Rosnaree Hotel shooting

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Rossnaree Hotel shooting
Part of the Troubles
Date20 January 1987
Result Successful IPLO ambush and getaway
CommunistStarryPloughFlag.svg Irish People's Liberation Organisation StarryPlough.svg Irish National Liberation Army
Commanders and leaders
CommunistStarryPloughFlag.svg Gerard Steenson StarryPlough.svg Hugh Torney
2 volunteers 4 volunteers
Casualties and losses
none 2 killed
2 injured

The Rossnaree Hotel shooting was an event that took place in the Republic of Ireland on 20 January 1987 under the false pretence of peace talks between the Irish People's Liberation Organisation (IPLO) and the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA). Two gunmen from the newly formed IPLO shot four Volunteers from the INLA, killing two, Thomas "Ta" Power (34) and John O'Reilly (26). Hugh Torney, the leader of the INLA faction, and another INLA Volunteer, Peter Stewart, were both injured in the attack that took place at Rossnaree Hotel in Drogheda, County Louth.[1][2]

The event[edit]

There was tension between the INLA and the IPLO since the IPLO had been created as most of the IPLO's members were former INLA Volunteers who left the INLA on bad terms. On 21 December 1987, the IPLO shot dead an INLA volunteer (Thomas McCartan) in Belfast. To try and avoid an all out feud, the INLA leadership, represented by Ta Power and Hugh Torney, agreed to meet the IPLO leadership who were represented by Gerard Steenson and Jimmy Brown at a neutral location. However, the meeting was just a ploy to lure the INLA leaders to Rossnaree hotel in Drogheda so they could ambush them and wipe the INLA leadership out. INLA Volunteer Peter Stewart who was injured but survived the attack commented on the IPLO gunmen when they entered the hotel wearing disguises: "Both men had beards. But I realized they were false beards when I saw the sticky stuff which was used to put them on glistening under the lights". Stewart got up to approach the men and as he got close to them they drew their guns and shot Stewart three times in the chest, he recalled a women whispering a prayer in his ear, John O'Reilly was hit in the spine when he tried to run away and was finished off with three gunshots in the head. Ta Power was also shot dead as he tried to escape but was also shot in the head and Stewart remembers waking up next to him in the ambulance as he realized his comrade who he was very close to was dead. But the IPLO missed their main target Hugh Torney who escaped by running behind stools and chairs and ran out the back door of the hotel and managed to escape with his life, he was shot in the hand as he escaped. It was claimed that Gerard Steenson was the IPLO's getaway driver as he wanted to oversee the operation himself. Peter Stewart said the attack was "a very military-like operation.[3]


The killings resulted in an all out feud between the IPLO and the INLA with a total of 11 people being killed. On 15 March 1987, Gerard Steenson was himself killed along with another IPLO Volunteer as they sat in a car in Springhill Avenue, Ballymurphy in Belfast by INLA gunmen. It was reported that Torney had set up the ambush as revenge for the deaths of Power and O'Reilly.[4] The feud ended on the 27 March 1987 when both groups agreed to a truce.[5] Hugh Torney also met a violent death when he was shot dead himself in an internal INLA in feud in 1996.[6]

A man was arrested in 2017 relating to the killings but was released without charge.[7] At the time of the killings it was alleged that one of the gunmen used to be in the Irish Army and was a hitman in Dublin who was also involved in drug dealing and was nicknamed the "Chef".[8]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Melaugh, Dr Martin. "CAIN: Chronology of the Conflict 1987". Retrieved 2018-07-06.
  2. ^ Sutton, Malcolm. "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". Retrieved 2018-07-06.
  3. ^ INLA: Deadly Divisions - Jack Holland & Henry McDonald pp. 284-285
  4. ^ Sutton, Malcolm. "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". Retrieved 2018-07-06.
  5. ^ Melaugh, Dr Martin. "CAIN: Chronology of the Conflict 1987". Retrieved 2018-07-06.
  6. ^ Melaugh, Dr Martin. "CAIN: Chronology of the Conflict 1996". Retrieved 2018-07-06.
  7. ^ Morris, Allison. "Named: Man arrested over 1987 INLA feud murders". The Irish News. Retrieved 2018-07-06.
  8. ^ INLA: Deadly Divisions - Jack Holland & Henry McDonald pp.285