Daniel McCann

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Daniel "Danny" McCann (30 November 1957 – 6 March 1988) was a volunteer in the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) who was killed by British Army Special Air Service (SAS) soldiers in Operation Flavius.


McCann was born into an Irish republican family from the Clonard area of West Belfast. He was educated at primary level at St Gall's Primary School, Belfast, and at secondary level at St Mary's Grammar School on Belfast's Glen Road. McCann did not finish his education as he was arrested after becoming involved in rioting. He was charged and convicted of "riotous behaviour" and sentenced to six months in prison. Later that year McCann joined the Provisional IRA.[1] He was later convicted and sentenced to two years imprisonment for the possession of explosives.[citation needed]


According to the Royal Ulster Constabulary, in 1987 Seán Savage and Daniel McCann killed two RUC Special Branch officers at Belfast docks.[2][3]

In 1988, along with Mairead Farrell, they were sent to the British overseas territory of Gibraltar to plant a bomb in the town area targeting the British military band which paraded weekly in connection with the changing of the guard in front of the Governors' residence (see Operation Flavius).

The SAS team was informed—incorrectly—that the IRA had already placed their bomb and were ready to detonate it.[4] The three conspirators were stopped as they walked near the Shell filling station on Winston Churchill Avenue, the busy main road leading to the airport and the frontier with Spain. McCann was then shot as the SAS claimed he made an 'aggressive move' towards a bag he was carrying. They stated that they believed he was intending to trigger a car bomb using a remote control device.[5] After McCann was killed, it was claimed that Farrell made a move towards her handbag and was shot on similar grounds. SAS members again claimed that Savage moved his hand to his pocket and the SAS killed him also.[6]

McCann was shot five times, Farrell eight times, and Savage between 16 and 18 times.[7] All three were subsequently found to be unarmed, and without any kind of remote trigger. The SAS version of events was queried by expert and civilian witnesses.[8]

No radio or other detonating device was found on the bodies, nor was there any bomb in the car in Gibraltar which had been identified as belonging to the bombing team.[9] A car used by the bombers was found 36 miles away in Spain, two days after the killings, containing 140 lb (64 kg) of Semtex with a device timed to go off during the changing of the guard.[10]

A controversial British television documentary, Death on the Rock, was produced about the events surrounding the killings.[11]


At the funeral of the 'Gibraltar Three', three mourners (including one IRA member) were killed in a gun and grenade attack by loyalist Michael Stone in the Milltown Cemetery attack.

See also


  1. Tírghrá, National Commemoration Centre, 2002. PB) ISBN 0-9542946-0-2 p.301
  2. Blood & Rage - A Cultural History of Terrorism, Michael Burleigh, 2008, P332, ISBN 978-0-00-724127-9
  3. Gibraltar: The truth
  4. [1], paragraph 52.
  5. [2], paragraph 61.
  6. [3], paragraph 78.
  7. [4], paragraphs 108-110.
  8. https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/david-elstein/death-on-rock-21-years-later-and-still-official-version-lives-on
  9. Para 93 and 96 of the ECHR Ruling
  10. 1988: IRA gang shot dead in Gibraltar BBC website
  11. [5]).

External links