Death On The Rock – Operation Flavius

March 7, 2009 at 3:44 pm

Yesterday marked the 11th anniversary of Operation Flavuis.

Danny McCann, Seán Savage and Mairéad Farrell planned to explode a car bomb at the location where a military band was due to gather for the weekly Changing of the Guard at the Governor’s residence.

Most people think that they know the story, but from a local point of view the nonsense of the BBC documentary and what was written in the UK tabloids is still greeted with a sad shake of the head.

Thinking that the bomb was already in place (and anyone who knows of Gib’s notorious parking problems would have no problem understanding why) they were stopped outside the Shell Petrol Station in Winston Churchill Avenue – the only road on and off the Rock.

McCann lunged for his bag, Savage for his pocket and Farrell for her handbag. Obviously the SAS didn’t know if they were reaching for weapons or the detonator so they were ventilated 5, 18 and 8 times respectively.

The rest, as they say is rather like them…history.

Although they did turn out to be unarmed, Farrell had keys in her handbag to a car in Spain with 64kg of Semtex in it. Then the backlash begain. “Death On The Rock” was made with the sole propaganda spin of trying to portray the three with the big bomb as poor fluffy bunnies and the nasty bandsmen as unfairly making a formation concerted effort to stand in front of it.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Peter Terry, then the Governor of Gibraltar but later retired, authorised the Operation. On 18th Sept 1998 he was at his Staffordshire home when he was hit by 9 bullets. His wife was injured and daughter left in shock. Numerous operations rebuilt his face and took two bullets out of his head.

There are many servicemen and local Gibraltarians who owe their lives to Sir Peter and to the wider Operation Flavius at that time.

The Gib Inquiry ruled 9-2 lawful killing, and the ECHR ruled 10-9 that it was not legally “absolutely necessary” but that they were indeed terrorists and that no compensation or apology was due.

TheEye would have blogged on this yesterday on the anniversary but has been unwell. The medicinal leeches obtained from the local barber-surgeon seem to be working slowly. Normal service will be resumed shortly.