Francis Hughes (Proinsias Ó hAodha; 28 February 1956 – 12 May 1981) was a volunteer in the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA). Hughes was the most wanted man in Northern Ireland until his arrest following an ambush by the Security Forces in which a British soldier was killed. At his trial he was sentenced to a total of 83 years imprisonment, and he died during the 1981 Irish hunger strike in HM Prison Maze.
He led a life perpetually on the move, often moving on foot up to 20 miles during one night then sleeping during the day, either in fields and ditches or safe houses; a soldierly sight in his black beret and combat uniform and openly carrying a rifle, a handgun and several grenades as well as food rations.
On 18 April 1977 Hughes, McGlinchey and Milne were travelling in a car near the town of Moneymore when an RUC patrol car carrying four officers signalled them to stop. The IRA members attempted to escape by performing a u-turn, but lost control of the car which ended up in a ditch. They abandoned the car and opened fire on the RUC patrol car killing two officers and wounding another, before running off through fields. A second RUC patrol came under fire while attempting to prevent the men fleeing, and despite a search operation by the RUC and British Army the IRA members escaped. Following the Moneymore shootings the RUC named Hughes as the most wanted man in Northern Ireland, and issued wanted posters with pictures of Hughes, Milne and McGlinchey. Milne was arrested in Lurgan in August 1977, and McGlinchey later in the year in the Republic of Ireland. A British soldier, L/CPL David Jones, was killed in the gun battle, and another soldier was seriously wounded. Hughes was wounded in the leg. He managed to crawl away but was pursued and surrendered to British troops.
In February 1980 he was sentenced to a total of 83 years in prison. Hughes was tried for, and found guilty of, the murder of one British Army soldier (for which he received a life sentence) and wounding of another (for which he received 14 years) in the incident which led to his capture, as well as a series of gun and bomb attacks over a six-year period. Security sources described him as "an absolute fanatic" and "a ruthless killer". Fellow republicans described him as "fearless and active". Following his death, it emerged in court during the extradition proceedings against Dominic McGlinchey that Hughes' fingerprints had been found on a car used during the killing of a 77 year old Protestant woman, Hester McMullan, in Toomebridge in 1977.