Category Archives: Major events in The Troubles

IRA Rheindahlen Barracks Bombing 23rd March 1987

 

Rheindahlen Barracks Bombing

Image result for Rheindahlen Barracks Bombing

23rd March 1987

30 hurt as car bomb hits Army base

Thirty-one people have been injured after a car bomb exploded at a British army base in West Germany.

The device, believed to contain 300lbs (136kg) of explosive, went off close to the officers’ mess at Rheindahlen, 50 miles (80km) from the West German capital Bonn.Twenty-seven West Germans and four Britons were hurt in the bombing at 2230 local time.

The force of the blast ripped up the road and caused extensive damage to parked cars and surrounding buildings.

We were very lucky that people were not killed

Nigel Gillies, Army spokesman

 

The injured have been treated for shock and wounds caused mainly by flying glass. Firefighters at the scene say none of the injured are in a critical condition. Army spokesman, Nigel Gillies, said:

“Indeed we were very lucky that people were not killed.”

Mr Gillies said the fact that it was night-time when the bomb went off and the heavy curtains at the base had helped to protect people.

Most of the injured were German officers and their wives, who were enjoying a farewell party at the base. The injured have been taken to the RAF hospital at Wegberg, a few miles south of Rheindahlen, near the Dutch border. The bomb caused parts of the ceiling to collapse and doors were ripped from their frames. A police spokesman said the blast blew out windows in buildings several hundred yards away.

A German air force officer at the base said:

“We are investigating the possibility that there may be other bombs on the base.”

Servicemen have been put on alert and police have sealed off the area around the barracks.Public roads run through the middle of the base, which is the Army’s largest in Europe. Service personnel, families and civilian staff make up the community.All vehicles are being checked by soldiers to stop any other attempts to breach security after the bombers drove into the open base.

Armed Forces Minister John Stanley said Rheindahlen was on a higher state of security alert than normal at the time of the attack.

Mr Stanley said if this had not been the case, casualties would have been much higher. A man speaking in English had telephoned a warning to the German press before the blast, Mr Stanley confirmed.

An internal investigation is to be held but Mr Stanley has spoken to MPs about the “immense difficulties” of ensuring total security on such a sprawling base.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman has denied that the public have unrestricted access to the mess area although he said there are :

“different security levels at various parts of the base”.

 

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BACKGROUND INFORMATION

1987 JHQ Rheindahlen bombing

Thirty-one people were injured on 23 March 1987 after a 300 lb (140 kg) car bomb exploded near the visitors officers’ mess at JHQ Rheindahlen military barracks. The Provisional IRA later stated it had carried out the bombing. It was the start of the IRA’s campaign on mainland Europe from the late 1980s to the early 1990s.

 

Background

The bombing was one of several high-profile attacks in mainland Europe by the IRA in the 1980s. It was the first IRA attack in West Germany since a British Army officer, Colonel Mark Coe, was shot dead by an IRA unit outside his home in, BielefeldWest Germany in February 1980. Coe’s assassination was one of the first high-profile killings by the IRA in Germany and on mainland Europe.

A year before in August 1979 the IRA injured four British soldiers in a bomb attack in BrusselsBelgium just one day after the killing of Lord Mountbatten and the Warrenpoint Ambush, which killed 18 British soldiers. In November 1981 the Irish National Liberation Army bombed a British Army base in Herford, West Germany. There were no injuries in the attack.

The Bombing

Other than attacks in Northern Ireland & mainland Britain the Provisional IRA also carried out attacks in other countries such as West Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands, where British soldiers were based. Between 1979 and 1990, eight unarmed soldiers and six civilians died in these attacks, including the British Ambassador to the Netherlands Sir Richard Sykes and his valet, Karel Straub.

There was also a mortar attack on British Army base in Germany in 1996.

 According to author Ed Moloney’s “The Secret History of the IRA”, IRA Chief of Staff Kevin McKenna before the capture of the Eksund (a ship that was to ship heavy weaponry to the IRA from Libya) envisaged a three-pronged offensive that would start in the Northern Ireland and then spread to British targets in mainland Europe.

The IRA planted a 300-pound car bomb inside the JHQ Rheindahlen the British Armies military base in West Germany near the officers’ mess. When the large car bomb exploded 31 people was injured, some of them badly. Twenty-seven West Germans and four Britons were hurt in the bombing at 22:30 local time.

The force of the blast ripped up the road and caused extensive damage to parked cars and surrounding buildings. The injured were taken to the RAF hospital at Wegberg, a few miles south of Rheindahlen, near the Dutch border. The bomb caused parts of the ceiling to collapse and doors were ripped from their frames. A police spokesman said the blast blew out windows in buildings several hundred yards away.

It looked like it was a reasonably successful attack from the IRA’s point of view but the IRA actually had a close escape. The only reason people had not been killed was that the IRA ASU was unable to position the car bomb closer to the mess, because the car park was full of vehicles.

Unknown to the IRA unit, most of the vehicles were owned by West German military officers who had been invited to spend a social evening with their British counterparts. Had the IRA’s operation plan been carried out fully many of these German officers could have been killed and the start of the IRA’s Europe campaign would have been a diplomatic and military disaster and a big blow to any of the IRA’s international support.

Aftermath

The IRA later said it had carried out the bombing of the Rheindahlen barracks.

A statement from the IRA said: “Our unit’s brief was to inflict a devastating blow but was ordered to be careful to avoid civilian casualties.” The National Democratic Front for the Liberation of West Germany, a previously unheard of group, also claimed to have been behind the attack, but this was dismissed by police investigators.

More than 12,000 service personnel were stationed at the base. It was the joint headquarters of the British Army of the Rhine and the Royal Air Force.

The British Army of the Rhine was renamed British Forces Germany (BFG) in 1994.

See also: Osnabrück mortar attack

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Castlerock Killings – 25th March 1993

Castlerock Killings

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25th March 1993

The Castlerock killings took place on 25 March 1993 in the village of CastlerockCounty LondonderryNorthern Ireland. Members of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), a loyalist paramilitary group, shot dead three civilians and a Provisional Irish Republican Army volunteer as they arrived for work. Another was wounded. The men were all Catholics.

The five men were builders and had been renovating houses in the Gortree Park housing estate for some months. As they arrived in their van at Gortree Park, at least two gunmen jumped out of another van and opened fire.

— Disclaimer –

The views and opinions expressed in this post/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.

 Those killed were James McKenna (52), Gerard Dalrymple (58), Noel O’Kane (20) and Provisional IRA volunteer James Kelly (25).

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25 March 1993


James Kelly,   (25)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)
Shot during gun attack on van, as he arrived at his workplace, renovating houses, Gortree Park, Castlerock, County Derry.

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25 March 1993
 James McKenna,  (52)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)
Shot during gun attack on van, as he arrived at his workplace, renovating houses, Gortree Park, Castlerock, County Derry.

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25 March 1993


Gerard Dalrymple,  (58)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)
Shot during gun attack on van, as he arrived at his workplace, renovating houses, Gortree Park, Castlerock, County Derry.

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25 March 1993
Noel O’Kane,  (20)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)
Shot during gun attack on van, as he arrived at his workplace, renovating houses, Gortree Park, Castlerock, County Derry.

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The gunmen drove off toward Castlerock before doing a U-turn and passing their victims again. The van used by the gunmen was found burnt-out two miles from the attack.

Later in the day, the UDA shot dead a Catholic civilian Damian Walsh and wounded another at Dairy Farm Shopping Centre in Belfast.

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25 March 1993


Damian Walsh,   (17)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)
Shot at his workplace, Dairy Farm Shopping Centre, Twinbrook, Belfast.

See: 25th March – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

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The UDA claimed responsibility for the attack using the covername “Ulster Freedom Fighters” (UFF) and said the men were republicans.

 Sinn Féin councillor Patsy Groogan said the men were regularly stopped and harassed by the security forces and that he had:

“no doubt that this behaviour played a part in targeting these men for assassination”.

The weapons were later used by the same gang in carrying out the Halloween Greysteel massacre at the Rising Sun pub on 31 October 1993. It has been claimed that one of the gang was a double agent and protected by RUC Special Branch.

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Torrens Knight

Torrens Knight received eight life sentences for the Greysteel massacre, together with four more for the Castlerock killings. He served seven years in the Maze Prison before paramilitary prisoners were granted a general release under the Belfast Agreement.

 

See:  The Kingsmill Massacre – 5 January 1976

See: 25th March – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Massereene Barracks shooting 2009 – The Despicable & Cowardly murder of two off-duty British soldiers. Lest We Forget!

 Massereene Barracks Shooting

Saturday 9th March 2009

Lest We Forget!

 

Sappers Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey

 Saturday 7th March

2009

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On 7 March 2009, two off-duty British soldiers of 38 Engineer Regiment were shot dead outside Massereene Barracks in Antrim townNorthern Ireland. Two other soldiers and two civilian delivery men were also shot and wounded during the attack.

An Irish republican paramilitary group, the Real IRA, claimed responsibility.

The shootings were the first British military fatalities in Northern Ireland since 1997. Two days later, the Continuity IRA shot dead a Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officer; the first Northern Irish police officer to be killed by paramilitaries since 1998. These attacks marked the beginning of the most intensive period of “dissident republican” activity since the start of their campaign.

 

Massereene Barracks shooting
2009 Massereene Barracks shooting is located in Northern Ireland

2009 Massereene Barracks shooting
Location Massereene Barracks, Antrim, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Coordinates 54°43′18″N 6°13′51″WCoordinates54°43′18″N 6°13′51″W
Date 7 March 2009
~21:40 (UTC)
Attack type
Ambush
Weapons AKM automatic rifle
Deaths 2 soldiers
Non-fatal injuries
2 soldiers, 2 civilians
Perpetrator Real IRA

Background

From the late 1960s until the late 1990s, Northern Ireland underwent a conflict known as the Troubles, in which more than 3,500 people were killed. More than 700 of those killed were British military personnel, deployed as part of Operation Banner. The vast majority of these British military personnel were killed by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), which waged an armed campaign to force the British to negotiate a withdrawal from Northern Ireland. In 1997 the IRA called a final ceasefire and in 1998 the Good Friday Agreement was signed.

This is widely seen as marking the end of the conflict.

 

However, breakaway groups opposed to the ceasefire (“dissident Irish republicans“) continued a low-leve  armed campaign against the British security forces in Northern Ireland (see Dissident Irish Republican campaign). The main group involved was an IRA splinter group known as the ‘Real’ IRA. In 2007, the British Army formally ended Operation Banner and greatly reduced its presence in Northern Ireland.

The low-level ‘dissident republican’ campaign continued. In January 2009, security forces had to defuse a bomb in Castlewellan  and in 2008 three separate incidents saw dissident republicans attempt to kill Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officers in DerryCastlederg and Dungannon. In all three cases, PSNI officers were seriously wounded. Two of the attacks involved firearms while the other involved an under-car booby-trap bomb.

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Shooting

At about 21:40 on the evening of Saturday of 7 March, four off-duty British soldiers of the Royal Engineers walked outside the barracks to receive a pizza delivery from two delivery men. As the exchange was taking place, two masked gunmen in a nearby car (a green Vauxhall Cavalier) opened fire with Romanian AKM automatic rifles.

The firing lasted for more than 30 seconds with more than 60 shots being fired. After the initial burst of gunfire, the gunmen walked over to the wounded soldiers lying on the ground and fired again at close range, killing two of them.

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Sapper Mark Quinsey with his mother Pamela and sister Jaime 

Sapper Patrick Azimkar

Sapper Azimkar was 21 and came from London. He joined the Royal Engineers in 2005 and completed his basic recruit training and combat engineer course before attending artisan training as a carpenter and joiner.

He was posted to 38 Engineer Regiment in Ripon, North Yorkshire, in 2007. In January 2008 he completed a construction task in Northern Ireland and then deployed to Kenya in support of the infantry unit with whom he was due to work in Afghanistan. Following his return he participated in the regimental move to a new permanent base in Northern Ireland.

Fiercely competitive, both as an individual and team player, Sapper Azimkar was a very talented footballer. He had represented his squadron and the regiment and, as a younger man, had trials with Tottenham Hotspur.

Sapper Azimkar was a jovial, courteous and fun-loving soldier whose easygoing character found favour with all ranks. Hugely enthusiastic about the regiment’s deployment to southern Helmand, Sapper Azimkar was looking forward to facing the challenges of his first operational tour and the potential of JNCO (Junior Non-Commissioned Officer) training thereafter.

Sapper Patrick Azimkar’s family issued the following statement:

Patrick was a great character and a good sport who never said anything bad about anyone. Decisive, generous, proud and dignified he really enjoyed army life. He particularly enjoyed living in Belfast and he talked of settling there with his girlfriend after his return from Afghanistan – a mission which he was within just two hours of leaving for.

Sapper Azimkar’s parents said:

We are completely devastated by the loss of our beautiful son Patrick. There are no words to describe what this senseless killing has done to our family in taking from us our beloved son and brother at just 21 years old.

Patrick was generous, loyal and tenacious. He brought great fun into our lives and we will miss him forever.

We are thankful for the messages of support we have received from the people of Northern Ireland.

We join with them in our sincere hope for a return to lasting peace.

Brother James said he was courageous, strong and a loyal and true friend.

The family ask that the media respect their wishes to be left to grieve in private.

See: here for more information on:  Sapper Patrick Azimkar

Those killed were Sappers Mark Quinsey from Birmingham and Patrick Azimkar from London. The other two soldiers and two deliverymen were wounded. The soldiers were wearing desert fatigues and were to be deployed to Afghanistan the next day.

A few hours later, the car involved was found abandoned near Randalstown, eight miles from the barracks.

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Sapper Patrick Azimkar

Sapper Mark Quinsey

Sapper Quinsey was born in Birmingham in 1985 and joined the Army when he was 19. Following his basic training he attended the combat engineer course at Minley before qualifying as an electrician at the Royal School of Military Engineering in Chatham. He served with 38 Engineer Regiment in both Ripon and Northern Ireland and deployed on a number of training exercises throughout the UK. Most recently he attended the intensive class 1 electricians’ course, which he completed with flying colours in 2008.

Sapper Quinsey was a charismatic and affable young soldier. Eager to put his recently gained trade knowledge to use, Sapper Quinsey was looking forward to the operational challenges that Afghanistan would offer. At only 23 he had already emerged as a mature, reliable and hugely capable young soldier with vast future potential.

Lieutenant Colonel Roger Lewis, Commanding Officer 38 Engineer Regiment, said:

Sapper Quinsey was an outwardly calm, resolute and motivated young soldier. A social live wire and hugely popular across the regiment, he was rarely away from the centre of the action.

Professionally his approach reflected his infectious enthusiasm for life. As one of the few soldiers within my regiment to have completed the demanding class 1 electricians’ course his trade skills were invaluable. He was hugely passionate about his trade and eager to put his new qualifications to good use in Afghanistan. We were expecting him to play a vital role maintaining the living and working conditions of British soldiers serving in southern Afghanistan. Tragically he has been denied this opportunity.

This has been a traumatic time and the regiment and I are devastated to have lost such a fine and promising soldier. It is with greatest sympathy that I extend my sincere and heartfelt condolences to Mark’s family and friends for their irreplaceable loss.

Major Darren Woods, Officer Commanding 25 Field Squadron, said:

The death of Sapper Quinsey has dealt a heavy blow to the squadron, many of whom have already deployed to Afghanistan. To lose such a charismatic young soldier in the prime of his life has been a tragedy of immeasurable magnitude.

I have known Sapper Quinsey for almost two years and in that time have never found him without a positive word or the ability to make light of any situation. His wide circle of friends pays testimony to his popularity. As a soldier he was committed to achieving the best he could in all areas. In particular he was an accomplished tradesman who new that his work could and would make a difference to the daily lives of his friends and comrades on operations. This was always Mark’s motivation.

My last and perhaps abiding memory of Sapper Quinsey will be him helping the second-in-command work late to complete the final deployment preparations to send the squadron on operations. It was neither Mark’s role nor responsibility, but he did it and did it well. That was his way; no complaints, just get it done. He will be sorely missed.

Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are now with Mark’s family throughout this period and into what will undoubtedly be a difficult time ahead.

Lieutenant Chris Smith, 2 Troop Commander 25 Field Squadron, said:

Sapper Quinsey was a humorous and willing soldier. He had a dry sense of humour and a thick brummie accent making him stand out from the crowd. Unfortunately, I did not have the chance to get to know him as well as I would have hoped as he had recently returned to the troop having completed his electricians’ training.

He instantly threw himself back into troop life, both socially and professionally; keen to learn all the skills he needed for our deployment to Afghanistan this summer. In the short time I knew him I enjoyed working with him immensely; he was impossible not to like. I, and the Troop, send our sincere condolences to Sapper Quinsey’s family in Birmingham.

Warrant Officer Class 2 (Squadron Sergeant Major) Paul Dixon said:

If you ever needed a steady hand to crew the ship Mark was your man. He could and would turn his hand to most things. Yet, at the end of the working day, he would always be at the front, immaculate appearance, ready to party and charm the ladies with a bit of his brummie banter.

Sapper Sean Pocock, 2 Troop, 25 Field Squadron, said:

The thing is, he wasn’t just my friend in the Army, he was a friend from back home in Birmingham. It’s hard to believe he won’t be around anymore. He will be sorely missed by me and his comrades around him, within our troop especially.

Sapper Andrew Sharples, 2 Troop, 25 Field Squadron, said:

Mark Quinsey was a good friend of mine, I used to share a room with him back at camp and used to weight-train with him now and again. I can’t believe this has happened. My deepest sorrows go out to Mark’s family, he will be greatly missed by all in the Troop and Squadron.

Brigadier Tim Radford, Commander of 19 Light Brigade, said:

My thoughts and condolences go to all the families who have suffered such dreadful losses and to those who have been injured in this appalling incident.

The two young Royal Engineers from 19 Light Brigade, although based in Northern Ireland, were about to deploy to Afghanistan for 6 months as part of Task Force Helmand. These brave and dedicated men typify the professional and selfless nature of the Armed Forces. We will cherish their memory.

General Sir Richard Dannatt, Chief of the General Staff, said:

See here for more information on Sapper Mark Quinsey

Dublin-based newspaper, the Sunday Tribune, received a phone call from a caller using a recognised Real IRA codeword. The caller claimed responsibility for the attack on behalf of the Real IRA, adding that the civilian pizza deliverymen were legitimate targets as they were:

“collaborating with the British by servicing them”.

The shootings were the first British military fatalities in Northern Ireland since Lance Bombardier Stephen Restorick was shot dead by the Provisional IRA in February 1997, during the Troubles. The attack came days after a suggestion by Northern Ireland’s police chief, Sir Hugh Orde, that the likelihood of a “terrorist” attack in Northern Ireland was at its highest level for several years.

Civilian Security Officers belonging to the Northern Ireland Security Guard Service were criticised for not opening fire during the incident, as a result of which plans were made to retrain and rearm them.

The barracks were shut down in 2010 as part of the reduction of the British Army presence in Northern Ireland.

Craigavon shooting

Two days after the Massereene Barracks shooting, PSNI officer Stephen Carroll was shot dead in CraigavonCounty Armagh. This was the first killing of a police officer in Northern Ireland since 1998.The Continuity IRA claimed responsibility for this shooting and stated that

“As long as there is British involvement in Ireland, these attacks will continue”.

Reaction

The morning after the attack, worshippers came out of St Comgall’s Church after mass and kept vigil near the barracks. They were joined by their priest and clerics from the town’s other churches. On 11 March 2009, thousands of people attended silent protests against the killings at several venues in Northern Ireland.

The killings were condemned by all mainstream political parties in Northern Ireland, as well as the Irish government, the United States government and Pope Benedict XVISinn Féin condemned the killings, but was criticised for being less vehement than others in its condemnation.

  • First Minister Peter Robinson suggested that the shooting was a “terrible reminder of the events of the past” and that “These murders were a futile act by those who command no public support and have no prospect of success in their campaign. It will not succeed”.

 

  • Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said “I was a member of the IRA, but that war is over now. The people responsible for last night’s incident are clearly signalling that they want to resume or restart that war. Well, I deny their right to do that.” He later stated that the shooters of the PSNI officer killed two days later were “traitors to the island of Ireland”.

 

  • Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams condemned the shootings, saying that those responsible had “no support, no strategy to achieve a United Ireland. Their intention is to bring British soldiers back onto the streets. They want to destroy the progress of recent times and to plunge Ireland back into conflict. Irish republicans and democrats have a duty to oppose this and to defend the peace process”.

 

  • British Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited the scene of the attack on 9 March 2009 and met political leaders in Northern Ireland to urge a united front in the face of the violence. He stated that “The whole country is shocked and outraged at the evil and cowardly attacks on soldiers serving their country” and also that “No murderer will be able to derail a peace process that has the support of the great majority of Northern Ireland”.

 

  • Taoiseach Brian Cowen said “A tiny group of evil people can not and will not undermine the will of the people of Ireland to live in peace together. Violence has been utterly rejected by the people of this island, both North and South”.

 

  • At a press conference on 25 March 2009, Richard Walsh, the spokesman for Republican Sinn Féin, a party linked to the Continuity IRA, said the killings were “an act of war” rather than murder. “We have always upheld the right of the Irish people to use any level of controlled and disciplined force to drive the British out of Ireland. We make no apology for that”. He also described the PSNI as “an armed adjunct of the British Army”.

 

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The coffin of Sapper Patrick Azimkar is taken from Guards Chapel after his funeral

Trials

Image result for IRA prisoner Colin Duffy

On 14 March 2009, the PSNI arrested three men in connection with the killings, one of whom was former IRA prisoner Colin Duffy. He had broken away from mainstream republicanism and criticised Sinn Féin‘s decision to back the new PSNI.

On 25 March 2009, after a judicial review of their detention, all the men were ordered to be released by the Belfast High Court, however, Duffy was immediately re-arrested on suspicion of murder. On 26 March 2009, Duffy was formally charged with the murder of the two soldiers and the attempted murder of five other people. The following day he appeared in court for indictment and was remanded in custody to await trial after it was alleged that his full DNA profile was found on a latex glove inside the vehicle used by the gunmen.

Brian Shivers, a cystic fibrosis sufferer, was charged with the soldiers’ murders and the attempted murder of six other people. He was also charged with possession of firearms and ammunition with intent to endanger life. He was arrested in Magherafelt in July 2009.

In January 2012 Shivers was convicted of the soldiers’ murders, but Duffy was acquitted. In January 2013, Shivers’s conviction was overturned by Northern Ireland’s highest appeals court. A May 2013 retrial found Shivers not guilty. He was cleared of all charges and immediately released from jail. The judge questioned why the Real IRA would choose Shivers as the gunman, with his cystic fibrosis and his engagement to a Protestant woman.

Shivers’s solicitor stated:

Brian Shivers has suffered the horror of having been wrongfully convicted in what now must be described as a miscarriage of justice. He was convicted of the most serious charges on the criminal calendar. He was sentenced to a life term imprisonment, which would have seen him die in prison.

The original conviction was overturned on a narrow legal basis. It was only during his re-trial that important new material was disclosed which completely undermined the case against him. This failed prosecution – another failed prosecution – is a cautionary tale against the reliance upon tenuous scientific evidence in high profile criminal cases.

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Jaime Quinsey, sister of Mark Quinsey, with James Azimkar, brother of Patrick Azimkar

Mum’s tribute to Massereene murder victim sapper Patrick Azimkar

geraldine ferguson

Geraldine Ferguson

The mother of a young soldier who was gunned down by dissident republicans will today make an emotional return to the spot where he was murdered.

Geraldine Ferguson, whose son, Sapper Patrick Azimkar (21) was killed outside Massereene Barracks on March 7, 2009, along with his colleague Sapper Mark Quinsey (23), will mark the eighth anniversary of her son’s death with a floral tribute.

The anniversary comes days after she spoke of the loss of her son at a seminar in Co Fermanagh, attended by other victims of paramilitary violence.

Today, Mrs Ferguson will make the heartbreaking journey to Antrim, to the spot where Patrick was killed.

“We will lay some flowers and then go to the memorial that Antrim council erected for Patrick and Mark,” she said.

“We will try and get through the day, but it is very difficult.

“The main feeling I will have is being absolutely broken-hearted.

“We said goodbye to Patrick a few weeks after his 21st birthday and we never saw him again. We feel very sad and upset and very churned up because it’s exactly where he fell and it’s a terrible waste of good, young lives. The futility of it, the pointlessness and senselessness of it.”

Mrs Ferguson explained that as the years go on, her emotions are not as raw but admits she finds it hard to describe the pain of losing her son.

“The horror and heartache is too deep for words,” she said.

“A very common experience when you lose a child is that the days that were once the best days suddenly become the worst days, including birthdays, Christmas, Easter and Mother’s Day. They are supposed to be family days but he’s not there any more.

“Our loss is most acute on those days. We always put a little candle where Patrick would have sat. It’s painful.”

Three people were arrested over the murders of Mr Azimkar and his colleague Mr Quinsey, whose grief-stricken mother Pamela Brankin died in 2013 aged 51.

See Belfast Telegraph for full story

See Deaths in the Troubles 7th March

 

See also

See: Operation Banner

 

 

Maguire Seven – 1976: Guilty verdict for ‘Maguire Seven

1976: Guilty verdict for ‘Maguire Seven’
mAGUIRE 7

A 40-year-old Irish born mother has been jailed for 14 years for possessing explosives at her London home.

Five other members of her family and a close friend were also found guilty of the same offence and jailed.

Anne Maguire, from Willesden, North London, was convicted of possessing nitro-glycerine, which was then passed on for use by IRA terrorists to make bombs.

Throughout the six-week trial at the Old Bailey all seven have continually protested their innocence.

‘No greater offence’

As Mrs Maguire was carried kicking and screaming from the dock she shouted: “I’m innocent you bastards. No, no, no.”

Her husband, Patrick Maguire, 42 was also sentenced to 14 years imprisonment. Her two younger sons, Vincent, 17, and Patrick, 14, were given five and four years respectively.

Mrs Maguire’s brother, William Smyth, 37, brother-in-law Patrick “Giuseppe” Conlon, 52, and family friend Patrick O’Neill, 35, were each sentenced to 12 years imprisonment.

Passing sentence, Judge Justice Donaldson said: “There can be no greater offence than this, for it strikes at the very root of the way of life for which generations have fought and, indeed, died to preserve.”

Chief Constable Peter Matthews, of Surrey police, who led the investigation, said:

“We are delighted with the verdicts. These are the people we were after.

“We have cut off a major supply pipeline to the terrorist.

“We are only sorry we did not find the bombs.”

Police were first led to the Maguire family in Willesden when they followed Giuseppe Conlon to their home in December 1974.

Mr Conlon had arrived in London from Ireland for talks with solicitors who were defending his son Gerry, under arrest on suspicion of carrying out the Guildford pub bombings.

Anne Maguire, too, was implicated in the Guildford bombings and was also arrested in December 1974 and charged with the murder of 18-year-old WRAC recruit Caroline Slater, who died in the attacks.

The murder charge was dismissed by Guildford magistrates’ court the following February but the police had become suspicious of the Maguire family.

Image result for nitroglycerin

In a raid on their home in Willesden, evidence of nitro-glycerine was found. Swabs were taken from the hands of several male members of the family and evidence of the substance was detected.

Mrs Maguire has always denied the offence. During her trial she said: “There were never any explosives in my house. I would never have any explosives there. I am the mother of four children.”

See BBC on this day for more details.  4th March 1976

The Guildford Four

— Disclaimer –

The views and opinions expressed in this post/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.

The Guildford Four and the Maguire Seven were the collective names of two groups whose convictions in English courts in 1975 and 1976 for the Guildford pub bombings of 5 October 1974 were eventually quashed after long campaigns for justice.

The Guildford Four were wrongly convicted of bombings carried out by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), and the Maguire Seven were wrongly convicted of handling explosives found during the investigation into the bombings.

Both groups’ convictions were eventually declared “unsafe and unsatisfactory” and reversed in 1989 and 1991 respectively after they had served up to 15–16 years in prison. Along with the Maguires and the Guildford Four, a number of other people faced charges against them relating to the bombings, six of them charged with murder, but these charges were dropped. 

No one else was charged with the bombings, or supplying the material; three police officers were charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, and found not guilty.

Maguire Seven

The Maguire Seven were charged with possessing nitroglycerine allegedly passed to the IRA to make bombs after the police raided the West Kilburn house of Anne Maguire on 3 December 1974.

They were tried and convicted on 4 March 1976 and received the following sentences.

Defendant Relationship Age at
time of trial
Sentence
Anne Maguire 40 14 years
Patrick Maguire Anne’s husband 42 14 years
Patrick Maguire Son of Anne and Patrick 14 4 years
Vincent Maguire Son of Anne and Patrick 17 5 years
Sean Smyth Brother of Anne Maguire 37 12 years
Patrick O’Neill Family friend 35 12 years
Patrick “Giuseppe” Conlon Brother-in-law of Anne 52 12 years

Giuseppe Conlon had travelled from Belfast to help his son, Gerry Conlon, in the Guildford Four trial. Conlon, who had troubles with his lungs for many years, died in prison in January 1980, while the other six served their sentences and were released.

Appeals

The Guildford Four and the Maguire Seven sought leave to appeal their convictions immediately and were refused. Despite this, a growing body of disparate groups pressed for a re-examination of the case.

In February 1977, during the trial of the Balcombe Street ASU, the four IRA men instructed their lawyers to “draw attention to the fact that four totally innocent people were serving massive sentences”, referring to the Guildford Four.

Despite claims to the police that they were responsible they were never charged with these offences and the Guildford Four remained in prison for another twelve years.

The Guildford Four tried to obtain from the Home Secretary a reference to the Court of Appeal under Section 17 of the Criminal Appeal Act 1968 (later repealed), but were unsuccessful. In 1987, the Home Office issued a memorandum recognising that it was unlikely they were terrorists, but that this would not be sufficient evidence for appeal.

See: Balcombe Street Siege

Campaigns

Following the failure of the 1977 court appeal a number of ‘lone voices’ publicly questioned the conviction. Among them David Martin in The LevellerGavin Esler and Chris Mullinin the New Statesman and David McKittrick in the Belfast Telegraph.

On 26th February 1980, BBC One Northern Ireland aired ‘’Spotlight: Giuseppe Conlon and the Bomb Factory’’ which contained an interview by Patrick Maguire and the BBC’s Gavin Elser

Quashing of the Maguire verdicts

On 12 July 1990, the Home Secretary David Waddington published the Interim Report on the Maguire Case: The Inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the convictions arising out of the bomb attacks in Guildford and Woolwich in 1974,which criticised the trial judge Mr Justice Donaldson and unearthed improprieties in the handling of scientific evidence and declared the convictions unsound recommending referral back to the Court of Appeal.

The report “strongly criticise[d] the decision by the prosecution at the Guildford trial not to disclose to the defence a statement supporting Mr Conlon’s alibi.”

The convictions of the Maguire Seven were quashed in 1991.

Aftermath

Neither the bombings nor the wrongful imprisonment resulted in convictions. The bombings were most likely the work of the Balcombe Street Siege gang, who claimed responsibility. They were already serving life sentences, but were released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. Three British police officers—Thomas Style, John Donaldson, and Vernon Attwell—were charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, but each was found not guilty.

On 9 February 2005, Tony Blair, then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, issued an apology to the families of the 11 people imprisoned for the bombings in Guildford and Woolwich, and those related to them who were still alive. He said, in part,:

“I am very sorry that they were subject to such an ordeal and injustice… they deserve to be completely and publicly exonerated.”

In 1993, Paul Hill married Courtney Kennedy, a daughter of assassinated American senator Robert F. Kennedy and a niece of assassinated president John F. Kennedy. They had a daughter in 1999, but legally separated in 2006.

Hill had a televised meeting with the brother of murdered soldier Brian Shaw, who continued to accuse him.

 He traveled to Colombia to attend the trial of the Colombia Three.

Gerry Conlon’s autobiography Proved Innocent was adapted into the Oscar and Bafta award-nominated 1993 drama In the Name of the Father, starring Daniel Day-LewisEmma Thompson, and Pete Postlethwaite. The film depicts Conlon’s attempt to rebuild his shattered relationship with his father, but is partly fictional – for example, Conlon never shared a cell with his father. He is reported to have settled with the government for a final payment of compensation in the region of £500,000.

His mother Sarah Conlon, who had spent 16 years campaigning to have the names of her husband and son cleared and helped secure the apology, died on 20 July 2008. Conlon has given support to Tommy Sheridan in relation to the charges brought against him. Conlon had been working to have the conviction of the Craigavon Two overturned prior to his death in June 2014.

Paddy Armstrong had problems with drinking and gambling. He eventually married and moved to Dublin.

Carole Richardson married and had a daughter soon after her release. She has since kept out of the public eye. Although it wasn’t reported at the time of Conlon’s death there are two reputable citations that record that Carole Richardson died in 2012.

The autobiography of the youngest member of the Maguire Seven, Patrick Maguire, My Father’s Watch: The Story of a Child Prisoner in 70s Britain was released in May 2008. It tells his story before, during, and after his imprisonment, and details its impact on his life and those of his family.

Gerry Conlon later joined a campaign to free the “Craigavon Two” – Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton – convicted of the murder of a police officer in Northern Ireland. Conlon died at home in Belfast on 21 June 2014. His family issued a statement:  “He brought life, love, intelligence, wit and strength to our family through its darkest hours. He helped us to survive what we were not meant to survive.

We recognise that what he achieved by fighting for justice for us had a far, far greater importance – it forced the world’s closed eyes to be opened to injustice; it forced unimaginable wickedness to be acknowledged; we believe it changed the course of history”.

In terms of a legal aftermath, Sir John Donaldson went on to an illustrious judicial career and became Master of the Rolls, Head of the Appeal Court. The appeal case itself for R v Maguire 1981, is now the leading case for disclosure to the defence.

See : Guildford Pub Bombings – Not Forgotten

 

1886 Belfast Riots between Catholics & Protestants – Yes folks we’ve been at it forever!

1886 Belfast Riots

no home rule

The 1886 Belfast riots were a series of intense riots that occurred in Belfast, Ireland during the summer and autumn of 1886.

1886 Belfast riots
Date June–September 1886
Location Belfast, Ireland
Methods Rioting, arson, assault, gun battles.
Reported casualties and arrests
31 deaths (official estimate)
371 injuries
442 arrests.

— Disclaimer –

The views and opinions expressed in this post/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.

In the late 19th century Catholics began to migrate in large numbers to the prosperous Ulster Protestant city of Belfast in search of work.

map.PNG

By the time of the riots Catholics made up over one-third of the population of the city.  This migration brought with it sectarian tensions as Catholics and Protestants competed for jobs.  As the minority, Catholics found themselves discriminated against in this area and were kept at the lower end of the labour market.

At this time there was a real possibility that the British government would establish a devolved Irish parliament (see: Irish Home Rule Movement). Belfast Catholics believed that a devolved Irish government would be sympathetic to their situation and end the discrimination. Belfast Protestants believed this too and feared the end of their privileged position.

In April 1886 Prime Minister William Gladstone introduced a home rule bill. On 8 June the bill was defeated in the House of Commons.

Riots

The introduction of the bill led to renewed sectarian tensions in Belfast. On 3 June a Catholic navvy sneered to a Protestant co-worker that under an Irish government Protestants would never get hired, even in Belfast. This represented the very worst fears of Protestants towards Home Rule and the story quickly spread throughout Belfast.

This led to clashes between Protestant and Catholic labourers on the shipyards.

 

Preachers such as Hugh Hannaplayed a prominent role in encouraging rioters.

The riots intensified on 8 June, the day that the home rule bill was defeated in parliament. Celebrations were held throughout the city to celebrate the defeat. Some of those celebrating attacked Catholic homes and businesses.

The police found themselves unable to cope with the situation. Reinforcements were sent in from other parts of Ireland. Most of the reinforcements were Catholic. A rumour that the reinforcements were sent by Gladstone to punish Belfast Protestants for opposing Home Rule spread throughout the city.

It was encouraged by popular preachers such as Hugh Hanna. The rioters thus began to attack the police, and later soldiers.Running battles between security forces and rioters lasted until 14 June. 

On 22 June the reinforcements were sent home by the city government, although some were kept as trouble was expected on 12 July, the date of annual Protestant celebrations

Trouble did indeed erupt on the 12th and, contrary to the expectations of the government, the police found themselves overwhelmed by the Protestant attackers. Reinforcements had to be sent into Belfast again and the threat of over 2,000 police officers and soldiers descending on the city caused the rioters to quit by the 14th. 

On the last Saturday of July Hanna held his annual outing for the Protestant children of Belfast. This outing usually involved a trip out to the country with marching and drum along the way. Hanna agreed to comply with the city’s request that he forgo the drumming and marching due to the tense situation.

As the outing made its way through Belfast disappointed local Protestants joined in to march with their own drums and anti-Catholic banners. Marchers deliberately provoked the Catholics by marching into Catholic areas.

Taunting quickly gave way to heavy street fighting between Catholics, Protestants and police. Bloody clashes on a par with the riots in June lasted for a few days, but low-intensity rioting continued until September.

Officially thirty-one people were killed in the riots, although George Foy, who made surgical reports on the riots, reckoned that the real death toll might have been as high as fifty.

Hundreds were injured. Over four hundred arrests were made.

An estimated £90,000 worth of property damage was incurred, and local economic activity was significantly compromised.

Victor Arbuckle – First of over 300 brave RUC Officers Killed during the Troubles.

Victor Arbuckle

Saturday 11 October

1969

victor 3

First

RUC Officer Killed

Victor Arbuckle (aged 29), a member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), was shot dead by Loyalists during street disturbances on the Shankill Road in Belfast.

Two Protestant civilians were shot dead by the British Army during rioting.

They were:

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11 October 1969
Goerge Dickie,   (25)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot during street disturbances, at the corner of Shankill Road and Downing Street, Belfast

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11 October 1969
Herbert Hawe,  (32)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot during street disturbances, Hopeton Street, Shankill, Belfast.

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First deaths in Trouble

The first deaths of the Troubles occurred in July 1969. Francis McCloskey, a 67-year-old Catholic civilian had been found unconscious on 13 July near the Dungiven Orange Hall following a police baton charge against a crowd who had been throwing stones at the hall.

Witnesses later said they had seen police batoning a figure in the doorway where McCloskey was found, although police claimed that he had been unconscious before the baton charge and may have been hit with a stone. He was taken to hospital and died the following day.

 

shankill road

 

On 11 October 1969, Constable Victor Arbuckle was shot dead by loyalists on Belfast’s Shankill Road during serious rioting in protest at the recommendations of the Hunt Report. Arbuckle was the first police fatality of the Troubles.

 

 

first ruc killed by ira.PNG

In August 1970, two young constables, Donaldson and Millar, died when an abandoned car they were examining near the strongly republican town of Crossmaglen exploded. They became the first security forces victims of the Provisional Irish Republican Army campaign.

This campaign involved the targeting of police officers, and continued until the final ceasefire in 1997, as the peace process gained momentum.

The last RUC officer killed, Constable Francis O’Reilly (a Catholic), was also killed by loyalists, in a September 1998 bombing during the Drumcree conflict.

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06 October 1998
Francis O’Reilly (30) Catholic

francis

Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Red Hand Defenders (RHD)
Died one month after being injured by blast bomb, thrown during street disturbances, Charles Street, Portadown, County Armagh.

Injured on 5 September 1998.

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deaths.PNG

 

BEL09MEM_RUC_Poster_6061

See 11th Oct – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

 

History & Background

Badge of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.svg

Badge of the Royal Ulster Constabulary

 

The Royal Ulster Constabulary was the police force in Northern Ireland from 1922 to 2001. Following the awarding of the George Cross in 2000, its formal title became the Royal Ulster Constabulary, GC. It was founded on 1 June 1922 as a successor to the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC).

At its peak the force had around 8,500 officers with a further 4,500 who were members of the RUC Reserve.

During the Troubles, 319 members of the RUC were killed and almost 9,000 injured in paramilitary assassinations or attacks, mostly by the Provisional IRA, which made the RUC, by 1983, the most dangerous police force in the world in which to serve.

In the same period, the RUC killed 55 people, 28 of whom were civilians.

The RUC was renamed and reformed as the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in 2001 under the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000.

The RUC has been accused by republicans and Irish nationalists of one-sided policing and discrimination, as well as collusion with loyalist paramilitaries. Conversely, it was praised as one of the most professional policing operations in the world by British security forces.

The allegations regarding collusion prompted several inquiries, the most recent of which was published by Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan. The report identified police, CID and Special Branch collusion with loyalist terrorists under 31 separate headings, in her report on the murder of Raymond McCord and other matters, but no member of the RUC has been charged or convicted of any criminal acts as a result of these inquiries. Ombudsman Dame Nuala O’Loan stated in her conclusions that there was no reason to believe the findings of the investigation were isolated incidents.

See here for more details on the RUC

police role of honour.PNG

See here for RUC deaths in the Troubles : 

1969 Northern Ireland riots

During 12–17 August 1969, intense political and sectarian rioting took place in Northern Ireland. There had been sporadic violence throughout the year arising from the civil rights campaign, which was demanding an end to discrimination against Irish Catholics. Civil rights marches were repeatedly attacked by both Ulster Protestant loyalists and by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), a unionist and largely Protestant police force.

The disorder led to the Battle of the Bogside in Londonderry, a three-day riot in the Bogside district between the RUC and the nationalist/Catholic residents. In support of the Bogsiders, nationalists and Catholics launched protests elsewhere in Northern Ireland. Some of these led to attacks by loyalists working alongside the police. The most bloody rioting was in Belfast, where seven people were killed and hundreds more wounded. Scores of houses, most of them owned by Catholics, as well as businesses and factories were burned out. In addition, thousands of mostly Catholic families were driven from their homes. In certain areas, the RUC helped the loyalists and failed to protect Catholic areas. Events in Belfast have been viewed by some as a pogrom against the Catholic and nationalist minority.[1][2]

The British Army was deployed to restore order and state control, and peace lines began to be built to separate the two sides. The events of August 1969 are widely seen as the beginning of the thirty-year conflict known as the Troubles.

See here for history of Northern Ireland Troubles 

See  The “B-Specials” or “B Men’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

29th January – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

29th January

——————————-

Thursday 29 January 1976

 Two Catholic civilians were killed in separate attacks in Belfast by Loyalist paramilitaries.

Saturday 29 January 1977

ira green book graphic picmonkey

 The Irish Republican Army (IRA) explode seven bombs in a series of attacks in the West End of London.

Friday 29 January 1982

John McKeague 2

John McKeague, who had been a prominent Loyalist activist, was shot dead by the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) in his shop, Albertbridge Road, Belfast.

See below for more details on John McKeague

Thursday 29 January 1987

The New Ulster Political Research Group (NUPRG), an organisation associated with the views of the Ulster Defense Association (UDA) and whose chairman was then John McMichael, published a document called Common Sense.

The document proposed a constitutional conference, a devolved assembly and a coalition government.

See here for more details on   John McMichael

Monday 29 January 1990

Belfast-Telegraph.png

 The ‘Belfast Telegraph’ newspaper published the results of an opinion poll of people in Northern Ireland. One result showed that 68 per cent of Protestants and 62 per cent of Catholics felt that the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA) had made no difference to the political situation in Northern Ireland.

Saturday 29 January 1994

US Visa Given to Adams

clinton and adams

 Bill Clinton, then President of the United States of America (USA), ordered that Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), should be given a ‘limited duration’ visa to enter the USA to address a peace conference. [The decision was supported by the National Security Council and Irish-American Senators but was taken against the advice of the State Department and the British government.]

 An Irish Republican Army (IRA) incendiary device was defused in London.

Monday 29 January 1996

 The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) and the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), held their first meeting under the ‘twin-track’ negotiations.

Thursday 29 January 1998

Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, announced a new inquiry into the events surrounding ‘Bloody Sunday’ in Derry on 30 January 1972. Relatives announced that they could now consider Lord Widgery’s report to be “dead.”

[The new inquiry was to be known as the Saville Inquiry.]

See Bloody Sunday

Monday 29 January 2001

  Six members of one family escaped injury after a pipe-bomb was left in their refuse bin. The device was uncovered just after midnight at the rear of a house in a predominantly Nationalist estate in Greencastle. The attack was carried out by Loyalist paramilitaries.

 A Catholic couple escaped injury when a pipe-bomb was thrown through the living room window of their home in Coleraine, County Derry, shortly before midnight.

Just over an hour earlier the home of a Catholic mother-of-two was targeted in the Harpurs Hill area of Coleraine.

The woman was in her kitchen when a pipe-bomb was thrown through the window. It landed on the floor but failed to explode. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) said that both attacks were sectarian. The attacks were carried out by Loyalist paramilitaries.

Tuesday 29 January 2002

 [There was a petrol-bomb attack on flats in Ormeau Road, south Belfast, at approximately 9.50pm (2150GMT). The device caused scorch damage to the building but there were no injuries. It was not clear if the attack was sectarian.]

A Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) delegation travelled to Downing Street, London, for a meeting with Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister. The meeting discussed the controversy over the investigation of the Omagh bombing and also reforms to the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland.

There were media reports that members of the security forces would soon lose the right not to have to give evidence at inquests. British Army soldiers and police officers are currently exempt from being compelled to attend inquests when they have been involved in fatal shootings. The change was expected to be introduced by the British government sometime in February 2002.

Solectron, an American company with a factory in Carrickfergus, County Antrim, announced that it was entering a 90-day consultation with its workforce over the future of the plant. It was reported that 200 jobs would be lost. The job losses are a direct result of the problems facing the telecommunications company Nortel – which have resulted in the loss of more than 1,000 jobs in Northern Ireland

—————————————————————————

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.

7 People   lost their lives on the 29th January  between  19723 – 1982

  —————————————————————————

 

29 January 1973

James Trainor (22)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ)

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)
Shot at his workplace, petrol filling station, Kennedy Way, Andersonstown, Belfast.

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29 January 1974

Matilda Withrington  (79)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ)

Killed by: Royal Air Force (RAF)
Shot while in her home during Irish Republican Army (IRA) sniper attack on Royal Air Force (RAF) bus, Shimna Parade, Newcastle, County Down.

RAF members returned fire.

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29 January 1974

William Baggley (43)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot while on Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) foot patrol, Dungiven Road, Derry.

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29 January 1975

Robert McCullough  (17)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ)

Killed by: Ulster Defence Association (UDA)
Shot at his workplace, United Paper Merchants, Downshire Place, off Great Victoria Street, Belfast.

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29 January 1976

 1

Joseph McAlinden  (44)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ)

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)
Shot at his home, Upper Cavehill Road, Belfast.

—————————————————-

29 January 1976

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Martin Crossen (26)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ)

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)
Shot during gun and bomb attack on Brady’s off licence shop, Antrim Road, Belfast.

 

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29 January 1982

John McKeague
John McKeague (51)

Protestant

Status: Civilian Political Activist (CivPA)

Killed by: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
Former Loyalist activist. Shot at his shop, Albertbridge Road, Belfast.

—————————————————-

See here for more details on John McKeague

See here for more details on John McKeague

 

 

John McKeague – Red Hand Commando – Life & Death

John Dunlop McKeague 

John McKeague 2.PNG

John Dunlop McKeague (1930 – 29 January 1982) was a prominent Ulster loyalist and one of the founding members of the paramilitary group the Red Hand Commando in 1970. Authors on the Troubles in Northern Ireland have accused McKeague of involvement in the Kincora Boys’ Home scandal but he was never convicted.

He was shot dead by the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) in Belfast in January 1982

— Disclaimer –

The views and opinions expressed in this post/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.

John McKeague

 

John McKeague.png

 

McKeague in a BBC interview in 1976
Born John Dunlop McKeague
1930
Bushmills, County Antrim
Died 29 January 1982
Albertbridge Road, Belfast
Cause of death Gunshot wounds
Nationality British
Occupation Shopkeeper
Notable work Loyalist Song Book
Home town Belfast
Title Leader of the Red Hand Commando
Term 1972–1973
Predecessor new position
Successor Winston Churchill Rea
Political party Protestant Unionist Party
Ulster Independence Association
Movement Ulster Protestant Volunteers
Shankill Defence Association
Red Hand Commando
Criminal charge Bombing
Incitement to hatred
Criminal penalty Acquitted of both charges

McKeague and Ian Paisley

 

A native of BushmillsCounty Antrim, McKeague, who long had a reutation for anti-Catholicism, became a member of Ian Paisley‘s Free Presbyterian Church in 1966.  McKeague and his mother moved to east Belfast in 1968, where he became a regular at Paisley’s own Martyrs’ Memorial Church on the Ravenhill Road and joined the Willowfield branch of the Ulster Protestant Volunteers.

Before moving to Belfast he had already been questioned in relation to a sexual assault on two young boys. The charges were dropped after the intervention of some friends who held prominent positions in Northern Irish society.

McKeague split from Paisley in late 1969 under uncertain circumstances. Rumours that a young man with whom McKeague was living was his boyfriend had been rife but McKeague did not discuss the details. He stated only that he had been summoned to a meeting by Paisley where he was told he was an “embarrassment” and would have to leave the Free Presbyterian Church.

While giving evidence to Lord Justice Scarman as part of his tribunal investigating the 1969 Northern Ireland riots Paisley stated that he and other Ulster Constitution Defence Committee leaders had agreed to expel McKeague from the UPV in April 1969 after he breached Rule 15 of the group’s code, which banned members from supporting

“Subversive or Lawless Activities”.

Whatever the circumstances, the two became bitter enemies, with McKeague frequently criticising Paisley in print.

 

Early loyalist involvement

William McGrath.jpg

McKeague’s relationship with William McGrath‘s Tara, a partially clandestine organisation that sought to drive Roman Catholicism out of all of Ireland and re-establish an earlier Celtic Christianity which it claimed had existed on the island centuries earlier, has been the subject of some disagreement.

According to Tim Pat Coogan McKeague was a founder-member of Tara of 1966 although he does not eleaborate on the details. Chris Moore, in his investigation into the Kincora scandal, insists that McKeague was never a member of Tara but that he and McGrath had met to discuss trading weapons between their two groups and that following these meetings McKeague had become a regular visitor to Kincora, where he was involved in several rapes of underage boys living at the home.

Although making no comment on his membership or otherwise of the group Jim Cusack and Henry McDonald insist that McKeague shared the far right conspiratorial views advanced by McGrath and UPV leader Noel Doherty.

Martin Dillon also makes no comment on McKeague and Tara but insists that he was one of a number of shadowy figures, along with McGrath, who played a leading role in the formation of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in 1966 and in helping to direct its strategy for the rest of the 1960s.

In late 1969 Thomas McDowell, a member of the Free Presbyterian Church who held dual membership of the UPV and UVF, was killed after a bungled attempt to blow up the power station at Ballyshannon led to him being electrocuted, suffering severe burns.

 Investigations by the Garda Síochána, who found UVF insignia on McDowell’s coat, led them to question his associate Samuel Stevenson who named McKeague as a central figure in a series of UVF explosions that had been carried out at the time, many involving UPV members.

The case went north, where the previous explosions had taken place, and on 16 February 1970 the trial opened. McKeague, along with William Owens (McKeague’s 19-year-old flatmate), Derek Elwood, Trevor Gracey and Francis Mallon, were charged with causing an earlier explosion at Templepatrick.

The case collapsed after serious doubt was cast on the character of Stevenson, whose evidence was the main basis of the prosecution’s case

Shankill Defence Association

In 1968 McKeague became a regular figure amongst groups of locals who every night congregated in large groups in the Woodvale area close to Ardoyne after a series of incidents between loyalists and republicans during which flags from both sides had been forcibly removed.

Having split from the UPV due to its perceived inaction in May 1969, McKeague addressed a meeting of loyalists in Tennent Street Hall at which he called for organisation against Catholic rioters. From this meeting he founded the Shankill Defence Association(SDA), with the proclaimed intention to defend the Shankill Road from Catholic rioters.

However, in contrast to similar Protestant vigilante groups such as the Woodvale Defence Association which were for the most part reactive, the SDA played a leading role in fomenting trouble during the Northern Ireland riots of August 1969, leading attacks on Catholic homes in the Falls Road and Crumlin Road.

He became a notorious figure locally, usually prominent in the rioting, carrying a stick and wearing a helmet.

The violence of the SDA was accompanied by equally violent rhetoric from McKeague as he boasted that the group possessed “hundreds of guns” and vowed that

“We will see the battle through to the end”.

His militant stance won him the public support of Ronald Bunting who, like McKeague had earlier been associated with Paisley but had since broken from him.

In November 1969, McKeague was cleared of a charge of conspiracy to cause explosions. He was however sentenced to three months imprisonment for unlawful assembly.

McKeague’s absence on remand for the initial charges saw his stock fall on the Shankill, where he was already mistrusted due to being from east Belfast and where his reputation had been further blackened by supporters of his former friend Ian Paisley.

Leaving the Shankill he attempted to set up a group similar to the SDA on the Donegall Roadbut was declared persona non grata by the head of an existing local Defence Committee, who was a loyal Paisleyite. This, combined with a rumour that McKeague was a “fruit“, saw him abandon all initiatives in the west and south of the city and concentrate on east Belfast.

The SDA continued in his absence until 1971 when it merged with other like-minded vigilante groups to form the Ulster Defence Association (UDA).

Political activity

McKeague was a candidate for the Protestant Unionist Party, the forerunner of the Democratic Unionist Party, in a Belfast Corporation by-election for the Victoria ward in the east of the city in 1969 but was not elected. He then stood as an Independent Unionist in Belfast North in the 1970 general election, but polled only 0.75% of the vote. He also began producing Loyalist News.

Much of the content of the magazine was of a low-brow nature, containing jokes and cartoons in which Catholics were portrayed as lazy, dirty, stupid and alcoholic or, in the case of women, highly promiscuous.

In 1971 he was tried for incitement to hatred after publishing the controversial Loyalist Song Book. The first man to be tried under the Incitement to Hatred Act, McKeague’s book included the line

“you’ve never seen a better Taig than with a bullet in his head”.

After the jury disagreed at his trial a retrial was ordered at which he and a co-defendant were acquitted.  Martin Dillon argues that it was around this time that RUC Special Branch first recruited him as an agent, allegedly using information they had obtained about his paedophile activities to force him to agree. He was handed over to the Intelligence Corps by Special Branch the following year.

Loyalist paramilitarism

 

John McKeague and mother

John McKeague and mother

His mother, Isabella McKeague, was burned alive on 9 May 1971 when the UDA petrol-bombed the family shop in Albertbridge Road, Belfast. Reporting on her death in Loyalist News, John McKeague claimed she had been….

“murdered by the enemies of Ulster”,

….a common term for republicans.

In fact, the UDA had tired of McKeague both for his loose cannon attitude in launching attacks and starting riots without consulting their leadership and due to his promiscuous homosexuality with teenage partners. According to Ed Moloney a dispute over money had also been central to the schism between McKeague and the UDA.

McKeague broke fully from the UDA and established the Red Hand Commando in the middle of 1972, recruiting a number of young men primarily in east Belfast and North Down.

McKeague had already been involved in organising the “Tartan gangs“, groups of loyalist youths who were involved in rioting and general disorder, and used these as the basis of his new group.

Following various attacks by his paramilitary organisation, in February 1973 he became one of the first loyalist internees and was later imprisoned for three years on an armed robbery charge (a conviction he disputed). He started two hunger strikes in protest against the Special Powers Act and prison conditions while in jail.

In his absence he lost control of the Red Hand Commando, which became an integral part of the UVF. UVF leader Gusty Spence however contended that he had secured McKeague’s agreement that the running of the Red Hand Commando should be taken over by the UVF not long after McKeague established the movement.

According to British military intelligence and police files McKeague was believed to have been behind the sadistic murder of a ten-year-old boy, Brian McDermott, in South Belfast in September 1973.

The killing, which involved dismemberment and the burning of the body in the Ormeau Park, was so gruesome that the local press speculated that it might have been carried out as part of a Satanic ritual. On 3 October 1975, Alice McGuinness, a Catholic civilian, was injured in an IRA bomb attack on McKeague’s hardware shop on the Albertbridge Road. She died three days later. McKeague’s sister was severely injured in the same bombing.

Ulster Nationalism

McKeague became a leading figure in the Ulster Loyalist Central Coordinating Committee (ULCCC), and in 1976 publicly endorsed Ulster nationalism in his capacity as an ULCCC spokesman.  The aim of the group, which McKeague chaired, was to co-ordinate loyalist paramilitaries with the aim of founding a unified “Ulster army” although this premise did not prevent a loyalist feud between the UDA and UVF continuing following its foundation.

With John McClure, McKeague contacted Irish republicans Ruairí Ó Brádaigh and Joe Cahill to initiate talks in an attempt to find a common platform for an independent Northern Ireland. This collapsed after Conor Cruise O’Brien discovered and revealed the activity.

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McKeague met with Gerry Adams briefly to discuss the independence option but the meetings were unproductive and reportedly convinced Adams that such clandestine discussions with loyalist paramilitaries were a waste of time. The contact between McKeague and his allies and the republicans, which was not endorsed by the wider ULCCC, saw the group fall apart as both the UDA and Down Orange Welfare resigned from the co-ordinating body when it came to light.

McKeague was subsequently a leading figure in the Ulster Independence Association, a group active from 1979 in support of an independent Northern Ireland. McKeague served as deputy to George Allport’s leadership of the group.

Death

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In January 1982 McKeague was interviewed by detectives investigating Kincora about his involvement in the sexual abuse. Fearful of returning to prison, McKeague told friends that he was prepared to name others involved in the paedophile ring to avoid a sentence.

However on 29 January 1982, McKeague was shot dead in his shop on the Albertbridge Road, East Belfast, reportedly by the INLA.

 It has been argued that following McKeague’s threats to go public about all of those involved in Kincora his killing had been ordered by the Intelligence Corps, as many of those who could have named were also agents (often more effective than McKeague, who by that time was highly peripheral in paramilitary circles). To support this suggestion it has been stated by Jack Holland and Henry McDonald that of the two gunmen who shot McKeague one was a known Special Branch agent and the other was rumoured to have military intelligence links.

See here for more details on John McKeague

See 29th January – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles 

 

 

Enemy of the State – John Anthony Downey

Enemy of the State 

John Anthony Downey

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John Anthony Downey from County Donegal was arrested at Gatwick Airport on 19 May 2013 and appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 22 May 2013 charged with the murder of four Household Cavalry members who were killed in the July 1982 Hyde Park bombing. Downey denied all charges.

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John Downey’s case was sent to the Old Bailey for a bail hearing on 24 May 2013 and a preliminary hearing on 5 June 2013. Proceedings against Downey were dropped, and he was freed on 25 February 2014.

Call for immediate release

 

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John Downey’s arrest provoked a strong reaction from Sinn Féin who called for his immediate release. Sinn Féin Assembly member Gerry Kelly said Sinn Féin member Downey was a “long-time supporter of the Peace Process” and should be released. Gerry Kelly added:

“The decision to arrest and charge him in relation to IRA activities in the early 1980s is vindictive, unnecessary and unhelpful. It will cause anger within the republican community. Clearly, if John Downey had been arrested and convicted previously he would have been released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. As part of the Weston Park negotiation, the British Government committed to resolving the position of OTRs [‘On the Runs’].

John Downey received a letter from the Northern Ireland Office in 2007 stating that he was not wanted by the PSNI or any British police force. Despite travelling to England on many occasions, now – six years on – he finds himself before the courts on these historic charges. This development represents bad faith and a departure from what was previously agreed by both governments. John Downey needs to be released and allowed to return home to his family.”

Conditional bail

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John Downey was granted conditional bail on 2 August 2013 to attend trial at the Old Bailey on 14 January 2014, where he will be represented by Gareth Peircewho famously represented those wrongly accused of the Guildford Four bombing. If he has the temerity to appear as an ‘expert’ witness at Downey’s trial, Alan Feraday OBE should expect to face a withering cross-examination by Gareth Peirce.

Abuse of process

On 25 February 2014, the BBC reported:

A man accused of killing four soldiers in the 1982 IRA Hyde Park bombing will not be prosecuted because he was given a guarantee he would not face trial. It follows a judge’s ruling that an official assurance given in error meant John Downey’s prosecution is “an abuse of process”.

Another Alan Feraday prosecution bites the dust!

HYDE AND SEEK

 The 1982 bombing killed four soldiers and seven cavalry horses

Hyde Park bombing suspect John Downey goes on the run and moves his assets after being served court papers.

The convicted IRA man has fled his family home after being served court papers over the devastating 1982 attack.

And in June he shifted ownership of the property to his wife Phyliss, two months after The Sun launched the Hyde Park Justice campaign.

Downey also moved ownership of two plots of land to his wife, who took out a £227,000 loan against them.

It is understood she is now trying to sell the property that they jointly owned — while a house is built on one of the plots. Mark Tipper, whose Troo­per brother Simon was among four soldiers killed in the London terror blast, hailed the news.

He said: “If he’s innocent why’s he moving his assets? Justice is getting closer.”

Downey, 65, has until the start of next month to respond to a High Court claim submitted by victims’ families. Court papers have been hand-delivered to his properties. But a judge’s or­der means an ad placed last week in an Irish newspaper also counted as notification of the case to the suspect.

It is understood Downey is still in Donegal, Ireland. The Hyde Park Justice campaign has raised over £84,000 from Sun readers. You can donate via credit or de­bit card at www.crowdjustice.org/case/hyde-park-justice.

See the Sun for full story

Join the campaigne

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Mark Tipper
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My name is Mark Tipper. My brother, Trooper Simon Tipper, was murdered by the IRA. He was just 19. I am raising money to bring the chief suspect to court after a government mistake let him walk free.

We met our funding target

Aug. 18, 2017

Yesterday we met our funding target of £85,000.  Thank you to all those who have supported us these past few months.  We couldn’t have come this far without you.  Your kindness and generosity have meant the world to us.

Read More >>

We can bring the Chief Suspect in one of Britain’s worst terrorist atrocities to justice but time is running out, and our own government is thwarting our efforts.  That is why we are asking the British public to support us instead.  We need to hit our fundraising goal before August 1st – otherwise we will lose our chance and the Chief Suspect will evade justice yet again.

We urgently need your help.  With it, we can succeed.  Together, we can ensure justice is done.  We cannot allow terrorists to get away with murder.

 

Clockwise from top left: Lance Corporal Jeffrey Young, Lieutenant Anthony Daly, Trooper Simon Tipper and Squadron Quartermaster Corporal Roy Bright

Background

In 1982, my brother, Trooper Simon Tipper, was murdered in cold blood by IRA terrorists along with three other British soldiers during the Changing of the Guard Procession.    Dozens of other soldiers and civilians were also injured and maimed.  Seven horses were slaughtered.  Later that day, seven bandsmen from the Royal Green Jackets were murdered in Regent’s Park, believed to be by the same IRA team.  This was one of the worst terrorist attacks ever committed on British soil.

The Chief Suspect spent thirty years on the run.  In 2013, he was finally arrested and brought to trial, but, despite reports that police files link him to five other terrorist attacks, a “catastrophic mistake” by Tony Blair’s government let him go.

With your support, we can help correct this mistake.

See here for more details and how to donate

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See here for Hyde Park & Regent’s Park Bombings – 20th July 1982 – Least We Forget!

The Glenanne Gang – History & Background

The Glenanne Gang

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British government officials ‘knew about loyalist Glenanne Gang’

A member of the notorious loyalist killer group, the Glennan Gang, has told how he believes its leader personally killed more than 100 people and dismissed suggestions that a public inquiry would exposed the truth. In a rare interview from his home in South Africa, John Weir insists that a truth commission is the only way that victims will get closure. Connla Young reports.

Former RUC officer and Glenanne Gang member John Weir. Picture by New Red TV

A FORMER RUC officer and member of the notorious Glenanne gang has claimed the British government was aware of the group’s activities at the very highest level.

John Weir, who held the rank of sergeant, was speaking just weeks after a High Court judge ruled that the PSNI unlawfully frustrated any chance of an effective investigation into suspected state collusion with the sectarian killer gang.

Made up of members of the RUC, UDR and UVF, it operated across the Mid-Ulster area in the mid 1970s.

Based out of a farm owned by former RUC officer, James Mitchell in Glenanne in south Armagh, the gang is believed to have carried out around 120 murders, the majority of which were innocent Catholics.

Now one of its most prominent members, former sergeant John Weir, has said that the establishment of a truth commission and amnesty may be the only way some of the darkest secrets of the Troubles will ever be revealed.

Originally from Co Monaghan, he was a member of the RUC’s Special Patrol Group in Armagh when he became involved in the activities of the Glenanne Gang.

The former policeman gave evidence to the 2003 Barron Report – which examined the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings that claimed the lives of 33 people and an unborn child.

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He and another former colleague William ‘Billy’ McCaughey were convicted of taking part in the murder of father-of-seven William Strathearn (39) at his home in Ahoghill, Co Antrim, in April 1977.

The former Derry GAA player and shopkeeper had opened his front door at 2am after the gunmen said they needed aspirin for a sick child.

Convicted in 1980 he was released from prison in 1993 and later went to live in Nigeria.

Now living in South Africa, the former policeman last said that senior officials in Downing Street would have been aware of the group’s activities.

“Of course they would,” he said in an interview with the Irish News.

“How would they not be?

“Right, for example, the army commanders……do you mean to say that those men were not actually feeding information.

“Even they were feeding information direct to government.

“Obviously some of it was going through their senior officers but not all.

“Some of those men, they themselves were connected to parliament.

“And I know that and I also know that they know that even the very bottom of army intelligence, which I don’t think in a way were that capable a lot of them, but they knew all about Glenanne.”

After last month’s court ruling relatives of people killed by the gang demanded an independent inquiry be set up.

See Irish News for full story

— Disclaimer –

The views and opinions expressed in this post/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.

—————————————————————————————

The Glenanne gang or Glenanne group 

History and Background

The Glenanne gang or Glenanne group was a secret informal alliance of Ulster loyalists, mostly from Northern Ireland, who carried out shooting and bombing attacks against Catholics and nationalists during the Troubles, beginning in the 1970s.

Most of its attacks took place in the “murder triangle” area counties Armagh and Tyrone. It also launched some attacks elsewhere in Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland.

UDR Insignia

The gang included British soldiers from the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), police officers from the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), and members of the Mid-Ulster Brigade of the Ulster Volunteer Force(UVF).

Twenty-five British soldiers and police officers were named as purported members of the gang. Details about the group have come from many sources, including the affidavit of former member and RUC officer John Weir; statements by other former members; police, army and court documents; and ballistics evidence linking the same weapons to various attacks. Since 2003, the group’s activities have also been investigated by the 2006 Cassel Report, and three reports commissioned by Irish Supreme Court Justice Henry Barron, known as the Barron Reports.

A book focusing on the group’s activities, Lethal Allies: British Collusion in Ireland, was published in 2013. It drew on all the aforementioned sources, as well as Historical Enquiries Team investigations.

Lethal Allies claims that permutations of the group killed about 120 people – almost all of whom were “upwardly mobile” Catholic civilians with no links to Irish republican paramilitaries. The Cassel Report investigated 76 killings attributed to the group and found evidence that British soldiers and RUC officers were involved in 74 of those. John Weir claimed his superiors knew he was working with loyalist militants but allowed it to continue.

The Cassel Report also said that some senior officers knew of the crimes but did nothing to prevent, investigate or punish. It has been alleged that some key members were double agentsworking for British military intelligence and RUC Special Branch.

Attacks attributed to the group include the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, the Miami Showband killings, and the Reavey and O’Dowd killings.

Many of the victims were killed at their homes or in indiscriminate attacks on Catholic-owned pubs with guns and/or bombs. Some were shot after being stopped at fake British Army checkpoints, and a number of the attacks were co-ordinated.

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When it wished to “claim” its attacks, the group usually used the name “Protestant Action Force“. The name “Glenanne gang” has been used since 2003 and is derived from the farm at Glenanne (near Markethill, County Armagh) that was used as the gang’s main ‘base of operations’.[12][13] It also made use of a farm near Dungannon.

Glenanne Gang
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Fields near the farm where the gang was based (Ballylane townland, near Glenanne, County Armagh)
Active 1972–1980
Ideology Ulster loyalism
Leaders John Weir
Billy McCaughey
Billy Hanna
Robin Jackson
Harris Boyle
Headquarters Glenanne,
County Armagh,
Northern Ireland
Area of operations Mainly County Armagh and east County Tyrone
Size Over 40 known members
Part of Ulster Volunteer Force
Opponents Irish nationalists

Political situation in Northern Ireland

 

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By the mid-1970s the violent ethno-political conflict known as the Troubles had radically transformed the daily lives of people in Northern Ireland; after five years of turbulent civil unrest, the bombings and shootings showed no signs of abating. The armed campaign waged by the Provisional IRA had escalated, with bombings in England and increased attacks on the security forces in Northern Ireland.

The British Army and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) bore the brunt of IRA violence and many Protestants felt their people to be under attack. Rogue members of the RUC Special Patrol Group (SPG) believed that the situation was rapidly deteriorating and that the IRA were actually ‘winning the war’. As early as the end of 1973, it was suggested that drastic measures had to be taken to defeat the organisation. The SPG was a specialised police unit tasked with providing back-up to the regular RUC and to police sensitive areas.

 

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On 10 February 1975, the Provisional IRA and British government entered into a truce and restarted negotiations. The IRA agreed to halt attacks on the British security forces, and the security forces mostly ended its raids and searches.

However, there were dissenters on both sides. Some Provisionals wanted no part of the truce, while British commanders resented being told to stop their operations against the IRA just when—they claimed—they had the Provisionals on the run.

 There was a rise in sectarian killings during the truce, which ‘officially’ lasted until February 1976. Ulster loyalist paramilitaries, fearing they were about to be forsaken by the British government and forced into a united Ireland,

increased their attacks on Roman Catholics and nationalists. Loyalist fears were partially grounded in fact as Secret Intelligence Service officer Michael Oatley had engaged in negotiations with a member of the IRA Army Council during which “structures of disengagement” from Ireland were discussed. This had meant a possible withdrawal of British troops from Northern Ireland.

Loyalists killed 120 Catholics in 1975, the vast majority civilians.They hoped to force the IRA to retaliate in kind and thus hasten an end to the truce.

Formation of the Glenanne Gang

 

The Glenanne gang shared many members with the UVF Mid-Ulster Brigade, led by Robin “the Jackal” Jackson 
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It was during this exceptionally violent period that a group of loyalist extremists formed a loose alliance that was belatedly in 2003 given the name “Glenanne gang”.The gang, which contained over 40 known members, included soldiers of the British Army’s Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), rogue elements of the RUC, the Mid-Ulster Brigade of the illegal paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and some Ulster Defence Association (UDA) members.

 

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This group began to carry out shooting and bombing attacks directed against Catholics and nationalists to retaliate for the IRA’s intensified military campaign. Most of these attacks took place in the area of County Armagh and Mid-Ulster referred to as the “murder triangle” by journalist Joe Tiernan. It also launched attacks elsewhere in Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland.

The name “Glenanne gang” is derived from the farm at Glenanne (near Markethill, County Armagh) that was used as the gang’s arm dump and bomb-making site.

In his 2013 memoirs, Joseph Pearce, a British former white supremacist and senior member of the National Front who later converted to Catholicism and is a writer and academician at Aquinas College (Nashville, Tennessee, USA), revealed what he knew about collusion between the NF, the British Army, and loyalist death squads. According to Pearce,

“In spite of my own unwillingness to become too directly involved in the terrorist operations in Northern Ireland, I was very aware, as were the leaders of the UVF and UDA, that National Front members serving with the Army in Northern Ireland were smuggling intelligence information on suspected IRA members to the Loyalist paramilitaries. This information included photographs of suspected IRA members, the type of car they drove and its registration number, and other useful facts. I have little doubt that this information was used by the UVF and UDA to target and assassinate their enemies.”

Alleged members

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The following people, among others, have been implicated by Justice Barron and Professor Douglass Cassel in their respective reports as having been members of the Glenanne gang:

Key figures[

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  • John Oliver Weir (born 1950, County Monaghan, Republic of Ireland) — an officer in the RUC Special Patrol Group (an “anti-terrorist” unit) and UVF volunteer. Weir was the son of a gamekeeper and was brought up on an estate near Castleblaney. He attended a Protestant boarding school in Dublin.

After joining the RUC in 1970, he worked at Strandtown RUC station in Belfast. In 1972, he was transferred to Armagh where he was recruited by the SPG on 1 August 1973. Following the IRA killing of two members of the security forces in 1974 and 1975, he was sent for his own safety to the SPG unit in Castlereagh, Belfast. On an unspecified date between January 1975 and September 1976, he joined the Glenanne gang. Weir then spent six weeks at the Lisanelly Army base in Omagh; in 1976 he was promoted to the rank of sergeant and transferred to Newry RUC barracks.

He claimed to have been directly involved in the bomb attack at Tully’s Bar in Belleek, the attempted bombing of Renaghan’s Bar, Clontibret, County Monaghan, and to have visited the Glenanne farm regularly during the autumn of 1976. In November 1977, he was sent to Newtownhamilton RUC barracks. In 1980, he left the RUC upon his conviction for the 1977 killing of William Strathearn, a Catholic chemist. He was released from prison in 1992. During and after his imprisonment he made a number of allegations incriminating his former associates in the Glenanne gang. His 1999 affidavit was published in the 2003 Barron Report on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

Weir also implicated Chief Inspector Harry Breen in having direct knowledge of the gang’s activities in his Affidavit of 3 January 1999.

Among other claims, he stated “In summary, Down Orange Welfare was using RUC officers in Newry RUC station – McBride, Breen, myself – and another RUC officer, Sergeant Monty Alexander from Forkhill RUC station – to supply weapons to the UVF in Portadown. I later learned that these weapons were being manufactured by Samuel McCoubrey in Spa, Co. Down.”

 

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William “Billy” McCaughey (died 2006) — Armagh RUC SPG officer who had acted as a close protection guard for Ulster Unionist Party politician John Taylor and a UVF volunteer. He was a former member of the Ulster Special Constabulary. McCaughey was implicated by his colleague Weir in many Glenanne gang attacks such as the O’Dowd shootings, the assault on the Rock Bar, and he admitted to having kidnapped a Roman Catholic priest.

McCaughey was convicted along with Weir for the killing of William Strathearn and sentenced to 16 years imprisonment. McCaughey received a seven-year sentence for wounding Michael McGrath during the attack on the Rock Bar, was sentenced on explosives and possession charges and was also sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for the kidnapping of Fr Hugh Murphy.

 

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Journalist Joe Tiernan alleged that Hanna was an Intelligence Corps agent. He was the person who had approached James Mitchell for permission to use the property as an arms dump and bomb-making site. Hanna was shot dead outside his home in Lurgan in July 1975.

 

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Robin “The Jackal” Jackson (27 September 1948, Donaghmore, County Tyrone – 30 May 1998, Donaghcloney, County Down) — commander of the UVF Mid-Ulster Brigade from July 1975 to the early 1990s, Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) member and an alleged RUC Special Branch agent with ties to military intelligence.

He assumed leadership of the brigade upon the shooting death of Hanna, for which he was said by Tiernan to have been responsible. Weir implicated Robin Jackson in a number of the gang’s killings and has named him as having been a “key figure” in the gang.

 Following the 1993 Yorkshire Television programme The Hidden Hand which implicated Jackson in the Dublin bombings but did not mention him by name, he was questioned. He denied involvement in the three car bombings which left 26 people dead.[33] and Miami Showband killings.

He was only convicted once (in 1981), for possession of a .22 pistol, a .38 revolver, a magazine, 13 rounds of ammunition, and hoodshowever, he was released after having served two years of a seven-year sentence. Jackson’s fingerprints were found on a home-made silencer attached to a Luger pistol (serial number U 4) retrieved at Ted Sinclair’s farm in 1976.

Jackson’s name appeared on the Garda Síochána suspects list for the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.[34] Jackson was named in court as one of the killers of William Strathern by Weir and McCaughey. The court was told by an RUC officer that Jackson and Kerr were not before the court as part of “operational strategy”.

Jackson died of lung cancer in 1998.

 

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Robert McConnell — a UVF volunteer and 2nd Battalion UDR corporal. The Barron Report lists him as one of the suspects in the Dublin bombings. He allegedly had links to both RUC Special Branch and the Intelligence Corps, and it was claimed he was controlled before and after the bombings by Robert Nairac.

McConnell was named by both Lily Shields and Laurence McClure as being involved in the Donnelly’s Bar killings. Weir states he took part in the John Francis Green shooting along with Robin Jackson and Harris Boyle. He was named by Weir as the leading gunman in the Reavey family shootings.

McConnell was killed by the IRA on 5 April 1976.

Laurence McClure — a UVF volunteer and RUC SPG officer, having joined the Armagh SPG in May 1975. He was a close neighbour of James Mitchell and owned a repair garage adjacent to the farm. McClure was named by Weir as having taken part in several sectarian attacks including those at Donnelly’s Bar and the Rock Bar, the latter for which he was convicted and received a two-year sentence, suspended for three years. Weir alleges that McClure had helped assemble the bombs used in Dublin.

McClure admitted being a getaway driver for those involved in the Donnelly’s Bar bombing and to have waited in the car with Lily Shields; the two acting as a “courting couple”.

 McClure was charged with withholding information in relation to the attack on Donnelly’s Bar. The barrister for the UDR and the police … said he had obtained a nolle prosequi sentence, a Latin legal phrase meaning “to be unwilling to pursue” (amounting to “do not prosecute”) against the charge. The only person who can authorise a nolle prosequi is the Attorney General.

James Mitchell (c. 1920 – May 2008) — an RUC Reserve officer and the owner of the Glenanne farm. He joined the RUC Reserve in September 1974 and was stationed at Markethill. He left the force on 1 July 1977 for “personal reasons”.

Weir named him as a UVF member who regularly participated in paramilitary activities.Weir claimed that Mitchell admitted being involved in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, and went on to claim that he had seen Mitchell mixing home-made ammonium-nitrate-and-fuel-oil explosive in the farmyard on one occasion.

He was convicted for possession of weapons found on his land after an RUC raid in December 1978. In an RUC interview on 9 August 2000, he staunchly denied Weir’s allegations and referred to him as

“a damned liar and convicted murderer”.

Mitchell died, aged 88, in May 2008 at Daisy Hill Hospital, Newry. Willie Frazer attended his funeral and told media

“I’m not saying he was lily–white but he was a decent man”.

Robert John “R.J”. Kerr (c. 1943 – 7 November 1997) — UDA commander. He was charged with having weapons and ammunition in suspicious circumstances in 1972; later found guilty of armed robbery on 10 March 1973. Kerr was sentenced in 1974 in relation to the intimidation and assaulting of two men in 1973 and received 18 months in jail. Kerr was named as one of the killers of William Strathearn by Weir and McCaughey. The court was told by an RUC officer that Jackson and Kerr were not before the court as part of “police strategy”.

He died in a mysterious explosion, his body having been found in the vicinity of a burnt-out boat that was being towed on a trailer on the main Newry to Warrenpoint Road.

Harris Boyle (1953, Portadown – 31 July 1975, Buskhill, County Down) — UDR soldier and UVF volunteer. Boyle was unmarried and worked as a telephone wireman. He was charged with having weapons and ammunition in suspicious circumstances in 1972. Boyle was killed when a bomb he had placed on the Miami Showband bus exploded prematurely.

He was implicated in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, and the killing of IRA volunteer John Francis Green in County Monaghan. According to submissions received by Mr Justice Barron, the Monaghan bomb was assembled at his home on Festival Road in Portadown’s Killycomain estate.

 

Wes Somerville.jpg

Wesley Somerville (born County Tyrone – died 31 July 1975, Buskhill, County Down) — UDR soldier and a UVF lieutenant. He was a textile worker by trade. He was killed when a bomb he had placed on the Miami Showband bus exploded prematurely.

Wesley Somerville was also charged along with two others for kidnapping two bread deliverymen. The kidnapping charge was connected to a bomb attack at Mourne Crescent, Dungannon.

Weir named Somerville as having been involved in the 1974 bombing in Monaghan.

  • Gary Armstrong — RUC sergeant, given a two-year suspended sentence in relation to the kidnapping of a Catholic priest, Father Hugh Murphy, in retaliation for the murder of a policeman. Armstrong was named by Judge Barron as one of the group of RUC members who carried out the gun and bomb attack on the Rock Bar.

 

  • Joseph Stewart Young — UVF volunteer from Portadown. His name appears on the Garda suspects list for the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. John Weir claims that Young had been part of the unit that carried out the Monaghan bombing. When questioned, Young denied the allegation. He was also suspected of involvement in the attack on Donnelly’s bar.

Other members

  • Captain John Irwin — UDR intelligence officer. Weir declares in his affidavit that Irwin provided the explosives for the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and delivered them to Mitchell’s farm, where they were then assembled.

 

  • Lance corporal Thomas Raymond Crozier (born 1951, Lurgan, County Armagh) — C Company, 11th Battalion UDR, and UVF volunteer, he worked as a painting contractor. He was convicted in October 1976 in relation to the Miami Showband killings. He was also arrested in 1975 along with Samuel Fulton Neil and Robin Jackson in possession of four shotguns.

 

  • Sergeant James Roderick McDowell (from Lurgan, County Armagh) — also C Company, 11th Battalion UDR, and UVF volunteer, he was an optical worker; convicted in October 1976 in relation to Miami Showband killings.

 

  • John James Somerville (died January 2015) — former UDR soldier from Moygashel, County Tyrone; brother of Wesley (see above); worked as a lorry-helper; convicted on 9 November 1981 in relation to the Miami Showband killings. Somerville was also charged along with two others with kidnapping two bread deliverymen. The kidnapping charge was also connected to a bomb attack at Mourne Crescent in Dungannon. He was also convicted of an armed robbery on a CIÉ bus in Aughnacloy and causing approximately £12,000 worth of damage to the bus. He was named by Weir as having been involved in the Monaghan bombing.

 

  • Sarah Elizabeth “Lily” Shields — Mitchell’s housekeeper. She was named by Weir as having provided the getaway car for those who attacked McArdle’s Bar and Donnelly’s Bar. Charges were later brought against her for withholding information regarding the latter attack. However, the trial judge and DPP brought a nolle prosequi against the charge in April 1981.

 

  • Norman Greenlee — UDR soldier and UVF volunteer. The Star pistol (serial number 344164) used in a number of Glenanne gang attacks was found at Greenlee’s farm in Richhill, County Armagh in 1979. A large number of other weapons and ammunition was also found. He subsequently received a seven-year sentence for possessing the weapons and a concurrent four-year sentence for UVF membership.

 

  • George Moore was found guilty of the attempted killing of Patrick Turley, assault, and possession of a gun and ammunition.

 

  • Gordon Liggett — Ulster Defence Association (UDA) commander. He was found guilty of causing grievous and actual bodily harm to Patrick Turley; as well as armed robbery and possession of a gun and ammunition.

 

  • William Ashton Wright — UDR soldier. He was charged with having weapons and ammunition in suspicious circumstances in 1972. He was later found guilty of armed robbery, which had taken place on 10 March 1973. Wright was sentenced in 1974 in relation to the intimidation and assaulting of two men in 1973 and received a six-month suspended sentence.

 

  • George Hyde — charged in connection with the attempted murder of Patrick Turley; he was later found beaten to death in prison.

 

  • Edward “Ted” Sinclair (from Dungannon) was convicted of possession of a Luger pistol (serial number U 4), a .38 ACP pistol, homemade machine guns, gelignite and ammunition in 1976. He was released in 1979. Sinclair was arrested again in 1980 and charged with possession of a .45 revolver and ammunition. However, charges were withdrawn by the DPP. Sinclair was also charged with the 1976 killings of Peter and Jane McKearney (a married couple mistakenly believed to be the parents of an IRA volunteer with the same surname, Margaret McKearney, although there was no relation).

In 1982 (the following year), these charges were also dropped by the DPP.

  • Garnet James Busby was convicted of the killings of Peter and Jane McKearney in October 1975 (see above). He was also convicted of the killings of Andrew Small, James McCaughey, Joseph Kelly and Patrick Barnard at the Hillcrest Bar in Dungannon. He planted the bomb at O’Neill’s Bar in Dungannon. During his trial an RUC inspector told the court that the same UVF gang was responsible for the attack on the Miami Showband.

 

  • William Parr was convicted of Denis Mullen’s killing.

 

  • Billy Corrigan was named as taking part in Denis Mullen’s killing during the trial of William Parr. Corrigan was killed by the IRA in 1976.

 

  • Henry Garfield Liggett was convicted of the killing of Patrick McNeice.

 

  • Dorothy Mullan was convicted of driving the car to the site of Patrick McNeice’s killing.

 

  • Garfield Gerard Beattie was convicted of the killings of Denis Mullan, Jim McLoughlin and Patrick McNeice at the Eagle Bar in Charlemont; also convicted of the attempted killings of other patrons in the Eagle Bar.

 

  • David Henry Kane was convicted of the killing of Jim McLoughlin and the attempted killings of the other patrons in the Eagle Bar.

 

  • Joey Lutton — UDR soldier convicted of the attacks on the Eagle Bar and Clancy’s Bar in Charlemont.

 

  • Samuel Fulton Neill (died 25 January 1976) — brother-in-law of Robin Jackson, arrested in 1975 alongside Jackson and Thomas Crozier in possession of four shotguns. He was fatally shot five times in the head after leaving a Portadown pub, allegedly by Jackson, for having passed on information to the police about the people involved in the Miami Showband attack.

 

  • Trevor Barnard was charged along with two others with the kidnapping of two bread deliverymen. The kidnapping charge was also linked to a bomb attack at Mourne Crescent in Dungannon.

 

  • Laurence Tate — UDR soldier. He was convicted along with two others of the bombing of an empty bungalow near Dungannon. He was also convicted of the bombing of Killen’s Bar in Dungannon. He was arrested as part of the Miami Showband investigation.

 

  • Harold Henry McKay was convicted along with two others of the bombing of an empty bungalow near Dungannon. Also convicted of the bombing of Killen’s Bar in Dungannon. He was arrested as part of the Miami Showband investigation.

 

  • John Nimmons was convicted along with two others of the bombing of an empty bungalow near Dungannon. Also convicted of the bombing of Killen’s Bar in Dungannon. He was arrested as part of the Miami Showband investigation.

 

  • William Thomas Leonard — UDR soldier convicted of the killings of James and Gertrude Devlin, a married couple. He was also convicted of the bombing of Killen’s Bar in Dungannon, and of the armed robbery of the CIÉ bus in Aughnacloy which caused approximately £12,000 worth of damage to the bus.

 

  • Sammy McCoo was named by McClure and Shields as being involved in the attack on Donnelly’s bar. McCoo’s name later appeared on the Garda suspects list for the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

 

  • Ian Mitchell — RUC officer, received a two-year sentence, suspended for three years in relation to the attack on the Rock Bar. Ian Mitchell was one of the investigating officers into the killings of Betty McDonald and Gerald McGleenan at the Step Inn, Keady, County Armagh.

 

  • David Wilson — RUC officer, received a one-year sentence, suspended for two years in relation to the attack on the Rock Bar.

 

  • Alexander McCaughey — father of Billy McCaughey, given a one-year suspended sentence in relation to the kidnapping of Fr. Murphy.

 

The gang has also been linked to military intelligence liaison officer Captain Robert Nairac who worked for 14th Intelligence Company (The Det).

 On The Hidden Hand programme made by Yorkshire Television in 1993, it was claimed that Robin Jackson was controlled by Nairac and 14th Intelligence.

In May 1977, Nairac was kidnapped by the IRA in Dromintee and taken across the border into the Republic where he was interrogated for more than an hour and pistol-whipped in Ravensdale Woods, County Louth. Nairac was then shot dead by Liam Townson.

Merlyn Rees in 1965.jpg

Pte Ian Leonard Price, 2nd battalion, The Queens Reg Merlyn ReesSecretary of State for Northern Ireland, lifted the proscription against the UVF on 4 April 1974, but it was made illegal once again on 3 October 1975; therefore, during the period between April 1974 and October 1975, membership of the UVF was not a crime. The largest loyalist paramilitary group in Northern Ireland, the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) was also not proscribed at the time.

Attacks attributed to the Glenanne gang

In 2004, the Pat Finucane Centre asked Professor Douglas Cassel (formerly of Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago) to convene an international inquiry to investigate collusion by members of the British security forces in sectarian killings in Northern Ireland committed during the mid-1970s. The gang’s involvement in the killings was to be investigated in particular.

The panel interviewed victims and their relatives, as well as four members of the security forces. The four members of the security forces were: RUC SPG officers John Weir and Billy McCaughey; psychological warfare operative Colin Wallace and MI6 operative Captain Fred Holroyd. They all implicated the Glenanne gang in the attacks. In seven out of eight cases, ballistic tests corroborated Weir’s claims linking the killings to weapons carried by the security forces. The interviews revealed many similarities in the way the attacks were carried out, while various documents (including the Barron Report) established a chain of ballistic history linking weapons and killings to the gang. Justice Barron commented in reference to the gang:

“This joining of RUC and UDR members with members of Loyalist paramilitary organisations is emphasised by the use of the same or connected guns by intermingled groups of these organisations.”

The Glenanne gang has been linked to the following attacks and/or incidents:

1972 and 1973

  • 4 October 1972: killing of Catholic civilian Patrick Connolly. He was killed and his mother and brother were injured when a grenade was thrown through the window of their house in Portadown, County Armagh. The family were Catholics living in a mixed area of the town. The grenade was of a type manufactured in the United Kingdom “for use by the British Armed Forces”. According to reliable loyalist sources, UVF members were responsible.

 

  • 20 February 1973: an armed robbery on a CIÉ bus in Aughnacloy, which caused approximately £12,000 worth of damage to the bus.

 

  • 10 March 1973: attempted murder of Patrick Turley in Portadown.

 

  • 10 March 1973: armed robbery, for which Glenanne gang members were later jailed.

 

  • 24 May 1973: bombing of Killen’s Bar in Dungannon, County Tyrone. UDR soldiers Laurence Tate and William Thomas Leonard were convicted, along with two others.
  • 4 August 1973: attempted killings of Bernadette Devlin McAliskey and her husband at their home in Coalisland, County Tyrone.

 

  • 5 August 1973: killing of Catholic civilians Francis and Bernadette Mullen. They were shot dead by two gunmen at their farmhouse in Broughadoey, near Moy, County Tyrone. Their two-year-old son was also wounded by gunfire. The “Ulster Freedom Fighters” claimed responsibility but it is believed UVF members were responsible.

 

  • 28 October 1973: killing of Catholic civilian Francis McCaughey. He was wounded by a booby-trap bomb at a farm in Carnteel, near Aughnacloy, County Tyrone. He died on 8 November. The “Ulster Freedom Fighters” claimed responsibility but it is believed UVF members were responsible.His brother-in-law, Owen Boyle, was later shot dead by the Glenanne gang.

 

  • 29 October 1973: killing of Catholic civilian Patrick Campbell. He was shot dead by a gunman who arrived at the door of his house in Banbridge, County Down. The “Ulster Freedom Fighters” claimed responsibility but it later emerged that UVF members had been responsible. Although Robin Jackson was arrested and Campbell’s widow picked him out as the killer at an identity parade, murder charges against him were soon dropped.

1974

  • 17 January 1974: gun attack on Boyle’s Bar in Cappagh, County Tyrone. Two gunmen entered the pub and opened fire indiscriminately on the customers. Catholic civilian Daniel Hughes was killed and three others wounded.

 

  • 19 February 1974: bomb attack on Traynor’s Bar at Aghinlig, between Blackwatertown and Charlemont, County Armagh. Catholic civilian Patrick Molloy and Protestant civilian John Wylie were killed. Two other civilians were wounded. In 1981 a serving UDR soldier, a former UDR soldier and a former UVF member were convicted of the murders.

 

  • 7 May 1974: killing of Catholic civilians James and Gertrude Devlin, who were shot dead near their home at Congo Road, near Dungannon, County Tyrone. They were driving home with their 17-year-old daughter. As they neared their house, a man in a military uniform stopped the car and opened fire on them. James and Gertrude were killed outright and their daughter, Patricia, in the back seat, was wounded. UDR soldier William Thomas Leonard was convicted for the killings. His membership in the UDR was withheld from the courts by the police.

 

 

  • 3 September 1974: shooting of T.J. Chambers in Mountnorris, County Armagh.

 

  • 3 September 1974: shooting incident. The 9 mm Luger pistol used in the incident was the same often used in other Glenanne gang attacks, including the murders of the Reavey brothers.

 

  • 27 October 1974: killing of Catholic civilian Anthony Duffy. His body was found at the back of a farmhouse at Mullantine, near Portadown, County Armagh. He had been beaten, strangled and then shot by UVF members after taking a lift from Lurgan to Portadown, together with a friend who managed to escape.

 

  • 20 November 1974: gun attack on Falls Bar at Aughamullen, near Clonoe, County Tyrone. Catholic civilian Patrick Falls was killed and another wounded. UDR soldier James Somerville was convicted for the attack.

 

  • 29 November 1974: attacks in Newry and Crossmaglen, County Armagh. A bomb exploded in a hallway of Hughes’ Bar in Newry, injuring many people. Catholic civilian John Mallon died of his injuries on 15 December. At the inquest an RUC witness said the pub was used by all sections of the community and had no links with any organization. Another bomb exploded in the hallway of McArdle’s Bar, Crossmaglen, injuring six. Catholic civilian Thomas McNamee died from his injuries almost a year later, on 14 November 1975.

 According to reliable loyalist sources, UVF members were responsible for both attacks.

1975

January–April

  • 10 January 1975: killing of IRA volunteer John Francis Green, who was found shot dead at a farmhouse in Tullynageer near Castleblayney, County Monaghan. In his statement, Weir claims that the gunmen were Robin Jackson, Robert McConnell, and Harris Boyle.

 

  • 10 February 1975: gun attack on Hayden’s Bar in Gortavale, near Rock, County Tyrone. A gunman entered the pub and opened fire indiscriminately on the customers. Catholic civilians Arthur Mulholland and Eugene Doyle were killed while four others were wounded.

 

  • 1 April 1975: killing of Catholic civilian Dorothy Trainor. She and her husband were shot by at least two gunmen as they walked through a park near Garvaghy Road, Portadown. Two of her sons were later killed by loyalists.The “Protestant Action Force” claimed responsibility.

 

  • 3 April 1975: killing of Catholic civilian Martin McVeigh. He was shot dead near his home at Ballyoran Park, off the Garvaghy Road in Portadown, as he cycled home from work. Robin Jackson was later arrested in possession of the murder weapon, but the RUC did not question or charge him with the murder. The “Protestant Action Force” claimed responsibility.

 

  • 11 April 1975: killing of Catholic civilian Owen Boyle. Gunmen shot him through the window of his house in Glencull, near Aughnacloy, County Tyrone. He died on 22 April 1975.  The “Protestant Action Force” claimed responsibility.
  • 21 April 1975: killing of Catholic civilians Marion Bowen (who was eight months pregnant), and her brothers, Seamus and Michael McKenna, by a booby-trap bomb left in Bowen’s house at Killyliss, near Granville, County Tyrone. Seamus and Michael were renovating the house, which had been unoccupied for almost a year. The “Protestant Action Force” claimed responsibility.

 

  • 27 April 1975: gun attack on a social club in Bleary, County Down. Gunmen burst into the Catholic-frequented darts club and opened fire indiscriminately. Catholic civilians Joseph Toman, John Feeney and Brendan O’Hara were killed while others were wounded.

The “Protestant Action Force” claimed responsibility.

May–August

  • 24 May 1975: bomb attack on the home of the Grew family in Moy, County Tyrone. Much of the house was destroyed and six children were injured. In 1981 a serving UDR soldier, a former UDR soldier and a former UVF member were convicted of partaking in the attack.

 

 

  • 1 August 1975: gun attack on a minibus near Gilford, County Down. The minibus had been travelling from Banbridge to Bleary with nine people on board; all were Catholics and most had been returning from a regular bingo session. Like the Miami Showband attack, gunmen in British Army uniforms stopped the minibus at a fake military checkpoint.

They then opened fire, wounding seven people.Catholic civilian Joseph Toland was killed outright and another Catholic civilian, James Marks, died of his wounds in January 1976. According to reliable loyalist sources,UVF members were responsible.

  • 2 August 1975: shooting at Fane Valley Park, Altnamachin, County Armagh.

 

  • 22 August 1975: gun and bomb attack on McGleenan’s Bar in Armagh. A masked gunman burst into the crowded pub and opened fire while another planted a bomb. It exploded as they ran to a getaway car, causing the building to collapse. Catholic civilians John McGleenan, Patrick Hughes and Thomas Morris were killed while many others were injured. According to reliable loyalist sources, UVF members were responsible.

 

  • 24 August 1975: killing of Catholic civilians Colm McCartney and Sean Farmer, who were found shot dead at Altnamachin, near Newtownhamilton, County Armagh. They were driving home from a Gaelic football match in Dublin when they were apparently stopped at a fake military checkpoint by men in British Army uniform.

They were found shot dead a short distance away. Earlier that night, three RUC officers in an unmarked car had been stopped at the same checkpoint but had been allowed through. However, the officers suspected that the checkpoint had been fake. After receiving radio confirmation that there were no authorized checkpoints in the area that night, they reported the incident and requested help from the British Army to investigate it, but no action was taken. The HET said the original police investigation “barely existed”, describing the police’s failure to interview eyewitnesses as “inexplicable”.

Weir claims that an RUC officer confessed to partaking in the attack, alongside a UDR soldier and UVF members. The “Protestant Action Force” claimed responsibility.

September–December

  • 1 September 1975: killing of SDLP member Denis Mullen, who was shot dead by two gunmen who called at the door of his home in Collegeland, County Armagh.

 

  • 4 September 1975: gun and bomb attack on McCann’s Bar in Ballyhegan, County Armagh. Catholic civilian Margaret Hale died of her wounds on 22 September.

 

  • 23 October 1975: killing of Catholic civilians Peter and Jane McKearney. They were shot dead by gunmen who arrived at the door of their house in Listamlat, near Moy, County Tyrone. The gunmen may have mistaken the couple for the parents of an IRA member with the same surname — Margaret McKearney — but they were not related. Margaret McKearney was wanted by Scotland Yard and the UVF had threatened to “eliminate” her.

A contemporary newspaper article reported that “Army issue ammunition” was used. Among the first on the scene were neighbours Charles and Teresa Fox, who were both later killed by the UVF in 1992.

19 December 1975: attacks in Dundalk and Silverbridge. At 6:20pm, a car bomb exploded outside Kay’s Tavern in Dundalk, Co Louth on the southern side of the border. Catholic civilians Hugh Watters and Jack Rooney were killed and more than twenty others were injured. Three hours later, gunmen attacked Donnelly’s Bar and filling station in Silverbridge, less than ten miles away on the northern side of the border. They fired at people outside the building, then fired on the customers and threw a bomb inside.

Two Catholic civilians (Patrick and Michael Donnelly) and an English civilian (Trevor Brecknell, married to a local woman) were killed. The “Red Hand Commando” claimed both attacks and it is believed they were co-ordinated. It is believed the Siverbridge attack was carried out by the Glenanne gang while the Dundalk bombing was carried out by other members of the Mid Ulster UVF, probably with some help from Belfast UVF members. RUC officer Laurence McClure admitted involvement in the Silverbridge attack. UDR Corporal Robert McConnell was also involved, according to John Weir and Lily Shields. Credible evidence from the RUC officer who led the investigation indicates that police believed they knew who the killers were and that the killers included RUC and UDR officers.The RUC refused the Garda Síochána access to a key witness in the Dundalk bombing.

 

Vallely’s pub in Ardress

  • 26 December 1975: bomb attack on Vallelly’s Bar, Ardress, County Armagh. Catholic civilian Seamus Mallon was killed.

1976

  • 4 January 1976: Reavey and O’Dowd killings. At about 6pm, gunmen broke into the Reavey family home in Whitecross, County Armagh. They shot brothers John, Brian and Anthony Reavey. John and Brian were killed outright while Anthony died of a brain hemorrhage less than a month later. Twenty minutes after the shooting, gunmen broke into the O’Dowd family home in Ballydougan, about twenty miles away. They shot dead Joseph O’Dowd and his nephews Barry and Declan O’Dowd. All three were members of the SDLP. Barney O’Dowd was wounded by gunfire. RUC officer Billy McConnell admitted taking part in the Reavey killings and accused RUC Reserve officer James Mitchell of being involved too. According to Weir, UDR Corporal Robert McConnell was the lead gunman in the Reavey killings and Robin Jackson was the lead gunman in the O’Dowd killings. The “Protestant Action Force” claimed responsibility for the two co-ordinated attacks.

 

  • 7 March 1976: car bomb attack on the Three Star Inn, Castleblayney, County Monaghan. Civilian Patrick Mone was killed. The bomb was placed in a car next to that of Mr Mone’s and was not intended for him. According to Weir, the attack was carried out by RUC officer Laurence McClure and UDR soldier Robert McConnell, using explosives provided by UDR Captain John Irwin and stored beforehand at James Mitchell’s farmhouse. A memorial to Patrick Mone is near the site of the bombing in Castleblayney.

 

  • 8 March 1976: bomb and gun attack on Tully’s Bar in Belleeks, County Armagh. RUC officer John Weir admitted helping to plan the attack and accused RUC Reserve officer James Mitchell of being the mastermind.

 

  • 17 March 1976: car bomb attack on Hillcrest Bar in Dungannon on Saint Patrick’s Day. Four Catholic civilians – Joseph Kelly, Andrew Small and 13-year-olds Patrick Bernard and James McCaughey – were killed. Twelve others were injured.

 

  • 15 May 1976: attacks in Charlemont, County Armagh. Gunmen detonated a bomb in the hallway of Clancy’s Bar, killing three Catholic civilians (Felix Clancy, Sean O’Hagan and Robert McCullough) and injuring many others. They then shot into the nearby Eagle Bar, killing a Catholic civilian, Frederick McLaughlin, and wounding several others. Locals claimed that the UDR had been patrolling the village for a number of nights beforehand, but were absent the night of the attacks. UDR soldier Joey Lutton was later convicted of partaking in both attacks.His s tatus as a member of the security forces was withheld from the courts by the police.

 

  • 5 June 1976: attack on the Rock Bar near Keady, County Armagh. Gunmen arrived at the pub and shot Catholic civilian Michael McGrath in the street outside. They then fired at customers through the windows and threw a nail bomb inside, but it only partially exploded. The HET said the RUC investigation is “cursory, ineffective and even fails to interview the only witness, who survived being shot down”.

 RUC officers William McCaughey, Laurence McClure and Ian Mitchell confessed and were convicted for the attack, while RUC officer David Wilson was convicted for withholding knowledge that the attack was to take place. However, only McCaughey served time in prison. According to the book Lethal Allies, the officers were wearing their police uniforms underneath boiler suits.

  • 25 July 1976: killing of Catholic civilian Patrick McNeice, shot dead at his home in Ardress, County Armagh.
  • 16 August 1976: car bomb attack on the Step Inn, Keady, County Armagh. Catholic civilians Elizabeth McDonald and Gerard McGleenon were killed and others were injured. Ten days before the bombing, the RUC asked the Army to put Mitchell’s farmhouse under surveillance because they had intelligence that a bomb was being stored there. According to Weir, the bomb was to be detonated at Renaghan’s Bar across the border in Clontibret, County Monaghan. On 15 August, Weir scouted the route to the pub but was stopped by Gardaí, who told him they were mounting extra security due to a warning from the RUC. Weir told the rest of the gang and they decided to attack Keady instead. The Army surveillance operation was ended and the bomb attack went ahead. Weir, Mitchell and the others involved were not arrested by the RUC and were allowed to remain in the force.

1977 onward

  • 25 February 1977: killing of Catholic RUC officer Joseph Campbell, who was shot dead outside the RUC base in Cushendall, County Antrim. Weir claims that the killers were alleged RUC Special Branch agent Robin Jackson, RUC officer William McCaughey, and R.J. Kerr.

 

  • 19 April 1977: killing of Catholic civilian William Strathearn, a chemist, who was shot dead at his shop in Ahoghill, County Antrim. RUC SPG officers John Weir and Billy McCaughey were convicted for the killing.

 

  • 18 June 1978: kidnapping of Father Hugh Murphy. This was in retaliation for the IRA’s kidnapping and killing of an RUC officer the day before. Murphy was eventually released unharmed after appeals from a number of Protestant ministers, including Ian Paisley. Sergeant Gary Armstrong and Constable Billy McCaughey, both of the RUC (along with the latter’s father, Alexander McCaughey), were convicted for the kidnapping.

 

  • 29 February 1980: killing of Catholic civilian Brendan McLaughlin, who was killed in a drive-by-shooting on Clonard Street, Belfast. He was killed with the same Sterling submachine gun used in the Miami Showband, O’Dowd family and Devlin family killings.

The Glenanne farm and the Dublin and Monaghan bombings

 

James Mitchell, RUC reserve officer and owner of the Glenanne farm

It is claimed in the Barron Report that Billy Hanna had asked James Mitchell for permission to use his farm as a UVF arms dump and bomb-making site.Information that loyalist paramilitaries were regularly meeting at the farm appeared on British Intelligence Corps documents from late 1972.

According to submissions received by Mr Justice Barron, the Glenanne farm was used to build and store the bombs that exploded in Dublin and Monaghan. The report claims they were placed onto Robin Jackson’s poultry lorry, driven across the border to a carpark, then activated by Hanna and transferred to three allocated cars. These cars exploded almost simultaneously in Dublin’s city centre at about 5.30pm during evening rush hour, killing 26 civilians. Ninety minutes later a fourth car bomb exploded in Monaghan, killing another seven civilians.

Mitchell and his female housekeeper, Lily Shields both denied knowledge that the farm was used for illicit paramilitary activity. They also denied partaking in any UVF attacks. In his affidavit, John Weir affirms that the farmhouse was used as a base for UVF operations that included the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

Weir also stated that on one occasion an RUC constable gave him two weapons to store at the Glenanne farm:

“He then offered me the two sub-machine guns because he knew about my connection to Loyalist paramilitaries. I accepted them and took them to Mitchell’s farmhouse”.

In his affidavit, Weir recounted when in March 1976 he had gone to the farm where between eight and ten men dressed in camouflage had been parading in the farmyard. Inside he had discussed with Mitchell and others the details of a planned bombing and shooting attack against a nationalist pub, Tully’s in Belleeks. Mitchell had shown him the floor plans of the pub’s interior which he had drawn up highlighting the lack of escape routes for the pub’s patrons. The plan was temporarily called off when it was discovered that the British Army’s Parachute Regiment was on patrol that evening in the area.

Weir returned to Belfast the next day and the attack went ahead that evening, 8 March. There were no casualties, however, as Mitchell’s floor plans had been inaccurate, and the customers had fled into the pub’s living quarters for safety once the shooting had commenced outside, and the bomb only caused structural damage to the building.

Mr. Justice Barron concluded in his report:

“It is likely that the farm of James Mitchell at Glenanne played a significant part in the preparation for the attacks [Dublin and Monaghan bombings]. It is also likely that members of the UDR and RUC either participated in, or were aware of those preparations.”

Miami Showband massacre

 

Site of the Miami Showband killings, in which the Glenanne gang was implicated

On 31 July 1975, four days after Hanna’s shooting and Jackson’s assumption of leadership of the Mid-Ulster brigade, the Miami Showband’s minibus was flagged-down outside Newry by armed UVF men wearing British Army uniforms at a bogus military checkpoint. Two UVF men (Harris Boyle and Wesley Somerville) loaded a time delay bomb on the minibus but it exploded prematurely and killed them.

The remaining UVF gunmen then opened fire on the bandmembers, killing three (Brian McCoy, Anthony Geraghty and Fran O’Toole) and wounding two (Stephen Travers and Des McAlea). Two of the three men convicted of the killings and sentenced to life imprisonment were serving members of the UDR, and the third was a former member. The Luger pistol used in the attack was found to have been the same one used to kill Provisional IRA member John Francis Green in January 1975 and was also used in the O’Dowd killings of January 1976.

The following May, the security forces found Jackson’s fingerprints on a home-made silencer attached to a Luger. Although charged, Jackson avoided conviction. A Sterling 9mm submachine gun was also used in the Miami Showband killings. The 2003 Barron Report suggests that the guns were taken from the stockpile of weapons at the Glenanne farm.  The Luger pistol used in the Green, Miami Showband, and O’Dowd attacks was later destroyed by the RUC on 28 August 1978.

Liaison officer Captain Robert Nairac has been linked to the Miami Showband killings and the killing of John Francis Green. Miami Showband survivors Stephen Travers and Des McAlea both testified in court that a man with a “crisp, clipped English accent, and wearing a different uniform and beret” had been at the scene of the explosion and subsequent shootings.

Martin Dillon in The Dirty War, however, adamantly states that Nairac was not involved in either attack. The Cassel Report concluded that there was

“credible evidence that the principal perpetrator [of the Miami Showband attack] was a man who was not prosecuted – alleged RUC Special Branch agent Robin Jackson”.

Although Jackson had been questioned by the RUC following the Showband attack, he was released without having been charged.

Reavey and O’Dowd killings and the Kingsmill massacre

 

The co-ordinated sectarian shootings of the Reavey and O’Dowd families, allegedly perpetrated by the Glenanne gang and organised by Robin Jackson, was followed by the South Armagh Republican Action Force retaliation with a sectarian attack the following day. It stopped a minibus at Kingsmill and shot dead the ten Protestant passengers, after being taken out of their minibus which was transporting them home from their workplace in Glenanne.

In 2001, an unidentified former Glenanne gang member (a former RUC officer who had been sentenced to life imprisonment for his part in the gang’s killings) revealed that the gang had planned to kill at least thirty Catholic schoolchildren as revenge for Kingsmill.

It drew up plans to attack St Lawrence O’Toole Primary School in the South Armagh village of Belleeks.   The plan was aborted at the last minute on orders of the UVF leadership, who ruled that it would be “morally unacceptable”, would undermine support for the UVF, and could lead to civil war.

The gang member who suggested the attack was a UDR soldier; he was later shot dead by the IRA. The UVF leadership allegedly suspected that he was working for the British Intelligence Corps, and that military intelligence were seeking to provoke a civil war. In 2004, former gang member McCaughey spoke of the planned retaliation and said that the UVF leadership also feared the potential IRA response.

Convictions

The Cassel Report states that convictions were obtained in only nine of the 25 cases it investigated and that several of those convictions are suspect as erroneous and incomplete. A month before Nairac’s killing, a Catholic chemist, William Strathearn, was gunned down at his home in Ahoghill, County Antrim. SPG officers Weir and McCaughey were charged and convicted for the killing. Weir named Jackson as having been the gunman but Jackson was never interrogated for “reasons of operational strategy”.

The Special Patrol Group was disbanded in 1980 by the RUC after the convictions of Weir and McCaughey for the Strathearn killing.

In December 1978 the authorities raided the Glenanne farm and found weapons and ammunition. This made it necessary for the gang to seek an alternative base of operations and arms dump.  James Mitchell was charged and convicted of storing weapons on his land. Northern Ireland’s Lord Chief Justice Robert Lowry presided over his trial on 30 June 1980.

The farm had been under RUC observation for several months before the raid.

On 16 October 1979, Robin Jackson was arrested when he was found with a number of weapons and hoods. In January 1981 he was sentenced to seven years imprisonment for possession of guns and ammunition, but was then released in May 1983.

John Weir stated that the Glenanne gang usually did not use the name “UVF” whenever it claimed its attacks; instead it typically employed the cover names of Red Hand Commando, Red Hand Brigade or Protestant Action Force.

Later developments

A judicial review into the actions of the gang was announced by the High Court in Belfast in February 2015. This review found, in July 2017  that the decision by PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott had effectively prevented an “overarching thematic report”  into the activities of the Glenanne gang had breached the victims’ families’ rights as defined in Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Court had been told that there was evidence of collusion by elements of the British state in at least three of the cases and Mr. Justice Treacy said that there was a “credible expectation of collusion” in the remaining cases. Therefore, he concluded, the decision of the Chief Constable to end the broader review into the activities of the Glenanne gang and the alleged collusion of elements of the British state in those murders had resulted in a “real risk that this will fuel in the minds of the families the fear that the state has resiled from its public commitments because it is not genuinely committed to addressing the unresolved concerns that the families have of state involvement.”

Mr Justice Treacy gave the parties until the start of September 2017 to try to reach an agreement on the appropriate form of relief.

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

See Miami Showband Killings 

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