Historical Experience

Eamon Hession

Interviewed 18 June 2021

KILLING OF BRITISH AMBASSADOR EWART-BIGGS

Eamon Hession

In this section, retired Sergeant Eamon Hession, a native of Mayo, discusses his recollections of the death of the British Ambassador to Ireland, Christopher Thomas Ewart Ewart-Biggs, who was killed by the Provisional IRA on 21 July 1976 in Sandyford, Dublin.

MS. DELANEY: Could I ask you about the British Ambassador, the death of the British Ambassador first, Eamon?

MR. HESSION: Yeah.

MS. DELANEY: Because it was a shocking thing to happen in Ireland, wasn’t it?

MR. HESSION: Absolutely. I will just refer back, go back to the other thing a minute, Rita, just to say that, I mean, Dun Laoghaire, you had poor class areas as well as. You had Sallynoggin, you had Ballybrack and all these areas, but lovely people there, you know.

MS. DELANEY: Yeah.

MR. HESSION: But they were tough times. You know you had to you had a lot of problems there. You know, Dun Laoghaire wasn’t that quiet, it may give you that impression, you had Dalkey, but you had poor areas everywhere, you know. But, yeah, the death of Ewart Biggs, I always remember that morning. We were on our way into the city to we were bringing in prisoners, I think, to Mountjoy, I always remember that.

MS. DELANEY: Sorry, can I stop you there for just one minute? I will am losing you a little. You are going now that’s much better. Sorry about that. Okay.

MR. HESSION: You can hear me there?

MS. DELANEY: You were going in with prisoners?

MR. HESSION: Yeah, we were going in along the seafront road with prisoners when we heard it over the radio and we, ehm, we just heard about the explosion and we were directed back. We made our way with the prisoners and then back and up to Stepaside. ‘Twas a terrible situation. I mean, the whole place was blocked off and while our job was to keep people away and checkpoints, et cetera, it was an awful morning, really, you know. But, ehm, as regards the investigations office, as you know yourself, it was investigated from the City, in CDU and SDU and so forth. But ’twas a huge occasion that time and very sad, what happened, you know.

MS. DELANEY: His name was Mr. Ewart Biggs or Biggs, am I correct?

MR. HESSION: Ewart Biggs, that’s right, that’s right, Ewart Biggs.

MS. DELANEY: And he wasn’t long over in Ireland As Ambassador?

MR. HESSION: No, he was only here a short time and this happened in Glencairn, you know. So, no, ’twas an awful time, you know.

MS. DELANEY: Is Glencairn where the residence of the Ambassador was at the time?

MR. HESSION: That’s right, Rita, yeah, that’s right.

MS. DELANEY: And is it still there?

MR. HESSION: its still there, yeah. We wouldn’t be covering it at the time, ehm, you know, it wasn’t our area. It wasn’t our area as such, like. Well, it was just a little bit outside it.

MS. DELANEY: Yeah.

MR. HESSION: But I mean, we wouldn’t always be there, you know, but that was a highlight a lowlight, I suppose, of my career, but it is one of these things that happened, isn’t it?

MS. DELANEY: It was a shocking thing and of course it went all over the world.

MR. HESSION: It did.

MS. DELANEY: A decent man coming over as Ambassador and I believe he was a very pleasant man.

MR. HESSION: He was, he was.

MS. DELANEY: Yeah, and he wasn’t in the place five minutes when his car was blown up and it surely was. And I don’t you can correct me on this, Eamon,
I don’t know if anybody was ever made amenable for that?

MR. HESSION: No, I don’t think so. No. No, as far as I know, there was no one made amenable for it, no, unfortunately, you know, no.