Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles
Sunday 14 May 1972
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 (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.]
[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).
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Unashamedly Proud of My Loyalist and British Heritage.
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.
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
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.
Why Ireland split into the Republic of Ireland & Northern Ireland
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.
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.’
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.
“In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
― Anne Frank
The IRA began a bombing campaign on Britain on 8 March 1973 when they exploded a car bomb outside the Old Bailey which injured 180 people and one man died from a heart attack. The IRA unit responsible for the Old Bailey bombing were arrested trying to leave the country.
Thereafter to try to help avoid their active service units (ASUs) from being captured and to have a better chance of carrying out a sustained bombing assault , the IRA decided to send to England sleeper cells who would arrive within weeks before actually carrying out any military activity and blend in with the public as not to draw attention to themselves. According to the leader of the Balcombe Street unit, the first bombing they carried out was the Guildford pub bombings on 5 October 1974, which killed five people and injured over 60 for which four innocent people known as the Guildford Four were arrested and received large jail sentences.
Their last attack was an assassination attempt on former Prime MinisterEdward Heath but he was not home when the attackers threw a bomb into his bedroom window on 22 December 1974.
The Provisional IRA bomb Waltons London restaurant – 18 November 1975
After the 1975 PIRA–British Army truce began to break, the IRA’s Balcombe Street ASU stepped up its bombing and shooting campaign on mainland Britain. On the night of 18 November 1975 the unit picked Walton’s Restaurant to bomb. Two civilians, Audrey Edgson (aged 45) and Theodore Williams (aged 49), were killed when a bomb was thrown by one of the IRA Volunteers through the window of Walton’s Restaurant in Walton Street, Chelsea.
The device injured 23 other people, the oldest of them 71 years of age. In the bomb the IRA used miniature ball bearings to maximise injuries. Two persons, a man and woman, died at St. Stephen’s Hospital shortly after being taken there. According to Dr. Laurence Martin the consultant in charge of the casualty department in St. Stephen’s Hospital said that four of those injured required emergency operations.
“We have been involved with nine bomb incidents in the past two years but this is the worst,”
Dr. Martin said.
Senior Scotland Yard official, James Nevin, deputy head of the bomb squad, said that the bomb used in the attack had been a “shrapnel‐like device.” containing three pounds of explosives.
“This was obviously designed to kill and injure people rather than damage property,”
This was a calculated bombing campaign aimed at destroying businesses and scaring customers in London’s West End.
Other previous attacks by the unit in 1975 included Scott’s Oyster Bar bombing on 12 November, the London Hilton bombing on 5 September and the Caterham Arms Pub Bombingon 27 August. In total the unit carried out around 40 bomb and gun attacks on mainland Britain between October 1974 – December 1975.
This was the Balcombe Street gang’s last major attack during their fourteen-month bombing campaign of the British mainland. The IRA units bombing campaign would come to an end in December 1975 when they were caught at the Balcombe Street Siege which is where the unit got its name from.
The unit would eventually end up exploding close to 50 bombs in England and carried out several shootings which cost millions of pounds in damages, claimed the lives of 18 people, which included 10 civilians, 7 British soldiers and one London police officer, and injured almost 400 people, but they were only sentenced for the deaths of seven people.
The IRA would continue to attack targets in England during the rest of the 1970s and throughout the 1980s but would not launch such a sustained campaign on the British mainland again until the early 1990s.
In custody the ASU also admitted to carrying out the Guildford pub bombings and the Kings Arms, Woolwich bombing for which the Guildford Four had been arrested, and received lengthy jail terms
The British grave of The Unknown Warrior (often known as ‘The Tomb of The Unknown Warrior’) holds an unidentified British soldier killed on a European battlefield during the First World War.
He was buried in Westminster Abbey, London on 11 November 1920, simultaneously with a similar interment of a French unknown soldier at the Arc de Triomphe in France, making both graves the first to honour the unknown dead of the First World War. It is the first example of a tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
History of the Unknown Warrior
The idea of a Tomb of the Unknown Warrior was first conceived in 1916 by the Reverend David Railton, who, while serving as an army chaplain on the Western Front, had seen a grave marked by a rough cross, which bore the pencil-written legend ‘An Unknown British Soldier’.
He wrote to the Dean of Westminster in 1920 proposing that an unidentified British soldier from the battlefields in France be buried with due ceremony in Westminster Abbey “amongst the kings” to represent the many hundreds of thousands of Empire dead.
Arrangements were placed in the hands of Lord Curzon of Kedleston who prepared in committee the service and location. Suitable remains were exhumed from various battlefields and brought to the chapel at Saint-Pol-sur-Ternoise near Arras, France on the night of 7 November 1920. The bodies were received by the Reverend George Kendall OBE. Brigadier L.J. Wyatt and Lieutenant Colonel E.A.S. Gell of the Directorate of Graves Registration and Enquiries went into the chapel alone.
The remains were then placed in four plain coffins each covered by Union Flags: the two officers did not know from which battlefield any individual soldier had come. Brigadier Wyatt with closed eyes rested his hand on one of the coffins. The other soldiers were then taken away for reburial by Kendall.
The body of the Unknown Warrior leaving France
The coffin of the unknown warrior then stayed at the chapel overnight and on the afternoon of 8 November, it was transferred under guard and escorted by Kendall, with troops lining the route, from Ste Pol to the medieval castle within the ancient citadel at Boulogne. For the occasion, the castle library was transformed into a chapelle ardente: a company from the French 8th Infantry Regiment, recently awarded the Légion d’Honneur en masse, stood vigil overnight.
The following morning, two undertakers entered the castle library and placed the coffin into a casket of the oak timbers of trees from Hampton Court Palace. The casket was banded with iron, and a medieval crusader’s sword chosen by King George V personally from the Royal Collection was affixed to the top and surmounted by an iron shield bearing the inscription
‘A British Warrior who fell in the Great War 1914–1918 for King and Country’.
The casket was then placed onto a French military wagon, drawn by six black horses. At 10.30 am, all the church bells of Boulogne tolled; the massed trumpets of the French cavalry and the bugles of the French infantry played Aux Champs (the French “Last Post“).
Then, the mile-long procession—led by one thousand local schoolchildren and escorted by a division of French troops—made its way down to the harbour.
At the quayside, Marshal Foch saluted the casket before it was carried up the gangway of the destroyer, HMS Verdun, and piped aboard with an admiral’s call. The Verdun slipped anchor just before noon and was joined by an escort of six battleships.
On the morning of 11 November 1920, the casket was placed onto a gun carriage of the Royal Horse Artillery and drawn by six horses through immense and silent crowds. As the cortege set off, a further Field Marshal’s salute was fired in Hyde Park.
The guests of honour were a group of about one hundred women. They had been chosen because they had each lost their husband and all their sons in the war.
“Every woman so bereft who applied for a place got it”.
The coffin was then interred in the far western end of the Nave, only a few feet from the entrance, in soil brought from each of the main battlefields, and covered with a silk pall. Servicemen from the armed forces stood guard as tens of thousands of mourners filed silently past. The ceremony appears to have served as a form of catharsis for collective mourning on a scale not previously known.
The grave was then capped with a black Belgian marble stone (the only tombstone in the Abbey on which it is forbidden to walk) featuring this inscription, composed by Herbert Edward Ryle, Dean of Westminster, engraved with brass from melted down wartime ammunition:
Beneath this stone rests the body Of a British warrior Unknown by name or rank Brought from France to lie among The most illustrious of the land And buried here on Armistice Day 11 Nov: 1920, in the presence of His Majesty King George V His Ministers of State The Chiefs of his forces And a vast concourse of the nation
Thus are commemorated the many Multitudes who during the Great War of 1914 – 1918 gave the most that Man can give life itself For God For King and country For loved ones home and empire For the sacred cause of justice and The freedom of the world
They buried him among the kings because he Had done good toward God and toward His house
Around the main inscription are four New Testament quotations:
The Lord knoweth them that are his (top; 2 Timothy 2:19) Unknown and yet well known, dying and behold we live (side; 2 Corinthians 6:9) Greater love hath no man than this (side; John 15:13) In Christ shall all be made alive (base; 1 Corinthians 15:22)
The Actual “Unknown Soldier” – Remembrance Day – WW
A year later, on 17 October 1921, the unknown warrior was given the United States’ highest award for valour, the Medal of Honor, from the hand of General John Pershing; it hangs on a pillar close to the tomb. On 11 November 1921, the American Unknown Soldier was reciprocally awarded the Victoria Cross.
Princess Elizabeth’s wedding bouquet on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, a tradition started by her mother in 1923.
When Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon married the future King George VI on 26 April 1923, she laid her bouquet at the Tomb on her way into the Abbey, as a tribute to her brother Fergus who had died at the Battle of Loos in 1915 (and whose name was then listed among those of the missing on the Loos Memorial, although in 2012 a new headstone was erected in the Quarry Cemetery, Vermelles).
Royal brides married at the Abbey now have their bouquets laid on the tomb the day after the wedding and all of the official wedding photographs have been taken. It is also the only tomb not to have been covered by a special red carpet for the wedding of Prince Albert, Duke of York, and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.
Kate Middleton’s bridal bouquet
Meghan follows royal traditional as her bridal bouquet is laid on the tomb of The Unknown Warrior.
Before she died in 2002, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (the same Elizabeth who first laid her wedding bouquet at the tomb) expressed the wish for her wreath to be placed on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. Her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, laid the wreath the day after the funeral.
The British Unknown Warrior came 76th in the 100 Great Britons poll. The LMS-Patriot Project a charitable organisation, is building a new steam locomotive that will carry the name The Unknown Warrior. The new loco has been endorsed by the Royal British Legion as the new National Memorial Engine. A public appeal to build the locomotive was launched in 2008. The Unknown Warrior is expected to be complete by January 2019—one year late of the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice.
Heads of state from over 70 countries have lain wreaths in memoriam of the Unknown Warrior.
Great War Tour Ep 2 – Identifying the Unknown Soldier
Kate Middleton’s bridal bouquet placed at Grave of Unknown Warrior
As tradition dictates, Kate Middleton’s bridal bouquet was laid at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior inside Westminster Abbey after the Royal wedding ceremony was completed.
It is understood that the bouquet was placed at the grave, which is located at the nave in the west end of the Abbey, by a royal official after the official wedding photographs were completed.
The tradition began in 1923 following the wedding of Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon – the future Queen Elizabeth – to the Duke of York, who later became George VI.
Lady Elizabeth, who became the Queen Mother in 1952, left her bouquet at the grave in memory of her brother Fergus, a young officer who was killed on the Western Front in 1915.
The grave is one of the most sacred places in the Abbey and is the only part of the floor upon which the congregations are not allowed to walk.
It is thought that the idea to commemorate the unknown war dead of the 1914-18 conflict, which saw a generation perish on Western Front, came from the Rev David Railton who served as a chaplain during the conflict.
Legend has it that in 1916, while serving in Armentieres, Rev Railton noticed a grave in the garden with a rough hand-made cross bearing the inscription “An unknown British Soldier”.
In 1920, Rev Railton wrote to Herbert Ryle, the Dean of Westminster with the suggestion that all of those who died in the trenches and whose bodies were never be found should be remembered.
The body of a soldier was exhumed from a mass grave in France after the First World War and was buried on 11 November 1920.
The grave which contains soil from France, is covered by a slab of black Belgian marble from a quarry near Namur and contains an inscription composed by Herbert Ryle, who at the time was the Dean of Westminster.
In the week after the unknown soldier was laid to rest, more than 1.2 million people visited the Abbey and the site is now one of the world’s most visited graves.
The body was chosen from four unknown British servicemen exhumed from four battle areas, the Aisne, the Somme, Arras and Ypres.
The remains were brought to the chapel at St. Pol on the night of 7 November 1920. The General Officer in charge of troops in France and Flanders, Brigadier General L.J.Wyatt, with Colonel Gell, went into the chapel alone, where the bodies on stretchers were covered by Union Flags. General Wyatt selected one and the two officers placed it in a plain coffin and sealed it.
The other bodies were reburied. The destroyer HMS Verdun, whose ship’s bell now hangs near the grave in the Abbey, transported the coffin to Dover and it was then taken by train to Victoria station in London where it rested overnight.
On the morning of 11 November the coffin was placed on a gun carriage drawn by six black horses and began its journey through the crowd-lined streets.
The coffin to the Nave through a guard of honour of 100 holders of the Victoria Cross, During the shortened form of the Burial Service, after the hymn “Lead kindly light”, the King stepped forward and dropped a handful of French earth onto the coffin as it was lowered into the grave.
Among the daughters-in-law of Queen Elizabeth II, only Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York had laid her bouquet on the tomb as her wedding to the Queen’s second son, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, in July 1986 was held at Westminster Abbey.
Diana and Charles were married at St. Paul’s Cathedral in July 1981, the Queen’s youngest son, Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex and Sophie Rhys-Jones were married at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle in June 1999 while Prince Charles’s church’s blessing with Camilla Parker-Bowles happened also at St. George’s chapel.
The Rise & Fall of UDA Brigadier of Bling James Gray
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.
Belfast, Northern Ireland
4 October 2005 (aged 46–47)
East Belfast, Northern Ireland
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.
Gray, the son of James and Elizabeth Gray, was born in 1958 and raised a Protestant in East Belfast. He 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.
Who killed UDA Boss?
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.
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”.
Rangers 3 Celtic 2…Amazing Penny Arcade & Blue Sea Of Ibrox
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.
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 Adair, had 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.
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 McDonald, Billy 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. He allegedly owned property in Spain.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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 web, it 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.
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.
The dark Web, Silk Road
Arrest and trial of Ross Ulbricht
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
in Glen Park Library, a branch of the San Francisco Public Library. Ulbricht was indicted on charges of money laundering, computer 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.
What are bitcoins?
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.
What is BitTorrent?
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”,
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”.
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.
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.
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 apparel, art, books, cigarettes, erotica, jewelery, 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.
A flowchart depicting Silk Road’s payment system. Exhibit 113 A, entered into evidence at Ulbricht’s trial.
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.
The Farmer’s Market was a Tor site similar to Silk Road, but which did not use bitcoins. 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.
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.
Silk Road 2.0
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.
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.
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!
Mickey Marley Story
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 Ulster. BBC 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
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
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
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
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!!
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”
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.
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.
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.
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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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.