Tag Archives: Robert Seymour

John Bingham UVF : Life & Death

John Bingham Life & Death

John Dowey Bingham (c. 1953 – 14 September 1986) was a prominent Northern Irish loyalist who led “D Company” (Ballysillan), 1st Battalion, Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). He was shot dead by the Provisional IRA after they had broken into his home.

Bingham was one of a number of prominent UVF members to be assassinated during the 1980s, the others being Lenny Murphy, William Marchant, Robert Seymour and Jackie Irvine

 – Disclaimer –

The views and opinions expressed in these pages/documentaries are solely intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland. They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors.

Ulster Volunteer Force

John Bingham was born in Northern Ireland around 1953 and was brought up in a Protestant family. Described as a shopkeeper, he was married with two children. He lived in Ballysillan Crescent, in the unionist estate of Ballysillan in North Belfast, and also owned a holiday caravan home in MillisleCounty Down.

He was a member of the “Old Boyne Island Heroes” Lodge of the Orange Order. On an unknown date, he joined the Ulster loyalist paramilitary organisation, the UVF, and eventually became the commander of its “D Company”, 1st Battalion, Ballysillan, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel.

See: Oranger Order

He was the mastermind behind a productive gun-running operation from Canada, which over the years had involved the smuggling of illegal weapons into Northern Ireland to supply UVF arsenals; however, three months after Bingham’s death, the entire operation collapsed following a raid on a house in Toronto by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in December 1986.

Bingham was one of the loyalist paramilitaries named in the evidence given by supergrass Joe Bennett, who accused him of being a UVF commander.  He testified that he had seen Bingham armed with an M60 machine gun and claimed that Bingham had been sent to Toronto to raise funds for the UVF.

These meetings opened contact with Canadian businessman John Taylor, who became involved in smuggling guns from North America to the UVF.  As a result of Bennett’s testimony, Bingham was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment after being convicted of committing serious crimes.

He publicly denounced the supergrass system before live television cameras outside Belfast’s Crumlin Road Courthouse when he was released in December 1984 after his conviction had been overturned, having spent two and a half years in prison.

Dillon in 2020
Martin Dillon

On one occasion, Bingham allegedly placed a loaded pistol inside journalist Martin Dillon‘s mouth because of the latter’s offensive words he had used against him. In an attempt to make amends for his threat, Bingham invited Dillon to visit him at his home in North Belfast.

Dillon accepted the invitation and after several whiskeys and brandishing a pistol, Bingham offered to show him his racing pigeons as he was an avid pigeon fancier. He then told Dillon that he shouldn’t believe what people said about him claiming that he couldn’t harm a pigeon. As they said farewell at the front door, Bingham reportedly murmured in a cold voice to Dillon:

“You ever write about me again and I’ll blow yer fuckin’ brains out, because you’re not a pigeon”.

Killing

IRA Belfast Brigade, shoot & kill UVF Inner Council memember John Bingham 14 September 1986

In July 1986, a 25-year-old Catholic civilian, Colm McCallan, was shot close to his Ligoniel home; two days later, he died of his wounds. The IRA sought to avenge McCallan’s death by killing Bingham, the man they held responsible for the shooting.[

Bingham was also believed to have been behind the deaths of several other Catholic civilians.

Ballysillan, north Belfast, where John Bingham lived and commanded the Ballysillan UVF

At 1:30 am on 14 September 1986, Bingham had just returned to Ballysillan Crescent from his caravan home in Millisle. Three gunmen from the IRA’s Ardoyne 3rd Battalion Belfast Brigade, armed with two automatic rifles and a .38 Special, smashed down his front door with a sledgehammer and shot Bingham twice in the legs. Despite his injuries, Bingham ran up the stairs in an attempt to escape his attackers and had just reached a secret door at the top when the gunmen shot him three more times, killing him.

 He was 33 years old. He was given a UVF paramilitary funeral, which was attended by politicians from the two main unionist parties, the Ulster Unionist Party and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Members of his “Old Boyne Island Heroes” Orange Order (OO) Lodge formed the guard of honour around his coffin, which was covered with the UVF flag and his gloves and beret. Prominent DUP activist George Seawright helped carry the coffin whilst wearing his OO sash, and called for revenge.

See: George Seawright

In retaliation, the UVF killed Larry Marley, a leading IRA member from Ardoyne who was also a close friend of Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams. The IRA in their turn gunned down William “Frenchie” Marchant the following spring on the Shankill Road. The deaths of three leading UVF members caused suspicion amongst the UVF leadership that someone within their ranks was setting up high-ranking UVF men by passing on pertinent information to the IRA; therefore, they decided to conduct an enquiry.

Although it was revealed that the three men, Shankill Butcher Lenny Murphy, Bingham, and Marchant had all quarrelled with powerful UDA fund-raiser and racketeer James Pratt Craig prior to their deaths, the UVF did not believe the evidence was sufficient to warrant an attack against Craig, who ran a large protection racket in Belfast.

Jim craig loyalist.jpg
James Craig

Craig was later shot to death in an East Belfast pub by the UDA (using their “Ulster Freedom Fighters” covername) for “treason”, claiming he had been involved in the assassination of South Belfast UDA brigadier John McMichael, who was blown up by a booby-trap car bomb planted by the IRA outside his Lisburn home in December 1987.

See : James Craig

In Ballysillan Road, there is a memorial plaque dedicated to the memory of Bingham. His name is also on the banner of the “Old Boyne Island Heroes” Lodge.

15th June – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

 

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

15th June

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Sunday 15 June 1969

The Campaign for Social Justice published a second edition of ‘Northern Ireland The Plain Truth’, [PDF; ], which set out the allegations of discrimination against Catholics by Unionists in the region.

Thursday 15 June 1972

Representatives of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) met William Whitelaw, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, in London and presented the Irish Republican Army (IRA) conditions for a meeting. Whitelaw accepted the proposals.

[The IRA made an announcement about the proposed ceasefire on Thursday 22 June 1972.]

Monday 15 June 1981

Sinn Féin (SF) issued a statement to say that a Republican prisoner would join the hunger strike every week.

[This was seen as a stepping-up of the hunger strike. Paddy Quinn, then an Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoner joined the strike.]

Tuesday 15 June 1982

The Falkland Islands were recaptured by British forces.

[This brought an end to the Falkands War.]

Friday 15 June 1984

A member of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) and a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officer were killed in an exchange of gunfire after the RUC surrounded a house in Lenadoon Avenue, Belfast.

Monday 15 June 1987

Tom King was reappointed as Secretary for State for Northern Ireland. Nicholas Scott, formerly the Minister for State at the Northern Ireland Office, was replaced by John Stanley.

Sunday 15 June 1988

Lisburn Killings

PicMonkey Collage with text x 3

An Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb in Lisburn killed six off-duty British Army soldiers.

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See IRA Lisburn “Fun Run” bombing

A member of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) was killed by the IRA in Belfast.

Thursday 15 June 1989

European Elections

Elections to the European Parliament were conducted in Northern Ireland. [The percentage share of the vote was: Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) 29.95%; Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) 25.5%; Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) 21.5%; Sinn Féin (SF) 9.2%; Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) 5.2%; Ecology Party (EP) 1.2%; Workers Party (WP) 1.1%; Others 1.6%; Turnout 48.3%. (See detailed results.)] Elections took place in the Republic of Ireland to the Dáil. Although Fianna Fáil (FF) gained that largest number of seats the party it did not win sufficient support to form a government.

[FF formed a government with the Progressive Democrat (PD) party on 12 July 1989.]

Friday 15 June 1990

Peter Brooke, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, met with representatives of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). It was announced that talks would begin after the summer holidays.

Saturday 15 June 1991

(Sir) Ninian Stephen, then an Australian High Court judge and a former Governor-General of Australia, was named as the independent chairman for the strand of the forthcoming talks (later known as the Brooke / Mayhew talks) involving relationships between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Tuesday 15 June 1993

The Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights (SACHR) argued for changes to the way in which the House of Commons dealt with legislation on Northern Ireland matters.

[Following the introduction of Direct Rule the region was governed under a Temporary Provisions Act, and Northern Ireland legislation was introduce by way of ‘Orders in Council’. The main criticism of this procedure was that the legislation could not be amended in the House of Commons.]

Wednesday 15 June 1994

Albert Reynolds, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), sent a letter containing ‘clarification’ of the Downing Street Declaration to Gary McMichael, then leader of the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP).

The letter stated: “We do not seek to impose constitutional change by stealth or coercion, whether it be a united Ireland, or joint sovereignty or joint authority. What we seek is a new accommodation between the two traditions on this island …” (Belfast Telegraph, 24 June 1994).

Thursday 15 June 1995

There was a Westminster by-election in the constituency of North Down. The by-election was called following the death on 20 March 1995 of the sitting Member of Parliament James Kilfedder. The election was won by Robert McCartney, of the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP).

[The turnout at 39 per cent was the lowest in the history of Northern Ireland for a parliamentary by-election.]

Saturday 15 June 1996

Manchester Bombing

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a bomb in Manchester, which destroyed a large part of the city centre and injured 200 people.

The bomb was estimated to have contained one-and-a-half tonnes of home-made explosives. Although a warning of one hour and twenty minutes was received by a local television station injuries were still caused by the sheer scale of the explosion.

In response to the Manchester bomb the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) announced that it was putting its members ‘on alert’.

Niall Donovan (28), a Catholic man, was stabbed to death near Dungannon, County Tyrone.

Tuesday 15 June 1999

In a keynote speech at Stranmillis College in Belfast Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, said the governments would “have to look for another way forward” if the devolution deadline were missed.

Blair also invited Portadown Orangemen and representatives of the Garvaghy Road Residents’ Coalition (GRRC) to new talks at Stormont in a further attempt to resolve the dispute surrounding the Drumcree parade planned for 4 July 1999.

Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), said the Irish and British governments would “set aside” the Good Friday Agreement and seek alternative means of political progress if a breakthrough was not made by 30 June 1999. Ahern told the Dáil the decommissioning issue had now been “debated to death”.

  

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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.

15 People lost their lives on the 15th June between 1974 – 1975

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15 June 1973
Michael Wilson  (18)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Association (UDA),

Killed by: Ulster Defence Association (UDA)
Shot at the home of his relative, Ulster Defence Association leader Tommy Herron, Ravenswood Park, Braniel, Belfast. Internal Ulster Defence Association dispute.

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15 June 1974


Patrick Cunningham   (26)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot by British Army (BA) foot patrol while in disused graveyard near his home, Benburb, County Tyrone

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15 June 1982


Hugh Cummings  (39)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Shot near his workplace while walking along Lower Main Street, Strabane, County Tyrone

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15 June 1984


Michael Todd   (22)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
Shot during gun battle after Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) members surrounded house, Lenadoon Avenue, Belfast.

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15 June 1984


Paul McCann   (20)

Catholic
Status: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA),

Killed by: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)
Shot during gun battle after Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) members surrounded house, Lenadoon Avenue, Belfast

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15 June 1985


Willis Agnew   (53)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Shot while sitting in stationary car outside friend’s home, Gortin Road, Kilrea, County Derry.

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15 June 1987
Nathaniel Cush   (47)

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

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed by booby trap bomb attached to his car outside his workplace, Tomb Street, off Corporation Street, Belfast.

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15 June 1988
Robert Seymour   (33)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot at his shop, Woodstock Road, Belfast.

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15 June 1988


Derek Green  (20)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Killed by booby trap bomb attached to British Army (BA) minibus, Market Square, Lisburn, County Antrim.

See IRA Lisburn “Fun Run” bombing

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15 June 1988

Michael Winkler   (31)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Killed by booby trap bomb attached to British Army (BA) minibus, Market Square, Lisburn, County Antrim.

See IRA Lisburn “Fun Run” bombing

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15 June 1988


 Mark Clavey   (24)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Killed by booby trap bomb attached to British Army (BA) minibus, Market Square, Lisburn, County Antrim.

See IRA Lisburn “Fun Run” bombing

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15 June 1988


Graham Lambie   (22)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Killed by booby trap bomb attached to British Army (BA) minibus, Market Square, Lisburn, County Antrim.

See IRA Lisburn “Fun Run” bombing

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15 June 1988


William Paterson   (22)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Killed by booby trap bomb attached to British Army (BA) minibus, Market Square, Lisburn, County Antrim.

See IRA Lisburn “Fun Run” bombing

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15 June 1988


Ian Metcalfe  (36)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Killed by booby trap bomb attached to British Army (BA) minibus, Market Square, Lisburn, County Antrim.

See IRA Lisburn “Fun Run” bombing

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15 June 1989
Adam Gilbert  (21)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot in error, by other British Army (BA) member, firing at stolen car, while on BA foot patrol, junction of New Lodge Road and Antrim Road, Belfast.

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