Death Of Peter Pringle, Formerly Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

Funeral procession of Garda John Morley and Garda Henry Byrne, Knock, Co. Mayo, 1980. Garda Byrne and Garda Morley were the fifth and sixth Gardaí officers to die in the Troubles, and the 21st and 22nd Gardaí to die violently since the foundation of the state in 1922.

The death occurred, on Saturday 31st December 2022, of Mr Peter Pringle, Casla, Connemara, Co. Galway, and formerly of Killybegs, Co. Donegal, and Banba Terrace, Kickham Street, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

Pre-deceased by his daughter Lulu and his sister Pauline; Mr Pringle passed away peacefully, aged 84, at his place of residence in Co. Galway.

While a resident here in Thurles in the late 1960s, Mr Pringle was one of the organisers of the then well attended “Peoples Debating Society”, whose Public Relations Officer, back then, was Thurles Author & Poet, Mr Tom Ryan “Iona”, Rahealty, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

Mr Pringle would later be wrongfully convicted of murdering two Gardaí (Garda John Morley and Garda Henry Byrne), in a Roscommon bank raid in Ballaghaderreen in the 1980s. He had served almost 15 years in prison before being released in 1995; following his conviction, later deemed unsafe and unsatisfactory.

It was on July 7th 1980, that three armed and masked men had raided the Bank of Ireland in Ballaghaderreen, Co. Roscommon; holding staff and customers at gunpoint, before leaving with some IR£35,000 in cash.

Unarmed Gardaí had arrived on the scene, but were unable to stop the armed robbers from escaping in a blue Ford Cortina car. However, the perpetrators of the bank raid were intercepted by a Garda patrol car containing four Gardaí, summoned from Castlerea Garda station. The occupants of the Garda car included Detective Garda John Morley, who was armed with an Uzi submachine gun. Both cars collided at Shannon’s Cross, Aghaderry, Loughglinn, Co. Roscommon.
One of the raiders jumped out of the blue Ford Cortina and sprayed the patrol car with bullets, killing the aforementioned Garda Henry Byrne. Another man also left the Ford Cortina and ran away, while his two accomplices, both wearing balaclavas, ran in the opposite direction.
There was an exchange of shots in which Garda Morley wounded one of the robbers, but he himself was, sadly, fatally wounded. Two men were later apprehended, while a third man Mr Peter Pringle was arrested in the city of Galway, almost two weeks later. The two other Gardaí, namely Sergeant Mick O’Malley and Garda Derek O’Kelly both survived the shootout.

Mr Pringle was sentenced to death for both murders, alongside two others, named as Mr Colm O’Shea and Mr Pat McCann. The three robbery suspects were identified as being associated with the Irish National Liberation Army, (Irish: Arm Saoirse Náisiúnta na hÉireann) [INLA], same an Irish republican socialist paramilitary group formed on December 10th 1974.
However, Mr Pringle, Mr O’Shea, and Mr McCann each had their sentences commuted to penal servitude of 40 years, by the then Irish President Mr Patrick Hillery, back in 1981.
Mr O’Shea and Mr McCann would later serve 33 years behind bars, before being released from jail 10 years ago, in 2013. Mr Pringle, on the other hand, (whose son Thomas is an Independent Donegal TD), spent 14 years and 10 months in prison, before the Court of Criminal Appeal found his conviction to be unsafe and unsatisfactory.

In 2012, Mr Pringle married Ms Sunny Jacobs, latter named who was similarly placed on death row in Florida in 1976, also for the murder of two police officers. Ms Jacobs served 17 years before she was exoneration. It was following her release, that Ms Jacobs had travelled to Ireland to speak at an Amnesty International event in 1998, where she met Mr Pringle.

The passing of Mr Pringle is most deeply regretted and sadly missed by his wife Sunny (nee Jacobs), daughter Anna, sons Thomas and John, his brother Pat, his in-laws Eric and Christina, twelve grandchildren, nephew Roschard, niece Rosana, extended relatives, neighbours and friends.

The remains of Mr Pringle reposed at Naughtons Funeral Parlour, Knock House, Knock, Inverin, Co. Galway, on Monday evening last, January 2nd, 2023, from 5:00pm-7:00pm, before his remains were cremated on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2023, following a 2:00pm ceremony in Shannon Crematorium, Illaunmanagh, Shannon, Co. Clare.


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