Tag Archives: Francis Rice

18th May – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

18th May

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Saturday 18 May 1974

Day 4 of the UWC strike

The Ulster Workers’ Council (UWC) issued a statement calling for an all-out stoppage to begin at midnight on Sunday 19 May 1974.

The UWC criticised Merlyn Rees, then Secretary of Sate for Northern Ireland, for not meeting with leaders of the strike. Members of the Northern Ireland Executive were told that the Army could not run the power stations on their own.

There were attempts at negotiation by the Northern Ireland Labour Party (NILP).

[At this stage some people believed that there were grounds for thinking that the strike might not succeed. Many middle-class Protestants were against the strike, as were managers, technicians in power stations, doctors, lawyers, teachers and small shopkeepers.]

Joseph Shaw (22), a member of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), was shot dead by a member of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) during a fracas in North Star Bar, North Queen Street, Belfast. The killing was part of a feud between the UDA and the UVF.

Wednesday 18 May 1977

District Council Elections Elections were held to the 26 district councils in Northern Ireland. As the United Ulster Unionist Council (UUUC) had broken up the main Unionist parties stood against each other for the first time since 1974.

Saturday 18 May 1984

Two Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers were killed when the Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a land mine as their armoured patrol car travelled near Camlough, County Armagh.

Two British Army (BA) soldiers were killed, and another died later as a result of injuries, after the IRA planted a booby trap bomb under their car in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh. The soldiers were off-duty at the time and had just competed in a fishing competition.

Wednesday 18 May 1994

Two Catholics Killed by UVF

Gavin McShane (17) and Shane McArdle (17), both Catholic civilians, were killed when the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) carried out a gun attack on people in a taxi depot on Lower English Street, Armagh.

Thursday 18 May 1995

A joint delegation from the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) held a meeting with John Major, then British Prime Minister, in London to discuss social and economic matters.

Following the meeting the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) released a statement saying that Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, would meet with Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), informally when they were both in Washington on 24 May 1995 attending an investment conference on Northern Ireland.

[Later James Molyneaux, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), announced that he would not attend the conference because of the planned meeting between Mayhew and Adams.]

Tuesday 18 May 1999

There was a Loyalist rally in Portadown, County Armagh, in support of Drumcree. Six Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers and six civilians were injured in disturbances at the rally.

David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), reiterated his party’s position on Irish Republican Army (IRA) decommissioning as Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, called the main party leaders back to Downing Street, London. The Prime Minister was hoping to resolve the impasse which threatened the Good Friday Agreement.

After the one-hour meeting, UUP party sources indicated that Trimble would propose that potential ministers in an Executive would be “identified”, though not “nominated”.

There was a meeting of the Church of Ireland General Synod in Dublin. The General Synod voted to urge Drumcree church vestry to withdraw its invitation to the Orange Order to hold services at the church if the Order did not give assurances to respect Church sanctity and property. John Pickering (Rev), then rector of Drumcree, voted against each of the three motions that arose in respect of Drumcree.

[On 19 May 1999 Pickering and his vestry decided to defy the Synod’s vote and announced that they would go ahead with the service for the Orange Order on 4 July 1999.]

The General Synod voted to stop flying the Union flag on churches to avoid giving offence.

 

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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.

13  People lost their lives on the 18th May between 1972 – 1997

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18 May 1972
John Hillman  (28)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Died three days after being shot by sniper while in Flax Street British Army (BA) base, Ardoyne, Belfast.

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18 May 1973


Sean McKee   (17)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot during attempted sniper attack on British Army (BA) foot patrol, Fairfield Street, Ardoyne, Belfast.

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18 May 1974
Joseph Shaw   (22)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF),

Killed by: Ulster Defence Association (UDA)
Shot during fracas in North Star Bar, North Queen Street, Belfast. Ulster Defence Association (UDA) / Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) feud.

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18 May 1975
Francis Rice   (17)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Found stabbed to death on pathway, off Rathfriland Road, Castlewellan, County Down

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18 May 1984


Trevor Elliott  (28)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in land mine attack on Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) armoured patrol car, Lislea, near Camlough, County Armagh.

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18 May 1984


Neville Gray   (25)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in land mine attack on Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) armoured patrol car, Lislea, near Camlough, County Armagh

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18 May 1984
Thomas Agar  (35)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Killed by booby trap bomb attached to his car, outside Lakeland Forum Leisure Centre, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh.

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18 May 1984


Robert Huggins   (29)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Killed by booby trap bomb attached to his car, outside Lakeland Forum Leisure Centre, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh.

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18 May 1984
Peter Gallimore  (27)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Injured by booby trap bomb attached to his car, outside Lakeland Forum Leisure Centre, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh. He died 18 October 1984

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18 May 1993
Denis Headley   (38)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: not known (nk)
Found shot, in laneway off Sugarisland Road, Bleary, near Lurgan, County Down

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18 May 1994
Gavin McShane  (17)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Shot, while in taxi depot, Lower English Street, Armagh.

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18 May 1994
Shane McArdle   (17)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Shot, while in taxi depot, Lower English Street, Armagh.

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18 May 1997
John Harbinson  (39)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Found beaten to death in entry, off Mount Vernon Walk, Mount Vernon, Belfast.

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v

25th April – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

25th April

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Sunday 25 April 1971

Cenus

The Northern Ireland census was held.

[Various reports based on the census were published over the next few years. The total population was enumerated at 1,519,640. A large number of people (142,500) refused to state their religious denomination. This meant that the percentage of Catholics recorded as 31.4% (477,921) was a minimum figure. Statistical estimates of the probable size of the Catholic population put the figure at 36.8% (559,800), (see Compton and Power, 1986).]

Monday 25 April 1977

The United Unionist Action Council (UUAC), which was led by Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and Ernie Baird, then leader of the United Ulster Unionist Movement (UUUM), announced that it would hold a region-wide strike in May 1977.

The strike was organised to demand a tougher security response from the government and a return to ‘majority-rule’ government at Stormont.

The strike was supported by the Ulster Workers’ Council (UWC), the group that had organised the successful strike of May 1974, and also by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), the largest of the Loyalist paramilitary groups.

The UUAC gave Roy Mason, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, seven days to respond to their demands. The threat of strike action by the UUAC was condemned by other groupings within unionism including the Vanguard Unionist Party (VUP), the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and the Orange Order.

Saturday 25 April 1981

Paul Whitters

Paul Whitters (15), a Catholic teenager, died as a result of injuries received ten days earlier when he was shot in the head by a plastic bullet by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).

Two Commissioners from the European Commission on Human Rights tried to visit Bobby Sands but are unable to do so because Sands requested the presence of representatives of Sinn Féin (SF).

Sands had insisted that he would only meet the Commissioners if Brendan McFarlane, who had taken over as leader of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in the Maze Prison, and Gerry Adams, then Vice-President of SF, and Danny Morrison, then editor of An Phoblacht, were also allowed to attend the meeting. [On 4 May 1981 the European Commission on Human Rights announced that it had no power to proceed with the Sands’ case.]

Sunday 25 April 1982

Sinn Féin (SF) the Workers’ Party changed its name to the Workers’ Party.

Friday 25 April 1986

The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Executive voted to end the special relationship with the British Conservative Party.

[The relationship dated from the first Home Rule crises. The Conservative and Unionist Party was the official title of the conservatives.]

Saturday 25 April 1987

     

Gibson & Cecily Maurice 

A senior Northern Ireland judge and his wife were killed by an Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb at Killeen, County Armagh. The judge was the fifth member of the Northern Ireland judiciary to be killed by the IRA. A member of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) was shot dead by the IRA in County Tyrone.

Monday 25 April 1994

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) shot dead Francis Rice (23), a Catholic Civilian, beside Half Moon Lake, off Suffolk Road, Suffolk, Belfast. The IRA alleged that Rice was a criminal and drug dealer.

[This was the first of a series of killings of alleged drug dealers over the next couple of years. Many of these killings were claimed by ‘Direct Action Against Drugs’ (DAAD) which was believed to be a cover name (pseudonym) used by the IRA.] The IRA carried out ‘punishment shootings’ on 16 men whom it alleged were drug dealers. A number of other men were ordered to leave the country.

Tuesday 25 April 1995

A Catholic man, who was a taxi driver, was shot and seriously injured near Lurgan, County Armagh.

Friday 25 April 1997

A Catholic church, St Nicholas’s chapel in Carrickfergus, County Antrim, was attacked and damaged by arsonists. The attack was believed to have been carried out by Loyalists.

Billy Wright, then leader of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF), was moved to the Maze Prison. The move followed threats made by the LVF against the lives of prison officers, if the prison authorities did not allow LVF inmates to have their own ‘wing’ in one of the H-blocks at the Maze Prison.

Wright and three other LVF prisoner were moved into one wing of H6. The remainder of H6 was occupied by Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) prisoners.

See Billy Wright

[Wright was subsequently shot and kille d by the INLA in the prison on 27 December 1997.]

Sunday 25 April 1999

Loyalist paramilitaries carried out a grenade attack on a house in the Legoniel area of Belfast. The Orange Volunteers (OV) claimed responsibility for the attack.

Sinn Féin (SF) lost a court action to try to force the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) to broadcast the whole of its election video.

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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.

 13 People lost their lives on the 25th  April   between 1976– 1998

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25 April 1972
Joseph Gold  (29)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA)

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Died four days after being shot at British Army (BA) Vehicle Check Point (VCP), Donegall Road, Belfast.

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25 April 1975


Samuel Johnston  (33)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Republican group (REP)
Shot from passing car while walking at the junction of Batchelors Walk and Carrickblatter Road, Portadown, County Armagh.

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25 April 1979


William Carson   (32)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: Ulster Defence Association (UDA)
Shot at his home, Rosevale Street, off Oldpark Road, Belfast.

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25 April 1979
John Graham  (55)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Shot by sniper while driving lorry, Seskinore, County Tyrone.

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25 April 1980
Michael Madden  (65)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot at his home, Lenadoon Avenue, Belfast. Alleged informer.

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25 April 1981


Paul Whitters  (15)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)
Died 10 days after being shot by plastic bullet, Great James Street, Derry.

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25 April 1987

Maurice Gibson   (74)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ)

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Chief Justice, together with his wife, killed by remote controlled bomb hidden in parked car detonated when they drove past, Killeen, County Armagh.

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25 April 1987


Cecily Gibson  (67)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed together with her Chief Justice husband, by remote controlled bomb hidden in parked car detonated when they drove past, Killeen, County Armagh.

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25 April 1987


William Graham   (44)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Shot at his family’s farm, off Gortscraheen Road, near Pomeroy, County Tyrone

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25 April 1990


Brian McKimm   (22)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Shot from passing car while walking along Limehill Grove, Ligoniel, Belfast. Assumed to be a Catholic.

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25 April 1993


David Martin   (33)

Protestant
Status: ex-Ulster Defence Regiment (xUDR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed by booby trap bomb attached to his car which exploded while travelling along Flo Road, Kildress, near Cookstown, County Tyrone.

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25 April 1994
Francis Rice   (23)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Found shot, by Half Moon Lake, off Suffolk Road, Suffolk, Belfast. Alleged criminal

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25 April 1998
Ciaran Heffron   (22)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF)
Shot, while walking near to his home, along Glenoak Gardens, Crumlin, County Antrim.

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23rd February – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

23rd February

Saturday 23 February 1974

In the Shankill Road area of Belfast taxi drivers hijacked buses and sealed off roads in a protest against alleged army harassment.

Monday 23 February 1976

Francis Rice

 

 

Francis Rice (24), a Catholic civilian, was abducted, beaten and had his throat and his body was found near Mayo Street, Shankill, Belfast.

Members of he Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) gang known as the ‘Shankill Butchers’ were responsible for the killing. [See: 20 February 1979]

See Shankill Butchers

Tuesday 23 Februay 1982

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) sunk a British coal boat, the St Bedan, in Lough Foyle.

Wednesday 23 February 1983

The Political Committee of the European Parliament took the decision to commission a report on Northern Ireland to see if the (then) European Economic Community (EEC) could help find a solution to the conflict. The Rapporteur was Mr N.J. Haagerup.

The British government opposed what it saw as external interference in its internal affairs.

Saturday 23 February 1985

David Devine                        Michael Devine,                           Charles Breslin,

 

Three members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) were shot dead by undercover British soldiers in the outskirts of Strabane, County Tyrone.

David Devine

 

The IRA men were believed to be returning weapons to an arms dump when they were killed. A man alleged to be an informer was shot dead by the IRA in Derry.

[John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), walked out of a meeting with representatives of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) when it was suggested by the IRA that part of the proceedings be recorded on video. Information on what had occurred only became available some time afer the meeting.]

Monday 23 February 1987

Belfast City Council became the latest in a line of Northern Ireland councils to be fined for failing to conduct normal business. Many Unionist controlled councils had been refusing to conduct council business as part of a protest against the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA). The Department of the Environment appointed a commissioner to set a rate in those councils which have refused to do so.

Tuesday 23 February 1988

Ian Thain, a Private in the British Army and the first solder to be convicted of murder (14 December 1984) while on duty in Northern Ireland, was released from a life sentence. He had served 26 months and was allowed to rejoin his regiment.

Thursday 23 February 1989

Hugh Annesley, then Assistant Commissioner at the Metropolitan Police, was appointed by the Northern Ireland Police Authority (NIPA) as the next Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).

[Hugh Annesley took over the post on 31 May 1989.]

Monday 23 February 1998

A Republican paramilitary group exploded a large car bomb, estimated at 300 pounds, in the centre of Portadown, County Armagh. Many business premises in the centre of the town were severely damaged by the explosion and two buildings were completely demolished by the blast. There were no injuries in the explosion.

[It was thought that the bomb had been planted by the ‘Continuity’ Irish Republican Army (CIRA).]

Tuesday 23 February 1999

Stephen Melrose

Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), was confronted by the family of a victim of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) as he continued his eight-day visit to Australia. Roy Melrose, the father of Stephen Melrose, a Brisbane lawyer who was mistaken by gunmen for an off-duty British soldier in the Netherlands on 27 May 1990, criticised the way Adams was being feted at a civic champagne reception.

 

Friday 23 February 2001

An advertising campaign was launched to try to attract a large number of recruits to the new Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). The target was to attract equal numbers of Protestants and Catholics. Nationalists and Republicans argued that they had not yet endorsed the new force which is due to replace the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). Sinn Féin (SF) had attempted in court to stop the adverts.

Saturday 23 February 2002

Police arrested three people in north Belfast following sporadic rioting around the Limestone road. The three are being held charged with riotous behaviour.

A police spokesperson said one officer had to draw his firearm as a crowd wielding iron bars and sticks tried to prevent an arrest of a man in the Newington Street area.

Gerard Brophy, then a Sinn Féin (SF) councillor, said the trouble started when a crowd of up to 60 loyalists armed with bricks, bottles and baseball bats, attacked Nationalist homes. He said the attack was clearly orchestrated and the crowd included members of the neo-Nazi group Combat 18.

These claims were disputed by Loyalist residents.

Twenty children from the Holy Cross Girls’ Primary School in Ardoyne, north Belfast, met Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), during a short visit to Dublin. Ahern said the trip would show support for the children from the people of the Republic.

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Remembering all innocent victims of the Troubles

Today is the anniversary of the death of the following people killed as a results of the conflict in Northern Ireland

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die

– Thomas Campbell

To the innocent on the list – Your memory will live  forever

– To  the Paramilitaries  –

There are many things worth living for, a few things worth dying for, but nothing worth killing for.

7 People   lost their lives on the 23rd February between 1976– 1985

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23 February 1976


Francis Rice,  (24)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Abducted while walking along Donegall Street, Belfast. Found stabbed to death several hours later, in entry, off Mayo Street, Shankill, Belfast.

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23 February 1977


Peter Hill,  (43)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR)

 Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Shot outside his home, Daphne Gardens, off Limavady Road, Waterside, Derry.

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23 February 1981

James Burns   (33)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Shot at his home, Rodney Drive, Falls, Belfast.

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23 February 1985


Michael Devine,  (22)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot by undercover British Army (BA) members, while returning arms to dump, in field, off Plumbridge Road, Strabane, County Tyrone.

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23 February 1985


David Devine  (17)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot by undercover British Army (BA) members, while returning arms to dump, in field, off Plumbridge Road, Strabane, County Tyrone.

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23 February 1985


Charles Breslin,   (20)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot by undercover British Army (BA) members, while returning arms to dump, in field, off Plumbridge Road, Strabane, County Tyrone.

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23 February 1985


Kevin Coyle,  (24)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Found shot Corporation Street, Bogside, Derry. Alleged informer.

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The Shankill Butchers – Documentary & Background

Click here to buy the book

During the 1970s a group of Protestant paramilitaries embarked on a spree of indiscriminate murder which left thirty Northern Irish Catholics dead. Their leader was Lenny Murphy, a fanatical Unionist whose Catholic-sounding surname led to his persecution as a child for which he took revenge on all Catholics.

Not for the squeamish, The Shankill Butchers is a horrifying detailed account of one of the most brutal series of murders in British legal history – a phenomenon whose real nature has been obscured by the troubled and violent context from which it sprang.

These guys were active when I was a teenager and dumped some of their  poor victim’s brutalised bodies at the back of the community centre  and waste ground facing were I lived on Forthriver Road , Glencairn. I use to have to pass this area  on the way home and on dark winter nights I was terrified if I heard the sound of a Black Taxi climbing the hill towards me. I should have felt safe in the heartlands of Loyalist West Belfast , but although they were protestant,  the Butchers struck feared into everyone and their victims included protestants  and other loyalists who made the mistake of  upsetting Murphy.

Also I lived around the corner from  where Murphy was killed and on the night he died I heard  the shots that killed him and was one of the first at the scene……

Visit the autobiography section of this blog to read more…

See  Below for full details on the Shankill Butchers

Disclaimer

The views and opinions expressed in this post and page 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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See Lenny Murphy

With 19 murders between them, the Shankill Butchers were the most prolific gang of serial killers in UK history. With unique access to thousands of pages of evidence and exclusive interviews, Stephen Nolan goes back to the patch where he was brought up to ask how the Shankill Butchers got away with murder for so long. The programme also helps to build a psychological profile of the “ruthless and sadistic” gang leader, Lenny Murphy who, even though jailed for six years for an unrelated offence, would continue to direct the murders from his prison cell.

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The Shankill Butchers

IRA execute Shankill Butcher leader Lenny Murphy | Belfast | 17th November 1982

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The Shankill Butchers was an Ulster loyalist gang—many of whom were members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)—that was active between 1975 and 1982 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It was based in the Shankill area and was responsible for the deaths of at least 23 people, most of whom were killed in sectarian attacks. The gang was notorious for kidnapping and murdering random Irish Catholic civilians; each was beaten ferociously and had his throat hacked with a butcher’s knife. Some were also tortured and attacked with a hatchet. The gang also killed six Ulster Protestants over personal disputes, and two other Protestants mistaken for Catholics.

Most of the gang were eventually caught and, in February 1979, received the longest combined prison sentences in United Kingdom legal history. However, gang leader Lenny Murphy and his two chief “lieutenants” escaped prosecution. Murphy was killed in November 1982 by the Provisional IRA, likely acting with loyalist paramilitaries who perceived him as a threat.[1]

The Butchers brought a new level of paramilitary violence to a country already hardened by death and destruction.[2] The judge who oversaw the 1979 trial described their crimes as “a lasting monument to blind sectarian bigotry”.

Timeline

Background

Much of what is known about the Butchers came first from Martin Dillon‘s The Shankill Butchers: A Case Study of Mass Murder (1989 and 1998). In compiling this detailed work, Dillon was given unlimited access to the case files of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (now the Police Service of Northern Ireland), which eventually caught the gang. Eventually Dillon had to leave Northern Ireland for his safety.

The commander of the Shankill Butchers gang was Lenny Murphy. At school he was known as a bully and would threaten other boys with a knife or with retribution from his two older brothers. Soon after leaving school at 16, he joined the UVF. Murphy often attended the trials of people accused of paramilitary crimes, to become well acquainted with the laws of evidence and police procedure.

On 28 September 1972 Murphy (aged 20) shot and killed William Edward “Ted” Pavis (32) at the latter’s home in East Belfast. Pavis was a Protestant whom the UVF believed was selling weapons to the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA). Murphy and an accomplice, Mervyn Connor, were arrested shortly afterwards and held on remand in Belfast’s Crumlin Road prison. After a visit by police to Connor, fellow inmates suspected that he might cut a deal with the authorities with regard to the Pavis killing. On 22 April 1973, Connor died by ingesting a large dose of cyanide. Before he died he wrote a confession to the Pavis murder under Murphy’s duress.

Murphy was brought to trial for the Pavis murder in June 1973. The court heard evidence from two witnesses who had seen Murphy pull the trigger and had later picked him out of an identification parade. The jury, however, acquitted him due in part to Murphy’s disruption of the line-up. Murphy’s freedom was short-lived: he was re-arrested immediately for a number of escape attempts and imprisoned, then interned, for three years.[3]

Formation

A UVF mural on the Shankill Road, where the gang was based

In May 1975, Murphy was released from prison, where he had been married to Margaret Gillespie and during which period a daughter had been born to the couple. He spent much of his time frequenting pubs on the Shankill Road and assembling a paramilitary team that would enable him to act with some freedom at a remove from the UVF leadership (Brigade Staff). Murphy’s inner circle consisted of two people whom Dillon was unable to name for legal reasons but whom he called Murphy’s “personal friends”. These were a “Mr A” and John Murphy, one of Lenny’s brothers (referred to as “Mr B”). Further down the chain of command were Lenny Murphy’s “sergeants” William Moore and Bobby “Basher” Bates, a UVF man and former prisoner.[4] Moore, formerly a worker in a meat-processing factory, had stolen several large knives and meat-cleavers from his old workplace, tools that would later be used in more murders. Another prominent figure was Sam McAllister, who used his physical presence to intimidate others.

On 2 October 1975, the gang raided a drinks premises in nearby Millfield. On finding that its four employees (two females and two males) were Catholics, Murphy shot three of them dead and ordered an accomplice to kill the fourth. By now Murphy was using the upper floor of the Brown Bear pub, at the corner of Mountjoy Street and the Shankill Road near his home, as an occasional meeting-place for his unit.

Cut-throat killings

On 24–25 November 1975, Murphy adopted the method that gained the Butchers infamy far beyond Belfast. Using the city’s sectarian geography (which remains to this day) to identify likely targets, Murphy roamed the areas nearest the Catholic New Lodge in the hope of finding someone (likely to be Catholic) to abduct. Francis Crossen (34), a Catholic man and father of two, was walking towards the city centre at approximately 12.40 a.m. when four of the Butchers, in Moore’s taxi, spotted him. As the taxi pulled alongside Crossen, Murphy jumped out and hit the man with a wheel brace to disorientate him. He was dragged into the taxi by Benjamin Edwards and Archie Waller, two of Murphy’s gang. As the taxi returned to the safety of the nearby Shankill area, Crossen suffered a ferocious beating. It is clear that he was subjected to a high level of violence, including a beer glass being shoved into his head. Murphy repeatedly told Crossen: “I’m going to kill you, you bastard”, before the taxi stopped at an entry off Wimbledon Street. Crossen was dragged into an alleyway and Murphy, brandishing a butcher’s knife, cut his throat almost through to the spine. The gang dispersed. Crossen, whose body was found the next morning (Tuesday) by an elderly woman, was the first of three Catholics to be killed by Murphy in this “horrific and brutal manner”.[5] “Slaughter in back alley” was the headline in the city’s major afternoon newspaper that day.[6] A relative of Crossen said that his family was unable to have an open coffin at his wake because the body was so badly mutilated.[7]

The Lawnbrook Social Club (1979)

A few days later, on 30 November 1975, an internal feud led to the deaths of two members of a rival UVF company on the Shankill and to that of Archibald Waller, who had been involved in the Crossen murder. On 14 October of that year, Waller had killed Stewart Robinson in a punishment shooting that went wrong.[8] With the sanction of the UVF Brigade Staff, he in turn was gunned down by one of Robinson’s comrades in the UVF team based in the “Windsor Bar”, a quarter of a mile from the Brown Bear pub. Enraged, Murphy had the gunman, former loyalist prisoner Noel “Nogi” Shaw, brought before a kangaroo court in the Lawnbrook Club, one of his Shankill drinking-dens. After pistol whipping Shaw, Murphy shot him in front of his whole unit of about twenty men and returned to finish his drink at the bar. John Murphy and William Moore put Shaw’s body in a laundry basket, and Moore dumped it half a mile away from the murder scene.[9]

Murphy’s other cut-throat victims were Joseph Quinn (55) and Francis Rice (24). Both were abducted late at night, at the weekend, in the same area as Crossen. Quinn was murdered in the Glencairn district of the Upper Shankill in the early hours of 7 February 1976 and Rice a few streets from Murphy’s home at about 1.30 a.m. on 22 February 1976, after a butcher’s knife had been collected from a loyalist club. Quinn’s body was not found until mid-evening, after a phone call to a Belfast newspaper, while Rice’s was found about six hours after his murder. Murphy’s main accomplices on both occasions were Moore and Bates, while Edwards was party to the killing of Quinn. Another man and two women, whom Dillon did not name, were accessories to Murphy in the murder of Rice.[10]

By this time the expression “the Butchers” had appeared in media coverage of these killings, and many Catholics lived in fear of the gang. Detective Chief Inspector Jimmy Nesbitt, head of the CID Murder Squad in Tennent Street RUC base and the man charged with tracking down the Butchers, was in no doubt that the murders of Crossen, Quinn and Rice were the work of the same people. Other than that he had little information, although a lead was provided by the woman who found Rice’s body. The previous night she had heard voices in the entry where the body was later found and what she thought might have been a local taxi (those in Belfast being ex-London type black cabs). This had led to William Moore’s taxi being examined for evidence, as were all other Shankill taxis; however, the Butchers had cleaned the vehicle thoroughly and nothing incriminating was found.[11] Under Murphy’s orders, Moore destroyed the taxi and bought a yellow Ford Cortina, which was to be used in subsequent murders.

Early on 11 March 1976, Murphy tried to kill a Catholic woman in a drive-by shooting; arrested later that day, he was put on remand on an attempted murder charge. Shortly after Murphy’s arrest, he began to receive visits from “Mr A” and “Mr B”. He told “Mr A” that the cut-throat murders should continue in due course, partly to divert suspicion from himself. In a subsequent plea-bargain, Murphy pleaded guilty to a firearms charge and was sentenced on 11 October 1977 to twelve years’ imprisonment.

Another Catholic man killed by the gang was Cornelius Neeson (49), attacked with a hatchet by Moore and McAllister on the Cliftonville Road late on 1 August 1976. He died a few hours later. A brother of Mr Neeson’s, speaking in 1994, declared: “I saw the state of my brother’s body after he was butchered on the street. I said, ‘That is not my brother’. Even our mother would not have recognised him”.[12]

Later that year “Mr A” informed Moore, now the Butchers’ de facto commander, of Murphy’s orders to resume the throat-slashings. Three more Catholic men from North Belfast were subsequently kidnapped, tortured and hacked to death in the same way as before. The victims were: Stephen McCann (21), a Queen’s University student murdered on 30 October 1976; Joseph Morrissey (52), killed on 3 February 1977; and Francis Cassidy (43), a dock-worker who was killed on 30 March 1977. Moore proved himself an able deputy to Murphy, committing the throat-cuttings himself and encouraging the gang to use extreme violence on the victims beforehand. In particular, Arthur McClay attacked Morrissey with a hatchet; Moore had promoted McClay after Murphy had been jailed. The three victims were dumped in various parts of the greater Shankill area. The other gang members involved in one or more of these cut-throat murders were Sam McAllister, John Townsley, David Bell and Norman Waugh.[13] “Mr A” played a prominent part in the planning of Moore’s activities.

Capture and imprisonment

Late on Tuesday, 10 May 1977, Gerard McLaverty, a young Belfast man whose family had recently left the city, was walking down the Cliftonville Road. Two members of the Butchers approached him and, posing as policemen, forced him into a car where two of their comrades were seated. The gang, who had spent the day drinking, drove McLaverty to a disused doctor’s surgery on the corner of Emerson Street and the Shankill Road where he was beaten with sticks. He was stabbed, had his wrists slashed a number of times by Moore and McAllister, using a smallish knife, and was dumped in a back entry. Uncharacteristically, he had been left for dead by the gang but survived until early morning, when a woman heard his cries for help and called the police. In compliance with previous orders, news of the assault was given to Inspector Nesbitt. At first he did not attribute particular significance to this message, as the Butchers had left no one alive before; but on discovering the nature of the assault and the use of a knife, he came up with an idea that was to permanently change the course of his inquiries.

Taking advantage of the aftermath of a loyalist paramilitary strike and local elections, Nesbitt had the recovered McLaverty disguised and driven by police around the Shankill area on Wednesday 18 May to see if he could spot the men who had abducted or attacked him. Within a short time he identified McAllister and Edwards, and Nesbitt had a breakthrough that enabled him to widen his net. The next morning he initiated a large arrest operation and many of McAllister’s associates, including Moore, were taken into custody. At first under intense interrogation, the suspects admitted only to their involvement in the McLaverty abduction but Nesbitt, seizing on McAllister’s references to the size of a knife used on McLaverty, had his team of detectives press the case, and eventually most of the gang admitted their part in the activities of the Butchers. Further arrests followed and the overall picture became clearer.

The salient point emerging was that Lenny Murphy, the commander of the unit, was the driving force behind the cut-throat murders and other criminal activities. A number of the Butchers implicated him and his close associates “Mr A” and “Mr B” (John Murphy) in numerous paramilitary activities but later retracted these claims for fear of retribution from the UVF Brigade Staff. Lenny Murphy, in prison, and Messrs “A” and “B” were interviewed several times in connection with the Butchers’ inquiry but revealed nothing during interviews. Without corroborative or forensic evidence, the state prosecution service decided that they would not face charges.

The rest of the Butchers came to trial during 1978 and early 1979. On 20 February 1979, eleven men were convicted of a total of 19 murders, and the 42 life sentences handed out were the most ever in a single trial in British criminal history. Moore pleaded guilty to 11 counts of murder and Bates to 10. The trial judge, Lord Justice O’Donnell, said that he did not wish to be cast as “public avenger” but felt obliged to sentence the pair of them to life imprisonment with no chance of release. However, Bates was freed two years after the paramilitary ceasefires of 1994 and Moore released under the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Martin Dillon’s own investigations suggest that a number of other individuals (whom he was unable to name for legal reasons) escaped prosecution for participation in the crimes of the Butchers and that the gang were responsible for a total of at least 30 murders. In summing-up, Lord O’Donnell stated that their crimes, “a catalogue of horror”, were “a lasting monument to blind sectarian bigotry”. After the trial, Jimmy Nesbitt’s comment was: “The big fish got away”, a reference to Murphy (referred to in court as “Mr X” or the “Master Butcher”) and to Messrs “A” and “B”. At this time Gerry McLaverty lived under Northern and Republican police protection in Dublin, where he had been given a cover name.[14]

Murphy’s release and death

His sentence for the firearms conviction complete, Lenny Murphy was released from prison on 16 July 1982. One day later, his killing spree resumed when he beat to death a local Protestant man with a learning disability in the Loyalist Club in Rumford Street. His body was dumped in a back alley over a mile away. Murphy began to assemble a new gang.[15]

On 29 August 1982, Murphy killed Jim Galway (33), a part-time Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) soldier from the Lower Shankill area who had been passing information to the UVF and was involved with its Ballymena units. When suspicions of being an informer fell upon Galway, Murphy decided to kill him. Galway was shot in the head at a building site in the village of Broughshane near Ballymena and buried on the spot. His decayed body was not found until November 1983; he had not been seen since leaving for a short holiday at the end of August 1982. The location of the body was pointed-out in 1983 by someone in custody for other charges.[16][17]

On 5 September, Murphy killed a former UVF prisoner, Brian Smyth (30), in a dispute over money owed for a car. Murphy poisoned the man in a Shankill club before shooting him from the rear of a passing motorcycle as he sat in a car driven by Murphy’s friend and leading Red Hand Commando member Sam “Mambo” Carroll.[18]

The Shankill Butchers’ last victim was killed off Brookmount Street (pictured), where Lenny Murphy owned a house

Early on Friday 22 October, UDR soldier Thomas Cochrane was kidnapped by the IRA. The next evening, although he had been warned by the UVF Brigade Staff against abducting anyone, Murphy kidnapped a Catholic, ostensibly to demand Cochrane’s release in exchange for the Catholic hostage. He hijacked a black taxi, which one of his men drove to the Falls Road. Joseph Donegan, a middle-aged Catholic man on his way home, hailed the vehicle and got in. Murphy immediately attacked the man as the taxi was driven back to the safety of the Shankill. At a house owned by Murphy in Brookmount Street, Donegan was tortured sadistically by Murphy, who according to Dillon, pulled out all but three of his teeth with pliers. Murphy’s associate, Tommy Stewart, battered Donegan to death with a shovel. “Mr A” was party to these events. Murphy telephoned a prominent Catholic politician, Cormac Boomer, to demand that Cochrane be set free. Murphy ordered that Donegan’s body be removed from his house, but the plan was disturbed by passers-by and the victim had to be dumped in an entry behind the house. After discovery of the body on the morning of Monday 25 October, Murphy and two others were arrested; but without evidence that Murphy had been party to this crime, it was not possible to charge him. Cochrane’s body was found a week later.[19]

Murphy was assassinated by a Provisional IRA hit squad early in the evening of Tuesday 16 November 1982 outside the back of his girlfriend’s house in the Glencairn estate (where four of the Butchers’ cut-throat victims had been dumped). No sooner had he parked his car than two gunmen emerged from a van that had been following him and fired a hail of more than twenty bullets, killing him instantly. After several days’ speculation as to those responsible for the shooting, the IRA issued a statement claiming responsibility for what it termed Murphy’s “execution”:

“Lenny Murphy (master butcher) has been responsible for the horrific murders of over 20 innocent Nationalists in the Belfast area and a number of Protestants. The IRA has been aware for some time that since his release recently from prison, Murphy was attempting to re-establish a similar murder gang to that which he led in the mid-1970s and, in fact, he was responsible for a number of the recent sectarian murders in the Belfast area. The IRA takes this opportunity to restate its policy of non-sectarian attacks, while retaining its right to take unequivocal action against those who direct or motivate sectarian slaughter against the Nationalist population”.[20]

The location of the murder, in a loyalist stronghold, and the timing of the shooting to coincide with Murphy’s movements suggest that the IRA received help from UVF members who deemed Murphy “out of control” or, equally plausibly, that information had been given by an enemy of Murphy’s. Dillon suggests that Jim Craig, a leading Ulster Defence Association (UDA) godfather whose protection rackets had made him rich and feared in equal measure, fitted the bill. He was known to have clashed with Murphy on the latter’s release from prison earlier that year and may have wanted him out of the picture. In support of this theory, Craig was later executed by his UDA colleagues for “treason”, an inquiry having found some evidence of his part in the murder of other top loyalists by the IRA.[1][17]

Murphy’s family denied that he had a violent nature or was involved with the Butchers: “My Lenny could not have killed a fly”, said his mother Joyce.[21] She also accused the police of continual harassment of her son since his recent release from prison and said that he was planning to leave the country as soon as his divorce came through. The UVF gave Murphy a paramilitary funeral attended by thousands of loyalists and several unionist politicians, at which Mr A and John Murphy played prominent roles.[22] On his gravestone in Carnmoney cemetery were inscribed the words: “Here lies a soldier”.[23] Murphy’s headstone was smashed in 1989 and had to be replaced.[17]

Other activities

Moore, Bates and McAllister shot and wounded a member of the Windsor Bar UVF unit a few hours after the murder of Noel Shaw in November 1975.[24] Murphy and Moore shot dead Edward McQuaid, a Catholic man, on the Cliftonville Road on 10 January 1976. On 9 February 1976, Murphy and three of his gang shot and killed two Protestant men, Archibald Hanna and Raymond Carlisle, wrongly believing that they were Catholics on their way to work across the Shankill. Bates was involved in a gun attack on a bar in Smithfield, not far from the Shankill, that killed several people, both Catholics and Protestants, on 5 June 1976.[25] Other Protestants who met their deaths at the hands of the gang included two UDA men. The first was Thomas Easton, who made the mistake of becoming involved in an argument with McAllister, and died after being hit by falling beer-barrels on 21 December 1976. McAllister’s guilty plea to a manslaughter charge was accepted by the Crown.[26] The second was James Moorehead, a former police reservist,[27] beaten to death by McAllister, Bates and Moore in the toilets of the Windsor Bar on 29 January 1977. McAllister received a minor punishment shooting for the murder of Easton.[28] Members of the gang also carried out a bombing mission on the Falls Road that killed a 10-year-old Catholic boy on 10 April 1977.[29] Murphy’s brother John was heavily involved in the latter incident, along with “Mr A”. The gang used the services of the UVF’s leading bomb expert James “Tonto” Watt to plant the device, although Watt was not a member of the Brown Bear platoon.[30] Several of the Butchers, including John Murphy, were questioned about a serious assault in April 1977 in Union Street, near Belfast city centre, on a man they believed wrongly was a Catholic. John Murphy received three years’ imprisonment for his part in this incident.

Aftermath

Several sources indicate that Mid-Ulster UVF’s brigadier, Robin “The Jackal” Jackson from Donaghcloney (now deceased) contacted members of the gang in the Shankill, “Mr A” in particular, and had them make an attempt on the life of journalist Jim Campbell, northern editor of the Sunday World newspaper, in May 1984. Campbell, whose investigations put the spotlight on Jackson’s activities, was very seriously wounded but survived.[31]

All members of the Butchers gang were released a number of years ago. The first to be freed was John Townsley, who had been only 14 when he became involved with the gang and 16 when arrested. In October 1996, Bates was released;[32] he had reportedly “found religion” behind bars. Bates was shot and killed in the upper Shankill area on 11 June 1997 by the son of the UDA man he had killed in the Windsor Bar.[33][34] “Mr B”, John Murphy, died in a car accident in Belfast in August 1998.[35] In July 2000, Sam McAllister was injured in an attack during a loyalist feud.[36] William Moore was the final member of the gang to be released from prison in August 1998, after over twenty-one years behind bars. He died on 17 May 2009, from a suspected heart attack at his home and was given a paramilitary funeral by the UVF.[37][38] With Moore now deceased, the only senior figure still alive is “Mr A”.[39]

In November 2004, the Serious Crime Review Team in Belfast said they were looking into the unsolved death of Rosaleen O’Kane, aged 33 at the time of her death, who was found dead in her home in September 1976. Her family and authorities believe the Shankill Butchers may have been involved in her death.[40]

See Lenny Murphy

Gang members

Lenny Murphy

The following were members of the gang and were convicted of various crimes.[41]

  • Lenny Murphy (1952–1982)
  • John Murphy (1950–1998)
  • William Moore (1949–2009)
  • Robert Bates (1948–1997)
  • Sam McAllister (1955–)
  • Benjamin Edwards (1951–)
  • John Townsley (1961–)
  • Norman Waugh (1952–)
  • Arthur McClay (1953–)
  • David Bell (1953–)
  • Edward McIlwaine (1953–)
  • Edward Leckey

List of victims

The following is a list of known and suspected victims of the Shankill Butchers.

Date Name and age Status
2 October 1975 Marie McGrattan (47) Catholic civilian Shot dead at her workplace; Casey’s Bottling Plant.[42]
2 October 1975 Frances Donnelly (35) Catholic civilian Shot dead at her workplace; Casey’s Bottling Plant.[42]
2 October 1975 Gerard Grogan (18) Catholic civilian Shot dead at his workplace; Casey’s Bottling Plant.[42]
2 October 1975 Thomas Osborne (18) Catholic civilian Shot dead at his workplace; Casey’s Bottling Plant.[42]
25 November 1975 Francis Crossen (34) Catholic civilian Found badly beaten and with his throat slashed in an entry between Wimbledon Street and Bisley Street, middle Shankill.[42]
30 November 1975 Noel Shaw (19) UVF member Found shot dead in a taxi on Nixon Street. The killing was the result of an internal dispute.[42]
10 January 1976 Edward McQuaid (25) Catholic civilian Killed in a drive-by shooting while walking along Cliftonville Road.[43]
6 February 1976 Thomas Quinn (55) Catholic civilian Found with his throat slashed on a grass bank off Forthriver Way.[43]
9 February 1976 Archibald Hanna (51) Protestant civilian Shot, along with Raymond Carlisle, while sitting in a lorry on Cambrai Street. They were assumed to have been Catholics.[43]
9 February 1976 Raymond Carlisle (27) Protestant civilian Shot, along with Archibald Hanna, while sitting in a lorry on Cambrai Street. They were assumed to have been Catholics.[43]
23 February 1976 Francis Rice (24) Catholic civilian Found with his throat slashed in an entry between Mayo Street and Esmond Street, Shankill Road.[43]
2 August 1976 Cornelius Neeson (49) Catholic civilian Found beaten to death at the junction of Manor Street and Cliftonville Road.[43] A hatchet had been used in the attack.
30 October 1976 Stephen McCann (20) Catholic civilian Found with his throat slashed and shot near the community centre off Forthriver Road.[43]
20 December 1976 Thomas Easton (22) Protestant civilian Found beaten to death behind St Andrew’s Church on Forthriver Road. The killing was the result of a personal dispute.[43]
31 January 1977 James Moorehead (30) UDA member Found beaten to death on Adela Street. The killing was the result of a personal dispute.[44]
3 February 1977 Joseph Morrisey (52) Catholic civilian Found badly beaten and with his throat slashed near the community centre off Forthriver Road.[44] A hatchet had also been used in the attack.
30 March 1977 Francis Cassidy (43) Catholic civilian Shot and found with his throat slashed on a grass verge off Highfern Gardens.[44]
10 April 1977 Kevin McMenamin (7) Catholic civilian Killed in a bomb attack on a Republican ClubsEaster Rising Commemoration Parade’, Beechmount Avenue.[44]
10 May 1977 Gerard McLaverty Catholic civilian Found in a back alley off Emerson Street. He had been beaten and stabbed, and his wrists had been slashed. He was the only victim of the Shankill Butchers to have survived his injuries.
17 July 1982 Norman Maxwell (33) Protestant civilian Found beaten to death on waste ground off Alliance Road.[45] He had suffered from a learning disability.
29 August 1982 James Galway (33) Protestant civilian Shot dead and found buried on a building site in Broughshane.[45] He was suspected of being a police informer.
5 September 1982 Brian Smyth (30) UVF member Poisoned in a loyalist club before being shot from a passing motorbike on Crimea Street.[45] The killing was the result of a personal dispute.
24 October 1982 Joseph Donegan (48) Catholic civilian Found beaten to death in an entry off Brookmount Street.[45]

See Lenny Murphy

See Robert ” Basher ” Bates

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