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Grizzled ‘republican family’ veterans turn out for IRA bomber Rose Dugdale’s funeral

Mourners who forgot to wear Easter lilies handed replacements as service plays host to who’s who of republican circles

It was a busy day at the crematorium.

They had to wait for the funeral in front to clear before their service – the last in a crowded schedule could begin.

For some of the grizzled veterans of the armed struggle in attendance, it must have felt like old times.

But on this occasion it was a sentimental send-off for one of their own: Rose Dugdale, the IRA bombmaker whose criminal exploits in the name of Irish freedom cemented her place as a heroine of the republican movement.


She should never have been one of their own, a point made on numerous occasions at her funeral service in Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery on Wednesday. But Dugdale was their high society Provo, the Chelsea heiress who became radicalised and joined the IRA.

Milk-churn bombs dropped from a helicopter; improvised armour rocket launchers packed with digestive biscuits to absorb the recoil; explosions in the City of London which killed five people, including a 15-year-old girl; a multimillion pound art heist carried out by an armed gang – presumably all part of what former Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson described as “the tapestry of Irish freedom” in which “Rose’s legacy will be forever intertwined”.

There was a very large turnout from the “republican family” for the funeral of the lifelong revolutionary who died earlier this month in a Dublin nursing home aged 82.

Former Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams was prominent among the mourners and was greeted warmly by veteran party members and a large number of the party’s TDs.

But there was a no show from his successor Mary Lou McDonald and her senior Dáil spokespeople. Northern Ireland First Minister Michelle O’Neill was also absent.

A piper waited for the arrival of the remains as two women in high-vis jackets circulated, handing out Easter lilies to mourners who forgot to wear them.

It was bitterly cold in the graveyard, but a sizeable number of the men in attendance wore short black bomber jackets, white shirts, black ties and black trousers. They were joined by women in similar attire, but their black jackets were more tailored.

A burst of music from the piper heralded the arrival of the hearse. A spray of white Easter lilies rested on the Tricolour-draped wicker coffin. A wreath of green, white and orange carnations studded with more Easter lilies was carried into the chapel.

The bearer party for the coffin set off slowly, black suited marshals wearing Tricolour armbands walking alongside them, as the onlookers respectfully applauded.

Dugdale’s partner, Jim Monaghan, who worked with her in developing the IRA’s weaponry and explosive capacity, followed behind along with her son Ruairí and her friend Marion Coyle.

At the chapel door, Coyle stepped forward and carefully folded the Tricolour into a perfect triangle before handing it to Ruairí.

Adams and Anderson fell in behind the family while Aengus Ó Snodaigh, the Sinn Féin TD who was close to the deceased, went ahead checking that everything was in order.

The small building was packed to overflowing with many mourners standing outside in the cold. Anderson presided over the ceremony.

“I stand here with a sore yet proud heart, reminded of the remarkable journey I and so many others shared together with Rose in the depths of the Irish republican struggle,” she said.

“Rose’s path from a privileged upbringing to the heart of the republican struggle was marked by her insatiable and unwavering commitment to economic equality, social justice and human rights.”

A sentiment which might not be shared by the people killed and maimed by the bombs she engineered.

Jim Monaghan, of Colombia Three/IRA FARC guerrilla training fame, described his partner Rose as an “all rounder in revolution, politics and education”. She was a woman of many talents – a noted academic and a gifted teacher besides being “well known as an IRA volunteer”.

Ó Snodaigh delivered the eulogy. Rose was “an enigma” to the UK establishment, he said. “They couldn’t and can’t still grasp that somebody could turn their back on privilege in order to help the masses.”

Despite her wealthy upbringing, he said she “she went on to reject that life that was being shaped for her and embraced wholeheartedly, with no regrets, a life in struggle against British imperialism and world imperialism”.

Dugdale, until her dying day, never showed any regret for her wholehearted embrace of paramilitary violence. But “she was energetic, with a passion for justice, tackling poverty, and seeking the redistribution of wealth and rebalancing of power”.

Coyle, who gained notoriety in 1975 when, along with another IRA member, Eddie Gallagher, Ruairí's father, she kidnapped industrialist Tiede Herrema, read out a tribute on behalf of Ruairí.

“You will always lie in our hearts and never be forgotten. I love you, Ma.”

Mourners included Sinn Féin TDs Seán Crowe, Martin Kenny, Reada Cronin, Dessie Ellis, Matt Carthy, Martin Browne, Paul Donnelly, Ruairí Ó Murchú, Mairéad Farrell and Mark Ward, along with former Dublin lord mayors Christy Burke and Micheál Mac Donncha.

At the end of the cremation service, as the curtains closed on the coffin, the song It’s a Sin by the Pet Shop Boys rang around the old chapel and out the doors to the smiling appreciation of those outside.

A movie about the debutante turned Provo has just been released.

Actress Imogen Poots plays Rose Dugdale in the thriller directed by Joe Lawlor and Christine Molloy. No relation to the DUP’s Edwin Poots, one assumes.

Now, that would be a sin.