Signed copy of my book & update on book launch /Promo
See below for details on how to order a signed copy:
12th Sep 2020
Well folks the book is a No.1 best Seller to my absolute delight and Im buzzinf
Signed copy of my book: A Belfast Child
Please note I am waiting on a delivery of books from the warehouse and therefore if you order a signed copy it will take a little longer to reach you.
Also, if you are ordering from outside the UK the postage is substantially higher and I suggest you email me and I will send you an online invoice with an amended price to cover postage charges.
If you can’t wait to read my amazing story you can order directly from Amazon:
Use the link below to order a signed copy.
You can email directly : email@example.com
I’m actually embarrassed offering this option but quite a few folk have contacted me enquiring about a signed copy and therefore I thought I’d make this available to those interested.
If you would like a signed copy of my book, please purchase via this link (above) and fill in the contact form below, making sure to include your email and the text you wish to appear in the book. If you require more than one copy, please email me and I will send you details and an online invoice.
Date 1st September 2020
Here’s a quick update on the book launch, promo and a link to order a signed copy.
Only thirteen days to go until my life story is in the public domain and having worked on it and waited almost twenty five years to see it in print I must admit I’m extremely nervous and apprehensive about its forthcoming release.
Having grown up during and lived through some of the worst years of the Troubles I know my story is far from unique and many have suffered far more both physically and emotionally due to the nightmare that stalked our lives for thirty long blood soaked years.
However due to the secret of my dual heritage, compounded by growing up in and around some of the most violent Loyalist estates in West Belfast the sudden and final disappearance of my catholic mother hunted me throughout my life and my search for her is the main theme throughout the book. The Troubles provide the backdrop and needless to say my story includes brief accounts of some of the highest profile and soul-destroying times that we all lived through.
Although I know this area will be a very divisive issue I hope when reading it folk bear in mind that I’m writing about these accounts as seen through the eyes of a child living through them.
Despite the madness throughout the book/my life there is much laughter and many accounts also of my crazy teenage years in and around Glencairn and drug fuelled mod years and later the rave scene in and around London. When all is said and done no one else has ever walked in my shoes and although I expect much criticism when folk read the book, I hope it might make them stop and think for a moment : Was it all worth it ?
I think not.
Sadly, due to the coronavirus I will not be doing book signings in Belfast, Scotland and Ireland as originally planned. Thank god because I hate that side of things and wasn’t really looking forward to it to be honest lol. The publisher has informed me that this may change over the coming months and I will keep you updated via here or on Twitter.
If you want a signed copy of the book see blow.
In regards to interviews etc there are quite a few lined up, including radio , podcasts , TV and in print and I will be posting details of these as and when they happen or become available.
Another aspect of the publishing world Im not looking forward to.
The cost is £10.00 plus £2.50 for postage per book.
Please note the book will be dispatched within a few days of payment
It commemorates the 306 British Army and Commonwealth soldiers executed after courts-martial for desertion and other capital offences during World War I.
Desertion is the abandonment of a military duty or post without permission (a pass, liberty or leave) and is done with the intention of not returning. This contrasts with unauthorized absence (UA) or absence without leave (AWOL , which are temporary forms of absence.
The memorial is to servicemen executed by firing squad during the First World War. It is alleged that soldiers accused of cowardice were often not given fair trials; they were often not properly defended, and some were minors.
Shot at Dawn, National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas, by Roy Kevin Holloway
Other sources contend that military law, being based on Roman rather than Common law, appears unfamiliar to civilian eyes but is no less fair.
“it was the first duty of the court to ensure the prisoner had every advantage to what he was legally entitled”.
If men seemed unrepresented it was because they generally chose to speak in their own defence. The usual cause for their offences has been re-attributed in modern times to post-traumatic stress syndrome and combat stress reaction. Another perspective is that the decisions to execute were taken in the heat of war when the commander’s job was to keep the army together and fighting.
Of the 200,000 or so men court-martialed during the First World War, 20,000 were found guilty of offences carrying the death penalty. Of those, 3000 actually received it, and of those sentences, 346 were carried out.
The others were given lesser sentences, or had death sentences commuted to a lesser punishment, e.g. hard labour, field punishment or a suspended sentence (91 of the men executed were under a suspended sentence: 41 of those executed were previously subject to commuted death sentences, and one had a death sentence commuted twice before). Of the 346 men executed, 309 were pardoned, while the remaining 37 were those executed for murder, who would have been executed under civilian law.
The families of these victims often carried the stigma of the label of :
Another side to this form of justice is the lasting emotional pain caused to those who were in the firing squads, shooting those found guilty.
WW1 Veterans Recall Executions
Britain was one of the last countries to withhold pardons for men executed during World War I: In 1993, John Major emphasised to the House of Commons that pardoning the men would be an insult to those who died honourably on the battlefield and that everyone was tried fairly.
However, in August 2006 the then Defence Secretary, Des Browne, reversed this decision. He stated that he did not want:
“to second guess the decisions made by commanders in the field, who were doing their best to apply the rules and standards of the time”, but that “it is better to acknowledge that injustices were clearly done in some cases, even if we cannot say which – and to acknowledge that all these men were victims of war”
In 2007, the Armed Forces Act 2006 was passed allowing the soldiers to be pardoned posthumously, although section 359(4) of the act states that the pardon “does not affect any conviction or sentence.”
The memorial was created by the British public artist Andy DeComyn. It was created in 2000 as a gift from the artist to the relatives and was unveiled at the National Memorial Arboretum by Gertrude Harris, daughter of Private Harry Farr, in June 2001. Marina Brewis, the great-niece of Lance Corporal Peter Goggins, also attended the service.
The memorial portrays a young British soldier blindfolded and tied to a stake, ready to be shot by a firing squad.
The memorial was modelled on the likeness of 17-year-old Private Herbert Burden, who lied about his age to enlist in the armed forces and was later shot for desertion.
Patrick was the first child to be killed during the Troubles he died shortly after being struck by a tracer bullet by the RUC as he lay in his bed in his family home in Divis Tower. The shot was fired from a heavy browning machine-gun mounted on an RUC Shorland armoured car.
The Scarman tribunal concluded that the shot was not justified.
The report described the activities of three Shorland vehicles which passed up and down Divis Street in the vicinity of Divis Tower. Ordered into the area after the fatal shooting of Herbert Roy , they were immediately fired on and attacked with an explosive device and petrol bombs by republicans.
Gunners inside the vehicles returned fire with machine-guns and the ground floor Rooney flat was hit by at least four bullets.
Patrick was in bed at the time and was hit in the head and died shortly after arriving at hospital.
His mother said during an interview:
” There was rioting, half the street was on fire. I was trying to watch TV and Patrick had gone to bed. Ill always remember he told me not to wake him up until late because he was serving at one o’clock mass. He was an altar boy at St. Mary’s “
His father a former soldier said:
” The rioting got worse and then the shooting started I thought of getting all the children into one room but before we had time to organised and lie down the room lit up in flames ,I was grazed by a bullet and Patrick seemed to fall along the wall. I thought he fainted from seeing me bleed, but then I saw the back of his head was covered in blood and I knew the flashes had been bullets and that Patrick was shot”
After the shooting the Ronneys moved to Manchester with their other children but later returned to Belfast. His mother stated:
” I wasn’t content knowing that Patrick was buried here and I wanted to be near him “
A year after his death the couple had another son and named him after Patrick.
In a further tragedy for the family Mrs Rooney’s sister Mary Sheppard was shot dead by loyalist in 1974 whilst a nephew Sean Campbell was also killed by loyalist three years later in 1977. Two friends of one of their sons were also killed during the Troubles. One Stephen Bennett was killed in an inal bomb in 1982. Another relative Thomas Reilly was shot dead by a soldier in 1983,
The book Unholy Smoke by G.W Target is dedicated:
To the Memory of
Killed by a stray bullet
During the fighting on the night of august 14th 1969
During 12–16 August 1969, there was an outbreak of political and sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, which is often seen as the beginning of the thirty-year conflict known as the Troubles. There had been sporadic violence throughout the year arising out of the civil rights campaign, which demanded an end to discrimination against Catholics and Irish nationalists.
– Disclaimer –
The views and opinions expressed in these blog posts/documentaries are solely intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland. They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors
Belfast 1969 : The Dawn of the Troubles ( Shankill / Falls RD)
Events leading up to the August riots
The first major confrontation between civil rights activists and the Royal Ulster Constabulary occurred in Derry on 5 October 1968, when a NICRA ( Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement ) march was baton-charged by the RUC.
Disturbed by the prospect of major violence, the prime minister of Northern Ireland, Terence O’Neill, promised reforms in return for a “truce”, whereby no further demonstrations would be held.
In spite of these promises, in January 1969 People’s Democracy, a radical left-wing group, staged an anti-government march from Belfast to Derry. Ulster loyalists, including off-duty USC members, attacked the marchers a number of times, most determinedly at Burntollet Bridge (about five miles outside Derry). The RUC were present but failed to adequately protect the marchers. This action, and the RUC’s subsequent entry into the Bogside, led to serious rioting in Derry.
Although 1969 is generally regarded as the beginning of the modern Troubles sectarian tensions had been bubbling for some time in the north and loyalist paramilitaries were responsible for the first politically motivated killings since the IRA’s 1950s campaign. The UVF were responsible for three civilian deaths in 1966 including Patrick Scullion who became the first victim of the Troubles. Peter Ward who was killed by Gusty Spences team and a protestant pensioner Matilda Gould who was severely burned in a fire started by the UVF and died a few weeks later.
In March 1966 Gerry Fitt took his place in Westminster giving a voice to a wide range of nationalist grievances. Plans by Republicans to mark the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising stirred up political tensions even more and Unionists paranoia’s were exasperated and stoked by Ian Paisley , who called for a counter parade which led to his arrest and conviction for unlawful assembly . This led to widespread social unrest and by August 1969 with the rise and protestant/loyalist suspicion of the NICRA ( Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement ) Northern Ireland was on the brink of an abyss that would plunge us all into a thirty year nightmare of never ending death and destruction and the stage was set for the beginning of the Troubles!
History Of Loyalism Part 1
In March and April 1969, there were six bomb attacks on electricity and water infrastructure targets, causing blackouts and water shortages. At first the attacks were blamed on the Irish Republican Army (IRA), but it later emerged that members of the loyalist Ulster Protestant Volunteers (UPV) and Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) had carried out the bombings in an attempt to implicate the IRA, destabilise the Northern Ireland Government and halt the reforms promised by Terence O’Neill.
There was some movement on reform in Northern Ireland in the first half of 1969.
On 23 April Ulster Unionist Party Members of the Northern Ireland Parliament voted by 28 to 22 to introduce universal adult suffrage in local government elections in Northern Ireland at their parliamentary party meeting. The call for “one man, one vote” had been one of the key demands of the civil rights movement.
Five days later, Terence O’Neill resigned as UUP leader and Northern Ireland Prime Minister and was replaced in both roles by James Chichester-Clark. Chichester-Clark, despite having resigned in protest over the introduction of universal suffrage in local government, announced that he would continue the reforms begun by O’Neill.
Street violence, however, continued to escalate. On 19 April there was serious rioting in the Bogside area of Derry following clashes between NICRA marchers against loyalists and the RUC. A Catholic, Samuel Devenny, was severely beaten by the RUC and later died of his injuries.
On 12 July, during the Orange Order’s Twelfth of July marches, there was serious rioting in Londonderry, Belfast and Dungiven, causing many families in Belfast to flee from their homes.
Another Catholic civilian, Francis McCloskey (67), died one day after being hit on the head with batons by RUC officers during disturbances in Dungiven.
As a result of these events, residents of the Catholic Bogside area of Derry set up the Derry Citizens’ Defence Association to organise the defence of the neighbourhood, should the need arise.
Battle of the Bogside
This unrest culminated in a pitched battle in Derry from 12–14 August, known as the Battle of the Bogside. As the yearly march by the Protestant loyalist Apprentice Boys skirted the edge of the Catholic Bogside, stone-throwing broke out.
The RUC—on foot and in armoured vehicles—drove back the Catholic crowd and attempted to force its way into the Bogside, followed by loyalists who smashed the windows of Catholic homes.
Thousands of Bogside residents mobilised to defend the area, and beat back the RUC with a hail of stones and petrol bombs. Barricades were built, petrol bomb ‘factories’ and first aid posts were set up, and a radio transmitter (“Radio Free Derry”) broadcast messages and called on
“every able-bodied man in Ireland who believes in freedom”
to come defend the Bogside.The overstretched police resorted to throwing stones back at the Bogsiders and were helped by loyalists. They received permission to fire CS gas into the Bogside – the first time it had been used by police in the UK. The Bogsiders believed that the Ulster Special Constabulary (USC), the wholly Protestant police reserves, would be sent in and would massacre the Catholic residents. On 13 August, the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association called for protests across Northern Ireland in support of the Bogside, to draw police away from the fighting there. That night it issued a statement:
A war of genocide is about to flare across the North. The CRA demands that all Irishmen recognise their common interdependence and calls upon the Government and people of the Twenty-six Counties to act now to prevent a great national disaster. We urgently request that the Government take immediate action to have a United Nations peace-keeping force sent to Derry.
A loyalist mural in Belfast commemorating the 1969 riots
Belfast saw by far the most intense violence of the August 1969 riots. Unlike Londonderry, where Catholic nationalists were a majority, in Belfast they were a minority and were also geographically divided and surrounded by Protestants and loyalists. For this reason, whereas in Derry the fighting was largely between nationalists and the RUC, in Belfast it also involved fighting between Catholics and Protestants, including exchanges of gunfire and widespread burning of homes and businesses.
On the night of 12 August, bands of Apprentice Boys arrived back in Belfast after taking part in the Derry march. They were met by Protestant pipe bands and a large crowd of supporters. They then marched to the Shankill Road waving Union Flags and singing “The Sash My Father Wore” (a popular loyalist ballad).
According to journalists Patrick Bishop and Eamonn Mallie,:
“Both communities were in the grip of a mounting paranoia about the other’s intentions. Catholics were convinced that they were about to become victims of a Protestant pogrom; Protestants that they were on the eve of an IRA insurrection”.
Wednesday 13 August
The first disturbances in Northern Ireland’s capital took place on the night of 13 August. Derry activists Eamonn McCann and Sean Keenan contacted Frank Gogarty of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association to organise demonstrations in Belfast to draw off police from Derry. Independently, Belfast IRA leader Billy McMillen ordered republicans to organise demonstrations, “in support of Derry”.
In protest at the RUC’s actions in Derry, a group of 500 nationalists assembled at Divis flats and staged a rally outside Springfield Road RUC station, where they handed in a petition.
After handing in the petition, the crowd of now 1,000–2,000 people, including IRA members such as Joe McCann, began a protest march along the Falls Road and Divis Street to the Hastings Street RUC police station. When they arrived, about 50 youths broke away from the march and attacked the RUC police station with stones and petrol bombs.
The RUC responded by sending out riot police and by driving Shorland armoured cars at the crowd. Protesters pushed burning cars onto the road to stop the RUC from entering the nationalist area.
At Leeson Street, roughly halfway between the clashes at Springfield and Hastings Street RUC police stations, an RUC Humber armoured car was attacked with a hand grenade and rifle fire.
At the time, it was not known who had launched the attack, but it has since emerged that it was IRA members, acting under the orders of Billy McMillen. McMillen also authorised members of the Fianna (IRA youth wing) to attack the Springfield Road RUC police station with petrol bombs. Shots were exchanged there between the IRA and RUC.
In addition to the attacks on the RUC, the car dealership of Protestant Isaac Agnew, on the Falls Road, was destroyed. The nationalist crowd also burnt a Catholic-owned pub and betting shop. At this stage, loyalist crowds gathered on the Shankill Road but did not join in the fighting.
That night, barricades went up at the interface areas between Catholic and Protestant neighbourhoods.
A Shorland armoured car. The RUC used Shorlands mounted with Browning machine guns during the riots.
Thursday 14 August and early hours of Friday 15 August
On 14 August, many Catholics and Protestants living on the edge of their ghettos fled their homes for safety.
The loyalists viewed the nationalist attacks of Wednesday night as an organised attempt by the IRA
“to undermine the constitutional position of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom”.
The IRA, contrary to loyalist belief, was responding to events rather than orchestrating them. Billy McMillen called up all available IRA members for “defensive duties” and sent parties out to Cupar Street, Divis Street and St Comgall’s School on Dover Street. They amounted to 30 IRA volunteers, 12 women, 40 youths from the Fianna and 15–20 girls. Their arms consisted of one Thompson submachine gun, one Sten submachine gun, one Lee–Enfield rifle and six handguns.
A “wee factory” was also set up in Leeson Street to make petrol bombs. Their orders at the outset were to, “disperse people trying to burn houses, but under no circumstances to take life”.
What Is The Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Falls–Shankill interface near Divis Tower
That evening, a nationalist crowd marched to Hastings Street RUC station, which they began to attack with stones for a second night. Loyalist crowds (wielding petrol bombs, bricks, stones, sharpened poles and protective dustbin lids) gathered at neighbouring Dover and Percy Streets.
They were confronted by nationalists, who had hastily blocked their streets with barricades. Fighting broke out between the rival factions at about 11:00 pm. The RUC concentrated their efforts on the nationalist rioters, who they scattered with armoured cars. Catholics claimed that USC officers had been seen giving guns to the loyalists, while journalists reported seeing pike-wielding loyalists standing among the RUC officers.
From the nearby rooftop of Divis Tower flats, a group of nationalists would spend the rest of the night raining missiles on the police below. A chain of people were passing stones and petrol bombs from the ground to the roof.
Loyalists began pushing into the Falls Road area along Percy Street, Beverly Street and Dover Street. The rioters contained a rowdy gang of loyalist football supporters who had returned from a match.
On Dover Street, the loyalist crowd was led by Ulster Unionist Party MP John McQuade. On Percy Street, a loyalist opened fire with a shotgun and USC officers helped the loyalists to push back the nationalists. As they entered the nationalist ghetto, loyalists began burning Catholic homes and businesses on Percy Street, Beverly Street and Dover Street.
At the intersection of Dover and Divis Street, an IRA unit opened fire on the crowd of RUC police officers and loyalists, who were trying to enter the Catholic area. Protestant Herbert Roy (26) was killed and three officers were wounded.
At this point, the RUC, believing they were facing an organised IRA uprising, deployed Shorland armoured cars mounted with Browning machine guns, whose .30 calibre bullets “tore through walls as if they were cardboard”.
In response to the RUC coming under fire at Divis Street, three Shorland armoured cars were called to the scene. The Shorlands were immediately attacked with gunfire, an explosive device and petrol bombs. The RUC believed that the shots had come from nearby Divis Tower. Gunners inside the Shorlands returned fire with their heavy machine-guns. At least thirteen Divis Tower flats were hit by high-velocity gunfire.
A nine-year-old boy, Patrick Rooney, was killed by machine-gun fire as he lay in bed in one of the flats. He was the first child to be killed in the violence.
At about 01:00, not long after the shooting of Patrick Rooney, the RUC again opened fire on Divis Tower. The shots killed Hugh McCabe (20), a Catholic soldier who was ‘on leave’. He and another had been on the roof of the Whitehall building (which was part of the Divis complex) and were pulling a wounded man to safety. The RUC claimed he was armed at the time and that gunfire was coming from the roof, but this was denied by many witnesses.
The Republican Labour Party MP for Belfast Central, Paddy Kennedy, who was on the scene, phoned the RUC headquarters and appealed to Northern Ireland Minister for Home Affairs, Robert Porter, for the Shorlands to be withdrawn and the shooting to stop. Porter replied that this was impossible as,
“the whole town is in rebellion”.
Porter told Kennedy that Donegall Street police station was under heavy machine-gun fire. In fact, it was undisturbed throughout the riots.
Sometime after the killing of Hugh McCabe, some 200 loyalists attacked Catholic Divis Street and began burning houses there. A unit of six IRA volunteers in St Comgall’s School shot at them with a rifle, a Thompson submachine gun and some pistols; keeping the attackers back and wounding eight of them. An RUC Shorland then arrived and opened fire on the school. The IRA gunmen returned fire and managed to escape.
Falls–Shankill interface near Clonard Monastery
West of St Comgall’s, loyalists broke through the nationalist barricades on Conway Street and burned two-thirds of the houses. Catholics claimed that the RUC held them back so that the loyalists could burn their homes. The Scarman Report found that RUC officers were on Conway Street when its houses were set alight, but “failed to take effective action”. Journalist Max Hastings wrote that loyalists on Conway Street had been begging the RUC to give them their guns.
Rioting in Ardoyne, north of the city centre, began in the evening near Holy Cross Catholic church. Loyalists crossed over to the Catholic/nationalist side of Crumlin Road to attack Brookfield Street, Herbert Street, Butler Street and Hooker Street. These had been hastily blocked by nationalist barricades. Loyalists reportedly threw petrol bombs at Catholics “over the heads of RUC officers”,as RUC armoured cars were used to smash through the barricades.
IRA gunmen fired the first shots at the RUC, who responded by firing machine-guns down the streets, killing two Catholic civilians (Samuel McLarnon, 27, and Michael Lynch, 28) and wounding ten more.
Friday 15 August
The morning of 15 August saw many Catholic families in central Belfast flee to Andersonstown on the western fringes of the city, to escape the rioting. According to Bishop and Mallie,
“Each side’s perceptions of the other’s intentions had become so warped that the Protestants believed the Catholics were clearing the decks for a further attempt at insurrection in the evening”.
At 04:30 on Friday 15 August, the police commissioner for Belfast asked for military aid. From the early hours of Friday, the RUC had withdrawn to its bases to defend them. The interface areas were thus left unpoliced for half a day until the British Army arrived.
The Deputy Police Commissioner had assumed that the British Army would be deployed by 10:00 or 11:00. At 12:25 that afternoon, the Northern Ireland cabinet finally sent a request for military aid to the Home Office in London. However, it would be another nine hours until the British Army arrived at the Falls/Shankill interface where it was needed.
Many Catholics and nationalists felt that they had been left at the mercy of the loyalists by the forces of the state who were meant to protect them.
The IRA, which had limited manpower and weaponry at the start of the riots, was also exhausted and low on ammunition. Its Belfast commander, Billy McMillen, and 19 other republicans were arrested by the RUC early on 15 August under the Special Powers Act.
There was fierce rioting in streets around Clonard Monastery , where hundreds of Catholic homes were burned
Falls–Shankill interface near Clonard Monastery
The Wall (Belfast Short documentary)
On 15 August, violence continued along the Falls/Shankill interface. Father PJ Egan of Clonard Monastery recalled that a large loyalist mob moved down Cupar Street at about 15:00 and was held back by nationalist youths. Shooting began at about 15:45. Egan claimed that himself and other priests at Clonard Monastery made at least four calls to the RUC for help, but none came.
A small IRA party under Billy McKee was present and had two .22 rifles at their disposal. They exchanged shots with a loyalist sniper who was firing from a house on Cupar Street, but failed to dislodge him, or to halt the burning of Catholic houses in the area.
Almost all of the houses on Bombay Street were burned by the loyalists, and many others were burned on Kashmir Road and Cupar Street – the most extensive destruction of property during the riots.
A loyalist sniper shot dead Gerald McAuley (15), a member of the Fianna (IRA’s youth wing), as he helped people flee their homes on Bombay Street.
At about 18:30 the British Army’s The Royal Regiment of Wales was deployed on the Falls Road, where they were greeted with subdued applause and cheering.
However, despite pleas from locals, they did not move into the streets that were being attacked. At about 21:35 that night, the soldiers finally took up positions at the blazing interface and blocked the streets with barbed-wire barricades. Father PJ Egan recalled that the soldiers called on the loyalists to surrender but they instead began shooting and throwing petrol bombs at the soldiers.
The soldiers could only fire back on the orders of an officer when life was directly threatened. The loyalists continued shooting and burned more Catholic-owned houses on Bombay Street, but were stopped by soldiers using tear gas.
Soldiers were not deployed in Ardoyne, and violence continued there on Friday night. Nationalists hijacked 50 buses from the local bus depot, set them on fire and used them as makeshift barricades to block access to Ardoyne. A Protestant civilian, David Linton (48), was shot dead by IRA gunmen at the Palmer Street/Crumlin Road junction.
Several Catholic-owned houses were set alight on Brookfield Street. The Scarman Report found that an RUC armoured vehicle was nearby when Brookfield Street was set alight, but made no move.
Saturday 16 August
On the evening of 16 August the British Army was deployed on Crumlin Road. Thereafter, the violence died down into what the Scarman report called, “the quiet of exhaustion”.
Towns and cities where major riots took place
In aid of the Bogsiders, the NICRA executive decided to launch protests in towns across Northern Ireland. The Scarman Report concluded that the spread of the disturbances “owed much to a deliberate decision by some minority groups to relieve police pressure on the rioters in Londonderry”. It included the NICRA among these groups.
On the evening of 11 August a riot erupted in Dungannon after a meeting of the NICRA. This was quelled after the RUC baton charged nationalist rioters down Irish Street. There were claims of police brutality.
On 12 August, republicans attacked the RUC police stations in Coalisland, Strabane and Newry.
On 13 August there were further riots in Dungannon, Coalisland, Dungiven, Armagh and Newry. In Coalisland, USC officers opened fire on rioters without orders but were immediately ordered to stop.
On 14 August riots continued in Dungannon, Armagh and Newry. In Dungannon and Armagh, USC officers again opened fire on rioters. They fired 24 shots on Armagh’s Cathedral Road, killing Catholic civilian John Gallagher and wounding two others.
In Newry, nationalist rioters surrounded the RUC station and attacked it with petrol bombs. In Crossmaglen on 17 August, the IRA attacked the local RUC station and withdrew after an exchange of fire.
On 13 August, Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Jack Lynch made a television address in which he stated that the Irish Defence Forces was setting up field hospitals along the border and called for United Nations intervention. He said:
It is evident that the Stormont Government is no longer in control of the situation. Indeed, the present situation is the inevitable outcome of the policies pursued for decades by successive Stormont Governments. It is clear, also, that the Irish Government can no longer stand by and see innocent people injured and perhaps worse. It is obvious that the R.U.C. is no longer accepted as an impartial police force. Neither would the employment of British troops be acceptable
The Irish Government have, therefore, requested the British Government to apply immediately to the United Nations for the urgent despatch of a Peace-keeping Force […] We have also asked the British Government to see to it that police attacks on the people of Derry should cease immediately.
When the Irish government met on 14 and 15 August, it decided to send troops to protect the field hospitals, and to call up the first line army reserves:
“in readiness for participation in peace-keeping operations”.
This, along with Lynch’s statement, fuelled rumours that Irish troops were about to cross the border and intervene. On 16 August, three Irish nationalist members of the Northern Ireland Parliament—Paddy Devlin, Paddy O’Hanlon and Paddy Kennedy—went to the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin. They demanded the Irish government send guns to protect Catholics in Northern Ireland, but this was refused.
The prime minister of Northern Ireland, James Chichester-Clark, responded:
“In this grave situation, the behaviour of the Dublin Government has been deplorable, and tailor-made to inflame opinion on both sides”.
On 14 August he stated in the Northern Ireland Parliament:
This is not the agitation of a minority seeking by lawful means the assertion of political rights. It is the conspiracy of forces seeking to overthrow a Government democratically elected by a large majority. What the teenage hooligans seek beyond cheap kicks I do not know. But of this I am quite certain – they are being manipulated and encouraged by those who seek to discredit and overthrow this Government”.
Chichester-Clark denied that his government was not doing enough to bring about the reforms sought by the civil rights movement, or that this was a cause of the violence. Instead, he said:
“The real cause of the disorder is to be found in the activities of extreme Republican elements and others determined to overthrow our State”.
On 23 August, Catholic Cardinal William Conway, together with the Bishops of Derry, Clogher, Dromore, Kilmore, and Down & Connor, issued a statement which included the following:
The fact is that on Thursday and Friday of last week the Catholic districts of Falls and Ardoyne were invaded by mobs equipped with machine-guns and other firearms. A community which was virtually defenceless was swept by gunfire and streets of Catholic homes were systematically set on fire. We entirely reject the hypothesis that the origin of last week’s tragedy was an armed insurrection.
The Irish republican party, Sinn Féin, issued a statement saying that
“The present events in the Six Counties are the outcome of fifty years of British rule. The civil rights demands, moderate though they are, have shown us that Unionist rule is incompatible with democracy. The question now is no longer civil rights, but the continuation of British rule in Ireland”.
Representatives of the British and Northern Ireland governments—including British prime minister Harold Wilson and Northern Irish prime minister Chichester-Clark—held a two-day meeting at 10 Downing Street, beginning on 19 August. A Communique and Declaration was issued at the end of the first day
It re-affirmed that Northern Ireland would remain part of the United Kingdom unless the people of Northern Ireland decided otherwise, and that the Northern Ireland and British governments are solely responsible for affairs in Northern Ireland.
The Irish government failed to have a resolution on Northern Ireland put to a vote at the UN.
In late August, the Northern Ireland government announced the establishment of an inquiry into the riots, to be chaired by Justice Scarman (and known as the “Scarman Inquiry”).
A committee under Baron Hunt was also set up to consider reform of the Northern Ireland police, the Royal Ulster Constabulary and reserve Ulster Special Constabulary, which led to the latter being disbanded.
The rioting petered out by Sunday, 17 August. By the end of the riots:
8 people had been killed, including:
5 Catholics shot dead by the RUC
2 Protestants shot dead by nationalist gunmen
1 Fianna member shot dead by loyalist gunmen
750 + people had been injured – 133 (72 Catholics and 61 Protestants) of those injured suffered gunshot wounds
150+ Catholic homes and 275 + businesses had been destroyed – 83% of all buildings destroyed were owned by Catholics
During July, August and September 1969, 1,820+ families had been forced to flee their homes, including
1,505 Catholic families
315 Protestant families
Catholics generally fled across the border into the Republic of Ireland, while Protestants generally fled to east Belfast.
The Irish Defence Forces set up refugee camps in the Republic – at one point the Gormanston refugee camp held 6,000 refugees from Northern Ireland.
The modern “peace line” at Bombay Street in Belfast, seen from the Irish Catholic/nationalist side..
The August riots were the most sustained violence that Northern Ireland had seen since the early 1920s. Many Protestants, loyalists and unionists believed the violence showed the true face of the Northern Ireland Catholic civil rights movement – as a front for the IRA and armed insurrection.
They had mixed feelings regarding the deployment of British Army troops into Northern Ireland. Eddie Kinner, a resident of Dover Street who would later join the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), vividly recalled the troops marching down his street with fixed bayonets and steel helmets. He and his neighbours had felt at the time as if they were being invaded by their “own army”.
Catholics and nationalists, on the other hand, saw the riots (particularly in Belfast) as an assault on their community by loyalists and the forces of the state. The disturbances, taken together with the Battle of the Bogside, are often cited as the beginning of the Troubles. Violence escalated sharply in Northern Ireland after these events, with the formation of new paramilitary groups on either side, most notably the Provisional Irish Republican Army in December of that year.
On the loyalist side, the UVF (formed in 1966) were galvanised by the August riots and in 1971, another paramilitary group, the Ulster Defence Association was founded out of a coalition of loyalist militants who had been active since August 1969. The largest of these were the Woodvale Defence Association, led by Charles Harding Smith, and the Shankill Defence Association, led by John McKeague, which had been responsible for what organisation there was of loyalist violence in the riots of August 1969. While the thousands of British Army troops sent to Northern Ireland were initially seen as a neutral force, they quickly got dragged into the street violence and by 1971 were devoting most of their attention to combatting republican paramilitaries.
The Irish Republican Army
The role of the IRA in the riots has long been disputed. At the time, the organisation was blamed by the Northern Ireland authorities for the violence. However, it was very badly prepared to defend nationalist areas of Belfast, having few weapons or fighters on the ground.
The Scarman Inquiry, set up by the British government to investigate the causes of the riots, concluded:
Undoubtedly there was an IRA influence at work in the DCDA (Derry Citizens’ Defence Association) in Londonderry, in the Ardoyne and Falls Road areas of Belfast, and in Newry. But they did not start the riots, or plan them: indeed, the evidence is that the IRA was taken by surprise and did less than many of their supporters thought they should have done.
In nationalist areas, the IRA was reportedly blamed for having failed to protect areas like Bombay Street and Ardoyne from being burned out. A Catholic priest, Fr Gillespie, reported that in Ardoyne the IRA was being derided in graffiti as:
“I Ran Away”.
However, IRA veterans of the time, who spoke to authors Brian Hanley and Scott Millar, disputed this interpretation. One, Sean O’Hare, said:
“I never saw it written on a wall. That wasn’t the attitude. People fell in behind the IRA, stood behind them 100%”. Another, Sean Curry, recalled, “some people were a bit angry but most praised the people who did defend the area. They knew that if the men weren’t there, the area wouldn’t have been defended.”
At the time, the IRA released a statement on 18 August, saying, it had been, “in action in Belfast and Derry” and “fully equipped units had been sent to the border”. It had been, “reluctantly compelled into action by Orange murder gangs” and warned the British Army that if it, “was used to supress [sic] the legitimate demands of the people they will have to take the consequences” and urged the Irish government to send the Irish Army over the border.
Cathal Goulding, the IRA Chief of Staff, sent small units from Dublin, Cork and Kerry to border counties of Donegal, Leitrim and Monaghan, with orders to attack RUC posts in Northern Ireland and draw off pressure from Belfast and Derry. A total of 96 weapons and 12,000 rounds of ammunition were also sent to the North.
Nevertheless, the poor state of IRA arms and military capability in August 1969 led to a bitter split in the IRA in Belfast. According to Hanley and Millar, “dissensions that pre-dated August  had been given a powerful emotional focus”.
In September 1969, a group of IRA men led by Billy McKee and Joe Cahill stated that they would no longer be taking orders from the Dublin leadership of the IRA, or from Billy McMillen (their commander in Belfast) because they had not provided enough weapons or planning to defend nationalist areas. In December 1969, they broke away to form the Provisional IRA and vowed to defend areas from attack by loyalists and the RUC. The other wing of the IRA became known as the Official IRA. Shortly after its formation, the Provisional IRA launched an offensive campaign against the state of Northern Ireland.
The RUC and USC
The RUC: A Force Under Fire
The actions of the RUC in the August 1969 riots are perhaps the most contentious issue arising out of the disturbances. Nationalists argue that the RUC acted in a blatantly biased manner, helping loyalists who were assaulting Catholic neighbourhoods. There were also strong suggestions that police knew when loyalist attacks were to happen and seemed to disappear from some Catholic areas shortly before loyalist mobs attacked.
This perception discredited the police in the eyes of many nationalists and later allowed the IRA to effectively take over policing in nationalist areas. In his study, From Civil Rights to Armalites, nationalist author Niall Ó Dochartaigh argues that the actions of the RUC and USC were the key factor in the worsening of the conflict. He wrote:
From the outset, the response of the state and its forces of law and order to Catholic mobilisation was an issue capable of arousing far more anger and activism than the issues around which mobilisation had begun. Police behaviour and their interaction with loyalist protesters probably did more to politically mobilise large sections of the Catholic community than did any of the other grievances.
The Scarman Inquiry found that the RUC were “seriously at fault” on at least six occasions during the rioting. Specifically, they criticised the RUC’s use of Browning heavy machine-guns in built-up areas, their failure to stop Protestants from burning down Catholic homes, and their withdrawal from the streets long before the Army arrived. However, the Scarman Report concluded that, “Undoubtedly mistakes were made and certain individual officers acted wrongly on occasions.
But the general case of a partisan force co-operating with Protestant crowds to attack Catholic people is devoid of substance, and we reject it utterly”.
The report argued that the RUC were under-strength, poorly led and that their conduct in the riots was explained by their perception that they were dealing with a co-ordinated IRA uprising. They pointed to the RUC’s dispersal of loyalist rioters in Belfast on 2–4 August in support of the force’s impartiality.
Of the B-Specials (Ulster Special Constabulary or USC), the Scarman Report said:
There were grave objections, well understood by those in authority, to the use of the USC in communal disturbances. In 1969 the USC contained no Catholics but was a force drawn from the Protestant section of the community. Totally distrusted by the Catholics, who saw them as the strong arm of the Protestant ascendancy, they could not show themselves in a Catholic area without heightening tension. Moreover, they were neither trained nor equipped for riot control duty.
The report found that the Specials had fired on Catholic demonstrators in Dungiven, Coalisland, Dungannon and Armagh, causing casualties, which, “was a reckless and irresponsible thing to do”. It found that USC officers had, on occasion, sided with loyalist mobs. There were reports that USC officers were spotted hiding among loyalist mobs, using coats to hide their uniforms. Nevertheless, the Scarman Report concluded, “there are no grounds for singling out mobilised USC as being guilty of misconduct”.
All Mod Cons is the third studio album by the British band The Jam, released in 1978 by Polydor Records. The title, a British idiom one might find in housing advertisements, is short for “all modern conveniences” and is a pun on the band’s association with the mod revival. The album reached No. 6 in the UK Albums Chart.
The album was reissued in the US in 1979, with the song “The Butterfly Collector” replacing “Billy Hunt”.
The making of all mod cons ★ The Jam
Following the release of their second album, This Is the Modern World, the Jam undertook a 1978 tour of the US supporting American rock band Blue Öyster Cult. The Jam were not well received on the tour and This Is the Modern World failed to reach the Billboard 200 chart.
Under pressure from their record company, Polydor, to deliver a hit record, songwriter Paul Weller was suffering from writer’s block when the band returned to the UK. Weller admitted to a lack of interest during the writing/recording process, and had to completely re-record a new set of songs for the album after producer Chris Parry rejected the first batch as being sub-standard. All Mod Cons was more commercially successful than This Is the Modern World.
The song is a first-person narrative of a young man who walks into a tube station on the way home to his wife, and is beaten by far right thugs. The lyrics of the song “To Be Someone (Didn’t We Have a Nice Time)” criticised fickle people who attach themselves to people who enjoy success and leave them once that is over.
To Be Someone (Didn’t We Have A Nice Time)
“Class issues were very important to me at that time …” said Weller.
“Woking has a bit of a stockbroker belt on its outskirts. So I had those images – people catching the train to Waterloo to go to the city. ‘Mr Clean’ was my view of that.”
All Mod Cons was reissued on CD in 2006, featuring a second disc of b-sides, outtakes and unreleased demos and a DVD containing a 40-minute documentary directed by Don Letts.
“not only several light years ahead of anything they’ve done before but also the album that’s going to catapult the Jam right into the front rank of international rock and roll; one of the handful of truly essential rock albums of the last few years.”
**Neither the title nor lyrics of “English Rose” were printed on the original vinyl release of All Mod Cons due to Weller’s feeling that the song’s lyrics didn’t mean much without the music behind them.
2006 CD reissue bonus tracks
The UK version of the album was re-released on 5 June 2006 with a disc of bonus tracks, all of which were previously available with the exception of the demo versions of “Mr. Clean” and “Fly”.
“News of the World” (single)
“Aunties and Uncles” (Impulsive Youths) (b-side)
“Innocent Man” (b-side)
“Down in the Tube Station at Midnight” (single version)
“So Sad About Us” (b-side)
“The Night” (b-side)
“So Sad About Us” (demo)
“Worlds Apart” (demo)
“It’s Too Bad” (demo)
“To Be Someone” (demo)
“David Watts” (demo)
“Billy Hunt” (alternate version)
“Mr Clean” (demo)
Paul Weller – guitar, piano, harmonica, vocals
Bruce Foxton – bass, vocals
Rick Buckler – drums, percussion
Chris Parry – associate producer
Gregg Jackman, Roger Bechirian, Vic Coppersmith-Heaven – soundboard engineer
Peter Schierwade, Phil Thornalley – assistant engineer
Ian Reginald Edward GowTD 11 February 1937 – 30 July 1990) was a British Conservative politician and solicitor. While serving as Member of Parliament (MP) for Eastbourne, he was assassinated by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), who exploded a bomb under his car outside his home in East Sussex.
Ian Gow was born at 3 Upper Harley Street, London, the son of Alexander Edward Gow, a London doctor attached to St Bartholomew’s Hospital who died in 1952. Ian Gow was educated at Winchester College, where he was president of the debating society. During a period of national service from 1955 to 1958 he was commissioned in the 15th/19th Hussars and served in Northern Ireland, Germany and Malaya. He subsequently served in the territorial army until 1976, attaining the rank of Major.
After completing national service he took up a career in the law and qualified as a solicitor in 1962. He eventually became a partner in the London practice of Joynson-Hicks and Co.
He also became a Conservative Party activist. He stood for Parliament in the Coventry East constituency for the 1964 general election, but lost to Richard Crossman. He then stood for the Clapham constituency, a Labour-held London marginal seat, in the 1966 general election. An account in The Times of his candidature described him in the following terms:
“He is a bachelor solicitor, aged 29, wearing his public school manner as prominently as his rosette. Words such as ‘overpowering’, ‘arrogant’, and ‘bellicose’ are used to describe him.”
After failing to take Clapham, he continued his quest to find a seat. He eventually succeeded at Eastbourne in 1972 after the local Party de-selected its sitting member, Sir Charles Taylor. Sir Charles had represented Eastbourne since 1935 and did not take kindly to Gow.
Gow entered Parliament as the member for Eastbourne in the general election of February 1974. For a home in his constituency, Gow acquired a 16th-century manor house known as The Doghouse in the village of Hankham. Eastbourne was then a safe Conservative seat, and Gow always had a majority share of the vote during his time as the constituency’s MP. In the general election of October 1974, he secured a 10% swing from Liberal to Conservative, doubling his majority.
In the 1975 Conservative leadership election, Gow voted for Margaret Thatcher in the first round ballot. Once Thatcher had forced Edward Heath out of the contest, several new candidates appeared and Gow switched his support to Geoffrey Howe in the second round, which Thatcher won. Gow was brought onto the Conservative front bench in 1978 to share the duties of opposition spokesman on Northern Ireland with Airey Neave.
Ian Gow First Televised Speech In Commons
The two men developed a Conservative policy on Northern Ireland which favoured integration of the province with Great Britain. This approach appeared to avoid compromise with the province’s nationalist minority and with the government of the Republic of Ireland. Both Neave and Gow were killed by car bomb attacks in 1979 and 1990 respectively. Irish republican paramilitaries claimed responsibility in both cases, but nobody was ever charged with causing the deaths and claims were made concerning possible involvement of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and intelligence community.
Through his association with Neave, Gow was introduced to the inner circles of the Conservative Party. He was appointed parliamentary private secretary to Margaret Thatcher in May 1979 at the time she became Prime Minister. While serving in this capacity between 1979 and 1983, Gow became a close friend and confidant of the Prime Minister. He was deeply involved in the workings of Thatcher’s private office until his departure in June 1983.
Though elevated to junior ministerial office as Minister for Housing and Construction before moving later to the Treasury, Gow was known to be disappointed by his loss of influence with the Prime Minister in his new role. In late 1983 he developed plans with Alan Clark to reinvigorate Thatcher’s private office by expanding it and its influence over policy, thereby creating a new role for himself, but these came to nothing.
Although later identified with the right-wing of the Party, he took a liberal position on some issues. He visited Rhodesia at the time of its Unilateral Declaration of Independence and was subsequently critical of the country’s white minority regime. As an MP, Gow consistently voted against the restoration of the death penalty.
As Minister of State for Housing and Construction (from 1983 to June 1985) he showed a willingness to commit public funds to housing projects that alarmed some on the right-wing of the Conservative party.
“After taking what was perhaps too principled a stand in a complex dispute over Housing Improvement Grants, he was moved sideways to the post of minister of state at the Treasury”.
From 1982, Conservative policy began to move towards a more flexible position on Northern Ireland. In November 1985, Gow was persuaded by the speeches his cousin Nicholas Budgen made to resign as Minister of State in HM Treasury over the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement.
Despite his disagreement with government policy, he used his resignation speech to underline his personal devotion to Thatcher, describing her as:
“the finest chief, the most resolute leader, the kindest friend that any member of this House could hope to serve.”
The Anglo-Irish Agreement would ultimately lead to devolved government for Northern Ireland, power sharing in the province and engagement with the Republic. After his resignation from the government, Gow became chairman of the parliamentary Conservative backbench committee on Northern Ireland. He was a leading opponent of any compromise with republicans and his tactics in this regard caused concern to the Northern Ireland Secretary Jim Prior and other MPs –
“He [Gow] co-ordinated the Tory backbench opposition to Mr Prior’s Northern Ireland Assembly bill in the early 1980s. His activities were said to have startled other Tory MPs and led to a complaint from an enraged Mr Prior to Mrs Thatcher.”
Although he was opposed to the broadcasting of Parliamentary debates, on 21 November 1989, he nevertheless delivered the first televised speech in the House of Commons. Until 1989, television cameras did not show proceedings in the House of Commons, although it had been discussed eight times between 1964 and 1989. In 1988 MPs backed an experiment with cameras in the chamber, and 1989 Commons proceedings were televised for the first time on 21 November. Technically, Gow was not the first MP to appear on camera in the chamber, as Bob Cryer, the MP for Bradford South raised a point of order before Gow presented the Loyal Address at the opening of Parliament.
In his speech, Gow referred to a letter he had received from a firm of consultants who had offered to improve his personal appearance and television image, making a few self-deprecating jokes about his baldness. MPs agreed in 1990 to make the experiment permanent.
In spite of his disagreement with the direction in which Government policy on Northern Ireland was moving, Gow remained on close terms with Thatcher. In November 1989, he worked in Thatcher’s leadership election campaign against the stalking horse candidate, Sir Anthony Meyer. But it was reported that by the time of his death he believed Thatcher’s premiership had reached a logical end and that she should retire. Gow enjoyed friendships with people of various political persuasions, including left-wing Labour MP Tony Banks. Alan Clark described him as “my closest friend by far in politics”.
Gow married Jane Elizabeth Packe (born 1944) in Yorkshire on 10 September 1966. They had two sons, Charles Edward (born 1968) and James Alexander (born 1970).
Although aware that he was a potential IRA assassination target, unlike most British MPs of that era, he left his telephone number and home address in the local telephone directory. In the early hours of 30 July 1990, a bomb was planted under Gow’s Austin Montego car, which was parked in the driveway of his house in Hankham, near Pevensey in East Sussex.
The 4.5 lb (2.0 kg) Semtex bomb detonated at 08:39 as Gow reversed out of his driveway, leaving him with severe wounds to his lower body.
He died ten minutes later.
Ian Gow Murder 1990 BBC News Report
On hearing of Gow’s death, Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock commented:
“This is a terrible atrocity against a man whose only offence was to speak his mind…. I had great disagreement with Ian Gow and he with me, but no one can doubt his sincerity or his courage, and it is appalling that he should lose his life because of these qualities.”
In her autobiography, The Downing Street Years, Margaret Thatcher described his murder as an “irreplaceable loss”.
The Assassination of MP Ian Gow | Thames News Archive Footage
The IRA claimed responsibility for killing Gow, stating that he was targeted because he was a “close personal associate” of Thatcher and because of his role in developing British policy on Northern Ireland.
Evaluations of Gow’s political career by obituarists were mixed in tone. All commented on his personal charm and his skills in public speaking and political manoeuvre. But his obituary in The Times stated,
“It could not be said that his resignation in 1985 cut short a brilliant ministerial career”.
A tendency toward political intrigue (for example, trying to covertly undermine Jim Prior’s Northern Ireland initiative after 1982) made him enemies.
Nicholas Budgen commented that Gow’s personal devotion to Thatcher may not have been good for Thatcher or her government.
Gow’s widow Jane was appointed a DBE in 1990 and thus became Dame Jane Gow. On 4 February 1994, she remarried in West Somerset to Lt-Col. Michael Whiteley, and became known as Dame Jane Whiteley. She continues to promote the life and work of her first husband.
When the Eastbourne by-election for his seat in the House of Commons was won by the Liberal Democrat David Bellotti, the Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe sent a message to voters saying:
“Bellotti is the innocent beneficiary of murder. I suspect that last night as the Liberal Democrats were toasting their success, in its hideouts the IRA were doing the same thing”.
The views and opinions expressed in these pages/documentaries are solely intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland. They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors.
After Costello was assassinated, she became chairperson, leading the party for two years. During this time she and her husband James were instrumental in opposing Sinn Féin‘s drift towards federalism.
On 26 June 1980 Daly was shot dead at home, in the Andersonstown area of west Belfast. At the time of her assassination, she was in charge of the IRSP prisoners’ welfare.
According to reports in The Irish Times, members of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) had gained entry to her home with the intention of killing her husband, who was also a republican activist. Daly was captured and tied up whilst they waited for him to return home. However, he was in Dublin at the time and so did not arrive.
After a considerable time, the UDA men decided to kill Daly instead. Muffling the sound of the gun with a cushion, they shot her in the head and cut the phone lines before fleeing. Her body was discovered when her ten-year-old daughter arrived home from school.
Bunting came from an Ulster Protestant family in East Belfast. His father, Ronald Bunting, had been a major in the British Army and Ronnie grew up in various military barracks around the world. Ronnie’s father became a supporter and associate of Ian Paisley and ran for election under the Protestant Unionist Party banner.
Unlike most Protestants in Northern Ireland, Bunting became a militant republican. His father, by contrast, was a committed Ulster loyalist, who organised armed stewards for counter-demonstrations (against civil rights marches) called by Ian Paisley, most infamously at the Burntollet Bridge incident, when his followers attacked a People’s Democracy civil rights march on 4 January 1969. Despite their political differences, Ronnie remained close with his father.
– Disclaimer –
The views and opinions expressed in these blog posts/documentaries are solely intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland. They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors
Membership of the Official IRA
Bunting joined the Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA) around 1970 as he was attracted to their left-wing and secular interpretation of Irish republicanism and believed in the necessity of armed revolution. The other wing of the IRA—the Provisional Irish Republican Army—was seen to be more Catholic and nationalist in its outlook. At this time, the communal conflict known as the Troubles was beginning and the Official IRA were involved in shootings and bombings. Bunting was interned in November 1971 and held in Long Kesh until the following April (see also Operation Demetrius).
Membership of the INLA
In 1974, Bunting followed Seamus Costello and other militants who disagreed with the OIRA’s ceasefire of 1972, into a new grouping, the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA). Immediately, a violent feud broke out between the OIRA and the INLA.
In 1975, Bunting survived an assassination attempt when he was shot in a Belfast street. In 1977, Costello was killed by an OIRA gunman in Dublin. Bunting and his family hid in Wales until 1978, when he returned to Belfast. For the remaining two years of his life, Bunting was the military leader of the INLA. The grouping regularly attacked the British Army and Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) in Belfast.
Bunting called in claims of responsibility to the media by the code name “Captain Green”.
Ronnie Bunting listed, as a civilian, on a roll of honour of republican dead, Springfield Road, Belfast
At about 4:30 a.m. on 15 October 1980, several gunmen wearing balaclavas stormed Bunting’s home in the Downfine Gardens area of Andersonstown. They shot Bunting, his wife Suzanne and another Protestant INLA man and ex-member of the Red Republican Party, Noel Lyttle, who had been staying there after his recent release from detention. According to The Guardian report by David Beresford,
The shots woke the Buntings’ children, age 7 and 3, who ran screaming into the street after discovering their parents lying together at the top of the stairs, covered in blood. Mr Lyttle was shot in bed, near a cot in which the Buntons’ baby son was sleeping.
Both Ronnie Bunting and Lyttle were killed. Suzanne Bunting, who was shot in the face,survived her serious injuries. The attack was claimed by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), but the INLA claimed the Special Air Service were involved.
Upon his death, Bunting’s body was kept in a funeral parlour on the Newtownards Road opposite the headquarters of the UDA. On the day of the funeral, as the coffin was being removed, UDA members jeered from their building. The IRSP had wanted a republican paramilitary-style funeral for Bunting but his father refused and had Bunting buried in the family plot of a Church of Ireland cemetery near Donaghadee
Although never released as a domestic single in the UK during the band’s lifetime, “That’s Entertainment” nonetheless charted as an import single (backed by a live version of “Down in the Tube Station at Midnight“), peaking at No. 21. It was given its first full UK release in 1983 and peaked at No. 60. A second reissue in 1991 also made the top 50.
The song remains one of the two all-time biggest selling import singles in the UK, alongside the Jam’s “Just Who Is the 5 O’Clock Hero?“, which hit the charts at No. 8 as an import in 1982.
“That’s Entertainment” has been listed by BBC Radio 2 as the 43rd best song ever released by any artist.
The song uses an almost entirely acoustic arrangement with only very light percussion. Like much of Sound Affects, the song has strong undercurrents of pop-psychedelia. The only electric guitar part in the song is played backwards over one of the verses, a hallmark of psychedelia.
The minimalist, slice-of-life lyrics list various conditions of British working-class life. The first verse:
A police car and a screaming siren Pneumatic drill and ripped-up concrete A baby wailing, stray dog howling The screech of brakes and lamp light blinking
culminating in the laconic and ironic refrain of “That’s entertainment, That’s entertainment”
“I was in London by the time I wrote ‘That’s Entertainment’,” said Weller, “writing it was easy in a sense because all those images were at hand, around me.”
“I wrote it in 10 mins flat, whilst under the influence, I’d had a few but some songs just write themselves. It was easy to write, I drew on everything around me.“
A police car and a screaming siren Pneumatic drill and ripped-up concrete A baby wailing, a stray dog howling The screech of brakes and lamplight blinking
That’s entertainment That’s entertainment
A smash of glass and the rumble of boots An electric train and a ripped-up phone booth Paint-splattered walls and the cry of a tomcat Lights going out and a kick in the balls
I say that’s entertainment That’s entertainment La la la la la, ah La la la la la, ah
Days of speed and slow-time Mondays Pissing down with rain on a boring Wednesday Watching the news and not eating your tea A freezing cold flat with damp on the walls
I say that’s entertainment That’s entertainment La la la la la La la la la la
Waking up at 6 A.M. on a cool warm morning Opening the windows and breathing in petrol An amateur band rehearsing in a nearby yard Watching the telly and thinking ’bout your holidays
That’s entertainment That’s entertainment La la la la la, ah La la la la la, ah La la la la la, ah La la la la la
Waking up from bad dreams and smoking cigarettes Cuddling a warm girl and smelling stale perfume A hot summer’s day and sticky black tarmac Feeding ducks in the park and wishing you were far away
That’s entertainment That’s entertainment
Two lovers kissing masks a scream of midnight Two lovers missing the tranquility of solitude Getting a cab and traveling on buses Reading the graffiti about slashed-seat affairs
I say that’s entertainment That’s entertainment La la la la la, ah La la la la la, ah La la la la la, ah La la la la la La la la la la, ah La la la la la, ah La la la la la, ah La la la la la La la la la la, ah La la la la la, ah La la la la la, ah