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Medal with IRA member Martin McCaughey's images Photo by: Google Images

Northern Irish GAA players receive medals with images of dead IRA members

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Medal with IRA member Martin McCaughey's images Photo by: Google Images

A Country Tyrone Gaelic Athletic Club (GAA) was yesterday criticized by the mother of an 11-year-old boy angry that children were given medals bearing the picture of a dead IRA man after a football blitz at the weekend.

The controversial medals given to the Under-12 boys at Galbally Pearses Club in Tyrone featured a picture of Martin McCaughey and fellow IRA man Dessie Grew, both of whom were shot dead by the SAS in County Armagh in October 1990.

'It was outrageous. My son was asking what the hero did,' the mother, who did not want to be named told the BBC. 'We had no warning that the medals would be dedicated to a dead IRA man. I think we should have at least been told what the medals would have on them and given a chance to decide whether we wanted our children to take part or not.'

Responding to the criticism a press officer for Tyrone Gaelic Athletic Association said: 'If the mother has a comment, she should make it to Tyrone County offices, they would obviously look at it.'

Martin McCaughey and Dessie Grew, who were both armed with AK47 rifles, were shot more than 30 times by an SAS unit at an isolated farm building in 1990. The deaths prompted allegations the British government was operating a 'shoot to kill' policy. An investigation later revealed that neither man had fired a shot during the incident, which led to charges that the SAS had opened fire without making any attempt to arrest them.

Responding to the circumstances of their deaths, the men's families campaigned for an inquest for more than 20 years. In May of this year a jury found that the SAS had used 'reasonable force' during the operation and that the IRA men's own actions had contributed to their deaths.

'They were both armed with guns, wearing gloves and balaclavas and were approaching soldiers who believed that their lives were in immediate danger,' the verdict said.

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