Belfast Telegraph

Army’s 1971 killing of Sean Ruddy 'unjustified'

By Deborha McAleese

The family of a Newry man shot dead by soldiers in the city four decades ago have said they hope a report by the Historical Enquiries Team, which concluded that his death was unjustified, will help them find some closure.

Sean Ruddy (28) was killed along with two friends in October 1971 by soldiers who were lying in wait for an IRA bomb team.

A HET report published yesterday said that Mr Ruddy’s death was a “tragedy which should not have happened” and that he “did not deserve to lose his life that way”.

Mr Ruddy (artist’s impression below) had been walking home from a bar with two friends, Robert Anderson (26) and Thomas McLaughlin (26), when he attempted to snatch money from two barmen as they made a deposit in the night safe of a bank.

The soldiers who were watching from the roof of a Woolworths store, waiting for an IRA bomb team expected to target a bank, opened fire on the men killing them.

HET investigators found the three victims had become involved in “an unplanned crime at the very time and place the security forces were expecting a Provisional IRA attack”.

The HET contacted all of the soldiers involved in the shooting but they declined to make a statement.

Mr Ruddy’s family said they believe that his killing was unlawful.

“The information suggests that the soldiers were there for one purpose: to kill people,” said Mr Ruddy’s brother Arthur. “As soon as Sean and his companions drew adverse attention to themselves outside the bank, they were sentenced to death.”

Mr Ruddy said he hopes the report, “which confirms our brother Sean and his two companions were needlessly and ruthlessly killed”, will help the family come to terms with this tragedy.


Sean Ruddy and his two friends were shot dead by soldiers who had been waiting for an IRA bomb team, whom they believed were planning an attack on a bank, when they saw Mr Ruddy and his friends running down the street and opened fire. The Historical Enquiries Team has concluded Mr Ruddy’s death was “unjustified”.

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