On January 5 1979, two IRA Active Service Units were mobilised in Ardoyne by the local Commander. Amongst the Volunteers called up, were two seasoned operatives, Frankie Donnelly (24) and Lawrence Montgomery (24).
In spite of being virtually unknown in republican circles outside of North Belfast. Lawrence was intensely security conscious and preferred to keep a low profile. This secrecy greatly added to strengthen local attacks in the war against British occupation. That also helped the ranks of the 3rd Battalion cope against counter-revolutionary operations by the Crown Forces.
Like Frankie, Lawrence was also married and the father of two young children. Frankie’s wife, Rosemary was expecting their first child. Both men had been active in the IRA since they were teenagers. Frankie was interned on two separate occasions. The first time for six weeks, from March to April 1973, and then from February 1974 until internment ended in December 1975. He continued his involvement in the Republican Movement after his release.
Throughout the night the Squad was repeatedly briefed on the mission. It was important, given that it had only been seven months since three unarmed comrades were brutally executed by the undercover British SAS and RUC during a tragic Operation.
The target on this occasion was a British Army troop carrier docked in Belfast Harbour. According to Republican intelligence, the ship was laden with weapons, vehicles and around five hundred soldiers. The Volunteers were to travel to the Docks with armed back-up and plant large incendiary bombs on board the boat, before safely returning to base.
Shortly after 7.30am the following morning. Frankie and Lawrence began transporting one of the bombs to a nearby car, parked in Northwick Drive. When the device exploded prematurely, killing both Volunteers instantly.
The esteem in which both men were held by the local community was evident in the massive turnout at their funerals. As the cortege passed through Ardoyne, Óglaigh Na hÉireann fired a three-volley salute.
After leaving North Belfast, the funeral was stopped by the RUC, who demanded the National flag, berets and gloves be taken off the two coffins. After some argument and unnecessary anguish caused to their relatives, wreaths were put around the Tricolours and the funeral proceeded unhindered. At the bottom of the Falls Road 60 uniformed IRA Volunteers, Cumann na mBan, Cumann na gCailíní and Fianna Éireann filed behind the funeral car, which was led by two pipers.
At the Republican Plot in Milltown, their oration was given by Veteran Republican Charlie McGlade. During the course of his address, he said: ‘When these troubles began, Lawrence and Frankie were only boys at school. They saw what the people had to go through, the burnings and shootings under the RUC and B-Specials, and they said ‘Enough is enough….we shall not stand for this any longer! They are two brave examples, and by their self-sacrifice, by their example, others will come forward into this – the generation of victory. How can we lose with young men like these, who would risk everything, go through hardships and risk and suffer death for the freedom of the people. The republican people of Belfast are proud of them; the people of Ireland will be grateful to them’.
POSTED ON BEHALF OF : Irish Republican History & Remembrance.
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