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Soldier Stories – Undercover in Northern Ireland: Soldier K.

Soldier Stories

Undercover in Northern Ireland

Soldier K

The post you are about to read was submitted by a former soldier whom served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. Here he gives an intriguing insight into a covert operation , tracking IRA players and units as they moved large quantities of homemade explosive (HME) throughout Belfast and Northern Ireland.

I shudder to think what misery and damage this could have inflicted on the innocent that always seem to pay the highest price as the paramilitaries waged indiscriminate war , that at times seemed never ending and brought us all to the edge of an abyss that hunted and  threatened our daily lives.

By its very nature the work of undercover operatives is shrouded in secrecy and during the Troubles the UK security forces and intelligence agencies were experts in the “dark arts” and covert operations designed to take down , monitor and infiltrate the IRA & other N.I paramilitary groups was common practice. Not surprisingly some of these operations became public knowledge, but the vast majority remained cloaked in the fog of war and I suppose we’ll never know the full truth of what happened during “The Dirty War” and the madness of the Northern Ireland Troubles.

Thank god those days are behind us.

For reasons of security, all names have been changed.

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— Disclaimer –

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

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Soldier Stories

Under cover in Northern Ireland

Soldier K

For nearly three years I’d been doing covert surveillance for a unit in Belfast, a lot of the tasks were generally routine and monotonous designed to keep track of the known players from both sides in their daily activities, but every now and then the tasking from Castlereagh turned up the odd higher importance task.

The Op’s room received a phone call over the secure line to prepare for Ops and deploy from the two ‘Dave’s’. One was Dave from ‘H’, a grizzled long term veteran who had spent ages down the road and a long time in the province, the other, Dave from five, a much more clean cut methodical man.  These two men were our handlers, they decided what we would do and when we would do it, as a unit we had built up a good reputation with them for being reliable & capable.

The pagers we constantly carried when on standby beeped into life, here we go again, grab your kit and get over the compound within fifteen minutes. Majority of the time when we got a fastball it was for when good old ‘Paula’ would be bringing in another Mk15 mortar from over the border. Once a month, regular as clockwork she’d pop down and bring one up unaware that we had been watching her for the last two years. The regular street plodding troops would be kept out of the area by an ‘out of bounds’ notice completely unaware of her courier activities. She’d be given a free route from collection to drop off, she was small fry, just a small cog in the process, we knew her part well, it was where it was going up the chain that was of higher priority.

So, fastball across to the briefing room to see what we’ve been given this time. The briefing room was in our own self-contained compound within a secure camp, no one could just walk in, the Ops room walls were covered with maps of the city marking current Ops, out of bounds areas and other places of interest. Secrecy was paramount.

DJ , the unit 2ic and WO2 was taking the briefing as normal.  DJ was a veteran from Hereford, a serious man with a fiery temper and he knew his stuff, he didn’t suffer fools gladly. He wouldn’t even allow us to have a unit logo as he said our job didn’t officially exist. The less people knew about what we did the better.

The briefing started with all present and we discovered that a large amount of homemade explosive (HME) was coming into the city and we needed eyes on it.

It was being tracked along its route and is due to arrive at the dairy farm complex where it would be stored by one of the known players at a building known as the coal bunker. 

We weren’t talking about an insignificant amount, this was the annual resupply to Belfast, we later discovered it was approx. five tonnes.  That quantity could cause chaos in the city, taking it off the IRA was now the main priority for all the agencies involved.

All other surveillance jobs were put on hold. The whole unit was deploying on this one, all leave suspended, thirty blokes on one Op.

My tasking was given by the boss, a four-man covert surveillance OP up the mountain above Whiterock. It was a place I was familiar with; it gave great ‘eyes on’ for large parts of the city.  It afforded enough cover to see and not be seen. When we linked in with the other locations we regularly used, Whiterock, Divis, MPH & Broadway to name but a few we could surveil almost everywhere. This, in conjunction with the other agencies we had the capability to cover everywhere if needed. We could watch from near, and from afar.

Our mountain kit was always packed for deploying 24/7, two teams of four on constant standby with the capability of deploying either rural or in the city.  On rare occasions we even deployed to other parts of the province such as South Armagh to assist on jobs for fellow units, certain jobs require certain skills and we happened to be one of those units.

Short straw meant I was up the mountain, a cold wet windy place but with the right equipment a home from home. Luckily it was a place I knew like the back of my hand after 3 years working in Belfast, where to deploy for the best visibility to the tgt without being seen. Another few days ahead of ‘hard routine’ watching the bad guys, eating cold food and remaining hidden.  All part of the fun in the world of surveillance. Unbeknown to me then, a few days would turn into two weeks.

The routes were cleared for safety and clear passage with Lisburn as always, gone were the days of driving where you wanted when you wanted. Getting from A to B blending in with the normal traffic was important, the head shed didn’t want another incident similar to the two signallers.  We had our own fleet of civilian vehicles, cars and vans, all at our disposal. All were unmarked, had regular number plate changes and maintained perfectly.

I was deploying with Scouse, JD & Gaz,  three good blokes who you could trust with your life, I’d known them all a long time and they were reliable as hell and good in the field.  Good operatives, we’d all done many ops in our time together.

We collected rations from Jimmy  in the stores and fresh batteries for the various radios we operated when deployed from the sigs store. As we worked with multiple agencies, we had to be able to speak to all of them, deploying with three different radio sets was common practice.

Deployment would be at night under the cover of darkness, eyes on by first light. Drop off in the early hours, get established in the Op and up and running before the milkman starts his round.

All precautions were taken, two of the blokes in civvies would be driving and dropping us off in one of the unmarked vans, the fact that we were able to grow our hair long added to the air of non-military that we required when driving through  the city. For night drop off the vehicles were even fitted with a brake cut off switch, touch the brake, no lights, no one could see you stopping. They were armed with Heckler & Koch HK53’s and 9mm pistols, a great bit of kit especially when in the vehicles, the SA80 was too long to secrete under your legs.

23: 00hrs, ready to roll.  Weapons collected, kit loaded into the back of the van and off we went.  Depending on the job depended on the weapons we took, apart from the normal issue SA80’s we also had access to other weapon systems.  Pistols, HK53’s, L96’s, M203’s and Remington Wingmaster shotguns, always nice to have a choice.

We weave our way across the city from the Sydenham bypass, through the city centre eventually onto the Cliftonville Road, Oldpark Road, left onto the Ballysillan and then onto the Ligoniel Road heading towards the drop off point in the dead of night. The vehicle commander gave a running commentary on the journey so we’re always aware of where we are in case the shit hits the fan, no point having to leap out of a vehicle wondering where the fuck you are in an emergency. Sat in the back of the van was always a cautious experience, remaining silent, listening to the noise outside, everyone completely unaware of you being there. Just a pair of scruffy workmen commuting in a tatty van.

Occasionally you’d be stopped in a RUC checkpoint, the driver would give a quick covert flash of an ID card and you’d be ushered safely through. On the odd instance when it was quiet they’d ask to have a little nosey in the back of the van to satisfy their curiosity. A little wry smile from the blokes inside and a quick nod from the plod in appreciation often sufficed at the sight of four blokes in full cam cream tooled up ready to deploy.

“Standby guys, two minutes out, all quiet on the roads, drop off inbound” came the shout from mark in the front of the tatty inconspicuous HiAce van.  Brake cut off switch flicked, 50m, 20m, 10m…. stop. Here we go, senses alert, always vulnerable at the drop off.  Driver gets out to pretend to take a leak, side door of the van slides open, out into the bushes swiftly, door slid shut, driver back in and off they go. Deployed without a hitch all in less than a minute.

Moving from the drop off we made our way silently to the OP position, navigation was easy as we had the Divis KP as a reference point and the night-time glow of the city to guide us. We knew where we were roughly going to site the OP as we had vis studies from the mountain, we already knew where we would have to be for the best eyes on the target.  By dawn we would be in place.

And so the routine started, two hours on, two hours off, observing, reporting and logging. One doing the surveillance of the coal bunker and the other providing the protection whilst the other two rested or did admin. We had five tonnes of HME under observation from day one.  Now it was time to watch what the IRA intended to do with it, who was going to collect it and distribute it.  We knew they wouldn’t want that quantity in one location for too long, it would be too risky. Let’s see how the IRA Quartermasters intended to move it.

The first breakdown of the supply came after a few days, a large part of the HME was moved by vehicle to a vehicle breakers yard on the Old Suffolk Road. The problem with this was we couldn’t get eyes on to observe it from our location and as it was in a staunch Catholic area, other ways to keep track of it would have to be used. Luckily one of the units that were involved in the multi agency operation went in and secreted covert cameras, so far so good. We couldn’t afford to lose track of any of the HME. The choice of the coal bunker was a clever place to store it, it had regular comings and goings, no one would question large coal bags being placed in vehicles.

By now we’d been in the covert OP for a week and were well established, weather conditions were pretty dire, cold and wet and the lack of movement took its toll on circulation although morale was still good. Gaz had been struggling with his feet and frost nip was setting in due to lack of movement and reduced circulation, as  we were due for a battery and food resupply it was a sensible decision to replace him with another operative. It was decided that ‘H’ would be a straight swap, H was good, didn’t say a lot but was easy to get on with and a professional soldier. Myself and Gaz would RV with the resupply van, H and myself would return to the OP.

The bonus was it would allow us to get rid of any ‘waste’ that we had accumulated over the week. It’s amazing what you amass with four blokes sat in a bush eating cold food.

The next breakdown of the HME came within a few days, part of the consignment was taken to a house near the Musgrave Park Hospital, this was a smaller amount and what we believed to be part of the finer distribution network the IRA organized. By now we were being stretched as a Unit, I’d been in place for ten days plus on hard routine. We got to the stage where the command decision was taken that we needed additional support from fellow Units trained as we were. We were bolstered by the blokes from South Armagh doing the job similar to us, it was nice that they were able to return the favour. They were pleased they were able to operate in the city for once, a nice break from being stuck at the Mill in Bessbrook. With our unit, the other military units involved and the RUC contingents we must have been around a hundred blokes involved as of the 24th March 1993. 

We had military units on standby at various location along with specialist units from the RUC, it wasn’t a case of if, it was just a case of when we struck.

Day fourteen of the Op started like all the others, explosives being spread all over the city, watching, logging all the activity going on at the coal bunker and keeping in regular comms with call sign Zero back in Belfast.  Unbeknown to us it would take a different turn.

In the early evening we triggered a red Astra pulling into the Dairy Farm complex and stopped near the coal bunker. “Standyby standby, red Astra with 2 up outside the tgt building”.  Two masked gunmen got out of the car and one ran towards and entered the coal bunker whilst the other provided cover, shots were fired but due to the distance we were observing from we were unable to take any offensive action.  “ Zero, Delta, two gunmen, standby” We did observe one gunman having problems with his pistol, which resulted in him returning to the vehicle for another weapon.  In a very short space of time, no more than a couple of minutes the gunmen were back in the Astra and heading out of the Dairy Farm complex, the vehicle was later found burnt out.  Some of the locals even threw stones at the gunmen.

All the time this was going on we were live time reporting to all agencies involved in the operation. As the coal bunker had been subject to terrorist activity the higher authorities gave the order for all three location to be simultaneously searched resulting in the seizure of all of the explosives, a massive dent in the Provisionals activities within the Belfast Brigade. 

Within the hour we were given the order to extract from the OP.  We headed up to Divis KP where we awaited extraction back to camp for the debrief, then a shower & a beer.

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Soldiers Stories Northern Ireland

See: Military Reconnaissance Force

See: Forkhill Armagh – IRA “Bandit Country”

See: IRA Nutting Squad

Ulster Says No – I was there !

Ulster Says No !

Ulster Says No was the name and slogan of a unionist mass protest campaign against the provisions of the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement which gave the government of the Republic of Ireland an advisory role in the governance of Northern Ireland.

For British unionists (those who want Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom), this was seen as foreign interference in the internal affairs of the UK. For Irish nationalists, those provisions were seen as a start at fixing the democratic problem of lack of political representation of the large minority of Irish nationalists in Northern Ireland.

The Ulster Says No campaign was led by Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley.

After the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement by British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald, unionist leaders stated that the agreement to allow the Republic’s government its new role needed to be put before the Northern Ireland electorate in a referendum and organised a vote in the Northern Ireland Assembly to that effect.

Irish republican party Sinn Féin also objected (albeit for different reasons).Fo r similar reasons, in the Irish Parliament, the main opposition party Fianna Fáil also voted against.

A large rally protested the move at Belfast City Hall. The numbers attending were estimated to be at least 100,000  while unionist sources estimated over 200,000. Paisley and all the other unionist MPs resigned from the British House of Commons in protest, and all except Jim Nicholson were subsequently re-elected in the resultant by-elections.

Ian Paisley ULSTER SAYS NO

My Thought ?

The Anglo-Irish Agreement  along with many other high profile events during the Troubles , including Bloody Friday and the Shankill Bomb was a pivotal moment in Loyalist/Protestant history and at the time many including myself saw this as a complete sell out and another step  on the road to a United Ireland. Living in Glencairn ( 19 at the time )  we went buck mad with rage and as so often happened during the Troubles this led to riots and chaos throughout Belfast and Northern Ireland . I remember vividly some of the riots that took place and I took part in around this time. Don’t judge me to harshly , I was a product of the time and place I lived through.

Once I was walking a girl home from the Woodvale to the Shankill and I walked straight into/through  a riot taking place by Ardoyne. No bothers me thinks waving at people I knew in the crowds and then someone threw a petrol bomb and before I knew what was happening it landed on my right arm and within seconds flames were crawling up my arm.  As I fought  frantically to put  it out I heard one of my friends call out from the mob :

Quick , get more Petrol, Chambers is going out! “

Needless to say I was not impressed , the Belfast humour back then could be very black  indeed and even in the maelstrom of a riot we could find something to laugh about. My sister Mags was  living in Ottawa Street (Woodvale) at the time and  when the police/army use to charge us we would all run down the local streets, full of Terrace houses and all the neighbours , including my sister would open their front doors so we could escape the long arm of the law and hide in the back yard until the coast was clear . Crazy days, but back then the community acted and thought as one and we all looked out for each other no matter what.

I remember going to the rally by the City Hall and me and my mates climbed up above H Samuels jewellers and had a birds eye view of Big Ian and the other speakers on the platform.

NEVER !

 NEVER !

 NEVER !

Then someone broke into the sports shop and next thing we know thousands of golf and tennis balls are flying everywhere and this memory is imprinted on my soul forever!

I cover this and many other major events of the Troubles in my forthcoming autobiography.

See here to read some extracts : Belfastchildis.com

Ulster Protestants Protest 1985 -1986

Anglo-Irish Agreement

The Anglo-Irish Agreement was a 1985 treaty between the United Kingdom and Ireland which aimed to help bring an end to the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The treaty gave the Irish government an advisory role in Northern Ireland’s government while confirming that there would be no change in the constitutional position of Northern Ireland unless a majority of its people agreed to join the Republic. It also set out conditions for the establishment of a devolved consensus government in the region.

The Agreement was signed on 15 November 1985 at Hillsborough Castle, by the British prime ministerMargaret Thatcher, and the Irish TaoiseachGarret FitzGerald

Background

During her first term as Prime Minister, Thatcher had unsuccessful talks with both Jack Lynch and Charles Haughey on solving the conflict in Northern Ireland. In December 1980 Thatcher and Haughey met in Dublin, with the subsequent communiqué calling for joint studies of “possible new institutional links” between Britain, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland.[2] Although this resulted in the founding of the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Council in 1981, Anglo-Irish relations had by this time deteriorated due to the Irish hunger strike and so this body was neglected.

Haughey resumed power shortly afterwards and took Argentina’s side during the Falklands War, leading to the meeting scheduled for July 1982 to be cancelled.  However, the British Northern Irish Secretary, Jim Prior, proposed “rolling devolution”: a step by step approach whereby local government was devolved to an assembly elected by proportional representation. This was boycotted by the nationalist community and the plan was dead by June 1983.

The IRA‘s campaign on the mainland was ongoing, with the bombing of Chelsea Barracks in October 1981, the Hyde Park and Regent’s Park bombings in July 1982 and the Harrods bombings in December 1983. Thatcher herself was the target in the Brighton hotel bombing of October 1984. British military intelligence informed Thatcher that she could not take the IRA head on and the likelihood of never-ending violence persuaded her to seek a political solution to the Troubles..

The Anglo-Irish Agreement’s origins lay in the behind-the-scenes negotiations between the British and Irish foreign offices, co-ordinated by the Cabinet Secretary, Robert Armstrong, and the secretary to the Irish government, Dermot Nally.

The New Ireland Forum had been founded (with the backing of then-Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald) in May 1983 by John Hume in an attempt to undercut support for the IRA by bringing together constitutional nationalist parties from both sides of the border. In June 1983 Thatcher and Fitzgerald met again and revived the Anglo-Irish Council, which met sixteen times between November 1983 and March 1985.

The report of the New Ireland Forum was published in May and suggested three possible solutions: a federal united Ireland, a confederal united Ireland or joint sovereignty. Fitzgerald hoped that Thatcher might be persuaded of the third option but at the press conference after their meeting Thatcher publicly proclaimed that all three options were “out”.

Thatcher’s intransigence persuaded the American President, Ronald Reagan, to intervene.

The most powerful pressure for the Agreement came from the United States, where the Irish-American lobby was second only to the Israel lobby in influence.[6] Led by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tip O’Neill, and Senators Edward Kennedy and Daniel Moynihan, the Irish lobby regularly denounced what they considered British colonialism and human rights violations in Northern Ireland. Reagan, who was also Irish-American and visited Ireland in June 1984, increasingly encouraged Thatcher to make progress on Anglo-Irish talks.

45 Senators and Congressmen (including O’Neill, Kennedy and Moynihan) wrote to Reagan criticising Thatcher’s rejection of the Forum’s report. They also pushed him to pressure Thatcher into reconsidering her stance at the upcoming meeting at Camp David in December 1984. Reagan duly discussed Northern Ireland with Thatcher at their meeting, telling her that “making progress is important” and that “there is great Congressional interest in the matter”, adding that O’Neill wanted her to be “reasonable and forthcoming”.

Afterwards, Reagan assured O’Neill that he had emphasised the need for progress.

Sean Donlon, the Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs, later claimed that “the intervention by Reagan was vital, and it was made possible by Tip”. Michael Lillis, the Deputy Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs from 1983-1985, similarly claimed that “O’Neill was very active and effective in mobilizing the President. And there is no doubt whatsoever that Reagan’s regular references to this in his interaction with Thatcher helped us in a major way”.

By January 1985, Thatcher was persuaded that progress must be made on the issue. Her primary aim was security but realised that in order for help in this area she would need to concede in other areas, such as grievances over policing and the courts. She also hoped that this would help reconcile the Catholic population to the United Kingdom. She invited John Hume to Chequers on 16 January to discuss Northern Ireland. She now accepted that an “Irish dimension” was necessary in return for the Irish government’s acceptance that Northern Ireland would remain a member of the United Kingdom so long as it had majority support.[16] In April a four-member Cabinet committee had been informed of the negotiations; in October the entire Cabinet was informed. Thatcher and Fitzgerald met again in May at a European summit in which they discussed what became the Anglo-Irish Agreement.

See here for : Unionist and Loyalist opposition and more details on the agreement

See here for : Sunningdale Agreement

Books I’ve read: Vietnam – An Epic History of a Tragic War: Max Hastings

Vietnam: An Epic History of a Divisive War 1945-1975

Click to buy

THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

‘His masterpiece’ Antony Beevor, Spectator

‘A masterful performance’ Sunday Times

‘By far the best book on the Vietnam War’ Gerald Degroot, The Times, Book of the Year

My Thoughts ?

I’ve just finished reading this ( all 722 pages) and it sure is an Epic read and forensic analysis of the war , the history of the region and the American’s ill fated journey through the nightmare theatre of the tragedy that was the Vietnam War. Full of interesting and revealing background and personal stories from those on all side , including Johnson and Nixons involvement.

War by Proxy ?

Seemed that way to me, the Americans and their partners were so paranoid about the commie’s getting a foot in the door they were blind to the spiders web they had walked into. Not for the faint hearted, but if you like to get under the skin and know all the details this book is a great way to start!

Vietnam became the Western world’s most divisive modern conflict, precipitating a battlefield humiliation for France in 1954, then a vastly greater one for the United States in 1975. Max Hastings has spent the past three years interviewing scores of participants on both sides, as well as researching a multitude of American and Vietnamese documents and memoirs, to create an epic narrative of an epic struggle. He portrays the set pieces of Dienbienphu, the Tet offensive, the air blitz of North Vietnam, and less familiar battles such as the bloodbath at Daido, where a US Marine battalion was almost wiped out, together with extraordinary recollections of Ho Chi Minh’s warriors. Here are the vivid realities of strife amid jungle and paddies that killed 2 million people.

Many writers treat the war as a US tragedy, yet Hastings sees it as overwhelmingly that of the Vietnamese people, of whom forty died for every American. US blunders and atrocities were matched by those committed by their enemies. While all the world has seen the image of a screaming, naked girl seared by napalm, it forgets countless eviscerations, beheadings and murders carried out by the communists. The people of both former Vietnams paid a bitter price for the Northerners’ victory in privation and oppression. Here is testimony from Vietcong guerrillas, Southern paratroopers, Saigon bargirls and Hanoi students alongside that of infantrymen from South Dakota, Marines from North Carolina, Huey pilots from Arkansas.

No past volume has blended a political and military narrative of the entire conflict with heart-stopping personal experiences, in the fashion that Max Hastings’ readers know so well. The author suggests that neither side deserved to win this struggle with so many lessons for the 21st century about the misuse of military might to confront intractable political and cultural challenges. He marshals testimony from warlords and peasants, statesmen and soldiers, to create an extraordinary record.

Read the Reviews : Amazon Reviews

Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy by Sir Max Hastings

See : The Vietnam Execution of Nguyễn Văn Lém 1st February 1968

See : Fragging – The deliberate killing or attempted killing by a soldier of a fellow soldier

click to buy

James Craig UDA – Life & Death

James Pratt Craig

Life and Death

James Pratt Craig (17 November 1941 – 15 October 1988) was an Ulster loyalist paramilitary during The Troubles in Northern Ireland in the latter half of the 20th Century, who was a member of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), and was a command member of its Inner Council.

 He also ran a criminal large-scale protection racket from the West Belfast Shankill Road area, where he resided. Described by journalist David McKittrick as:

“Belfast’s foremost paramilitary extortionist”,

Craig allegedly colluded at times with the enemies of the UDA, Irish Republican groups such as the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), providing them with information on key loyalists which led to their subsequent murders.  Aside from controlling rackets and extorting protection money from a variety of businesses, it was claimed that Craig also participated in paramilitary murders.

— 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.

He was accused by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) of setting up the assassinations of some of their key members by IRA hit squads, such as Shankill Butcher Lenny MurphyJohn Bingham, and William “Frenchie” Marchant in the 1980s. Craig was murdered by the UDA, using their cover name of the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), for alleged “treason” as it was believed he had passed information to the IRA regarding South Belfast UDA commander John McMichael, who was killed by an IRA booby-trap car bomb in December 1987. Craig was shot dead in The Castle Inn, a pub in Beersbridge Road, East Belfast.

See: John McMichael

James Craig
James Craig
BornJames Pratt Craig
17 November 1941
BelfastNorthern Ireland
Died15 October 1988 (aged 46)
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Cause of deathMultiple gunshot wounds
NationalityBritish
Other namesJim Craig
Known forUlster Defence Association (UDA) fund-raiser and Inner Council member
racketeer

Ulster Defence Association

See: UDA Page

Beginnings

The Shankill Road area, early 1970s

James Pratt Craig, known as Jim, was born in Belfast in 1941 and grew up in an Ulster Protestant family on the Shankill Road.  In the early 1970s, Craig, a former boxer, was sent to the Maze Prison for a criminal offence unrelated to paramilitary activities. While serving his sentence at the Maze he joined the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), and he was asked by the organisation’s commander at the time, Charles Harding Smith to take control of the UDA prisoners inside, on account of his reputation as a “hard man”.

Criminal activities

After his release in 1976,  he set up a large protection racket and became the UDA’s chief fundraiser; by 1985 he had managed to blackmail and extort money from a number of construction firms, building sites, as well as pubs, clubs, and shops in Belfast and elsewhere in Northern Ireland, whose intimidated owners paid protection money out of fear of Craig and his associates.

It was alleged that the UDA received hundreds of thousands of pounds some of which also found their way inside Craig’s pockets as part of his “commission”. He was acquitted on a firearm charge and Ulster Freedom Fighters (a cover name for the UDA) membership on 18 March 1982.  In 1985, Craig was brought to court after a number of businessmen decided to testify against him, with the condition that their identities remained hidden. The case fell apart when Craig’s defence argued that his client’s rights were violated by the concealment of the witnesses’ identities.

Craig was alleged to have been involved in the double killing of a Catholic man and a Protestant man on the Shankill Road in 1977. The men, both work colleagues, had entered a loyalist club and were later stabbed, shot and put into a car which was set on fire. By this time the West Belfast UDA no longer wanted him in their ranks, as they claimed they could no longer “afford him”.

Craig, who was ordered to leave the Shankill Road, went on to join forces with John McMichael‘s South Belfast Brigade. In addition to being the principal fundraiser, Craig also sat on the UDA’s Inner Council. Craig usually travelled in the company of his bodyguard Artie Fee, a UDA member from the Shankill Road.

The rival Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) carried out an investigation after it was rumoured Craig had been involved in the death of UVF major William Marchant, who was gunned down by Provisional IRA gunmen from a passing car on the Shankill Road on 28 April 1987. Marchant was the third high-ranking UVF man to be killed by the IRA during the 1980s. Although their inquiries revealed that Craig had quarrelled with Marchant as well as Lenny Murphy and John Bingham prior to their killings, the UVF felt that there was not enough evidence to warrant an attack on such a powerful UDA figure as Craig.

See : Lenny Murphy

In December 1987, when South Belfast UDA brigadier John McMichael was blown up by an IRA booby-trap car bomb outside his home in Lisburn‘s Hilden estate, it was believed that Craig had organised his death with the IRA.

Allegedly Craig had feared McMichael was about to expose his racketeering business, thus putting an end to his lucrative operation. McMichael had reportedly set up an inquiry and discovered that Craig was spending money on a lavish scale, going on holidays at least twice a year and indulging in a:

“champagne lifestyle”.

 At the same time it was suggested that Craig had made certain deals with Irish republican paramilitary groups, dividing up the rackets in west Belfast, and he would have been doing the IRA a favour by helping them to eliminate a high-profile loyalist such as McMichael.  Craig had established links with republicans during his time in prison, and the profitable deals and exchanges of information between them ensured he would most likely not be a target for IRA assassination.

Craig was named as an extortionist in Central Television’s 1987 programme The Cook Report. Craig planned to sue the programme’s producers for libel; in January 1988, Jack Kielty (father of future television presenter Patrick Kielty), a building contractor from County Down who had promised to testify as a key witness against Craig, was murdered by the UDA. This killing was attributed to Craig, although it was never proven.

Death

“Bunch of Grapes” pub in Beersbridge Road, east Belfast where Craig was shot dead. At the time it was called “The Castle Inn”

Craig was shot dead by two gunmen from the UDA in “The Castle Inn” (later called “The Bunch of Grapes”), a pub in Beersbridge Road, east Belfast on 15 October 1988, to where he had been lured in the belief that there was to have been a UDA meeting.

He was playing pool in the pub at the time of his fatal shooting by the two men, both of whom were wearing boiler suits and ski masks and carrying automatic weapons.  Upon spotting Craig they opened fire, spraying the room with gunfire. Craig died instantly; a bystander pensioner was also murdered in the attack, and four other bystanders were wounded by stray bullets. The UDA claimed the killing was carried out due to Craig’s “treason” and involvement in John McMichael’s murder as they knew he had provided the IRA with information to successfully carry out the assassination.

They apologised for the unintentional death of the pensioner. Craig was not given a paramilitary funeral, and none of the UDA’s command attended it.

Andy Tyrie, the UDA’s former supreme commander, was not convinced of Craig’s complicity in McMichael’s killing. In an interview with Peter Taylor, he stated that after McMichael’s death, the UDA set up an inquiry, but couldn’t find any solid proof which linked Craig to McMichael’s assassination. Tyrie maintained that the two men had been good friends, and that Craig had given McMichael £20,000 to keep the latter’s pub (The Admiral Benbow) from failing. Tyrie suggested that Craig was a suspect because his wife was Catholic.

 Tyrie insisted that John Hanna, a prison officer in the Maze, had supplied the IRA with information about McMichael through Rosena Brown, a Belfast actress and IRA intelligence operative, with whom Hanna had been infatuated.

McMichael’s son, Gary, however, firmly believed Craig to have been the person behind his father’s killing. Less than three months after McMichael’s death, Tyrie himself narrowly escaped an attempt on his life by car bomb; he subsequently tendered his resignation as commander.

Reputation

According to McKittrick, Craig’s:

“notoriety and range of enemies meant he could have been killed by almost any paramilitary group, loyalist or republican”.

Described as stocky of build, he wore expensive clothing and jewellery, and enjoyed a lavish lifestyle from the proceeds of his racketeering. Author and journalist Martin Dillon wrote that Craig was not intelligent but was “cunning, boastful and ruthless”.

There was also much antipathy between him and UDA brigadier Tommy “Tucker” Lyttle due to Craig having allegedly made Lyttle’s daughter pregnant. Lyttle died of natural causes in October 1995.   It was later revealed that Lyttle had worked as an informer for the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)’s Special Branch.

Craig reportedly invited RUC officers to an extravagant wedding reception held for his daughter. Author Sally Belfrage who encountered Craig at an “Eleventh night” party held at the UDA’s east Belfast headquarters, summed him up as “the most personally powerful man I had ever met, with an air of animal force that inspired awe at the idea of its ever being let loose. He was also as drunk as I had ever seen anyone in my life who could still more or less negotiate a sentence and a sequence of steps.” She claimed Craig had propositioned her; when she rebuffed his advances he took it in his stride, and grabbing a microphone, went on to lead the other revellers in a rendition of “The Sash My Father Wore“.

Dillon, in his book about the violent loyalist gang, the Shankill Butchers, recounted how Craig casually killed a man in a UDA club after a fellow UDA member handed him a jammed pistol. Craig, testing the weapon, allegedly pointed it at a man who was playing pool, and shot him in the head, killing him instantly. Craig then gave orders for the man’s body to be dumped in an adjacent alley. Dillon believes Craig had killed UDA commander William “Bucky” McCullough in October 1981 after the latter discovered Craig had been stealing funds from the UDA for his own personal use. The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) had claimed responsibility for the killing.

Jackie McDonald, who was part of Craig’s protection racket, was arrested in 1989. He had taken over McMichael’s command of the South Belfast UDA, having been promoted to the rank of brigadier by Andy Tyrie in 1988. In January 1990, he was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment inside the Maze for extortion, blackmail, and intimidation. McDonald was released in 1994. In an interview with Peter Taylor, he made the following statement regarding his former association with Craig:

I would say without a shadow of doubt the worst thing that ever happened to South Belfast, John McMichael and myself especially, was that Jim Craig ever had anything to do with our organisation.

One builder who later assisted the RUC when they set up an anti-racketeering unit, admitted that he had paid out protection money throughout the 1980s to Craig and his henchmen. The amount of money he handed over increased each year.

Dillon suggested that prior to Craig’s killing, younger elements within the UDA, who were loyal supporters of McMichael, discovered (by means which Dillon did not divulge) that the RUC’s anti-racketeering squad CI3 had videotaped a clandestine meeting between Craig and a member of the IRA’s Northern Command, which is what reportedly sealed Craig’s fate.

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

See : 15th Oct deaths in the Troubles

See: Robin `The Jackal’ Jackson – Life & Death

Loyalists Episode1 No Surrender Full Version HQ

Going Underground – The Jam: Iconic Songs & the story behind them

Going Underground – The Jam

The Jam

Going Underground

March 1980

Going Underground – The Jam: Iconic Songs & the story behind them

Going Underground” is the first British #1 chart single by The Jam, released in March 1980. It went straight in at #1 in the UK Singles Chart, spending three weeks at the top.

It was the first of three instant chart-toppers for the group

Going Underground

Song profile

“Going Underground” was not released on any of the band’s six studio albums, although it has appeared on many compilations and re-releases since then. The song was released as a double A-side with “Dreams of Children”, which originally had been intended to be the sole A-side; following a mix-up at the pressing plant, the single became a double A-side, and DJs tended to choose the more melodic “Going Underground” to play on the radio.

The song was ranked at #2 among the “Tracks of the Year” for 1980 by NME. In March 2005, Q magazine placed “Going Underground” at #73 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks, and in October 2006, placed it at #98 in its list of the 100 Greatest Songs Ever.

Jam Facts:

The band released 18 consecutive Top 40 singles in the United Kingdom, from their debut in 1977 to their break-up in December 1982, including four number one hits

“Going Underground”
Single by The Jam
A-side“Dreams of Children”
Released14 March 1980
Format7″ vinyl
RecordedDecember 1979
GenreNew wavemod revivalpower pophard rock[1]
Length2:50
LabelPolydor
Songwriter(s)Paul Weller
Producer(s)Vic Coppersmith-Heaven
The Jam singles chronology
The Eton Rifles
(1979)”Going Underground” / “Dreams of Children”
(1980)”Start!
(1980)

My Thoughts ?

me with hat.PNG
Me in my Mod days

Being an old Mod and a Jam super-fan this was one of the first Jam records I bought and from the first moment I heard it I loved it and became obsessed with the Jam and this set me on the road to becoming a Mod and the best years of my teenage/young adult life in Belfast, what I can remember anyways. The Jam became the sound track to my crazy teenage odyssey and I came to love everything about them and the Mod way of life and even to this day I still love all the Jams stuff and listen to it whenever the feelings take me , which is a few times a week at least.

My fav Jam album ?

Its a hard one but its between Setting Sons & Sound Affects , although I love In the City and This is a Modern World also . Grrrr…. Its like trying to choose which of your kids or pets you love best , an impossible task and Im the same with Jam albums I feel i’d be betraying those I left out. Going Underground is a personal fav of mine for the path it set me on but I have to say Thick as Thieves and That’s Entertainment are two of my fav Jam tunes off all time.

See: Getting Stoned with Paul Well

See: The Loyalist Mod – Death of a fella Mod and a catholic friend

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

Lyrics

“Going Underground”

Some people might say my life is in a rut
But I’m quite happy with what I’ve got
People might say that I should strive for more
But I’m so happy I can’t see the point

Something’s happening here today
A show of strength with your boy’s brigade
And I’m so happy and you’re so kind
You want more money – of course I don’t mind
To buy nuclear textbooks for atomic crimes
And the public gets what the public wants

But I want nothing this society’s got
I’m going underground (going underground)
Well, let the brass bands play and feet start to pound
Going underground (going underground)
Well, let the boys all sing and let the boys all shout for tomorrow

Some people might get some pleasure out of hate
Me, I’ve enough already on my plate
People might need some tension to relax
Me, I’m too busy dodging between the flak

What you see is what you get
You’ve made your bed, you’d better lie in it
You choose your leaders and place your trust
As their lies wash you down and their promises rust
You’ll see kidney machines replaced by rockets and guns
And the public wants what the public gets

But I don’t get what this society wants
I’m going underground (going underground)
Well, let the brass bands play and feet start to pound
Going underground (going underground)
So let the boys all sing and let the boys all shout for tomorrow

La la la la…

We talk and we talk until my head explodes
I turn on the news and my body froze
These braying sheep on my TV screen
Make this boy shout, make this boy scream!

Going underground, I’m going underground!

La la la la…

These braying sheep on my TV screen
Make this boy shout, make this boy scream!

I’m going underground (going underground)
Well, let the brass bands play and feet start to pound
Going underground (going underground)
Well, let the boys all sing and let the boys all shout,
Going underground (going underground)
Well, let the brass bands play and feet go pow, pow, pow
Going underground (going underground)
So let the boys all sing and let the boys all shout for tomorrow

Covers and parodies

Ade Edmondson‘s folk punk band The Bad Shepherds covered it in 2013.

The Bad Shepherds Going Underground

Welsh alternative metal band Lostprophets covered the song in 2007 as a B-side to their single 4:AM Forever.

The comedy band Amateur Transplants released a two-minute parody titled “London Underground” in 2005 in the light of the December strike. It became a popular download in the United Kingdom.

Jam Facts:

Jam biographer Sean Egan said of the Jam that they “took social protest and cultural authenticity to the top of the charts.

Amatuer Transplants London Underground

The song was covered by Buffalo Tom for the 1999 Jam tribute album Fire and Skill: The Songs of the Jam. This version also was released as part of a double A-side single with Liam Gallagher‘s and Steve Cradock‘s version of “Carnation” and reached #6 in the UK singles chart.[6]

Manfred Mann’s Earth Band covered the song on their 1986 album “Criminal Tango“.

Daryl Denham released a version of the song titled “Go England” in 2002 after Weller gave permission for it to be adapted as a football song.

Jam Facts:

Paul Weller on becoming a Mod

“I saw that through becoming a Mod it would give me a base and an angle to write from, and this we eventually did. We went out and bought suits and started playing MotownStax and Atlantic covers. I bought a Rickenbacker guitar, a Lambretta GP 150 and tried to style my hair like Steve Marriott‘s circa ’66.

Dreams of Children

“Going Underground” was coupled with “Dreams of Children” as a double A-side. It opens and is intermittently accentuated with a backmasked sample of the band’s 1979 song “Thick as Thieves“. In the US the backwards intro was edited out making the single 10 seconds shorter than the UK Version. This US edit is available on the best-of compilation Snap!.

The Jam released two other double A-side singles: “David Watts“/”‘A’ Bomb in Wardour Street” and “Town Called Malice“/”Precious“.

Jam Facts:

On 29 April 1977, Polydor released the Jam’s debut single, “In the City“, which charted in the Top 40 in the UK.

See: here for more information on the Jam

Thick As Thieves

See: Golden Brown – The Stranglers

Ok i’m drunk & I might regret this in tomorrow morning, but this is how i’m feeling at this exact moment in time….21.04/06/09/2019

Ok i’m drunk & I might regret this in tomorrow morning, but this is how i’m feeling at this exact moment in time….21.04/06/09/2019

Someone just emailed me ( from Twitter I think () and asked me if I was ok ? , and why i was depressed and talking about drugs on my Twitter feed tonight & it made me stop and think about how people may perceive me and my chat and crack tonight – let me try and expalin.

I’m in the final drafts of completing my forthcoming autobiography Belfast Child( titled to TBC ) , which I’m obviously nervous about and worried how the great British public will receive. But when I planned to write the book although it was always important to tell the story of my mum and our amazing reunion, there was so much more to my story and I never wanted it to be just another book about “The Troubles ” and i have strived hard to make this so. that means alot of my story deals with my Mod life and that period in my early teens/adulthood where the world was my oyster and i grabbed it with both hands and this period for me invloved alot of drugs and trying to blot out the misery of my younger life. but as messed up as this seems there were many happy times and as i have been writting about these days thats why I have that head on tonight and why I am talking about drungs tonight.

Im not promoting them , im just telling me story , which has many funnt stroies about my Mod lifenand rugs.

Also , next week is the 1st anniversary of my mums brutal death , after a soul destroying fight with cancer , that lasted only six months and I cant begin to tell you how painful and hard that was for me , to watch the womean I had missed all my life died in front ogf me. At least I was with bher at the time and help her hand as she lieft this world forever, that was so important to me.

As if that wasn’t bad enough , me mum dying, my daughter 17 year old boyfriend died a few weeks later and he was ony 18 and his single mothers only child. It doesnst get more brutal than that and that sent me over over the edge

Testing – Don’t Panic !

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Unique & Bespoke Gifts & Souvenirs from Northern Ireland

Made in Belfast – Unique & Bespoke Gifts & Souvenirs from Northern Ireland




Are you looking for a local gift to send to a friend or relative?

Then maybe we can help you with one of our personalized gifts. We can even gift wrap it and send it direct to person your buying it for. Here is a small sample of what we have.

My sisters Mags has a wee business selling these kind of things and I thought as many of my blog visitors and Twitter friends are from or interested in all things Northern Ireland I would give her a little exposure via my blog .

Prices

Mugs

£6.00 + 1st class post £4.00

( discounted post for multiply orders )

Key-Rings

£2.00 + £1.00 postage
( discounted post for multiply orders )

If you would like to order some items please follow this link to her website :
Northern Ireland Gifts and mentioned that Belfast Child sent you.

Postal discounts available for bulk orders

Please allow between 3/5 days for delivery in UK and longer for Mainland Europe and America/ Canada

Visit the site for a full range of products. : Northern Ireland Gifts

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

The Rise & Fall of UDA Brigadier of Bling James Gray 

 

doris day.JPG

AKA ” Doris Day”

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

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

 

Jim Gray

 

Jim gray.jpg

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

 

 – Disclaimer –

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

Early life

Related image

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

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

Ulster Defence Association

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

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

 

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Who killed UDA Boss?

 

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Brigadier

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Image result for James Gray uda bunch of grapes

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

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

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

 

Image result for johnny adair

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Loyalists Episode

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Expulsion and arrest

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

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

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

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

Shooting death

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

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

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

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

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

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

“there was no excuse for the murder”.

 

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

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

 

doris day funeral

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

“Jim Gray RIP – Rest in Pink”.

 

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

 

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MacIntyre’s Underworld Mad Dog

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

Featured image

See: Michael Stone – Loyalist Hero or Psychopath?

 

 

Bibliography

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

 – Disclaimer –

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