Óglach Paul Duffy (20) was born on the 29th June 1957 and grew up in the downland of Carnan, near Ardboe. He was the eldest son in a family of eleven children to Thomas and Maura Duffy, with five brothers and five sisters. Thomas Duffy ran a dairy farm, being the eldest son, Paul was close to his father and was out working along with him, from a very early age.
As he was growing up Paul began his education at St. Bridget’s Primary School at Brocagh and then went on to St. Patrick’s Academy in Dungannon. After leaving academy he began as an apprentice joiner with Connolly and Fee construction in Coalisland. Paul soon became skilled at his trade and worked on the roofs of many new bungalows that were built around the Lough Shore during the mid – 1970s. He also worked in Dublin and England for short periods before getting a permanent job with John Laing Construction Company Ltd, Belfast.
From his early teens Paul was a keen Gaelic footballer at school and with local clubs. He played for Brocagh GFC and Ardboe O’ Donovan Rossa’s GFC at underage and minor level. Paul’s football career however were severely hampered during the summer of 1975 when he was seriously injured in a road accident. He lost a kneecap as a result he spent months in hospital and at home recovering in a plaster.
On Monday 21st February 1977 Paul was arrested from his home at Carnan, taken initially to Cookstown and then flown to Omagh RUC barracks where he was tortured by the RUC for the next three days. Paul describes his interrogation and what happened, ‘all the people who had been interrogating me knew i had a accident and they made me bend and squat my knee and my arms outstretched. This was impossible thing for me to do due to my injury. Then they started knocking me on the knee and kicking me and twisting my foot to injure my knee.’
As a result of this and numerous other injuries to his head and body, Paul was taken from the barracks to Omagh Hospital. Following his release, reports were made to the various doctors and his solicitor who was a SDLP councillor, Patrick A Duffy a uncle of Paul’s. In July 1979 over a year after Paul was murdered. His case of torture in Omagh barracks was taken to Belfast High Court and the British Direct-rulers were forced to pay out costs to Thomas Duffy who took the case on behalf of his deceased son.
Almost exactly one year after his torture in Omagh barracks, Paul Duffy was shot dead in the Killygonland area of Ardboe in an SAS stakeout operation while unarmed on the 26th February 1978. His companion was wounded after driving off to get assistance at Mullinahoe Parochial House. When the local Priest reached the scene of the shooting, intending to administer the last rites, he was told by the Brits that there was no one there. He was then called out to the scene a second time.
Over the next few days thousands came to pay their respects at the wake and members of Brocagh and Ardboe GFC formed a guard of honour at his funeral. His remains were taken to the church of Most Immaculate Conception, Mullinahoe and after mass, Volunteer Paul Duffy was laid to rest in the adjoining cemetery.