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McNab tells of killing IRA man in 1979 gun battle

(James Stinson, Irish News)

The former SAS and British army soldier turned writer Andy McNab has written of how he shot and killed an IRA member.

Peadar McElvenna died as a result of his injuries during a botched IRA operation near Keady, south Armagh, in June 1979.

McElvenna was part of a five-strong IRA gang that included Dessie O'Hare, 'the Border Fox', which the British army said were preparing to launch a rocket attack from a cattle truck.

A gun battle with an army patrol, which included McNab, ensued in which he claims to have shot one of the IRA men.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday yesterday (Sunday) about the terrorist threat in London, the former soldier turned author who uses the pseudonym Andy McNab told how he had killed as a young soldier serving in Northern Ireland.

"I remember vividly the first time I had to kill someone to stay alive," he wrote.

"I was a 19-year-old soldier in Keady, south Armagh, and my patrol stumbled across six IRA terrorists preparing for an ambush.

"When the shooting started they were just 20 metres away from my patrol. I was scared, very scared."

According to Lost Lives, the army claimed a number of hits that day and said they heard screaming as the IRA members managed to make off.

There was a further shooting at the nearby home of a prison officer, who fired three shotgun blasts at the truck after he was fired on as he worked in his garden.

All three men hit in the shooting were left at Monaghan Hospital that night. McElvenna was already dead.

It was later claimed that the IRA men had been ambushed and that the army had staked out a nearby farmyard where a getaway car was waiting.

McNab received the Military Medal for his part in the incident.

However, whether or not McNab actually killed anyone is open to question.

In the mid-nineties, security sources disputed McNab's version of events, which he repeated in yesterday's newspaper article.

Those sources were quoted as saying that McElvenna died from a shotgun pellet that had lodged in his heart, rather than from any wound received in the early encounter with members of the Royal Green Jackets.

At that time McNab said his claim was based on what was said on army radios following the shooting.

"It was all over in 30 seconds. Then it came over the radio that they were in Monaghan and a boy went down," McNab said.

"The army assumed it was our contact he went down in."

September 6, 2005

This article appeared first in the August 1, 2005 edition of the Irish News.

This article appears thanks to the Irish News. Subscribe to the Irish News