Colin Duffy

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Colin Duffy (born 1968) is an Irish republican, described by the BBC as the most recognisable name and face amongst dissident republicans in Northern Ireland.[1] He was cleared of murder charges in three court cases involving police and army killings.[2]

Early life[edit]

Duffy was born into a Catholic family in Lurgan, County Armagh.[3]

IRA career[edit]

A committed republican, he joined the Provisional IRA when he was young and became involved with the associated political party, Sinn Féin.[1][4] On 7 March 1990, he survived an attempt on his life by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). He and two other prominent republicans, Sam Marshall and Tony McCaughey, left Lurgan Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) barracks after signing bail. A small quantity of ammunition had previously been found in McCaughey's home. A short distance from the station, two masked UVF gunmen opened fire, wounding Duffy and McCaughey, and murdering Marshall. Marshall's last words before he died were said to have been "We were let out to be set up."[5] The killers were never caught; however a man whose description matched that of former Ulster Defence Regiment member and UVF Mid-Ulster Brigade commander, Robin Jackson, was seen behaving suspiciously in the vicinity of the barracks at a previous bail signing by the three men.[6]

Duffy was jailed in 1995 for the murder of former Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) soldier John Lyness, but later acquitted after one of the key witnesses, UVF member Lindsay Robb, was arrested in Scotland for gun-running. Rosemary Nelson acted as Duffy's solicitor. Two years later, he was charged with shooting dead two RUC constables in Lurgan town centre, but these charges were also later dropped. The dead RUC men, John Graham and David Johnston, had been on foot patrol when they were gunned down. As before, Nelson defended him. Nelson was later killed by loyalists in 1999.[7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19]

Duffy has been linked to the republican group Éirígí.[5][20]

2009 Massereene Barracks shooting court case[edit]

In March 2009, Duffy was charged with the 2009 Massereene Barracks shooting which killed two British Army soldiers.[21] Duffy's DNA was found on a seat belt buckle and the tip of a latex glove found in the burnt-out getaway car used in the attack. Duffy claimed his DNA was planted.[2]

On 20 January 2012, Duffy was found not guilty.[22][23] Duffy's co-accused Brian Shivers from Magherafelt was sentenced to life in prison for the killings. Shivers, a cystic fibrosis sufferer, had been given three to four years to live before the trial. In January 2013, Shivers conviction was overturned by Northern Ireland's highest appeals court.[24]


On 8 September 2012 Duffy gave the graveside oration at the funeral of a Real IRA member killed in Dublin. Describing the deceased Alan Ryan as "a brave Irish republican and fearless IRA volunteer" who was dedicated to "fighting foreign interference in our country".[25]

On 2 November 2012, Duffy, along with another man, was arrested in connection with the murder of Prison Officer David Black on the M1 motorway between Lurgan and Portadown the previous day.[26] In December 2013, Duffy was additionally charged with being a member of the IRA as well as conspiracy to possess firearms and explosives with intent to endanger life.[27]

Personal life[edit]

Two of his brothers, Paul and Damien, along with a friend, were arrested for suspected terrorist activity and were charged in court on May 2012. Paul Duffy was also charged with directing dissident republican terrorism.[28] A sister-in-law of Colin Duffy, Mandy Duffy, is on the national executive committee of Saoradh.


  1. ^ a b "Who is Colin Duffy?". BBC News. 27 March 2009. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
  2. ^ a b "Notorious republican beats THIRD murder charge as he is cleared of killing of two soldiers as they collected pizza" Daily Mail 21 January 2012 Retrieved 10 September 2012
  3. ^ "Leading republican Colin Duffy charged with conspiring to murder security force members". The Belfast Telegraph. 17 December 2013.
  4. ^ Henry McDonald, Ireland editor (14 March 2009). "Ex-IRA prisoner, Colin Duffy, held over murders | UK news |". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 20 October 2011.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  5. ^ a b "Republican Colin Duffy has walked free from five murder charges since 1993" Irish Times 21 January 2012 Retrieved 10 September 2012
  6. ^ "Push for inquest over UVF murder of Sam Marshall after HET report". Belfast Telegraph. 6 March 2012. Retrieved 4 May 2012
  7. ^ Published on Mon 1 September 17:45:39 BST 2008. "Duffy will not accept PSNI – Local". Lurgan Mail. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
  8. ^ Henry McDonald, Ireland correspondent (28 March 2009). "Former IRA prisoner Colin Duffy charged with killing soldiers | UK news". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
  9. ^ "Republican killer's son quizzed over soldier murders as masked rioters return to streets of Ulster | Mail Online". Daily Mail. UK. 15 March 2009. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
  10. ^ Sawer, Patrick (14 March 2009). "Leading republican Colin Duffy questioned over murder of soldiers in Northern Ireland". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
  11. ^ Frances Gibb Legal Editor (7 October 2011). "The Times | UK News, World News and Opinion". The Times. UK. Retrieved 20 October 2011.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  12. ^ "Real IRA suspects unmasked – Sunday Life". 15 March 2009. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
  13. ^ "Northern Ireland: Colin Duffy linked to Real IRA soldier murders, court hears". London: Telegraph. 27 March 2009. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
  14. ^ Neil Mackay (30 December 2006). "Terrorist claims ignite probe into paramilitary collusion". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
  15. ^ Frances Gibb Legal Editor (16 October 2011). "The Times | UK News, World News and Opinion". The Times. UK. Retrieved 20 October 2011.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  16. ^ "Murder inquiry told Nelson was IRA 'terrorist' – Tue, Dec 02, 2008". The Irish Times. 2 December 2008. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
  17. ^ "Rosemary Nelson 'passed information to IRA terrorists' – Local & National, News". 2 December 2008. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
  18. ^ "Colin Duffy, Top Irish Republican, Charged With Killing Soldiers". Huffington Post. 27 March 2009. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
  19. ^ "Colin Duffy charged with Real IRA soldier murders". Daily Mirror. UK. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
  20. ^ "Who is Colin Duffy?". BBC. 27 March 2009.
  21. ^ "Colin Duffy in court charged with killing soldiers at Northern Ireland barracks". The Guardian. 27 March 2009.
  22. ^ "Brian Shivers guilty of Massereene soldiers' killings". BBC. 20 January 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  23. ^ "Colin Duffy not guilty over Massereene murders". RTÉ. 20 January 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  24. ^ "MAN CONVICTED OF MURDERING UK TROOPS WINS APPEAL". AP. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
  25. ^ "Dissident show of strength for Alan Ryan funeral" Belfast Telegraph 9 September 2012
  26. ^ "David Black murder – two arrests over prison officer attack". BBC News. UK. 2 November 2012. Retrieved 2 November 2012.
  27. ^ "Dissident Colin Duffy charged with membership of IRA". Irish Mirror. 17 December 2013.
  28. ^ "Trio remanded on terror charges". The Belfast Telegraph. 7 August 2014.