Maurice Gibson

The Rt Hon. Sir Maurice Gibson, P.C. (1 May 1913 – 25 April 1987), was a Lord Justice of Appeal in Northern Ireland. He was killed, along with his wife Cecily, Lady Gibson by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA).

The Right Honourable Sir Maurice W. Gibson, PC
Maurice Gibson.jpg
The Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Gibson
Judge of the High Court
In office
Lord Justice of Appeal
In office
Personal details
Born(1913-05-01)May 1, 1913
Belfast, County Antrim, Ireland (now Northern Ireland)
DiedApril 25, 1987(1987-04-25) (aged 73)
Killean, County Armagh, Northern Ireland
NationalityBritish citizenship
Spouse(s)Cecily Winifred Johnson, Lady Gibson
Alma materQueen's University Belfast

Life and WorkEdit

Sir Maurice was born in Montpelier House, Belfast. He was educated at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and graduated with a law degree from Queen's University Belfast. He was called to the bar in 1937 and subsequently elected a bencher in 1961 and described by Lord MacDermott in 1968 as the best lawyer at the Bar. In 1968 he became Chancery Judge and Lord of Appeal in 1977. The couple had two children.[1]

In 1977, he acquitted the soldier who shot Majella O'Hare, a 12-year-old girl. The UK government apologised for this killing in 2011 and said the justification Gibson accepted was "unlikely".[2]


Lord Justice Gibson and his wife were killed by a remote-controlled car bomb as they drove over the Irish border back into Northern Ireland on 25 April 1987 after a holiday in the USA. As the judge's car reached Drumad, the townland on the County Louth side of the border, he stopped to shake hands with the Garda Síochána security escort who had completed their part of the assignment. The couple had only a short drive to meet the Royal Ulster Constabulary escort to Belfast.

Between the two points lay the bomb, near a petrol station near Killean in County Armagh. The explosion threw the Gibsons' vehicle across the road, killing the couple immediately.[1][3] The explosion also injured Ireland national rugby union team players Nigel Carr, David Irwin and Philip Rainey who were in a car on the same road.[4]

The case was investigated by the Cory Collusion Inquiry into cases of collusion between security forces and paramilitaries after persistent questions over whether the Garda Siochana had tipped off the IRA of the Gibson's travel arrangements. Cory found insufficient evidence to warrant a public inquiry into the incident. The later Smithwick Tribunal found that Cory had been 'mistaken' in questioning the reliability of intelligence that a member of the Garda had helped the IRA in the Gibsons' murders, and in May 2014, former Northern Ireland First Minister Lord Trimble called for an inquiry into whether there was collusion.[5]


  • Toby Harnden. Bandit Country: The IRA and South Armagh, Hodder & Stoughton Ltd, 1999, paperback 404 pages, ISBN 0-340-71736-X
  1. ^ a b "Cory Collusion Inquiry Report - Lord Justice Gibson and Lady Gibson" (PDF). Irish Times. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 23, 2010. Retrieved March 7, 2009.
  2. ^ "Ministry of Defence says sorry for killing of Majella O'Hare". The Guardian. March 27, 2011. Archived from the original on August 17, 2019. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
  3. ^ "Unresolved deaths: A question of collusion?". BBC News. August 2, 2001. Archived from the original on April 2, 2019. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
  4. ^ O'Hara, Victoria (February 19, 2007). "Historic clash small step to shared future". The Belfast Telegraph. Archived from the original on June 26, 2009. Retrieved December 9, 2009.
  5. ^ Dempster, Stephen (May 27, 2014). "Inquiry call over collusion claims". BBC News. Archived from the original on May 29, 2014. Retrieved May 1, 2020.