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Tipperary Tim – astounding 1928 Grand National winner at 100/1 & a proud resident of Glencairn !

Tipperary Tim

Astounding 1928 Grand National winner at 100/1 & a proud resident of Glencairn !

Tipperary Tim (foaled 1918) was an Irish Thoroughbred racehorse that won the 1928 Grand National. He was foaled in Ireland and was a descendant of the undefeated St. Simon.

Tipperary Tim was owned by Harold Kenyon and trained in Shropshire by Joseph Dodd. He was regarded as a fairly slow horse, but one who rarely fell. Tipperary Tim was a 100–1 outsider at the 42-runner 1928 Grand National, which was run in foggy conditions and very heavy going.

A pile-up occurred at the Canal Turn jump that reduced the field to just seven horses. Other falls and incidents left only Tipperary Tim and the 33-1 Billy Barton in the race. Billy Barton struck the last fence and fell, leaving Tipperary Tim to win – Billy Barton’s jockey remounted and finished a distant second (and last). The incident led to controversy in the press who complained that a Grand National should not be won merely by avoiding accident. It led to changes to the course with the ditch at Canal Turn being removed for the following year’s race. Tipperary Tim enjoyed no real success in other races.

Early life

Tipperary Tim was foaled in Ireland in 1918, his breeder was J.J. Ryan. Tipperary Tim’s sire was the British horse Cipango and his dam was the Irish horse Last Lot, his grandsire was the British horse St Frusquin (who had been sired by the undefeated St. Simon) and his damsire was British horse Noble Chieftain. He belonged to Thoroughbred family 19-b.

The stud fee paid for Cipango was just £3 5s (equivalent to £153 in 2020). Tipperary Tim was named after a local marathon runner, Tim Crowe. He was a brown-coloured gelding.[1] Tipperary Tim had been sold as a yearling for £50 (equivalent to £2,349 in 2020) and was said to have once been given as a present.

Tipperary Tim came into the ownership of Harold Kenyon. He was trained in Shropshire by Joseph Dodd who noted that “he never falls”. By other reports he was capable of only one pace, and that a relatively slow one. Tipperary Tim was tubed, that is he received a permanent tracheotomy, with a brass tube halfway down his neck to improve his breathing. He was stabled at Fernhill House in Belfast. Tipperary Tim competed at Aintree in the November 1927 Molyneux Steeplechase.

Fernhill House
It breaks my heart to see my childhood playground going to wreck and ruin

1928 Grand National

Tipperary Tim was entered into the 1928 Grand National at the age of 10 years. He was ridden by amateur jockey Bill Dutton, a Cambridge-educated solicitor from Chester, who had left the profession to pursue horse-riding. Tipperary Tim was a 100–1 outsider and Dutton later recalled that a friend had told him before the race:

“you’ll only win if all the others fall”.

The field in 1928 was the largest to date with 42 runners starting the race. The going was very heavy and there was a dense fog.  There were three false starts, after which the broken starting tape had to be knotted together. On the first circuit of the Aintree track the leader, one of the favourites, Easter Hero, mistimed the Canal Turn jump.

 Rising too early he was stranded briefly on the fence before becoming trapped in the ditch, which preceded it. The next three horses, Grokle, Darracq and Eagle’s Tail were brought down by Easter Hero. Of the remaining runners (22 remained in the race), twenty refused to jump the fence. The pile-up was described by racing historian Reg Green as “the worst ever seen on a racecourse”.

Only seven horses with seated jockeys emerged from the incident to continue the race.  One of these was Tipperary Tim as Dutton had chosen to take a wide route around the outside of the course, avoiding hazards that had brought down other jockeys. Because of the fog the majority of the audience were unaware of the incident at Canal Turn.

By the second jumping of Becher’s Brook only five horses remained in the race with Billy Barton leading ahead of May King, Great Span, Tipperary Tim and Maguelonne. Maguelonne was still trailing at the first fence following Valentine’s Brook where it fell. May King fell shortly afterwards before Great Span lost his saddle and rider, leaving only Billy Barton, who started with 33–1 odds, and Tipperary Tim.

Billy Barton had led the race for 2.5 miles (4.0 km) until the last fence where Tipperary Tim drew level. The riderless Great Span was between them and may have slightly hindered Billy Barton. Billy Barton struck the final fence with his forelegs and fell, dismounting his rider, Tommy Cullinan. Tipperary Tim came in first, with a time of 10 minutes 23.40 seconds, he was closely followed by the riderless Great Span; a remounted Billy Barton came a distant second and was the last to finish.

With only two horses completing the race the 1928 Grand National set a second record, for the fewest finishers. Tipperary Tim was the only horse to have completed the race without falling or unseating its rider.  Kenyon received prize money of 5,000 sovereigns as well as a cup worth 2,000 sovereigns. Tipperary Tim became one of the biggest outsiders to win the Grand National, only three other horses with odds of 100–1 have won the race: Gregalach in 1929, Caughoo in 1947 and Foinavon in 1967.

There were scathing reports in the press, which described the race as “burlesque steeplechasing”, and many writers stated that a Grand National should not be won merely by avoiding an accident. The race inspired some to become involved in the sport. The future horse racing commentator Peter O’Sullevan laid his first ever bet on Tipperary Tim and cited it as the start of his life-long connection with racing. The Pathé footage of the race inspired a young Beltrán Alfonso Osorio to aspire to a career in racing. He became an amateur jockey who rode at the 1952 Grand National and others thereafter .

The World’s Greatest Race (1928)

The success of Tipperary Tim led to larger fields in the following Grand Nationals. According to racing historian T. H. Bird “everyone who owned a steeplechaser that could walk aspired to win the Grand National”, leading to more entries which, Bird lamented, “cluttered” the field with “rubbish”.

The 1929 Grand National started with 66 runners, including Tipperary Tim who, despite his success the previous year, remained a 100-1 outsider. The ditch at the Canal Turn had been removed before this race, as a result of the incident in 1928. Tipperary Tim fell during the 1929 race and did not finish. The horse enjoyed no real success aside from his 1928 Grand National win.

Main source Wikipedia

Grand National News : Tipperary Tim

The Mirror : The amazing story of Tipperary Tim and the Grand National’s biggest ever upset

If you’ve read my book you’ll know I write about this legendary horse and my childhood spent playing in and around Fernhill House.

See below for extracts.

Dad pointed to an old and imposing big house up the top end of a driveway in Glencairn Park. ‘This is Fernhill House, and it’s where Lord Carson inspected the UVF men before they went off to war.’

               ‘To fight the Provies?’ I asked. I was only six, but already the language of the Troubles had begun to filter through my vocabulary. The ‘Provies’ were the Provisional Irish Republican Army – the enemy currently engaged in warfare with the British Army and bombing buildings in Belfast, Londonderry and many other places, killing soldiers, police officers and innocent civilians alike, and the UVF stood for the Ulster Volunteer Force, which was better known as a Loyalist paramilitary group during the Troubles.

               ‘Nah,’ said Dad, laughing, ‘not them. The UVF went off to fight the Germans in the First World War. Have you heard of the 36ththirty-sixth?’

               I hadn’t, so Dad gave me a quick history lesson. The 36th Ulster Division were the pride of Protestant Belfast (although many Catholics fought in it too) and distinguished itself at the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Dad used to quote the words of Captain Wilfred Spender, who watched as the 36th Division went over the top: ‘I am not an Ulsterman but yesterday, the first of July, as I followed their amazing attack, I felt that I would rather be an Ulsterman than anything else in the world.’

               Even today, I feel an enormous sense of prised pride when I hear those words.

               I loved these kinds of stories, especially about our grandfathers and great-grandfathers who’d been so brave in the face of almost certain death. In fact, my great Uncle Robert fought and tragically died two weeks before the end of the war.

               ‘Are the UVF still around, Da’?’ I asked, wide-eyed. I hoped they were, as I recalled the rioting and burning I was told was the work of Catholics out to get us.

               ‘So they are, son,’ Dad said, ‘but hey, let’s not talk about all that now. C’mon with me now and we’ll get a pastie supper.’

               I jumped up and down with delight. Pastie suppers were (and still are) my favourite. Only Northern Ireland people can appreciate the delights of this deep-fried delicacy of minced pork, onions and spuds, all coated in delicious batter, with chips on the side and a Belfast Bap (a bread roll).

               As we walked from the brow of the hill down to the chippy, Dad told me a few more stories about Fernhill House. It was owned by a family called Cunningham, he said, and it had stables attached to it. In one of these was housed a racehorse called Tipperary Tim.  and according to legend, the horse’s jockey, William Dutton was told by a friend, ‘Billy boy, you’ll only win if the all the others fall.’

               ‘Sure enough,’ said Dad, ‘yer man Dutton took the horse into the Grand National in Liverpool and all the other horses fell down. And so Tipperary Tim won the race.’

               ‘That’s amazing!’ I shouted. ‘Does he still live in the stables? Can we go and see him? Please, Da ’ . . .’

               In response, my dad laughed. ‘You’re a bit late, son,’ he said., ‘the race was won in 1928!’

               In time, Fernhill House and the surrounding area would become my childhood playground and I’d spend hours playing in the park and exploring the empty mansion and its cavernous cellars. Years later, when the Loyalists called their ceasefire as part of the Good Friday Agreement, legendary Loyalist leader Gusty Spence and the ‘Combined Loyalist Military Command’ choose Fernhill House to tell the world their war was at an end and offer abject and sincere remorse to their victims.

See below to order a copy.

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Golden Brown – The Stranglers: Iconic Songs & the story behind them

Belfast Child

The Stranglers

Golden Brown

January 1982

Golden Brown – The Stranglers: Iconic Songs & the story behind them

Golden Brown – The Stranglers

Golden Brown” is a song by the English rock bandthe Stranglers. It was released as a 7″ single in December 1981 in the United States and in January 1982 in the United Kingdom, onLiberty. It was the second single released from the band’s sixth albumLa folie.

Stranglers - La Folie album cover.jpg

See:La folie(album) Track Listing

It peaked at No. 2 in theUK Singles Chart, the band’s highest ever placing in that chart.

In January 2014,NMEranked the song as No. 488 on its list of the500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It has also been recorded by many other artists.

See : 500 Greatest Songs of All Time NME

SinglebyThe Stranglers
from the…

View original post 958 more words

fifty skinheads appeared from nowhere, many of them wearing Chelsea and Rangers football scarves and covered in Loyalist and swastika tattoos. These psychos were obviously baying for blood – Mod blood, to be exact.

In the early 80s about thirty of us travelled from Belfast to Liverpool by boat. Then we caught the train down to London and headed straight for Carnaby Street. It felt like a religious pilgrimage and I was hypnotised by the sheer joy of just being there and drinking in the Mod culture it had given birth to.

Me in my mod days

But my excitement was to be short- lived. As we walked around the legendary area and drank in the super- cool atmosphere, suddenly we heard a massive roar and what sounded like a football stampede, then three terrified young Mods ran past us as if the devil was on their tails.

Belfast Mods 1985

I feature in the documentary , see if you can spot me ?

               Time stood still as we waited to see what had scared them and made them take such desperate flight. Then, from a side street, about fifty skinheads appeared from nowhere, many of them wearing Chelsea and Rangers football scarves and covered in Loyalist and swastika tattoos. These psychos were obviously baying for blood – Mod blood, to be exact.

               The moment they spotted us they stopped dead and some even grinned at the Mod bounty fate had delivered them. We were in some deep shit and I searched my mind frantically for a way out.

               There was only a few of us together at this stage and my heart leaped into my throat as I anticipated the beating I was about to receive. But if nothing else, I was used to brutal violence and two things came to my mind at once.

               The first was that I’d experienced many gang battles between Mods and skinheads in the backstreets of the Shankill and Ballysillan, and survived largely intact. But here we were vastly outnumbered, on foreign soil (so to speak), and these guys wanted to rip us apart, limb by limb, while savouring every moment of our agony and humiliation . 

               I glanced over at the leaders in the front row as they hurled insults and threats. My heart sunk when I noticed some of them had already pulled out weapons, including blades, and were preparing to attack us. This was our last chance. My survival instinct kicked in . I took a deep breath and played my hand.

               ‘Stay back,’ I said, as calmly as I could to the boys behind me. I was aware that some of our lot were Catholics and, if anything, were probably in far more danger than I was. I stepped forward and, looking for their ‘top boy’, I suggested they all slow down and tell me what the problem was.

The Difference Between Nazi’s and Skinheads | Needles And Pins

               You could have heard a pin drop as the fella in question looked me up and down as though I’d just insulted his mother. I could tell he was moments away from lunging at me and all hell kicking off.

               Then I heard a familiar accent calling out from the skinhead crowd.

               ‘Are youse from Belfast?’ said the voice.

               There was what seemed like a lifetime’s pause before I answered.

               ‘Feckin right,’ I said, ‘from the glorious Shankill Road!’

               Now I was praying I’d made a good call.

               ‘That right?’ he replied. ‘So who d’you know?’

               I wheeled off a few names of skinheads and assorted bad boys I knew and had grown up with on the Shankill and Glencairn and this satisfied them. We were safe, for now at least. It turned out the guy who spoke, Biff, had grown up in Glencairn, now lived and worked in London and was involved with other Loyalists living in the capital. His crew were a nasty bunch and I pitied those who had the misfortune to come across them, especially if you weren’t a WASP. If they had known some of the Mods present were Catholics, nothing would have stopped them kicking the shit out of me and the others and I silently thanked the gods for delivering us from evil.

               My second thought was about the Rangers scarves and the Loyalist/English Pride-style tattoos a good number of them were sporting. An idea started to take shape in my terrified brain. Rangers was the team of choice for much of the Protestant population of Northern Ireland and, along with Chelsea and Linfield, were inextricably woven into the core of our Loyalist culture. I hoped these baying skinheads, or some of them at least, would hold the same pride and love for Queen and country as me and I thought this might just save us.

Me on the cover of a Mod book ©Jay McFall

               With the situation defused, I told the others to look around a bit and I’d catch up with them later. I didn’t want the skins chatting with them, finding out some of them were Catholic and undoing all my capital work. They insisted I joined them for a pint or two in the Shakespeare’s Head pub nearby and it must have looked a bit weird: a sixties style Mod, wearing eye liner and a Beatles suit, drinking and laughing with a gang of psycho Nazi skinheads.

SkinheadS & Reggae

               But I had spent my life growing up among Loyalist killers and paramilitaries and nothing really fazed me anymore. I didn’t particularly like Biff and his crew but chatting with him over a few pints I realised there was much more to him than the stereotypical skinhead. His English girlfriend had just given birth to their first child and he was ‘trying to get on the straight and narrow’, – whatever that meant.

               After a few hours of drinking and snorting speed with Biff and the others I left them in the pub and return to the sanity of my Mod mates. I was to come across Biff and his crew later that weekend, when they and dozens of other skinheads and punks ambushed and attacked Mods coming into or out of the all- dayer in the Ilford Palais. Luckily, I was safely inside, stoned out of my mind and living the Mod dream and I didn’t concern myself with the antics of those fools, though I did have a chat with Biff while grabbing some fresh air and a fag outside.

               Safely back in Belfast, we started to plan other trips abroad, specifically to ‘The South’. Enemy territory.

You have been reading extracts from my number one best selling book A Belfast Child.

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The Story of Skinhead with Don Letts (BBC Documentary)

The Shankill Butchers…

By age ten I’d heard shots ring out and seen the injuries caused by bullets and beatings. But nothing could’ve prepared me for the scene outside Glencairn’s community centre on Forthriver Road on an overcast morning in October 1976. Before heading to school I polished off my cornflakes and, kicking and protesting as ever, had my face wiped by Granny, who spat on a handkerchief and assaulted my grubby mush with it. ‘Come here, ye dirty wee hallion!’ she shouted as she grabbed me for the unwanted daily routine. Struggle over, I let myself out of the front door and walked the few doors to Uncle Sam’s to call for Wee Sam.

               He too had succumbed to the humiliating last-minute face scrub from Aunt Gerry and as we trudged down his garden path and on to the main road through the estate we muttered darkly about our so-called elders and betters.

               We’d only walked a few yards when up ahead we noticed a gathering of green and grey Land Rovers and Saracen armoured cars, which we nicknamed ‘Pigs’. That meant only one thing that the RUC and the army were out in force. To the side stood a small knot of onlookers, mostly women on their way to school, the wee ones holding their hands. This group had turned away from the scene and were speaking together. As we approached, we heard murmurs from the women and the occasional shaking of a scarfed head.

               ‘Fuckin’ hell,’ said Wee Sam, wide-eyed, ‘somebody musta gotten kilt up there. Look at all the peelers around.’

               A knot of fear tightened in my stomach as we approached the scene. Despite being on supposedly ‘safe’ Loyalist territory, grim-faced soldiers gripped their SLRs tightly while uniformed police from the RUC spoke into radios and plain-clothes detectives huddled in a group. Judging by the mood hanging over the community centre on this cold, grey morning, we were about to see something unprecedented.

               Maybe we should’ve walked on by. But we were just wee boys. Filled with childish curiosity we rubbernecked all the time. ‘C’mon,’ said Sam, grabbing me by the sleeve of my snorkel jacket, ‘let’s see what’s going on!’

               We ducked past the group of clucking housewives and right up to a tall soldier in full battledress. ‘Hey mister, what’s happenin’?’ I asked. ‘Is somebody dead?’

               The soldier looked down on us, not unkindly. We weren’t his enemy. Maybe he viewed similar aged boys from the Catholic areas of Ardoyne and Andersonstown in a different way, but up here we were the good guys. Supposedly.

               ‘If I were you two I’d bugger off to school pronto,’ he said, in a northern English voice. ‘There’s nowt to look at here.’

               He was wrong. There was something to look at, lying just a couple of yards from where he stood. Behind the soldier’s back, down the grassy bank at the back of the community centre – UDA controlled, of course, and a social gathering point for those in the estate – we saw a pair of shoe-clad feet sticking out at angles from beneath a brown woollen blanket. This covered the undisputable shape of a body, and surrounding it was thick, red, jellified blood. Pints of the stuff that had spread across the grass on which the body lay, creating a semi-frozen scene of complete horror.

               ‘Jesus!’ I said, stepping back a couple of paces from the soldier. ‘What the fuck happened here?’

               ‘Never you mind,’ he said. ‘Kids your age shouldn’t be seeing things like this. And watch your language, lad.’

               I ignored him and looked again. By now, a typical Belfast morning drizzle had begun to fall, covering the blanket in a fine mist. I craned my neck, and could just about see a tuft of dark, bloodstained hair sticking out of the top. Even at this age I knew that a single bullet, or even a couple of them, couldn’t have created such a mess. Rooted to the spot, I hadn’t noticed that Wee Sam was no longer by my side. I turned to see him talking animatedly to a boy of about our age standing beside his mum and went over. Wee Sam grabbed my sleeve, pulling me into the conversation.

               ‘Jimmy’s ma says it’s the Butchers who’s done him,’ he whispered, pointing to the body. ‘They carved him up wi’ knives and a’ that. Just cos he’s a Catholic.’

               I couldn’t believe it. I knew Provies killed Loyalists, and we killed them. That’s how it was. In my mind that was all fair. We were under siege, and at war. But to have murdered this man just because he was a Catholic? And to have used knives on him, literally carving him up like a piece of meat? I knew something about this was terribly, terribly wrong and I wondered why God in all his wisdom would let such things happen. Was this the point when I started to lose faith in a Saviour who seemed to ignore the suffering of mortal men?

               For weeks previously we’d heard whispers across Glencairn about a gang called the ‘Butchers’, or the ‘Shankill Butchers’. We knew they were Loyalist UVF paramilitaries, but seemingly nothing like the uncles, cousins and friends who aligned themselves to the UDA or UVF, collecting for prisoners and running shebeens, illegal drinking clubs that brought in funds. Those we knew to be UDA members, hardened as they were to whatever was going on across Belfast, seemed to be talking about this particular set of murders with a mixture of awe and horror.

               As time went on, it became clear that the ‘Butchers’ killings had little connection with everyday Loyalism and more to do with the psychopathic condition of the gang’s members. It appeared they were using a black taxi to pick up their victims – innocent people on their way home – before kidnapping and murdering them. But they were also killing Protestants too; people who’d fallen foul of their notorious leader, Lenny Murphy. In short, they enjoyed killing for killing’s sake, and in mid-1970s Northern Ireland the opportunity to destroy lives at random, for any scrap of a reason, was unprecedented and easy. Life was cheap and victims would be forgotten about by the next day as another victim took their place.

               The politics of Loyalist feuding was way over my head back then, but like everyone else I came to regard the Butchers as nothing short of bogeymen. They invaded my dreams and seemed to be pursuing me during my waking hours. On late summer nights and into the dark nights of autumn 1976, a group of us would gather at the bottom of the estate, playing around the woods and streams that gave this area a kind of weird beauty in the midst of all the mayhem. When darkness fell and it was time to go home, I would walk alone back up the estate, listening out in mortal fear for the distinctive sound of a wailing diesel engine climbing the hill behind me that could only be a Belfast black taxi. I was only just ten by then , but I had no reason to believe the Butchers wouldn’t grab me and rip me apart with their specially sharpened knives, just for the fun of it.

               These guys meant business. The body Wee Sam and I saw was the first of four that were dumped on Glencairn by the Butchers, along with others murdered in Loyalist feuds. Some months after we came upon the scene in Forthriver Road, we were playing in and around a building site in ‘the Link’, a new part of Glencairn still under construction. Several houses were being created and while we shouldn’t have been there, nobody was stopping us from running wild around the estate and doing what we liked. We’d poked about one particular half-built house and were about to leave when I spotted what appeared to be words written on an unplastered wall.

               ‘Gi’e us a match, Sam,’ I said, ‘I wanna see what’s written up there.’

               Sam produced a box of matches from his jeans pocket and I struck one, holding it close to the wall. The colour drained from my face as I read the words ‘Help me’. They had been written in blood. Dropping the match we legged it out of there and ran all the way home.

               I told Dad, but if I expected him to be shocked I was just as surprised when his reaction was indifference. ‘Just leave well, alone, John,’ he said, shaking his head. ‘You’re better off out of it.’

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See: Shankill Butchers

Killing Rage – The life and death of Eamon Collins

The life and death of Eamon Collins

Eamon Collins

Eamon Collins (1954 – 27 January 1999) was a Provisional Irish Republican Army member in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He turned his back on the organisation in the late 1980s, and later co-authored a book called Killing Rage detailing his experiences within it.

In January 1999 he was waylaid on a public road and murdered near his home in Newry in Northern Ireland.

Early life

Camlough

He was born in CamloughCounty Armagh, his parents being Brian Collins and his wife Kathleen Cumiskey; his farmer father dealt in livestock, and was involved in cattle smuggling.

 Camlough was a small, staunchly Irish republican town in South Armagh. Despite the sentiment of the area, the Collins family had no association and little interest in Irish Nationalist politics. Kathleen Collins was a devout Catholic, and he was brought up under her influence with a sense of awe for the martyrs of that religion in Irish history, in its conflicts with Protestantism.

After completing his schooling, Collins worked for a time in the Ministry of Defence in a clerical capacity in London before studying law at Queen’s University, where he became influenced by Marxist political ideology.

Belfast: Queen’s University
Queens

In Easter 1974, as he walked home to his parents’ home in South Armagh during a break from his studies in Belfast, on arrival he found both his parents being man-handled by British troops during a house-to-house raid searching for illegal weapons, and on remonstrating with them Collins was himself seriously assaulted, and both he and his father were arrested and detained.

Troops in Armagh

Collins later attributed his crossing of the psychological threshold of actively supporting anti-British Irish Republican paramilitarism to this incident. Another factor in his radicalization at this time was a Law tutor at university who had persuaded him that the newly formed Provisional Irish Republican Army was a means of opposing British military presence in Northern Ireland, as well as a vehicle for Marxist revolutionary politics, in line with the radical ideological expression of a younger generation in the IRA in the late 1970s that were now replacing an old guard which was more Catholic and nationalist.

Marxist revolutionary politics

Collins subsequently dropped out of university, and after working in a pub for a period, he joined Her Majesty’s Customs & Excise Service, serving in Newry, and would go on to use this internal position within the administrative machinery of the British Government to support IRA operations against Crown Forces personnel.

HM Customs Ensign.svg
Ensign of HM Customs and Excise

Around this time he married Bernadette, with whom he subsequently had four children.

IRA activity

Collins joined the Provisional IRA during the cc inmates in the late 1970s, which sought Special Category Status for Irish Republican paramilitary prisoners, and he became involved in street demonstrations at this time.

He joined the “South Down Brigade” of the IRA, based around Newry. This was not one of the organisation’s most active formations, but it sometimes worked alongside the “South Armagh Brigade”, which was one of its most aggressive units.

Psychologically unsuited to physical violence, Collins was appointed instead by the IRA as its South Down Brigade’s intelligence officer.  

Ivan Toombs was a part-time major in the UDR as well as a senior Customs officer at Warrenpoint

See: 16th January – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

This role involved gathering information on members of the Crown security forces personnel and installations for targeting in gun and bomb attacks. His planning was directly responsible for at least five deaths, including that of the Ulster Defence Regiment Major Ivan Toombs in January 1981, with whom Collins worked in the Customs Station at Warrenpoint, and possibly three times that number.

Many of the bombing targets of his unit were of limited scale, such as the wrecking of Newry Public Library, and a public house where a Royal Ulster Constabulary choir drank after practice.

Collins became noted within IRA circles for his hard-line views on the continuance of armed campaign, and later joined its Internal Security Unit.

See : IRA Internal Security Unit – Nutting Squad

nutting squad

At the instigation of the South Armagh Brigade’s leadership he became a member of Sinn Féin in Newry. The South Armagh IRA wanted a hard-line militarist in the local party, as they were opposed to the increasing emphasis of the Republican leadership on political over military activity.

Collins was not selected as a Sinn Féin candidate for local government elections, in part, due to his open expressions of suspicion of the IRA and Sinn Féin leadership, whom he accused of covertly moving towards a position of an abandonment of the IRA’s military campaign.

Around this time Collins had a confrontation with Gerry Adams at the funeral of an IRA man killed in a failed bombing attack over how to deal with the funeral’s policing, where Collins accused Adams a being a “Stickie” (a derogatory slang term for the Official IRA).

Why did you not join the IRA?” Gerry Adams (FULL INTERVIEW) – BBC News

Despite his militarist convictions at this time, Collins found the psychological strain caused by his involvement in the IRA’s war increasingly difficult to deal with. His belief in the martial discipline of IRA’s campaign had been seriously undermined by the murder of Norman Hanna, a 28-year-old Newry man on 11 March 1982 in front of his wife and young daughter, who had been targeted because of his former service with the Ulster Defence Regiment, which he had resigned from in 1976.

See here for more details on : Norman Hanna killing

See : 11th March – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Trouble

Collins had opposed the targeting of Hanna on the basis that it wasn’t of a governmental entity, but had been over-ruled by his superiors, and he had gone along with the operation; his conscience burdened him afterwards about it though.

 His uneasy state was further augmented by being arrested under anti-terrorism laws on two occasions, the second involving his detention at Gough Barracks in Armagh for a week, where he was subject to extensive sessions of interrogation in 1985 after an IRA mortar attack in Newry, which had claimed the lives of multiple police officers.


Gough Barracks

Collins had not been involved in this operation, but after five days of incessant psychological pressure being exerted by R.U.C. specialist police officers, during which he had not said a word, he mentally broke, and yielded detailed information to the police about the organisation.

As a result of his arrest he was dismissed from his career with H.M. Customs & Excise Service.

Collins subsequently stated that the strain of the interrogation merely exacerbated increasing doubts that he had already possessed about the moral justification of the IRA’s paramilitary campaign and his actions within it.

These doubts had been made worse by the strategic view that he had come to that the organisation’s senior leadership had in the early 1980s quietly decided that the war had failed, and was now slowly manoeuvring the movement away from a military campaign to allow its political wing Sinn Féin to pursue its purposes by another means in what would become the Northern Ireland peace process.

This negated in Collins’ mind the justification for its then on-going military actions.

Statements against the IRA

After his confession of involvement in IRA activity, Collins became an RUC informant (or “Supergrass“, in contemporary media language), upon whose evidence the authorities were able to prosecute a large number of IRA members.

Crumlin Road Prison

He was incarcerated in specialized protective custody, along with other paramilitaries who had after arrest given evidence against their organisations, in the Crumlin Road Prison in Belfast from 1985 to 1987.

See : My time in the Crum : Extracts from my book A Belfast Child

However, after an appeal from his wife who remained an IRA supporter, and on receiving a message from the IRA delivered by his brother on a visit to the prison, Collins legally retracted his evidence, in return for which he was given a guarantee of safety by the IRA provided he consented to being debriefed by it. He agreed, and was in consequence transferred by the authorities to the Irish Republican paramilitary wing of the prison.

Trial for murder

As a result of losing his previous legal status as a Crown protected witness, Collins was charged with several counts of murder and attempted murder. However, on being tried in 1987 he was acquitted as the statement in which he had admitted to involvement in these acts was ruled legally inadmissible by the court, as it was judged that it had been obtained under duress and was not supported by enough conclusive corroboratory evidence to allow a legally sound conviction.

 On release from prison he spent several weeks being counter-interrogated by the IRA’s Internal Security Unit to discover what had been revealed to the authorities, after which he was exiled by the organisation from the northern part of Ireland, being warned that if he was found north of Drogheda after a certain date he would be summarily executed by it.

nutting squad

 The technical acquittal in the Crown court based upon judicial legal principles made an impact upon Collins’ view of the British state, markedly contrasting with what he had witnessed in the IRA’s Internal Security Unit, and reinforced his disillusionment with Irish Republican paramilitarism.

Post-IRA life

Peter McVerry

After his exile Collins moved to Dublin and squatted for a while in a deserted flat in the impoverished Ballymun area of the city. At the time the area was experiencing an epidemic of heroin addiction and he volunteered to help a local priest Peter McVerry, who ran programmes for local youths to try to keep them away from drugs.

After several years in Dublin, he subsequently moved to Edinburgh, Scotland for a period, where he ran a youth centre. He would later write that because of his Northern Ireland background he felt closer culturally to Scottish people than people from the Irish Republic.

In 1995 he returned to live in Newry, a district known for the militancy of its communal support of the IRA, with numerous IRA members in its midst. The IRA order exiling him had not been lifted, but with a formal ceasefire from the organisation in operation ordered by its senior command, and in the sweeping changes that were underway with renunciations of violence by all the paramilitary organisations in Northern Ireland that had followed on from it, he judged it safer to move back in with his wife and children who had never left Newry.

Broadcasting and published works

Having returned to live in Newry, rather than maintaining a low profile Collins decided to take a prominent role in the ongoing transition of Northern Ireland’s society, using his personal history as a platform in the media to analyze the adverse effects of terrorism.

EAMON COLLINS (NETWORK FIRST ITV ) CONFESSION.

In 1995 he appeared in an ITV television documentary entitled ‘Confession’, giving an account of his disillusioning experiences and a bleak insight into Irish Republican paramilitarism.

Killing R
age

Just read this book and I will be doing a review shortly.

In 1997 he co-authored Killing Rage, with journalist Mick McGovern, a biographical account of his life and IRA career. He also contributed to the book Bandit Country by Toby Harnden about the South Armagh IRA.

At the same time in the media he called for the re-introduction of internment after the Omagh bombing for those continuing to engage in such acts;  published newspaper articles openly denouncing and ridiculing the Real IRA’s campaign, alongside publicly analysing his own past role in such activity, and the damage that it had caused on a personal and social level to the two communities of Northern Ireland.

Witness evidence against Thomas Murphy

Thomas Slab Murphy

See BBC News : Who is Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy?

In May 1998 Collins gave evidence against leading republican Thomas “Slab” Murphy, in a libel case Murphy had brought against the Sunday Times, over a 1985 article naming him as the IRA’s Northern Commander.

Murphy denied IRA membership, but Collins took the witness stand against him, and testified that from personal experience he knew that Murphy had been a key military leader in the organisation. Murphy subsequently lost the libel case and sustained substantial financial losses in consequence.

After giving his testimony Collins had said in the court-room to Murphy :

“No hard feelings Slab”.

However, soon after the trial Collins’ home was attacked and daubed with graffiti calling him a “tout”, a slang word for an informer in Irish Republican circles. Since his return to Newry in 1995 his home there had been intermittently attacked with acts of petty vandalism, but after the Murphy trial these intensified in regularity and severity, and another house belonging to his family in Camlough, in which no one was resident, was destroyed by arson.

Threats were made against his children, and they faced persecution in school from elements among their peers. Graffiti threatening him with murder was also daubed on the walls of the streets in the vicinity of the family home in Newry.

Death

Collins was beaten and stabbed to death in his 45th year by an unidentified assailant(s) early in the morning of 27 January 1999, whilst walking his dogs near the Barcroft Park Estate in Newry along a quiet stretch of country lane at Doran’s Hill, just within sight of Sliabh gCuircin (Camlough Mountain).

His body also bore marks of having been struck by a car moving at speed.  The subsequent police investigation and Coroner’s Inquest commented upon the extremity of weaponed violence to Collins’ head and face used during the attack.

See: 27th January – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Rumoured reasons behind the murder were that he had returned to Northern Ireland in breach of the IRA’s banning order, and further he had detailed IRA activities and publicly criticized in the media a multiplicity of Irish Republican paramilitary splinter groups that had appeared after the Provisional IRA’s 1994 ceasefire, and that he had testified in court against Murphy.

Gerry Adams stated the murder was “regrettable”, but added that Collins had:

“many enemies in many places”.

After a traditional Irish wake, with a closed coffin necessitated due to the damage to his face, and a funeral service at St. Catherine’s Church in Newry, Collins’ body was buried at the city’s Monkshill Cemetery, not far from the grave of Albert White, a Catholic former Royal Ulster Constabulary Inspector, whose assassination he helped to organise in 1982.

See : 18th June – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Subsequent criminal investigations

In January 2014 the Police Service of Northern Ireland released a statement that a re-examination of the evidence from the scene of the 1999 murder had revealed new DNA material of a potential perpetrator’s presence, and made a public appeal for information, detailing the involvement of a specific car model (a white coloured Hyundai Pony), and a compass pommel that had broken off of a hunting knife during the attack and had been left behind at the scene.

 In February 2014 detectives from the Serious Crime Branch arrested a 59-year-old man at an address in Newry in relation to the murder, he was subsequently released without charge. In

September 2014 the police arrested three men, aged 56, 55 and 42 in County Armagh in relation to inquiries into the murder, all of whom were subsequently released without charges after questioning.

 In January 2019 the police released a statement regarding the murder that one of the assailants of Collins had been seriously injured by an accidentally sustained knife wound during the attack, and had left traces of his own blood at the scene, and that recent scientific advances in DNA evidence had increased the possibility of his identification.

In May 2019, three men aged 60 to 62 were arrested and questioned, but then released unconditionally.

See :Bel Tel : Three released without charge in IRA informer Eamon Collins’ murder probe

Main source : Wikipedia

See :

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See : Killing Rage books I’ve read

Belfast Books – Thanks for promoting my book mate.

A big thank you to the team at Belfast Books for promoting my number one best selling book. A Belfast Child.

To order a copy from Belfast Books please use this link : A Belfast Child or see Tweet below.

Belfast Books

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Ann Ogilby’s brutal murder: ” Forgotten ” victims of the Troubles

The brutal & unforgivable murder of Ann Ogilby, also known as the Romper Room murder

Forgotten victims of the Troubles

The murder of Ann Ogilby, also known as the “Romper Room murder”,  took place in Sandy Row, south Belfast, Northern Ireland on 24 July 1974.

Ann Ogilby

It was a punishment killing, carried out by members of the Sandy Row women’s Ulster Defence Association (UDA) unit. At the time the UDA was a legal Ulster loyalist paramilitary organisation.

The victim, Ann Ogilby,  a Protestant single mother of four, was beaten to death by two teenaged girls after being sentenced to a “rompering” (UDA slang term for a torture session followed by a fatal beating) at a kangaroo court. Ogilby had been having an affair with a married UDA commander, William Young, who prior to his internment, had made her pregnant.

His wife, Elizabeth Young, was a member of the Sandy Row women’s UDA unit. Ogilby had made defamatory remarks against Elizabeth Young in public regarding food parcels. Eight weeks after Ogilby had given birth to Young’s son, the women’s unit decided that Ogilby would pay for both the affair and remarks with her life. The day following the kangaroo court “trial”, they arranged for the kidnapping of Ogilby and her six-year-old daughter, Sharlene, outside a Social Services office by UDA man Albert “Bumper” Graham.

A group of UDA women then followed the minibus which took Ogilby and Sharlene to a disused bakery in Hunter Street, Sandy Row; this empty building had been converted into a UDA club and “romper room”. After Sharlene was sent by Graham to a shop to buy sweets, Ogilby was made to sit on a bench and a hood placed over her head. Two teenagers, Henrietta Cowan and Christine Smith, acting on the orders previously given them by the unit’s leader, Elizabeth “Lily” Douglas, proceeded to savagely beat Ogilby to death with bricks and sticks. As Ogilby screamed and pleaded for her life, Sharlene, who had already returned from the shop, overheard her mother being beaten and killed

. A later autopsy report revealed that Ogilby had sustained 24 blows to the head and body, 14 of which caused a “severe fracture to the bulk of the skull”.

Within weeks of the killing, ten women and one man were arrested in connection with the murder. They were convicted in February 1975. All but one, a minor whose sentence was suspended, went to prison. The murder caused widespread revulsion, shock and horror throughout Northern Ireland and remained long in the public psyche even at a time when bombings and killings were daily occurrences.

The Ann Ogilby murder was investigated by the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) which was established by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to investigate the most controversial killings carried out during the Troubles.

Events leading to the murder

Ann Ogilby

Ann Ogilby (born c.1942/1943 and sometimes referred to as Anne Ogilby), a young Protestant woman, moved to Belfast from Sion Mills, County Tyrone on a date that has not been firmly established.  She was one of 13 children from a poor family.

 Described as a “very attractive girl with dark-brown silky hair and blue eyes”,  and a slender figure,  she embarked on a transient lifestyle, regularly changing her address and employment. The jobs she held were mostly low-paid positions in offices and shops, and she was often evicted for failing to pay the rent.

 Her striking good looks made her popular with men. In about 1968 she became a single mother, having been made pregnant by a married British soldier stationed in Northern Ireland who had abandoned her and their child after he was transferred to another duty station.

 She started socialising with a rough crowd, and in August 1972, she met William Young, a married high-ranking member of the then-legal Ulster Defence Association (UDA) with whom she fell deeply in love and began living with him in south Belfast. Young came from the loyalist Donegall Pass area and was a local UDA commander. He told Ogilby his marriage had already broken up and that his divorce hadn’t been finalised.  Ogilby by that time had three children by two different men: Sharlene, and twins Stephen and Gary. The boys had been put up for adoption after their birth, leaving only the eldest child, her daughter Sharlene, in her care.

When Young was interned inside the Maze Prison in 1973, she often visited him. He complained that his estranged wife, Elizabeth never sent him food parcels, despite her having been provided with money by the Loyalist Prisoners’ Association (LPA). The LPA was unaware of the Young couple’s estrangement.

 Northern Ireland's Maze Jail

The delivery of food parcels by women to imprisoned members was a long-established practice by the UDA and a “particular source of pride for the organisation”.  Ogilby was required to make up and send him the food parcels herself which she felt was an imposition as these had to come out of her own money, although she was almost destitute.

When Ogilby mistakenly repeated Young’s complaint in a Sandy Row pub, the local Sandy Row women’s UDA unit (of which Elizabeth was a member) overheard her words and became violently angry, especially as Elizabeth was able to prove that she had been sending her husband food parcels.

 Ogilby’s comments were regarded by the women’s UDA as a grievous insult to its integrity, as the unit was responsible for the assembly and distribution of the parcels. The group was already antagonistic due to Ogilby’s affair with Young, and her defamatory remarks only added fuel to their wrath. The women considered her behaviour in public immoral, ostentatious, and extremely unconventional because she frequented clubs and pubs on her own instead of with female friends which was the custom in Sandy Row. Furthermore, they believed her loud, outspoken and maverick personality, status as an unmarried mother, and habit of what was described by a local as “flaunting herself” was a cultural infraction that brought shame upon their community.

Social milieu

An Orange arch in Sandy Row, Belfast, circa 1920.

Sandy Row is an Ulster Protestant working class enclave just south of Belfast city centre closely affiliated with the Orange Order whose 12 July parades are gaudy, elaborate events made notable by the traditional Orange Arches erected for the occasion.

Prior to late 20th-century urban redevelopment beginning in the 1980s, rows of 19th-century terraced houses lined the streets and backstreets that branched off the main commercial thoroughfare. Loyalist paramilitaries have had an active presence there since the early days of the Troubles.

By 1974, the violent ethno-political conflict waged between the Protestant unionists and Catholic Irish nationalists was six years old and showed no sign of abating; bombings, shootings, sectarian murders, intimidation, security alerts and military patrols were a daily feature of life in Belfast and the rest of Northern Ireland.

There was no family in working-class areas of Belfast that remained unscathed by the Troubles or insusceptible to the effects of the disorder, tension and carnage.

See : Dawn of the Troubles

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

The Provisional Irish Republican Army’s bombing campaign had escalated sharply in 1972 and began to increasingly target Belfast city centre, often with lethal consequences such as on Bloody Friday on 21 July 1972, when the Provisional IRA exploded 22 bombs across the city, killing nine people and injuring over 100. This led to the erection of steel gates, manned by the British Army, thus effectively putting a security cordon or “ring of steel” around the city centre,  which resulted in both Protestants and Catholics retreating further into segregated neighbourhoods, which rapidly fell under the sway of local paramilitary groups who exerted a strong influence in their respective districts.

These groups also assumed the role of policing their communities and rooting out what they described as anti-social elements. In the February 1974 edition of Ulster Loyalist, a UDA publication, the UDA warned that it intended to take firm action against teenaged criminals and vandals in the Sandy Row and Village areas.

Robert Fisk, Belfast correspondent for The Times between the years 1972-75, regarded the Sandy Row UDA as having been one of the most truculent of all paramilitary outfits in Belfast.

Their bellicose stance over the street barricades they erected during the Ulster Workers Council Strike in May 1974 almost led them into direct confrontation with the British Army and they had even made preparations to fight if the latter had smashed the UDA roadblocks. The Sandy Row UDA’s commander during this volatile period was Sammy Murphy who used as his headquarters the local Orange Hall.

Ulster Workers Council Strike

In addition to Sandy Row, Murphy had overall command of the South Belfast UDA and was referred to as a community leader in the British Army’s press releases although his name and paramilitary affiliation were not mentioned. To defuse the explosive situation, Murphy engaged in talks with the Army which proved successful. According to journalists Henry McDonald and Jim Cusack, the Sandy Row and Donegall Pass UDA were almost completely out of control by this time; both the male and female members were caught up in violence and drunkenness and already inured to beatings and killings.

Drinking clubs or shebeens where alcohol was obtained cheaply were common features in the area. Author David M. Kiely suggested that by this stage the women’s unit was more about gangsterism and mob rule than adhering to a political cause.

The Sandy Row unit was not the only women’s unit within the UDA. There was a particularly active women’s group on the Shankill Road which had been established by Wendy “Bucket” Millar as the first UDA women’s unit.  A number of the members were highly visible due to the beehive hairstyles they typically wore.

Although each unit was independent of the others, Jean Moore and later Hester Dunn served as the overall leaders of the UDA’s women’s department at the UDA headquarters in Gawn Street, east Belfast. Tanya Higgins and Nancy Brown Diggs observed in their book Women Living in Conflict that the loyalist paramilitary women were “angrier and more militant” than their male counterparts.

Another analysis was provided by Sandra McEvoy in her report Women Loyalist Paramilitaries in Northern Ireland: Duty, Agency and Empowerment – a Report from the Field in which she suggested that by joining paramilitary groups like the UDA, loyalist women were provided with a sense of freedom and personal and political power that had previously been denied them in the domestic sphere; furthermore by taking up “the gun”, the women proved they were willing to go to prison for their beliefs and the loyalist cause.

The commander of the Sandy Row women’s unit was Elizabeth “Lily” Douglas, described by Kiely as having revered power above everything else in her life. As leader of that particular unit she exerted a great deal of control over the lives of other women within the area that included intimidation and moral policing. The middle of three daughters, Douglas was born and raised in an impoverished working-class family. She married at the age of 17 and had four children.

 By 1974, Douglas (aged 40) who lived in a terraced house in Sandy Row’s City Street had a criminal record dating back over ten years for various offences which included smuggling, forgery, assault, inflicting bodily harm and running a brothel. When Ogilby had publicly denounced the women’s UDA over the food parcels, she was not fully aware of Douglas’ violent character and the considerable amount of authority she wielded in Sandy Row.

Kangaroo court

Ann Ogilby

On 23 July 1974, eight weeks after Ogilby gave birth to a premature son, Derek, fathered by Young,  five UDA women, including her lover’s wife Elizabeth Young (32), Kathleen Whitla (49, the second-in-command), Josephine Brown (18), Elizabeth Douglas (19), led by the latter’s mother, commander Lily Douglas, abducted Ogilby from a friend’s house in the Suffolk housing estate.

They took her back to Sandy Row and put her before a kangaroo court held inside the disused Warwick’s Bakery in 114 Hunter Street between Felt Street and Oswald Street, which had been converted into a UDA club.

Ogilby had often frequented the club with Young on previous occasions prior to his internment; according to Kiely she had enjoyed the company of the other patrons and being part of the camaraderie of loyalists “against the Fenians”. A total of eight women and two men presided over this “trial”; Elizabeth Young, however, had by then absented herself as she was not part of Douglas’ “Heavy Squad”. The “Heavy Squad” were the members of the Sandy Row women’s UDA unit who meted out punishment beatings by Douglas’ orders.

Ogilby was grilled for an hour over her affair with Young and regarding her calumnies over the food parcels. At some stage, Douglas told her,

“We have rules here. We all stick to them and I expect anybody new to do the same”.

Ogilby, by now frightened at the predicament in which she found herself, was additionally informed that if found guilty, she would be subjected to a “rompering”. The notorious UDA “romper rooms” had been invented in the early 1970s by UDA North Belfast Brigadier Davy Payne.

Named after the children’s television programme, these “romper rooms” were located inside vacant buildings, warehouses, lock-up garages, and rooms above pubs and drinking clubs. Once inside, a victim would be “rompered” (beaten and tortured) before being killed. Although most of the victims were Catholics, many Protestants were also consigned to the “romper rooms”.

Old ‘Romper Room’ footage from 1960s resurfaces

Despite the UDA women having found Ogilby guilty, the two UDA men present at the “trial” couldn’t reach a verdict and gave orders that she be released. The women drove her to the Glengall Street bus station where she got on a bus headed for the YWCA hostel she had moved to on the Malone Road.

The women then “rearrested” her. It was alleged that this decision came about after she sarcastically remarked in reference to Douglas,

“Who does she think she is? The Queen?”

which had freshly infuriated Douglas and the others.

Blocking the bus as it pulled out of the station into the street, Douglas and her “Heavy Squad” then boarded the bus and dragged her off into the waiting car for a further grilling. Minutes later, after being alerted by the bus station staff, the car was stopped by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). Although Douglas claimed they were on their way to a party, the querying policeman told the women about the report of one of them having been forced off the bus. In an attempt to mollify Douglas,  Ogilby then spoke up admitting that she was the person who had been removed from the bus but that “It was nothing. Just a couple of us fooling around”.

 The police however remained unconvinced of their claims and the eight women and Ogilby were taken into the RUC Queen Street station for questioning. All of the women were asked for their names and addresses; the majority lived in the Sandy Row area.  Fearing the grisly fate that typically befell informers, Ogilby did not say anything to the RUC about the UDA kangaroo court or threats against her. Therefore, she and the eight other women were released without being charged the following morning at 2.00 a.m.

Ogilby returned to the police station a few hours later, visibly frightened, but was sent home in a taxi after refusing to give the reason for her distress. That same day inside a Sandy Row pub, Douglas told the other women that Ogilby was a troublemaker who had to die, and she speedily made arrangements to facilitate the murder.

“Romper room” beating

That same Wednesday 24 July 1974 at 3:30 pm, outside the Social Services office in Shaftesbury Square, Ogilby and her daughter were kidnapped by 25-year-old UDA man Albert “Bumper” Graham, while members of Lily Douglas’ “Heavy Squad” waited at the nearby Regency Hotel lounge bar overlooking the office.

They knew beforehand that Ogilby had an appointment that afternoon at the Shaftesbury Square office. Using the pretext that a UDA commander wished to speak with her, Graham was able to abduct Ogilby and her daughter Sharlene as they left the office; Ogilby, taken in by Graham’s words, willingly got into his blue minibus.

Having made a pre-arranged signal to the watching women, Graham drove the two females away to the UDA club in Hunter Street, Sandy Row, which had been turned into a “romper room”. When the UDA women, led by Douglas, arrived on the scene, Ogilby tried to escape, but was grabbed and forcibly detained. After Graham sent Sharlene to a corner shop to buy sweets, Ogilby was ordered by Douglas to be dragged inside the former bakery and forced upstairs to the first floor where she was made to sit on a wooden bench, blindfolded and a hood placed over her head.

By this stage, Ogilby was so intimidated and terrorised by the “Heavy Squad”, she no longer put up any resistance. Sunday Life newspaper suggested that she was bound to a chair instead of a bench.

Ciarán Barnes, a journalist writing for the paper, had conducted an interview with Sharlene Ogilby in 2010.  Retired RUC detective, Alan Simpson, who devoted a chapter to the Ann Ogilby murder in his 1999 book Murder Madness: True Crimes of The Troubles, instead affirmed that Ogilby was forced by her captors to sit on a wooden bench. Although hooded and blindfolded, her hands remained untied.

Acting under earlier instructions by Douglas, who had remained downstairs, to give Ogilby a “good rompering”,  two members of the “Heavy Squad”, teenagers Henrietta Piper Cowan (17) and Christine Smith (16), both of whom were wearing masks, proceeded to attack Ogilby.

Cowan punched her forcefully in the face, knocking her to the floor. Ogilby was then kicked in the face, head, and stomach by both girls before blows from sticks were rained down upon her. When the two teenagers began battering Ogilby’s face and head with bricks which had been lying about the dismantled bakery,Albert Graham and “Heavy Squad” member Josephine Brown (who was also masked), saw Ogilby’s blood staining the hood and realising things had gone too far, started to panic and remonstrated with the girls to discontinue the beating.

Cowan and Smith did stop, to smoke cigarettes and make plans to attend a disco that evening. Simpson suggested that during the attack, Ogilby had placed her hands inside the hood in a futile attempt to protect her face from the force of the bricks.

Meanwhile, Ogilby’s daughter, Sharlene, had returned from the shops; she entered the club, climbed the stairs to the first floor and began banging on the door and crying for her mother.

My mammy’s in there

Although by this stage Ogilby had sustained severe head injuries from the brutal assault, Sharlene heard her screaming and pleading with her assailants for mercy while they danced to blaring disco music.

Ignoring the injured woman’s pleas for her life and Sharlene’s cries, Henrietta Cowan, once again wielding a brick, resumed beating Ogilby on the head with renewed vigour until she lay dead on the floor. The beating session had lasted for over an hour. Ogilby received (according to the later autopsy report) a total of 24 blows to the head and body with a blunt object, 14 of which had caused “a severe fracture to the bulk of the skull”.

Albert Graham took Sharlene out of the building and drove her back to the YWCA hostel; as he left her on the doorstep he reassured the little girl that her mother was inside waiting for her. Sharlene was looked after by the hostel staff until she was placed in the care of the Social Services. Back at the UDA club, Cowan removed the bloodstained hood and saw by her appalling head wounds and badly-bruised, disfigured face that Ann Ogilby was obviously dead; the body was then wrapped up in a brown sack and carried downstairs. The killers went to have a drink with Lily Douglas to whom they recounted the details of the fatal beating as she had remained on the ground floor the entire time.

Afterwards, Cowan and Smith got dressed up and went out to the disco as planned.

My thoughts…

Anne is one of those almost forgotten victims of the Troubles, far less known than Jean McConville or other high-profile killings and yet her death was one of the most violent and gruesome to take place during that terrifying period of our tortured past.

Growing up among the hard men and women in the loyalist ghettos of west Belfast during the 70s my world was dominated by the unceasing violence and conflict going on all around me. By ten years of age I had become almost indifferent to the daily deaths and brutal events playing out in the streets and communities I played in and called home. Day after soul destroying day I watched in horror and disbelief at the madness and cruelty mankind was capable of and I often wondered why God in all his wisdom would let such things happen. It was a never-ending nightmare of death and fear that we were all trapped in for thirty long bloody years and I thank God that those dark days are mostly behind us.

But back then when death stalked the streets of Belfast and life was cheap some killings still had the power to shock and outrage me, especially when innocent women and children were involved regardless of political or religious background.

Few murders have disturbed and appalled me more than the wicked and vindictive killing of Ann Ogilby, an innocent single mother down on her luck who got caught up in a love triangle that ultimately led to her unforgivable and brutal killing. The fact that it was women who carried out this horrendous act makes it more frightening and harder to comprehend.

Rest in peace Anne .

Immediate aftermath

Douglas arranged for the body’s disposal and unnamed UDA men later loaded it onto a van and dumped it in a ditch in Stockman’s Lane near the M1 motorway.

It was discovered five days later on 29 July by motorway maintenance men. The RUC were immediately called to the scene which was then photographed and mapped. Ogilby, clad in a red jumper, grey trousers and wearing just one shoe, was lying on her back partly submerged in 18 inches of stagnant water with her blackened and battered face visible and her arms outstretched. Her missing shoe and a large brown sack were discovered not far away from her body at the top of the ditch.

 There were no identifying documents found on her. The press, along with local television and radio news bulletins, released details regarding her physical appearance and the distinctive rings on her fingers. Hours later, a social worker from the Shaftesbury Square Social Services office, who had been scheduled to meet with Ann Ogilby on 24 July, contacted the RUC telling them that Ogilby and her daughter Sharlene had arrived at the office late for the appointment but left without explanation before the social worker could speak with Ann. She informed the RUC that Ogilby had not been seen since that afternoon.

The social worker was then taken to the mortuary where she confirmed that the dead woman inside was Ann Ogilby. One of Ogilby’s brothers later positively identified her. The police were told Sharlene was in the care of Social Services.

Due to the location of the body, the murder investigation was allocated to the RUC B Division (West Belfast), based at the Springfield Road station where CID Detective Alan Simpson served. He formed part of the CID team set up to investigate the Ogilby killing.

After Sharlene was located in a children’s home, she was interviewed by a female detective; she clearly remembered the events of 24 July. It was arranged for Sharlene to accompany three CID detectives in a car to Sandy Row and she was able to direct them to the disused bakery in Hunter Street. A Scenes of Crime Officer was sent to the scene to examine the building’s interior and collect the evidence. Forensics later showed that the bloodstains police detectives found on the floor and on the items retrieved from inside the UDA club matched Ogilby’s blood group.

Documents were also found on the premises bearing William Young’s name. By that time the suspects had already been rounded up and taken in for interrogation. These were the eight women who had been inside the car with Ogilby on the evening of 23 July following the fracas outside the Glengall Street bus station.

Ogilby, aged 31 or 32 at the time of her death, was buried in Umgall Cemetery, Templepatrick, County Antrim. Her children Sharlene and Derek were put into care. The Ogilby family received only £149 compensation from the State to cover her funeral expenses.

 It was later revealed that Ogilby had planned to relocate to Edinburgh, Scotland as soon as her infant son, Derek, was released from hospital (on account of his premature birth).

Reactions

Ogilby’s murder caused widespread revulsion and shock throughout Northern Ireland, even though it had taken place during the most turbulent period of the Troubles when bombings and sectarian killings had become commonplace. Protestants were especially appalled that Ogilby, herself a Protestant, had become a victim of loyalist violence and angrily denounced the UDA.

Ciarán Barnes

 Journalist Ciarán Barnes described it as being one of the most brutal murders of the Troubles; adding that its sheer savagery and the fact that it was carried out by women against another woman within earshot of her child left a lasting impression upon the public psyche.

The UDA leadership had not sanctioned the killing; and there was general condemnation from the UDA prisoners inside the Maze Prison. According to Ian S. Wood, the UDA’s commander Andy Tyrie had not sufficient control over the many units that comprised the UDA to have been able to prevent the punishment beating from being carried out.

A spokesman for the UDA released a statement condemning the killing and the women’s unit that carried it out which was first published in the Irish Times on 8 February 1975:

We have completely disowned them [Sandy Row women’s UDA]. We think the whole affair was foul and sickening. Ogilby was cleared by the UDA of an allegation about her private life long before she was killed. The killing was an act of jealousy by a group of women.

Following the Ogilby attack, the Sandy Row women’s UDA unit was permanently disbanded by the UDA leadership. None of the other UDA women’s units had consented to or been aware of the fatal punishment beating until it was reported in the news. Additionally, the Sandy Row women’s unit notwithstanding, UDA “romper rooms” were more commonly used by male members of the organisation than by their female counterparts.

 Journalists Henry McDonald and Jim Cusack described Ogilby’s death as typical of the “brutish … culture” that dominated the UDA and other paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland. In reference to this attack and other cases of “rompering”, the authors argue that “rape and the beating and humiliation of women in working-class Belfast was as routine as gunfire but was subsumed in the maelstrom of violence engulfing the North”.

Convictions

Within weeks of the killing, the RUC had arrested ten women and one man in connection with the murder; this group contained Douglas’ entire “Heavy Squad”.

 Most of the women were unemployed and at least three had male relatives imprisoned for paramilitary offences. On 6 February 1975 at the Belfast City Commission, teenagers Henrietta Cowan and Christine Smith pleaded guilty to murder. They were now aged 18 and 17 respectively. Characterised as having been “without feeling or remorse”, they were convicted of carrying out the murder and sentenced to be detained at Armagh Women’s Prison for life at the pleasure of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Smith was not the only member of her family to be involved in loyalist paramilitary activity. Her elder brother, prominent South Belfast UDA member Francis “Hatchet” Smith (28), was shot dead in Rodney Parade, off Donegall Road, by the IRA in January 1973 after he, as part of a UDA unit, gunned down Peter Watterson, a 15-year-old Catholic boy, in a drive-by sectarian shooting at the Falls Road/Donegall Road junction.  A roofer by trade who was married with one child  he was (despite his wife having been Catholic),  the local UDA commander in the Village area where he lived.

Described to the court as the leader of the Sandy Row women’s UDA unit, Lily Douglas who had ordered the fatal punishment beating, pleaded guilty to manslaughter. The charge of murder was withdrawn on the grounds that she had not actually intended for her “Heavy Squad” to kill Ogilby and she was subsequently sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment in Armagh Prison.

She received two further sentences (which were to run concurrently with her 10 years) of three years each, for intimidation and detaining Ogilby against her will.  The exact motive for the murder was not established in court.

During police interrogation, Douglas maintained that Ogilby’s killing was the result of a personal vendetta, stating:

“It was not a UDA operation, they had nothing to do with it. It was just a move between a lot of women, a personal thing”.

 In his book The Protestants of Ulster which was published in 1976, Geoffrey Bell stated that the women murdered her as punishment for her affair with William Young. Henry McDonald and Jim Cusack suggested that jealousy and bloodlust were the motives for the murder.

The others received lesser sentences: Albert Graham and Josephine Brown, after pleading guilty, were sentenced to three years imprisonment on charges of being accessories after the fact and causing grievous bodily harm to Ann Ogilby; the Crown withdrew the murder charge against the pair after recognising their attempt to prevent Cowan and Smith from continuing with the fatal beating.

The unit’s second-in-command, Kathleen Whitla was given two years for intimidation; Maud Tait (21), Anne Gracey (28), Elizabeth Douglas, Jr (19) and Marie Lendrum (23), were all sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for intimidation, and an unnamed 16-year-old was given an 18-months suspended sentence for intimidation. The convictions resulted in the largest single ingress of loyalist women into a Northern Ireland prison.

Denouncing the UDA, the trial judge, Mr. Justice McGonigle stated:

“What appears before me today under the name of the UDA is gun law, a vicious, brutalising organisation of persons who take the law into their own hands and who, by kangaroo courts and the infliction of physical brutality, terrorise a neighbourhood through intimidation”.

 During the trial, it emerged that plans to kill Ogilby had been formulated by the UDA unit several months before her kangaroo court “trial”. Lily Douglas was lambasted by Justice McGonigle,

“You ordered and directed the punishment of this girl. You chose and chose well those who were to carry out your directions. When you heard what had happened you organised the cover-up and disposal of the body. Your concern was that these happenings should not come to light. You were the commander of these women; your responsibility was great. You are no stranger to crime. You have a record of smuggling, forgery, assault and actual bodily harm and aiding and abetting the keeping of a brothel. Though the last of these was in 1961 it is an indication of your character.”[

The Northern Irish press dubbed Elizabeth “Lily” Douglas “the Sandy Row executioner”.

Aftermath

Sharlene Ogilby later married and has three children of her own. After her mother’s murder, she was taken to live in Sion Mills by an uncle and aunt. For a while she kept in touch with her brother Gary but has since lost contact; she has no knowledge of what happened to her other brothers Stephen and Derek.

Lily Douglas died shortly after being released from Armagh Prison on compassionate grounds in 1979; Kathleen Whitla is also deceased. Henrietta Cowan and Christine Smith were both released from Armagh in December 1983 after serving nine years. They returned to the Sandy Row area. Loyalist sources claimed Smith “deeply regretted” the part she played in Ogilby’s murder. Graham, following his release from prison, also returned to south Belfast. To the present day he has steadfastly refused to discuss the murder.

The rest of the women involved in Ogilby’s murder are to date living in Sandy Row or the Village. William Young died in 2007.

The disused bakery in Hunter Street has since been demolished.

Belfast poet Linda Anderson wrote a poem, Gang-Bang Ulster Style, based on the Ogilby killing. It was published in the August 1989, no. 204 edition of Spare Rib.

Ann Ogilby’s murder also featured in a Gavin Ewart poem entitled, The Gentle Sex (1974). The murder was investigated by the Historical Enquiries Team (HET), which was established by the PSNI to inquire into the most controversial killings perpetrated during the Troubles.

See : 29th July

See: Lorraine McCausland murder: Seven men released

See: Margaret Wright killing

See: Murder of Margaret Wright 25 years ago sparked revulsion and bloody retribution

See : Billy Elliot (RHC)

In an ironic twist I knew and grew up with both Lorraine and Margaret . God rest their souls.

See : Anne Marie Smyth killing

See : ANNE MARIE’S KILLER BRAGS ABOUT MURDER; Loyalists vow to silence UVF man

Margaret Wright

See : Jean McConville – The Shameful & Unforgivable Murder of a Widow & Mother of Ten

Jean McConville

Notes:

  1. ^ Author David M. Kiely gives her age as 17 at the time of her move which would make the year approximately 1959/1960,[ref:”Elizabeth Douglas: the Sandy Row executioner”. Belfast Telegraph. David Kiely. 1 June 2005] however RUC detective Alan Simpson contradicts this date in his book Murder Madness: True Crimes of The Troubles” by stating that Ann Ogilby arrived in Belfast “some six years” before her murder, making the year of her arrival 1967 or 1968. [ref: Murder Madness: True Crimes of The Troubles, p.34]
  2. ^ The UDA was formed in September 1971 as an umbrella organisation for the many loyalist vigilante groups known as “defence associations”. It was structured along military lines with brigades, battalions, companies, platoons and sections. Although Andy Tyrie was the overall commander, the brigadiers enjoyed a large degree of autonomy and regarded their own territories as “their personal fiefdoms”. [ref: Loyalists. Peter Taylor. p.199]. The UDA remained legal until 10 August 1992 when it was proscribed by the British Government.
  3. ^ Lily Douglas came from City Street, Henrietta Piper Cowan came from Teutonic Street, Josephine Agnes Brown from Blythe Street; located in Sandy Row. The others had Sandy Row addresses as well with the exception of Christine Kathleen Smith who lived in Tates Avenue, which is in the neighbouring Village area and Kathleen Whitla of Howard Street South in Donegall Pass. [ref: Ciaran Barnes. Andersonstown News]
  4. ^ Although Lily Douglas admitted to the CID that she made the necessary arrangements for the disposal of Ann Ogilby’s body, she refused to give the names of the men who carried out the removal. Ciaran Barnes alleged that Sandy Row UDA commander Sammy Murphy (now deceased) was involved. [ref=”Sunday Life. Ciaran Barnes]

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My ‘time’ in the Crum Prison – mid 80s

My ‘time’ in the Crum Prison – mid 80s

…but a matter of life and death. These were the lads who would go on to be the ‘top boys’ of Loyalist paramilitarism and in time would become infamous in Belfast and well beyond. They’d do time in the Maze prison or in ‘ the Crum’ – the damp, dank Crumlin Road gaol that is now a major tourist attraction in Belfast. I have to confess that I was in there too – but not for any romantic notion of defending Loyalism against hordes of Republican invaders.

In fact, it was for motoring offences.

            I had a very reckless approach to taxing and insuring my scooter and given that I was prone to crashing or falling off it, this wasn’t great behaviour. Time after time the RUC would flag me down and demand that I produce my documents at the nearest station. Of course, I never had any of these so it would be off to court, and a fine that I couldn’t or wouldn’t pay. This happened so frequently that eventually the magistrate demanded that I either pay the fine straight away or spend three days in Crumlin Road gaol.

            Well, I didn’t have much else to do that weekend, to be honest. And I didn’t want to be slapped with a big fine that would be on my mind for ages. So to the surprise of the magistrate I said, ‘I’ll take prison, please,’ and with that I was marched down the steps of the dock and through the tunnel that links the courthouse with the gaol. As I walked I thought about all the paramilitary hard men from both sides who’d been taken on this very journey, many receiving multiple life sentences for the terrible stuff they’d done. I wasn’t exactly in their ranks, but a taste of the Crum would be something to tell the boys when I was finally sprung on the Monday.

Me in my mod days and when I was banged up !

            Unfortunately for me, I’d overlooked two things. The first was that my time in prison coincided with a bank holiday Monday. There wouldn’t be enough screws present that day to take me through the release procedure, so I’d have to come out on the Tuesday instead. That took the wind out of my sails a wee bit. The second was my clothing. I’d arrived at court complete with sixties paisley shirt, eyeliner and a string of beads around my neck. This wasn’t great gear for going to prison in and when I arrived in the prison to take the obligatory shower the screw in charge gave me a filthy look.

            ‘Are ye seriously goin’ in there looking like a fruit,’ he asked. ‘D’ye think that’ll be fun for ye?’

            I looked at myself in the cracked mirror. The guy was right. Some of the fellas in here were psychos, not exactly sympathetic to lads who looked a bit gay, as I’m sure I did. I couldn’t do much about the shirt, but I scrubbed off the eyeliner and handed in the love beads for safekeeping. Then, in an act of defiance, I scratched the words ‘Mods UTC’ (‘Up The Hoods’) on the door of the shower with a pen before handing that in too. I headed into the prison and to my cell for what turned out to be a pleasant few days.

My graffiti is still there.

Because I wasn’t in for anything heinous nobody took any notice of me. Also, I was a skinny lad with hollow legs and I enjoyed the carb-heavy prison food served up to us three times a day. I can’t say I was sorry to be released but it was an experience, and I could always talk it up a bit for the benefit of my mates.

            Many years later I took my young son on an organised tour of the prison, which is now a museum. I showed him the shower, and the graffiti that I’d etched on to the door. An American tourist overheard me talking to my boy about my ‘time’ in the Crum, and for the rest of the tour he and his fellow visitors treated me like royalty – Republican, no doubt. I didn’t tell them the truth . . . .why let the facts get in the way of a good story ?

            As I’ve said, the spell in gaol was towards the end of a long period of joy-riding, shoplifting and drug-taking, some of which I was lifted for, many others that I got away with. In the 1980s, stealing cars and joyriding was almost a full-time occupation for many of Northern Ireland’s teenage males , especially in the Loyalist and Republican-controlled ghettos. There was always a danger that an untrained driver would crash, accidentally or deliberately, into an army checkpoint and be shot dead, and this happened on multiple occasions during the Troubles. I wasn’t confident enough to drive, but I was a regular passenger in cars that had been stolen by my mates in Belfast city centre and driven at high-speed back up to Glencairn, where they’d be burned out.

            This was the scenario one such Saturday night, when we jacked a car just…

See : Tarred and Feathered: Street Justice Belfast Style.

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Joe McCann – Life & Death

Joe McCann – Life & Death

Joe McCann (2 November 1947 – 15 April 1972) was an Irish republican volunteer. A member of the Irish Republican Army and later the Official Irish Republican Army, he was active in politics from the early 1960s and participated in the early years of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

He was shot dead, after being confronted by RUC Special Branch and British paratroopers in 1972.

Early life

Joe McCann

He was born in the Lower Falls area of Belfast, and spent most of his life there and in the nearby Markets area of the city. His mother died when he was four years old leaving, four children. His father remarried. He was educated at the Christian Brothers school on Barrack Street in Belfast, where he developed an interest in the Irish language. A bricklayer by trade, he joined the Fianna Éireann at age 14 and the IRA in the early 1960s.

In 1964 he was involved in a riot on Divis Street in Belfast in opposition to the threat from loyalist leader Ian Paisley to march on the area and remove an Irish tricolour flying over the election office of Billy McMillen. In 1965 he was arrested for the possession of bayonets with five other men. They served nine months in Crumlin Road jail. He had expressed an interest in the priesthood while a teenager. He joined the Third Order of Saint Francis in his later teens.

McCann was active in the IRA’s involvement in the civil rights activism, protesting against the development of the Divis Flats. McCann became Officer Commanding of the IRA in the Markets, involved in housing issues and any matters which related to local government.

In 1969, after sectarian rioting in Belfast, the IRA split into two factions: the newly created Provisional Irish Republican Army, traditionalist militarists, and the existing organisation, which became known as the Official IRAMarxist-Leninist-oriented socialists. McCann sided with the Officials. His brothers Dennis, Patrick and Brian, also joined the OIRA.

Personal life

McCann married Anne McKnight who hailed from a strong republican family in the Markets area in Belfast. Anne’s older brother, Bobby, was part of the 1956–62 border campaign and was arrested and jailed, as well as later being interned. Anne’s brother Seán sided with the Provisionals after the 1969 split, and went on to represent South Belfast for Sinn Féin.

IRA activities

McCann was appointed commander of the OIRA’s Third Belfast Battalion. By 1970, violence in Northern Ireland had escalated to the point where British soldiers were deployed there in large numbers. From 3–5 July 1970, McCann was involved in gun battles during the Falls Curfew between the Official IRA and up to 3,000 British soldiers in the Lower Falls area that left four civilians dead from gunshot wounds, another killed after being hit by an armoured car and 60 injured.

On 22 May 1971, the first British soldier to die at the hands of the Official IRA, Robert Bankier of the Royal Green Jackets was killed by a unit led by McCann. McCann’s unit opened fire on a passing British mobile patrol near Cromac Square, hitting the patrol from both sides. He was the fourth British soldier to die on active service & the seventh overall since the conflict began.

Robert Bankier

In another incident, McCann led a unit which captured three UVF members in Sandy Row. The UVF had raided an OIRA arms dump earlier that day and the OIRA announced they would execute the three prisoners if the weapons were not returned. McCann eventually released the three UVF members, allegedly because they were “working class men”.

On 9 August 1971, his unit took over the Inglis bakery in the Markets area and fortified it, following the introduction of internment without trial by the Northern Ireland authorities. They defended it throughout the night from 600 British soldiers who were seeking to arrest paramilitary suspects.

The action allowed other IRA members to slip out of the area and avoid arrest. He was photographed during the incident, holding an M1 carbine, against the background of a burning building and the Starry Plough flag.

Starry Plough flag (1914).svg

In early February 1972, he was involved in the attempted assassination of Ulster Unionist politician and Northern Ireland Minister for Home Affairs John Taylor in Armagh City, outside the then Hibernian Bank on Russell Street. McCann and another gunman fired on Taylor’s car with Thompson submachine guns, hitting him five times in the neck and head; he survived, though he was badly injured. In another incident MaCann and another man were standing outside a Belfast cinema to purchase tickets for the film Soldier Blue when McCann spotted a British Army checkpoint.

Death

McCann was killed on 15 April 1972 in Joy Street in The Markets, in disputed circumstances. He had been sent to Belfast by a member of the Dublin command as he was at the top of the RUC Special Branch wanted list. He was told by the Official IRA Belfast command to return for his own safety to Dublin. However he ignored their requests and remained in Belfast.

The RUC Special Branch was aware of his presence in Belfast and were on the look out for him. On the morning of his death, he was spotted by an RUC officer who reported his whereabouts to the British Parachute Regiment, who were carrying out a road block in the immediate area at the time. McCann was approached by the RUC officer who informed him that he was under arrest. McCann was unarmed and tried to run to evade arrest when confronted by the soldiers. He was shot dead at the corner of Joy Street and Hamilton Street after a chase on foot through the Markets.

McCann was hit 3 times according to the pathology report, the fatal shot hitting him in the buttock and passing up through his internal organs. Ten cartridge cases were found close to his body, indicating that he had been shot repeatedly at close range. Bullet holes were also visible in the walls of nearby houses.

See : 15th April – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

McCann was the leader of the most militant of the OIRA’s members in Belfast and was much more enthusiastic about the use of “armed struggle” in Northern Ireland than the OIRA leadership. His killing was closely followed by the organisation calling a ceasefire. As a result, it was rumoured that the reason that McCann was unarmed when he was killed was that the Official leadership had confiscated his personal weapon, a .38 pistol.

 Some former OIRA members have even alleged that McCann’s killing was set up by their Dublin leadership.

Five days of rioting followed his death. Turf Lodge, where McCann lived, was a no-go area and was openly patrolled by an OIRA land rover with the words “Official IRA – Mobile Patrol” emblazoned on the side. The OIRA shot five British soldiers, killing three, in revenge for McCann’s killing, in different incidents the following day in Belfast, Derry and Newry.

Funeral and tributes

Joe McCann’s funeral

McCann’s funeral on 18 April 1972 was attended by thousands of mourners. A guard of honour was provided by 20 OIRA volunteers and a further 200 women followed carrying flowers and wreaths. Four MPs including Bernadette Devlin were also in attendance. Cathal Goulding the Official IRA Chief of Staff, provided the graveside oration in Milltown Cemetery.

cathal goulding

Goulding said:

By shooting Joe McCann [the British government’s] Whitelaws and their Heaths and their Tuzos have shown the colour of their so called peace initiatives. They have re-declared war on the people…We have given notice, by action that no words can now efface, that those who are responsible for the terrorism that is Britain’s age old reaction to Irish demands will be the victim of that terrorism, paying richly in their own red blood for their crimes and the crimes of their imperial masters.

In spite of this hardline rhetoric, however, Goulding called a ceasefire just six weeks later, on 29 May 1972. One of the more surprising tributes to McCann came from Gusty Spence, leader of the Ulster Volunteer Force loyalist group. Spence wrote a letter of sympathy to McCann’s widow, expressing his, “deepest and profoundest sympathy” on the death of her husband.

“He was a soldier of the Republic and I a Volunteer of Ulster and we made no apology for being what we were or are…Joe once did me a good turn indirectly and I never forgot him for his humanity”.

This is thought to refer to an incident in which three UVF men wandered into the Lower Falls, were captured by OIRA men, but were released unharmed on McCann’s orders.

A memorial plaque in the Markets area of Belfast

In 1997, a plaque was unveiled at the spot on Joy street in the Markets where McCann was killed. Members of the various republican factions, the Workers’ Party of Ireland (ex Official IRA), Sinn Féin (political wing of the Provisional IRA) and the Irish Republican Socialist Party (a splinter, along with the Irish National Liberation Army from the Official republican movement in 1974) were all in attendance.

A ballad about Joe McCann has been authored in tribute by Eamon O’Doherty.

Inquiry and trial

In 2010, the Historical Enquiries Team investigation into the killing of Joe McCann found it was unjustified.

In December 2016, two British soldiers, known as Soldier A and Soldier C, were arrested and charged with murder. The trial commenced in Belfast April 2021. In May 2021, the trial collapsed and the two soldiers were acquitted. The judge found, amongst other things, that the soldiers’ statements given in 1972 to the Royal Military Police, on which the prosecution was based, were inadmissible because the statements were provided without the soldiers being under caution.

The family are set to apply to the Attorney General to request an inquest

Trial of ex-soldiers over 1972 killing of Official IRA member collapses

Two army veterans acquitted of Joe McCann’s murder after judge ruled some evidence inadmissible

Joe McCann’s widow, Anne, centre, leaves the court in Belfast
Joe McCann’s widow, Anne, centre, leaves the court in Belfast after the case collapsed. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

Rory Carroll Ireland correspondent@rorycarroll72

Tue 4 May 2021 19.16 BST

Two former British army paratroopers accused of murdering an Official IRA commander during the Troubles have been acquitted after their trial in Northern Ireland collapsed.

The two veterans, known as soldiers A and C, had been accused of murdering Joe McCann on 15 April 1972, in a closely watched trial with political ramifications.

The case collapsed when the Public Prosecution Service decided not to appeal against a decision by Mr Justice O’Hara to exclude some evidence as inadmissible.

The result delighted army veterans’ groups and their supporters, who said the case was the latest example of old soldiers being subjected to a politically motivated witch-hunt. McCann’s family said justice had been denied.

Joe McCann
Joe McCann. Photograph: PA

McCann was a member not of the Provisional IRA but its republican Marxist rival, the Official IRA. He was photographed in 1971 holding a rifle beside the Starry Plough, the flag of the Irish labour movement.

A year later when a Royal Ulster Constabulary officer tried to arrest McCann, he fled, prompting soldiers A and C and a now deceased paratrooper, soldier B, to open fire, hitting the 24-year-old in the back. The case hinged on whether the force used was reasonable.

Prosecutors said soldiers A and C believed McCann was armed but they found no weapon. A defence lawyer said McCann was suspected of murders and could have committed more if he had evaded arrest, leaving the soldiers with a “binary choice” of shooting to effect the arrest or letting him escape.

See Guardian for full story : Trial of ex-soldiers over 1972 killing of Official IRA member collapses

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Kriss Donald – The Brutal Racist Killing of an Innocent Schoolboy

Kriss Donald – The Racist Killing of an Innocent Schoolboy

Kriss Donald 2 July 1988 – 15 March 2004 

Kriss Donald was a 15-year-old white Scottish boy who was kidnapped and murdered in Glasgow in 2004 by a gang of men of Pakistani origins.

On 15 March 2004, Kriss was abducted from Kenmure Street by five men associated with a local British Pakistani gang led by Imran Shahid. The kidnapping was supposedly revenge for an attack on Shahid at a nightclub in Glasgow city centre the night before by a local white gang.

The innocent schoolboy had nothing to do with the attack and was randomly selected by the gang who were hunting for any white boy to exact revenge for the attack.

Kriss was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Despite protesting his innocence Kriss was bundled into a car and was savagely attacked over a prolonged period  of time before the gang took him to Clyde Walkway where he was horrifically  murdered .

The corner stated that the murder was the most savage and brutal they had ever seen. Kriss was beaten and then held down while he was repeated stabbed more that a dozen times. While still alive he was doused in petrol and set on fire as he bleed to death.

The RACIST Murder of Kriss Donald

The case highlighted the lack of attention the media and society in general give to white sufferers of racist attacks compared to that given to ethnic minorities. It is also suggested the crime demonstrates how society has been forced to redefine racism so as to no longer include white victims.

Daanish Zahid
Daanish Zahid

Initially, two men were arrested in connection with the crime. One man, Daanish Zahid, was found guilty of Kriss Donald’s murder on 18 November 2004 and was the first person to be convicted of racially motivated murder in Scotland.  

Zahid Mohammed

Another man, Zahid Mohammed, admitted involvement in the abduction of Donald and lying to police during their investigation and was imprisoned for five years. He was released after serving half of his sentence and returned to court to give evidence against three subsequent defendant

Three suspects were arrested in Pakistan in July 2005 and extradited to the UK in October 2005, following the intervention of Mohammed Sarwar, the MP for Glasgow Central.

Extradition of three men to Scotland

The Pakistani police had to engage in a “long struggle” to capture two of the escapees. There is no extradition treaty between Pakistan and Britain, but the Pakistani authorities agreed to extradite the suspects.

There were numerous diplomatic complications around the case, including apparent divergences between government activities and those of ambassadorial officials; government figures were at times alleged to be reluctant to pursue the case for diplomatic reasons.

Imran Shahid, Zeeshan Shahid, and Mohammed Faisal Mushtaq

The three extradited suspects, Imran Shahid, Zeeshan Shahid, and Mohammed Faisal Mushtaq, all in their late twenties, arrived in Scotland on 5 October 2005. They were charged with Donald’s murder the following day.  Their trial opened on 2 October 2006.

On 8 November 2006, the three men were found guilty of the racially motivated murder of Kriss Donald. All three had denied the charge, but a jury at the High Court in Edinburgh convicted them of abduction and murder.

 Each of the killers received sentences of life imprisonment, with Imran Shahid given a 25-year minimum term, Zeeshan Shahid a 23-year minimum and Mushtaq receiving a recommended minimum of 22 years

Lack of media coverage

The BBC has been criticised by some viewers because the case featured on national news only three times and the first trial was later largely confined to regional Scottish bulletins including the verdict itself. Although admitting that the BBC had “got it wrong”, the organisation’s Head of Newsgathering, Fran Unsworth, largely rejected the suggestion that Donald’s race played a part in the lack of reportage, instead claiming it was mostly a product of “Scottish blindness”.

In preference to reporting the verdict the organisation found the time to report the opening of a new arts centre in Gateshead in its running order. The BBC again faced criticisms for its failure to cover the second trial in its main bulletins, waiting until day 18 to mention the issue and Peter Horrocks of the BBC apologised for the organisation’s further failings.

Peter Fahy, spokesman of race issues for the Association of Chief Police Officers, noted that the media as a whole tended to under-report the racist murders of white people, stating

“it was a fact that it was harder to get the media interested where murder victims were young white men”.

The British National Party was accused by Scotland’s First Minister and Labour Party MSP Jack McConnell among others of seeking to exploit the case for political advantage, and an open letter signed by MSPs, trades unionists, and community leaders, condemned the BNP’s plans to stage a visit to Pollokshields. The group did hold a rally in the area, leading to accusations that it was fuelling racial tension.

Conduct of accused

HMP Barlinnie.jpg

Following their convictions, the killers – particularly Imran Shahid, due to his reputation and distinctive appearance – continued to draw attention for events that occurred inside the prison system. From the time of their remand in 2005, it was known to the authorities that other prisoners had particular intent to attack the accused, and an incident at HMP Barlinnie prompted Imran Shahid to be placed in solitary confinement, a practice which continued regularly until 2010, due to the continual threat of violence against him, and the aggressive behaviour he showed when he did come into contact with others.

He appealed against this measure as a breach of his human rights, which was rejected in 2011 and in 2014 but upheld in October 2015 by the UK Supreme Court. It was found that prison rules had not been correctly adhered to in the application for, or extension of, some periods totalling 14 months of his 56 months of detention, but that overall, the reasons for keeping him in solitary confinement for his own safety were valid.

He was not offered any financial compensation, which he had tried to claim.

In the interim, the concerns over violent reprisals had proven correct, as Shahid was attacked twice (the second incident, in which a fellow murderer struck him with a barbell weight in the gym at HMP Kilmarnock in 2013, caused serious injury)  and also attacked another prisoner with a barbell, for which he was sentenced to additional jail time in March 2016; he had received a concurrent sentence for violence in 2009 after being racially abused by another prisoner.

Shahid also received media attention for cases he brought against the prison service governors in 2017 for unlawful removal of his possessions (a ‘penis pump’ for erectile dysfunction which was deemed to have negligible medical benefit, and an Xbox games console which it was believed could have been adjusted to access the internet), which were dismissed.

Zahid Mohammed, who later changed his name to Yusef Harris to avoid connection to the murder, was convicted and imprisoned in 2017 for another separate incident involving weapons, threats and driving his vehicle at police.

In 2009, the sibling of the Shahid brothers, Ahsan Shahid, and the brother of Faisal Mushtaq, Farooq Mushtaq, were both convicted and imprisoned for their own involvement in violent gang-related disorder in Pollokshields which included the use of firearms. A third man, Omar Sadiq was also convicted. In September 2020, Omar Sadiq was stabbed to death in a violent attack in Glasgow. Ahsan Shahid also had previous convictions for fraud from 2002 and was jailed for the same crime in 2017 along with his wife.

Main source: Wikipedia

See: Three jailed for life for race murder of schoolboy

See: Racists are jailed for life after abducting and killing boy, 15

See: Race hate killer of Glasgow teen Kriss Donald shipped to sex beast wing of top security jail amid fears for his safety

See: One of the men jailed for life for murdering Glasgow teenager Kriss Donald has been given another jail term for lying in a bid to free an accomplice.

See also