Tag Archives: Robert Basher Bates

14th June – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

14th June

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Wednesday 14 June 1972

John Hume and Paddy Devlin, both members of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), held a meeting with representatives of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in Derry.

At that meeting the IRA representatives outlined their conditions for talks with the British Government. The conditions were that: there should be no restriction on who represented the IRA; there should be an independent witness at the meeting; the meeting should not be held at Stormont; and ‘political status’ should be granted to republican prisoners.

Thursday 14 June 1973

James Callaghan, then shadow Foreign Secretary, speaking in the House of Commons, said that Britain might reconsider its position with regard to Northern Ireland if the Assembly was ‘sabotaged’.

Monday 14 June 1976

Merlyn Rees, then Secretary of Sate for Northern Ireland, gave details in the House of Commons of a committee which had been set up to see how the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) could be more effective in enforcing law and order in Northern Ireland.

[This was an additional step in the policy of ‘criminalisation’.]

Thursday 14 June 1984

European Parliament Election

The election to the European Parliament took place in Northern Ireland with the whole region treated as a single constituency under a system of proportional representation.

[When the count was completed, Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), John Taylor, of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), were elected as MEPs. A total of eight candidates had contested the election]

Friday 14 June 1985

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a large bomb, estimated at 1,000 pounds, in the centre of Belfast.

Thursday 14 June 1990

The Home Office in London announced that there were irregularities in the forensic evidence that led to the convictions of the Maguire family.

Wednesday 14 June 1995

The Irish Times (a Dublin based newspaper) carried a report of an interview with Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF).

Adams was reported as saying that the decommissioning of Irish Republican Army (IRA) weapons as a precondition to SF entry into political talks was never mentioned by the British government before the IRA’s ceasefire on 31 August 1994. He went on to say that if such a precondition had been raised,

“… it is possible [that] there would have been no IRA cessation on September 1 last year.”

Friday 14 June 1996

The Northern Ireland Forum met for the first time in Belfast. Sinn Féin was excluded because of the absence of an Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire.

There are objections by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the United Kingdom Unionists (UKU) to the appointment of John Gorman, a Catholic Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) delegate, to the chair of the Forum.

Sunday 14 June 1998

A Protestant family living in a stately home on the outskirts of Derry suffered a third petrol bomb attack. It was believed that Nationalist living in a nearby housing estate were responsible for the attacks.

Monday 14 June 1999

sandy row

Two men escaped injury when shots were fired at then in Sandy Row, south Belfast.

The Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) later stated that “it is more that likely that UVF personnel carried this [attack] out”.

[The shooting was believed to be connected to the killing on 11 June 1997 of Robert ‘Basher’ Bates.]

Robert Basher Bates

See Robert ” Basher” Bates

Counting was completed and the result of the European election was announced. The Methodist Church called for direct talks between the Orange Order and the Garvaghy Road Residents’ Coalition (GRRC).

 

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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.

3 People lost their lives on the 14th   June between 1974 – 1975

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14 June 1974
Peter Meaghan  (37)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)
Shot from passing car while walking along Divis Street, Belfast.

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14 June 1975


Margaret O’Neill  (56)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Defence Association (UDA)
Shot from passing car during gun attack on pedestrians, New Lodge Road, Belfast

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14 June 1975
Joseph Branagh  (35)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Republican group (REP)
Security man. Shot outside Garden Bar, Meadow Street, Tiger’s Bay, Belfast.

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11th June – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

11th June

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Sunday 11 June 1972

There was a gun battle between Loyalist and Republican paramilitaries in the Oldpark area of Belfast.

There were shooting incidents in other areas of Belfast and Northern Ireland.

In all, two Catholics, a Protestant, and a British soldier were shot and killed.

Colonel Gaddafi announced that he had supplied arms to “revolutionaries” in Ireland.

Wednesday 11 June 1980

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued a statement that threatened to renew attacks on prison officers.

Thursday 11 June 1981

A general election was held in the Republic of Ireland.

[When counting was completed a minority government was formed between a coalition of Fine Gael (FG) and Labour. On 30 June 1981 Garret FitzGerald replaced Charles Haughey as Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister).

Two H-Block prisoners were elected to the Dáil.]

Saturday 11 June 1983

In the new British cabinet announced by Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister, James Prior, was reappointed as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

Wednesday 11 June 1986

Five people, one of whom was Patrick Magee, were found guilty at the ‘Old Bailey’ court in London of conspiring to cause explosions in Britain including the Brighton bomb on 12 October 1984.

[Magee later received eight life sentences.]

Thursday 11 June 1987

General Election

A general election was held across the United Kingdom (UK).

The Conservative Party was returned to power. In Northern Ireland the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) increased their vote and their share of the poll.

The overall Unionist vote fell as did the vote of Sinn Féin (SF).

Enoch Powell, formally an Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Member of Parliament (MP), lost his South Down seat to Eddie McGrady of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP).

Friday 11 June 1993

Queen Elizabeth paid a visit to Northern Ireland.

John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), held another meeting with Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF). Amnesty International criticised certain aspects of emergence powers in Northern Ireland.

Tuesday 11 June 1996

The second day of the Stormont talks were again spent in argument over the appointment of George Mitchell as chair and the extent of his “over-arching” role.

The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) agreed to a compromise which reduced the role of George Mitchell but which let talks proceed.

Wednesday 11 June 1997

Robert (‘Basher’) Bates (48)

Robert Basher Bates

a former leading member of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) ‘Shankill Butchers’ gang, was shot dead while opening the Ex-Prisoners Information Centre on Woodvale Road, Belfast.

Initially Republican paramilitaries were blamed for the killing but all the groups denied any involvement, and it later became clear that Loyalist paramilitaries were responsible.

Bates had pleaded guilty in January 1979 to 10 murders.

Most of the victims were Catholics who were abducted, tortured, and killed with butcher knives, hatchets and sometimes guns.

One of Bates’ victims was James Moorehead (30) who at the time was a member of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). It was believed that Bates was killed in retaliation for his part in the murder of Moorehead.

See Robert “Basher” Bates

See Shankill Butchers

See Lenny Murphy

The Queen paid a visit to Northern Ireland and travelled to Dungannon, Belfast, and Hillsborough Castle where a garden reception for 2,000 people was held.

The police and customs officials carried out a series of raids in Britain and Ireland and broke up a drugs gang which had links to the UDA. Police seized £6 million pounds of property, £2 million pounds of illicit alcohol, and £500,000 in cash.

Thursday 11 June 1998

Three shots were fired at a Sinn Féin (SF) election worker in the Markets area of south Belfast.

[Republicans claimed that the attack was carried out by “Group B” a remnant of the Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA). Residents reported increased friction in west and south Belfast between supporters of the Provisionals and Officials in recent weeks.]

Friday 11 June 1999

Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, intensified discussions to try to resolve the issues preventing the establishment of an Executive in Northern Ireland.

The Police Authority of Northern Ireland warned that the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) did not have sufficient funds to meet the additional costs in policing the violence surrounding the Drumcree dispute.

 

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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.

9 People lost their lives on the 11th   June between 1972 – 1997

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11 June 1972
John Madden  (43)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)
Shot outside his shop, Oldpark Road, Belfast.

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11 June 1972


Joseph Campbell  (16)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army Youth Section (IRAF),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot during gun battle, Eskdale Gardens, Ardoyne, Belfast.

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11 June 1972


Norman McGrath  (18)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot from passing British Army (BA) Armoured Personnel Carrier as he walked along Alloa Street, Lower Oldpark, Belfast.

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11 June 1972
Peter Raistric  (18)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot by sniper while in Brooke Park British Army (BA) base, Derry.

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11 June 1975
Kenneth Conway   (20)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: not known (nk)
Died one day after being shot at the junction of Woodvale Road and Glenvale Street, Shankill, Belfast.

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11 June 1976
William Palmer   (50)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Republican group (REP)
Died three days after being shot at his home, Milltown Avenue, Derriaghy, near Belfast

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11 June 1976
Edward Walker  (20)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Association (UDA),

Killed by: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)
Shot while travelling in stolen car along Doagh Road, Newtownabbey, County Antrim

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11 June 1982


David Reeves  (24)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed by booby trap bomb while searching garage, Carranbane Walk, Shantallow, Derry.

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11 June 1997

Robert Bates  (48)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF),

Killed by: Ulster Defence Association (UDA)
Shot, at his workplace, Ex-prisoners Interpretative Centre, Woodvale Road, Shankill, Belfast. Ulster Defence Association / Ulster Volunteer Force feud.

See Shankill Butchers

See Lenny Murphy

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Robert “Basher” Bates 12th Dec 1948 – 11th June 1997. Shankill Butcher

Robert William Bates

” Basher “

Robert William Bates (nicknamed “Basher”) (12 December 1948 – 11 June 1997) was an Ulster loyalist from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He was a member of the Ulster Volunteer Force and the infamous Shankill Butchers gang, led by Lenny Murphy.

Shankill Butchers

Shankill Butchers.

See 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

 

Bates was born into an Ulster Protestant family and grew up in the Shankill Road area of Belfast. He had a criminal record dating back to 1966,  and later became a member of the Ulster loyalist paramilitary organisation, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).

Bates, employed as a barman at the Long Bar, was recruited into the Shankill Butchers gang in 1975 by its notorious ringleader, Lenny Murphy.

The gang used The Brown Bear pub, a Shankill Road drinking haunt frequented by the UVF, as its headquarters. Bates, a “sergeant” in the gang’s hierarchy, was an avid participant in the brutal torture and savage killings perpetrated against innocent Catholics after they were abducted from nationalist streets and driven away in a black taxi owned by fellow Shankill Butcher, William Moore.

William moore.jpg
William Moore

 

 

The killings typically involved grisly-throat slashings preceded by lengthy beatings and torture. Bates was said to have been personally responsible for beating James Moorhead, a member of the Ulster Defence Association, to death on 30 January 1977 and to have played a central role in the kidnapping and murder of Catholic Joseph Morrisey three days later. He also killed Thomas Quinn, a derelict, on 8 February 1976 and the following day was involved in shooting dead Archibald Hanna and Raymond Carlisle, two Protestant workmen that Bates and Murphy mistook for Catholics.

Martin Dillon revealed that Bates was also one of the four UVF gunmen who carried out a mass shooting in the Chlorane Bar attack in Belfast city centre on 5 June 1976. Five people (three Catholics and two Protestants) were shot dead. The UVF unit had burst into the pub in Gresham Street and ordered the Catholics and Protestants to line up on opposite ends of the bar before they opened fire. He later recounted his role in the attack to police; however, he had claimed that he never fired any shots due to his revolver having malfunctioned.

Forensics evidence contradicted him as it proved that his revolver had been fired inside the Chlorane Bar that night. Lenny Murphy was in police custody at the time the shooting attack against the Chlorane Bar took place.

Bates was arrested in 1977, along with Moore and other “Shankill Butcher” accomplices.

Gerard McLaverty and Joseph Morrissey

His arrest followed a sustained attack by Moore and Sam McAllister on Catholic Gerard McLaverty, after which they dumped his body, presuming him dead. However McLaverty survived and identified Moore and McAllister to the Royal Ulster Constabulary who drove him up and down the Shankill Road during a loyalist parade until he saw his attackers. During questioning both men implicated Bates, and other gang members, leading to their arrests.

Following a long period spent on remand, he was convicted in February 1979 of murder related to the Shankill Butcher killings and given ten life sentences, with a recommendation by the trial judge, Mr Justice O’Donnell, that he should never be released.

In prison

At the start of his sentence, Bates was involved in a series of violent incidents involving other inmates. Bates later claimed that he had perpetrated these acts in order to live up to his “Basher” nickname.

He served as company commander of the UVF inmates and became noted as stern disciplinarian.

However while in the Maze Prison, he was said to have “found God”, and as a result became a born-again Christian. He produced a prison testimony, which was later reprinted in The Burning Bush, and, after publicly advocating an end to violence, was transferred to HMP Maghaberry.

Brendan hughes.jpg
Brendan Hughes

 

 

In prison, Bates formed a friendship with Provisional IRA member and fellow detainee Brendan Hughes. Bates foiled a UVF assassination plot on Hughes.

Early release and death

Ex-Prisoners Interpretative Centre, Woodvale Road, where Bates worked after his release and where he was shot

In October 1996, 18 months prior to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, Bates was cleared for early release by the Life Sentence Review Board. He was given the opportunity of participating in a rehabilitation scheme, spending the day on a work placement and returning to prison at night.

As he arrived for work in his native Shankill area of Belfast early on the morning of 11 June 1997,  Bates was shot dead by the son of a UDA man he had killed in 1977.

The killer identified himself to Bates as the son of his victim before opening fire. Bates had been working at the Ex-Prisoners Interpretative Centre (EPIC), a drop-in centre for former loyalist prisoners.

Bates’ killing had not been sanctioned by the UDA leadership but nevertheless they refused to agree to UVF demands that the killer should be handed over to them, instead exiling him from the Shankill. He was rehoused in the Taughmonagh area where he quickly became an important figure in the local UDA as a part of Jackie McDonald‘s South Belfast Brigade.

Bates’ name was subsequently included on the banner of a prominent Orange Lodge on the Shankill Road, called Old Boyne Island Heroes.

Relatives of Shankill butchers victims Cornelius Neeson condemned the banner, stating that:

“it hurts the memory of those the butchers killed”.

A fellow Lodge member and former friend of Bates defended the inclusion of his name to journalist Peter Taylor:

“I knew him very well and he’d been a personal friend for twenty or thirty years and to me he was a gentleman”.

He went on to describe him as having been:

“an easy-going, decent fellow, and as far as the Lodge is concerned, a man of good-standing”.

He was a buried in a Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster ceremony by Reverend Alan Smylie.

Bates’ funeral was attended by a large representation from local Orange Lodges.

Mairead Maguire, July 2009

Mairead Maguire was also amongst the mourners, arguing that Bates had “repented, asked for forgiveness and showed great remorse for what he had done”, whilst a memorial service held at the spot of his killing two days after the funeral was attended by Father Gerry Reynolds of Clonard Monastery

See Shankill Butchers

Shankill Butchers.

See Shankill Butchers

lennie murphy

See Lenny Murphy

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Wednesday 11 June 1997

 

From killer to victim: Basher’s death sums up the futility of the Troubles

Robert “Basher” Bates, who was gunned down in Belfast yesterday, was an icon. To some he represented the very worst that the troubles has produced: to others he was testimony that even the most brutal terrorist might not be beyond redemption.

Two decades ago the 10 murders he was involved in were among the most barbaric ever seen. He shot some of his victims but others he killed in the most cruel fashion, he and his associates wielded butcher’s knives, axes and cleavers on random Catholic victims. The Shankill Butchers slaughtered human beings as one would animals.

The horror of those killings took Belfast to a new low. Yesterday his death conjured up the most appalling vista of all: that the IRA was intent on regenerating the troubles. The relief was palpable when it emerged that he had been killed not by the IRA but by a loyalist, in what is thought to have been personal revenge for the murder by Bates of a close relative, 20 years ago in a bar room brawl.

Basher Bates was one of hundreds of convicted killers released after serving an average of 15 years behind bars. There are hundreds of unsettled personal grudges in Northern Ireland: quite a few people know, or think they know, who killed their fathers or other loved ones. Yet this seems to have been the first personal revenge killing of a released prisoner.

While loyalist groups have accounted for close on 1,000 of the 3,500 victims of the Troubles, the ferocity and awfulness of the Shankill Butchers’ killings have remained in the public memory for two full decades.

A book dwelling on the graphic details has been a local bestseller for 20 years, and can still be picked up in many of the garage shops of Belfast. It was, for example, the favourite reading of Thomas Begley, the young IRA man who four years ago carried a bomb into a Shankill Road fish shop, killing himself and nine Protestants.

Bates was not the prime mover in the Shankill Butchers gang: that was UVF man Lennie Murphy, who was shot dead by the IRA in 1982. But he was one of the leading lights during their two-year reign of terror, and one photograph of him, looking like an unshaven, unkempt dullard, has remained lodged in the communal memory as a vision of a psychopathic killer.

The judge who gave him 16 life sentences for his killings told him, correctly, that his actions “will remain forever a lasting monument to blind sectarian bigotry.” When he told him he should remain behind bars for the rest of his natural life, society shuddered and hoped it had heard the last of Basher Bates.

But Northern Ireland has a scheme, not found in the rest of the UK, for the release of even the most notorious killers, and more than 300 loyalists and republicans have been quietly freed over the last decade. Many of these former lifers engross themselves, as Bates seemed to be doing, in community or welfare work.

As the years passed in jail, Bates was at first a difficult prisoner, then a troubled soul and finally a remorseful born-again Christian, praying fervently for forgiveness. One who knew him in prison said of him: “He’s now a shell of a man, very quiet and inoffensive in a bland kind of way. The hair has gone, he’s prematurely bald. He has found the Lord and he’s no threat to anyone.”

Basher Bates made a long and painful journey from merciless assassin to man of God. His personal odyssey seemed to be over: neither he nor anyone else could have foreseen the fateful circularity which in the end transformed him from killer to victim.

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