Dolours Price

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Dolours Price
Born(1950-12-16)16 December 1950
Died23 January 2013(2013-01-23) (aged 62)
OccupationProvisional Irish Republican Army volunteer; political activist
Stephen Rea
(m. 1983; div. 2003)

Dolours Price (16 December 1950 – 23 January 2013) was a Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) volunteer along with her younger sister Marian.

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]

Paramilitary activity[edit]

Price became involved in Irish republicanism in the late 1960s and joined the Provisional IRA in the early 1970s. She participated in the car bombing of the Old Bailey 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,[3]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.[4] The hunger strike lasted for 208 days because the hunger strikers were force-fed by prison authorities to keep them alive. The force-feeding ended after the death of another hunger striker, Michael Gaughan, in June 1974.[citation needed]

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%).[5] The Price sisters, Hugh Feeney, and Gerry Kelly were moved to Northern Ireland prisons in 1975 as a result of an IRA truce.[6] In 1980 Price received the Royal Prerogative of Mercy and was freed on humanitarian grounds in 1981, purportedly suffering from anorexia nervosa.[7]

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 in Irish Republican circles the end of the IRA's military campaign as a part of the Good Friday Agreement.[8] 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.[9] They divorced in 2003.

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.[10] Price and Rea divorced in 2003; the couple had two sons, Danny and Oscar.[11]

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,[12] who were allegedly killed by the IRA and whose bodies have not been found.[13]

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, also denied her allegation.[14] 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, of which Adams had been a key figure in the facilitation.[15]

Boston College tapes[edit]

Oral historians at Boston College interviewed both Dolours Price and her fellow IRA paramilitary Brendan Hughes between 2001 and 2006,[16] 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 be released during their lifetimes. Both are now deceased. In May 2011, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI)[17] subpoenaed the material, possibly as part of an investigation into the disappearance of a number of people in Northern Ireland during the 1970s.[18] 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."[16] In July 2011, US federal prosecutors asked a judge to require the college to release the tapes to comply with treaty obligations with the United Kingdom.[19] 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.[20] On 17 October 2012, the United States Supreme Court temporarily blocked the College from handing over the interview tapes. In April 2013, the Supreme Court turned away an appeal that sought to keep the interviews from being turned over to the PSNI. The order leaves in place a lower court ruling that ordered Boston College to give the Justice Department portions of recorded interviews with Dolours Price. Federal officials want to forward the recordings to police investigating the murder of Jean McConville.[21]


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.[22] Her body was buried at Milltown Cemetery in West Belfast.[23]


  1. ^ "Convicted Irish Sisters Ask Return of Vermeer Painting". New York Times: 32. 11 March 1974.
  2. ^ Keefe, Patrick Radden (16 March 2015). "Where the Bodies Are Buried". The New Yorker. 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 I.R.A. explosives dump. The blast blew off both of her hands, and permanently blinded her.
  3. ^ "Britain charges 10 in London Bombings". New York Times: 3. 13 March 1973.
  4. ^ "Britain Refuses I.R.A. Sisters' Bid: Move to Ulster Jail Ruled Out for Hunger Strikers". New York Times: 11. 2 June 1974.
  5. ^ West Belfast election results
  6. ^ IRA Truce: 9 February 1975 to 23 January 1976 – Summary of Main Events CAIN Web Service,; accessed 3 January 2016.
  7. ^ Burns, John (15 March 1998). "Miracle recoveries of the IRA inmates". The Sunday Times. p. Eire News 5.
  8. ^ McAleer, Phelim (21 March 1999). "Price sisters harassed for anti-peace talk". The Sunday Times. p. Eire News 8.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ "Stephen Rea breaks up with bomber". The Sunday Independent. 13 July 2003. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  12. ^ "Trio Vanished Forever". Sunday Life. 21 February 2010. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  13. ^ "Price offers to help locate 'disappeared'". The Irish Times. 19 February 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2010.
  14. ^ "Adams was my O.C. in the IRA – Sinn Fein leader denies bomber's accusations over 3 Disappeared". The Daily Mirror: 15. 19 February 2010.
  15. ^ "Arrest Adams Now". Sunday Life. 21 February 2010.
  16. ^ a b Zezima, Katie (10 June 2011). "College Fights Subpoena of Interviews Tied to I.R.A.". New York Times. p. 12.
  17. ^ PSNI subpoena of Boston College materials,; accessed 3 January 2016.
  18. ^ McMahon, Cathal (14 May 2011). "Adams Secret Tapes Probe – Oral 'history' claim". The Daily Mirror. p. 32. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
  19. ^ Leonard, Tom (8 July 2011). "U.S. court bid for tapes linking Adams to IRA murder squads". The Daily Mail.
  20. ^ "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.
  21. ^ Boston College IRA interviews update,; accessed December 21, 2015.
  22. ^ "Dolours Price-Rea died from prescription drugs mix". The Irish Times. 15 April 2014. Retrieved 30 April 2014.
  23. ^ "Ex-IRA woman Dolours Price's funeral takes place". BBC. 28 January 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2013.

Further reading[edit]

  • Clutterbuck, Richard. Kidnap and Ransom. Boston: Faber & Faber, 1978.

External links[edit]