Despite being a methodical and highly problematic adversary to UK authorities for over 30 years, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) did not always execute its plans as they were designed, as was the case on the 14th of November 1994.
At 1 pm a Volvo lorry was stopped on the Stoke Newington Road of Northeast London for a routine check. Unbeknown to the police at the time, the vehicle contained 3.2 tonnes worth of IRA explosives intended to create destruction on a large scale. Not wanting to see their plans scuppered the IRA volunteers attempted to flee the scene, forcing Constable PC Raymond Hall – a former Royal Engineer soldier and Falklands War veteran – to give chase. In the ensuing chase Hall was shot twice by one of the IRA members and was subsequently hospitalised, he later made a full recovery from his injuries.
Police later arrested and sentenced Patrick Kelly, an Irish lorry driver and Provisional IRA member who had been found near the scene of the shooting. Kelly was scheduled to be held in a UK prison for 25 years as a result of the incident. However he was suffering from skin cancer and was later transferred to a Republic of Ireland prison, after being denied treatment in the UK. Kelly was moved in 1996 thanks to a high profile campaign that featured support from current UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Despite this, he would eventually lose his battle with cancer on the 11th of June 1997. Kelly consistently denied any involvement in the Stoke Newington bomb plot, Patrick Hayes, an English IRA member, claimed in 1994 that he had been responsible for the incident. Police at the time were unable to pinpoint a specific target that they believed the IRA had planned to attack. It has been speculated that the Lord Mayor’s Show, which was taking place on the same day, could have been their intended destination. As a result it appears likely that the police were able to prevent a major attack from occurring thanks to their decision to check the Volvo lorry.