| 6.8°C Belfast

Ex-soldier hurt in IRA bomb: why I joined Extinction Rebellion demo

Murdoch printing presses targeted


Activist: Former soldier Donald Bell has protested with Extinction Rebellion

Activist: Former soldier Donald Bell has protested with Extinction Rebellion

Activist: Former soldier Donald Bell has protested with Extinction Rebellion

A former soldier injured in a 1974 IRA bomb attack in Co Tyrone in which two of his colleagues were killed took part in the Extinction Rebellion newspaper protests, it has been claimed.

Donald Bell is believed to have joined the organisation last week as it targeted two printing presses in England as it accused the media of failing to "report on the climate and ecological emergency".

More than 100 protesters used vehicles and bamboo structures to block roads outside the facilities, which print News UK titles including the Sun, Times, Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and the London Evening Standard.

Mr Bell (64), who is from Cambridge, was one of seven soldiers hurt in a booby-trap landmine explosion at an electricity sub-station outside Stewartstown during the Troubles.

Two other soldiers, 30-year-old father-of-two Vernon Rose and 35-year-old John Charles, a father-of-four, were killed in the explosion, while a policeman lost an eye.

Mr Bell has previously spoken of his service in Northern Ireland when explaining his support for Extinction Rebellion.

"I have been blown up in Northern Ireland and suffered an injury, and here I am still defending the people," he said.

The activist said he was prompted to support Extinction Rebellion after writing letters to the Government for nearly 50 years but was always ignored.

He said: "We had to be more disruptive.

"I just felt compelled to do something for my children and grandchildren."

Earlier this year, Mr Bell was injured while taking part in another Extinction Rebellion protest.

At the time, he said he was facing possible surgery after he was struck by a car during an Extinction Rebellion protest in Cambridge.

Mr Bell, who described the incident as a "deliberate attack", said he suffered lasting injuries as a result of the collision.

The former soldier completed four tours of Northern Ireland.

According to a newspaper report from the time of the 1974 explosion, the two soldiers were killed instantly while an investigation was ongoing into an earlier bomb attack at the sub-station.

At first, it was thought that three soldiers had died such was the devastation caused by the explosion.

A man who was first at the scene said: "It was horrific, the worst I have ever seen. Blood and limbs were everywhere.

"One of the injured soldiers had half his face blown off."

Two civilians were also injured in the blast.

Meanwhile, Extinction Rebellion's protests led to a night of chaos and 81 arrests in Knowsley, Merseyside, and Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, while Boris Johnston has condemned the protest as "completely unacceptable".

Belfast Telegraph