A LONG statement has been issued concerning the Pettigo affair by GHQ, Irish Republican Army, Beggars Bush Barracks, Dublin.

It begins by stating that the I.R.A. garrison at Pettigo during last week was continually sniped at from the Co. Fermanagh side, ‘but our men had definite orders not to fire unless they were fired on’. The communique characterises as ‘absolutely false and malicious’ the statement in the Ulster official report that British troops moving by water to the west end of Lough Erne on Saturday evening were fired at from the Free State territory, near Pettigo.

At no time did any of our troops - and there are no other Irish troops in the district then or now - fire on any British troops on Lough Erne. That communique is also false when it states that ‘British troops moving in Ulster territory towards Pettigo village on Sunday morning were fired at from Free State territory’.

The Beggars Bush report continues: On Sunday at one o’clock, as the congregation was coming out from Mass, a shell burst on an adjacent hill. The priest during the Mass had counselled the people to remain calm and not to be afraid as things had quieted down in the town, and soon would become normal.

Eight shells were fired at the town and surrounding hills immediately afterwards. This was without warning of any kind as no shots had been fired that morning. After the shelling the British Military rushed the town with armoured cars.

The Divisional Medical Officer, Commandant Farrell, approached the senior British officer to explain the situation to him, and was told, ‘You will all have to be out of the town in fifteen minutes. We are going to occupy it.’ Our troops were immediately ordered to leave the town by their own officers.

As our men were retreating from the town, fire was opened on them from the British military armoured cars and from Specials on the neighbouring hills, who had come in behind the military. Our men replied in some cases to this fire, and it was at this time that the driver of the Crossley was killed.

It will thus be seen that the shelling of Pettigo by British troops, involving the death of seven of our troops and the capture of several others, was entirely unprovoked.