She was jailed twice for seditious speeches. After she was released from HM Prison Armagh, raids on her house by the security forces escalated, her health began to fail and she was admitted to the Mater Hospital, Belfast.
On 28 October 1976, Máire Drumm was shot dead in her hospital bed in a joint operation by the Red Hand Commando.
The life and death of Eamon Collins Eamon Collins (1954 – 27 January 1999) was a Provisional Irish Republican Army member in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He turned his back on the organisation in the late 1980s, and later co-authored a book called Killing Rage detailing his experiences within it. In January 1999 he was waylaid on a … Continue reading Killing Rage – The life and death of Eamon Collins→
The brutal & unforgivable murder of Ann Ogilby, also known as the Romper Room murder Forgotten victims of the Troubles The murder of Ann Ogilby, also known as the “Romper Room murder”, took place in Sandy Row, south Belfast, Northern Ireland on 24 July 1974. It was a punishment killing, carried out by members of the Sandy Row women’s Ulster Defence … Continue reading Ann Ogilby’s brutal murder: ” Forgotten ” victims of the Troubles→
Joe McCann – Life & Death Joe McCann (2 November 1947 – 15 April 1972) was an Irish republican volunteer. A member of the Irish Republican Army and later the Official Irish Republican Army, he was active in politics from the early 1960s and participated in the early years of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. He was shot dead, after being confronted by RUC Special … Continue reading Joe McCann – Life & Death→
… Máire Drumm Life & death 22 October 1919 – 28 October 1976 Máire Drumm (22 October 1919 – 28 October 1976) was the vice-president of Sinn Féin and a commander in Cumann na mBan. She was killed by Ulster loyalists while recovering from an eye operation in Belfast’s Mater Hospital. Born in Newry, County Down, to a staunchly Irish republican family. Drumm’s mother had … Continue reading Máire Drumm: Life & Death→
Death of Robert Hamill Robert Hamill was an Irish Catholic civilian who was beaten to death by a loyalist mob in Portadown, County Armagh, Northern Ireland. Hamill and his friends were attacked on 27 April 1997 on the town’s main street. It has been claimed that the local Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), parked a short … Continue reading Death of Robert Hamill: 27th April 1997→
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.
Before moving to Belfast he had already been questioned in relation to a sexual assault on two young boys. The charges were dropped after the intervention of some friends who held prominent positions in Northern Irish society.
McKeague split from Paisley in late 1969 under uncertain circumstances. Rumours that a young man with whom McKeague was living was his boyfriend had been rife but McKeague did not discuss the details. He stated only that he had been summoned to a meeting by Paisley where he was told he was an “embarrassment” and would have to leave the Free Presbyterian Church.
Whatever the circumstances, the two became bitter enemies, with McKeague frequently criticising Paisley in print.
Early loyalist involvement
McKeague’s relationship with William McGrath‘s Tara, a partially clandestine organisation that sought to drive Roman Catholicism out of all of Ireland and re-establish an earlier Celtic Christianity which it claimed had existed on the island centuries earlier, has been the subject of some disagreement.
According to Tim Pat Coogan McKeague was a founder-member of Tara of 1966 although he does not eleaborate on the details. Chris Moore, in his investigation into the Kincora scandal, insists that McKeague was never a member of Tara but that he and McGrath had met to discuss trading weapons between their two groups and that following these meetings McKeague had become a regular visitor to Kincora, where he was involved in several rapes of underage boys living at the home.
Although making no comment on his membership or otherwise of the group Jim Cusack and Henry McDonald insist that McKeague shared the far right conspiratorial views advanced by McGrath and UPV leader Noel Doherty.
Martin Dillon also makes no comment on McKeague and Tara but insists that he was one of a number of shadowy figures, along with McGrath, who played a leading role in the formation of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in 1966 and in helping to direct its strategy for the rest of the 1960s.
In late 1969 Thomas McDowell, a member of the Free Presbyterian Church who held dual membership of the UPV and UVF, was killed after a bungled attempt to blow up the power station at Ballyshannon led to him being electrocuted, suffering severe burns.
Investigations by the Garda Síochána, who found UVF insignia on McDowell’s coat, led them to question his associate Samuel Stevenson who named McKeague as a central figure in a series of UVF explosions that had been carried out at the time, many involving UPV members.
The case went north, where the previous explosions had taken place, and on 16 February 1970 the trial opened. McKeague, along with William Owens (McKeague’s 19-year-old flatmate), Derek Elwood, Trevor Gracey and Francis Mallon, were charged with causing an earlier explosion at Templepatrick.
The case collapsed after serious doubt was cast on the character of Stevenson, whose evidence was the main basis of the prosecution’s case
Shankill Defence Association
In 1968 McKeague became a regular figure amongst groups of locals who every night congregated in large groups in the Woodvale area close to Ardoyne after a series of incidents between loyalists and republicans during which flags from both sides had been forcibly removed.
Having split from the UPV due to its perceived inaction in May 1969, McKeague addressed a meeting of loyalists in Tennent Street Hall at which he called for organisation against Catholic rioters. From this meeting he founded the Shankill Defence Association(SDA), with the proclaimed intention to defend the Shankill Road from Catholic rioters.
He became a notorious figure locally, usually prominent in the rioting, carrying a stick and wearing a helmet.
The violence of the SDA was accompanied by equally violent rhetoric from McKeague as he boasted that the group possessed “hundreds of guns” and vowed that
“We will see the battle through to the end”.
His militant stance won him the public support of Ronald Bunting who, like McKeague had earlier been associated with Paisley but had since broken from him.
In November 1969, McKeague was cleared of a charge of conspiracy to cause explosions. He was however sentenced to three months imprisonment for unlawful assembly.
McKeague’s absence on remand for the initial charges saw his stock fall on the Shankill, where he was already mistrusted due to being from east Belfast and where his reputation had been further blackened by supporters of his former friend Ian Paisley.
Leaving the Shankill he attempted to set up a group similar to the SDA on the Donegall Roadbut was declared persona non grata by the head of an existing local Defence Committee, who was a loyal Paisleyite. This, combined with a rumour that McKeague was a “fruit“, saw him abandon all initiatives in the west and south of the city and concentrate on east Belfast.
The SDA continued in his absence until 1971 when it merged with other like-minded vigilante groups to form the Ulster Defence Association (UDA).
Much of the content of the magazine was of a low-brow nature, containing jokes and cartoons in which Catholics were portrayed as lazy, dirty, stupid and alcoholic or, in the case of women, highly promiscuous.
In 1971 he was tried for incitement to hatred after publishing the controversial Loyalist Song Book. The first man to be tried under the Incitement to Hatred Act, McKeague’s book included the line
“you’ve never seen a better Taig than with a bullet in his head”.
After the jury disagreed at his trial a retrial was ordered at which he and a co-defendant were acquitted. Martin Dillon argues that it was around this time that RUC Special Branch first recruited him as an agent, allegedly using information they had obtained about his paedophile activities to force him to agree. He was handed over to the Intelligence Corps by Special Branch the following year.
John McKeague and mother
His mother, Isabella McKeague, was burned alive on 9 May 1971 when the UDA petrol-bombed the family shop in Albertbridge Road, Belfast. Reporting on her death in Loyalist News, John McKeague claimed she had been….
“murdered by the enemies of Ulster”,
….a common term for republicans.
In fact, the UDA had tired of McKeague both for his loose cannon attitude in launching attacks and starting riots without consulting their leadership and due to his promiscuous homosexuality with teenage partners. According to Ed Moloney a dispute over money had also been central to the schism between McKeague and the UDA.
McKeague broke fully from the UDA and established the Red Hand Commando in the middle of 1972, recruiting a number of young men primarily in east Belfast and North Down.
McKeague had already been involved in organising the “Tartan gangs“, groups of loyalist youths who were involved in rioting and general disorder, and used these as the basis of his new group.
Following various attacks by his paramilitary organisation, in February 1973 he became one of the first loyalist internees and was later imprisoned for three years on an armed robbery charge (a conviction he disputed). He started two hunger strikes in protest against the Special Powers Act and prison conditions while in jail.
In his absence he lost control of the Red Hand Commando, which became an integral part of the UVF. UVF leader Gusty Spence however contended that he had secured McKeague’s agreement that the running of the Red Hand Commando should be taken over by the UVF not long after McKeague established the movement.
According to British military intelligence and police files McKeague was believed to have been behind the sadistic murder of a ten-year-old boy, Brian McDermott, in South Belfast in September 1973.
The killing, which involved dismemberment and the burning of the body in the Ormeau Park, was so gruesome that the local press speculated that it might have been carried out as part of a Satanic ritual. On 3 October 1975, Alice McGuinness, a Catholic civilian, was injured in an IRA bomb attack on McKeague’s hardware shop on the Albertbridge Road. She died three days later. McKeague’s sister was severely injured in the same bombing.
McKeague became a leading figure in the Ulster Loyalist Central Coordinating Committee (ULCCC), and in 1976 publicly endorsed Ulster nationalism in his capacity as an ULCCC spokesman. The aim of the group, which McKeague chaired, was to co-ordinate loyalist paramilitaries with the aim of founding a unified “Ulster army” although this premise did not prevent a loyalist feud between the UDA and UVF continuing following its foundation.
McKeague met with Gerry Adams briefly to discuss the independence option but the meetings were unproductive and reportedly convinced Adams that such clandestine discussions with loyalist paramilitaries were a waste of time. The contact between McKeague and his allies and the republicans, which was not endorsed by the wider ULCCC, saw the group fall apart as both the UDA and Down Orange Welfare resigned from the co-ordinating body when it came to light.
McKeague was subsequently a leading figure in the Ulster Independence Association, a group active from 1979 in support of an independent Northern Ireland. McKeague served as deputy to George Allport’s leadership of the group.
In January 1982 McKeague was interviewed by detectives investigating Kincora about his involvement in the sexual abuse. Fearful of returning to prison, McKeague told friends that he was prepared to name others involved in the paedophile ring to avoid a sentence.
However on 29 January 1982, McKeague was shot dead in his shop on the Albertbridge Road, East Belfast, reportedly by the INLA.
It has been argued that following McKeague’s threats to go public about all of those involved in Kincora his killing had been ordered by the Intelligence Corps, as many of those who could have named were also agents (often more effective than McKeague, who by that time was highly peripheral in paramilitary circles). To support this suggestion it has been stated by Jack Holland and Henry McDonald that of the two gunmen who shot McKeague one was a known Special Branch agent and the other was rumoured to have military intelligence links.
Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles
Tuesday 28 September 1971
Tripartite talks continued at Chequers, England.
Sunday 28 September 1975
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a bomb in Caterham, Surrey, England
Wednesday 28 September 1977
James Callaghan, then British Prime Minister, and Jack Lynch, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), held a meeting in Downing Street, London. One of the main issues discussed was economic cross-border co-operation.
Thursday 28 September 1978
Joshua Eilberg, then a Democrat Congressman, and Hamilton Fish, then a Republican Congressman, paid a five day visit to Northern Ireland. The two men later argued that the United States of America (USA) should play a part in finding a political settlement in the region.
Friday 28 September 1984 – Saturday 29 September 1984
Security forces in the Republic of Ireland intercepted a trawler, the Marita Ann, off the coast of County Kerry and uncovered seven tons of arms and explosives believed to be on route to the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Five men were arrested during the operation. The haul represented the largest find in the Republic of Ireland since 1973. [In June 1987 four American men were sentenced by an American court for their part in the incident. In August 1987 two American men and two Irish men were also sentenced by a French court.]
Tuesday 28 September 1993
Unionist politicians rejected a suggestion by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) for a boycott of government.
Thursday 28 September 1995
William Elliott (31), a member of Red Hand Commando (RHC), was shot dead by members of his own Loyalist paramilitary group, while leaving a friends’ house, Primacy Park, Bangor, County Down.
[The killing was the result of an internal RHC dispute. It was alleged that he had been killed because of his part in the killing of Margaret Wright (31) on 7 April 1994.]
Martin McGuinness, then Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), held a meeting with Michael Ancram, then Political Development Minister at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO). The meeting was held at the request of SF to discuss the political situation; there was agreement to meet again.
Sunday 28 September 1997
Loyalist who were taking part in the weekly picket of the Catholic church at Harryville, Ballymena, said that they would extend the protest to include Catholic chapels at Ballycastle, Dervcock, and Lisburn. They said that they would continue their protest until the Orange Order was allowed to parade in the Catholic village of Dunloy, County Antrim.
In continuing sectarian tension in the Oldpark area of north Belfast, the homes of three Catholic families were attacked with petrol bombs. There were no serious injuries in the attacks.
Tuesday 28 September 1999
David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), criticised loyalist paramilitaries for attacks on Catholics. He also called on people to repudiate “mafia loyalism” in Protestant areas. Trimble quoted figures indicating that Loyalist paramilitaries were responsible for 9 murders, 76 shootings, 178 ‘punishment’ beatings, and over 400 incidents of forced exclusions. The Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) and the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) criticised Trimble for his remarks.
Friday 28 September 2001
See Martin O’Hagan Page
Loyalists Kill Journalist Martin O’Hagan (51), a Catholic civilian, who worked as a journalist for the Sunday World (a Dublin based newspaper) was shot dead at 10.45pm (22.45BST) by Loyalist paramilitaries as he walked towards his home with his wife in Lurgan, County Armagh. The Red Hand Defenders (RHD), a cover name previously used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF), claimed responsibility for the killing. O’Hagan was the first journalist to be killed during the course of ‘the Troubles’.
[The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) believed that the LVF was responsible for the killing. O’Hagan had written a number of stories about the activities of the LVF and had been threatened on a number of occasions.]
Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the RUC, made a further appeal to political and community leaders to do all they can to try to bring an end to the on-going violence in north Belfast. He again stated his belief that Loyalist paramilitaries, in particular the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), were involved in the shooting and rioting.
John Reid, then Secretary of State, stopped short of officially declaring that the UDA ceasefire was over.
In a statement Reid said the he would give the UDA one last opportunity to end the violence in north Belfast. [Reid had warned the UDA on 31 July 2001 that he was keeping that organisation’s ceasefire under review.] A concrete block was thrown at a school bus in north Belfast. Seven children were injured in the incident. The bus was taking children, aged 12 to 16 years, to Hazelwood Integrated College when it was attacked at Skegoniel Avenue.
[Integrated schools in Northern Ireland are attended by Catholic and Protestant pupils.]
Remembering all innocent victims of the Troubles
Today is the anniversary of the follow people killed as a results of the conflict in Northern Ireland
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 28th September between 1972 – 2001
28 September 1972 Edward Pavis, (32)
Protestant Status: Civilian (Civ),
Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Shot at his home, Glenvarlock Street, Belfast.
28 September 1978 Brian Russell, (30)
Protestant Status: Civilian (Civ),
Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Civilian searcher. Shot during sniper attack on British Army (BA) patrol, Waterloo Place, Derry.
28 September 1981
Alexander Beck, (37)
Protestant Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),
Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in rocket attack on Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) mobile patrol, Glen Road, Andersonstown, Belfast.
28 September 1982 Ronald Brennan, (22)
Protestant Status: Civilian (Civ),
Killed by: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)
Shot during attempted robbery at Mallusk Post Office, near Belfast, County Antrim.
28 September 1991 Larry Murchan, (63)
Catholic Status: Civilian (Civ),
Killed by: Loyalist Retaliation and Defence Group (LRDG)
Shot outside his shop, St James Road, Falls, Belfast.
28 September 1995
William Elliott, (31)
Protestant Status: Red Hand Commando (RHC),
Killed by: Red Hand Commando (RHC)
Shot, while leaving friends house, Primacy Park, Bangor, County Down. Internal Red Hand Commando (RHC) dispute.
28 September 2001
Martin O’Hagan, (51)
Catholic Status: Civilian (Civ),
Killed by: Red Hand Defenders (RHD)
Journalist. Shot while walking near to his home, Westfield Gardens, off Tandragee Road, Lurgan, County Armagh.