Belfast Telegraph

Eamonn Holmes reveals an IRA petrol bomb blew up his school bus when he was 14-years-old

Eamonn Holmes at his home in Belfast.
Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX
Eamonn Holmes at his home in Belfast. Picture by Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX

Eamonn Holmes has revealed how he got detention after he was late for school because the IRA hijacked his school bus.

The Northern Irish television presenter said that when he was on his way to school in Belfast men wearing balaclava's got onto the bus and started pouring petrol on the floor.

He managed to get off the bus just before it burst into flames, but in the end he was more scared of what his headteacher was going to say.

Speaking to the White Wine Question Time podcast, he said: "Our bus was hijacked on the Antrim Road. And this man wearing a balaclava came on and said 'We are commandeering this bus for the Irish Republican Army'.

"He starts sprinkling petrol everywhere so we get off. And they throw a petrol bomb on to the bus and set it on fire. So we walk the next mile and a half to school.

"We got to the college, the gate was closed and Father Walsh was standing on top of the driveway. I looked at him thinking. I'm dead now. I'm absolutely dead.'

"He looks at me and says 'Detention. I got detention for the IRA hijacking my bus. It was my fault basically."

Joking with podcast host Kate Thornton, Holmes said that the current "snowflake" generation would have been given counselling not a punishment after the ordeal.

Speaking about his upbringing as a Catholic in Northern Ireland, he told of how his father was arrested the first time he set foot in England.

A 10-year-old Holmes, along with his brother and father, docked at Liverpool on their way to watch Manchester United. But when they arrived without any identification they were arrested under terror laws.

"I was absolutely terrified," he said.

However, a doctor who was also on the boat stepped in to vouch for his father so they continue their journey

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