Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Brendan 'Bik' McFarlane leader of prison breakout

Gerry Kelly and McFarlane
Gerry Kelly and McFarlane

WHILE serving a life sentence for the Bayardo massacre McFarlane was one of the leaders of the 1983 Maze jail breakout -- and took a terrified family hostage.

McFarlane, a former trainee priest, famously told the Protestant family to swear on the Bible that they would not contact police.

The parents of two young children and a baby were made to swear on oath they would not ring the authorities for 72 hours after McFarlane's IRA escapees left the house.

The fugitives commandeered the remote Dromore cottage just hours after breaking out of the Maze Prison. A total of 38 Provo prisoners escaped at the time.

They went into hiding in the farmhouse for around 24 hours as security forces swamped the area.

The home belonged to a 36-year-old quantity surveyor and his wife.

The Christian couple were made to take an oath of secrecy by former trainee priest Bik.

They stuck to their word but only after seeking advice from their local minister.

None of the family was harmed but IRA leader McFarlane (pictured) did take a number of items from the house, including a map and compass.

However, he wrote the items on a piece of paper before leaving the house, signed it, and told the family to take it to the Belfast headquarters of Sinn Fein where they would be reimbursed.

The escapees then left the cottage and they lived rough for three days before making it across the border.

He was eventually extradited from Holland in 1986 while on the run with London bomber Gerry Kelly, now a Sinn Fein MLA for north Belfast.

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