Tag Archives: Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

Robin `The Jackal’ Jackson – Life & Death

Robert John Jackson

  Robert John Jackson (27 September 1948  – 30 May 1998) ] also known as The Jackal, was a Northern Irish loyalistparamilitary who held the rank of brigadier in the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) during the period of violent ethno-nationalist  conflict in Northern Ireland known as the Troubles.

He was the commander of the UVF’s Mid-Ulster Brigade from 1975 to the early 1990s, when Billy Wright took over as leader.

From his home in the small village of DonaghcloneyCounty Down, five miles southeast of Lurgan, Jackson is alleged to have organised and committed a series of killings, mainly against Catholic civilians, although he was never convicted in connection with any killing and never served any lengthy prison terms.

At least 50 killings in Northern Ireland have been attributed to him, according to Stephen Howe (New Statesman) and David McKittrick (Lost Lives).

 David McKittrick (Lost Lives).

An article by Paul Foot in Private Eye suggested that Jackson led one of the teams that bombed Dublin on 17 May 1974, killing 26 people, including two infants.

Journalist Kevin Dowling in the Irish Independent alleged that Jackson had headed the gang that perpetrated the Miami Showband killings, which left three members of the cabaret band dead and two wounded. Journalist Joe Tiernan and the Pat Finucane Centre alleged this as well as Jackson’s involvement in the Dublin bombings.

When questioned about the latter, Jackson denied involvement. Findings noted in a report by the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) (released in December 2011) confirmed that Jackson was linked to the Miami Showband attack through his fingerprints, which had been found on the silencer specifically made for the Luger pistol used in the shootings.

See : Miami Showband Killings – The Day The Music Died

Jackson was a former member of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), but had been discharged from the regiment for undisclosed reasons. It was stated by Weir, as well as by others including former British Army psychological warfare operative Major Colin Wallace, that Jackson was an RUC Special Branch agent.

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Colin Wallace – Colin Wallace (left) with Field Marshal Lord Alexander of Tunis

Royal Ulster Constabulary Special Patrol Group (SPG) officer John Weir (who was also involved in loyalist killings), also maintained this in an affidavit. The information from Weir’s affidavit was published in 2003 in the Barron Report, the findings of an official investigation into the Dublin bombings commissioned by Irish Supreme Court Justice Henry Barron.

See: the Barron report

— 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.

Early life and UDR career

Jackson was born into a Church of Ireland family in the small hamlet of the mainly Protestant Donaghmore, County Down, Northern Ireland on 27 September 1948, the son of John Jackson and Eileen Muriel.

Some time later, he went to live in the Mourneview Estate in Lurgan,  County Armagh before making his permanent home in the village of DonaghcloneyCounty Down, five miles southeast of Lurgan. Jackson married and made a living by working in a shoe factory and delivering chickens for the Moy Park food processing company throughout most of the 1970s.

The conflict known as “the Troubles” erupted in Northern Ireland in the late 1960s, and people from both sides of the religious/political divide were soon caught up in the maelstrom of violence that ensued. In 1972, Jackson joined the locally recruited Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), an infantry regiment of the British Army, in Lurgan.

He was attached to 11th Battalion UDR. On 23 October 1972, a large cache of guns and ammunition was stolen during an armed raid by the illegal Ulster loyalist paramilitary organisation, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), on King’s Park camp, a UDR/Territorial Army depot.

It is alleged by the Pat Finucane Centre, a Derry-based civil rights group, that Jackson took part in the raid while a serving member of the UDR. Journalist Scott Jamison also echoed this allegation in an article in the North Belfast News,  as did David McKittrick in his book Lost Lives.

UVF history

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Around the same time Jackson was expelled from the regiment for undisclosed reasons, he joined the UVF Mid-Ulster Brigade‘s Lurgan unit. The UVF drew its greatest strength as well as the organisation’s most ruthless members from its Mid-Ulster Brigade, according to journalist Brendan O’Brien.

The Pat Finucane Centre‘s allegation that he had taken part in the UVF’s 23 October 1972 raid on the UDR/TA depot indicates that he was most likely already an active UVF member prior to being dismissed from the UDR.

Anne Cadwallader states in her 2013 book Lethal Allies that Jackson was expelled from the UDR on 4 March 1974; by then he was discernibly involved in UVF activity.

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As the Provisional IRA continued to wage its militant campaign across Northern Ireland throughout 1972, many loyalists felt their community was under attack and their status was being threatened and sought to retaliate against Irish nationalists and republicans by joining one of the two main loyalist paramilitary organisations, the illegal UVF or the legal Ulster Defence Association (UDA).

The proscription against the UVF was lifted by Merlyn ReesSecretary of State for Northern Ireland, on 4 April 1974. It remained a legal organisation until 3 October 1975, when it was once again banned by the British government.

Many members of loyalist paramilitary groups such as the UVF and UDA managed to join the UDR despite the vetting process. Their purpose in doing so was to obtain weapons, training and intelligence.

 Vetting procedures were carried out jointly by the Intelligence Corps and the RUC Special Branch and if no intelligence was found to suggest unsuitability, individuals were passed for recruitment and would remain as soldiers until the commanding officer was provided with intelligence enabling him to remove soldiers with paramilitary links or sympathies.

Operating mainly around the Lurgan and Portadown areas, the Mid-Ulster Brigade had been set up in 1972 in Lurgan by Billy Hanna, who appointed himself commander. His leadership was endorsed by the UVF’s supreme commander Gusty Spence.

Hanna was a decorated war hero, having won the Military Medal for gallantry in the Korean War when he served with the Royal Ulster Rifles. He later joined the UDR, serving as a permanent staff instructor (PSI) and holding the rank of sergeant. According to David McKittrick, he was dismissed from the regiment two years later “for UVF activity”;

The regimental history of the UDR confirms this although journalist/author Martin Dillon states in his book, The Dirty War, that at the time of his death Hanna was still a member of the UDR.

Hanna’s unit formed part of the “Glenanne gang“, a loose alliance of loyalist extremists which allegedly functioned under the direction of the Intelligence Corps and/or RUC Special Branch.

See: The Glenanne Gang

It comprised rogue elements of the RUC and its Special Patrol Group (SPG), the UDR, the UDA, as well as the UVF.

The Pat Finucane Centre (PFC), in collaboration with an international panel of inquiry (headed by Professor Douglass Cassel, formerly of Northwestern University School of Law) has implicated this gang in 87 killings which were carried out in the 1970s against Catholics and nationalists.

The name, first used in 2003, is derived from a farm in Glenanne, County Armagh, which the UVF regularly used as an arms dump and bomb-making site. It was owned by James Mitchell, an RUC reservist.  According to John Weir, the gang usually did not use the name UVF whenever it claimed its attacks; instead it employed the cover names of “Red Hand Commando“, “Protestant Action Force“, or “Red Hand Brigade”. Weir named Jackson as a key player in the Glenanne gang.

He had close ties to loyalist extremists from Dungannon such as brothers Wesley and John James Somerville, with whom he was often spotted drinking in the Morning Star pub in the town. 

Alleged shooting and bombing attacks

Patrick Campbell shooting

He was first arrested on 8 November 1973 for the killing on 28 October of Patrick Campbell, a Catholic trade unionist from Banbridge who was gunned down on his doorstep. Jackson’s words after he was charged with the killing were:

“Nothing. I just can’t believe it”.

Campbell’s wife, Margaret had opened the door to the gunman and his accomplice when they had come looking for her husband. She had got a good look at the two men, who drove off in a Ford Cortina after the shooting, and although she identified Jackson as the killer at an identity parade, murder charges against him were dropped on 4 January 1974 at Belfast Magistrates’ Court.

The charges were allegedly withdrawn because the RUC thought Mrs. Campbell knew him beforehand. Jackson confirmed this, saying that they had met previously on account that he worked in the same Banbridge shoe factory (Down Shoes Ltd.) as Patrick Campbell.

 It was suggested in David McKittrick’s Lost Lives that some time before the shooting there may have been a “minor political disagreement” between Jackson and Campbell while the two men were on a night out.

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Raymond Murray, in his book The SAS in Ireland, suggested that his accomplice in the shooting was Wesley Somerville. Irish writer and journalist Hugh Jordan also maintains this allegation.

When the RUC had searched Jackson’s house after his arrest they discovered 49 additional bullets to those allotted a serving member of the UDR. A notebook was also found which contained personal details of over two dozen individuals including their car registration numbers.

Dublin car bombings

RUC Special Patrol Group officer John Weir claimed to have first met Jackson in 1974 at Norman’s Bar, in Moira, County Down.

Weir stated in an affidavit that Jackson was one of those who had planned and carried out the Dublin car bombings. According to Weir, Jackson, along with the main organiser Billy Hanna and Davy Payne (UDA, Belfast), led one of the two UVF units that bombed Dublin on 17 May 1974 in three separate explosions, resulting in the deaths of 26 people, including two infant girls. Close to 300 others were injured in the blasts; many of them maimed and scarred for life.

Journalist Peter Taylor affirmed that the Dublin car bombings were carried out by two UVF units, one from Mid-Ulster, the other from Belfast.

The bombings took place on the third day of the Ulster Workers Council Strike, which was a general strike in Northern Ireland called by hardline unionists in protest against the Sunningdale Agreement and the Northern Ireland Assembly which had proposed their sharing political power with nationalists in an Executive that also planned a greater role for the Republic of Ireland in the governance of Northern Ireland.

In 2003, Weir’s information was published in the Barron Report, which was the findings of an official investigation into the bombings by Irish Supreme Court Justice Henry Barron.

 Justice Barron concluded Weir’s “evidence overall is credible”.  An article by Paul Foot in Private Eye also implicated Jackson in the bombings.

The producers of the 1993 Yorkshire Television documentary, The Hidden Hand: The Forgotten Massacre, referred to Jackson indirectly as one of the bombers. However, three of his alleged accomplices, Billy Hanna, Harris Boyle, and Robert McConnell were directly named.

Although the incriminating evidence against Jackson had comprised eight hours of recorded testimony which came from one of his purported chief accomplices in the bombings, the programme did not name him directly during the transmission as the station did not want to risk an accusation of libel.

The programme’s narrator instead referred to him as “the Jackal”. Hanna, Boyle, and McConnell were deceased at the time of the programme’s airing.

According to submissions received by Mr. Justice Barron, on the morning of 17 May 1974, the day of the bombings, Jackson collected the three bombs and placed them onto his poultry lorry at James Mitchell‘s farm in Glenanne, County Armagh, which had been used for the construction and storage of the devices.

He then drove across the border to Dublin, crossing the Boyne River at Oldbridge. The route had been well-rehearsed over the previous months. Billy Hanna, then the Mid-Ulster UVF’s commander and the principal organiser of the attacks, accompanied him.

At the Coachman’s Inn pub carpark on the Swords Road near Dublin Airport, the two men met up with the other members of the UVF bombing team.  Jackson and Hanna subsequently transferred the bombs from his lorry into the boots of three allocated cars, which had been hijacked and stolen that morning in Belfast. The Hidden Hand producers named William “Frenchie” Marchant of the UVF’s A Coy, 1st Battalion Belfast Brigade, as having been on a Garda list of suspects as the organiser of the hijackings in Belfast on the morning of the bombings.

The cars, after being obtained by the gang of hijackers, known as “Freddie and the Dreamers”, were driven from Belfast across the border to the carpark, retaining their original registration numbers.

Journalist Joe Tiernan suggested that the bombs were activated by Billy Hanna.  Sometime before 4.00 p.m., Jackson and Hanna headed back to Northern Ireland in the poultry lorry after the latter had given the final instructions to the drivers of the car bombs.

 Upon their return, Jackson and Hanna went back to the soup kitchen they were running at a Mourneville, Lurgan bingo hall. With the UWC strike in its third day, it was extremely difficult for people throughout Northern Ireland to obtain necessities such as food. Neither man’s absence had been noticed by the other helpers.

Following Hanna’s orders, the three car bombs (two of them escorted by a “scout” [lead] car, to be used for the bombers’ escape back across the Northern Ireland border) were driven into the city centre of Dublin where they detonated in Parnell StreetTalbot Street, and South Leinster Street, almost simultaneously at approximately 5.30 pm.

No warnings were given. From the available forensic evidence derived from material traces at the scene, the bombs are believed to have contained, as their main tertiary explosive a gelignite containing ammonium nitrate, packed into the usual metallic beer barrel container used by loyalists in prior car bombings.

Twenty-three people were killed outright in the blasts, including a pregnant woman and her unborn child; three more people would later die of their injuries. The bodies of the dead were mostly unrecognisable. One girl who had been near the epicentre of the Talbot Street explosion was decapitated; only her platform boots provided a clue as to her sex.

The bombers immediately fled from the destruction they had wrought in central Dublin in the two scout cars and made their way north using the “smuggler’s route” of minor and back roads, crossing the border near Hackballs CrossCounty Louth at about 7.30 pm. 

Thirty minutes earlier in Monaghan, an additional seven people were killed instantly or fatally injured by a fourth car bomb which had been delivered by a team from the Mid-Ulster UVF’s Portadown unit. According to Joe Tiernan, this attack was carried out to draw the Gardaí away from the border, enabling the Dublin bombers to cross back into Northern Ireland undetected.

Jackson was questioned following the Yorkshire Television programme, and he denied any involvement in the Dublin attacks.[ His name had appeared on a Garda list of suspects for the bombings.  Hanna’s name was on both the Garda and the RUC’s list of suspects; however, neither of the two men were ever arrested or interrogated in connection with the bombings. The submissions made to the Barron Inquiry also stated that one week before the Dublin attacks, Jackson and others had been stopped at a Garda checkpoint at Hackballs Cross.

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As it turned out, nobody was ever convicted of the car bombings. Years later, British journalist Peter Taylor in an interview with Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) politician and former senior Belfast UVF member David Ervine questioned him about UVF motives for the 1974 Dublin attacks. Ervine replied they [UVF] were:

“returning the serve”.

Ervine, although he had not participated in the bombings, explained that the UVF had wanted the Catholics across the border in the Republic of Ireland to suffer as Protestants in Northern Ireland had suffered on account of the intensive bombing campaign waged by the Provisional IRA.

On 28 May 1974, 11 days after the bombings, the UWC strike ended with the collapse of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the power-sharing Executive.

See: Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

John Francis Green killing

Statements made by John Weir affirmed Jackson’s active participation in the killing of senior IRA member John Francis Green in Mullyash, near CastleblayneyCounty Monaghan.

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John Francis Green

On the evening of 10 January 1975, gunmen kicked down the front door of the “safe” house Green was staying in and, finding him alone in the living room, immediately opened fire, shooting him six times in the head at close range. The bullets all entered from the front, which indicated that Green had been facing his killers.

The UVF claimed responsibility for the killing in the June 1975 edition of its publication, Combat. Green’s killing occurred during an IRA ceasefire, which had been declared the previous month.

Assassination of Billy Hanna and leadership of UVF Mid-Ulster Brigade†

Ulster Volunteer Force mural. Robin Jackson led the UVF’s Mid-Ulster Brigade from 1975 to the early 1990s.

Subsequent to his alleged killing of leader Billy Hanna outside his home in Lurgan in the early hours of 27 July 1975, Jackson assumed command of the Mid-Ulster Brigade.

Hanna and his wife Ann had just returned from a function at the local British Legion Club. When he stepped out of the car, Jackson and another man approached him. After asking them “What are you playing at?” Jackson produced a pistol, walked over and shot him twice in the head; once in the temple and afterwards in the back of the head, execution style as he lay on the ground. His wife witnessed the killing.

Joe Tiernan suggested that Jackson killed Hanna on account of the latter’s refusal to participate in the Miami Showband killings. Hanna apparently suffered remorse following the 1974 Dublin bombings, as he is believed by Tiernan to have instructed one of the bombers, David Alexander Mulholland to drive the car which exploded in Parnell Street, where two infant girls were among those killed.

 According to Tiernan and the Barron Report, David Alexander Mulholland was identified by three eyewitnesses. Tiernan also suggested that Hanna and Mulholland became informers for the Gardaí regarding the car bombings in exchange for immunity from prosecution. He added that although the British Army was aware of this, Jackson was never told, as it was feared he would decide to become an informer himself

Investigative journalist Paul Larkin, in his book A Very British Jihad: collusion, conspiracy, and cover-up in Northern Ireland maintained that Jackson, accompanied by Harris Boyle, had shot Hanna after learning that he had passed on information regarding the Dublin bombings.

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Martin Dillon also claims this in The Trigger Men. Dillon also stated in The Dirty War that because a number of UDR/UVF men were to be used for the planned Miami Showband attack, the UVF considered Hanna to have been a “security risk”, and therefore it had been necessary to kill him.

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David McKittrick in Lost Lives, however, suggested that Jackson had actually killed Hanna in order to obtain a cache of weapons the latter held.

The UVF drew its greatest strength as well as the organisation’s most ruthless members from its Mid-Ulster Brigade according to Irish journalist Brendan O’Brien.

Miami Showband massacre

See: Miami Showband massacre

Links to Captain Robert Nairac

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It was stated by The Hidden Hand programme that Jackson had links to British Military Intelligence and Liaison officer Captain Robert Nairac.

The Hidden Hand alleged that Jackson and his UVF comrades were controlled by Nairac who was attached to 14th Intelligence Company (The Det). Former MI6 operative, Captain Fred Holroyd claimed that Nairac admitted to having been involved in John Francis Green’s death and had shown Holroyd a colour polaroid photograph of Green’s corpse to back up his claim. Holroyd believed that for some months leading up to his shooting, Green had been kept under surveillance by 4 Field Survey Troop, Royal Engineers, one of the three sub-units of 14th Intelligence.

This unit was based in Castledillon, County Armagh, and according to Holroyd, was the cover name of an SAS troop commanded by Nairac and Captain Julian Antony “Tony” Ball. Nairac was himself abducted and killed by the IRA in 1977, and Ball was killed in an accident in Oman in 1981.

Justice Barron himself questioned Holroyd’s evidence as a result of two later Garda investigations, where Detective Inspector Culhane discounted Holroyd’s allegations regarding Nairac and the polaroid photograph. Culhane concluded that the latter had been one of a series of official photographs taken of Green’s body the morning following his killing by Detective Sergeant William Stratford, who worked in the Garda Technical Bureau‘s Photography Section.

Weir made the following statements in relation to Jackson and Nairac’s alleged mutual involvement in the Green assassination:

The men who did that shooting were Robert McConnell, Robin Jackson, and I would be almost certain, Harris Boyle who was killed in the Miami attack. What I am absolutely certain of is that Robert McConnell, Robert McConnell knew that area really, really well. Robin Jackson was with him. I was later told that Nairac was with them. I was told by … a UVF man, he was very close to Jackson and operated with him. Jackson told [him] that Nairac was with them.

In his 1989 book War Without Honour, Holyroyd claimed that Nairac had organised the Miami Showband ambush in collaboration with Jackson, and had also been present at Buskhill when the attack was carried out.

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Bassist Stephen Travers and saxophonist Des McAlea, the two bandmembers who survived the shootings, both testified in court that a British Army officer “with a crisp, clipped English accent” had overseen the operation. However, when shown a photograph of Nairac, Travers could not positively identify him as the soldier who had been at the scene.

Martin Dillon in The Dirty War adamantly stated that Nairac had not been involved in the Green killing nor in the Miami Showband massacre.

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The Barron Report noted that although Weir maintained that Jackson and Billy Hanna had links to Nairac and British Military Intelligence, his claim did not imply that the British Army or Military Intelligence had aided the two men in the planning and perpetration of the 1974 Dublin bombings. While in prison, Weir wrote a letter to a friend claiming that Nairac had ties to both Jackson and James Mitchell, owner of the Glenanne farm.

The 2006 Interim Report of Mr. Justice Barron’s inquiry into the Dundalk bombing of 1975 (see below) concluded that Jackson was one of the suspected bombers:

“reliably said to have had relationships with British Intelligence and or RUC Special Branch officers”.

In 2015, a biography of Nairac entitled “Betrayal: the Murder of Robert Nairac” was published. Written by former diplomat Alistair Kerr, the book provides documentary evidence that shows Nairac as having been elsewhere at the time the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, John Francis Green killing and Miami Showband ambush took place.

On 17 May 1974 he was on a months-long training course in England; 10 January 1975 there were three witnesses who placed him on temporary duty in Derry for a secret mission; and on 31 July 1975 at 4am he had started on a road journey from London to Scotland for a fishing holiday.

Other killings

1975

The 2006 Interim Report named Jackson as having possibly been one of the two gunmen in the shooting death of the McKearney couple on 23 October 1975. Peter McKearney was shot between 14 and 18 times, and his wife, Jenny 11 times. The shooting took place at their home in Moy, County Tyrone; Jackson was linked to the 9mm Sterling submachine gun used in the killings. “Glenanne gang” member Garnet Busby pleaded guilty to the killings and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

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John Weir

John Weir claimed that Jackson led the group who bombed Kay’s Tavern pub in Dundalk on 19 December 1975, which killed two men.  Barron implicated the “Glenanne gang” in the bombing, however, Jackson was not identified by any eyewitnesses at or in the vicinity of Kay’s Tavern.[

Gardaí received information from a reliable source that Jackson and his car – a Vauxhall Viva with the registration number CIA 2771 – were involved in the bombing; yet there were no witnesses who reported having seen the car. The RUC stated that Jackson had been observed celebrating at a Banbridge bar at 9.00 pm on the evening of the attack in the company of other loyalist extremists. The implication was that they were celebrating the Kay’s Tavern bombing.

1976

The following month, on 4 January 1976, Jackson supposedly organised the “Glenanne gang”‘s two co-ordinated sectarian attacks against the O’Dowd and Reavey families in County Armagh, leaving a total of five men dead and one injured.

 Weir maintained that it was Jackson who shot 61-year-old Joseph O’Dowd and his two nephews, Barry and Declan, to death at a family celebration in Ballydougan, near Gilford; although Jackson had not been at the scene where the Reavey brothers had been killed twenty minutes earlier.

The day after the double killing, ten Protestant workmen were gunned down by the South Armagh Republican Action Force, who ambushed their minibus near the village of Kingsmill. The shootings were in retaliation for the O’Dowd and Reavey killings. The Glenanne gang made plans to avenge the Kingsmill victims with an attack on St Lawrence O’Toole Primary School, Belleeks. This plan, which involved the killing of at least 30 schoolchildren and their teacher, was called off at the last minute by the UVF’s Brigade Staff (Belfast leadership), who considered it “morally unacceptable” and feared it would have led to a civil war.

Based on the description given by Barney O’Dowd, a survivor of the shooting attack at Ballydougan, one of the weapons used in the O’Dowd killings was a Luger with an attached silencer.  The findings noted in the HET Report on the Miami Showband killings revealed that on 19 May 1976, two fingerprints belonging to Jackson were discovered on the metal barrel of a home-made silencer constructed for a Luger pistol.

Both the silencer and Luger, as well as more firearms, ammunition, a magazine, explosives, and bomb-making material, were found by the security forces at the farm of a man by the name of Edward Sinclair, a former member of the “B Specials“. The exhibit, however, was mistakenly labelled indicating that his prints had been found on the black insulating tape wrapped around the silencer rather than the silencer itself.

After several unsuccessful attempts to apprehend Jackson between 20 and 30 May, Jackson was arrested at his home on 31 May under Section 10 of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1973; he was taken to Armagh Police Station. This was when the amended information regarding his fingerprints was delivered to Detective Superintendent Ernest Drew at Armagh. Drew and Detective Constable William Elder both questioned him; Jackson denied ever having been at Sinclair’s farm whilst admitting knowing him through the Portadown Loyalist Club which they both frequented.

When shown the Luger, silencer and magazine (but not the insulating tape), Jackson denied having handled them. When asked by Detective Superintendent Drew to provide an explanation should his fingerprints be discovered on either pistol or silencer, Jackson told him that one night at the Portadown Loyalist Club, Sinclair had asked him for some adhesive tape and Jackson claimed

“I gave him part of the roll I was using in the bar”.

Jackson had allegedly been using the tape whilst lapping hoses for beer kegs at the bar. In his statement to Detective Superintendent Drew, Jackson claimed that one week prior to his arrest, two high-ranking RUC officers had tipped him off about his fingerprints having been found on the insulating tape wrapped around the silencer used with the Luger. Jackson went on to say that he was forewarned, using the words:

“I should clear as there was a wee job up the country that I would be done for and there was no way out of it for me”.

On 2 June, Jackson was charged with possession of a firearm, a magazine, four rounds of ammunition and a silencer with intent to endanger life. He was detained in custody and went to trial on 11 November 1976 at a Diplock Court held at Belfast City Commission, charged only with possession of the silencer. Although the judge initially rejected his defence that his fingerprints were on the insulating tape and had “been innocently transferred to the silencer”, he managed to avoid conviction when he was acquitted of the charge.

The trial judge, Mr Justice Murray, had said: “At the end of the day I find that the accused somehow touched the silencer, but the Crown evidence has left me completely in the dark as to whether he did that wittingly or unwittingly, willingly or unwillingly”.

As a result of the judicious examination of forensic ballistics procured from original RUC reports and presented to Justice Barron, the 9 mm Luger pistol, serial no. U 4 for which the silencer was specifically made, was established as having been the same one used in the Miami Showband and John Francis Green killings.

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According to journalist Tom McGurk, Miami Showband trumpeter Brian McCoy was shot nine times in the back with a Luger pistol.  The Miami inquiry team was never informed of these developments and Jackson was never questioned about the Miami Showband killings following the discovery of his fingerprints on the silencer. The Luger pistol serial no.U 4 was later destroyed by the RUC on 28 August 1978.

Barney O’Dowd claimed RUC detectives in the 1980s admitted to him that Jackson had been the man who shot the three O’Dowd men, but the evidence had not been sufficient to charge him with the killings.

In 2006, Barney O’Dowd spoke at the public hearings of the Houses of the Oireachtas Sub-Committee on the Barron Report Debate. He maintained that in June 1976 an RUC detective came to see him at his home and told him the gunman could not be charged with the killings as he was the “head of the UVF” and a “hard man” who could not be broken during police interrogation. Additionally the UVF had threatened to start shooting policeman like the IRA were doing if the gunman was ever charged with murder.

Weir stated in his affidavit that on one occasion some months after he was transferred to Newry RUC station in October 1976, Jackson himself, and another RUC officer and “Glenanne gang” member, Gary Armstrong, went on a reconnaissance in south Armagh seeking out the homes of known IRA members, with the aim of assassinating them. Jackson, according to Weir, carried a knife and hammer, and boasted to Weir that if they happened to:

“find a suitable person to kill”, he [Jackson] “knew how to do it with those weapons”.

They approached the houses of two IRA men; however, the plan to attack them was aborted and they drove back to Lurgan. They were stopped at an RUC roadblock near the Republic of Ireland border, but the three men were waved through, after an exchange of courtesies, despite the presence of Jackson in the car with two RUC officers.

1977 and the William Strathearn killing

The village of AhoghillCounty Antrim, where the William Strathearn killing took place

He was implicated by Weir in the killing of Catholic chemist, William Strathearn,  who was shot at his home in AhoghillCounty Antrim after two men knocked on his door at 2.00 am on 19 April 1977 claiming to need medicine for a sick child.

Strathearn lived above his chemist’s shop. Weir was one of the RUC men later convicted of the killing, along with his SPG colleague, Billy McCaughey, and he named Jackson as having been the gunman, alleging that Jackson had told him after the shooting that he had shot Strathearn twice when the latter opened the door.

Weir and McCaughey had waited in Weir’s car while the shooting was carried out. The gun that Jackson used had been given to him by McCaughey, with the instructions that he was only to fire through an upstairs window to frighten the occupants and make sure they “got the message”, and not to kill anyone. As in the Dublin bombings, Jackson’s poultry lorry was also employed on this occasion, specifically to transport himself and Robert John “R.J.” Kerr, another alleged accomplice, to and from the scene of the crime. After the killing, Jackson and Kerr went on to deliver a load of chickens. Kerr was allegedly Jackson’s lorry helper, assisting in loading and unloading chickens which Jackson sold for a living.

Jackson was never questioned about the killing. According to an RUC detective, he was not interrogated for “reasons of operational strategy”. Weir suggested that “Jackson was untouchable because he was an RUC Special Branch agent.”

The Barron Report stated that Weir had made an offer to testify against Jackson and Robert John “R.J”. Kerr, but only on the condition that the murder charge against him was withdrawn. This offer was refused by the Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions who said

Kerr and Jackson have not been interviewed by the police because the police state they are virtually immune to interrogation and the common police consensus is that to arrest and interview either man is a waste of time. Both men are known to police to be very active and notorious UVF murderers. Nevertheless the police do not recommend consideration of withdrawal of charges against Weir. I agree with this view. Weir and McCaughey must be proceeded against. When proceedings against them are terminated the position may be reviewed in respect of Jackson and Kerr.

It is noted in the Barron Report that Northern Ireland’s Lord Chief Justice Robert Lowry was aware of Jackson and Kerr’s involvement in the Strathearn killing, and that they were not prosecuted for “operational reasons”. Mr. Justice Barron was highly critical of the RUC’s failure to properly investigate Jackson.

Weir declared:

“I think it is important to make it clear that this collusion between loyalist paramilitaries such as Robin Jackson and my RUC colleagues and me was taking place with the full knowledge of my superiors”.

1978–1991

The interior of Crumlin Road Prison in Belfast. Following his arrest in 1979 for possession of guns, ammunition, and hoods, Jackson was remanded in custody to the prison to await trial

Journalist Liam Clarke alleged that in early 1978, Weir and Jackson traveled to Castleblaney with the intention of kidnapping an IRA volunteer named Dessie O’Hare from a pub called The Spinning Wheel. However, when Jackson and Weir arrived, they discovered the publican had been warned of the kidnap plot and they were ordered to leave the premises.

Jackson’s sole conviction came after he was arrested on 16 October 1979 when a .22 pistol, a .38 revolver, a magazine, 13 rounds of ammunition, and hoods were found in his possession.He was remanded in custody to Crumlin Road Prison in Belfast to await trial. On 20 January 1981, Jackson was brought before the Belfast Crown Court on charges of possession of guns and ammunition, and was sentenced to seven years in prison.

 He was released on 12 May 1983.

A man whose description matched Jackson’s was seen behaving suspiciously in the vicinity of Lurgan RUC barracks close to where three prominent republicans were later ambushed and shot by masked UVF gunmen after they left the police station on 7 March 1990. The republicans had been signing in at the station as part of their bail conditions for charges of possession of ammunition. Sam Marshall was killed in the attack; Colin Duffy and Tony McCaughey were both wounded. Although the shooting was claimed by the UVF, the gunmen were never caught. Two UVF members were later convicted of having supplied the car used in the ambush.

He reportedly perpetrated his last killings in March 1991, with the fatal shootings of three Catholics, Eileen Duffy, Catriona Rennie, and Brian Frizzell, at a mobile shop in Craigavon. Duffy and Rennie were teenage girls.

 Weir’s affidavit contradicted this as it pointed out that although Jackson was aware that the killings were to take place, he had not been at the scene of the crime; a solicitor informed Weir he had been with Jackson at his home at the time the shootings occurred to provide him with an alibi. Investigative journalist Paul Larkin suggested that the shooting attack against the shop was organised by Jackson upon receiving complaints from UDR soldiers after they had been refused service and insulted by the mobile shop employees.

Larkin identified one of the hitmen as Mark “Swinger” Fulton. Although the RUC initially arrested UVF members associated with Jackson, they then focused their attention on the men belonging to the Mid-Ulster Brigade’s Portadown unit led by Billy Wright. Fulton was a prominent member of this unit and served as Wright’s right-hand man.

Reputation and further allegations

Designated by Weir the “most notorious paramilitary in Northern Ireland”, at least 50 killings were directly attributed to Jackson, according to journalists Stephen Howe in the New Statesman,  and David McKittrick in his book Lost Lives.

Kevin Dowling in the Irish Independent, dubbed Jackson the “Lord High Executioner of the North’s notorious murder triangle”, adding that he was infamous from Belfast to the Irish border for “the intensity and fury of his instinct to kill”.

A former UDR soldier who had served with Jackson described him as a sectarian killer who had a visceral hatred of Catholics but that :

“you were always glad to have him with you when you were out on patrol”.

Unnamed Intelligence officers personally acquainted with Jackson stated that he was a psychopath who would often dress up and attend the funerals of his victims because he felt a need “to make sure they were dead.”

 Described as a sardonic man who was extremely dedicated; physically he was dark-haired, blue-eyed, “small, but firmly-built”. Suspicious by nature, he repeatedly advised his associates that they should never reveal secret information to anyone. His paranoia and fear of recognition by his potential victims was such that he attempted to destroy all photographs of himself including school and family pictures.

Psychological warfare operative Major Colin Wallace corroborated the allegations, stating that

[E]verything people had whispered about Robin Jackson for years was perfectly true. He was a hired gun. A professional assassin. He was responsible for more deaths in the North [Northern Ireland] than any other person I knew. The Jackal killed people for a living. The State not only knew that he was doing it. Its servants encouraged him to kill its political opponents and protected him.

Wallace also named Jackson as having been “centrally-involved” in the Dublin bombings, but like Weir, suggested that the principal organiser had been Billy Hanna.  Wallace’s psychological operations unit typically targeted loyalist extremists; however, during the period of 1973 and 1974 he was refused clearance to target principal members of the Mid-Ulster UVF despite an increase in paramilitary activity from the organisation.

In June 1974, a month after the bombings, Wallace was denied permission to target key loyalists including Jackson and Hanna, as their names were on a list which excluded them from being targeted for psychological operations. This appeared to indicate that in practice, those members of paramilitaries whose names were listed were also excluded from being targeted for prosecution.

Liam Clarke of the Sunday Times made the following statements regarding Jackson and his reported special relationship with the security forces and military intelligence:

Jackson had many allies still serving in the UDR and close links to special forces soldiers. These included Bunny Dearsley of military intelligence and Robert Nairac, Tony Ball and other soldiers attached to the undercover 14th Intelligence Unit. These officers met him at a bar in Moira and many suspect that he was involved in murders set up by military contacts at that time. In the late 1970s, he [Jackson] was a binge drinker and sometimes boasted to UVF associates of “someone looking after me”. Some took this as a reference to God, or even the Devil, but the most likely explanation is that it referred to members of the Army’s intelligence corps.

Originally nicknamed “Jacko”,  Jackson was given the more sinister sobriquet, “the Jackal” by Sunday World newspaper’s Northern Ireland editor Jim Campbell when he investigated and exposed Jackson’s alleged paramilitary activities – including his involvement in the Miami Showband killings – and links to British Military Intelligence.

 In retaliation, Jackson reportedly approached members of the violent loyalist Shankill Butchers gang in Belfast, who (at Jackson’s request) shot and seriously wounded Campbell on 18 May 1984.  According to journalist Joe Gorrod of The Mirror, it was reported in the Irish Times that the SAS took Jackson abroad where he received specialist training. In the late 1980s, he was also sent by MI5 to South Africa and Australia to buy weapons that were shipped back to loyalist paramilitaries and Ulster Resistance in Northern Ireland.[130]Gorrod wrote that Jackson kept hidden files that incriminated the politicians and businessmen who were involved with Jackson in the loyalist arms shipments.

In his book Loyalists, British journalist Peter Taylor devotes pages 187–195 to the loyalists’ South African arms deals which had taken place in the late 1980s. Jackson’s name does not appear in the account nor is Australia referred to. Joe Gorrod is the only journalist to make these allegations although Henry McDonald (of The Guardian) affirmed that Jackson lived for a period of time in South Africa during the 1980s.

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The purported files, which were kept with a friend, would have ensured Jackson that he would never be sentenced to a lengthy imprisonment.

Weapons used in the 1994 UVF shooting attack on patrons in the Heights Bar at Loughinisland were later found to have come from the South African arms shipment that had ended up in the hands of Robin Jackson.

Succeeded by Billy Wright

In the early 1990s, he handed over command of the Mid-Ulster UVF to Portadown unit leader Billy Wright, also known as “King Rat”. Wright formed the breakaway Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) in 1996. This was after he and his Portadown unit had been stood down by the UVF’s Brigade Staff in Belfast on 2 August 1996, following the unauthorised killing of a Catholic taxi driver by members of Wright’s group outside Lurgan during the Drumcree disturbances when the UVF were on ceasefire.

Although Wright took the officially-disbanded Portadown unit with him to form the LVF, Jackson, despite being on friendly terms with Wright, remained loyal to the UVF leadership as did most of the other Mid-Ulster Brigade units. Wright was shot dead inside the Maze Prison on 27 December 1997 by Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) inmates while waiting in a prison van which was transporting him to a visit with his girlfriend. Wright had been sentenced to eight years imprisonment for having threatened a woman’s life.

Jackson was confronted in 1998 by the son of RUC Sergeant Joseph Campbell, a Catholic constable gunned down outside the Cushendall, County Antrim RUC station in February 1977, as he was locking up. It was rumoured that Jackson had been the hitman sent to shoot Campbell on behalf of an RUC Special Branch officer.

Weir, in his affidavit, claimed Jackson, prior to Campbell’s shooting, had informed him of the RUC officer’s request. Jackson, by then dying of cancer, told Campbell’s son that he had not been involved in the killing. The UVF, at a secret meeting with journalists, declared that Jackson had no part in Campbell’s killing. The case was later placed under investigation by the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland.

See: Billy Wright

Death

Jackson died of lung cancer at his Donaghcloney home on Saturday, 30 May 1998 and was buried the following Monday, 1 June in a private ceremony in the St. Bartholomew Church of Ireland churchyard in his native Donaghmore, County Down. His grave, close to that of his parents, is unmarked apart from a steel poppy cross. 

He was 49 years old. His father had died in 1985 and his mother outlived him for five years.

After his death, a friend of Jackson told Gorrod that Jackson had no regrets about his UVF activities; however, due to his religious upbringing he was tormented by feelings of remorse on his deathbed believing that he had been “drawn into a world of evil that wasn’t of his making”. One of his last wishes was that the secret documents incriminating the politicians and businessmen with whom he associated be released to the public. Liam Clarke suggested the killing of Billy Hanna was the only killing Jackson ever regretted, admitting it had been “unfair” to kill him.

Journalist Martin O’Hagan had been in the process of writing a book about Jackson but his assassination by the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) in 2001 prevented its completion. Along with Billy Hanna and other senior loyalists, Jackson was commemorated in the UVF song Battalion of the Dead. In May 2010, angry relatives of UVF victims unsuccessfully sought the removal of the song from YouTube.

See : Miami Showband Killings – The Day The Music Died

See: The Glenanne Gang

See: Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

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The Glenanne Gang – History & Background

The Glenanne Gang

the glenanne gang with union jack draft 1 x 75

 

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.

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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 
Robin Jackson.jpg

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.

 

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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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17th May – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

  

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

17th May

——————————————-

Wednesday 17 May 1972

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) opened fire on workers leaving the Mackies engineering works in West Belfast.

[Although the factory was sited in a Catholic area it had an almost entirely Protestant workforce.]

Thursday 17 May 1973

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a booby-trap bomb attack on five members of the British Army who were off duty at the time. The attack occurred in Omagh, County Tyrone.

See Palace Barracks for more details

[Four soldiers were killed on the day and the fifth soldier died on 3 June 1973.]

Loyalists killed two Catholic civilians in Belfast.

The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) shot dead a man in County Fermanagh.

Friday 17 May 1974

Dublin and Monaghan Bombings  33 People Killed

Day 3 of the UWC strike

Dublin and Monaghan bombings victim

33 civilians and an unborn child were killed in the Republic of Ireland as a result of a series of explosions when four car bombs were planted by Loyalist paramilitaries in Dublin and Monaghan.

Approximately 258 people were also injured in the explosions. The death toll from the bombings was the largest in any single day of the conflict. No one was ever arrested or convicted of causing the explosions.

[On 15 July 1993 the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) claimed sole responsibility for carrying out the bomb attacks.]

In Dublin three car bombs exploded, almost simultaneously at approximately 5.30pm, in Parnell Street, Talbot Street, and South Leinster Street. 23 men, women and children died in these explosions and 3 others died as a result of injuries over the following few days. Another car bomb exploded at approximately 7.00pm in North Road, Monaghan, killing 5 people initially with another 2 dying in the following weeks.

The first of the three Dublin bombs went off at approximately 5.28pm in Parnell Street. Eleven people died as a result of this explosion.

The second of the Dublin bombs went off at approximately 5.30pm in Parnell Street. Fourteen people died in this explosion. The third bomb went off at approximately 5.32pm in South Leinster Street. Two people were killed in this explosion.

News of car bombs in Dublin and Monaghan raised tensions in Northern Ireland. Sammy Smyth, then press officer of both the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Ulster Workers’ Council (UWC) Strike Committee, said,

“I am very happy about the bombings in Dublin. There is a war with the Free State and now we are laughing at them.”

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

In Northern Ireland reductions in the supply of electricity continued to have serious consequences for industry, commerce, and the domestic sector. In addition to problems in maintaining petrol distribution, a lack of electricity also meant that pumps did not operate for substantial periods of each day. Postal delivery services came to a halt following intimidation of Royal Mail employees.

There were continuing problems in farming and in the distribution of food supplies. Special arrangements were made by the Northern Ireland Executive to ensure that payments of welfare benefits would be delivered to claimants.

William Craig, then leader of (Ulster) Vanguard, criticised Merlyn Rees, then Secretary of Sate for Northern Ireland, for not negotiating with the Ulster Workers’ Council (UWC).

[Public Records 1974 – Released 1 January 2005: Letter from F.E.R. Butler, then in the Ministry of Defence, discussing the ‘Provision of Electric Power to Belfast’.]

Monday 17 May 1976

James Gallagher (20) was shot dead, as he travelled, as a passenger on a bus, past Fort George British Army base, Strand Road, Derry.

The soldier who shot him was on sentry duty in the base and as he handed over his rifle is reported to have said, “I’m cracking, I’m cracking”. Two other passengers on the bus, a man and a woman, were injured in the incident.

[Later Gallagher was listed on a Republican roll of honour as an Irish Republican Army (IRA) member.]

Two Protestant civilians were shot dead by Republican paramilitaries at a factory in Dungannon Street, Moy, County Tyrone.

Friday 17 May 1984

Jim Campbell, then Northern Editor of the Sunday World, was shot and seriously injured by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) at his home in north Belfast.

See Martin Ohagan

Wednesday 17 May 1989

Local Government Elections

Local government elections were held across Northern Ireland.

[The percentage share of the vote was: Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) 31.4%; Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) 17.8%; Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) 21.2%; Sinn Féin (SF) 11.3%; Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) 6.8%; Workers Party (WP) 2.1%; Others 9.4%; Turnout 56.0%. (See detailed results.)]

Thursday 17 May 1990

Summary of Stevens Report Published

A summary of the report of the Stevens Inquiry was published. The main finding of the report was that there had been evidence of collusion between members of the security forces and Loyalist paramilitaries.

However it was the view of the inquiry that any collusion was “restricted to a small number of members of the security forces and is neither widespread nor institutionalised”.

There was a Westminster by-election in the constituency of Upper Bann. David Trimble, of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), won the by-election with a majority of almost 14,000 votes. The Conservative Party candidate, Colette Jones, lost her deposit.

Sunday 17 May 1992

British soldiers of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers becamed involved in a fist-fight with local people in Coalisland, County Tyrone. Soon after members of the Parachute Regiment arrived and fired on a crowd of people standing outside a public house in the town, and shot and wounded three civilians and injured a further four others.

[This incident followed an earlier one on 12 May 1992. It was later reported that the commander of the army’s Third Brigade was transferred. Patrols by the Parachute Regiment were also ended before the official end of the regiment’s tour of duty.]

Monday 17 May 1993

The Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC) stated that it would look at the results of the local government elections on 19 May 1993 to see if there was any evidence of “pan-Nationalist candidates” co-operating with each other.

Tuesday 17 May 1994

Two Catholics Killed by UVF

       

Eamon Fox (42) and Gary Convie (24), both Catholic civilians, were shot dead by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) at a building site on North Queen Street, in the Tiger Bay area of Belfast.

A review of the working of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act recommended that police interviews should be taped.

Wednesday 17 May 1995

Unemployment in Northern Ireland in April 1995 was recorded as 88,700 (11.8 per cent) the lowest it had been since December 1981

Saturday 17 May 1997

Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), held a meeting with officials representing the Irish government at an undisclosed venue in Dublin. John Bruton, the Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), said afterwards that the meeting was to establish if the Irish Republican Army (IRA) was prepared to call a new ceasefire.

Sunday 17 May 1999

Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, said there was no “plan B” if the Agreement was rejected in the referendum. Blair and Bill Clinton, then President of the United States of America (USA), issued a joint statement urging people to recognise the opportunities offered by the Agreement and to vote ‘Yes’.

Monday 17 May 1999

The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) issued a blunt warning that it would not change its position on decommissioning before, during or after next month’s European election. David Trimble, then First Minister designate, challenged Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, to state whether, in the British government’s view, devolution could proceed without the start of “actual decommissioning”.

In the Republic of Ireland 42 candidates were nominated for the European election on 11 June 1999. Fianna Fáil (FF) put forward eight candidates, Fine Gael seven, Labour five, Sinn Féin four, Natural Law Party four, and the Green Party three. For the first time there was no PD candidate.

Thursday 17 May 2001

Sean MacStiofain (73), former Chief of Staff of the (Provisional) Irish Republican Army (IRA), died in a hospital in the Republic of Ireland after a long illness. He became Chief of Staff of the Provisionals after they split from the Official IRA in 1970.

[MacStiofain had been born John Stephenson in London.]

Death

In 1993, Mac Stíofáin suffered a stroke. On 18 May 2001, he died in Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan, County Meath, after a long illness at the age of 73. He is buried in St Mary’s Cemetery, Navan.

Despite his controversial career in the IRA, many of his former comrades (and rivals) paid tribute to him after his death. Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, who attended the funeral, issued a glowing tribute, referring to Mac Stíofáin as an “outstanding IRA leader during a crucial period in Irish history” and as the “man for the job” as first Provisional IRA Chief of Staff. Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness also attended. In her oration, Ita Ní Chionnaigh of Conradh na Gaeilge, whose flag draped the coffin, lambasted Mac Stíofáin’s “character assassination” by the “gutter press” and praised him as a man who had been “interested in the rights of men and women and people anywhere in the world who were oppressed, including Irish speakers in Ireland, who are also oppressed.

See here for more details on Sean MacStiofain

 

  ——————————————

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.

50  People lost their lives on the 17th between 1972 – 1990

 ——————————————

17 May 1972


Bernard Moane   (46)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Defence Association (UDA)
Found shot by Knockagh War Memorial, near Greenisland, County Antrim.

 ——————————————

17 May 1972
Ronald Hurst  (25)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot while working on perimeter fencing outside Crossmaglen Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) / British Army (BA) base, County Armagh.

 ——————————————

17 May 1973
Michael Leonard  (22)

nfNI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)
From County Donegal. Shot while driving his car, being pursued by Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) vehicle, Letter, near Pettigoe, County Fermanagh.

 ——————————————

17 May 1973


Eileen Mackin  (14)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)
Shot by sniper while walking along Springhill Avenue, Ballymurphy, Belfast.

 ——————————————

17 May 1973


Thomas Ward   (34)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Shot during bomb and gun attack on Jubilee Arms, Lavinia Street, off Ormeau Road, Belfast.

 ——————————————

17 May 1973
Arthur Place   (29)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Killed by booby trap bomb while getting into car, outside Knock-na-Moe Castle Hotel, Omagh, County Tyrone.

 ——————————————

17 May 1973
 Derek Reed  (28)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Killed by booby trap bomb while getting into car, outside Knock-na-Moe Castle Hotel, Omagh, County Tyrone.

 ——————————————

17 May 1973
Sheridan Young  (26)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Killed by booby trap bomb while getting into car, outside Knock-na-Moe Castle Hotel, Omagh, County Tyrone. .

 ——————————————

17 May 1973
Barry Cox   (28)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Killed by booby trap bomb while getting into car, outside Knock-na-Moe Castle Hotel, Omagh, County Tyrone.

 ——————————————

17 May 1973
Frederick Drake  (25)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Injured by booby trap bomb while getting into car, outside Knock-na-Moe Castle Hotel, Omagh, County Tyrone. He died 3 June 1973

 ——————————————

Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

17 May 1974

Dublin and Monaghan bombings victim

33 People  lost their lives

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974

Marie Butler,  (21)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Parnell Street, Dublin.

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974
John Dargle,   (80)

nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Parnell Street, Dublin.

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974

Patrick Fay,  (47)

nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Parnell Street, Dublin.

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974
Elizabeth Fitzgerald,   (59)

nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Injured when car bomb exploded Parnell Street, Dublin. She died 19 May 1974

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974

Antonio Magliocco,  (37)

nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Italian national. Killed when car bomb exploded Parnell Street,

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974

John O’Brien,   (24)

nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Parnell Street, Dublin.

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974

Anna O’Brien  (22)

nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Parnell Street, Dublin.

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974

Jacqueline O’Brien,   (1)

nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Parnell Street, Dublin

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974
Anne Marie O’Brien,  (0)

nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Parnell Street, Dublin.

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974


Edward O’Neill,  (39)

nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Parnell Street, Dublin.

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974


Breda Turner,   (21)

nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Parnell Street

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974

Anne Byrne,  (35)

nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Talbot Street, Dublin.

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974

Simone Chetrit,   (30)

nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
French national. Killed when car bomb exploded Talbot Street, Dublin.

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974


Colette Doherty,  (21)

nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Talbot Street, Dublin

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974


Breda Grace,  (35)

nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ)

, Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Talbot Street, Dublin.

Dublin and Monagh Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974


Anna Marren,   (20)

nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Talbot Street, Dublin.

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974

May McKenna,   (55)

nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Talbot Street, Dublin.

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974

Dorothy  Morris,  (57)

nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Talbot Street, Dublin.

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974


Marie Phelan,   (20)

nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Talbot Street, Dublin.

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974

Siobhan Roice,   (19)

nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Talbot Street, Dublin.

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974


Maureen Shields,  (46)

nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Talbot Street, Dublin.

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974

John Walshe,   (27)

nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Talbot Street, Dublin.

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974

Josephine Bradley,  (21)

nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Injured when car bomb exploded Talbot Street, Dublin. She died 20 May 1974

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974

Concepta  Dempsey,  (65)

nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Injured when car bomb exploded Talbot Street, Dublin. She died 11 June 1974.

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974


Anna Massey,  (21)

nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded South Leinster Street, Dublin

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974


Christine O’Loughlin,   (51)

nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded South Leinster Street, Dublin.

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974


Patrick Askin,   (44)

nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Church Square, Monaghan, County Monaghan

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974
Thomas Campbell,  (52)

nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Church Square, Monaghan, County Monaghan

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974

John Travers,   (28)

nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Church Square, Monaghan, County Monaghan

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974

Peggy White,   (45)

nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Church Square, Monaghan, County Monaghan.

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974

George Williamson,   (72)

nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Church Square, Monaghan, County Monaghan

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974

Archie Harper,  (73)

nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Injured when car bomb exploded Church Square, Monaghan, County Monaghan. He died 21 May 1974.

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1974

Thomas Croarkin,   (36)

nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Injured when car bomb exploded Church Square, Monaghan, County Monaghan. He died 24 July 1974.

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

————————————————-

17 May 1976
Robert Dobson  (35)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Republican group (REP)
Shot, together with his brother, at their business premises, Dungannon Street, Moy, County Tyrone.

 ——————————————

17 May 1976
Thomas Dobson  (38)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Republican group (REP)
Shot, together with his brother, at their business premises, Dungannon Street, Moy, County Tyrone.

 ——————————————

17 May 1976


James Gallagher  (20)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot while travelling on bus which was passing Fort George British Army (BA) base, Strand Road, Derry.

 ——————————————

17 May 1986


David Wilson  (39)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot while driving his firm’s van, Donaghmore, County Tyrone.

 ——————————————

17 May 1991


Douglas Carruthers   (41)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Killed by booby trap bomb attached to his car while driving near to his home, Mullybritt, Lisbellaw, County Fermanagh.

 ——————————————

17 May 1994


Eamon Fox  (42)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Shot, while sitting in stationary car, at his workplace, building site, North Queen Street, Tigers Bay, Belfast.

 ——————————————

17 May 1994


 Gary Convie  (24)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Shot, while sitting in stationary car, at his workplace, building site, North Queen Street, Tigers Bay, Belfast

 ——————————————

16th May – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

16th May

——————————-

Thursday 16 May 1968

In the Stormont (Northern Ireland parliament) by-election in the city of Londonderry (Derry) the Ulster Unionists retained the seat.

Thursday 16 May 1974

Day 2 of the UWC strike

Maureen Moore

Maureen Moore (21), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by a Loyalist paramilitary gunman as she stood at the corner of Stratheden Street and Edlingham Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

The effect of the strike deepened with the engineering sector of the economy being the hardest hit. The use of intimidation (or ‘persuasion’ as the Loyalist paramilitaries preferred to call it) had a significant impact on the number of people who managed to get to work.

The strike began to have a number of effects on the farming sector with uncollected, or unprocessed, milk having to be dumped and fresh food not reaching shops. The Ulster Workers’ Council (UWC) issued a list of ‘essential services’ which were to be allowed to operate as normal and also issued a telephone number for anyone engaged in such work. The UWC also ordered public houses to close.

There was an outbreak of sectarian rioting.

The strike was the main subject of Northern Ireland ‘question time’ in the House of Commons at Westminster.

Paddy Devlin, a then member of the Executive, threatens to resign on the issue of Interment. Merlyn Rees, then Secretary of State, met with Loyalist leaders in Stormont. Mr Rees said that he would not negotiate with the UWC.

[One thing that became clear was that the timing of the removal of barricades by the police was tactically wrong. In many instances barricades were not removed until people had made an initial attempt to get to work. Having been turned back first thing in the morning few people were attempting to travel mid-morning or mid-afternoon when a number of roads would have been reopened. There were complaints about a lack of action, particularly to clear obstructions on roads, on the part of the British Army.]

 

Sunday 16 May 1976

   

Roy McIlwaine & William  Martin

Two Protestant civilians were shot dead by Republican paramilitaries outside a Social Club, Alliance Road, Belfast.

Kenneth Nelson

An off-duty Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officer was shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) near Benburb, County Tyrone.

Monday 16 May 1983

supergrass Harry Kirkpatrick 2

The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) announced that they had kidnapped the wife of ‘supergrass’ Harry Kirkpatrick.

[Other members of the Kirkpatrick family were also kidnapped on 3 August 1983.]

Friday 16 May 1986

Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), spoke at a seminar in Amsterdam, Holland. Adams criticised the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA) saying that it secured the partition of the six counties of Northern Ireland.

Tuesday 16 May 1995

Malcolm Moss, then Northern Ireland Office (NIO) minister, shook hands with Mitchel McLaughlin, then Sinn Féin (SF) chairman, when the minister opened a shopping centre in Creggan Estate, Derry.

Thursday 16 May 1996

John Major, then British Prime Minister, was reported in an Irish Times (a Dublin based newspaper) article as having said that arms decommissioning would have to be addressed at the start of talks.

Friday 16 May 1997

Blair Keynote Speech

Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, travelled to Belfast to deliver an important speech on Northern Ireland. Blair reaffirmed his government’s commitment to the Framework Document, the Mitchell Report on decommissioning and the ground rules for entry into all-party talks.

Blair also said that he valued Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom (UK) and suggested that the Republic of Ireland should amend Articles 2 and 3 of its constitution. The Prime Minister also said that government officials would meet with representatives of Sinn Féin (SF) in order to allow a number of issues to be clarified.

Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), said that all those Loyalist paramilitary organisations represented by the Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC) had broken their ceasefire since it was declared in October 1994.

Saturday 16 May 1998

Security forces defused a car bomb, estimated at 500 pounds, which had been left outside the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) station in Armagh.

The bomb was discovered at 11.15pm and the area cleared before a warning was received at 11.30pm.

[The RUC were unable to say which dissident Republican paramilitary group was responsible.]

Larry O’Toole, then a prominent member of Sinn Féin, was shot and injured during a First Holy Communion church service for local children in Ballymun, Dublin. OToole’s son, Lar, was also shot by the gunman who was chased out of the church and later caught by a number of the pursuers.

There was a rally held in Lurgan, County Armagh, in support of the ‘No’ campaign. At the rally a message was read out from James Molyneaux, former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), who said that he would be voting against the Good Friday Agreement.

Sunday 16 May 1999

Members of Justice for the Forgotten, the campaign group representing families of those killed in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings on 17 May 1974, held a wreath-laying ceremony in Dublin.

Dublin and Monaghan bombings victim

The group called for a full public inquiry into the bombings.

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

Around 800 residents from the Garvaghy Road area of Portadown, County Armagh, held a meeting at which Brendán Mac Cionnaith, then spokesperson of the Garvaghy Road Residents’ Coalition and independent councillor in Portadown, rejected rumours that a deal had been done to resolve the disputed Drumcree parade.

    ——————————————

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.

8  People lost their lives on the 16th between 1973 – 1990

 ——————————————

16 May 1973


 Joseph McKenna   (24)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)
Died two months after being shot from passing car, Grosvenor Road, Belfast.

 ——————————————

16 May 1974


Maureen Moore   (21)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)
Shot by sniper while standing on corner of Stratheden Street and Edlingham Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

 ——————————————

16 May 1976


Roy McIlwaine   (35)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot while standing outside Social Club, Alliance Road, Belfast.

 ——————————————

16 May 1976


William Martin   (53)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot while standing outside Social Club, Alliance Road, Belfast.

 ——————————————

16 May 1976


Kenneth Nelson  (28)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Shot outside his home, Derryfubble, near Benburb, County Tyrone.

 ——————————————

16 May 1981


 Patrick Martin   (38)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)
Shot at his home, Abbeydale Parade, off Crumlin Road, Belfast.

 ——————————————

16 May 1983


Gerard Cathcart   (49)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Shot outside his home, Linkview Park, Malone, Belfast.

 ——————————————

16 May 1990
Charles Chapman   (34)

nfNIB
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed by booby trap bomb attached to British Army (BA) van, outside British Army (BA) recruiting office, Harrow Road, Wembley, London.

 ——————————————

Dublin and Monaghan Bombings – 17 May 1974

Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

17 May 1974

The Dublin and Monaghan

 

The Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 17 May 1974 were a series of co-ordinated no-warning car bombings in Dublin and Monaghan, Republic of Ireland. Three exploded in Dublin during rush hour and a fourth exploded in Monaghan almost ninety minutes later. They killed 33 civilians and a full-term unborn child, and injured almost 300.

The bombings were the deadliest attack of the conflict known as the Troubles, and the deadliest terrorist attack in the Republic’s history. Most of the victims were young women, although the ages of the dead ranged from five months to 80 years.

 

The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), a loyalist paramilitary group from Northern Ireland, claimed responsibility for the bombings in 1993. It had launched a number of attacks in the Republic since 1969. There are credible allegations that elements of the British state security forces helped the UVF carry out the bombings, including members of the Glenanne gang. Some of these allegations have come from former members of the security forces.

The Irish parliament‘s Joint Committee on Justice called the attacks an act of international terrorism involving British state forces. The month before the bombings, the British government had lifted the UVF’s status as a proscribed organisation.

Troubled Images Exhibition, Belfast, August 2010 (03).JPG

The bombings happened during the Ulster Workers’ Council strike. This was a general strike called by hardline loyalists and unionists in Northern Ireland who opposed the Sunningdale Agreement. Specifically, they opposed the sharing of political power with Irish nationalists, and the proposed role for the Republic in the governance of Northern Ireland. The Republic’s government had helped bring about the Agreement. The strike brought down the Agreement and the Northern Ireland Assembly on 28 May.

No-one has ever been charged with the bombings. A campaign by the victims’ families led to an Irish government inquiry under Justice Henry Barron. His 2003 report criticised the Garda Síochána‘s investigation and said the investigators stopped their work prematurely.

It also criticised the Fine Gael/Labour government of the time for its inaction and lack of interest in the bombings.  The report said it was likely that British security force personnel were involved but had insufficient evidence of higher-level involvement. However, the inquiry was hindered by the British government’s refusal to release key documents. The victims’ families and others have continued to campaign for the British government to release these documents.

 

The views and opinions expressed in this page and  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

—————————-

Dublin and Monaghan Bombings 1974


Explosions

Dublin

A hijacked green 1970 model Hillman Avenger was used in the Parnell Street explosion which killed 10 people

 

A 2006 view of Talbot Street where a further 14 people died

 

 

At about 17:30 on Friday 17 May 1974, without warning, three car bombs exploded in Dublin city centre at Parnell Street, Talbot Street and South Leinster Street during rush hour. The streets all ran east-west from busy thoroughfares to railway stations. There was a bus strike in Dublin at the time, which meant there were more people on the streets than usual.

According to one of the Irish Army‘s top bomb disposal officers, Commandant Patrick Trears, the bombs were constructed so well that 100% of each bomb exploded upon detonation. Twenty-three people died in these explosions and three others died from their injuries over the following few days and weeks. Many of the dead were young women originally from rural towns employed in the civil service. An entire family from central Dublin was killed. Two of the victims were foreign: an Italian man, and a French Jewish woman whose family had survived the Holocaust.

First Bomb

 

The first of the three Dublin car bombs went off at about 17:28 on Parnell Street, near the intersection with Marlborough Street.

It was in a parking bay outside the Welcome Inn pub and Barry’s supermarket at 93 and 91 Parnell Street respectively, and near petrol pumps. Shop fronts were blown out, cars were destroyed, and people were thrown in all directions. A brown Mini that had been parked behind the bomb was hurled onto the pavement at a right angle. One survivor described

“a big ball of flame coming straight towards us, like a great nuclear mushroom cloud whooshing up everything in its path”

 

The bomb car was a metallic green 1970 model Hillman Avenger, registration number DIA 4063. It had been facing toward O’Connell Street, Dublin’s main thoroughfare. This car, like the other two bomb cars, had its original registration plates. It had been hijacked in Belfast that morning.

Ten people were killed in this explosion, including two infant girls and their parents, and a World War I veteran. Many others, including a teenaged petrol-pump attendant, were severely injured.

Second Bomb

 

The second of the Dublin car bombs went off at about 17:30 on Talbot Street, near the intersection with Lower Gardiner Street. Talbot Street was the main route from the city centre to Connolly station, Dublin’s primary railway station. It was parked at 18 Talbot Street, on the north side, opposite Guineys department store. The bomb car was a metallic blue mink Ford Escort, registration number 1385 WZ. It had been stolen that morning in the Docks area of Belfast.

The blast damaged buildings and vehicles on both sides of the street. People suffered severe burns and were struck by shrapnel, flying glass and debris; some were hurled through the windows of shops.

Twelve people were killed outright, and another two died over the following days and weeks. Thirteen of the fourteen victims were women, including one who was nine months pregnant. One young woman who had been beside the bomb car was decapitated; the only clue to her sex was the pair of brown platform boots she was wearing

Several others lost limbs and a man was impaled through the abdomen by an iron bar. Several bodies lay in the street for half an hour as ambulances struggled to get through traffic jams.  At least four bodies were found on the pavement outside Guineys. The bodies of the victims were covered by newspapers until they were removed from the scene.

Third Bomb

The third bomb went off at about 17:32 on South Leinster Street, near the railings of Trinity College and not far from Leinster House, the seat of the Oireachtas. Two women were killed outright; they had been very close to the epicentre of the blast. The bomb car was a blue Austin 1800 Maxi registration number HOI 2487; like the Parnell Street car, it had been hijacked in Belfast that same morning from a taxi company.[10] Dental students from Trinity College rushed to the scene to give first-aid to the injured.

Monaghan

Almost ninety minutes later, at about 18:58, a fourth car bomb (weighing 150 pounds) exploded in the centre of Monaghan town, just south of the border with Northern Ireland. It had been parked outside Greacen’s pub on North Road. The car was a green 1966 model Hillman Minx registration number 6583 OZ; it had been stolen from a Portadown car park several hours before.

As in Dublin, no warning had been given. This bomb killed five people outright, and another two died in the following weeks. There is evidence that the car bomb was parked five minutes before the explosion.

The bomb site, which was about 300–400 yards from the Garda station, was preserved by a roster of eight Gardaí from 19:00 on 17 May until 14:30 on 19 May, at which time the technical examination of the area had been complete .  Forensic analysis of the metal fragments taken from the site suggested that the bomb had been in a beer barrel or similar container.  It has been suggested that the Monaghan bombing was a “supporting attack”; a diversion to draw security away from the border and thus help the Dublin bombers return to Northern Ireland.

Aftermath

Remembering the Victims

——————————-

The Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

——————————-

Victims

33 Innocent People  lost their lives

————————————————-

17 May 1974

Marie Butler,  (21)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Parnell Street, Dublin.

————————————————-

17 May 1974
John Dargle,   (80)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Parnell Street, Dublin.

————————————————-

17 May 1974

Patrick Fay,  (47)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Parnell Street, Dublin.

————————————————-

17 May 1974
Elizabeth Fitzgerald,   (59)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Injured when car bomb exploded Parnell Street, Dublin. She died 19 May 1974

————————————————-

17 May 1974

Antonio Magliocco,  (37)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Italian national. Killed when car bomb exploded Parnell Street,

————————————————-

17 May 1974

John O’Brien,   (24)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Parnell Street, Dublin.

————————————————-

17 May 1974

Anna O’Brien  (22)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Parnell Street, Dublin.

————————————————-

17 May 1974

Jacqueline O’Brien,   (1)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Parnell Street, Dublin

————————————————-

17 May 1974
Anne Marie O’Brien,  (0)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Parnell Street, Dublin.

————————————————-

17 May 1974


Edward O’Neill,  (39)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Parnell Street, Dublin.

————————————————-

17 May 1974


Breda Turner,   (21)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Parnell Street

————————————————-

17 May 1974

Anne Byrne,  (35)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Talbot Street, Dublin.

————————————————-

17 May 1974

Simone Chetrit,   (30)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
French national. Killed when car bomb exploded Talbot Street, Dublin.

————————————————-

17 May 1974


Colette Doherty,  (21)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Talbot Street, Dublin

————————————————-

17 May 1974


Breda Grace,  (35)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ)

, Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Talbot Street, Dublin.

————————————————-

17 May 1974


Anna Marren,   (20)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian

(Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Talbot Street, Dublin.

————————————————-

17 May 1974

May McKenna,   (55)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Talbot Street, Dublin.

————————————————-

17 May 1974

Dorothy  Morris,  (57)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Talbot Street, Dublin.

————————————————-

17 May 1974


Marie Phelan,   (20)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Talbot Street, Dublin.

————————————————-

17 May 1974

Siobhan Roice,   (19)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Talbot Street, Dublin.

————————————————-

17 May 1974


Maureen Shields,  (46)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Talbot Street, Dublin.

————————————————-

17 May 1974

John Walshe,   (27)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Talbot Street, Dublin.

————————————————-

17 May 1974

Josephine Bradley,  (21)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Injured when car bomb exploded Talbot Street, Dublin. She died 20 May 1974

————————————————-

17 May 1974

Concepta  Dempsey,  (65)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Injured when car bomb exploded Talbot Street, Dublin. She died 11 June 1974.

————————————————-

17 May 1974


Anna Massey,  (21)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded South Leinster Street, Dublin

————————————————-

17 May 1974


Christine O’Loughlin,   (51)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded South Leinster Street, Dublin.

————————————————-

17 May 1974


Patrick Askin,   (44)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Church Square, Monaghan, County Monaghan

————————————————-

17 May 1974
Thomas Campbell,  (52)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Church Square, Monaghan, County Monaghan

————————————————-

17 May 1974

John Travers,   (28)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Church Square, Monaghan, County Monaghan

————————————————-

17 May 1974

Peggy White,   (45)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Church Square, Monaghan, County Monaghan.

————————————————-

17 May 1974

George Williamson,   (72)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed when car bomb exploded Church Square, Monaghan, County Monaghan

————————————————-

17 May 1974

Archie Harper,  (73)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Injured when car bomb exploded Church Square, Monaghan, County Monaghan. He died 21 May 1974.

————————————————-

17 May 1974

Thomas Croarkin,   (36)

nfNIRI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Injured when car bomb exploded Church Square, Monaghan, County Monaghan. He died 24 July 1974.

————————————————-

After the blasts, bystanders rushed to help the wounded, and emergency response personnel were on the scene within minutes. Hospitals across Dublin were put on standby to receive casualties. However, rescue operations in Dublin were hampered by heavy traffic due to the bus strike. Rescuers, feeling that help was not coming fast enough, lifted the dead and wounded, wrapped them in coats and bundled them into cars to get them to the nearest hospital. Garda squad cars escorted surgeons through the crowded streets to attend the wounded. Many people, on finding out what had happened, went straight away to offer blood.

Paddy Doyle of Finglas, who lost his daughter, son-in-law, and two infant granddaughters in the Parnell Street explosion, described the scene inside Dublin’s city morgue as having been like a

“slaughterhouse”, with workers “putting arms and legs together to make up a body”.

 

At 18:00, after all of the dead and injured had been removed, Garda Síochána officers cordoned off the three bomb sites in Dublin. Fifteen minutes earlier, at 17:45, the orders were given to call out ‘national cordons’, to stop the bombers fleeing the state. Garda officers were sent to Connolly Station, Busáras, Dublin Airport, the B&I car ferry port, and the mail boat at Dún Laoghaire.

At 18:28, the Dublin-Belfast train was stopped at Dundalk and searched by a team of 18 Gardaí led by an inspector. During the evening of 17 May, Gardaí from the Ballistics, Photography, Mappings, and Fingerprints section visited the three bomb sites in Dublin and examined the debris.

Some accounts give a total of 34 or 35 dead from the four bombings: 34 by including the unborn child of victim Colette Doherty, who was nine months pregnant; and 35 by including the later still-born child of Edward and Martha O’Neill. Edward was killed outright in Parnell Street.

Martha O’Neill was not caught up in the attack, although two of their children were seriously injured in the bombing; one of them, a four-year-old boy, suffered severe facial injuries. The 22 months-old daughter of Colette Doherty survived the Talbot Street blast; she was found wandering about near the bomb site, relatively unharmed.

Six weeks after the bombings, the elderly mother of Thomas Campbell, who was killed in the Monaghan bombing, allegedly died of the shock she received at the death of her son.

Due to the bombings, the Irish Army withdrew its troops from UN peacekeeping missions for four years.

Reactions

Reverse of Talbot Street memorial

 

In Northern Ireland, Sammy Smyth, then press officer of both the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Ulster Workers’ Council (UWC) Strike Committee, said,

“I am very happy about the bombings in Dublin. There is a war with the Free State and now we are laughing at them.”

 

However, neither the UDA nor UVF admitted responsibility. A ‘Captain Craig’ telephoned the Irish News and Irish Times, claiming responsibility for the bombings on behalf of the ‘Red Hand Brigade’, which is believed to be a covername.

The bombings were condemned by the Irish and British governments, and the Irish government vowed to pursue those responsible. However, there have been complaints from the victims’ families and others about the Irish government’s reaction. The Fine GaelLabour Party government refused to hold a national day of mourning, because, according to a spokesman from the Government Information Bureau, “More than 1,000 people have now died in the current Troubles”.

The previous government had held a national day of mourning for those killed in the Bloody Sunday shootings in Northern Ireland. A decision was also made not to fly the national flag at half-mast, but this was quickly reversed.

In Leinster House, about 300 metres from the site of the South Leinster Street blast, political leaders commented at the next session of Dáil Éireann. Statements by government ministers appeared to suggest that the bombings were an inevitable result of the IRA campaign.

Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave, of Fine Gael, recorded his disgust, but added:

The blood of the innocent victims of last Friday’s outrage—and of the victims of similar outrages in the North and in England—is on the hands of every man who has fired a gun or discharged a bomb in furtherance of the present campaign of violence in these islands—just as plainly as it is on the hands of those who parked the cars and set the charges last Friday. In our times, violence cannot be contained in neat compartments and justified in one case but not in another.

The opposition leader Jack Lynch, of Fianna Fáil, was “sickened” by the “cruel” events, but also widened the question of blame:

Every person and every organisation which played any part in the campaign of bombing and violence which killed and maimed people and destroyed property in Belfast, Derry or any other part of our country and indeed in Britain over the past five years, shares the guilt and the shame of the assassins who actually placed these bombs on the streets of Dublin and Monaghan last Friday.

In secret memos, the then British Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland, Arthur Galsworthy, noted the reactions in Dublin immediately after the bombings. He said the bombings had hardened attitudes against the IRA:

There is no sign of any general anti-Northern Protestant reaction … The predictable attempt by the IRA to pin the blame on the British (British agents, the SAS, etc) has made no headway at all. … It is only now that the South has experienced violence that they are reacting in the way that the North has sought for so long. … it would be … a psychological mistake for us to rub this point in. … I think the Irish have taken the point.

Responsibility for the bombings

The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) claimed responsibility for the bombings in 1993, following a TV documentary on the bombings that named the UVF as the perpetrators, and which alleged that elements of British security forces were involved in the attack.

 

Hidden Hand: The Forgotten Massacre

Dublin Monaghan Bombings 1974 – First Tuesday -1993

On 7 July 1993, Yorkshire Television broadcast a documentary about the bombings, named Hidden Hand: The Forgotten Massacre. The documentary-makers interviewed former Irish and British security force personnel, as well as former loyalist militants. They were also given access to Irish police documents.

The programme claimed the bombings were carried out by the UVF, with help from members of the British security forces.  It named a number of UVF members whom it said were involved, and who had since been killed in the Troubles.

These included Billy Hanna (a sergeant in the British Army’s Ulster Defence Regiment – UDR), Robert McConnell (a UDR corporal), Harris Boyle (also a UDR soldier), and a loyalist referred to as “the Jackal”. He was later identified as former UDR soldier Robin Jackson, who was still alive at the time of broadcast. The documentary claimed that all of these men were working as agents for British Military Intelligence and RUC Special Branch.

William Marchant was named as leader of the Belfast UVF gang who hijacked the cars used.  The documentary also suggested that British Army officer Robert Nairac, a member of the covert Special Reconnaissance Unit/14 Intelligence Company, may have been involved. The narrator said:

“We have evidence from police, military and loyalist sources which confirms […] that in May 1974, he was meeting with these paramilitaries, supplying them with arms and helping them plan acts of terrorism”.

 

Reference was made to the complexity of the attack and the sophistication of the bombs. Former British Army officer Fred Holroyd, former Garda Commissioner Eamon Doherty, and retired bomb disposal experts Lieutenant Colonel George Styles (British Army) and Commandant Patrick Trears (Irish Army) all suggested the bombs were not characteristic of the UVF and that it could not have mounted the attack without help from the security forces.

It was suggested that elements of the British security forces were using loyalist paramilitaries as proxies. It was said that a significant element within the security forces favoured a military solution to the conflict, and opposed a political solution, which was being pursued by the UK’s Labour government. Merlyn Rees, the British government’s Northern Ireland Secretary, believed that his polices in pursuit of peace in 1974 had been undermined by a faction in British Army Intelligence. The inference was that the bombings were intended to wreck the Sunningdale Agreement and to make both governments take a stronger line against the IRA.

UVF claims responsibility

U.V.F Logo
U.V.F Logo

One week later, on 15 July 1993, the Ulster Volunteer Force confirmed responsibility for the bombings, but also denied that it was aided by British security forces.

The UVF claimed that:

The entire operation was from its conception to its successful conclusion, planned and carried out by our volunteers aided by no outside bodies. In contrast to the scenario painted by the programme, it would have been unnecessary and indeed undesirable to compromise our volunteers anonimity [sic] by using clandestine Security Force personnel, British or otherwise, to achieve [an] objective well within our capabilities. … Given the backdrop of what was taking place in Northern Ireland when the UVF [were] bombing republican targets at will, either the researchers decided to take poetic licence to the limit or the truth was being twisted by knaves to make [a] trap for the fools. … The minimum of scrutiny should have revealed that the structure of the bombs placed in Dublin and Monaghan were similar if not identical to those being placed in Northern Ireland on an almost daily basis. The type of explosives, timing and detonating methods all bore the hallmark of the UVF. It is incredulous [sic] that these points were lost on the Walter Mittys who conjured up this programme. To suggest that the UVF were not, or are not, capable of operating in the manner outlined in the programme is tempting fate to a dangerous degree.

Campaign by victims’ families

In 1996, relatives of the victims of the bombings, Justice for the Forgotten, launched a campaign for a public inquiry The group believed that they had been forgotten by the Irish state and that British forces may have been involved in the bombings.

On 23 July 1997, the group lobbied the European Parliament. MEPs from many countries supported a call for the British government to release its files relating to the bombings. On 27 August that year, however, an Irish court declined to order the release of the file.

In August 1999, Irish Victims Commissioner, John Wilson, reported on the demand for a public inquiry. He proposed a judicial inquiry, held in private. In December 1999, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern appointed Mr Justice Liam Hamilton to undertake an inquiry into the bombings. The inquiry began work early in 2000 and in October Mr Justice Henry Barron was appointed to succeed Mr Justice Hamilton.

The Irish Government and others reported that the British Government were slow to co-operate with the inquiry.  It wrote to the British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, John Reid, in November 2000. He replied in February 2002, saying that British documents on the bombings would not be made available due to national security concerns. The ‘Barron Report’ was published in December 2003. The report said it was likely that British security force personnel were involved in the bombings but had insufficient evidence of higher-level involvement. However, the inquiry reported that it was hindered by the British Government’s refusal to release key documents. For details on the Barron Report’s findings.

An Irish government Sub-Committee was then established to consider the Barron Report and make recommendations. These recommendations (which are outlined below) were published in March 2004. It recommended the Irish Government bring a case before the European Court of Human Rights to force the British Government to hold a public inquiry into the bombings. In June 2005, the Irish Government said it would consider bringing the British Government to the European Court of Justice, to force the release the files on the bombings.

Two motions were passed unanimously by the Irish parliament (Dáil Éireann) in 2008 and 2011, urging the British Government to make the documents available to an independent, international judicial figure for assessment. In 2012 and 2013, Justice for the Forgotten met with the British Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland and proposed the documents be assessed in Britain by an agreed assessor. However, a further meeting to move the process forward was cancelled by the British side in November 2013.

In May 2014, the victims’ families announced that they were taking a civil action against British government agencies including the British Ministry of Defence, the Northern Ireland Office and the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

The Barron Report

Main findings

On 10 December 2003, Mr Justice Henry Barron’s report on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings was published.The publication of the report caused a sensation in Ireland, as shown by the political and media reaction. It is generally agreed that the report raised more questions than it answered and that it opened up new avenues of inquiry.

Regarding the circumstances and perpetrators of the bombings, it said the following:

  • The bombings were carried out by two groups of loyalist paramilitaries, one based in Belfast and the other in the Portadown/Lurgan area. Most, though not all of those involved were members of the UVF.
  • The bombings were a reaction to the Sunningdale Agreement – in particular to the prospect of a greater role for the Irish government in the administration of Northern Ireland.
  • It is likely that UDR soldiers and RUC officers helped prepare the attack, or were aware of the preparations. It is also likely that the farm of RUC officer James Mitchell at Glenanne played a big part in the preparations. Based on the material available, there is insufficient evidence that senior security force personnel were involved. However, it is possible that UDR/RUC involvement was covered-up at a higher level.
  • There is no evidence that any branch of the security forces knew of the bombings beforehand. If they did know, it is unlikely there would be any official records.
  • The Inquiry believes that within a short time of the bombings, the security forces in Northern Ireland had good intelligence to suggest who was responsible. Furthermore, some of the suspects were reliably said to have had relationships with British Intelligence and RUC Special Branch officers.

The Inquiry said it was obstructed by the British authorities in investigating collusion and faced the same problems as the Stevens Inquiry. The British government refused to show the Inquiry intelligence documents, and the Inquiry said this hindered its investigation.

Criticism of the Irish police and government

The Barron Report criticised the Irish police (Garda) investigation into the bombings, and the reaction of the Fine Gael/Labour government of the time.

The Report said that the Garda investigation failed to make full use of the information it had. For example, when the RUC told the Gardaí it had arrested some of the suspected bombers, the Gardaí apparently did not ask their names nor what information led to their arrest. It revealed that there is a great deal of official Garda documentation that is missing. Barron said that Department of Justice files on the Dublin bombings were “missing in their entirety” and that the Department did not give any records to the Inquiry. The Report concluded that the Garda investigation team stopped their work before they should have.The specially-appointed investigation team was disbanded in July 1974, two months after the bombings.

Barron’s report noted that the Fine Gael/Labour government of the time “showed little interest in the bombings” and did not do enough to help the investigation.

“When information was given to them suggesting that the British authorities had intelligence naming the bombers, this was not followed up”.

It failed to put political pressure on the British government to secure better co-operation from the RUC. It was also alleged that the Fine Gael/Labour government caused or allowed the Garda investigation to end prematurely, for fear that the findings would play into the hands of republicans.  However, the Inquiry had insufficient evidence the investigation was stopped as a result of political interference.

Sub-Committee recommendations

Following the release of the Barron Report, an Oireachtas Sub-Committee was established to consider the Report and make recommendations. These recommendations were published in March 2004 as a ‘Final Report’.

The Sub-Committee concluded there should be further and extensive investigation into the culprits and claims that British forces colluded with the bombers. It said the information it received has reinforced the suspicion that there was collusion. However, it noted that to investigate this, access to documentation and witnesses in the UK is vital.

Because the documentation and suspects are in the UK, the Sub-Committee said there should be a Public Tribunal of Inquiry in Northern Ireland and/or Britain. It recommended the Irish Government bring a case before the European Court of Human Rights to force the British Government to hold such an inquiry into the bombings.

In 2005, the Irish Government threatened to bring the British government to the European Court of Justice, to force it to release its files on the bombings. British Prime Minister Tony Blair said there was not enough evidence to justify a public inquiry.

Following a recommendation from the Sub-Committee, the Irish Government established a further commission of investigation in May 2005 under Patrick McEntee. The ‘McEntee Inquiry’ was tasked to investigate why the Garda investigation was wound down, why the Garda did not follow-up on some leads, and the missing Garda documents.The report was handed to the Irish government in March 2007  and published shortly thereafter.

Subsequent reports by Henry Barron into the Miami Showband massacre, the killing of Seamus Ludlow, and the bombing of Keys Tavern found evidence of extensive collusion with the same UVF members, amounting to “international terrorism” on the part of British forces.

Allegations of British security force involvement

Colin Wallace’s claims

At the time of the bombings, Colin Wallace was a senior British Army Intelligence officer at the Army’s Northern Ireland headquarters. Since his resignation in 1975, he has exposed scandals involving the security forces, including state collusion with loyalists. He gave evidence to the Barron Inquiry.

In an August 1975 letter to Tony Stoughton, chief of the British Army Information Service in Northern Ireland, Wallace writes:

There is good evidence the Dublin bombings in May last year were a reprisal for the Irish government’s role in bringing about the [power sharing] Executive. According to one of Craig’s people [Craig Smellie, the top MI6 officer in Northern Ireland], some of those involved – the Youngs, the Jacksons, Mulholland, Hanna, Kerr and McConnell – were working closely with [Special Branch] and [Military Intelligence] at that time. Craig’s people believe the sectarian assassinations were designed to destroy Rees‘s attempts to negotiate a ceasefire, and the targets were identified for both sides by [Intelligence/Special Branch]. They also believe some very senior RUC officers were involved with this group. In short, it would appear that loyalist paramilitaries and [Intelligence/Special Branch] members have formed some sort of pseudo gangs in an attempt to fight a war of attrition by getting paramilitaries on both sides to kill each other and, at the same time prevent any future political initiative such as Sunningdale.

In a further letter of September 1975, Wallace writes that MI5 was backing a group of UVF hardliners who opposed the UVF’s move toward politics. He adds:

 

I believe much of the violence generated during the latter part of last year was caused by some of the new [Intelligence] people deliberately stirring up the conflict. As you know, we have never been allowed to target the breakaway UVF, nor the UFF, during the past year. Yet they have killed more people than the IRA!

In his evidence to the Barron Inquiry, Wallace argues that the security forces had so thoroughly infiltrated the UVF they would have known such a huge bombing operation was being planned and who was involved. He then noted that the bombing investigation team was disbanded a very short time after the bombings. Barron noted that Wallace’s August 1975 letter was “strong evidence that the security forces in Northern Ireland had intelligence information which was not shared with the Garda investigation team.”

As with Fred Holroyd and John Weir, there were unsuccessful attempts to undermine Colin Wallace. Barron notes that Wallace was targeted by the same security services he had served. He was forced to resign in 1975, ostensibly for trying to pass a classified document to journalist Robert Fisk.

Wallace claims the real reasons for his dismissal were his refusal to continue working on the Clockwork Orange project, and his discovery that the security forces were involved in a child sex abuse ring. After his dismissal, Wallace attempted to expose these scandals, as well as state collusion with loyalists. In 1980, shortly after making some of his allegations, he was arrested and convicted of manslaughter. He was released on parole in 1985 and proclaimed his innocence. Various people have alleged that Wallace was framed.

He later had his conviction overturned and was paid £30,000 compensation for unjust dismissal from government service. His role within the British Army intelligence service had been officially, though belatedly, acknowledged in 1990.[59] Wallace was fully vindicated.[60][61]

John Weir’s claims

John Weir was an officer in the RUC’s Special Patrol Group during the 1970s. In 1980, he and fellow RUC officer Billy McCaughey were convicted of taking part in the murder of a Catholic civilian. Following their convictions, they implicated fellow RUC officers and UDR soldiers in a string of loyalist attacks.

In a sworn affidavit, Weir revealed that he had been part of the ‘Glenanne gang‘ – a secret alliance of UVF members and security force personnel who carried out numerous attacks on the Irish Catholic and Irish nationalist community in the 1970s. Most of its attacks took place in the area of County Armagh and Tyrone referred to as the “murder triangle”, but it also launched some attacks in the Republic. According to Weir, this included the Dublin-Monaghan bombings.

He named people who he said were involved in a number of these attacks. He also named a farm in Glenanne, he claimed was used as a base of operations by the group. Furthermore, he alleged that senior RUC officers knew of, and gave tacit approval to, these activities.

According to Weir, the main organiser of the Dublin-Monaghan bombings was Billy Hanna, a UDR sergeant and UVF ‘brigadier’. He claimed that Hanna, Robin Jackson, Davy Payne and William Marchant carried out the Dublin bombings, while Stewart Young and brothers John & Wesley Somerville (both UDR soldiers) carried out the Monaghan bombing.

He claimed the explosives had been provided by Captain John Irwin, a UDR Intelligence Officer, and that the bombs had been assembled at the Glenanne farm of RUC officer James Mitchell, with help from fellow officer Laurence McClure. Weir claims British Army Intelligence and the RUC knew who the culprits were but did not arrest them.Furthermore, he says it is likely that Army Intelligence/RUC knew about the bombings beforehand, due to its contacts with the Glenanne group.

The RUC furnished the Gardaí with a report that attempted to undermine Weir’s evidence. Barron found this RUC report to be highly inaccurate and lacking credibility.The Barron Inquiry believes that Weir’s evidence is credible, and “agrees with the view of An Garda Siochana that Weir’s allegations regarding the Dublin and Monaghan bombings must be treated with the utmost seriousness”.

The Barron Inquiry found evidence to support Weir’s claims. This included a chain of ballistics history linking the same weapons to many of the attacks Weir outlined.[69] Journalist Susan McKay noted that “The same individuals turn up again and again, but the links weren’t noted. Some of the perpetrators weren’t prosecuted despite evidence against them”.[69]

Fred Holroyd’s claims

Evidence for British security force involvement in the bombings is also supported by British Army Captain Fred Holroyd, who worked for MI6 during the 1970s in Northern Ireland. Holroyd said that “the bombings were part of a pattern of collusion between elements of the security forces in Northern Ireland and loyalist paramilitaries”. He claimed that the main organiser of the bombings, UDR sergeant Billy Hanna, had contact with an intelligence officer who reported to Holroyd.

Holroyd also claimed that elements of the Irish security forces secretly agreed to ‘freeze’ border areas for British forces. This meant Irish forces would leave an area for a given amount of time, primarily so that British forces could cross the border to kidnap IRA members.

Holroyd claimed the Assistant Garda Commissioner, Edmund Garvey, met him and an RUC officer at Garda headquarters in 1975. Holroyd named Garvey and another Garda (codenamed ‘the badger’) as being on the “British side”. Garvey later denied that the meeting took place. However, Barron found: “The visit by Holroyd to Garda Headquarters unquestionably did take place, notwithstanding former Commissioner Garvey’s inability to recall it”.

Garvey was dismissed by the incoming Fianna Fáil Government in 1978, who simply stated it no longer had confidence in him as Garda Commissioner.

The Barron Inquiry found that members of the Gardaí and RUC attempted to unfairly and unjustly undermine Holroyd’s evidence. It says that “Some of the RUC officers interviewed by the Inquiry, in their apparent eagerness to deny Holroyd any credibility whatsoever, themselves made inaccurate and misleading statements which have unfortunately tarnished their own credibility”

Popular Culture References

The Song ‘Raised by Wolves’ by U2, from their 2014 album Songs of Innocence references the Talbot street bombing. The liner notes to the album mention a childhood friend of lead singer Bono who witnessed the aftermath of the bombings: “the scene never left him” and he struggled with addiction.