14th May – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

14th May

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Sunday 14 May 1972

Martha Campbell

A 13 year old Catholic girl was shot dead by Loyalist paramilitaries in Ballymurphy, Belfast.

Monday 14 May 1973

Martin McGuinness was released from prison in the Republic of Ireland having served a six months sentence.

Tuesday 14 May 1974

Beginning of the Ulster Workers Council Strike

There was a debate in the Northern Ireland Assembly on a motion condemning power-sharing and the Council of Ireland. The motion was defeated by 44 votes to 28. At 6.00pm, following the conclusion of the Assembly debate, Harry Murray announced to a group of journalists that a general strike was to start the following day.

The organisation named as being responsible for calling the strike was the Ulster Workers’ Council (UWC). The action was to become known as the UWC Strike. The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and Sinn Féin (SF) were declared legal following the passing of legislation at Westminster.

Saturday 14 May 1977

Robert Nairac.jpg

Robert Nairac (29), a member of the British Army, was abducted by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) outside the Three Step Inn, near Forkhill, County Armagh.

His body was never recovered and he was presumed dead. He is listed as one of the ‘disappeared’.

[The IRA later stated that they had interrogated and killed a Special Air Service (SAS) officer. Nairac was posthumously awarded the George Cross.]

See Robert Nairac

Thursday 14 May 1981

Brendan McLaughlin, an Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoner in the Maze Prison, joined the hunger strike to replace Francis Hughes who had died on 12 May 1981.

See Hungry Strike

[McLaughlin was taken off the strike on 26 May 1981 when he suffered a perforated ulcer and internal bleeding.]

Wednesday 14 May 1986

The pressure group ‘Campaign for Equal Citizenship‘ was established at a meeting in Belfast. The CEC argued that British political parties, such as the Labour and Conservative, should organise and stand for election in Northern Ireland. The CEC was also in favour of the full administrative integration of Northern Ireland into the United Kingdom

Saturday 14 May 1994

David Wilson (27), a British Army (BA) soldier, was killed by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) during a bomb attack on a permanent Vehicle Checkpoint, Castleblaney Road, Keady, County Armagh.

Sunday 14 May 1995

The Sunday Business Post (a Dublin based newspaper) published a report of an interview with Peter Temple-Morris, then co-chairman of the British-Irish Interparliamentary Body. He expressed the view that Republican frustration with the lack of progress on all-party talks might lead to an end of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire.

Wednesday 14 May 1997

Gunmen tried to kill a taxi driver in Milford village, County Armagh.

The attempt failed when the gun jammed. The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) was believed to be responsible for the attack.

Betty Boothroyd, then Speaker of the House of Commons, ruled that the two Sinn Féin (SF) MPs would not be given office facilities at Westminster because they had refused to take their seats in the House.

In the Queen’s speech setting out the Labour governments legislative plans it was announced that the North Report on parades and marches would be implemented in 1998. In addition the European Convention on Human Rights would be incorporated into forthcoming legislation on Northern Ireland.

Thursday 14 May 1998

Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, paid another visit to Northern Ireland to continue campaigning for a ‘Yes’ vote in the referendum. During his visit he delivered a key note speech.

Friday 14 May 1999

There were further political talks in London involving the two Prime Ministers and the leaders of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and Sinn Féin (SF). Before the meeting Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF) expressed concern about the state of the ceasefires of the main Loyalist paramilitary groups.

He claimed that the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) had co-operated with other Loyalist groups in carrying out attacks on Catholic homes.

At the meeting Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, announced an “absolute” deadline of 30 June 1999 for the formation of an Executive and the devolution of power to the Northern Ireland Assembly. Proposals put before the parties were thought to have been agreed by, David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), the Irish Government, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and Sinn Féin (SF).

[However the UUP Assembly party failed to endorse the proposals. The proposals would have seen the d’Hondt procedure for the appointment of ministers in a power-sharing executive triggered in the coming week, with full devolution achieved by the end of June, following a report on “progress” on decommissioning by Gen. John de Chastelain.]

Sunday 14 May 2000

Cyril Ramaphosa, former secretary-general of the African National Congress (ANC), and Martti Ahtisaari, former President of Finland, both of whom were appointed as arms inspectors arrived in Northern Ireland. The arms inspectors report to the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD).

 

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Remembering all innocent victims of the Troubles

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

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die

– Thomas Campbell

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

– To the Paramilitaries –

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

10 People lost their lives on the 14th between 1972 – 1994

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14 May 1972


Marta Campbell   (13)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)
Shot while walking along Springhill Avenue, Ballymurphy, Belfast.

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14 May 1972


John Pedlow   (17)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Died one day after being shot during gun battle between Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Loyalists, Springmartin Road, Belfast.

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14 May 1972
Gerard McCusker   (24)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)
Found shot on waste ground, Hopeton Street, Shankill, Belfast.

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14 May 1973


John McCormac   (34)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Died three days after being shot while walking along Raglan Street, Lower Falls, Belfast.

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14 May 1973


Roy Rutherford  (33)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed by booby trap bomb in derelict cottage, Moy Road, Portadown, County Armagh

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14 May 1977


Robert Nairac   (29)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Undercover British Army (BA) member. Abducted outside Three Step Inn, near Forkhill, County Armagh. Presumed killed. Body never recovered.

See Robert Nairac

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14 May 1980
Roy Hamilton   (22)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Republican group (REP)
Shot at his workplace, a building site, Ballymagroarty, Derry.

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14 May 1981


Samuel Vallely   (23)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in rocket attack on Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) mobile patrol, Springfield Road, Belfast.

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14 May 1984
Seamus Fitzsimmons   (21)

Cathc
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)
Shot by undercover Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) members during attempted robbery at Post Office, Ballygalley, near Larne, County Antrim.

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14 May 1994
David Wilson   (27)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed during bomb attack on British Army (BA) permanent Vehicle Check Point (VCP), Castleblaney Road, Keady, County Armagh.

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Proud to be a Loyalist – But I don’t hate Catholic’s

I am 

Unashamedly Proud of My Loyalist and British Heritage.

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In fact I want the world to know that despite what loony lefties and followers of Corbyn think – its perfectly normal to take pride in our country and celebrate and embrace our long and glorious history.

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Someone emailed me yesterday after visiting my website and praised me for writing about the history of The Troubles and commemorating the memory of all those who had died during the  30 year conflict.

So far – so good!

And then she asked me………..

“Did I hate Catholic’s and what I thought of a United Ireland ?”.

Well at this stage my antenna went up and I thought ” Here we go again “

Let me explain….

When I set up this blog/website  last year my primary objective was to promote my Autobiography Belfast Child and hopefully attract some attention from the publishing world and maybe one day see my book printed and share my story with the world.

That was the objective anyways and the process  has been long and full of disappointments – but I am now working with high profile ghost writing Tom Henry  to complete the book and his enthusiasm for the subject is feeding my dream.

 

I  have always   thought I had an interesting story to tell ( I would wouldn’t I ? ) and within weeks of launching the site I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was receiving a lot of visitors and people were commenting on my story. As of yesterday I have had more 100,000 visitors to the site and this figure is growing and increasing weekly by a few thousand and this I must say surprised me.

It had always been my aim to dedicate the book/my story to the memory of all those killed in the Troubles  and off course to the memory of  my beloved father John Chambers – who died way to young and left a wound in my soul that can never been healed or soothed.

So with this in mind I decided to use my website to tell the story of the Northern Ireland conflict and include an unbiased (mostly) comprehensive history of all major events and deaths in the Troubles. Due to my loyalist heritage and background this has not always been easy, considering I lived through the worst years of the Troubles among the loyalist communities of West Belfast and like those around me I was on the front-line of the sectarian slaughter and there was no escape from the madness that surrounded and engulfed us.

I blamed the IRA ( and other republican terrorists ) for all the woes of life in Belfast and  I hated them with a passion  – still do.

Growing up as a protestant in Northern Ireland  is unlike life in any other part of the UK or British territories and from cradle to grave our lives are governed by the tenuous umbilical cord that reluctantly connects us to the rest of the UK and Westminster’s corridors of power.

Unlike most other communities throughout the UK we are fanatically proud of our Britishness and we have literally fought for the right to remain part of Britain and have Queen Elizabeth II as the mother of our nation.

Long may she reign

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If you have read extracts from my Autobiography Belfast Child ( It’s worth it – promise ) you will know that  I was raised within the heartlands of loyalist Northern Ireland – The Glorious Shankill Road.

The UDA ( Ulster Defense Force) and other loyalist paramilitaries governed and controlled our daily lives and lived and operated among us. The loyalist community stood as one against the IRA and other republican terrorists and although there was often war between the various different groups , they were untied in their hatred of Republican’s and pride in the Union.

The definition of loyalist is :

a. A supporter of union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland

b. A person who remains loyal to the established ruler or government, especially in the face of a revolt.

 

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Why Ireland split into the Republic of Ireland & Northern Ireland

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A bit of history for you

A very brief  outlined of the beginning of the modern troubles

Whilst the Protestants’ clung to their British sovereignty and took pride in the union, our Catholic counterparts felt abandoned and second class citizens in a Unionist run state. The civil rights marches of the 60’s & Republican calls for a United Ireland were the catalyst for the IRA and other Republican terrorist groups to take up arms against the British and feed the paranoia of the loyalist community.

Northern Ireland descended into decades of sectarian conflict & slaughter. An attack on the crown was an attack on the Protestant people of the North and the Protestant paramilitaries took up arms and waged an indiscriminate war against the IRA, the Catholic population and each other. Many innocent Catholic’s and Protestant’s became targets of psychopathic sectarian murder squad’s. Murder was almost a daily occurrence and the killings on both sides perpetuated the hatred and mistrust between the two ever-warring communities. It was a recipe for disaster and Northern stood on the brink of all out civil war.

Growing up in this environment it is hardly surprising to learn that  I hated republicans and all they stood for. But that doesn’t mean I hated Catholic’s or Irish people and would  wish  any harm on them – I don’t and I didn’t.

It means I have a different point of view and democracy is all about freedom of choice and my choice is to maintain the Union with the UK and embrace and celebrate my loyalist culture and tradition. It also means I have the right to take pride in the union with the rest of the UK and I wear my nationality like a badge of honor for all the world to  see.

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proud to be british jason mawer

Jason Mawer has been warned twice to remove his jacket in case it offends someone

The unique Mod-style jacket in red, white and blue was made a few years ago for a Who convention in London

Pub landlord Jason Mawer has twice been asked in public to remove his treasured Union Jack jacket – for risk of it being ‘offensive’.

He was told to take off his valuable Mod-style Barbour jacket – designed in honour of legendary rock band The Who – by officials who appeared to be council enforcement officers.

On the second occasion the female official warned him: ‘Would you mind removing your coat it might offend somebody.’

See Daily Mail for full Story 

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In recent years it has become almost politically  “incorrect” to show any signs of pride in being British and mad lefties and their deluded disciples are always banging on about offending other religions and communities throughout the UK. The fact that the UK has such a diverse melting pot of different nationalities and religions  and is generally accommodating to them – is lost on these do gooders and they ignore our country’s  long history of religious and politically tolerance and instead accuse us of being  xenophobic  and this offends me no end.

Have they forgotten that it was our forefathers who fought and died for our great nation and our democracy is built on their ultimate  sacrifice for our freedom – they did not die in vain.

…back to the email

If you had taken the time to have a proper  look through my site you would be aware that I commemorate the deaths of all innocent people killed as a direct result of the conflict in Northern Ireland , regardless of political or religious  background  . I also cover the deaths of paramilitaries from both sides killed “in Action” as my objective to to give a complete picture of the history of the Troubles.

I receive lots of emails and comments about my site and although most of these are positive –  a few ( normally from republicans ) accuse me of being a loyalist and somehow responsible for the all the deaths in Northern Ireland’s tortured history. Generally I ignore these emails as they are so far of the mark – if they had taken the time to read my story they would know a bit more about my history and know that I preach love – not hate!

Just because I am proud of the union and my British heritage does not mean I hate Catholics or Irish people or any others for that matter – in fact I judge no man on his colour , creed , religious or political background (apart from Republican Terrorists ).

I judge people on their humanity and empathy towards others and the world around us . Life is for living – so live and let live.

Anne Frank

“In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
Anne Frank

The Rise & Fall of UDA Brigadier of Bling James Gray – AKA ” Doris Day”

The Rise & Fall of UDA Brigadier of Bling James Gray 

 

doris day.JPG

AKA ” Doris Day”

James Gray (1958 – 4 October 2005), known as Jim Gray, was a Northern Irish loyalist and the East Belfast brigadier of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), the largest Ulster loyalist paramilitary organisation in Northern Ireland.

He was often nicknamed “Doris Day” for his flamboyant clothing, jewellery, and dyed blond hair. Another media nickname for Gray was the “Brigadier of Bling”. He was the owner of several bars in East Belfast.

 

Jim Gray

 

Jim gray.jpg

Jim Gray
Birth name James Gray
Nickname(s) “Doris Day”
Born 1958
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Died 4 October 2005 (aged 46–47)
East Belfast, Northern Ireland
Allegiance Ulster Defence Association (UDA)
Rank Brigadier
Unit East Belfast Brigade
Conflict The Troubles

 

 – Disclaimer –

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

Early life

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Gray, the son of James and Elizabeth Gray, was born in 1958 and raised a Protestant in East BelfastHe had one sister, Elizabeth. He left school at age 15 and had ambitions of becoming a professional golfer, playing off a handicap of three.

He briefly worked at the Short Brothers‘ factory but did not hold the job long as he was heavily involved in petty crime with the Tartan gangs prevalent in loyalist areas at the time.

Ulster Defence Association

According to an interview in the Sunday World with his ex-wife Anne Tedford, to whom a youthful Gray was married for four years (a marriage that produced one son, Jonathan), Gray joined the loyalist paramilitary Ulster Defence Association (UDA) when she was in maternity hospital. She claimed that Gray was offered a lift home by a near-neighbour, Gary Matthews, who was already a UDA member, and that Matthews had Gray sworn in as a member soon afterwards.

He eventually rose to become brigadier of the East Belfast Brigade, taking over after Ned McCreery was killed by the UDA in 1992.

 

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Who killed UDA Boss?

 

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Brigadier

Nicknamed “Doris Day” and the “Brigadier of Bling”, Gray, who was 6’3″ in height, became known as the most flamboyant leader in the UDA with his dyed blond bouffant hair, permanent suntan, gold earring, ostentatious jewellery, and expensive pastel clothing.

 

 

In their book UDA – Inside the Heart of Loyalist Terror, journalists Henry McDonald and Jim Cusack described him as “looking more like an ageing New Romantic” than the leader of a paramilitary organisation.

He once attended a UDA meeting with the Secretary of State for Northern IrelandJohn Reid wearing a loud Hawaiian-print shirt with a pink jumper draped over his shoulders.

A heavy cocaine user, Gray made large amounts of money from selling drugs, protection racketeering, and extortion.

Gray’s criminal empire was reported to have made him one of the richest brigadiers in UDA history. He also acquired several bars in his native east Belfast. One of these, the “Avenue One” in Templemore Avenue, he used as the headquarters for his substantial criminal empire. He lived in an expensive luxury flat in an exclusive private residence and was protected by a devoted gang dubbed “the Spice Boys”.

 

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Rangers 3 Celtic 2…Amazing Penny Arcade & Blue Sea Of Ibrox

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A supporter of Rangers, Gray was reported as knowing a number of players personally and meeting them during his regular visits to Ibrox Park

Renowned for his violent temper, he once allegedly brutally beat then stomped on a man’s head during an outdoor Rod Stewart concert at Stormont in full view of the audience. On another occasion, he violently attacked a man with a golf club after the latter had beaten him in a game of golf. For that assault, Gray was barred from the Ormeau Golf Club.

He had allegedly ordered the killing of his predecessor McCreery, whom he accused of being a police informer. Gray then took over his brigade and one of his pubs. In January 2001, the gunman, Geordie Legge met a grisly end, allegedly at the hands of Gray and his henchmen. Legge had reportedly denounced Gray’s organised criminal racket and tried to interfere with Gray’s lucrative drug-dealing, and he was repeatedly tortured and stabbed to death inside “The Bunch of Grapes”, another of Gray’s east Belfast pubs.

 

Image result for James Gray uda bunch of grapes

After the killing, Legge’s body was placed in a carpet and dumped outside Belfast. Legge’s knife wounds were so severe that his head was almost severed from the body. The pub was set on fire to eliminate the signs of the torture that had been carried out inside. Gray was one of the mourners who attended Legge’s funeral. 

Gray and his right-hand man Gary Matthews, who co-owned the Bunch of Grapes, sought to claim on their insurance for the pub fire and sued AXA when they refused to pay out. Gray and Matthews were eventually forced to drop the case as the judge did not accept their version of events surrounding the fire and AXA successfully argued that they had not disclosed their UDA membership when they took out the policy.

The following year on 13 September 2002, Gray was shot in the face by UDA rivals; the plastic surgery to repair the considerable facial injuries cost £11,000. The shooting, which was blamed on West Belfast Brigadier Johnny Adairhad been described by the police as “loosely related” to the death of Stephen Warnock, a Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) leader, in one of the loyalist feuds.

 

Image result for johnny adair

Adair had previously started a whispering campaign against both Gray and John Gregg of the UDA South East Antrim Brigade, claiming both men were to be stood down as part of his attempts to take full control of the UDA.

As part of this Adair, who was close to the LVF, had visited the Warnock family and suggested that Gray had been involved in their relative’s death (which had actually been carried out by a hired Red Hand Commando gunman after Warnock refused to pay a drug debt to a North Down businessman).

As a result, Gray was shot by a lone gunman after he left the Warnock home, where he had been paying his respects to the deceased. On 25 September, Gray discharged himself from the Ulster Hospital to attend a meeting of all the brigadiers bar Adair at which he, John Gregg, Jackie McDonaldBilly McFarland and Andre Shoukri found Adair guilty of treason for his role in Gray’s shooting and released a press statement to the effect that Adair was expelled from the UDA.

 Two weeks after the attack, Gray flew to Tenerife for a holiday.[citation needed] He allegedly owned property in Spain.

Gray’s son, Jonathan, died of a drugs overdose in 2002 while with his father on holiday in Thailand. An October 2005 report by the Belfast Telegraph claimed that Jim Gray was bisexual and would regularly take holidays to Thailand to have sex with teenage boys.

 

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Loyalists Episode

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Expulsion and arrest

Gray was expelled by the UDA leadership in March 2005, for “treason” and “building a criminal empire outside the UDA”, according to the South Belfast brigadier, Jackie McDonald. It was suggested that Gray was a Special Branch informer who passed on information to the police about his friends and associates.

In April that year, he was arrested whilst driving; several thousand pounds were found in the car, and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) believed he was intending to travel to the Republic of Ireland with what they suspected to be the proceeds of drug dealing and extortion. Gray was charged with money laundering, and held in custody until September when he was released on bail.

During this time, police raids on a number of locations brought in thousands of documents related to this investigation. At the same time the prominent Belfast estate agent Philip Johnston was also arrested under suspicion of money laundering.

Gray was replaced as head of the UDA East Belfast Brigade by Jimmy Birch.

Shooting death

Gray was shot five times in the back and killed outside his father’s house in the east Belfast Clarawood estate on 4 October 2005, by two unknown gunmen. The shooting took place at 8 p.m. while he was unloading weight-lifting equipment from the boot of his silver Mini Cooper.

As his body lay on the front lawn, local people took photos and passed the news to others via their mobile phones.

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According to Gray’s father, his son had left the house after Gary Matthews arrived to give him a set of weights and cigarettes that he had bought for Gray in Spain. Shots rang out and when Gray’s father went out to see what had happened he found his son had been shot and Matthews was ringing for an ambulance.

The involvement of other loyalist factions was suspected, fueling speculation that he was murdered to prevent him making an agreement with the police to expose his former associates in the UDA. Six people were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the murder,

Ultimately however no charges were brought with the investigating officer, Detective Inspector Deborah McMaster, admitting at Gray’s inquest in 2007 that the police had largely given up on securing any convictions due to a lack of evidence.

East Belfast MP Peter Robinson (later First Minister of Northern Ireland from 2008 to January 2016) stated after Gray’s killing that:

“there was no excuse for the murder”.

 

Fellow UDA member and former friend, Michael Stone claimed that Gray had told him he was a businessman rather than a loyalist, as loyalism did not pay the bills.

Unlike most brigadiers, he was not given a paramilitary funeral, complete with volleys of gunfire fired over the coffin. It was a private affair, attended by only 14 mourners. As a further sign of his unpopularity among loyalists, a street disco was held in east Belfast to celebrate his death.

 

doris day funeral

Gray’s effigy, with a curtain ring representing his trademark single gold earring, was thrown upon a bonfire. In lieu of murals dedicated to his memory, there was only graffiti scrawled on an east Belfast wall which read:

“Jim Gray RIP – Rest in Pink”.

 

Gray’s estate was frozen by the Assets Recovery Agency as part of an investigation into his criminality.

 

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MacIntyre’s Underworld Mad Dog

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See:  John Gregg (UDA) The man who shot Gerry Adam?

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See: Michael Stone – Loyalist Hero or Psychopath?

 

 

Bibliography

  • Lister, David & Jordan, Hugh (2004). Mad Dog – The Rise and Fall of Johnny Adair and C Company, Edinburgh: Mainstream Publishing.
  • McDonald, Henry & Cusack, Jim (2004). UDA – Inside the Heart of Loyalist Terror. Dublin: Penguin Ireland.

 – Disclaimer –

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

 

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Dread Pirate Roberts & The Silk Road

Dread Pirate Roberts

 

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Ross Ulbricht

&

The Silk Road

Image result for the silk road logo

 

Silk Road was an online black market and the first modern darknet market, best known as a platform for selling illegal drugs. As part of the dark webit was operated as a Tor hidden service, such that online users were able to browse it anonymously and securely without potential traffic monitoring. The website was launched in February 2011; development had begun six months prior.

 Initially there were a limited number of new seller accounts available; new sellers had to purchase an account in an auction. Later, a fixed fee was charged for each new seller account.[

In October 2013, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) shut down the website and arrested Ross Ulbricht under charges of being the site’s pseudonymous founder “Dread Pirate Roberts”.

On 6 November 2013, Silk Road 2.0 came online, run by former administrators of Silk Road.

It too was shut down, and the alleged operator was arrested on 6 November 2014 as part of the so-called “Operation Onymous“. Ulbricht was convicted of eight charges related to Silk Road in the U.S. Federal Court in Manhattan and was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole

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The Silk Road: who was the real Dread Pirate Roberts

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History

Operations

 

Silk Road was founded in February 2011. The name “Silk Road” comes from a historical network of trade routes started during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) between Europe, India, China, and many other countries on the Afro-Eurasian landmass. Silk Road was operated by the pseudonymous “Dread Pirate Roberts” (named after the fictional character from The Princess Bride), who was known for espousing libertarian ideals and criticizing regulationTwo other individuals were also closely involved in the site’s growth and success, known as Variety Jones and Smedley.

In June 2011, Gawker published an article about the site  which led to “Internet buzz” and an increase in website traffic. Once the site was known publicly, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer asked federal law enforcement authorities to shut it down, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Department of Justice.

In May 2013, Silk Road was taken down for a short period of time by a sustained DDoS attack. On 23 June 2013, it was first reported that the DEA seized 11.02 bitcoins, then worth a total of $814, which the media suspected was a result of a Silk Road honeypot sting.

 

The FBI has claimed that the real IP address of the Silk Road server was found via data leaked directly from the site’s CAPTCHA, but security researchers believe that the PHP login page was manipulated to output its $_SERVER variable and real IP following site maintenance reconfiguration.

Henry Farrell, an associate professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, analyzed Silk Road in an essay for Aeon in 2015.

He noted that Ulbricht created the marketplace to function without government oversight but found it difficult to verify anonymous transactions. To sustain a steady stream of revenue, he started increasing oversight to ensure low transaction costs. To do this, he added measures to ensure trustworthiness with implementation of an automated escrow payment system and automated review system.

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The dark Web, Silk Road

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Arrest and trial of Ross Ulbricht

Image result for the silk road road ross

Thanks in part to off-duty research conducted by IRS criminal investigator Gary Alford, Ross Ulbricht was alleged by the FBI to be the founder and owner of Silk Road and the person behind the pseudonym “Dread Pirate Roberts” (DPR). He was arrested on 2 October 2013 in San Francisco  at 3:15 p.m. PST

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in Glen Park Library, a branch of the San Francisco Public Library. Ulbricht was indicted on charges of money launderingcomputer hacking, conspiracy to traffic narcotics, and attempting to have six people killed.Prosecutors alleged that Ulbricht paid $730,000 to others to commit the murders, although none of the murders actually occurred. Ulbricht ultimately was not prosecuted for any of the alleged murder attempts.

The FBI initially seized 26,000 bitcoins from accounts on Silk Road, worth approximately $3.6 million at the time. An FBI spokesperson said that the agency would hold the bitcoins until Ulbricht’s trial finished, after which the bitcoins would be liquidated.

In October 2013, the FBI reported that it had seized 144,000 bitcoins, worth $28.5 million, and that the bitcoins belonged to Ulbricht. On 27 June 2014, the U.S. Marshals Service sold 29,657 bitcoins in 10 blocks in an online auction, estimated to be worth $18 million at current rates and only about a quarter of the seized bitcoins. Another 144,342 bitcoins were kept which had been found on Ulbricht’s computer, roughly $87 million.

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What are bitcoins?

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Tim Draper bought the bitcoins at the auction with an estimated worth of $17 million, to lend them to a bitcoin start-up called Vaurum which is working in developing economies of emerging markets.

Ulbricht’s trial began on 13 January 2015 in Federal Court in Manhattan. At the start of the trial, Ulbricht admitted to founding the Silk Road website, but claimed to have transferred control of the site to other people soon after he founded it.  Ulbricht’s lawyers contended that Dread Pirate Roberts was really Mark Karpelès, and that Karpelès set up Ulbricht as a fall guy.

However, Judge Katherine B. Forrestruled that any speculative statements regarding whether Karpelès or anyone else ran Silk Road would not be allowed, and statements already made would be stricken from the record.

In the second week of the trial, prosecutors presented documents and chat logs from Ulbricht’s computer that, they said, demonstrated how Ulbricht had administered the site for many months, which contradicted the defense’s claim that Ulbricht had relinquished control of Silk Road. Ulbricht’s attorney suggested that the documents and chat logs were planted there by way of BitTorrent, which was running on Ulbricht’s computer at the time of his arrest.

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What is BitTorrent?

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On 4 February 2015, the jury convicted Ulbricht of seven charges, including charges of engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, and computer hacking. He faced 30 years to life in prison.  The government also accused Ulbricht of paying for the murders of at least five people, but there is no evidence that the murders were actually carried out, and the accusations never became formal charges against Ulbricht.

During the trial, Judge Forrest received death threats. Users of an underground site called The Hidden Wiki posted her personal information there, including her address and Social Security number. Ulbricht’s lawyer Joshua Dratel said that he and his client “obviously, and as strongly as possible, condemn” the anonymous postings against the judge.

“They do not in any way have anything to do with Ross Ulbricht or anyone associated with him or reflect his views or those of anyone associated with him”,

 

Dratel said.

Image result for Carl Mark Force

In late March 2015, a criminal complaint issued by the United States District Court for the Northern District of California led to the arrest of two former federal agents who had worked undercover in the Baltimore Silk Road investigation of Ulbricht, former Drug Enforcement Administration agent Carl Mark Force IV and Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges.

The agents are alleged to have kept funds that Ulbricht transferred to them in exchange for purported information about the investigation. The agents were charged with wire fraud and money laundering.

In late November 2016, Ulbricht’s lawyers brought forward a case on a third DEA agent, who they claim was leaking information about the investigation and tampered with evidence to omit chat logs showing conversations with him.

In a letter to Judge Forrest before his sentencing, Ulbricht stated that his actions through Silk Road were committed through libertarian idealism and that “Silk Road was supposed to be about giving people the freedom to make their own choices” and admitted that he made a “terrible mistake” that “ruined his life”.

On May 29, 2015, Ulbricht was given five sentences to be served concurrently, including two for life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

He was also ordered to forfeit $183 million. Ulbricht’s lawyer Joshua Dratel said that he would appeal the sentencing and the original guilty verdict. On May 31, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied Ulbricht’s appeal, and affirmed the judgment of conviction and life sentence, in a written opinion authored by the Honorable Gerard E. Lynch, United States Circuit Judge.

The Supreme Court declined to review the case.

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Other trials

In February 2013, an Australian cocaine and MDMA (“ecstasy”) dealer became the first person to be convicted of crimes directly related to Silk Road, after authorities intercepted drugs that he was importing through the mail, searched his premises, and discovered his Silk Road alias in an image file on his personal computer.

Australian police and the DEA have targeted Silk Road users and made arrests, albeit with limited success at reaching convictions. In December 2013, a New Zealand man was sentenced to two years and four months in jail after being convicted of importing 15 grams of methamphetamine that he had bought on Silk Road.

Dutch drug dealer 23-year-old Cornelis Jan “Maikel” Slomp  pled guilty for large scale selling of drugs through the Silk Road website and was sentenced in Chicago to 10 years in prison on 29 May 2015 with his attorney, Paul Petruzzi, present.

Dealer Steven Sadler was sentenced to five years in prison. There have been over 130 other arrests connected with The Silk Road, although some of these arrests may not be directly related to The Silk Road, and may not be public information due to legal reasons.

Products

In March 2013, the site had 10,000 products for sale by vendors, 70% of which were drugs. In October 2014, there were 13,756 listings for drugs, grouped under the headings stimulantspsychedelicsprescriptionprecursors, other, opioidsecstasydissociatives, and steroids/PEDs.

Fake driver’s licenses were also offered for sale. The site’s terms of service prohibited the sale of certain items. When the Silk Road marketplace first began the creator and administrators instituted terms of service that prohibited the sale of anything whose purpose was to “harm or defraud”.

This included child pornography, stolen credit cards, assassinations, and weapons of any type; other darknet markets such as Black Market Reloaded gained user notoriety because they were not as restrictive on these items as the Silk Road incarnations were.

There were also legal goods and services for sale, such as apparelartbookscigaretteseroticajewelery, and writing services. A sister site, called “The Armory”, sold weapons (primarily guns) during 2012, but was shut down because of a lack of demand.

Buyers were able to leave reviews of sellers’ products on the site, and in an associated forum where crowdsourcing provided information about the best sellers and worst scammers.Most products were delivered through the mail, with the site’s seller’s guide instructing sellers how to vacuum-seal their products to escape detection.[78]

Sales

 

flowchart depicting Silk Road’s payment system. Exhibit 113 A, entered into evidence at Ulbricht’s trial.
Silk road payment process.jpg

Based on data from 3 February 2012 to 24 July 2012, an estimated $15 million in transactions were made annually on Silk Road. Twelve months later, Nicolas Christin, the study’s author, said in an interview that a major increase in volume to “somewhere between $30 million and $45 million” would not surprise him.

Buyers and sellers conducted all transactions with bitcoins (BTC), a cryptocurrency that provides a certain degree of anonymity. Silk Road held buyers’ bitcoins in escrow until the order had been received and a hedging mechanism allowed sellers to opt for the value of bitcoins held in escrow to be fixed to their value in US$ at the time of the sale to mitigate against Bitcoin’s volatility. Any changes in the price of bitcoins during transit were covered by Dread Pirate Roberts.

The complaint published when Ulbricht was arrested included information the FBI gained from a system image of the Silk Road server collected on 23 July 2013. It noted that, “From February 6, 2011 to July 23, 2013 there were approximately 1,229,465 transactions completed on the site. The total revenue generated from these sales was 9,519,664 Bitcoins, and the total commissions collected by Silk Road from the sales amounted to 614,305 Bitcoins.

These figures are equivalent to roughly $1.2 billion in revenue and $79.8 million in commissions, at current Bitcoin exchange rates…”, according to the September 2013 complaint, and involved 146,946 buyers and 3,877 vendors. According to information users provided upon registering, 30 percent were from the United States, 27 percent chose to be “undeclared”, and beyond that, in descending order of prevalence: the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Canada, Sweden, France, Russia, Italy, and the Netherlands. During the 60-day period from 24 May to 23 July, there were 1,217,218 messages sent over Silk Road’s private messaging system.

Similar sites

The Farmer’s Market was a Tor site similar to Silk Road, but which did not use bitcoins.[84] It has been considered a ‘proto-Silk Road’ but the use of payment services such as PayPal and Western Union allowed law enforcement to trace payments and it was subsequently shut down by the FBI in 2012.

Other sites already existed when Silk Road was shut down and The Guardian predicted that these would take over the market that Silk Road previously dominated. Sites named ‘Atlantis‘, closing in September 2013, and Project Black Flag, closing in October 2013, each stole their users’ bitcoins.

In October 2013, the site named Black Market Reloaded closed down temporarily after the site’s source code was leaked. The market shares of various Silk Road successor sites were described by The Economist in May 2015.

Book club

Silk Road had a Tor-based book club that continued to operate following the initial site’s closure and even following the arrest of one of its members. Reading material included conspiracy theories and computer hacking. Some of the titles included mainstream books as well as books such as The Anarchist Cookbook and Defeating Electromagnetic Door Locks. Most of the titles on this book club were pirated. This book club still exists as a private Tor based chatroom.

Direct successors

 

Silk Road 2.0

Silk Road Seized 2.png
Alert placed on the Silk Road’s homepage following its seizure by the U.S. government and European law enforcement

On 6 November 2013, administrators from the closed Silk Road relaunched the site, led by a new pseudonymous Dread Pirate Roberts, and dubbed it “Silk Road 2.0”. It recreated the original site’s setup and promised improved security.

The new DPR took the precaution of distributing encrypted copies of the site’s source code to allow the site to be quickly recreated in the event of another shutdown.

On 20 December 2013, it was announced that three alleged Silk Road 2.0 administrators had been arrested; two of these suspects, Andrew Michael Jones and Gary Davis, were named as the administrators “Inigo” and “Libertas” who had continued their work on Silk Road 2.0.

Around this time, the new Dread Pirate Roberts abruptly surrendered control of the site and froze its activity, including its escrow system. A new temporary administrator under the screenname “Defcon” took over and promised to bring the site back to working order.

On 13 February 2014, Defcon announced that Silk Road 2.0’s escrow accounts had been compromised through a vulnerability in Bitcoin protocol called “transaction malleability”.

While the site remained online, all the bitcoins in its escrow accounts, valued at $2.7 million, were reported stolen. It was later reported that the vulnerability was in the site’s “Refresh Deposits” function, and that the Silk Road administrators had used their commissions on sales since 15 February to refund users who lost money, with 50 percent of the hack victims being completely repaid as of 8 April.

On 6 November 2014, authorities with the Federal Bureau of InvestigationEuropol, and Eurojust announced the arrest of Blake Benthall, allegedly the owner and operator of Silk Road 2.0 under the pseudonym “Defcon”, the previous day in San Francisco as part of Operation Onymous.

Others

Following the closure of Silk Road 2.0 in November 2014, Diabolus Market renamed itself to ‘Silk Road 3 Reloaded’ in order to capitalise on the brand. In January 2015, Silk Road Reloaded launched on I2P with multiple cryptocurrency support and similar listing restrictions to the original Silk Road market.

This website is also defunct.

Advocates of deep web drug sales

Meghan Ralston, a former “harm reduction manager” for the Drug Policy Alliance, was quoted as saying that the Silk Road was “a peaceable alternative to the often deadly violence so commonly associated with the global drug war, and street drug transactions, in particular”. Proponents of the Silk Road and similar sites argue that buying illegal narcotics from the safety of your home is better than buying them in person from criminals on the street.

 

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The Story of Dread Pirate Roberts

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ross ulbricht 2.jpg

More information on Ross Ulbricht

 

Mickey Marley’s Roundabout – A Belfast Legend

Mickey Marley’s Roundabout 

A Belfast Legend

Mickey Marley's Roundabout header

Mickey Marley and his roundabout are woven into the fabric of Northern Ireland’s tortured history and generations of Belfast folk, catholic and protestant alike will have fond memories of grumpy old Mickey and his horse drawn roundabout.

As a child I remember vividly riding on his roundabout one glorious summers day in the Woodvale Park and this memory  always brings a smile to my face. Life was simple and innocent back then and the joy of a ride soothed my childhood soul and the world seemed not so scary for a few short moments.

Thank you for the memories Mickey!

 

 

The

Mickey Marley Story

Mickey Marley's Roundabout 2

Mickey Marley

Mickey Marley (died 28 April 2005) was a street entertainer from Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Born in the Markets area of Belfast, but spending most of his life on the Grosvenor Road in the Falls area of West Belfast, Marley was a common sight in Belfast City Centre for over forty years.

Drawn by his horse Joey Marley would tour the streets of Belfast with his hobby-horse roundabout. When he retired he sold the roundabout to the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum.

His local fame was enhanced by a recording of the song “Mickey Marley’s Roundabout” (written by Belfastman Seamus Robinson) which was a popular children’s request on BBC Radio UlsterBBC Northern Ireland also made a documentary on his life. The 1973 film followed Marley’s everyday life, against the backdrop of the heavy British Army presence on the streets of Belfast during the early years of the Troubles

 

Mickey Marley’s Roundabout – Barnbrack

 

Lyrics to Micky marleys roundabout

Micky Marley had a wee horse
He kept it at the back of the house of course
It wouldn’t eat grass and it wouldn’t eat hay
But it would eat sugarlumps all day
Micky got wood and wheels for a start
Then he sat down and made a wee cart
He hammered and he hammered and he foutered about
Until he had built a roundabout

Chorus
Round and round and up and down,
Through the streets of Belfast town,
All the children laugh and shout,”
“For here comes mickys roundabout”
And then he went from street to street
A penny a time and pick your seat
A hobby horse or a motorcar
Jump on son and hold the bar
The children’s faces smile with glee
Laughs and smiles a sight to see
You haven’t got a penny and your ma’s gone out
You can still get on his roundabout

(Chorus)
But then alas to his dismay
The roundabout was burnt one day
Poor Micky lost everything he had
And all the children were so sad
But his friends they gathered round
From every part of Belfast town
They hammered and they hammered and they fouterd about and built him a brand new roundabout

(Chours)
Hobby horses don’t get old
I’m winter beds they all feel the cold
But Micky knows each winter pass
The roundabout is still at last
No more we’ll hear the happy sounds
Of his roundabout in Belfast town
We thank the horse and the wee small man
For the joy they spread across the land

(Chours) x2

 

Showman Mickey Marley’s funeral

The funeral of one of Belfast’s best known characters Mickey Marley, immortalised in a Barnbrack song, was being held today.

Mr Marley, who was made famous in Barnbrack’s hit single Mickey Marley’s Roundabout, died last Thursday. He was in his mid 80s.

Requiem Mass was celebrated at St Peter’s Cathedral this morning followed by cremation at Roselawn.

Mr Marley, who lived in the Grosvenor Road area, and his horse-drawn roundabout was a familiar sight on the city’s streets for decades.

After leaving school at a young age, he saved up to buy his first pony and his roundabout was a huge success, first in the Falls area, then Belfast city centre and beyond.

After Sean McRobin, of local band Barnbrack, penned a song about him he became a local celebrity.

He became so well known that during a trip to Stormont in the 1970s, Prime Minister James Callaghan got his driver to stop so he could have a word with him.

His roundabout is currently being restored to its former glory in the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Cultra

Source: Belfast Telegraph 

 

 

London Stories – Lost in Translation ,Do you wanna a Poke?

belfast stories header with web

Shortly after I had arrived in London I was hanging out with some London friends and one day to my delight I was invited to a picnic in the local park , with loads of staff (young sexy nurses) from Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Image result for sexy nurses

It was a scorching hot day and I was surrounded by beauties from across the world and I’m not ashamed to say I was having the time of me life and flirting with the girls as if my life depended on it. I was young , free and single and the world really was my oyster and fate was smiling down on me for at  once.

Lying on the grass chatting with a dusty beauty hanging on my every word I was sure I was going to “pull” and I silently thanked for the gods for bringing me here and now.

Suddenly I heard the gentle chimes of an ice-cream van approaching from the distance and feeling rather generous standing up I asked the crowd :

Does anyone want a Poke?

 

Silence……..

After a moment of confused silence everyone burst out laughing and realising what I’d said I had no choice but to joined in , although I felt like an right idiot!

My English mates thought it was feckin hilarious and took the P out of me for the rest of the day. And in case your wondering I did get off with the dusty beauty and she give me a night I will never forget. She informed me she’d read the kama sutra and I was to be her student for twelve glorious hours.

Another time shortly after arriving in London I was living in Walthamstow and after a skin full of beer I decided a pastie supper was in order , so I staggered my way to the local fish and chip shop and joined the queue.  When it was my turn I informed the good chinese lady behind the counter I wanted a Pastie Supper, with lots of salt and vinegar.

Please.

pastie supper 2

She looked at me as if I was speaking Klingon and I saw doubt flicker momentarily in her eyes and then crawl slowly across her face. Then she went off and I was salivating at the thought of getting me chops around a pastie supper and I  could almost taste it my need was so great.

Then she returned and presented me with a  Jamaican Patty, a smug “got you!” smile dancing on her face.

Image result for Jamaican Patty.

No says I ,  “ I want a Pastie Supper”

“Oh”  she says and goes off and returned with a plastic bag. Hmmmm.

This went on for about another ten minute until she’d shown me everything in the shop that sounded like plastic or pastie or whatever the crazy Irish man was asking for.

She was also starting to get grumpy with me and I decided enough was enough and I had to admit defeat!

“Forget it” I says, I’ll have a fish supper.

My Belfast accent was often a talking point among people when I first met and/or worked with during my early years in London. In fact to my joy a lot of women found the accent sexy and with my Northern Irish charm I was never without female company or friends and I always stood out in a crowd. When I first started to work in the City in high profile and big wage sales teams my accent was more of a hindrance and at times I found it hard trying to sell insurance and mortgages to people who couldn’t understand me. Slowly and gradually I learnt to slow right down and pronounce my words with less of the Belfast lilt and thankfully my sales went right up. The weird thing is my accent sound normally to me now, but when I go home they call me”posh git ” and London Steve  and take the piss out of my English accent. ?/

But back in England I still meet  people who find it hard to understand what I’m saying and I have to kinda slow down for them, mostly when I’m drunk come to think of it. I once had a Japanese girl (very rich) and I could hardly understand a word she was saying to me and she had no clue what I was saying to her, the long winter nights flew in!!

Funny.

Bye for now.

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How till spake Norn Iron (A guide to local phrases)

There’s no better way to get to know the city and its people than to mingle with the locals and engage in a bit of light-hearted ‘banter’.

So if you want to know the difference between a minger and a munter or why tea is different from tae, or add your suggestions, just consult ‘How til spake Norn Iron’ and you’ll be talking the talk before you know it…big lad!

Here’s our A-Z online guide to speaking the local lingo, like:

A is for…
Ach: A regional word that’s usually placed at the start of a sentence. “Ach go on.”, “Ach you know?”
Arse: Bottom, bum. “A kick up the arse.”
Ascared: Combination of the words afraid and scared. “I’m ascared of heights.”
Aye: Yes. “Aye, I’ll have a pint if you’re buying.”

B is for…
Bake: Mouth/face. “Shut your bake”, “Look at the bake on her”
Banjaxed: Broken. “Darling, the bog is banjaxed, call a plumber”
Banter: Craic, fun chatter. “Let’s go for a pint and some banter”
Beezer: Good, fantastic “Your new car is beezer mate.” (Rosemary – London) 
Big Lad: A robust young gentleman. “Alright big lad?”
Bout Ye!: Greeting, How are you? “Bout ye big lad, let’s go for a swall.” (Glenn Kelly – Belfast)

C is for…
C’ mere: A command. “Come here”
Catch yourself on!: An expression, translated as “Get a hold of yourself!”, “Wise up!”
Clinker: Similar to Beezer. “My new bike is clinker.” (Eimear – Belfast/Glasgow)
Coupan: Face. “Look at the state of the coupan on yer woman.” (Eimear – Belfast/Glasgow)

Cracker: Good. “That restaurant was cracker”
Craic: Fun, to have a good time. “The craic is mighty lads, get the beers in”

D is for…
Da: Father. “I seen your Da in the pub last night”
Dander: Walk. “Lets go for a dander”
Dead-On: Good, decent, alright. “I like him, he’s dead-on”
Does my head in: Expression. Someone who really annoys you. “That dipso does my head in”

E is for…
Eejit : An Idiot. “You are an eejit”

F is for…
Faffin’: Messing around, acting an eejit. “Stop faffin’ around and do some work”
Fegs: Cigarettes. “Can I have twenty fegs and a can of coke?”
Fiddle: A Violin. “Get that fiddle out and let’s have a sing-song”
Fire: Throw. “I was out firing stones at the peelers”

G is for…
Grand: Good. “That’s grand, I’ll see you at half-eleven”

See: inyourpocket.com for G – Z 

 

Belfast Stories – Glencairn’s Rainbow River

Belfast Stories 

The Rainbow River

belfast stories header with web 1

 

At first Wee Sam and I got on brilliantly and spent every-spare minute together, getting up to all sorts of mischief as teenage boys will. We were in the same year at school and after the bell went, along with David and Pickle we would head towards the glens that surrounded Glencairn and spend hours playing by the river and trying to catch the rainbow trout as they swam up and down down river.

 

Image result for rainbow trout

 

Half way up the glen there was a natural bowl shaped area of the river called The Spoon and in the summer , we along with other children would strip off to our underpants and spend hours swimming and playing in the water. One day when we were swimming in The Spoon the water suddenly changed colour and started flowing a deep red colour. This frightened the life out of us, we all thought it was blood and legged it out of the water as fast as our legs would carry us..

We ran home and told Aunt Gerry and although she couldn’t throw any light on the situation, she told us to keep away from the river for the time being , which of course we ignored.

Image result for rainbow river

 

About a week later, after school we all rushed up to The Spoon again and stood transfixed as we watched the river flowing a deep shade of purple. We all stepped back from the bank and pondered what might be making this strange event happen and came to the conclusion that it was a magic river, possibly evil and we should avoid it all costs. From that day on we renamed the river Rainbow River and every time we returned the water would be a different colour of the Rainbow  and remained a magical place.

Then one day months later we heard through the grapevine that the reason for the river changing colour was that there was a clothes factory further up the Glen and they had been fined for emptying their waste , including dyes into the river. We all felt a bit sheepish about our earlier fears and before long we were once again spending large parts of our spare time playing and swimming in Rainbow River.

 

You have been ready extracts from my Autobiography Belfast Child – See home page for more chapters and PLEASE share. 

 

 

 

Uncle Sam – Extracts from my Autobiography Belfast Child

Uncle Sam

uncle sam

Extracts from my Autobiography Belfast Child

 

Finally the day for Uncle Sam to be released from jail arrived and the whole family along with friends and acquaintances gathered to give him a welcome home party he would remember. All day long preparations were made for the night’s celebration and the house was awash with food and alcohol of every description. When Sam finally walked through the door a huge cheer rang out and after the greeting and hugs the party got into full swing. Although dad had only been dead a few months and the pain was still tearing me apart inside, I really enjoyed myself that night and for a while forgot about the state of my life.

Uncle Sam was dad’s younger brother and was well respected throughout the estate and surrounding areas. He was lovable rogue and with his swarthy good looks and mischievous manner all that knew him loved him and all the local women fancied him. Also, more importantly he was a Loyalist Soldier and had served time for a cause he believed in.

For your information:

I am writing this as a ten year old child growing up in Loyalist West Belfast during the 1970’s  and the worst  years of the Troubles . My daily life was engulfed and controlled by the “war” going on around me and the loyalist paramilitaries lived and operated among us.

Many were friends and family and that was all perfectly normal in our world. At the time there was no escape from the madness that was stalking the streets of Belfast and many normal , honest , decent men joined the paramilitaries in response to the continuing and never ended terror campaign of the IRA and other republican groups. Sadly the paramilitaries also attracted many psychopathy killers whom used the “war” to feed their dark desires at the expense of the innocent. 

As a loyalist child  I was completely submerged in the Loyalist  culture & traditions  and at the time I was way to young to understand or differentiate between republican terrorists and the nationalist community and like those around me I had been raised from an early age to hate and mistrust all Catholics and the hated Antichrist in Rome.

Thankfully as I grew older my hatred of all Catholics faded and I was to go on to have many catholic friends during my mod days and later life.

Now I don’t judge  any man or women based on their religious beliefs . In fact I don’t give  two flying fecks who or what you worship,  providing they are peaceful and respectful of all others , thats OK by me.

I still have a problem with Nationalism and the call for a United Ireland, but I respect democracy and peoples right to exercise their democratic rights. But that don’t mean I agree with them and I never will.  That means I wish to maintain the status quo in Northern Ireland and hope and pray our people can learn to live more harmoniously together and our children have a better future than the long , dark soul destroying days my generation lived through

Amen!

See The Loyalist Mod

All male members of the family looked up to Uncle Sam and we all wanted to be just like him when we grew up. That night we were permitted to stay up into the wee hours and when the adults were full of drink the talk soon turned to dad and I was proud to hear them all talk about what a great man dad was and how they all missed him terribly and wished things could be different.

Although we were a very close family, we were typical of the area and emotions were something men never showed and that night I felt proud when I went to bed, knowing that dad’s memory would live long in this house and others were sharing my grief at losing him.

1 painter funny

After Uncle Sam had settled back into life outside jail, his thoughts naturally turned to how he could earning a living and bring some money in for the family. Whilst in jail he had done a course in painting and decorating and on his release he let it become known around the estate that he was available for hire at a very reasonable rate. Before long the work started to come in and if he had a job at the weekend Wee Sam and I went with him and helped in any way he seen fit, which included cleaning up the mess behind him and making endless cups of tea. If we were really lucky and the owner of the house was out, Uncle Sam would sit chain smoking and watch us paint the bottom section of the wall to the best of our ability. At first he was making good money and Wee Sam and I were more than pleased with the few quid he give us after completely the job.

After a while the work started to dry up and Uncle Sam pondered long and hard to come up with a new means of earning some money.

2 stop-cutting-down-live-trees-christmas-sign-dont-cut-please-fully-layered-eps-35203293

 

Suddenly one day he proclaimed that he was going to set up a door to door business selling firewood and half an half later the three of us were on our way to Glencairn Park behind the house , with a wheel barrel and a chain saw he had borrowed from a reluctant neighbour. When we had walk some way into the forest Uncle Sam stops, gazed around for a moment and before we knew what was happening shouted “ timber” as the tree first let out an agonizing groan and thundered to the ground below.

After Uncle Sam had chopped the tree into manageable sizes, wee Sam and I loaded the wheel barrel with as much as possible and taking a handle each swayed our way back to the house were we dumped the wood in the back garden and went back for more. Later that night we all gathered in the back garden and bagged the wood into bags , before setting off and selling it door to door around the estate. After a short time money was pouring in and we had established a large client basis throughout the estate.

Although what we were doing was highly illegal, we carried on oblivious to the laws we were breaking and chopped down trees on an industrial scale. In Glencairn and the surrounding areas we followed our own rules and pretty much ignored the laws of the land. Business was that good I was able to save enough money to buy myself a second hand chopper from the bike shop down the Shankill. Sadly all good things come to an end and one day as we were making our way to our favourite felling spot, a team from the forestry department apprehended us and Uncle Sam was read the riot act.

1 the riot act

The game was up and we watched with shock as Uncle Sam shamelessly agreed to everything they were saying and promised never to do it again. Wee Sam and I were bitterly disappointed and begged Uncle Sam to chance  his mind. As we made our way home empty handed he explained that because he was out on licence, the last thing he need was the police paying him too much attention or he might end up inside again. What he said made perfect sense and Wee Sam and I reluctantly agree with him. “Besides, as Uncle Sam pointed out winter would soon be over and sales would dry up with the changing weather.

1 loyalist prisoner aid

 

Another scheme Uncle Sam got me involved in was selling his UDA sweepstake cards. As a member of the UDA he was not only expected to pay a weekly donation or dues to the cause, he was also expected to help raise money for loyalist prisoners and their families. The UDA was run along very strict guidelines and had its own welfare department that raised and distributed money were most needed. This was done in a variety of ways, mostly illegal and generated huge sums of money for the organisation.

At the weekly meeting sweep cards were handed out to all present to sell and most members would take £25.00 quid’s worth and sell then to their friends and family. As with anything he couldn’t be arsed to do it himself, he recruited Wee Sam and me.One Saturday he handed us a bundle of sweep stakes and told us if we sold them all he would give us two quid each, which sounded like a fair deal to me. After giving us instructions on what we were selling and how best to sell them and how much they costed, he sent us of and told us not to return until they were all sold.

1 a pint of harp

He would wait for us in community centre, he informed us solemnly as though he was getting the short end of the stick, when in fact we knew that he would be having a few pints and playing cards with his mates.

Equipped with the necessary information wee Sam headed to the top of the estate and I headed to the bottom and knocked on the first door I came to. After a moment or two a woman’s head appeared round the door and I immediately went into my sales pitch, which I had been working on for a few days and perfected on the walk down the Road.

“Excuse me misses, would you like to buy one of these?

You write your name, pick two numbers between 1 and 50 and if you win you win £25.00.

Price 20p a go,…

most people buy a sheet of five and its  only £1.00 in total…….Oh and the profits go to the prisoners and their families “

“Ah…god love you love, thinking of the prisoners. Go on”, I’ll have two sheets she replied”

and I was in business.

I took this like a duck to water and before long I was outselling Wee Sam on an embarrassing g scale. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was a natural sales man and years later would have a successful career in London selling everything from life insurance to industrial chemicals, but much more of that later.

Eventually Wee Sam threw the towel in and I took over the whole operation. That’s not to say it was always easy. Lots of people turned me away, some were nice about it and others told me fuck off and never darken their door again. but even back then I was a natural sales man and the insults just rolled over my head and I apologized for interrupting them and wishing them a good day I  made my way next door and another  potential sale.

It wasn’t long before I had built up a substantial client basis and when on the job I knew exactly which houses to call at and which were best avoided. For my efforts I got £2.00, which was duly spend on sweets and other treats I had promised myself.

 

1 car bomb

 

As I pounded the Roads of Glencairn selling my sweep stakes the war raged on around me and like most people I took it in my stride. I took some pride in the face that I was contributing to the cause, by raising money for the prisoners and their families . One morning when we were all getting ready to leave the house for school, there was a sudden commotion outside the front door and we all rushed into the front garden to see what was happening.

There were loads of armed RUC personnel frantically running from door to door, evacuating the inhabitants into the field outside the community centre. Uncle Sam and Gerry gathered us all up and we went to join the dozens of other families milling about the field. After having a chat with one of the local leaders we heard Uncle Sam explain to Gerry that the IRA had planted a bomb under the car of one of our neighbours, who was a member of the UDR ( Ulster Defence Regiment ) .

This news sent waves of fear and anger through the gathered crowd. How dare the IRA enter our estate in the dead of night and try to kill one of our people. Apparently the man in question had left the house to check the car over before dropping his children at school and going through his normal security checks had discovered the bomb under the passenger’s side of the vehicle. Had he been less vigilant the bomb would have gone off killing not only him, but also his three children and anyone else in the vicinity. This relisation filled everyone gathered with outrage and resentment and once again our hatred of the IRA and their Catholic supporters was justified.

After they were sure that everyone in the immediate vicinity was evacuated, the army bomb disposal unit sent a robot in to detonate the bomb and we all watched in awe as the ground below us shook violently and the robot along with large sections of the car was blown high into the sky to smithereens. We were all kept of school that day and naturally the talk was of how close we had been to being caught up in the bomb that morning and possibly being killed. Wee Sam and I knew the children of the man in question and often played with them after school, so it was with sadness that a few days later we watched them pack their belongings onto a removal van and drive out of the estate never to be seen again.

Like Wee Sam, David and Pickle I felt an immense hatred towards Catholics and Nationalists that day and longed for the day I would be old enough to take up arms and join the war against the IRA and their Catholic supporters. Although I was too young to understand the complexities of the conflict between us and the nationalists I understood that we hadn’t started this war and all the pain and suffering in Northern Ireland was a direct result of the IRA and nationalist call for a united Ireland.

Northern Ireland’s Protestants were a remnant of colonial Britain and we clung to our sovernty like a comfort blanket and the IRA & nationalists were trying to rip our blanket away from us. We felt abandoned and Britain seemed to have turn her back on us The Americans and wider outside world sympathised with the romantic notion of a United Ireland and offered us no support. No one seemed to understand our position and we were living under the brutal, daily menace of the most brutal terrorist organisation of the century and this isolation feed the fears of the loyalist and ensured a steady stream of new recruits for the loyalist paramilitary groups.

During the mid 70s relationships between the two warring sides had reached a new low and innocent people from both sides became legitimate targets in tit-for-tat murder campaign like never before, between the nationalists and loyalist paramilitaries. The violence was out of control and as a child I watched in horror and disgust as the nightly news told of the latest IRA atrocity, as the death toll mounted. Like most of the people around me I rejoiced when news of an IRA or other republican member being killed or even better executed came through and I mourned the passing of any loyalist killed. I hated Catholics with a passion and blamed them on all the troubles of our country and like all around me I saw them as my natural enemy. In response to the increase of IRA atrocities and through self-preservation the loyalist paramilitaries, with the blessing of their people, stepped up the campaign and the streets of Belfast flowed with the blood of the innocent and guilty alike.

See:  The Loyalist Mod

See: Autobiography on home page

The Ulster Tower – Lest We Forget

The Ulster Memorial Tower

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Lest We Forget!

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The Ulster Tower is Northern Ireland’s national war memorial. It was one of the first Memorials to be erected on the Western Front and commemorates the men of the 36th (Ulster) Division and all those from Ulster who served in the First World War.

The memorial was officially opened on 19 November 1921 and is a very close copy of Helen’s Tower which stands in the grounds of the Clandeboye Estate, near Bangor, County DownNorthern Ireland. Many of the men of the Ulster Division trained in the estate before moving to England and then France early in 1916.

The Tower (plus a small cafe nearby) is staffed by members of the Somme Association, which is based in Belfast.

 

1916 Battle

The Division attacked the Schwaben Redoubt, which is near the Ulster Tower, on 1 July 1916. The Schwaben Redoubt was a little to the north-east of where the tower stands, and was a triangle of trenches with a frontage of 300 yards, a fearsome strongpoint with commanding views. It is also located close to the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.

The front lines were at the edge of Thiepval Wood which lies to the south-west of the road between the Thiepval Memorial and the Ulster Tower. Troops of the 109th Brigade crossed about 400 yards of no man’s land, and kept on going. They entered the Schwaben Redoubt, and advanced on towards Stuff Redoubt, gaining in all around a mile, though not without losses. To their left, the 108th Brigade were successful in advancing near Thiepval, but less so nearer the River Ancre.

The 107th Brigade supported them, but although men of the 36th Division held out for the day the Germans mounted counterattacks, and as their stocks of bombs and ammunition dwindled, many fell back with small parties remaining in the German front lines. The casualties suffered by the 36th Division on 1 July totalled over 5,000.

 

Memorial

At the entrance to the tower is a plaque commemorating the names of the nine men of the Division who won the Victoria Cross during the Somme. There is also a memorial here commemorating the part played by members of the Orange Order during the battle. The inscription on this memorial reads:

“This Memorial is Dedicated to the Men and Women of the Orange Institution Worldwide, who at the call of King and country, left all that was dear to them, endured hardness, faced danger, and finally passed out of the sight of man by the path of duty and self sacrifice, giving up their own lives that others might live in Freedom. Let those who come after see to it that their names be not forgotten.”

Commemorations

The Inscription on the Memorial Reads : “This Memorial is Dedicated to the Men and Women of the Orange Institution Worldwide, who at the call of King and country, left all that was dear to them, endured hardness, faced danger, and finally passed out of the sight of man by the path of duty and self sacrifice, giving up their own lives that others might live in Freedom. Let those who come after see to it that their names be not forgotten.”

There are 5 known Orangemen who were awarded the Victoria Cross .

  • Private George Richardson (VC) from Cavan who was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery during the Indian Mutiny and was recommended on 3 other occasions for the same award. He served in the 34th Regiment of Foot, later the Border Regiment. Private Richardson later emigrated to Canada.
  • Robert Hill Hanna, born in Kilkeel, Co. Down, emigrated to Canada, member of Ontario LOL 2226, he was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry at Lens, France, 21 September 1917, during the WW1, when serving with the Canadian Army.
  • Rev John Weir Foote, was a Captain, later Colonel, in the Canadian Chaplain Service, attached to the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. A member of Fraserville LOL Ontario. He was with the Canadians during the Dieppe Raid, and stayed on to minister to wounded, subsequently captured by the Germans. Weir was awarded the VC in February 1946 for services above and beyond the call of duty during World War II.
  • Riflemen Robert Quigg from Bushmills was awarded the medal for his courage on the Somme on 1 July 1916.
  • Englishman Abraham Acton, from Whitehaven, Cumberland, was awarded the Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery at Rouge Bances, 21 December in 1914. Acton was killed in action at Ypres in 1915 at the age of 22, and he has no known grave.

Orangemen Robert Dixon I2442 Toronto serving with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and Lieutenant J McCormick from Canada were recommended for the Victoria Cross

 

See: 36th (Ulster) Division

 

The Loyalist Mod: Death of a fellow Mod & A catholic friend! Noddy Clarke R.I.P

The Loyalist Mod

Death of a fellow Mod & a catholic friend!

Noddy Clarke R.I.P

noddy funeral

Newspapers Reports of the crash

By the mid 80s I was completely emerged in the Mod culture and I started slowly to migrate away from the loyalist run discos and clubs of my childhood and teens years. As I grew older and more confident ( wiser) I started to explore further afield and go to clubs and gigs in and around Belfast city centre and for the first time  in my life I was meeting and mixing with Catholics on a social level and I gradually came to realize they weren’t that different from me after all.

I”m the one with shades on

My evolving Mod identity was opening up a whole new world to me and I grabbed it by both hands and jumped on for the ride of my life.

As a young, self confident adult my Mod days were the best years of my life and if I had to live my life again I wouldn’t change a thing from that time. Well, maybe one or two things regarding beautiful women I was too stoned or to blind to see what they were offering me.

The Norns love to toy with destinies of mortal men.

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Me when I thought I was immortal & would never grow old

Prior to this my only interaction with my catholic counterparts was our nightly riots with the catholic kids from Ardoyne  & the Springfield Road and like  those around me I hated them all with a passion. I was living in the epicenter  of loyalist Northern Ireland and  I had been brought up to hate and mistrust Catholics from an early age. Like my peers around me I blamed them for the war that was ripping Northern Ireland apart and I could never forgive them for their treacherous support of IRA terrorists and other republican groups

My childish subconscious mind seemed to filter out the worst horrors the loyalist paramilitaries were visiting on the catholic population, but when a republican terrorist was killed I celebrated and praised those responsible.  We were fanatical in our hatred of the IRA and all things republican and the call for a united Ireland drove us buck mad with rage.

I was living in the Loyalist goldfish bowl and my horizons were dominated by the so called Peace Wall.

Welcome to my world.

My loyalist identity and culture was hardwired into my DNA and at first I struggled with the conflict of mixing with catholic Mods/folk from the other side, whom  I had always considered my enemies.

But my priorities were also evolving and my lifelong prejudices against all catholic’s was fading away .  I embraced the Belfast Mod movement with passion and enthusiasm and became a well known Face among the Mods and Mod clubs of Belfast and beyond.

 

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I’m the one wearing shades

Up until this stage in my life  I had been blanketed within the Loyalist culture and felt safe in the knowledge that the tight knit community I belonged too , was a part of , would work as one to protect me  and other children and shield us from the worst evils of mankind.

Which was kinda hard considering I was living in one of the most violent, deadly places on planet earth at the time?

 

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The paramilitaries ruled our daily lives and this was all perfectly normal for us.  From an early age I was subconsciously aware that I lived in a messed up land and many of my family, friends and neighbours were involved with one of the various loyalist paramilitary or community groups.

I grew up with people who would become loyalist killers, others were killed by republicans and the never ending feuds between loyalist paramilitaries added to the ever growing butcher’s bill. Some also killed themselves to escape the madness going on around us and many ended up serving life sentences for terrorist activities.

Every death was someone’s personal tragedy and at times the slaughter seemed never ending.

I remember as a child attending family/local  funerals and when I  looked around  I was surrounded by loyalist legends and Godfathers  , paramilitaries leaders  and killers .Then I got really angry and annoyed because the police had loads of spotters out , recording the funeral and taking pictures of all those present and generally disrespecting us as we buried our dead. When someone died in our world the whole community suffered as one and our ties were much stronger for our shared suffering at the hands of republican terrorists.

But I loved this messed up land and as a proud wee prod I hated the IRA and all they stood for.  In my childish loyalist mind I looked up to the loyalist warlords and those that served them. After all they were taking the war to the IRA and fighting for God and Ulster and our continued freedom, weren’t they?

That made me feel safer, somehow. Twisted or what?

 

At times it felt like the loyalist people were under siege and I remember as a child during the strikes of the 70’s I was terrified as I stood at the top of Glencairn , looking out over  all of Belfast and watching thick black smoke  belch into the air  and the  whole sky seemed to be on fire. Loyalist paranoia was so acute at times that we were actually anticipating civil war to break out at any moment and I wondered  and worried if I and those I loved would survive the battles to come.

I was also a committed Christian for most of my childhood and teens and a pacifist by heart and I never felt comfortable with the never ending murder of innocent people, regardless of political or religious background.  In fact I hated it and I couldn’t understand why God in all his wisdom would let such things happen and the first cracks began to  appeared in my Christian faith. Living in loyalist Belfast my God was of course a loyalist God and my people were fighting the wicked IRA and despised the antichrist in Rome, Pope John Paul II ,  the head of the hated Catholic Church.

 

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.

But I digress; I’m suppose  to be telling the story of Noddy Clarke.

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My old scrapbook from  my Mod days.

I’d met Noddy and his girlfriend Maria in the Mod clubs and pubs of Belfast, mostly the Delta & Abercone and I quickly became friends with them and enjoyed having a chat & chill with them when our paths crossed. Noddy (Gerard Clarke) was a beautiful, gentle wise soul and he was one of those rare people who seemed to have time for everyone and seemed genuinely interested in what you had to say.  He was a top bloke and I had a lot of time for him and Maria. Maria was also a beautiful person and friendly to all.

The fact that they were catholic never entered my mind and this was testament to how far I had moved on from the entrenched prejudices of my childhood.  Although I no longer hated catholic’s my hatred of the IRA and republican terrorists never waned and still beats in my heart today. I can’t forget or forgive the past, but I want peace in Northern Ireland and if that means dancing with the devil, so be it.

The Belfast Mod scene was at its height at the time and as I moved in the same circles of the Faces and wannabies I got drunk (and high) on the joy of it all. I was young, seemingly acceptable to the female species   and my life was one long never ending party and I Really never wanted it to end.

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Me during my Mod days

There were always some big events happening in the Mod calendar and I travelled all over Northern Ireland and London with a group of about thirty hardcore Mods, attending all dayers and concerts. Noddy & Maria were often at these events and our love of the Mod culture transcended hundreds of year’s sectarian conflict and suspicion and give me a hint of a better future.

 

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Mods in Carnaby Street

Once a group of about thirty of us travelled to London for a Mod all dayer  , taking place in the  Ilford Palais. The concert wasn’t until the Sunday and as it was only Friday we decided to visit the most iconic Mod address in the World, Carnaby Street. As a Mod  it felt like the  pilgrimage to Mecca muslims make and for  me walking on the hollowed paved  streets of Carnaby Street It felt almost like a holy experience  and I was hypnotised by sheer joy of just being there and drinking in the  Mod culture it had given birth too.

But my joy was to be short lived.

 

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I’ve  absolutely no idea who he is , but he fits into the story nicely.

As we walked the legendary streets and drank in the super cool atmosphere suddenly we heard a massive roar and what sounded like a football stampede and then three terrified young Mods ran past us as if the devil was on their tails.

Time stood still as we waited to see what had scared them so much and made them take such desperate flight.

Then from a side road about fifty phycho looking skinheads appeared from nowhere, many of them wearing Chelsea and Rangers football scarf’s, covered in loyalist and swastika tattoos and they 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 growing up in the badlands of loyalist West Belfast  I was use to brutal violence and  then two things  came to my mind at once.

Firstly I was use to gang battles between Mods and Skinheads and had fought in many in the backstreets of The Shankill & Ballysillian/Silverstream (a story for another day) 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 and savour every moment of our agony and shame.  Then I considered the Rangers scarfs and 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 they 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.

I glanced over at the leaders in the front row and as they hurled insults and threats my heart sunk when I saw some of them had pulled out weapons and knifes and were preparing to attach  us  and I braced myself ready for a battle we could never win.

My survival instinct kicked in and once again my destiny was  in the hands of the gods , gods I no longer trusted. I took a deep breath and played my hand.

“Stay back “

I told the others beside and behind me, aware that some of them were catholic’s and possibly in more danger  than me, if that was at all possible in my current situation. I stepped forward and looking for the top boy I calmingly suggested they all slow down and tell me what the problem was?

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

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

“Are youse from Belfast? ”

And everyone paused to hear my reaction.

“Feckin right I said, from the glorious Shankill Road! “

Hoping and praying I’d made the right call.

“Really,  he asks, who do you know? “

I wheeled off a few names of Skinheads and badboys I knew and had grown up with on the Shankill and Glencairn and this satisfied them and we were safe for now at least. It turned out the guy “Biff” had grown up in Glencairn and now lived and worked in London and was involved with other loyalists living in the capital. They were a right nasty crew and I pity anyone who had the misfortune to come across them, especially if you weren’t a WASP .  Also if they had known some of the Mod present were catholic’s, nothing would have stopped them kicking the shit outta of me and the others and I silently thanked the gods for delivering us from evil.

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 these badboys chatting with them and finding out some of them were catholic and undoing all my capital work. Biff insisted I joined him and a few others from home for a pint or two in the Shakespeare’s pub and it must have looked a bit weird a 60’s dressed Mod, wearing eye liner and a Beatles suite drinking and laughing with a load of phyco, Nazi skinheads.

But I had spent my life growing up among loyalist killers and paramilitaries and nothing really phased me anymore.  I didn’t particularly like Biff and his crew, but chatting with him over a few pints I realized 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 Skin heads/Punks ambushed and attacked Mods coming into/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 , although I did have a chat with Biff whilst grabbing some fresh air and a fag outside.

In one of those cruel twists of fate many years later I was to meet Biff  again, but this time he was down on his luck and tragically living rough under a shop front in Tottenham Court Road, London.   I was working in the city at the time and suited and booted I stopped to give a homeless guy a fag before realising it was Biff. He was in a right mess and obviously on hard drugs and my heart broke for him as I tried to remind him of our previous encounters and he looked at me with in utter confusion on his face. Maybe it was my suite and the passage of years that had confused him or the drugs had addled his mind but I left him with a heavy heart that day.

Thereafter whenever I was in central London I always looked out for him and did on a few occasions find him and shared a fag or two with him. And slip him a few quid.  When I moved jobs out to Kingston I lost contact with him and never saw him again, but I often think of him and hope he found his feet again and somehow turned his life around. How fickle fate can be.

Back in Belfast and the 80’s and my Mod odyssey continued and I was involved with all aspects of the Mod movement and all the joys that brought with it. I’d come into some money on my eighteenth birthday and was now the proud owner of a Vespa and took part in scooter runs all over Belfast and Northern Ireland.

I was gradually getting heavily into the 60’s Mod scene and my dress reflected this as I emulated the dress codes of The Small Faces and other Mod bands of that era. I was also doing a lot of drugs at the time and had many mind blowing experiences on a variety of drugs and to be honest sometimes I’m surprised I survived this period of my life. Drugs were an escape from the madness of life in war torn Belfast and I was going through the whole Psychedelic phase of my Mod life and was living the dream, so to speak.

See: Getting stoned with Paul Weller.

 

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Me on front of Mod Book

Around Oct 86 a group of about fifty Belfast Mods  , including myself , Noddy and Maria signed up for a Mod all dayer in Dublin’s CIA hall .As the day approached we were all anticipating a great day out and couldn’t wait to meet and mix with the Dublin Mods who had organised the event. We had clubbed together for an Ulster Bus to take us to the event, drop of and pick us up when it was over. Being nice kind  people we had a whip round for the bus driver and collected enough for him to have some  lunch , but sadly he would spent it on booze and was half tore by the time we returned, but we didn’t know of this until afterwards.

 

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The all dayer was a great success and I remember vividly chatted to Noddy and Maria by the huge staircase in the lobby. Little did I know in a few hours times Noddy would be dead and Maria seriously ill in hospital, fighting for her life.

When the event was over we all made our way to the bus pick up point and began the long , slow , boring journey home. It was a miserable dark , cold night and rain pelted down the windows of the bus as we left Dublin and headed for the motorway and back to sunny Belfast. After a while we’d all settled down and I remember chatting to those around me, including Noddy and Maria about the day gone and upcoming events we were looking forward to in the near future.   As we came into Drogheda  I noticed the rain was  bucketing it down and visibility was very poor and  somewhere in the back of my mind a little voice whispered the bus was going too fast and the driver was  driving a bit  erratically and it started to worry and concern me.

A girl called me up to the middle of the bus and I went and sat in the seat behind her, by the window and chilled with her for a while. I’d had a few drinks and some pills and I was half way between sleep and a drug infused haze when suddenly I became aware that the bus was out of control and to my horror I watched out the window as it  drifted  in and out of lanes , narrowly missing fast moving traffic coming from both ways  , before  skidding to the  right and  crashing with a huge bang  into the side of a bridge or brick wall, that brought it to  a violent , shuddering stop.

I was thrown forward and banged my head on the seat in front of me and was almost knocked out by the force of it. . Time stood still as I waited for the pain to kick In and in the background I could hear the sound of breaking glass , car horns and alarms going off  , cars skidding and crashing and as the lights blinked out  screaming filled the air all around me and  for a moment I thought I must be dreaming , on a bad trip or having a messed up  nightmare.

 

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But this was no nightmare and the horror had just begun.

As I recovered from the stunned shock of what had just happened my eyes drifted around the bus and all I could see was bodies, blood, broken glass and wreckage strewn all over the place. It looked as though a bomb had gone off and many of those inside were injured and I could see and smell destruction all around me. I glanced to the back of the bus and to my utter disbelief the whole back section of the bus had been ripped off and the seats which Noddy , Maria and others had sat on had completely disappeared . Looking out of the gaping hole my heart almost stopped as I saw bodies and debris littering the road and I could clearly see Noddy  and  laying lifeless on the rain soaked road , illuminated by vehicles caught up in the accident and others who had stopped to help and or gawk in amazement at what they were witnessing .

As my traumatised mind tried to process all this I picked myself of the floor and checking for injuries   I  was relieved to see I was mostly in one piece , although my head was bleeding and I think I may have been slipping  into shock.  Looking around my eyes could hard believe what my pounding brain was telling me and as I turned and looked out the window to my  left , I froze in terror as I watched in slow motion as a car lost control , crossed lanes and crash violently at speed into the bus right below where I was sitting. I’d automatically braced myself for the impact and my whole body rocked as the shockwaves of the crash reverberated through the bus and my aching body.

From this point on everything becomes hazy , as if I was watching events happen to someone else and I felt  oddly detached from my own body and mind. I should have been panicking and fighting to get off the bus and the danger below me , the car could have blown up or engulfed me in fire at any moment.   But I just sat there for what seemed like ages and although I could see everything around me and hear ambulances/fire brigades approaching, I seemed frozen to the spot and  just couldn’t move. I was in deep shock.

 

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Eventually someone guided me of the bus and I walked as if in a trance to where Noddy lay on the damp wet ground, lifeless and standing in the pouring rain I looked down on him and bowing my head I said a silent prayer for Noddy, Maria and the other injured and I cursed a God who would let such a thing happen.  I’d almost given up on a God who seemed to ignore the suffering of mortal men.

After a while ambulance crews came to check on me and the other walking wounded and patched us up were necessary. Eventually we were lead to a hotel or conference room, I can’t remember which and given hot drinks and interviewed by the Gardia . I honestly can’t remember anything about what happened next. I don’t know if we stayed in the hotel over night or how we got back to Belfast , but next thing i know I’m laying on the sofa at home and being fused about by my sisters and other family members. The Ulster News had carried the story about the crash and fatalities/injured and in those days there were no mobile phones and my family had spent hours not knowing if I was alive or dead. I should have called them from the hotel the night before but I was away with the fairies and it had not even entered my battered brain to call and let them know I was alive and well.

The Belfast and Northern Ireland Mod community was reeling from the accident and the death of one of their own and many gathered outside the City Hall in sombre groups, chatting and remembering Noddy and those injured in the crash. Maria was still in hospital fighting for her life and many others were scarred emotionally and physically and would never fully recover from the trauma of what they had gone through.

I was still numb to it all and hibernating at home and licking my wounds and I couldn’t face a world that seemed so unfair. In fact I refused point blank to talk about the accident and months later when many of those involved in the crash began the process of suing Ulster Bus and claiming compensation I wanted nothing to do with it and probably missed the opportunity for substantial payout.

I  was probably suffering from PTSD , but being Belfast i just got on with life and the wounds festered for years to come.

noddy funeral

Eventually the day arrived for Noddy’s funeral and Mods travelled from all over Northern Ireland and Dublin to attend his send off.  Dozens of loyalist Mods including me travelled into the heartland of republican Belfast, The Falls road on our scooters and we formed an honour guard as we buried one of our own. I recall standing outside Noddy’s house and being in nationalist Belfast I felt vulnerable and nervous as I clocked those around me whom seem to stare right through us, trying to discern if we were catholic or protestant.

But today was not about religion and as I paid my respect to Noddy’s friends and family I felt nothing but love and gratitude from them and I came away wondering why we couldn’t always live in peace and harmony and move on from centuries of the suspicion and mistrust that ruled and ruined our daily lives.

I often think of Noddy and wonder what he would be doing now if he was still alive and feel sadness at the grief the Gods put us mortal men through. .

R.I.P Friend.

 

Whilst living and socialising within the Mod subculture of Belfast /Northern Ireland, I was taught a valuable life lesson , for the first time in my life a person’s religion background had become completely irrelevant to me and I felt kinda liberated by it all . I foolishly wished the rest of Northern Ireland felt the same love and freedom as me, but I’ve always been a dreamer and some dreams take longer than others.

Back then I had many close catholic friends among the Belfast Mod scene and I dated a few catholic girls, who at face value seemed to be no different than the protestant girls I had dated thus far.

Hmmm, they lied to me again! But they are stories for another day.

Being a proud product of protestant Belfast and growing up in the hallowed streets of the loyalist Mecca , The glorious Shankill Road and Glencairn , I have always been prejudged and pigeon holed by people who don’t know me or understand my culture .  I have worked all over London and throughout the UK and you would be amazed at the assumptions people make when I first meet them.

Once I got chatting to a Muslim guy I worked with  ( and I’m going back about 25 years)   and  after telling me how much he admired the IRA and the republican movement ‘s “ freedom fighters”  he  then asked me if, by any chance  I was a member of the IRA?

Hmmm….. that was one work relationship than ended immediately I can tell you.

Another time I was in a bar in the West End and went to order a drink at the bar. I noticed an older  guy sat on a stool and it was obvious he only had one leg. When he heard my Belfast accent he turned and growled at me

“ is that a Belfast accent I hear? ”

 

“Yes “  says I as I absently order drinks.

He looks me right in the eye and say “ My other leg’s in Belfast”

Hmmm.

Anyways turns out he was in the Army and was blown up by  a SF/IRA bomb back in the day. Once I told him where I was from, I was a bit surprised when he grabs me , told me he loved the loyalist people of N.I  and almost hugged  me to death . He insisted I sit down with him and have a few beers, which I was more than happy to do. I’ll always make time for army veterans, especially those who served in Northern Ireland. He was happy for some company and to share a few stories from the “bad old days” and the encounter soothed my soul.

Back in Belfast and in the 90’s some of my loyalist friends had been arrested and charged with multiple terrorist related offences , including murder. The news shocked and saddened me, more so because some of them had been Mods and shared my love of the Mod culture  and music and mixed happily with catholic’s we met along the way. Although I had absolutely nothing to do with this , I was living in London at the time , many of the Belfast’s catholic  Mods started to give me a wide berth and  when I was home and went out clubbing I could sense their nervousness around me and I couldn’t really blame them , but it made me sad none the less.

 

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Me and David Holmes

I was guilty via association and that is a curse and legacy that has followed me through my entire life and I know I will probably never shake off. Just because I’m proud of my loyalist culture and traditions it doesn’t mean I’m a hater or bigot or would wish harm on anyone.  It simply means I am happy with the status quo and wish to maintain and celebrate the union with the rest of the UK.  That shouldn’t make people prejudge me, but it does and the piss’s me right off. Many peace loving loyalist/protestants will understand where I’m coming from, especially those living abroad.

We didn’t start the “war” and the world has largely ignored the suffering and tribulations of the loyalist people because they are blinded by the actions of few .And yet SF/IRA seem to be have been forgiven all and lauded by many. The mind boggles.

Go on Surprise me

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Thanks for taking the time to read extracts from my Autobiography Belfast Child, which I hope to get published one day soon.

Its a work in progress , so be gentle on me!

 

See: Steve Marriott Jan 1947 – April 1991 All or Nothing

See: Getting stoned with Paul Weller.

See: Home page for more chapters of my amazing life story

 

 

loyalist

ˈlɔɪəlɪst/Submit

noun

a person who remains loyal to the established ruler or government, especially in the face of a revolt.

“Tory loyalists”

a supporter of union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

noun: Loyalist; plural noun: Loyalists

a colonist of the American revolutionary period who supported the British cause.

noun: Loyalist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Jean McConville

Jean McConville

The Shameful & Unforgivable Murder of a Widow & Mother of Ten

Jean McConville (née Murray; 7 May 1934 – December 1972) was a woman from Belfast, Northern Ireland, who was kidnapped and shot dead by the Provisional IRA and secretly buried in County Louth in the Republic of Ireland in 1972 after being accused by the IRA of passing information to British forces.

In 1999, the IRA acknowledged that it had killed McConville and eight others of the “Disappeared”.

It claimed she had been passing information about republicans to the British Army in exchange for money and that a transmitter had been found in her apartment.

A report by the Police Ombudsman found no evidence for this or other rumours. Before the Troubles, the IRA had a policy of killing informers within its own ranks; however, from the start of the conflict the term informer was also used for civilians who were suspected of providing information on paramilitary organisations to the security forces. Other Irish republican and loyalist paramilitaries also carried out such killings.

As she was a widowed mother of ten,  the McConville killing was particularly controversial. Her body was not found until 2003, and the crime has not been solved. The Police Ombudsman found that the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) did not begin to investigate the disappearance properly until 1995.

 

Biography

Jean Murray was born on 7 May 1934 to a Protestant family in East Belfast but converted after marrying Arthur McConville, a Catholic former British Army soldier, with whom she had ten children. After being intimidated out of a Protestant district by loyalists in 1969, the McConville family moved to West Belfast’s Divis Flats in the Lower Falls Road. Arthur died from cancer in January 1972.

At the time of her death, Jean McConville lived at 1A St Jude’s Walk, which was part of the Divis Flats complex.  This was an IRA stronghold, from which attacks were regularly launched against the British Army and RUC. Since the death of her husband, she had been raising their ten children, who were aged between six and twenty.

Their son Robbie was a member of the ‘Official’ IRA and was interned in Long Kesh at the time of her death; he would defect to the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) in 1974.

 

Killing

In the months leading up to her death, tension and suspicion grew between McConville and her neighbours.  One night shortly before her disappearance, she was allegedly attacked after leaving a bingo hall and warned to stop giving information to the British Army.

According to police records, on 29 November 1972 a British Army unit found a distressed woman wandering in the street. She told them her name was McConville and that she had been attacked and warned to stop informing.

One of McConville’s children claimed she was kidnapped the night after this incident, but others gave the date of the kidnapping as 7 December.

On the night of her disappearance, four young women took McConville from her home at gunpoint, and she was driven to an unknown location. Dolours Price admitted that she was one of those involved in driving her across the border.

McConville was killed by a gunshot to the back of the head, there was no evidence of any other injuries to her body.

Her body was secretly buried across the border on Shellinghill Beach (also known as Templetown Beach) on the Cooley Peninsula in the north of County Louth, about 50 miles from her home. The place of her death is uncertain.

Although no group admitted responsibility for her disappearance, there were rumours that the IRA had killed her for being an informer. Another rumour is that she was killed because neighbours claimed they saw her helping a badly wounded British soldier outside her home; however, there is no record of such an incident.

McConville’s children say they recall her helping a wounded British soldier some time before their father died in January 1972.

In a 2014 interview published in the Sunday Life, former veteran Irish republican Evelyn Gilroy claimed the person who had tended to the soldier was her [Gilroy’s] sister.

The IRA did not admit involvement until after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. It claimed she was killed because she was passing information about republicans to the British Army. Former IRA member Brendan Hughes claimed the IRA had searched her flat some time before her death and found a radio transmitter, which they confiscated.

He and other former republicans interrogated her and claimed she admitted the British Army was paying her for information about republicans. Hughes claims that, because of her circumstances, they let her go with a warning. However, he claims when the IRA found she had resumed working for the British Army, it decided to “execute” her.

Reluctant to kill a clearly desperate woman – not least because of the adverse publicity it would engender – the Brigade HQ Staff allowed McConville to live, albeit with a warning of fatal consequences should she be caught spying again. By December their patience was ended and after a short discussion over “banishment” versus “execution” her death was ordered through a majority vote. Among those supporting the latter option was the brigade OC or officer commanding,

Gerry Adams. However the manner of her killing was hotly debated. There were continuing fears that the acknowledged detention and killing by (P)IRA of a widowed mother of ten children (including a young political prisoner) would have a disastrous effect on support for the movement; that it would be exploited by Britain’s well-oiled propaganda-machine, as well as Republican rivals in (O)IRA; and that the slaying could reduce moral among local Volunteers. In the end those favouring a “public execution” were out-voted by those supporting a secret death sentence and “disappearance”, a solution which would have the added benefit of sowing confusion amongst their adversaries in the British intelligence groupings.

This was a practice that was already beginning to take root – albeit intermittently and with a great  deal of controversy – in the conflict-cockpit of Belfast. In this decision it seems that Gerry Adams was again in the majority camp.

See: AN SIONNACH FIONN for full story

 

Usually the bodies of informers were left in public as a warning, but the IRA secretly buried McConville, apparently because she was a widowed mother-of-ten. The IRA had first done this two months earlier, when it killed and buried two IRA members who were found to be working undercover for the British Military Reaction Force (MRF).

Aftermath

After her disappearance, McConville’s seven youngest children, including six-year-old twins, survived on their own in the flat, cared for by their 15-year-old sister Helen. After three weeks, the hungry family was visited by a stranger, who gave them Jean’s purse, with 52 pence and her three rings in it.

On 16 January 1973, the story of the abduction appeared on the front page of the Belfast Telegraph, under the headline:

“Snatched mother missing a month”

The following day, the children were interviewed on the BBC television programme Scene Around Six. The children reported to the social services, and were immediately brought into local council care.

The family was forcibly split up by social services.Among the consequences of the killing, Jean’s orphaned son Billy was sent to De La Salle Boys’ Home, Rubane House, Kircubbin, County Down, notorious for child abuse; he testified in 2014 to the Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry, describing repeated sexual and physical abuse, and starvation, saying :

“Christians looking after young boys – maybe they were Christians, but to me they were devils disguised in that uniform.”

Within two days of her kidnapping, one of her sons reported the incident to the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and the British Army. However, the Police Ombudsman did not find any trace of an investigation into the kidnapping during the 1970s or 1980s.

An officer told the Ombudsman that CID investigations in that area of Belfast at that time were “restricted to the most serious cases”. On 2 January 1973, the RUC received two pieces of information stating:

“it is rumoured that Jean McConville had been abducted by the [IRA] because she is an informer”

In March 1973, information was received from the British Army, saying the kidnapping was an elaborate hoax and that McConville had left of her own free will.  As a result, the RUC refused to accept that McConville was missing, preferring to believe an anonymous tip that she had absconded with a British soldier.

The first investigation into her kidnapping appears to have taken place in 1995, when a team of RUC detectives was established to review the cases of all those who were thought to have been kidnapped during the conflict.

In 1999, the IRA gave information on the whereabouts of her body.  This prompted a prolonged search, co-ordinated by the Garda Síochána, the Irish police service, but no body was found. On the night of 26 August 2003, a storm washed away part of the embankment supporting the west side of Shellinghill Beach car park, near the site of previous searches. This exposed the body.

Jean McConville boby.jpg

On 27 August, it was found by passersby while they were walking on Shellinghill Beach (also known as Templetown Beach) in County Louthat the eastern tip of the Cooley Peninsula. McConville was subsequently reburied beside her husband Arthur in Holy Trinity Graveyard in Lisburn.

Investigation

Police Ombudsman’s report

In April 2004 the inquest into McConville’s death returned a verdict of unlawful killing.

In 2006 the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, Nuala O’Loan, published a report about the police’s investigation of the murder. It concluded that the RUC did not investigate the murder until 1995, when it carried out a minor investigation. It found no evidence that she had been an informer, but recommended the British Government go against its long-standing policy regarding informers and reveal whether she was one.

Journalist Ed Moloney called for the British Government to release war diaries relating to the Divis Flats area at the time. War diaries are usually released under the thirty-year rule, but those relating to Divis at the time of McConville’s death are embargoed for almost ninety years.

The police have since apologised for its failure to investigate her abduction.  In January 2005, Sinn Féin party chairman Mitchel McLaughlin claimed that the killing of McConville was not a crime, saying that she had been executed as a spy in a war situation.

This prompted Irish journalist Fintan O’Toole to write a rebuttal, arguing that the abduction and extrajudicial killing of McConville was clearly a:

“war crime by all accepted national and international standards”

The IRA has since issued a general apology, saying it :

“regrets the suffering of all the families whose loved ones were killed and buried by the IRA”.

PSNI investigation and Boston College tapes

 

In August 2006, the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), Sir Hugh Orde, stated that he was not hopeful anyone would be brought to justice over the murder, saying:

“[in] any case of that age, it is highly unlikely that a successful prosecution could be mounted.”

Boston College had launched an oral history project on the Troubles in 2001. It recorded interviews with republicans and loyalists about their involvement in the conflict, on the understanding that the tapes would not be released until after their deaths.

Two of the republican interviewees, Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price, both now deceased, admitted they were involved in McConville’s kidnapping. Both became diehard opponents of the Good Friday Agreement and Sinn Féin’s support of it. They saw Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams as a traitor for negotiating the Agreement and persuading the IRA to end its campaign.

In 2010, after Hughes’s death, some of his statements were published in the book Voices from the Grave.   He claimed McConville had admitted being an informer, and that Adams ordered her disappearance.

In a 2010 newspaper article, Price also claimed McConville was an informer and that Adams ordered her disappearance, which has been strenuously denied by Ed Moloney.  Price, who died in 2013, said she gave the interviews as revenge against Adams.  Former republican prisoner Evelyn Gilroy, who lived near McConville, claimed Adams was an IRA commander and the only person who could have ordered the killing.

Adams has denied any role in the death of McConville. He said:

“the killing of Jean McConville and the secret burial of her body was wrong and a grievous injustice to her and her family”

In 2011, the PSNI began a legal bid to gain access to the tapes.  Acting on a request from the PSNI, the United States Justice Department tried to force Boston College to hand them over. Boston College had promised those interviewed that the tapes would not be released until after their deaths, and other interviewees said they feared retribution if the tapes were released. Following a lengthy court battle, the PSNI was given transcripts of interviews by Hughes and Price.

2014 arrests

In March and April 2014, the PSNI arrested a number of people over the kidnapping and killing of Jean McConville. Ivor Bell, former IRA Chief of Staff, was arrested in March 2014.  Shortly afterwards, he was charged with aiding and abetting in her murder.

In April, the PSNI arrested three people who were teenagers at the time of the kidnapping: a 56-year-old man and two women, aged 57 and 60. All were released without charge.

Following Bell’s arrest in March, there was media speculation that police would want to question Gerry Adams due to the claims made by Hughes and Price. Adams maintained he was not involved, but had his solicitor contact the PSNI to find whether they wanted to question him.

On 30 April, after being contacted by the PSNI, Adams voluntarily arranged to be interviewed at Antrim PSNI Station. He was arrested and questioned for four days before being released without charge. A file was sent to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) to decide whether further action should be taken, but there was “insufficient evidence” to charge him.

The arrest took place during an election campaign. Sinn Féin claimed that the timing of the arrest was politically motivated; an attempt to harm the party’s chances in the upcoming elections. Alex Maskey said it was evidence of a “political agenda […] a negative agenda” by elements of the PSNI.

Jean McConville’s family had campaigned for the arrest of Adams over the murder. Her son Michael said:

“Me and the rest of my brothers and sisters are just glad to see the PSNI doing their job. We didn’t think it would ever take place [Mr Adams’ arrest], but we are quite glad that it is taking place.” 

In a later interview on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4, he stated that he knew the names of those who had abducted and killed his mother, but that:

“I wouldn’t tell the police [PSNI]. If I told the police now a thing, me or one of my family members or one of my children would get shot by those [IRA] people. It’s terrible that we know those people and we can’t bring them to justice”

 

Anthony Mc Intyre and the Boston Tapes

 

See: The Disappeared – Northern Ireland’s Secret Victims