Dolours Price, convicted IRA Bomber, and the former wife of critically acclaimed Irish actor Stephen Rea, was found dead Thursday in her Dublin home. Police have not revealed the cause of death and an autopsy will be performed. Unrepentant to the end, Ms. Price was 61 at the time of her death.
She was a young woman fresh out of school, with an innocent charm that allowed her to avoid suspicion, when Price joined the IRA in the late 1960’s. On March 8, 1973, Dolours participated in the bombing of the Old Bailey in London that injured over 200 people. Miraculously, no one was killed as a direct result of the blast, although one of the injured later suffered a fatal heart attack that was attributed to the bombing.
Arrested within hours, along with her sister Marian, Gerry Kelly, Hugh Feeney and six others, Price was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Her original term of incarceration was later reduced to 20 years, much to the dismay of angry British citizens..
During her time in prison, Dolours participated in a 200 day hunger strike, during which she was kept alive by force feeding. The hunger strike, which resulted in the death of Michael Gaughan, was intended to force the British Government to transfer IRA members incarcerated in England to a prison in Northern Ireland.
After serving seven years of her sentence, Price was granted a Royal Prerogative of Mercy, and freed on humanitarian grounds in 1981. At the time of her release, she was severely ill, suffering from Anorexia Nervosa, Tuberculosis, and other serious medical problems.
In 1983, Price married Stephen Rea, whom she met while he was recording speeches and messages for Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams. Many of the leaders of the Irish Republican movement were under a broadcast ban by the British authorities and they were forced to use a third party to communicate with the public.
Their life together experienced a strange twist on reality, when Rea was cast to portray an IRA hitman in the 1992 film, The Crying Game. Rea received rave reviews for the role and he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. The gripping film, directed by Neil Jordan, explored the themes of race, gender identity and loyalty, while examining the complicated issues of English rule over Northern Ireland.
The relationship between Rea and Price was already strained when she was arrested in 2001 for possession of stolen prescription pads and forged prescriptions. Price was sentenced to a £200 fine and ordered to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. During the marriage, which ended in divorce in 2003, the couple had two sons.
Following her divorce from Rea, Price largely dropped out of the public eye until 2010 when she exploded back into the news with her stunning accusation that Gerry Adams had been her commanding officer when she was in the IRA. Adams, who has always maintained that he was never a member of the IRA and that he never participated in any acts of terror, vehemently denied the charges.
Price also accused Adams of ordering the 1972 execution of Jean McConville. a mother of 10 killed by the IRA as a suspected informer. Ms. Price admitted driving the car that transported the kidnapped woman to the place of her execution. Adams, who is President of Sinn Féin and a Member of the Irish Parliament, maintains the story is a complete fabrication.
Ms. Price remained a fierce Irish Republican nationalist to the end of her days. In a letter she wrote in 2012 to an Irish newspaper, she expressed her loyalty to the movement:
“My father never saw his firstborn child because she was born and died while he was interned. I am a Republican, born and bred, as were my mother and father before me and theirs before them. I have no time for people who constantly change their position. They are not Republicans.”
Lyrics of Bring Then Home, a song written about Dolours and Marian Price while they were on hunger strikes in an English Prison:
‘So I pray you men of Ireland / Don’t betray our daughters true / Proudly stand beside our heroes / Lest they die for me and you”
“Though the tyrant would deny us / We can break their hearts of stone / And all of Ireland will be singing / When we bring our daughters home”