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  • Christina Drummond

Lance Corporal Michael Darcy, Ulster Defence Regiment

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1988, Lance Corporal Michael Darcy, Ulster Defence Regiment, was murdered by an IRA gunman as he returned to his home in Castlederg, Co. Tyrone. It was in the early hours of the morning, and he had been giving lifts home to fellow band members after a parade. Before he even had time to turn off his car, the gunman shot him six times in the back with a revolver, and then fled on foot. He was a single man who lived with his widowed mother, and she had been lying awake waiting for him to come home when she heard their dog barking and then the shots. The engine was still running and the radio playing when she went outside to see what had happened; her neighbours did not hear the shots but heard her screams. His killer’s identity was never known.

Lance Corporal Darcy attended Omagh Technical College before joining the Ulster Defence Regiment in 1978. He served in the west Tyrone area, and at the time of his death he was due to be promoted to Corporal. His commanding officer, Colonel Tony Redwood-Davis, described him as “a very professional and competent soldier….a fine young man who was popular with his peers and well-respected by his superiors.”

At his funeral, the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe said “Those who gave information about his movements, enabling him to be set up as a target, were all involved in and are as guilty of the crime of murder as the one who pulled the trigger and fired the lethal bullets.” It was believed that his targeting came from within the community in which he lived. He had nationalist neighbours and had told his mother that if anything ever happened to him she was not to let them see her cry. She valiantly remained dry-eyed during his funeral.

The following day MP Reverend William McCrea spoke in the House of Commons: “Yesterday, with more than a thousand of my constituents, I stood at the graveside of another gallant member of the Ulster Defence Regiment. The murder of Lance-Corporal Michael Darcy is specific. He was gunned down on Saturday morning outside his widowed mother's home in Castlederg. His only crime was that he was a member of the Ulster Defence Regiment and a Protestant in a border village. This sectarian murder is not an isolated incident, as Michael is the 17th member of the security forces to be murdered in the small Castlederg area. Not one person has been found guilty of, or charged with, any of the murders. The matter is important, as it is evident that good, innocent, fellow British citizens are living in terror, knowing that soon the IRA murdering maniacs will strike, and possibly at them.”

Michael, born in England but raised in Northern Ireland, was 28 years old.

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