News Businessman Tiede Herrema, taken hostage by the IRA in...

Businessman Tiede Herrema, taken hostage by the IRA in the 1970s, died

Dutch businessman Tiede Herrema passed away at the age of 99. In 1975 he was headline news for 36 days as he was held captive in Ireland by people from IRA circles.

Herrema, born in Zuilen on April 21, 1921, studied mathematics, psychology and philosophy before obtaining his doctorate in 1959 with a thesis on rehabilitation. From 1970 to 1973 he was chairman of Stichting Het Dorp, a residential community for people with severe physical or multiple disabilities in Arnhem.

He then left for Ireland, where he headed a subsidiary for multinational AKZO; the Ferenka cable factory in Limerick, Ireland. In October 1975, while on his way to work, he was kidnapped by members of a spin-off from the IRA. In exchange for his release, they demanded the release of three IRA members who were in prison.

Blindfolded on a bed

The first days of his kidnapping he was tied up blindfolded on a bed in a farm. He tried to connect with his kidnappers, 32-year-old Eddie Gallagher and 21-year-old Marian Coyle. Gallagher succeeded and convinced him to loosen his hands.

After helicopters flew over the farm, his kidnappers moved him to a house in a new housing development in the village of Monasterevin, where many IRA sympathizers lived. The police tracked them down after 18 days and raided. His captors pushed Herrema into a small room and threatened to shoot him. The police then stopped the storming, but Herrema and his kidnappers could not leave the room afterwards.

Telephoto lenses

Journalists from all over the world follow the siege with large telephoto lenses, but nothing happened for days. The two kidnappers and their prisoner literally sat on each other’s lips in a space of two by two meters. A newspaper in the corner of the room served as a toilet. All claims of Herrema’s kidnappers were systematically rejected by the Irish government. In the end, Herrema convinced Gallagher and Coyle to negotiate the length of their prison terms if they were to surrender. An agreement was reached in four years.

The kidnappers surrendered and Herrema was released. He was welcomed as a hero by the people of Limerick and made an honorary citizen of Ireland. Gallagher and Coyle were sentenced to 20 and 15 years in prison, which Herrema has always found very unjust.


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