Bunting came from an Ulster Protestant family in East Belfast. His father, Ronald Bunting, had been a major in the British Army and Ronnie grew up in various military barracks around the world. Ronnie’s father became a supporter and associate of Ian Paisley and ran for election under the Protestant Unionist Party banner.
Unlike most Protestants in Northern Ireland, Bunting became a militant republican. His father, by contrast, was a committed Ulster loyalist, who organised armed stewards for counter-demonstrations (against civil rights marches) called by Ian Paisley, most infamously at the Burntollet Bridge incident, when his followers attacked a People’s Democracy civil rights march on 4 January 1969. Despite their political differences, Ronnie remained close with his father.
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The views and opinions expressed in these blog posts/documentaries are solely intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland. They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors
Membership of the Official IRA
Bunting joined the Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA) around 1970 as he was attracted to their left-wing and secular interpretation of Irish republicanism and believed in the necessity of armed revolution. The other wing of the IRA—the Provisional Irish Republican Army—was seen to be more Catholic and nationalist in its outlook. At this time, the communal conflict known as the Troubles was beginning and the Official IRA were involved in shootings and bombings. Bunting was interned in November 1971 and held in Long Kesh until the following April (see also Operation Demetrius).
Membership of the INLA
In 1974, Bunting followed Seamus Costello and other militants who disagreed with the OIRA’s ceasefire of 1972, into a new grouping, the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA). Immediately, a violent feud broke out between the OIRA and the INLA.
In 1975, Bunting survived an assassination attempt when he was shot in a Belfast street. In 1977, Costello was killed by an OIRA gunman in Dublin. Bunting and his family hid in Wales until 1978, when he returned to Belfast. For the remaining two years of his life, Bunting was the military leader of the INLA. The grouping regularly attacked the British Army and Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) in Belfast.
Bunting called in claims of responsibility to the media by the code name “Captain Green”.
Ronnie Bunting listed, as a civilian, on a roll of honour of republican dead, Springfield Road, Belfast
At about 4:30 a.m. on 15 October 1980, several gunmen wearing balaclavas stormed Bunting’s home in the Downfine Gardens area of Andersonstown. They shot Bunting, his wife Suzanne and another Protestant INLA man and ex-member of the Red Republican Party, Noel Lyttle, who had been staying there after his recent release from detention. According to The Guardian report by David Beresford,
The shots woke the Buntings’ children, age 7 and 3, who ran screaming into the street after discovering their parents lying together at the top of the stairs, covered in blood. Mr Lyttle was shot in bed, near a cot in which the Buntons’ baby son was sleeping.
Both Ronnie Bunting and Lyttle were killed. Suzanne Bunting, who was shot in the face,survived her serious injuries. The attack was claimed by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), but the INLA claimed the Special Air Service were involved.
Upon his death, Bunting’s body was kept in a funeral parlour on the Newtownards Road opposite the headquarters of the UDA. On the day of the funeral, as the coffin was being removed, UDA members jeered from their building. The IRSP had wanted a republican paramilitary-style funeral for Bunting but his father refused and had Bunting buried in the family plot of a Church of Ireland cemetery near Donaghadee
The Economic and Social Research Institute, based in Dublin, Republic of Ireland, published the results of an opinion poll that had been carried out between July and September 1978. One finding in the poll was that 21 per cent of people in the Republic expressed some level of support for the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
Noel Lyttle (44) and Ronnie Bunting (32), both members of the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP), were killed by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) in the Turf Lodge area of Belfast.
[Bunting was the son the Major Ronald Bunting who had been a close associate of Ian Paisley.]
[ 1981 Hunger Strike.]
Wednesday 15 October 1986
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued a statement in which it said that it would support Sinn Féin (SF) in the decision to end the policy of ‘abstentionism’. [This policy meant that any member of SF elected to the Dáil would refuse to take the seat. The policy was debated by SF at its Ard Fheis on 2 November 1986.]
Saturday 15 October 1988
Jim Craig, a leading member of the Ulster Defense Association (UDA), was shot dead by members of the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) in a pub in Belfast. Victor Rainey, an innocent member of the public was also shot dead and four people injured in the same incident. Craig was killed as part of an internal UDA feud.
A bill that would have endorsed the MacBride principles was vetoed by the Governor of California, United States of America (USA).
Friday 15 October 1993
The Equal Opportunities Unit of the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) reported that Catholics were fairly represented in most levels of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, the exception being in those posts at a senior level. A number of workers from the Shorts factory attended a protest meeting following the killing of Joseph Reynolds on 12 October 1993. Reynolds, a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), as he walked to work at Shorts. Five other workers were also injured in the attack.
Tuesday 15 October 1996
Cecil Walker, then Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Member of Parliament (MP), announced in an interview that he would stand as an independent candidate in any forthcoming general election if he was deselected by his local constituency group. David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), denied that he was involved in any effort to have Walker deselected.
Monday 15 October 2001
Loyalist paramilitaries threw three pipe-bombs at a Catholic home in Newington Street, north Belfast, shortly after 10.00pm (22.00BST). Two of the devices exploded and the third was made safe by the British Army. No-one was injured but a number of windows were broken. The attackers were believed to have come from the Loyalist Tiger’s Bay area. Security forces found eight pipe-bombs in Cavehill Country Park, Upper Hightown Road, north Belfast.
A number of component parts for bombs and a handgun were also recovered. Bryce Dickson, then Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, visited called for an end to the Loyalist protest at the Holy Cross Girls’ Primary School in Ardoyne, north Belfast. He said that:
“The treatment of these children is inhumane and their right to effective education is being affected.” Protestant parents living in north and west Belfast said that there had been increasing numbers of attacks on buses carrying pupils from the Girls’ and Boys’ Model secondary schools, Belfast Royal Academy, and Castle High School. The parents called for additional security measures to protect their children. Some parents said that they would walk their children to school if the police were unable to protect them.
Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), said that Irish Republican Army (IRA) decommissioning would only be accepted by Unionists if it was verified, permanent, and followed by the dismantling of the IRA organisational structures. David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), held a meeting with Richard Haass, then a United States special envoy, in Washington, USA.
Trimble described the meeting as “constructive”. Fred Cobain, then Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for north Belfast, revealed that he had secret talks with leaders of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) during the summer of 2001.
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