16th September – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

16th September

Thursday 16 September 1971

A number of Unionists resigned over the proposed tripartite talks involving Northern Ireland, Britain, and the Republic of Ireland. The body of a man was found in Belfast; he had been shot.

Sunday 16 September 1973

Tommy Herron.jpg
Tommy Herron

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 INTERVIEW WITH TOMMY HERRON AND MEMBERS OF UDA

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See below for more details on Tommy Herron

Tommy Herron, then vice-chairman of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), was found shot dead at Drumbo, near Lisburn.

[Various claims were later made about who was responsible for his killing. Some people suggested that he may have been killed by elements within the UDA because of his alleged involvement in racketeering. Others suggested that a branch of British Army intelligence may have been involved.]

Monday 16 September 1974

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) shot and killed a Judge, Rory Conaghan, and a Resident Magistrate, Martin McBirney, in separate incidents in Belfast. A Catholic civilian was killed by a booby trap bomb planted by Loyalists in Pomeroy, County Tyrone.

[Public Records 1974 – Released 1 January 2005: Memo from Merlyn Rees, then Secretary of Sate for Northern Ireland, to Harold Wilson, then British Prime Minister. The memo is entitled ‘Northern Ireland: Extremist Groups’. The memo begins by mentioning the efforts of the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) to promote contacts between Loyalist and Republican paramilitary groups.]

Thursday 16 September 1982

The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) carried out a booby-trap bomb attack on a British Army patrol in the Divis Flats in Belfast and killed two Catholic children, Stephen Bennett (14) and Kevin Valliday (12), and one soldier, Kevin Waller (20).

Tuesday 16 September 1986

A number of Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Members of Parliament (MPs) attended the funeral of John Bingham (33) who had been a leading member of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). [Bingham was shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) on 14 September 1986 who claimed he had been behind the recent killings of a number of Catholic civilians.]

Monday 16 September 1991

Bernard O’Hagan (37), then a Sinn Féin (SF) Councillor, was shot dead by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), at his place of work, Magherafelt College of Further Education, County Derry. Peter Brooke, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, held a series of meetings (16 September – 20 September) with leaders of the political parties in Northern Ireland in an effort to restart the talks process (later known as the Brooke / Mayhew talks). However, with renewed speculation about the date of the next Westminster general election no progress was made towards setting a date for a resumption of the discussions halted in July 1991.

Thursday 16 September 1993

John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), travelled to Downing Street, London, for a meeting with John Major, then British Prime Minister. Following the meeting Hume stated that he did not “give two balls of roasted snow” for those who were criticising his continuing talks with Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF).

Friday 16 September 1994 British Broadcast Ban Lifted

John Major, then British Prime Minister, paid a visit to Belfast. He said that any political agreement would be subject to the will of the people of Northern Ireland in a referendum. Major also announced the end of the broadcasting ban on prescribed organisations including Sinn Féin (SF). [The broadcasting ban had been introduced on 19 October 1988. The corresponding Irish broadcasting ban had been ended on 19 January 1994.] Albert Reynolds, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), pledged there would be referenda north and south on any constitutional settlement. Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, announced that 10 border roads would be reopened. [On 22 September 1994 Mayhew also announced the opening of a further six roads.]

Saturday 16 September 1995

Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), returned from a one-week long visit to the United States of America (USA). During his visit he met with Al Gore, then Vice-President, and Anthony Lake, then National Security Adviser. It was revealed that Friends of SF had raised almost $900,000 between 24 February 1995 and 30 June 1995.

Monday 16 September 1996

Seán Devlin (30), a Catholic man, was shot dead in the Markets area of Belfast. Responsibility for the killing was later claimed by Direct Action Against Drugs (DAAD) which was believed by many people to be a cover name used by the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

In the Stormont talks the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) brought a complaint against the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) stating that their actions during the ‘Drumcree standoff’ (7 July 1996 to 11 July 1996) were a breach of the ‘Mitchell Principles’.

The Alliance Party also complained of the attendance of William McCrea (DUP Member of Parliament) at a rally in support of Billy Wright (a prominent Loyalist) in Portadown, County Armagh.

Tuesday 16 September 1997

A bomb estimated at 400 pounds exploded in Markethill, County Armagh, and caused extensive damage to buildings.

[The Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) later claimed responsibility for the bombing.]

Ivan Kilpatrick, who had taken part in pickets at Harryville Catholic church, was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment for disorderly behaviour during one of the pickets. Six other men were also received shorter sentences in connection with the picket.

. Thursday 16 September 1999

There was forensic evidence presented to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry which indicated that Jim Wray, one of those killed on 30 January 1972, had been shot in the back as he lay wounded on the ground.

Sunday 16 September 2001

A man (41) was shot in a paramilitary ‘punishment’ attack in Spelga Park, Lurgan, County Armagh. The man was shot in the legs. A man (43) was shot at a house in Matilda Avenue, near Donegall Road, south Belfast. A gunman entered the house and fired a single shot on Sunday evening. The man was treated for injuries which were not said to be life threatening.

A man was shot in the arms and legs in the Glenfield estate, Carrickfergus, County Antrim. The attack happened at 9.00pm (21.00BST).


Remembering all innocent victims of the Troubles

Today is the anniversary of the follow  people killed as a results of the conflict in Northern Ireland

To the innocent on the list – Your memory will live  forever

– To  the Paramilitaries  –

“There are many things worth living for, a few things worth dying for, but nothing worth killing for.

  13 People lost their lives on the 16th September  between 1971 – 1996

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16 September 1971
Samuel Nelson,   (46)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)
Found shot in abandoned car, Downing Street, Shankill, Belfast.

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16 September 1972


Sinclair Johnston,  (27)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot during street disturbances, St John’s Place, Larne, County Antrim.

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16 September 1973


Tommy Herron,  (36)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Association (UDA),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)
Ulster Defence Association (UDA) leader. Found shot in ditch, Drumbo, near Lisburn, County Antrim

See below for more information on Tommy Herron

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16 September 1974


Martin McBirney, (55)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Resident Magistrate. Shot at his home, Belmont Road, Belmont, Belfast.

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16 September 1974


Rory Conaghan, (54)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Judge. Shot at his home, Beechlands, off Malone Road, Belfast.

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16 September 1974
Michael McCourt,  (28)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed by booby trap bomb left in parcel at entrance to his factory, Pomeroy, County Tyrone.

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16 September 1982
Kevin Waller, (20) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
Killed by remote controlled bomb, hidden in drainpipe, detonated when British Army (BA) foot patrol passsed Cullingtree Walk, Divis Flats, Belfast.

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16 September 1982


Stephen Bennett,   (14) Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
Killed by remote controlled bomb, hidden in drainpipe, aimed at nearby British Army (BA) foot patrol, Cullingtree Walk, Divis Flats, Belfast.

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16 September 1982


Kevin Valliday,  (12)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
Killed by remote controlled bomb, hidden in drainpipe, aimed at nearby British Army (BA) foot patrol, Cullingtree Walk, Divis Flats, Belfast.

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16 September 1986


Raymond Mooney,   (33)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Protestant Action Force (PAF)
Shot, while in the grounds of Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church, Crumlin Road, Ardoyne, Belfast.

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16 September 1989
Kevin Froggett,   (35) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot by sniper while repairing radio mast, Coalisland British Army (BA) / Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) base, County Tyrone.

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16 September 1991


Bernard O’Hagan,   (37)

Catholic
Status: Civilian Political Activist (CivPA),

Killed by: Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)
Sinn Fein (SF) Councillor. Shot at his workplace, Magherafelt College of Further Education, County Derry.

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16 September 1996


John Devlin,   (30)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Direct Action Against Drugs (DAAD)
Shot, while in friends home, Friendly Street, Markets, Belfast.

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Tommy Herron

See UDA page

Tommy Herron (1938 – 15 September 1973) was a loyalist from Northern Ireland, and a leading member of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) up until his fatal shooting. Herron controlled the UDA in East Belfast, one of its two earliest strongholds. From 1972, he was the organisation’s vice-chairman and most prominent spokesperson,[2] and was the first person to receive a salary from the UDA

Early life

Herron was born in 1938 in Newcastle, County Down to a Protestant father and a Roman Catholic mother.[4] According to Martin Dillon, Herron was baptised in St Anthony’s Catholic Church on Belfast’s Newtownards Road as a baby.[1] Gusty Spence has suggested that Herron, like Shankill Butcher Lenny Murphy, took on the mantle of a “Super Prod”, or individual who acts in an affectedly extreme Ulster Protestant loyalist way, to deflect any potential criticism of his Catholic roots.[1] He worked as a car salesman[2] in East Belfast[3] and was married to Hilary Wilson, by whom he had five children.

UDA leadership

Herron was a leading member of the UDA, which was the largest loyalist paramilitary organisation in Northern Ireland, from its formation and emerged at the group’s top man in East Belfast. A thirteen-member Security Council was established in January 1972 with Herron a charter member of this group, although control lay in the west of city with Charles Harding Smith emerging as chairman of the new body.[5] Along with the likes of Billy Hull Herron was one of a handful of UDA leaders to be invited to meetings with Secretary of State for Northern Ireland William Whitelaw after the suspension of the Parliament of Northern Ireland in March 1972.[6]

By this time Herron had come to see himself as the most powerful figure in the UDA and had begun to make statements on behalf of the movement unilaterally.[7] In September 1972, the British Army intervened to defend a Catholic area of Larne against loyalists. British Army vehicles ran down two civilians in East Belfast,[8] one of whom was believed to be a UDA member.[9] Under the name of the Ulster Citizen Army, Herron declared war on the British Army. He called this off after two days of gunfire due to a lack of support,[2][10] two more loyalists having been killed.

Herron’s decision to go against the British Army, as brief as it was, as well as the looting and rioting that was taking place in Belfast under the direction of Herron and his close ally Jim Anderson as a reaction to the loyalists’ deaths, saw both his stock and that of the Belfast UDA fall somewhat locally. Protestant clergymen petitioned the UDA to end the street violence whilst middle class Protestants, as well as politicians such as Roy Bradford, loudly condemned the attacks on the British Army, which traditionally enjoyed a high reputation amongst Northern Irish Protestants.[11] On 20 October 1972 Herron sent word to Colonel Sandy Boswell, the army commander in Belfast, that the trouble would end and it was to the relief of many that Herron left Belfast the following month, in the company of Billy Hull, to launch a tour of Canada promoting loyalism.[12]

Herron and Harding Smith

For much of 1972 Herron’s main rival Charles Harding Smith, the leader of the West Belfast UDA, was absent from the scene after being arrested in England on gun-running charges. During his absence control on West Belfast went into the hands of Davy Fogel and his ally Ernie Elliott, both of whom had been influenced to varying degrees by left-wing rhetoric. Whilst Herron was not involved in initiatives by both men that saw dialogue with the Catholic Ex-Servicemen’s Association of Ardoyne or the Official IRA he did accompany them to a meeting with representatives of the British & Irish Communist Organisation which, unusually for communist groups, followed a staunchly unionist position with regards Northern Ireland.[13]

Herron also garnered a reputation for his involvement in racketeering, something that Harding Smith had strongly condemned. In early 1973 an east Belfast publican was interviewed anonymously by The Sunday Times and he claimed that Herron would regularly send one of his men to the pub to ask for a contribution to the “UDA prisoners’ welfare fund”. The publican stated that he knew if he refused to contribute his windows would be smashed or the pub shot at, making the fund simply a protection racket.[14] Herron was apparently asking as much as £50 per week from each pub with shop owners expected to pay half that amount.[15]

After his return from England Harding Smith immediately clashed with Fogel but, somewhat surprisingly given their personal enmity, Herron sided with Harding Smith in the struggle. On 13 January 1973 Herron summoned Fogel to his east Belfast office and when Fogel arrived he was placed under arrest and detained for several hours. Herron told Fogel that he could only remain in charge of Woodvale if he agreed to accept Harding Smith’s leadership in West Belfast as a whole. Fogel would leave Belfast altogether soon after this episode.[16] In February, Herron called for a general strike against the British Government‘s decision to introduce internment for suspected loyalist parliamilitaries, mirroring the existing internment for suspected republican paramilitaries. This led to a day’s fighting on the streets.[17]

Soon after the meeting with Fogel, and to many people’s surprise, Herron called for “both sides” – loyalists and republicans – to stop assassinations, claiming that if they did not, they would face “the full wrath of the UDA”. This temporarily halted killings in East Belfast.[8] Herron’s decision to stop the random killings, as well as his meeting with communists and rumours about his Catholic background, led to criticism within the UDA and he was criticised strongly in the pages of Ulster Militant, one of the UDA’s publications at the time.[18] Herron’s position came under increasing pressure and, in an attempt to save face, he again threw his weight behind a new Harding Smith initiative. This time Harding Smith had decided to not only return to sectarian killings but to set up a group within the UDA, the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), to be dedicated solely to this aim.[19] In the meantime Herron’s leading hitman Albert Walker Baker had already been sent back on sectarian killing duty, launching a grenade attack on Catholic workers in East Belfast before shooting up a bus of Catholics in the Cherryvalley area.[20]

Fall from grace

In the summer of 1973 it was decided to choose a chairman of the UDA after the resignation of joint chairman Jim Anderson, who shared his duties with Harding Smith but who had been effective leader during the latter’s absence, had left a power vacuum. Fears were raised that the issue might bring about the much feared Harding Smith and Herron feud but in the end a compromise candidate, Andy Tyrie, was chosen in an effort to avert the war.[21]

Herron however remained in an unsafe position and on 15 June 1973 masked gunmen broke into his Braniel home and shot and killed his brother-in-law, 18-year-old Michael Wilson. Herron had been out of the house at the time but Michael Stone, a young UDA member who ran errands for Herron, had been near the house and afterwards asked Herron if he wanted him to kill a Provisional IRA (PIRA) member in retaliation. Herron told Stone “wrong side, kid” indicating that he believed the murder had been perpetrated by the rival faction of the UDA.[21]

According to Martin Dillon, the attack had been directed against Herron and had been ordered by Harding Smith, who hoped that it would be blamed on the PIRA.[22] Certainly Harding Smith had made it clear in the summer of 1973 that he wanted Herron and the rest of the criminal element out of the UDA.[23] Although Herron did not publicly speak about the killing he placed information in the press that he believed it had been the work of rivals within the UDA and also accused the UFF, and by extension Harding Smith, of being too close to the rival Ulster Volunteer Force in these same news stories.[24]

Herron was arrested in August 1973 under the terms of the Emergency Powers Act and a considerable sum of money, reported to be between £2000 and £9000, was found in his coat. Herron was released soon afterwards but the story of the money was widely circulated in the press and it increased the growing discontent with his leadership in East Belfast, where many felt that he was increasingly using his role in the UDA to personally enrich himself.[25] Herron’s personality and actions also fed into this animosity. He was known for swaggering around in the style of a mafia don, visibly carrying his legally held handgun, as well as for his short temper and sudden changes in mood.[26]

Politics

Despite narrowly missing death Herron was also involved in a political campaign as he was the candidate for the Vanguard Progressive Unionist Party (VPUP) candidate in East Belfast at the Northern Ireland Assembly election, 1973. One of the founding principles of the UDA had been that it should not be tied to a single political party but Herron was an enthusiastic supporter of Bill Craig and when he established the VPUP Herron declared as UDA spokesman that “we will be supporting the new party 100% and using every means within our power to ensure its success”.[27]

Herron had argued that those who had joined or supported the UDA should be able to vote for its members although in the event Herron struggled to convert his reputation as a loyalist hard case into that of a political figure.[28] Criticism came from Brian Faulkner and other moderate unionists when on 10 June a UDA member exchanging gunfire with soldiers on the Beersbridge Road, East Belfast, shot and killed a Protestant bus driver.[27] Herron’s campaign was again hit in June when his East Belfast UDA headquarters were raided by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and two illegal guns and a quantity of ammunition were seized with two men arrested.[29] He took 2,480 votes, but was not elected.[30]

Death

Herron was kidnapped in September and killed with one gunshot to the head.[2][31] His body was found in a ditch near Drumbo, County Antrim. His death has often been ascribed to other members of the UDA, either in protest at his involvement in racketeering or as part of the ongoing feud,[32] while the UDA itself has claimed that the Special Air Service was responsible.[8] It has even been suggested that local rival Ned McCreery organised the killing in a dispute over money and had used a “honey trap” to lure Herron to his death.[33]

Herron received a paramilitary funeral which was presided over by Rev. Ian Paisley. It was attended by 25,000 mourners. He was buried at Roselawn Cemetery as a piper played “Amazing Grace“.[33]

Sammy McCormick took over Herron’s East Belfast Brigade and this much more low-key figure was tasked with returning a sense of discipline to the increasingly chaotic brigade

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