All posts by belfastchildis

John Bingham UVF : Life & Death

John Bingham Life & Death

John Dowey Bingham (c. 1953 – 14 September 1986) was a prominent Northern Irish loyalist who led “D Company” (Ballysillan), 1st Battalion, Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). He was shot dead by the Provisional IRA after they had broken into his home.

Bingham was one of a number of prominent UVF members to be assassinated during the 1980s, the others being Lenny Murphy, William Marchant, Robert Seymour and Jackie Irvine

 – Disclaimer –

The views and opinions expressed in these pages/documentaries are solely intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland. They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors.

Ulster Volunteer Force

John Bingham was born in Northern Ireland around 1953 and was brought up in a Protestant family. Described as a shopkeeper, he was married with two children. He lived in Ballysillan Crescent, in the unionist estate of Ballysillan in North Belfast, and also owned a holiday caravan home in MillisleCounty Down.

He was a member of the “Old Boyne Island Heroes” Lodge of the Orange Order. On an unknown date, he joined the Ulster loyalist paramilitary organisation, the UVF, and eventually became the commander of its “D Company”, 1st Battalion, Ballysillan, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel.

See: Oranger Order

He was the mastermind behind a productive gun-running operation from Canada, which over the years had involved the smuggling of illegal weapons into Northern Ireland to supply UVF arsenals; however, three months after Bingham’s death, the entire operation collapsed following a raid on a house in Toronto by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in December 1986.

Bingham was one of the loyalist paramilitaries named in the evidence given by supergrass Joe Bennett, who accused him of being a UVF commander.  He testified that he had seen Bingham armed with an M60 machine gun and claimed that Bingham had been sent to Toronto to raise funds for the UVF.

These meetings opened contact with Canadian businessman John Taylor, who became involved in smuggling guns from North America to the UVF.  As a result of Bennett’s testimony, Bingham was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment after being convicted of committing serious crimes.

He publicly denounced the supergrass system before live television cameras outside Belfast’s Crumlin Road Courthouse when he was released in December 1984 after his conviction had been overturned, having spent two and a half years in prison.

Dillon in 2020
Martin Dillon

On one occasion, Bingham allegedly placed a loaded pistol inside journalist Martin Dillon‘s mouth because of the latter’s offensive words he had used against him. In an attempt to make amends for his threat, Bingham invited Dillon to visit him at his home in North Belfast.

Dillon accepted the invitation and after several whiskeys and brandishing a pistol, Bingham offered to show him his racing pigeons as he was an avid pigeon fancier. He then told Dillon that he shouldn’t believe what people said about him claiming that he couldn’t harm a pigeon. As they said farewell at the front door, Bingham reportedly murmured in a cold voice to Dillon:

“You ever write about me again and I’ll blow yer fuckin’ brains out, because you’re not a pigeon”.

Killing

IRA Belfast Brigade, shoot & kill UVF Inner Council memember John Bingham 14 September 1986

In July 1986, a 25-year-old Catholic civilian, Colm McCallan, was shot close to his Ligoniel home; two days later, he died of his wounds. The IRA sought to avenge McCallan’s death by killing Bingham, the man they held responsible for the shooting.[

Bingham was also believed to have been behind the deaths of several other Catholic civilians.

Ballysillan, north Belfast, where John Bingham lived and commanded the Ballysillan UVF

At 1:30 am on 14 September 1986, Bingham had just returned to Ballysillan Crescent from his caravan home in Millisle. Three gunmen from the IRA’s Ardoyne 3rd Battalion Belfast Brigade, armed with two automatic rifles and a .38 Special, smashed down his front door with a sledgehammer and shot Bingham twice in the legs. Despite his injuries, Bingham ran up the stairs in an attempt to escape his attackers and had just reached a secret door at the top when the gunmen shot him three more times, killing him.

 He was 33 years old. He was given a UVF paramilitary funeral, which was attended by politicians from the two main unionist parties, the Ulster Unionist Party and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Members of his “Old Boyne Island Heroes” Orange Order (OO) Lodge formed the guard of honour around his coffin, which was covered with the UVF flag and his gloves and beret. Prominent DUP activist George Seawright helped carry the coffin whilst wearing his OO sash, and called for revenge.

See: George Seawright

In retaliation, the UVF killed Larry Marley, a leading IRA member from Ardoyne who was also a close friend of Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams. The IRA in their turn gunned down William “Frenchie” Marchant the following spring on the Shankill Road. The deaths of three leading UVF members caused suspicion amongst the UVF leadership that someone within their ranks was setting up high-ranking UVF men by passing on pertinent information to the IRA; therefore, they decided to conduct an enquiry.

Although it was revealed that the three men, Shankill Butcher Lenny Murphy, Bingham, and Marchant had all quarrelled with powerful UDA fund-raiser and racketeer James Pratt Craig prior to their deaths, the UVF did not believe the evidence was sufficient to warrant an attack against Craig, who ran a large protection racket in Belfast.

Jim craig loyalist.jpg
James Craig

Craig was later shot to death in an East Belfast pub by the UDA (using their “Ulster Freedom Fighters” covername) for “treason”, claiming he had been involved in the assassination of South Belfast UDA brigadier John McMichael, who was blown up by a booby-trap car bomb planted by the IRA outside his Lisburn home in December 1987.

See : James Craig

In Ballysillan Road, there is a memorial plaque dedicated to the memory of Bingham. His name is also on the banner of the “Old Boyne Island Heroes” Lodge.

Signed copy of my book & update on book launch /Promo

Belfast Child

Signed copy of my book & update on book launch /Promo

Hi folks

See below for details on how to order a signed copy:

Here’s a quick update on the book launch, promo and a link to order a signed copy.

Only thirteen days to go until my life story is in the public domain and having worked on it and waited almost twenty five years to see it in print I must admit I’m extremely nervous and apprehensive about its forthcoming release.

Having grown up during and lived through some of the worst years of the Troubles I know my story is far from unique and many have suffered far more both physically and emotionally due to the nightmare that stalked our lives for thirty long blood soaked years.

However due to the secret of my dual heritage, compounded by growing up in and around some of the most…

View original post 594 more words

My book Update for Blog

Hi Folks ,

Just a very short post to let you all know that the book has been out for a week now and is selling beyond my wildest dreams or expectations.

I’ve been rank in the top three – five in three different categories ( this fluctuates daily) since launch day and the repsond so far has been awesome.

Needless to say Im delighted with this and excited about the coming weeks and the various promotional events/interviews lined up.

To order following this link : You can pre-order via https://tinyurl.com/wzpp5ra or see my pinned Tweet below.

Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division: Iconic Songs & the story behind them

Love Will Tear Us Apart

Joy Division

June 1980

Iconic Songs & the story behind them

Love Will Tear Us Apart” is a song by English rock band Joy Division, released in June 1980. Its lyrics were inspired by lead singer Ian Curtis‘ marriage problems and frame of mind before his suicide in May 1980

Recording

Joy Division first recorded “Love Will Tear Us Apart” at Pennine Studios, Oldham, on 8 January 1980, along with the B-side, “These Days”. This version was similar to the version the band played live. However, singer Ian Curtis and producer Martin Hannett disliked the results, and the band reconvened at Strawberry Studios, Stockport in March to rerecord it.

 Drummer Stephen Morris recalled:

Stephen Morris

Martin Hannett played one of his mind games when we were recording it – it sounds like he was a tyrant, but he wasn’t, he was nice. We had this one battle where it was nearly midnight and I said, “Is it all right if I go home, Martin – it’s been a long day?”

And he said [whispers], “OK … you go home”.

So I went back to the flat. Just got to sleep and the phone rings.

“Martin wants you to come back and do the snare drum”.

At four in the morning! I said,

“What’s wrong with the snare drum!?”

So every time I hear “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, I grit my teeth and remember myself shouting down the phone,

“YOU BASTARD!” …

I can feel the anger in it even now. It’s a great song and it’s a great production, but I do get anguished every time I hear it.

The guitar on the recording, a 12-string Eko guitar, was played by Bernard Sumner. While Curtis generally did not play guitar, to perform the song live, the band taught him how to strum a D major chord. Sumner said:

Ian Curtis

Ian didn’t really want to play guitar, but for some reason we wanted him to play it. I can’t remember the reason now … We showed him how to play D and we wrote a song. I wonder if that’s why we wrote “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, you could drone a D through it. I think he played it live because I was playing keyboards.

While Joy Division were recording, U2 were in the studio to see Hannett about producing their first album, Boy. U2 singer Bono said of the encounter:

Bono

Talking to Ian Curtis is … or was a strange experience because he’s very warm … he talked—it was like two people inside of him—he talked very light, and he talked very well-mannered, and very polite.

But when he got behind the microphone he really surged forth; there was another energy. It seemed like he was just two people and, you know, “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, it was like [when] that record was released … it was like, as if, there were the personalities, separate; there they were, torn apart.

Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart, 1995 Remastered Version (Official Video)

Releases

12" cover

Lyrics

“Love Will Tear Us Apart”

When routine bites hard,
And ambitions are low,
And resentment rides high,
But emotions won’t grow,
And we’re changing our ways,
Taking different roads.

Then love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.

Why is the bedroom so cold?
You’ve turned away on your side.
Is my timing that flawed?
Our respect runs so dry.
Yet there’s still this appeal
That we’ve kept through our lives.

But love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.

You cry out in your sleep,
All my failings exposed.
And there’s a taste in my mouth,
As desperation takes hold.
Just that something so good
Just can’t function no more.

But love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.

Joy Division

“Love Will Tear Us Apart” became Joy Division’s first chart hit, reaching number 13 in the UK Singles Chart.

The following month, the single topped the UK Indie Chart. The song also peaked at number 42 on the Billboard disco chart in October 1980.

 “Love Will Tear Us Apart” also reached number 1 in New Zealand in June 1981.

The single was re-released in 1983 and reached number 19 on the UK charts and number 3 in New Zealand during March 1984. In 1985, the 7″ single was released in Poland by Tonpress in different sleeve under licence from Factory and sold over 20,000 copies.  In November 1988, it made one more Top 40 appearance in New Zealand, peaking at number 39.

“Love Will Tear Us Apart” appears on the Substance compilation album. It was first recorded for a John Peel session in November 1979, then re-recorded in January 1980 and March 1980. It is the latter version that appears on Substance. The January 1980 version, which has become known as the “Pennine version”, originally appeared as one of the single’s B-sides.

Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart (Pennine Version)

In 1995, to publicise the release of Permanent, the track was reissued, complete with a new remix by Arthur Baker and a new radio edit, also known as the “Permanent Mix”. On 24 September 2007, the single was again reissued, in its original configuration. This time, it was to publicise the Collector’s Edition re-issues of the band’s three albums. Although the single was now issued on the Warner label, it retained the classic Factory packaging, including the FAC 23 catalogue number.

Cover photo

According to Curtis’s wife Deborah, to create the single cover photo, the song title was etched upon a sheet of metal; this was aged with acid and exposed to the weather to create the appearance of a stone slab.

 For the 12″ version of the single, a photograph of a grieving angel on the Ribaudo family tomb in Genoa‘s Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno (sculpted by Onorato Toso circa 1910) was used. This photograph was taken by Bernard Pierre Wolff in 1978.

Music video

Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart [OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO]

The video was shot by the band themselves on 25 April 1980 as they rehearsed the song at T.J. Davidson’s studio, where the band had previously rehearsed during the early days of their career. At the start of the video, the door that opens and shuts is carved with Ian Curtis’ name; reportedly this was the beginning of an abusive message (the rest later erased) carved into the door.

Due to poor production, the video’s colour is ‘browned out’ at some points. Also, as the track recorded during the recording of the video was poor, it was replaced with the single-edit recording of the song by the band’s record company in Australia, leading to problems with the synchronisation of music and video. This edited version of the music video would later become the official version due to the improvement of sound quality.

This was the only promotional video the band ever produced as Ian Curtis hanged himself three weeks after the video was recorded.

Legacy

“Love Will Tear Us Apart” was named NME Single of the Year in 1980, and was listed as the best single of all time by NME in 2002.

In 2004, the song was listed by Rolling Stone magazine at number 179 in its list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.

 In 2011, the song was listed at number 181.

In May 2007, NME placed it at number 19 in its list of the 50 Greatest Indie Anthems Ever, one place ahead of another Joy Division song, “Transmission”. The song is also listed as being one of the 5 best indie songs of all time in the “All Time Indie Top 50”.

The song reached number 1 in the inaugural Triple J Hottest 100 music poll of 1989 and again in 1990. When being interviewed for New Order StoryNeil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys stated that “Love Will Tear Us Apart” was his favourite pop song of all time.

At Christmas 2011, listeners of Dublin’s Phantom FM voted “Love Will Tear Us Apart” as their favourite song of all time. Furthermore, in 2012, in celebration of the NME‘s 60th anniversary, a list of the 100 Greatest Songs of NME‘s Lifetime was compiled, and the list was topped by “Love Will Tear Us Apart”. Serbian rock musician, journalist and writer Dejan Cukić wrote about “Love Will Tear Us Apart” as one of the 46 songs that changed history of popular music in his 2007 book 45 obrtaja: Priče o pesmama. In 2015, the online magazine Pitchfork listed “Love Will Tear Us Apart” as number 7 upon their “200 best songs of the 1980s” compilation

Following Curtis’s suicide, his wife Deborah had the phrase “Love Will Tear Us Apart” inscribed on his memorial stone.

A greyish stone block with "Ian Curtis 18-5-80 Love Will Tear Us Apart" carved into it in a sans-serif typeface. There are several small pots of flowers and other objects on top.

In June 2013, Mighty Box Games released Will Love Tear Us Apart?, a browser-based video game that adapts every verse of the song into a level

My Thoughts ?

Epic and awesome on so many different levels and one of my fave tunes of all time. The melancholy lyrics and theme of the tune touch my heart and souls everytime I hear it and it never grows old. Truly a song that defined the music scene back then.

New Order – Love Will Tear Us Apart [Live in Glasgow]

THE CURE – Love Will Tear Us Apart (Joy Division COVER)

Joy Division: The Story Of the Band & Death of Ian Curtis

Love Will Tear Us Apart – Nerina Pallot

See: Joy Division open up about ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’

See: Ian Curtis

See: Joy Division

Signed copy of my book & update on book launch /Promo

Signed copy of my book & update on book launch /Promo

Hi folks

See below for details on how to order a signed copy:

12th Sep 2020

Well folks the book is a No.1 best Seller to my absolute delight and Im buzzinf

Signed copy of my book: A Belfast Child

Please note I am waiting on a delivery of books from the warehouse and therefore if you order a signed copy it will take a little longer to reach you.

Also, if you are ordering from outside the UK the postage is substantially higher and I suggest you email me and I will send you an online invoice with an amended price to cover postage charges.

If you can’t wait to read my amazing story you can order directly from Amazon:

Use the link below to order a signed copy.

Click to buy

You can email directly : belfastchildis@googlemail.com

I’m actually embarrassed offering this option but quite a few folk have contacted me enquiring about a signed copy and therefore I thought I’d make this available to those interested.

If you would like a signed copy of my book, please purchase via this link (above) and fill in the contact form below, making sure to include your email and the text you wish to appear in the book. If you require more than one copy, please email me and I will send you details and an online invoice.


Date 1st September 2020

Here’s a quick update on the book launch, promo and a link to order a signed copy.

Only thirteen days to go until my life story is in the public domain and having worked on it and waited almost twenty five years to see it in print I must admit I’m extremely nervous and apprehensive about its forthcoming release.

Having grown up during and lived through some of the worst years of the Troubles I know  my story is far from unique and many have suffered far more both physically and emotionally due to the nightmare that stalked our lives for thirty long blood soaked years.

However due to the secret of my dual heritage, compounded by growing up in and around some of the most violent Loyalist estates in West Belfast the sudden and final disappearance of my catholic mother hunted me throughout my life and my search for her is the main theme throughout the book. The Troubles provide the backdrop and needless to say my story includes brief accounts of some of the highest profile and soul-destroying times that we all lived through.

Although I know this area will be a very divisive issue I hope when reading it folk bear in mind that I’m writing about these accounts as seen through the eyes of a child living through them.

Despite the madness throughout the book/my life there is much laughter and many accounts also of my crazy teenage years in and around Glencairn and drug fuelled mod years and later the rave scene in and around London. When all is said and done no one else has ever walked in my shoes and although I expect much criticism when folk read the book, I hope it might make them stop and think for a moment : Was it all worth it ?

I think not.

Promo

Sadly, due to the coronavirus I will not be doing book signings in Belfast, Scotland and Ireland as originally planned. Thank god because I hate that side of things and wasn’t really looking forward to it to be honest lol. The publisher has informed me that this may change over the coming months and I will keep you updated via here or on Twitter.

If you want a signed copy of the book see blow.

In regards to interviews etc there are quite a few lined up, including radio , podcasts , TV and in print and I will be posting details of these as and when they happen or become available.

Another aspect of the publishing world Im not looking forward to.

The cost is £10.00 plus £2.50 for postage per book.

Please note the book will be dispatched within a few days of payment

Click here to buy directly from Amazon : Buy A Belfast Child

My Email: belfastchildis@googlemail.com

Shot at Dawn Memorial

Shot at Dawn Memorial

The Shot at Dawn Memorial is a monument at the National Memorial Arboretum near Alrewas, in Staffordshire, UK.

It commemorates the 306 British Army and Commonwealth soldiers executed after courts-martial for desertion and other capital offences during World War I.

Desertion is the abandonment of a military duty or post without permission (a pass, liberty or leave) and is done with the intention of not returning. This contrasts with unauthorized absence (UA) or absence without leave (AWOL , which are temporary forms of absence.

,

Background

The memorial is to servicemen executed by firing squad during the First World War. It is alleged that soldiers accused of cowardice were often not given fair trials; they were often not properly defended, and some were minors.

Shot at Dawn, National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas, by Roy Kevin Holloway

Other sources contend that military law, being based on Roman rather than Common law, appears unfamiliar to civilian eyes but is no less fair.

It was the court’s role to establish facts, for example, not for prosecutors and defenders to argue their cases; and Holmes states:

“it was the first duty of the court to ensure the prisoner had every advantage to what he was legally entitled”.

If men seemed unrepresented it was because they generally chose to speak in their own defence. The usual cause for their offences has been re-attributed in modern times to post-traumatic stress syndrome and combat stress reaction. Another perspective is that the decisions to execute were taken in the heat of war when the commander’s job was to keep the army together and fighting.

Of the 200,000 or so men court-martialed during the First World War, 20,000 were found guilty of offences carrying the death penalty. Of those, 3000 actually received it, and of those sentences, 346 were carried out.

The others were given lesser sentences, or had death sentences commuted to a lesser punishment, e.g. hard labour, field punishment or a suspended sentence (91 of the men executed were under a suspended sentence: 41 of those executed were previously subject to commuted death sentences, and one had a death sentence commuted twice before). Of the 346 men executed, 309 were pardoned, while the remaining 37 were those executed for murder, who would have been executed under civilian law.

The families of these victims often carried the stigma of the label of :

“coward”.

Another side to this form of justice is the lasting emotional pain caused to those who were in the firing squads, shooting those found guilty.

WW1 Veterans Recall Executions

Britain was one of the last countries to withhold pardons for men executed during World War I: In 1993, John Major emphasised to the House of Commons that pardoning the men would be an insult to those who died honourably on the battlefield and that everyone was tried fairly.

However, in August 2006 the then Defence Secretary, Des Browne, reversed this decision. He stated that he did not want:

Official portrait of Lord Browne of Ladyton crop 2, 2019.jpg
Lord Browne of Ladyton

“to second guess the decisions made by commanders in the field, who were doing their best to apply the rules and standards of the time”, but that “it is better to acknowledge that injustices were clearly done in some cases, even if we cannot say which – and to acknowledge that all these men were victims of war”

In 2007, the Armed Forces Act 2006 was passed allowing the soldiers to be pardoned posthumously, although section 359(4) of the act states that the pardon “does not affect any conviction or sentence.”

Memorial

Artist in studio.jpg
Andy DeComyn

The memorial was created by the British public artist Andy DeComyn. It was created in 2000 as a gift from the artist to the relatives and was unveiled at the National Memorial Arboretum by Gertrude Harris, daughter of Private Harry Farr, in June 2001. Marina Brewis, the great-niece of Lance Corporal Peter Goggins, also attended the service.

The memorial portrays a young British soldier blindfolded and tied to a stake, ready to be shot by a firing squad.

Contemporary photograph of Private Burden

The memorial was modelled on the likeness of 17-year-old Private Herbert Burden, who lied about his age to enlist in the armed forces and was later shot for desertion.

See: Private Herbert Burden

It is surrounded by a semicircle of stakes, on each of which are listed the names of the soldiers executed in this fashion.

Tables

By Nationality

*129 Australian servicemen were sentenced to death, 119 of them for desertion, but all of these sentences were commuted by the Australian Governor-General.

By Theatre of War

By Charge

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shot_at_Dawn_Memorial

See: Post Traumatic stress disorder

See: Shell Shock – The Trauma of Battle

See: Fragging – The deliberate killing or attempted killing by a soldier of a fellow soldier

Patrick Rooney First Child killed in the Troubles 14th August 1969 : Northern Ireland History

Patrick Rooney Age 9

First Child killed in the Troubles

Patrick Rooney

14th August 1969

Patrick was the first child to be killed during the Troubles he died shortly after being struck by a tracer bullet by the RUC as he lay in his bed in his family home in Divis Tower. The shot was fired from a heavy browning machine-gun mounted on an RUC Shorland armoured car.

The Scarman tribunal concluded that the shot was not justified.

The report described the activities of three Shorland vehicles which passed up and down Divis Street in the vicinity of Divis Tower. Ordered into the area after the fatal shooting of Herbert Roy , they were immediately fired on and attacked with an explosive device and petrol bombs by republicans.

Gunners inside the vehicles returned fire with machine-guns and the ground floor Rooney flat was hit by at least four bullets.

See: The Scarman Tribunal

Patrick was in bed at the time and was hit in the head and died shortly after arriving at hospital.

Patrick's distraught mother that day
Patrick’s distraught mother that day

His mother said during an interview:

” There was rioting, half the street was on fire. I was trying to watch TV and Patrick had gone to bed. Ill always remember he told me not to wake him up until late because he was serving at one o’clock mass. He was an altar boy at St. Mary’s “

His father a former soldier said:

” The rioting got worse and then the shooting started I thought  of getting all the children into one room but before we had time to organised  and lie down the room lit up in flames ,I was grazed by a bullet and Patrick seemed to fall along the wall. I thought he fainted from seeing me bleed, but then I saw the back of his head was covered in blood and I knew the flashes had been bullets and that Patrick was shot”

After the shooting the Ronneys moved to Manchester with their other children but later returned to Belfast. His mother stated:

” I wasn’t content knowing that Patrick was buried here and I wanted to be near him “

The funeral of nine-year-old Patrick Rooney
Patrick’s Funeral

A year after his death the couple had another son and named him after Patrick.

Belfast 1969 – Peace Walls & Barricades – Ireland Part 1

In a further tragedy for the family Mrs Rooney’s sister Mary Sheppard was shot dead by loyalist in 1974 whilst a nephew Sean Campbell was also killed by loyalist three years later in 1977. Two friends of one of their sons were also killed during the Troubles. One Stephen Bennett was killed in an inal bomb in 1982. Another relative Thomas Reilly was shot dead by a soldier in 1983,

The book Unholy Smoke by G.W Target is dedicated:

Click to buy

To the Memory of

{Patrick Rooney

Age 9

Killed by a stray bullet

Divis Street

Belfast

During the fighting on the night of august 14th 1969

Christ have mercy on us.

Children of the Troubles

Main Source : Lost Lives

Click to buy

See: Family of boy shot dead express disappointment at decision not to prosecute

See: Fifty years on, I still want justice for Patrick, says brother who watched him die in family home

Dawn of the Troubles – August 1969: Northern Ireland History

Dawn of the Troubles – August 1969

Northern Ireland History

During 12–16 August 1969, there was an outbreak of political and sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, which is often seen as the beginning of the thirty-year conflict known as the Troubles. There had been sporadic violence throughout the year arising out of the civil rights campaign, which demanded an end to discrimination against Catholics and Irish nationalists.

– Disclaimer –

The views and opinions expressed in these blog posts/documentaries are solely intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland. They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors

Belfast 1969 : The Dawn of the Troubles ( Shankill / Falls RD)

Events leading up to the August riots

The first major confrontation between civil rights activists and the Royal Ulster Constabulary  occurred in Derry on 5 October 1968, when a NICRA ( Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement ) march was baton-charged by the RUC.

Disturbed by the prospect of major violence, the prime minister of Northern Ireland, Terence O’Neill, promised reforms in return for a “truce”, whereby no further demonstrations would be held.

Terence O;Neill

In spite of these promises, in January 1969 People’s Democracy, a radical left-wing group, staged an anti-government march from Belfast to Derry. Ulster loyalists, including off-duty USC members, attacked the marchers a number of times, most determinedly at Burntollet Bridge (about five miles  outside Derry). The RUC were present but failed to adequately protect the marchers. This action, and the RUC’s subsequent entry into the Bogside, led to serious rioting in Derry.

See: Burntollet Bridge incident

My thoughts?

Although 1969 is generally regarded as the beginning of the modern Troubles sectarian tensions had been bubbling for some time in the north and loyalist paramilitaries were responsible for the first politically motivated killings since the IRA’s 1950s campaign. The UVF were responsible for three civilian deaths in 1966 including Patrick Scullion who became the first victim of the Troubles. Peter Ward who was killed by Gusty Spences team and a protestant pensioner Matilda Gould who was severely burned in a fire started by the UVF and died a few weeks later.

In March 1966 Gerry Fitt took his place in Westminster giving a voice to a wide range of nationalist grievances. Plans by Republicans to mark the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising stirred up political  tensions even more and Unionists paranoia’s were  exasperated and stoked  by Ian Paisley , who called for a counter parade which led to his arrest  and conviction for unlawful assembly . This led to widespread social unrest and by August 1969 with the rise and protestant/loyalist suspicion of  the NICRA ( Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement ) Northern Ireland was on the brink of an abyss  that would plunge us all into a thirty year nightmare of never ending death and destruction and the stage was set for the beginning of the Troubles!

History Of Loyalism Part 1

In March and April 1969, there were six bomb attacks on electricity and water infrastructure targets, causing blackouts and water shortages. At first the attacks were blamed on the Irish Republican Army (IRA), but it later emerged that members of the loyalist Ulster Protestant Volunteers (UPV) and Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) had carried out the bombings in an attempt to implicate the IRA, destabilise the Northern Ireland Government and halt the reforms promised by Terence O’Neill.

There was some movement on reform in Northern Ireland in the first half of 1969.

On 23 April Ulster Unionist Party Members of the Northern Ireland Parliament voted by 28 to 22 to introduce universal adult suffrage in local government elections in Northern Ireland at their parliamentary party meeting. The call for “one man, one vote” had been one of the key demands of the civil rights movement.

James Chichester-Clark

Five days later, Terence O’Neill resigned as UUP leader and Northern Ireland Prime Minister and was replaced in both roles by James Chichester-Clark. Chichester-Clark, despite having resigned in protest over the introduction of universal suffrage in local government, announced that he would continue the reforms begun by O’Neill.

Street violence, however, continued to escalate. On 19 April there was serious rioting in the Bogside area of Derry following clashes between NICRA marchers against loyalists and the RUC. A Catholic, Samuel Devenny, was severely beaten by the RUC and later died of his injuries.

 On 12 July, during the Orange Order’s Twelfth of July marches, there was serious rioting in Londonderry, Belfast and Dungiven, causing many families in Belfast to flee from their homes.

See: Orange Order

Another Catholic civilian, Francis McCloskey (67), died one day after being hit on the head with batons by RUC officers during disturbances in Dungiven.

As a result of these events, residents of the Catholic Bogside area of Derry set up the Derry Citizens’ Defence Association to organise the defence of the neighbourhood, should the need arise.

Battle of the Bogside

This unrest culminated in a pitched battle in Derry from 12–14 August, known as the Battle of the Bogside. As the yearly march by the Protestant loyalist Apprentice Boys skirted the edge of the Catholic Bogside, stone-throwing broke out.

 The RUC—on foot and in armoured vehicles—drove back the Catholic crowd and attempted to force its way into the Bogside, followed by loyalists who smashed the windows of Catholic homes.

 Thousands of Bogside residents mobilised to defend the area, and beat back the RUC with a hail of stones and petrol bombs. Barricades were built, petrol bomb ‘factories’ and first aid posts were set up, and a radio transmitter (“Radio Free Derry”) broadcast messages and called on

 “every able-bodied man in Ireland who believes in freedom”

to come defend the Bogside.The overstretched police resorted to throwing stones back at the Bogsiders and were helped by loyalists. They received permission to fire CS gas into the Bogside – the first time it had been used by police in the UK. The Bogsiders believed that the Ulster Special Constabulary (USC), the wholly Protestant police reserves, would be sent in and would massacre the Catholic residents. On 13 August, the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association called for protests across Northern Ireland in support of the Bogside, to draw police away from the fighting there. That night it issued a statement:

A war of genocide is about to flare across the North. The CRA demands that all Irishmen recognise their common interdependence and calls upon the Government and people of the Twenty-six Counties to act now to prevent a great national disaster. We urgently request that the Government take immediate action to have a United Nations peace-keeping force sent to Derry.

See: Battle of The Bogside

Violence in Belfast

A loyalist mural in Belfast commemorating the 1969 riots

Belfast saw by far the most intense violence of the August 1969 riots. Unlike Londonderry, where Catholic nationalists were a majority, in Belfast they were a minority and were also geographically divided and surrounded by Protestants and loyalists. For this reason, whereas in Derry the fighting was largely between nationalists and the RUC, in Belfast it also involved fighting between Catholics and Protestants, including exchanges of gunfire and widespread burning of homes and businesses.

On the night of 12 August, bands of Apprentice Boys arrived back in Belfast after taking part in the Derry march. They were met by Protestant pipe bands and a large crowd of supporters. They then marched to the Shankill Road waving Union Flags and singing “The Sash My Father Wore” (a popular loyalist ballad).

The Sash

According to journalists Patrick Bishop and Eamonn Mallie,:

“Both communities were in the grip of a mounting paranoia about the other’s intentions. Catholics were convinced that they were about to become victims of a Protestant pogrom; Protestants that they were on the eve of an IRA insurrection”.

Wednesday 13 August

Eamonn McCann

The first disturbances in Northern Ireland’s capital took place on the night of 13 August. Derry activists Eamonn McCann and Sean Keenan contacted Frank Gogarty of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association to organise demonstrations in Belfast to draw off police from Derry. Independently, Belfast IRA leader Billy McMillen ordered republicans to organise demonstrations, “in support of Derry”.

In protest at the RUC’s actions in Derry, a group of 500 nationalists assembled at Divis flats and staged a rally outside Springfield Road RUC station, where they handed in a petition.

After handing in the petition, the crowd of now 1,000–2,000 people, including IRA members such as Joe McCann,  began a protest march along the Falls Road and Divis Street to the Hastings Street RUC police station. When they arrived, about 50 youths broke away from the march and attacked the RUC police station with stones and petrol bombs.

The RUC responded by sending out riot police and by driving Shorland armoured cars at the crowd.  Protesters pushed burning cars onto the road to stop the RUC from entering the nationalist area.

At Leeson Street, roughly halfway between the clashes at Springfield and Hastings Street RUC police stations, an RUC Humber armoured car was attacked with a hand grenade and rifle fire.

Billy McMillen

 At the time, it was not known who had launched the attack, but it has since emerged that it was IRA members, acting under the orders of Billy McMillen. McMillen also authorised members of the Fianna (IRA youth wing) to attack the Springfield Road RUC police station with petrol bombs. Shots were exchanged there between the IRA and RUC.

In addition to the attacks on the RUC, the car dealership of Protestant Isaac Agnew, on the Falls Road, was destroyed. The nationalist crowd also burnt a Catholic-owned pub and betting shop. At this stage, loyalist crowds gathered on the Shankill Road but did not join in the fighting.

That night, barricades went up at the interface areas between Catholic and Protestant neighbourhoods.

A Shorland armoured car. The RUC used Shorlands mounted with Browning machine guns during the riots.

Thursday 14 August and early hours of Friday 15 August

On 14 August, many Catholics and Protestants living on the edge of their ghettos fled their homes for safety.

The loyalists viewed the nationalist attacks of Wednesday night as an organised attempt by the IRA

“to undermine the constitutional position of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom”.

The IRA, contrary to loyalist belief, was responding to events rather than orchestrating them. Billy McMillen called up all available IRA members for “defensive duties” and sent parties out to Cupar Street, Divis Street and St Comgall’s School on Dover Street. They amounted to 30 IRA volunteers, 12 women, 40 youths from the Fianna and 15–20 girls. Their arms consisted of one Thompson submachine gun, one Sten submachine gun, one Lee–Enfield rifle and six handguns.

A “wee factory” was also set up in Leeson Street to make petrol bombs. Their orders at the outset were to, “disperse people trying to burn houses, but under no circumstances to take life”.

What Is The Irish Republican Army (IRA)

Falls–Shankill interface near Divis Tower

That evening, a nationalist crowd marched to Hastings Street RUC station, which they began to attack with stones for a second night. Loyalist crowds (wielding petrol bombs, bricks, stones, sharpened poles and protective dustbin lids) gathered at neighbouring Dover and Percy Streets.

 They were confronted by nationalists, who had hastily blocked their streets with barricades. Fighting broke out between the rival factions at about 11:00 pm. The RUC concentrated their efforts on the nationalist rioters, who they scattered with armoured cars. Catholics claimed that USC officers had been seen giving guns to the loyalists, while journalists reported seeing pike-wielding loyalists standing among the RUC officers.

From the nearby rooftop of Divis Tower flats, a group of nationalists would spend the rest of the night raining missiles on the police below. A chain of people were passing stones and petrol bombs from the ground to the roof.

Loyalists began pushing into the Falls Road area along Percy Street, Beverly Street and Dover Street. The rioters contained a rowdy gang of loyalist football supporters who had returned from a match.

 On Dover Street, the loyalist crowd was led by Ulster Unionist Party MP John McQuade. On Percy Street, a loyalist opened fire with a shotgun and USC officers helped the loyalists to push back the nationalists. As they entered the nationalist ghetto, loyalists began burning Catholic homes and businesses on Percy Street, Beverly Street and Dover Street.

At the intersection of Dover and Divis Street, an IRA unit opened fire on the crowd of RUC police officers and loyalists, who were trying to enter the Catholic area. Protestant Herbert Roy (26) was killed and three officers were wounded.

 At this point, the RUC, believing they were facing an organised IRA uprising, deployed Shorland armoured cars mounted with Browning machine guns,  whose .30 calibre bullets “tore through walls as if they were cardboard”.

In response to the RUC coming under fire at Divis Street, three Shorland armoured cars were called to the scene. The Shorlands were immediately attacked with gunfire, an explosive device and petrol bombs. The RUC believed that the shots had come from nearby Divis Tower. Gunners inside the Shorlands returned fire with their heavy machine-guns. At least thirteen Divis Tower flats were hit by high-velocity gunfire.

Patrick Rooney

 A nine-year-old boy, Patrick Rooney, was killed by machine-gun fire as he lay in bed in one of the flats. He was the first child to be killed in the violence.

See: 14th August 1969

At about 01:00, not long after the shooting of Patrick Rooney, the RUC again opened fire on Divis Tower. The shots killed Hugh McCabe (20), a Catholic soldier who was ‘on leave’. He and another had been on the roof of the Whitehall building (which was part of the Divis complex) and were pulling a wounded man to safety. The RUC claimed he was armed at the time and that gunfire was coming from the roof, but this was denied by many witnesses.

The Republican Labour Party MP for Belfast Central, Paddy Kennedy, who was on the scene, phoned the RUC headquarters and appealed to Northern Ireland Minister for Home Affairs, Robert Porter, for the Shorlands to be withdrawn and the shooting to stop. Porter replied that this was impossible as,

“the whole town is in rebellion”.

Porter told Kennedy that Donegall Street police station was under heavy machine-gun fire. In fact, it was undisturbed throughout the riots.

Sometime after the killing of Hugh McCabe, some 200 loyalists attacked Catholic Divis Street and began burning houses there. A unit of six IRA volunteers in St Comgall’s School shot at them with a rifle, a Thompson submachine gun and some pistols; keeping the attackers back and wounding eight of them. An RUC Shorland then arrived and opened fire on the school. The IRA gunmen returned fire and managed to escape.

Falls–Shankill interface near Clonard Monastery

West of St Comgall’s, loyalists broke through the nationalist barricades on Conway Street and burned two-thirds of the houses. Catholics claimed that the RUC held them back so that the loyalists could burn their homes. The Scarman Report found that RUC officers were on Conway Street when its houses were set alight, but “failed to take effective action”. Journalist Max Hastings wrote that loyalists on Conway Street had been begging the RUC to give them their guns.

Ardoyne

Rioting in Ardoyne, north of the city centre, began in the evening near Holy Cross Catholic church. Loyalists crossed over to the Catholic/nationalist side of Crumlin Road to attack Brookfield Street, Herbert Street, Butler Street and Hooker Street. These had been hastily blocked by nationalist barricades. Loyalists reportedly threw petrol bombs at Catholics “over the heads of RUC officers”,as RUC armoured cars were used to smash through the barricades.

IRA gunmen fired the first shots at the RUC, who responded by firing machine-guns down the streets, killing two Catholic civilians (Samuel McLarnon, 27, and Michael Lynch, 28) and wounding ten more.

Friday 15 August

The morning of 15 August saw many Catholic families in central Belfast flee to Andersonstown on the western fringes of the city, to escape the rioting. According to Bishop and Mallie,

“Each side’s perceptions of the other’s intentions had become so warped that the Protestants believed the Catholics were clearing the decks for a further attempt at insurrection in the evening”.

At 04:30 on Friday 15 August, the police commissioner for Belfast asked for military aid. From the early hours of Friday, the RUC had withdrawn to its bases to defend them. The interface areas were thus left unpoliced for half a day until the British Army arrived.

 The Deputy Police Commissioner had assumed that the British Army would be deployed by 10:00 or 11:00. At 12:25 that afternoon, the Northern Ireland cabinet finally sent a request for military aid to the Home Office in London. However, it would be another nine hours until the British Army arrived at the Falls/Shankill interface where it was needed.

Many Catholics and nationalists felt that they had been left at the mercy of the loyalists by the forces of the state who were meant to protect them.

The IRA, which had limited manpower and weaponry at the start of the riots, was also exhausted and low on ammunition. Its Belfast commander, Billy McMillen, and 19 other republicans were arrested by the RUC early on 15 August under the Special Powers Act.

There was fierce rioting in streets around Clonard Monastery , where hundreds of Catholic homes were burned

Falls–Shankill interface near Clonard Monastery

The Wall (Belfast Short documentary)

On 15 August, violence continued along the Falls/Shankill interface. Father PJ Egan of Clonard Monastery recalled that a large loyalist mob moved down Cupar Street at about 15:00 and was held back by nationalist youths. Shooting began at about 15:45. Egan claimed that himself and other priests at Clonard Monastery made at least four calls to the RUC for help, but none came.

A small IRA party under Billy McKee was present and had two .22 rifles at their disposal. They exchanged shots with a loyalist sniper who was firing from a house on Cupar Street, but failed to dislodge him, or to halt the burning of Catholic houses in the area.

 Almost all of the houses on Bombay Street were burned by the loyalists, and many others were burned on Kashmir Road and Cupar Street – the most extensive destruction of property during the riots.

A loyalist sniper shot dead Gerald McAuley (15), a member of the Fianna (IRA’s youth wing), as he helped people flee their homes on Bombay Street.

See: 15th August

At about 18:30 the British Army’s The Royal Regiment of Wales was deployed on the Falls Road, where they were greeted with subdued applause and cheering.

However, despite pleas from locals, they did not move into the streets that were being attacked. At about 21:35 that night, the soldiers finally took up positions at the blazing interface and blocked the streets with barbed-wire barricades. Father PJ Egan recalled that the soldiers called on the loyalists to surrender but they instead began shooting and throwing petrol bombs at the soldiers.

 The soldiers could only fire back on the orders of an officer when life was directly threatened. The loyalists continued shooting and burned more Catholic-owned houses on Bombay Street, but were stopped by soldiers using tear gas.

Ardoyne

Soldiers were not deployed in Ardoyne, and violence continued there on Friday night. Nationalists hijacked 50 buses from the local bus depot, set them on fire and used them as makeshift barricades to block access to Ardoyne. A Protestant civilian, David Linton (48), was shot dead by IRA gunmen at the Palmer Street/Crumlin Road junction.

Several Catholic-owned houses were set alight on Brookfield Street. The Scarman Report found that an RUC armoured vehicle was nearby when Brookfield Street was set alight, but made no move.

Saturday 16 August

On the evening of 16 August the British Army was deployed on Crumlin Road. Thereafter, the violence died down into what the Scarman report called, “the quiet of exhaustion”.

Disturbances elsewhere

Towns and cities where major riots took place

In aid of the Bogsiders, the NICRA executive decided to launch protests in towns across Northern Ireland.  The Scarman Report concluded that the spread of the disturbances “owed much to a deliberate decision by some minority groups to relieve police pressure on the rioters in Londonderry”. It included the NICRA among these groups.

On the evening of 11 August a riot erupted in Dungannon after a meeting of the NICRA. This was quelled after the RUC baton charged nationalist rioters down Irish Street. There were claims of police brutality.

On 12 August, republicans attacked the RUC police stations in Coalisland, Strabane and Newry.

On 13 August there were further riots in Dungannon, Coalisland, Dungiven, Armagh and Newry. In Coalisland, USC officers opened fire on rioters without orders but were immediately ordered to stop.

On 14 August riots continued in Dungannon, Armagh and Newry. In Dungannon and Armagh, USC officers again opened fire on rioters. They fired 24 shots on Armagh’s Cathedral Road, killing Catholic civilian John Gallagher and wounding two others.

 In Newry, nationalist rioters surrounded the RUC station and attacked it with petrol bombs. In Crossmaglen on 17 August, the IRA attacked the local RUC station and withdrew after an exchange of fire.

Reactions

On 13 August, Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Jack Lynch made a television address in which he stated that the Irish Defence Forces was setting up field hospitals along the border and called for United Nations intervention. He said:

It is evident that the Stormont Government is no longer in control of the situation. Indeed, the present situation is the inevitable outcome of the policies pursued for decades by successive Stormont Governments. It is clear, also, that the Irish Government can no longer stand by and see innocent people injured and perhaps worse. It is obvious that the R.U.C. is no longer accepted as an impartial police force. Neither would the employment of British troops be acceptable

The Irish Government have, therefore, requested the British Government to apply immediately to the United Nations for the urgent despatch of a Peace-keeping Force […] We have also asked the British Government to see to it that police attacks on the people of Derry should cease immediately.

When the Irish government met on 14 and 15 August, it decided to send troops to protect the field hospitals, and to call up the first line army reserves:

 “in readiness for participation in peace-keeping operations”.

This, along with Lynch’s statement, fuelled rumours that Irish troops were about to cross the border and intervene.  On 16 August, three Irish nationalist members of the Northern Ireland Parliament—Paddy Devlin, Paddy O’Hanlon and Paddy Kennedy—went to the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin. They demanded the Irish government send guns to protect Catholics in Northern Ireland, but this was refused.

The prime minister of Northern Ireland, James Chichester-Clark, responded:

 “In this grave situation, the behaviour of the Dublin Government has been deplorable, and tailor-made to inflame opinion on both sides”.

 On 14 August he stated in the Northern Ireland Parliament:

This is not the agitation of a minority seeking by lawful means the assertion of political rights. It is the conspiracy of forces seeking to overthrow a Government democratically elected by a large majority. What the teenage hooligans seek beyond cheap kicks I do not know. But of this I am quite certain – they are being manipulated and encouraged by those who seek to discredit and overthrow this Government”.

Chichester-Clark denied that his government was not doing enough to bring about the reforms sought by the civil rights movement, or that this was a cause of the violence. Instead, he said:

“The real cause of the disorder is to be found in the activities of extreme Republican elements and others determined to overthrow our State”.

On 23 August, Catholic Cardinal William Conway, together with the Bishops of Derry, Clogher, Dromore, Kilmore, and Down & Connor, issued a statement which included the following:

The fact is that on Thursday and Friday of last week the Catholic districts of Falls and Ardoyne were invaded by mobs equipped with machine-guns and other firearms. A community which was virtually defenceless was swept by gunfire and streets of Catholic homes were systematically set on fire. We entirely reject the hypothesis that the origin of last week’s tragedy was an armed insurrection.

The Irish republican party, Sinn Féin, issued a statement saying that

 “The present events in the Six Counties are the outcome of fifty years of British rule. The civil rights demands, moderate though they are, have shown us that Unionist rule is incompatible with democracy.  The question now is no longer civil rights, but the continuation of British rule in Ireland”.

Representatives of the British and Northern Ireland governments—including British prime minister Harold Wilson and Northern Irish prime minister Chichester-Clark—held a two-day meeting at 10 Downing Street, beginning on 19 August. A Communique and Declaration was issued at the end of the first day

It re-affirmed that Northern Ireland would remain part of the United Kingdom unless the people of Northern Ireland decided otherwise, and that the Northern Ireland and British governments are solely responsible for affairs in Northern Ireland.

 The Irish government failed to have a resolution on Northern Ireland put to a vote at the UN.

In late August, the Northern Ireland government announced the establishment of an inquiry into the riots, to be chaired by Justice Scarman (and known as the “Scarman Inquiry”).

A committee under Baron Hunt was also set up to consider reform of the Northern Ireland police, the Royal Ulster Constabulary and reserve Ulster Special Constabulary, which led to the latter being disbanded.

Effects

The rioting petered out by Sunday, 17 August. By the end of the riots:

8 people had been killed, including:

5 Catholics shot dead by the RUC

2 Protestants shot dead by nationalist gunmen

1 Fianna member shot dead by loyalist gunmen

750 + people had been injured  – 133 (72 Catholics and 61 Protestants) of those injured suffered gunshot wounds

150+ Catholic homes  and 275 + businesses had been destroyed – 83% of all buildings destroyed were owned by Catholics

During July, August and September 1969, 1,820+ families had been forced to flee their homes, including

1,505 Catholic families

315 Protestant families

Catholics generally fled across the border into the Republic of Ireland, while Protestants generally fled to east Belfast.

 The Irish Defence Forces set up refugee camps in the Republic – at one point the Gormanston refugee camp held 6,000 refugees from Northern Ireland.

Long-term effects

The modern “peace line” at Bombay Street in Belfast, seen from the Irish Catholic/nationalist side..

The August riots were the most sustained violence that Northern Ireland had seen since the early 1920s. Many Protestants, loyalists and unionists believed the violence showed the true face of the Northern Ireland Catholic civil rights movement – as a front for the IRA and armed insurrection.

They had mixed feelings regarding the deployment of British Army troops into Northern Ireland. Eddie Kinner, a resident of Dover Street who would later join the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), vividly recalled the troops marching down his street with fixed bayonets and steel helmets. He and his neighbours had felt at the time as if they were being invaded by their “own army”.

 Catholics and nationalists, on the other hand, saw the riots (particularly in Belfast) as an assault on their community by loyalists and the forces of the state. The disturbances, taken together with the Battle of the Bogside, are often cited as the beginning of the Troubles. Violence escalated sharply in Northern Ireland after these events, with the formation of new paramilitary groups on either side, most notably the Provisional Irish Republican Army in December of that year.

On the loyalist side, the UVF (formed in 1966) were galvanised by the August riots and in 1971, another paramilitary group, the Ulster Defence Association was founded out of a coalition of loyalist militants who had been active since August 1969. The largest of these were the Woodvale Defence Association, led by Charles Harding Smith, and the Shankill Defence Association, led by John McKeague, which had been responsible for what organisation there was of loyalist violence in the riots of August 1969. While the thousands of British Army troops sent to Northern Ireland were initially seen as a neutral force, they quickly got dragged into the street violence and by 1971 were devoting most of their attention to combatting republican paramilitaries.

The Irish Republican Army

The role of the IRA in the riots has long been disputed. At the time, the organisation was blamed by the Northern Ireland authorities for the violence. However, it was very badly prepared to defend nationalist areas of Belfast, having few weapons or fighters on the ground.

The Scarman Inquiry, set up by the British government to investigate the causes of the riots, concluded:

Undoubtedly there was an IRA influence at work in the DCDA (Derry Citizens’ Defence Association) in Londonderry, in the Ardoyne and Falls Road areas of Belfast, and in Newry. But they did not start the riots, or plan them: indeed, the evidence is that the IRA was taken by surprise and did less than many of their supporters thought they should have done.

In nationalist areas, the IRA was reportedly blamed for having failed to protect areas like Bombay Street and Ardoyne from being burned out. A Catholic priest, Fr Gillespie, reported that in Ardoyne the IRA was being derided in graffiti as:

 “I Ran Away”.

However, IRA veterans of the time, who spoke to authors Brian Hanley and Scott Millar, disputed this interpretation. One, Sean O’Hare, said:

 “I never saw it written on a wall. That wasn’t the attitude. People fell in behind the IRA, stood behind them 100%”. Another, Sean Curry, recalled, “some people were a bit angry but most praised the people who did defend the area. They knew that if the men weren’t there, the area wouldn’t have been defended.”

At the time, the IRA released a statement on 18 August, saying, it had been, “in action in Belfast and Derry” and “fully equipped units had been sent to the border”. It had been, “reluctantly compelled into action by Orange murder gangs” and warned the British Army that if it, “was used to supress [sic] the legitimate demands of the people they will have to take the consequences” and urged the Irish government to send the Irish Army over the border.

Cathal Goulding, the IRA Chief of Staff, sent small units from Dublin, Cork and Kerry to border counties of Donegal, Leitrim and Monaghan, with orders to attack RUC posts in Northern Ireland and draw off pressure from Belfast and Derry. A total of 96 weapons and 12,000 rounds of ammunition were also sent to the North.

Nevertheless, the poor state of IRA arms and military capability in August 1969 led to a bitter split in the IRA in Belfast. According to Hanley and Millar, “dissensions that pre-dated August [1969] had been given a powerful emotional focus”.

In September 1969, a group of IRA men led by Billy McKee and Joe Cahill stated that they would no longer be taking orders from the Dublin leadership of the IRA, or from Billy McMillen (their commander in Belfast) because they had not provided enough weapons or planning to defend nationalist areas. In December 1969, they broke away to form the Provisional IRA and vowed to defend areas from attack by loyalists and the RUC. The other wing of the IRA became known as the Official IRA. Shortly after its formation, the Provisional IRA launched an offensive campaign against the state of Northern Ireland.

The RUC and USC

The RUC: A Force Under Fire

The actions of the RUC in the August 1969 riots are perhaps the most contentious issue arising out of the disturbances. Nationalists argue that the RUC acted in a blatantly biased manner, helping loyalists who were assaulting Catholic neighbourhoods. There were also strong suggestions that police knew when loyalist attacks were to happen and seemed to disappear from some Catholic areas shortly before loyalist mobs attacked.

This perception discredited the police in the eyes of many nationalists and later allowed the IRA to effectively take over policing in nationalist areas. In his study, From Civil Rights to Armalites, nationalist author Niall Ó Dochartaigh argues that the actions of the RUC and USC were the key factor in the worsening of the conflict. He wrote:

From the outset, the response of the state and its forces of law and order to Catholic mobilisation was an issue capable of arousing far more anger and activism than the issues around which mobilisation had begun. Police behaviour and their interaction with loyalist protesters probably did more to politically mobilise large sections of the Catholic community than did any of the other grievances.

The Scarman Inquiry found that the RUC were “seriously at fault” on at least six occasions during the rioting. Specifically, they criticised the RUC’s use of Browning heavy machine-guns in built-up areas, their failure to stop Protestants from burning down Catholic homes, and their withdrawal from the streets long before the Army arrived. However, the Scarman Report concluded that, “Undoubtedly mistakes were made and certain individual officers acted wrongly on occasions.

But the general case of a partisan force co-operating with Protestant crowds to attack Catholic people is devoid of substance, and we reject it utterly”.

The report argued that the RUC were under-strength, poorly led and that their conduct in the riots was explained by their perception that they were dealing with a co-ordinated IRA uprising. They pointed to the RUC’s dispersal of loyalist rioters in Belfast on 2–4 August in support of the force’s impartiality.

Of the B-Specials (Ulster Special Constabulary or USC), the Scarman Report said:

There were grave objections, well understood by those in authority, to the use of the USC in communal disturbances. In 1969 the USC contained no Catholics but was a force drawn from the Protestant section of the community. Totally distrusted by the Catholics, who saw them as the strong arm of the Protestant ascendancy, they could not show themselves in a Catholic area without heightening tension. Moreover, they were neither trained nor equipped for riot control duty.

The report found that the Specials had fired on Catholic demonstrators in Dungiven, Coalisland, Dungannon and Armagh, causing casualties, which, “was a reckless and irresponsible thing to do”. It found that USC officers had, on occasion, sided with loyalist mobs. There were reports that USC officers were spotted hiding among loyalist mobs, using coats to hide their uniforms. Nevertheless, the Scarman Report concluded, “there are no grounds for singling out mobilised USC as being guilty of misconduct”.

See: The B Specials

Main Source : Wikipedia

See also

See: The Troubles

See: Operation Banner

See: : 1969 Northern Ireland riots

See: 1886 Belfast Riots between Catholics & Protestants

All Mod Cons 1978 – The Jam

History and Background

All Mod Cons is the third studio album by the British band The Jam, released in 1978 by Polydor Records. The title, a British idiom one might find in housing advertisements, is short for “all modern conveniences” and is a pun on the band’s association with the mod revival. The album reached No. 6 in the UK Albums Chart.

The album was reissued in the US in 1979, with the song “The Butterfly Collector” replacing “Billy Hunt”.

The making of all mod cons ★ The Jam

Background

Following the release of their second album, This Is the Modern World, the Jam undertook a 1978 tour of the US supporting American rock band Blue Öyster Cult. The Jam were not well received on the tour and This Is the Modern World failed to reach the Billboard 200 chart.

Under pressure from their record company, Polydor, to deliver a hit record, songwriter Paul Weller was suffering from writer’s block when the band returned to the UK. Weller admitted to a lack of interest during the writing/recording process, and had to completely re-record a new set of songs for the album after producer Chris Parry rejected the first batch as being sub-standard. All Mod Cons was more commercially successful than This Is the Modern World.

British Invasion pop influences run through the album, most obviously in the cover of The Kinks‘ “David Watts“. The single “Down in the Tube Station at Midnight“, which Weller had originally discarded because he was unhappy with the song’s arrangement,  was rescued from the studio bin by producer Vic Coppersmith and became one of the band’s most successful chart hits up to that point, peaking at number 15 on the UK Singles Chart.

Down In The Tubestation At Midnight

The song is a first-person narrative of a young man who walks into a tube station on the way home to his wife, and is beaten by far right thugs. The lyrics of the song “To Be Someone (Didn’t We Have a Nice Time)” criticised fickle people who attach themselves to people who enjoy success and leave them once that is over.

To Be Someone (Didn’t We Have A Nice Time)

Class issues were very important to me at that time …” said Weller.

Woking has a bit of a stockbroker belt on its outskirts. So I had those images – people catching the train to Waterloo to go to the city. ‘Mr Clean’ was my view of that.”

All Mod Cons was reissued on CD in 2006, featuring a second disc of b-sides, outtakes and unreleased demos and a DVD containing a 40-minute documentary directed by Don Letts.

Reception

Charles Shaar Murray

In his review for NMECharles Shaar Murray said that the album was:

“not only several light years ahead of anything they’ve done before but also the album that’s going to catapult the Jam right into the front rank of international rock and roll; one of the handful of truly essential rock albums of the last few years.”

Dave Schulps of Trouser Press stated that:

All Mod Cons firmly establishes Paul Weller (and the Jam) as a major talent (and band) for the ’80s.”

NME ranked All Mod Cons as the second best album of 1978 in its end of year review.[20]

In 2000, Q magazine placed All Mod Cons at number 50 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever. The album is also listed as one of the 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

In 2013, NME ranked it at number 219 in its list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Track listing

All songs written by Paul Weller except as noted

The Jam – All Mod Cons (Full Album) 1978

Side one

  1. “All Mod Cons” – 1:20
  2. “To Be Someone (Didn’t We Have a Nice Time)” – 2:32
  3. “Mr. Clean”* – 3:29
  4. David Watts” (Ray Davies) – 2:56
  5. “English Rose”** – 2:51
  6. “In the Crowd” – 5:40

Side two

  1. “Billy Hunt” – 3:01 (UK and 1st US pressings)/”The Butterfly Collector” – 3:11 (US reissues)
  2. “It’s Too Bad” – 2:39
  3. “Fly” – 3:22
  4. “The Place I Love” – 2:54
  5. “‘A’ Bomb in Wardour Street” – 2:37
  6. Down in the Tube Station at Midnight” – 4:43

**Neither the title nor lyrics of “English Rose” were printed on the original vinyl release of All Mod Cons due to Weller’s feeling that the song’s lyrics didn’t mean much without the music behind them.

2006 CD reissue bonus tracks

The UK version of the album was re-released on 5 June 2006 with a disc of bonus tracks, all of which were previously available with the exception of the demo versions of “Mr. Clean” and “Fly”.

  1. “News of the World” (single)
  2. “Aunties and Uncles” (Impulsive Youths) (b-side)
  3. “Innocent Man” (b-side)
  4. “Down in the Tube Station at Midnight” (single version)
  5. “So Sad About Us” (b-side)
  6. “The Night” (b-side)
  7. “So Sad About Us” (demo)
  8. “Worlds Apart” (demo)
  9. “It’s Too Bad” (demo)
  10. “To Be Someone” (demo)
  11. “David Watts” (demo)
  12. “Billy Hunt” (alternate version)
  13. “Mr Clean” (demo)
  14. “Fly” (demo)

Personnel

The Jam

Paul Weller – guitar, piano, harmonica, vocals

Bruce Foxton – bass, vocals

Rick Buckler – drums, percussion

Technical

Chris Parry – associate producer

Gregg Jackman, Roger Bechirian, Vic Coppersmith-Heaven – soundboard engineer

Peter Schierwade, Phil Thornalley – assistant engineer

Bill Smith, The Jam – design

Peter “Kodick” Gravelle – photography

See: The Jam wikipedia