Dolours Price

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Dolours Price
Dolours Price.jpg
Price, c. 1973
Born(1950-12-16)16 December 1950
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Died23 January 2013(2013-01-23) (aged 62)
OccupationProvisional Irish Republican Army volunteer; political activist
(m. 1983; div. 2003)

Dolours Price (16 December 1950 – 23 January 2013) was a Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) volunteer.

Early life[edit]

Dolours and her sister, Marian, also an IRA member, were the daughters of Albert Price, a prominent Irish republican and former IRA member from Belfast.[1] Their aunt, Bridie Dolan, was blinded and lost both hands in an accident handling IRA explosives.[2][3]: 9–13 

Paramilitary activity[edit]

Price became involved in Irish republicanism in the late 1960s and she and her sister Marian participated in the Belfast to Derry civil rights march in January 1969 and were attacked in the Burntollet Bridge incident.[3]: 22–4 

In 1971 together with Marian she joined the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA).[3]: 43–4  In 1972 she joined an elite group within the IRA called "The Unknowns" commanded by Pat McClure.[3]: 103–4  The unknowns were tasked with various secretive activities and transported several accused traitors across the border into the Republic of Ireland where they were "disappeared". She personally stated that she had driven Joe Lynskey across the border to face trial. In addition she stated that she, Pat McClure and a third Unknown were tasked with killing Jean McConville, with the third Unknown actually shooting her.[3]: 349–50 

She led the car bombing attacks in London on 8 March 1973, which injured over 200 people and is believed to have contributed to the death of one person who suffered a fatal heart attack. The two sisters were arrested, along with Gerry Kelly, Hugh Feeney and six others, on the day of the bombing,[4] as they were boarding a flight to Ireland. They were tried and convicted at the Great Hall in Winchester Castle on 14 November 1973. Although originally sentenced to life imprisonment, which was to run concurrently for each criminal charge, their sentence was eventually reduced to 20 years. Price served seven years for her part in the bombing. She immediately went on a hunger strike demanding to be moved to a prison in Northern Ireland.[5] The hunger strike lasted for 208 days because the hunger strikers were force-fed by prison authorities to keep them alive.

On the back of the hunger-striking campaign, her father contested West Belfast at the UK General Election of February 1974, receiving 5,662 votes (11.9%).[6] The Price sisters, Hugh Feeney, and Gerry Kelly were moved to Northern Ireland prisons in 1975 as a result of an IRA truce.[7] In 1980 Price received the Royal Prerogative of Mercy and was freed on humanitarian grounds in 1981, purportedly suffering from anorexia nervosa due to the invasive trauma of daily force feedings.[8]

The Price sisters remained active politically. In the late 1990s, Price and her sister claimed that they had been threatened by their former colleagues in the IRA and Sinn Féin for publicly opposing the Good Friday Agreement i.e. the cessation of the IRA's military campaign).[9] Price was a contributor to The Blanket, an online journal, edited by former Provisional IRA member Anthony McIntyre, until it ceased publication in 2008.

Personal life[edit]

After her release in 1980, she married Irish actor Stephen Rea, with whom she had two sons, Danny and Oscar.[10] They divorced in 2003.[11]

Later life[edit]

In 2001, Price was arrested in Dublin and charged with possession of stolen prescription pads and forged prescriptions. She pleaded guilty and was fined £200 and ordered to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.[12]

In February 2010, it was reported by The Irish News that Price had offered help to the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains in locating graves of three men, Joe Lynskey, Seamus Wright, and Kevin McKee.[13][14] The bodies of Seamus Wright and Kevin McKee were recovered from a singular grave in County Meath in August 2015.[15] It is unclear if Price played a role in their recovery. The remains of Joe Lynskey have not been recovered as of April 2021.

She was the subject of the 2018 feature-length documentary I, Dolours in which she gave an extensive filmed interview.

Allegations against Gerry Adams[edit]

In 2010 Price claimed Gerry Adams had been her officer commanding when she was active in the IRA. Adams, who has always denied being a member of the IRA, denied her allegation.[16] Price admitted taking part in the murder of Jean McConville, as part of an IRA action in 1972. She claimed the murder of McConville, a mother of 10, was ordered by Adams when he was an IRA leader in West Belfast. Adams subsequently publicly further denied Price's allegations, stating that the reason for them was that she was opposed to the Provisional Irish Republican Army's abandonment of paramilitary warfare in favour of politics in 1994, in the facilitation of which Adams had been a key figure.[17]

Boston College tapes[edit]

Oral historians at Boston College interviewed both Dolours Price and her fellow IRA paramilitary Brendan Hughes between 2001 and 2006.[18] The two giving detailed interviews for the historical record of the activities in the IRA, which were recorded on condition that the content of the interviews was not to be released during their lifetimes. Prior to Price's death, in May 2011, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI)[19] subpoenaed the material, possibly as part of an investigation into the disappearance of a number of people in Northern Ireland during the 1970s.[20] In June 2011, the college filed a motion to quash the subpoena. A spokesman for the college stated that "our position is that the premature release of the tapes could threaten the safety of the participants, the enterprise of oral history, and the ongoing peace and reconciliation process in Northern Ireland."[18] In June 2011, US federal prosecutors asked a judge to require the college to release the tapes to comply with treaty obligations with the United Kingdom.[21] On 6 July 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit agreed with the government's position that the subpoena should stand.[22] On 17 October 2012, the United States Supreme Court temporarily blocked the college from handing over the interview tapes. In January 2013 Price died, and in April 2013, the Supreme Court turned away an appeal that sought to keep the interviews from being supplied to the PSNI. The order left in place a lower court ruling that ordered Boston College to give the Justice Department portions of recorded interviews with Dolours Price. Federal officials wanted to forward the recordings to police investigating the murder of Jean McConville.[23]


On 24 January 2013 Price was found dead at her Malahide, County Dublin home, from a toxic effect of mixing prescribed sedative and anti-depressant medication. The inquest returned a verdict of death by misadventure.[24] Her body was buried at Milltown Cemetery in West Belfast.[25]


  1. ^ "Convicted Irish Sisters Ask Return of Vermeer Painting". The New York Times: 32. 11 March 1974.
  2. ^ Keefe, Patrick Radden (16 March 2015). "Where the Bodies Are Buried". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on 15 June 2016. Retrieved 14 March 2015. Her [Price's] aunt Bridie Dolan, who lived with the family, had been horribly disfigured at twenty-seven, after accidentally dropping a cache of gelignite in an Irish Republican Army explosives dump. The blast blew off both of her hands, and permanently blinded her.
  3. ^ a b c d e Keefe, Patrick Radden (2018). Say Nothing. William Collins. ISBN 9780008159276.
  4. ^ "Britain charges 10 in London Bombings". The New York Times: 3. 13 March 1973.
  5. ^ "Britain Refuses I.R.A. Sisters' Bid: Move to Ulster Jail Ruled Out for Hunger Strikers". The New York Times: 11. 2 June 1974.
  6. ^ "West Belfast election results". Archived from the original on 23 June 2018. Retrieved 7 August 2009.
  7. ^ IRA Truce: 9 February 1975 to 23 January 1976 – Summary of Main Events CAIN Web Service Archived 27 August 2006 at the Wayback Machine,; accessed 3 January 2016.
  8. ^ Burns, John (15 March 1998). "Miracle recoveries of the IRA inmates". The Sunday Times. p. Eire News 5.
  9. ^ McAleer, Phelim (21 March 1999). "Price sisters harassed for anti-peace talk". The Sunday Times. p. Eire News 8.
  10. ^ McLeod, Pauline (29 October 1992). "Crying Shame: Hotel's snub to actor leaves Pauline McLeod high and dry – Snooty Savoy Keeps Out Rising Star". Daily Mirror. p. 6.
  11. ^ "Stephen Rea breaks up with bomber". The Sunday Independent. 13 July 2003.
  12. ^ Tallant, Nicola (30 March 2001). "Her name is Dolours, the IRA bomber who married a Hollywood star. Now she has become an alcoholic". Daily Mirror. pp. 8–9.
  13. ^ "Trio Vanished Forever". Sunday Life. 21 February 2010. Archived from the original on 28 November 2019. Retrieved 28 November 2019 – via The Belfast Project, Boston College, subpoena evidence.
  14. ^ "Price offers to help locate 'disappeared'". The Irish Times. 19 February 2010. Archived from the original on 26 January 2011. Retrieved 20 February 2010.
  15. ^ "Bodies found in Meath confirmed as two of 'Disappeared'". Archived from the original on 13 April 2021. Retrieved 13 April 2021.
  16. ^ "Adams was my O.C. in the IRA – Sinn Fein leader denies bomber's accusations over 3 Disappeared". Daily Mirror: 15. 19 February 2010.
  17. ^ "Arrest Adams Now". Sunday Life. 21 February 2010. Archived from the original on 28 November 2019. Retrieved 28 November 2019 – via The Belfast Project, Boston College, subpoena evidence.
  18. ^ a b Zezima, Katie (10 June 2011). "College Fights Subpoena of Interviews Tied to I.R.A.". The New York Times. p. 12.
  19. ^ PSNI subpoena of Boston College materials Archived 8 October 2018 at the Wayback Machine,; accessed 3 January 2016.
  20. ^ McMahon, Cathal (14 May 2011). "Adams Secret Tapes Probe – Oral 'history' claim". Daily Mirror. p. 32. Archived from the original on 23 September 2021. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
  21. ^ Zezima, Katie (9 June 2011). "College Fights Subpoena of Interviews Tied to I.R.A." New York Times. Archived from the original on 12 November 2020. Retrieved 26 December 2020.
  22. ^ "IN Re: Request From The United Kingdom Pursuant to the Treaty Between The Government of the United States of America and the Government of the United Kingdom on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters in the Matter of Dolours Price". 6 July 2012. Archived from the original on 11 July 2012. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
  23. ^ Boston College IRA interviews update Archived 13 January 2016 at the Wayback Machine,; accessed 21 December 2015.
  24. ^ "Dolours Price-Rea died from prescription drugs mix". The Irish Times. 15 April 2014. Archived from the original on 2 May 2014. Retrieved 30 April 2014.
  25. ^ "Ex-IRA woman Dolours Price's funeral takes place". BBC. 28 January 2013. Archived from the original on 30 January 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2013.

Further reading[edit]

  • Keefe, Patrick Radden. Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland. New York: Doubleday, 2019. ISBN 9780385521314
  • Clutterbuck, Richard. Kidnap and Ransom. Boston: Faber & Faber, 1978. ISBN 0571113273

External links[edit]