Hugh Doherty (Irish republican)

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Hugh Doherty is an Irish republican and former volunteer in the Provisional Irish Republican Army. He is known for his role in the Balcombe Street Siege of December 1975, at the resolution of which he was sentenced to eleven terms of life imprisonment for murder, with a judicial recommendation he serve at least 30 years.[1][2][3]

Doherty and fellow members of his active service unit had targeted civilians, soldiers, policemen and politicians as part of the IRA's campaign against British rule in Northern Ireland.[4][5][6][7] During this time they are believed to have killed sixteen people in England[8] including Ross McWhirter, who had offered a £50,000 reward for their arrest, and Gordon Hamilton-Fairley.

The Balcombe Street gang, who were named after the London street on which they were arrested after a five-day siege, were allegedly responsible for 16 murders. During a 14-month campaign across the south-east of England they carried out 50 bombings and shootings.[9]

Doherty's bombing campaign was brought to an end after a five-day siege that was broadcast live on television and watched by millions.[9]

Doherty served 23 years in British prisons before being transferred to Portlaoise prison in Ireland.

In 1987 Jeremy Corbyn handed a petition to then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher demanding better visiting conditions for Doherty and his fellow IRA prisoner Nat Vella and "the immediate transfer of Irish political prisoners to prisons near their homes".[9]

Doherty made an appearance at the 1998 Sinn Féin Ard Fheis at which the party accepted the Belfast Agreement, under the terms of which Doherty was later released from prison.[1]

He was born in Glasgow, Scotland,[10] and now works as an artist in Ireland.[8] He is the brother of Sinn Féin MP and MLA Pat Doherty.[11]


  1. ^ a b "Balcombe Street gang's reign of terror". BBC News. 9 April 1999. Retrieved 26 August 2007.
  2. ^ "1975: Balcombe Street siege ends". BBC News. 12 December 1975.
  3. ^ 2010: Hugh Launches New Website displaying his Art Archived 28 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Click To Visit
  4. ^ War in the Shadows: The Guerrilla in History Volume 2 by Robert B. Asprey (ISBN 978-0-595-22594-1), page 1125
  5. ^ Global Geopolitics: A Critical Introduction by Klaus Dodds (ISBN 978-0-273-68609-5), page 205
  6. ^ British Civilization by John Oakland (ISBN 978-0-415-26150-0), page 108
  7. ^ Northern Ireland by Jonathan Tonge (ISBN 978-0-7456-3141-7), page 2
  8. ^ a b Ruth Dudley Edwards
  9. ^ a b c "Exclusive: MI5 opened file on Jeremy Corbyn amid concerns over his IRA links". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2017-07-04.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Balcombe Street gang to be freed". BBC News. 9 April 1999.