Dominic “Mad Dog” McGlinchey: Life and Death

Dominic “Mad Dog” McGlinchey (1953/1954 – 10 February 1994) was an Irish republican militant, who moved from the Provisional IRA to become head of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) paramilitary group. He was the first Republican extradited from Ireland. He was shot dead by unidentified

– Disclaimer –

The views and opinions expressed in these blog post/documentary are soley intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland. They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors

Background

McGlinchey was one of 11 siblings born into a large BellaghyCounty Londonderry family, with a “strong republican background”.

Paramilitary activities: IRA

In August 1971, at the age of 17, he was interned without charge for ten months at Ballykelly (Shackleton Barracks) and Long Kesh. After his release, he was imprisoned again in 1973 on arms charges.

After his next release, he joined an independent Republican unit along with Ian Milne and future Provisional IRA hunger strikers Francis Hughes and Thomas McElwee. The unit would later merge with the Provisional IRA. Their activities led the Royal Ulster Constabulary to take the unusual step of issuing wanted posters.

McGlinchey was arrested by the Gardaí in 1977, and charged with hijacking a police vehicle in County Monaghan, threatening a police officer with a gun, and resisting arrest. In 1982, while serving time in Portlaoise Prison, he clashed with the IRA leadership and despite his effectiveness in an active service unit he was expelled from the IRA.

INLA

The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) welcomed McGlinchey because of his previous experience. He joined as Operations Officer for South Derry in 1982, and became Chief of Staff within six months. Under McGlinchey the organisation, which previously had a reputation for disorganization and incompetence, became extremely active in cross-border assassinations and bombings.

 In a Sunday Tribune interview, McGlinchey admitted involvement in the Droppin Well bombing in Ballykelly, County Londonderry, in which eleven off-duty soldiers and six civilians were murdered. He also said he had provided the weapons for the Darkley massacre, an attack on a remote evangelical Protestant chapel, but had not approved that attack.

It has been alleged that he was targeted for assassination by 14 Intelligence Company.

In the same interview, which was conducted by Vincent Browne, McGlinchey claimed personal responsibility for at least 30 killings. By this time McGlinchey had already earned the moniker “Mad Dog” because of his ruthlessness.

Internal feud

Tim Pat Coogan, a historian of the Irish republican movement, asserted that McGlinchey’s authority within the INLA was absolute and that he re-enforced it by ordering the deaths of “anyone he didn’t like”. Other authors claimed that decisions were actually taken collectively by a council of leading members, although those disgruntled with the outcomes tended to attribute everything solely to McGlinchey.

When a powerful northern unit based around an extended family did not turn over £50,000 raised in a fake postal order scheme (which was essential to the INLA’s finances) the scheme’s originator insisted that unless the offending unit was punished he would not supply any more funds. It was decided, reportedly against McGlinchey’s objections, that members of the northern faction were to be killed.

Two were summoned to a meeting; Mary McGlinchey acted as an emissary thus lulling the pair into thinking that there would be no danger of violence. However, they were led to waiting gunmen and shot dead. The incident was the beginning of a feud between the northern family and McGlinchey, whereby a long running series of tit for tat revenge killings between the factions eventually led to the demise of the original participants on both sides.

Imprisonment and release

In March 1984 McGlinchey was wounded in a shoot-out with the Gardaí in Ralahine, Newmarket on Fergus, County Clare and arrested. McGlinchey was wanted in the north for the shooting of an elderly woman, this was deemed by a judge in the south to be a “cowardly” act that disqualified him from the protection afforded for political offences and he became the first Republican to be extradited to Northern Ireland. He was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment after being convicted of murder.

This conviction was overturned in October 1985 by the Belfast Court of Appeals on grounds of insufficient evidence, and McGlinchey was returned to the Republic of Ireland, where he was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment on firearms charges.

Mary McGlinchey was killed in her Dundalk home by INLA gunmen who broke in while she was bathing her children on 31 January 1987. McGlinchey was unable to attend his wife’s funeral as he was still imprisoned in the Republic.

Dominic McGlinchey Interview

After being released from prison in March 1993, he investigated claims that criminals in the Republic were involved in money laundering with the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). He survived an assassination attempt by UVF Mid-Ulster Brigade leader Billy Wright in June 1993.

Death

Gravestone erected to Dominic McGlinchey.

On 10 February 1994, McGlinchey was making a call from a phone box in Drogheda when two men got out of a vehicle and shot him 14 times. No one has been charged with his killing and it is not known who carried out the assassination or why.

His funeral took place in his native Bellaghy. The mourners included Martin McGuinness and Ruairí Ó Brádaigh. The oration was delivered by Bernadette McAliskey. During the oration she described journalists, particularly from the Sunday Independent, who had claimed that McGlinchy was involved in criminality, as:

curs and dogs. May everyone of them rot in hell. They have taken away Dominic McGlinchy’s character and they will stand judgement for it. He was the finest Republican of them all. He never dishonoured the cause he believed in. His war was with the armed soldiers and the police of this state.

Personal life

He married Mary O’Neill on 5 July 1975. The couple had three children: Declan, Dominic, and Máire (who died as an infant from meningitis). Mary later became a member of the INLA. Dominic Jr. also became a republican activist.

In October 2006, Declan McGlinchey was remanded in custody at Derry Magistrates’ Court on explosives charges. The charges were connected to the discovery of a bomb in Bellaghy in July. He was cleared of these charges. He was again arrested on 14 March 2009 in connection with the murder of Police Service of Northern Ireland constable Stephen Carroll but no charges were brought. Declan McGlinchey died suddenly of a heart attack on 1 November 2015, aged 39.

In popular culture

Dominic McGlinchey is the subject of the songs “Paddy Public Enemy Number One” by Shane MacGowan of The Pogues, and “Hands up Trousers Down” by The Irish Brigade. The former charts McGlinchey’s life from his teens through to his eventual killing in a phonebox while the latter references his theft and use of Garda uniforms.  When asked about McGlinchey, Shane MacGowan remarked, “He was a great man.”

See: Deaths in the Troubles 10th Feb

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