Memorial service for 18 soldiers killed in an attack in Co Down

A memorial service has taken place for 18 soldiers who were killed in an IRA attack in Co Down more than 40 years ago.

The bombers targeted a convoy of vehicles transporting Parachute Regiment soldiers from Ballykinler barracks to Newry on August 27 1979.

As they passed the old Narrow Water castle ruins, terrorists remotely detonated the two bombs from a firing point across the Newry River in the Republic of Ireland.

There was also a 19th victim – Michael Hudson, who had been visiting the Republic of Ireland from London, who was killed by army gunfire across the river following the blasts.

The incident came just hours after Lord Mountbatten, two members of his family and a Co Fermanagh teenager had been killed by the IRA in a boat bomb in Co Sligo.

Veterans Commissioner Danny Kinahan and TUV East Belfast representative John Ross were among those in attendance at the service on Friday.

Mr Kinahan said: “We must never forget the sacrifice that they and many other service personnel made in defence of law and order during our Troubles – Lest We Forget.”

Mr Ross commented: “Narrow Water was a particularly brutal terrorist attack with 12 of the soldiers were murdered when a second bomb was detonated while those injured in the first explosion where being treated or airlifted from the scene of the first explosion.

“Shamefully, while two known IRA men were arrested by Garda leaving the scene no-one has ever been charged with these murders.”

Northern Ireland Troubles
Commemorative crosses placed at Narrow Water close to Warrenpoint in Co Down (Niall Carson/PA)

He added: “Narrow Water is a case which continues to raise many troubling questions about the IRA and security forces in the Republic.

“Shamefully, those questions are seldom asked and there is little prospect of Dublin, which frequently lectures the UK government on legacy matters, providing the answers which the families of those killed on that day still demand.

“That said, events like today are important in reminding us of the debt we own to the security forces in which I served.”