On this day in history : 25th September 1983 – In a mass break-out from the Maze high security prison, near to Lisburn, Northern Ireland, 38 prisoners manage to escape….
The breakout had been planned for several months and was masterminded by Dermot Finucane…. Using smuggled-in guns and knives at just after 2.30pm prisoners overpowered prison guards and then hijacked a delivery lorry which they used to get to the main gate…. A prison officer attempted to block the entrance using his own car – and then violence erupted…. An officer was stabbed and then proceeded to suffer a fatal heart attack as a result….
Once outside the prison the escapees hijacked several cars to make their getaway…. The biggest search operation ever seen in Northern Ireland was launched…. Police and soldiers set up checkpoints on all roads within a five mile radius of the prison and the area was sealed off….
Ten prisoners were recaptured in the first few hours – nineteen more within the next few days…. The rest got away but by 1992 five more had been caught, whilst three had been killed…. Twenty prison officers had been injured during the escape, four had been stabbed and two shot….
The closing of the Maze Prison was part of the Good Friday Agreement – the last inmates were transferred in September 2000….