Dugdale recalled how the revolutionary movements of her time, which were taking place across the world, had convinced her to travel to Northern Ireland.

"You mustn't forget it was very exciting times ... the world looked as if it could change and was likely to be changed, and whoever you were, you could play a part in that," she said.

Yesterday, however, one victim famously linked to IRA activity said he understood why he was kidnapped and said he forgave his captors.

In October 1975 Dutch industrialist Dr Tiede Herrema was kidnapped in Ireland by IRA man Eddie Gallagher.

He demanded the release of Ms Dugdale as part of conditions required to secure his hostage's release.

Rose later gave birth in prison to a son by Eddie Gallagher called Ruairi.

Ms Dugdale was asked to intervene in the crisis while serving time for an art heist in Limerick Prison.

"The 'screws' came to me and asked me to talk to someone on the phone - I think essentially getting me to persuade Eddie to release Tiede Herrema," she recalled, before adding that she would not co-operate.

"I mean, fair play to anyone that was involved in it," she said.

Asked to respond on RTE's Liveline programme yesterday, Dr Herrema said he understood the reasons for his abduction.

"They wanted somebody and I was just the victim. It was not against me," he said.

PROFILE

  • Arriving in Belfast in the early 1970s, Rose Dugdale became involved in numerous IRA plots.
  • She helped carry out a 'milk churn bomb' helicopter attack on an RUC barracks in Strabane and the theft of valuable paintings from Russborough House in Co Wicklow. She even gave birth in Limerick Prison.
  • In 1974 she was handed a nine-year prison sentence for her role in both plots and defiantly declared she was "proudly and incorruptibly guilty".


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