Tag Archives: Sinn Féin

11th August – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

11th August

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

Tuesday 11 August 1970

 

Two Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers were killed by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) when they set off a booby trap bomb planted in a car near Crossmaglen, County Armagh.

Wednesday 11 August 1971

Four people were shot dead in separate incidents in Belfast, three of them by the British Army (BA), as violence continued following the introduction of Internment.

Friday 11 August 1972

Two IRA members were killed when a bomb they were transporting exploded prematurely.

Saturday 11 August 1973

Two members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) were killed when the bomb they were transporting exploded prematurely near Castlederg, County Tryone.

A Protestant civilian was shot dead by Loyalists in Belfast.

Wednesday 11 August 1976

The third of the Maguire children died as a result of injuries received on 10 August 197

Saturday 11 August 1979

Representatives from the Irish National Caucus paid a visit to Northern Ireland and said that the Caucus intended to make the conflict in the region a major issue during the 1980 United States (US) Presidential election. 6.

Sunday 11 August 1991

Sinn Féin (SF) held a rally in Belfast to mark the 20th anniversary of the introduction of Internment and the 10th anniversary of the hunger strike.

Wednesday 11 August 1993

Seamus Hopkins (24), a Catholic civilian, was found beaten to death in the Shankill area of Belfast.

Sir Hugh Annesley, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), announced that women officers would be armed from April 1994.

Thursday 11 August 1994

Martin L’Estrange (36), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA).

He was a printer and was killed at his workplace in William Street, Lurgan, County Armagh.

Monday 11 August 1997

Two Social Security officials had shots fired at their car which was also damaged by clubs in north Belfast.

There was an arson attack on the Orange Order Hall in Purdysburn in south Belfast.

Kevin Artt, Paul Brennan, and Terry Kirby, previously members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), who had escaped from the Maze Prison on 25 September 1983 lost their case in an American court to try to stop their extradition.

The three men appealed against the decision.

Saturday 11 August 2001

Assembly Restored

John Reid, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, signed an order which restored the Northern Ireland Assembly and the other institutions of the Good Friday Agreement.

The latest period of suspension had lasted 24 hours and had the effect of postponing by six weeks the deadline for the election of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (22 September 2001).

The main Apprentice Boys of Derry (ABOD) parade passed off without serious trouble. Around 10,000 ABOD members together with 170 bands marched around the city centre to commemorate the relief of the Siege of Derry in 1689.

A feeder parade in Belfast was prevented from marching past the Nationalist Ardoyne area following a Pardes Commission ruling.

The ABOD members decided to protest against the decision by blocking the Crumlin Road. The standoff with the police lasted for six hours.

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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.

14  People   lost their lives on the 11th August between 1971– 1994

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11 August 1971

John Laverty,  (20)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot while walking along path by St Aidan’s Primary School, Ballymurphy

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11 August 1971
William Stronge,   (46)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: not known (nk)
Shot while moving furniture from sister’s home, Ballyclare Street, Belfast

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11 August 1971

Seamus Simpson,  (21)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot while throwing bomb at British Army (BA) foot patrol, Rossnareen Avenue, Andersonstown, Belfast.

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11 August 1971

William McKavanagh,   (21)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot while in McAuley Street, Markets, Belfast.

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11 August 1972
Anne Parker,  (18)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Died in premature bomb explosion while travelling in van, North Howard Street, Lower Falls, Belfast.

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11 August 1972
Michael Clarke,  (22)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Died in premature bomb explosion while travelling in van, North Howard Street, Lower Falls, Belfast

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11 August 1973
James McGlynn,   (20)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in premature bomb explosion while travelling in car, Kilclean, near Castlederg, County Donegal.

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11 August 1973

Seamus Harvey,   (23)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in premature bomb explosion while travelling in car, Kilclean, near Castlederg, County Donegal.

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11 August 1973
Norman Hutchinson,   (17)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Shot while walking along Ormeau Road, near University Street, Belfast.

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11 August 1976
Michael Quigley,  (33)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot during Irish Republican Army (IRA) sniper attack on British Army (BA) observation post, while walking along Meenan Square, Bogside, Derry.

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11 August 1978
Alan Swift,  (25) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Undercover British Army (BA) member. Shot while sitting in stationary British Army (BA) civilian type car, Letterkenny Road, Derry.

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11 August 1981

Charles Johnston,  (43)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot from passing motorcycle while walking along Talbot Street,

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11 August 1993

Seamus Hopkins,  (24)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)
Found beaten to death on waste ground, off Sherbrook Way, Shankill, Belfast.

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11 August 1994

Martin L’Estrange,   (36)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)
Shot, at his workplace, printers, William Street, Lurgan, County Armagh.

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8 th August – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

8th August

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

Friday 8 August 1969

James Chichester-Clark, then Northern Ireland Prime Minister, held a meeting with James Callaghan, then British Home Secretary, in London. Callaghan agreed to an increase in the number of security force personnel.

It was also decided to allow the annual Apprentice Boys parade to go ahead in Derry.

Sunday 8 August 1976

A number of rallies were held to mark the fifth anniversary of the introduction of internment.

Máire Drumm, then Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), addressed one of the rallies and said that the campaign for the reintroduction of special category status would continue.

Drumm is reported as saying that Belfast would “come down stone by stone, and if necessary other towns will come down, and some in England too” as part of the campaign.

A group of Republican demonstrators broke into the home of Gerry Fitt, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), who had to use his gun, issued for personal protection, to protect himself and members of his family and to force the crowd to leave the house.

Friday 8 August 1980

There was widespread violence following commemorations of the ninth anniversary of the introduction of Internment.

Saturday 8 August 1981

Ninth Hunger Striker Died

Thomas McElwee

Thomas McElwee (23) died after 62 days on hunger strike. This weekend marked the tenth Anniversary of the introduction of Internment and there were widespread riots in Republican areas.

Three people were killed during disturbances over the weekend.

Sunday 8 August 1982

At an Internment anniversary rally in west Belfast representatives of Noraid and the People’s Liberation Organisation (PLO) addressed the crowd.

Monday 8 August 1988

Two Catholic men were killed by the Protestant Action Force (PAF).

A British soldier died from injuries received three weeks earlier.

Sunday 8 August 1993

Sean Lavery (21), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), in a gun attack on the Lavery home.

Sean’s father, Bobby Lavery, was a Sinn Féin (SF) councillor.

Monday 8 August 1994

Trelford Withers (46), a part-time member of the Royal Irish Regiment (RIR), was shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA). He was off duty at the time and was killed at his shop, Downpatrick Street, Crossgar, County Down.

Tuesday 8 August 1995

Members of the Apprentice Boys of Derry (ABD) threatened to prevent Catholics from attending church if Loyal Order parades were rerouted away from Nationalist areas.

Friday 8 August 1997

Nationalist residents of Newtownbutler, County Fermanagh, gathered outside the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) police station to protest at a Royal Black Preceptory march planned for the village on 9 August 1997.

Ruairí O Brádaigh, then President of Republican Sinn Féin (RSF), was refused a visa by the Canadian government.

Saturday 8 August 1998

The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) issued a statement which stated that as far as the grouping was concerned the “war is over”.

Many people expressed doubts about the real intentions of the LVF.

This was a follow-up to the announcement of a ceasefire on 15 May 1998. It was thought that the statement was a response to the fact that LVF prisoners had not been included on the list of those eligible for release that was presented on 28 July 1998.

Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), told a meeting in west Belfast that he would not be pressured into uttering the words “the war is over” to satisfy Unionists.

There were disturbances in Derry following the annual Apprentice Boys of Derry parade.

Sunday 8 August 1999

INLA Stated that War is Over

There was a report in The Sunday Times (a London based newspaper) that the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) had confirmed its view of the futility of continuing the “armed struggle” and had declared that the “war is over”.

The INLA was the first paramilitary organisation to make this declaration. However, the organisation insisted that it was not about to begin decommissioning its weapons.

A man from Newtownabbey, County Antrim, was shot in a paramilitary ‘punishment’ attack.

Two petrol bombs were thrown at the house of a Catholic man living in Larne, County Antrim.

There were sectarian arson attacks on an Orange hall in Ballymoney, County Antrim, a Presbyterian church hall in Rathfriland, County Down, and a Free Presbyterian church hall in Moneyslane.

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Remembering all innocent victims of the Troubles

Victims  Collage

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.

10 people lost their lives on the 8th August between 1971   – 1994

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 08 August 1971


   Malcolm   Hatton,  (21) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot by sniper while on British Army (BA) foot patrol, Brompton Park, Ardoyne, Belfast.

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 08 August 1974

  Terence Miskimmin,   (24)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Association (UDA),

Killed by: Ulster Defence Association (UDA)
Found shot, Seaview Drive, off Shore Road, Belfast. Internal Ulster Defence Association dispute.

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08 August 1976
James Borucki,   (19) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed by bomb attached to abandoned bicycle while on British Army (BA) foot patrol, The Square, Crossmaglen, County Armagh.

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 08 August 1981

Thomas McElwee,   (23)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: not known (nk)
Died on the 62nd day of hunger strike, Long Kesh / Maze Prison, County Down.

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 08 August 1984

Brendan Watters,   (24)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Died in premature bomb explosion in house, Barcroft Park, Newry, County Down.

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 08 August 1988
Alexander Bannister,  (21) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Died three weeks after being shot by sniper while on British Army (BA) foot patrol, outside New Barnsley British Army (BA) base, Ballymurphy, Belfast.

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 08 August 1988

Seamus Morris,   (18)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Protestant Action Force (PAF)
Shot from passing car while walking along Brompton Park, Ardoyne, Belfast

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08 August 1988
Peter Dolan, (25) Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Protestant Action Force (PAF)
Shot from passing car while walking along Etna Drive, Ardoyne, Belfast.

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08 August 1993

Sean Lavery,  (21)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)
Shot during gun attack on his home, Antrim Road, New Lodge, Belfast. His father a Sinn Fein (SF) councillor.

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08 August 1994

Trelford Withers,   (46)

Protestant
Status: Royal Irish Regiment (RIR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Shot at his shop, Downpatrick Street, Crossgar, County Down.

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6th August – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

6th August

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

Wednesday 6 August 1980

The British government announced an extra public spending package of £48 million for Northern Ireland to try to alleviate the high level of unemployment in the region which stood at 14.7 per cent.

This announcement came after a meeting between the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTUs) and Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister.

Wednesday 6 August 1997

Loyalist paramilitaries carried out a ‘punishment’ attack on an 18 year old man in Rathcoole, north Belfast.

A taxi driver was shot in the legs in a ‘punishment’ style attack in Grosvenor Road, Belfast.

The attack was alleged to have been carried out by the Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA).

A hoax bomb was sent to the office of the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) on the Shankill Road.

It was believed that Loyalist paramilitaries were responsible.

There was an arson attack on an Orange Order hall near Caledon, County Tyrone.

Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, held a meeting with Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), together with other SF representatives in Stormont.

Thursday 6 August 1998

Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said that she believed that the “war is over”. [This was said in response to Unionist demands that Sinn Féin (SF) and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) should state publicly that the conflict had ended.]

Thomas McMahon, who had been convicted of the murder of Lord Mountbatten and three other people in 1979, was released from jail in the Republic of Ireland.

The release drew criticism from Unionists in Northern Ireland.

Friday 6 August 1999

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued a statement in which the organisation denied that it have been behind an attempt to smuggle arms from the USA into Ireland; the IRA “Army Council has not sanctioned any arms importation operation”.

In relation to the speculation around the killing of Charles Bennett on 30 July 1999 the IRA said “there had been no breaches of the IRA cessation”.

Monday 6 August 2001

The date set as the deadline for the political parties to give their response to the British and Irish governments’ Implementation Plan for the Good Friday Agreement.

A statement was issued by John de Chastelain (Gen.), then head of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD), in which he announced that an Irish Republican Army (IRA) representative had proposed a method for putting weapons completely and verifiably beyond use.

De Chastelain told the British and Irish governments that the proposal met with the Commission’s remit in accordance with the governments’ scheme and regulations. De Chastelain said in the statement:

“Based on our discussions with the IRA representative, we believe that this proposal initiates a process that will put IRA arms completely and verifiably beyond use.”

Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), declared the statement as a “hugely historical breakthrough”.
The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) office board consisting of 14 members met on Monday evening to consider its response to the Implementation Plan (1 August 2001) and also the statement by the IICD.

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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.

1 Person lost their lives on the 6th  August  1985

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06 August 1985

Charles English  (21)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Died when grenade exploded prematurely, during attack on British Army (BA) mobile patrol, William Street, Derry.

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3rd August – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

3rd  August

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

Tuesday 3 August 1976

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a series of six bomb attacks on Portrush, County Antrim.

Monday 3 August 1981

 Liam McCloskey, then an Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) prisoner, joined the hunger strike.

Sunday 3 August 1997

Nationalist residents of Newtownbutler, County Fermanagh, protested against a Royal Black Preceptory march in the village.

The parade was escorted by Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers in riot gear. Six people were injured in disturbances.

The Claudy Bombing

The 25th anniversary of the bombing of Claudy, County Derry was marked in the village when approximately 1,500 people attended an open air service

See Claudy Bombing

Although no group claimed responsibility for the explosions it was widely believed that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) had planted the three car bombs in the village which resulted in the deaths of nine people. Inadequate warnings were given about the bombs.

Monday 3 August 1998

In the first break-through of its kind, Nationalists and Loyalists in Derry reached an agreement over the Apprentice Boys march in the city planned for 8 August 1999.

The agreement came after three days of shuttle (indirect) negotiations between the parties. [However, there were some minor disturbances following the march.]

Tuesday 3 August 1999

Security sources confirmed that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) was considered responsible for the death of Charles Bennett on 30 July 1999.

Republican sources claimed he was killed to pacify hardliners over decommissioning and the lack of political progress.

Friday 3 August 2001

The Ardchomhairle of Sinn Féin held a meeting to consider the party’s response to the British and Irish governments’ Implementation Plan. The meeting took place in County Louth, Republic of Ireland.

The Ardchomhairle is comprised of 41 members, including Gerry Adams, then President of SF, Mitchel McLaughlin, then Chairman, Pat Doherty, then Vice-President, and Martin McGuinness.

Sinn Féin rejected Monday’s deadline and said that the party needed to see the detail and guarantees on policing reform and demilitarisation.

In the days following the meeting SF said it needed to see more detail on policing, demilitarisation and criminal justice before it could support the package.

 3rd August   2010

Óglaigh na hÉireann claimed responsibility for detonating a 200 lb car bomb outside Strand Road PSNI station in Derry.

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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.

10  People lost their lives on the 3rd of August between 1972  – 1992

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03 August 1972

William Clark,   (34) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed attempting to defuse bomb discovered by side of road, Urney, near Clady, County Tyrone.

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03 August 1972

Robert McCrudden,   (19)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

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

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03 August 1973
James Farrell,  (50) nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot, during armed robbery, while delivering wages to British Leyland factory, Cashel Road, Crumlin, Dublin.

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 03 August 1974

Martin Skillen, (21)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot from British Army (BA) undercover observation post in Clonard cinema building, Falls Road, Belfast.

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 03 August 1974
Charles McKnight,   (25)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed by booby trap bomb when he entered the cab of his employer’s lorry, parked outside house, Ballycraigy, Newtownabbey, County Antrim.

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 03 August 1976
Alan Watkins,   (20) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
Shot by sniper while on British Army (BA) foot patrol, Dungiven, County Derry.

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03 August 1979
Whilliam Whitten  (65)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Died six weeks after being injured in bomb attack on Marine Hotel, Ballycastle, County Antrim. He was wounded on 19 June 1979. Inadequate warning given.

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 03 August 1980
William Clarke, (59)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Shot while travelling in his car along laneway, Gortnessy, near Pettigoe, County Donegal.

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 03 August 1988

Raymond McNicholl,  (30)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Shot by sniper, while driving his car to work, Desertcreat Road, near Cookstown, County Tyrone.

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03 August 1992
Damian Shackleton,   (24) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot by sniper while on British Army (BA) mobile patrol, Duncairn Avenue, New Lodge, Belfast.

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30th July Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

3oth July

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

Thursday 30 July 1970

There were further riots in Belfast.

Monday 30 July 1990 Ian Gow Killed

Ian Gow, then the Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Eastbourne, was killed outside his home by an Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb that had been planted on his car. Gow had been a vocal critic of the IRA and a close friend of Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister.

Friday 30 July 1976

Four Protestant civilians were shot dead at a pub off Milltown Road, Belfast. The attack was claimed by the Republican Action Force.[59]

Wednesday 30 July 1986

John Kyle (40), a Protestant civilian, was shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) as he sat in McCullagh’s Bar, Greencastle, County Tyrone. Kyle had been working as a contractor to the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). [This killing followed threats made by the IRA on 28 July 1986.]

Sunday 30 July 1978

Tomás Ó Fiaich, Catholic Primate of Ireland, paid a visit to Republican prisoners in the Maze Prison. The prisoners were taking part in the ‘blanket protest’. [Over 300 Republican prisoners were refusing to wear prison clothes or follow normal prison regulations in an attempt to secure a return of special category status.]

Friday 31 July 1981

Peter Doherty (36), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by a plastic bullet fired by the British Army while at his home in Divis Flats, Belfast. A former member of the RUC was shot dead by the INLA in Strabane, County Tyrone.

The family of Paddy Quinn, then on day 47 of his hunger strike, intervened and asked for medical treatment to save his life. [This series of events was to be repeated a number of times towards the end of the hunger strike as more and more familles intervened to save the hunger strikers.]

Sunday 30 July 1995

The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) prevented a Sinn Féin (SF) march from entering the centre of Lurgan, County Armagh. The reason given was the presence of a counter-demonstration of 1,500 Loyalists. The Loyalists were addressed by Peter Robinson, then deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and David Trimble, then Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) MP.

Three RUC officers and one civilian were injured when Loyalists rioted. Trimble called the violence “insignificant”. [Later Ken Maginnis, then UUP MP, disagreed and criticised the violence as “deliberate thuggery”. The Portadown Branch of the UUP criticised the RUC and in particular “a well known Roman Catholic” Bill McCreesh, then a Chief Superintendent.]

The Irish government ordered the early release of 12 Republican prisoners. [This brought the total number of early releases in the Republic of Ireland to 33.]

Thursday 30 July 1998

There was a series of fire-bomb attacks on shops in Portadown, County Armagh. Republican dissidents were believed to be responsible. The government released the names of the ten members of the Commission dealing with releases of paramilitary prisoners. The joint chairpersons were John Blelloch, formerly a Northern Ireland Office (NIO) permanent secretary, and Brian Currin, then a South African lawyer.

Friday 30 July 1999

Charles Bennett Killed

Charles Bennett (22), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead in Belfast. It was believed that he had been abducted and held for four days before being bound and then shot twice in the head. Bennett was a taxi-driver from New Lodge and his body, which showed evidence of him having been beaten, was found off the Falls Road. [The IRA later admitted responsibility for the killing.]


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

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

– To  the Paramilitaries  –

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

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13  People lost their lives on the 30th July between 1969 – 2015

30 July 1972

William McAfee,  (54)

Protestant

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY) Found shot, Cairnburn Road, off Old Holywood Road, Belfast.

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30 July 1974

Bernard Fearns,  (34) nfNI

Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA) Shot by sniper while on British Army (BA) foot patrol, Hillman Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

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 July 1976

Robert Scott,  (28)

Protestant

Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA) Off duty. Killed by booby trap bomb attached to gate at his father’s farm, Druminard, near Moneymore, County Derry.

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30 July 1976

John McCleave, (48)

Protestant

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Republican Action Force (RepAF) Shot during gun attack on Stag Inn, off Milltown Road, Belvoir, Belfast.

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30 July 1976

John McKay,  (50)

Protestant

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Republican Action Force (RepAF) Shot during gun attack on Stag Inn, off Milltown Road, Belvoir, Belfast

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30 July 1976

James Doherty,  (70)

Protestant Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Republican Action Force (RepAF) Shot during gun attack on Stag Inn, off Milltown Road, Belvoir, Belfast.

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30 July 1976

Thompson McCreight, (60)

Protestant

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Republican Action Force (RepAF) Shot during gun attack on Stag Inn, off Milltown Road, Belvoir, Belfast. He died 8 August 1976

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 July 1983

Martin Malone,  (18)

Catholic

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) Shot during altercation between local people and Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) foot patrol, Callan Terrace, Armagh.

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30 July 1983

Mark Kinghan, (19)

Protestant

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: not known (nk) Died eight days after being hit on head by brick thrown during street disturbances at junction of Whitewell Road and Shore Road, Greencastle, Belfast.

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 30 July 1986

John Kyle,  (40)

Protestant

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA) Shot while in McCullagh’s Bar, Greencastle, County Tyrone. Contractor to Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).

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30 July 1990

Ian Gow,  (53) nfNIB

Status: Civilian Political Activist (CivPA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA) Conservative Member of Parliament. Killed by booby trap bomb attached to his car outside his home, Hankham, Pevensey, Sussex, England.

See below for more details on Ian Gow’s death

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30 July 1999

Charles Bennett,  (22)

Catholic

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Republican group (REP) Found shot in car park, by St. Gall’s GAA Club, off Falls Road, Belfast.

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30 July 2005

photo

Stephen Paul (28)

Protestant

Status: Civilian (Civ)

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)

Shot dead at Wheatfield Crescent, off the Crumlin Road, Belfast. [Media reports claimed that Stephen Paul was linked to the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF). It was believed that the kiling was part of a feud between the UVF and the LVF


Spot Light  – Ian Gow

Ian Gow

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ian Gow
Ian Gow circa 1983.jpg
Minister of State for the Treasury
In office
2 September 1985 – 19 November 1985
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Barney Hayhoe
Succeeded by Peter Brooke
Minister for Housing
In office
13 June 1983 – 2 September 1985
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by John Stanley
Succeeded by John Patten
Member of Parliament
for Eastbourne
In office
28 February 1974 – 30 July 1990
Preceded by Charles Stuart Taylor
Succeeded by David Bellotti
Personal details
Born Ian Reginald Edward Gow
(1937-02-11)11 February 1937
London, England
Died 30 July 1990(1990-07-30) (aged 53)
Hankham, East Sussex, England, UK
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Jane Elizabeth Packe
(m. 1966–1990; his death); two sons
Occupation Solicitor
Religion Church of England
Military service
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Army
Years of service 1955–1976
Rank UK-Army-OF3.gif Major
Unit 15th/19th The King’s Royal Hussars

Ian Reginald Edward Gow, TD (11 February 1937 – 30 July 1990) was a British Conservative politician and solicitor. While serving as Member of Parliament (MP) for Eastbourne, he was assassinated by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) who exploded a bomb under his car outside his home in East Sussex.[1]

Contents

Early life

Ian Gow was born at 3 Upper Harley Street, London, the son of Alexander Edward Gow, a prominent London doctor attached to St Bartholomew’s Hospital who died in 1952.[2] Ian Gow was educated at Winchester College, where he was president of the debating society. During a period of national service from 1955–58 he was commissioned in the 15th/19th Hussars and served in Northern Ireland, Germany and Malaya. He served in the territorial army until 1976, reaching the rank of Major.

After completing national service he took up a career in the law and qualified as a solicitor in 1962. He eventually became a partner in the London practice of Joynson-Hicks and Co.[3] He also became a Conservative Party activist. He stood for Parliament in the Coventry East constituency for the 1964 general election, but lost to Richard Crossman. He then stood for the Clapham constituency, a Labour-held London marginal seat, in the 1966 general election. An account in The Times of his candidature described him in the following terms: He is a bachelor solicitor, aged 29, wearing his public school manner as prominently as his rosette. Words such as “overpowering”, “arrogant”, and “bellicose” are used to describe him.[4]

After failing to take Clapham[5] he continued his quest to find a seat. He eventually succeeded at Eastbourne in 1972 after the local Party de-selected its sitting member, Sir Charles Taylor. Sir Charles had represented Eastbourne since 1935 and did not take kindly to Gow.[6]

Marriage

Gow married Jane Elizabeth Packe (born 1944)[7] in Yorkshire on 10 September 1966. They had two sons, Charles Edward (born 1968) and James Alexander (born 1970).[2]

Parliamentary career

Gow entered Parliament as the member for Eastbourne in the general election of February 1974.[8] For a home in his constituency, Gow acquired a 16th-century manor house known as ‘The Doghouse’ located in the village of Hankham. Eastbourne was a traditional Conservative seat but, in common with other English south coast towns in the 1970s, it was coming under some pressure from the Liberals. Gow proved to be a popular and communicative constituency member. In the general election of October 1974, he was able to secure a 10% swing from Liberal to Conservative, thereby doubling his majority.[9] He held his seat with a comfortable majority at every election thereafter. His local supporters included the infamous John Bodkin Adams, “…. Dr. Adams used to send our late friend [Gow] £5 at every general election for the Tory party fighting fund, which used to cause our late friend great embarrassment?”.[10]

In the 1975 Conservative leadership election, Gow voted for Margaret Thatcher in the first round ballot. Once Thatcher had forced Edward Heath out of the contest, several new candidates appeared and Gow switched his support to Geoffrey Howe in the second round. Gow was brought onto the Conservative front bench in 1978 to share the duties of opposition spokesman on Northern Ireland with Airey Neave. The two men developed a Conservative policy on Northern Ireland which favoured integration of the province with Great Britain. This approach appeared to avoid compromise with the province’s nationalist minority and with the government of the Republic of Ireland. Both Neave and Gow were killed by car bomb attacks in 1979 and 1990 respectively. Irish republican paramilitaries claimed responsibility in both cases, but nobody was ever charged with causing the deaths and rumours later circulated concerning possible involvement of the CIA and intelligence community.[11]

Through his association with Neave, Gow was introduced to the inner circles of the Conservative Party. He was appointed parliamentary private secretary to Margaret Thatcher in May 1979 at the time she became Prime Minister. While serving in this capacity between 1979 and 1983, Gow became a close friend and confidante of the Prime Minister. He was deeply involved in the workings of Thatcher’s private office. He held junior ministerial office between 1983 and 1985, first as Minister for Housing and Construction and later at the Treasury. Although later identified with the right-wing of the Party, he took a liberal position on some issues. He visited Rhodesia at the time of UDI and was subsequently critical of that country’s white minority regime. As an MP, Gow consistently voted against the restoration of the death penalty. As Minister of State for Housing and Construction (from 1983 to June 1985) he showed a willingness to commit public funds to housing projects that alarmed some on the right-wing of the Conservative party. “After taking what was perhaps too principled a stand in a complex dispute over Housing Improvement Grants, he was moved sideways to the post of minister of state at the Treasury”.[12]

From 1982, Conservative policy began to move towards a more flexible position on Northern Ireland. In November 1985, Gow was persuaded by the speeches his cousin Nicholas Budgen made to resign as Minister of State in HM Treasury over the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement.[13][14] This would ultimately lead to devolved government for Northern Ireland, power sharing in the province and engagement with the Republic. After his resignation from the government, Gow became chairman of the parliamentary Conservative backbench committee on Northern Ireland. He was a leading opponent of any compromise with republicans.

Although he was opposed to the broadcasting of Parliamentary debates, on 21 November 1989, Gow made history by becoming the first MP to deliver a speech in the British House of Commons with television cameras present. Gow was moving the Loyal Address at the opening of Parliament. In his speech, Gow referred to a letter he had received from a firm of consultants who had offered to improve his personal appearance and television image, making a few self-deprecating jokes about his baldness.[15][16]

In spite of his disagreement with the direction in which Government policy on Northern Ireland was moving, Gow remained on close terms with Thatcher. In November 1989, he worked in Thatcher’s leadership election campaign against the stalking horse candidate, Sir Anthony Meyer. But it was reported that by the time of his death he believed Thatcher’s premiership had reached a logical end and that she should retire.[12] Gow enjoyed friendships with people of various political persuasions, including left-wing Labour MP Tony Banks.[17]

Death

Although aware that he was a potential IRA assassination target, Gow declined to take anything more than routine security precautions. Unlike most British MPs of that era, he left his telephone number and home address in the local telephone directory.[18] On 30 July 1990, a bomb was planted under Gow’s Austin Montego car in the early hours, which exploded in the driveway of his house in Hankham, near Pevensey in East Sussex.[12] The 4½-lb Semtex bomb detonated at 08:39 as Gow reversed out of his driveway, leaving him with severe wounds to his lower body.[19][20] He died 10 minutes later.

When hearing of Gow’s death, Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock commented, “This is a terrible atrocity against a man whose only offence was to speak his mind…. I had great disagreement with Ian Gow and he with me, but no one can doubt his sincerity or his courage, and it is appalling that he should lose his life because of these qualities.”[21] In her autobiography, The Downing Street Years, Margaret Thatcher described his murder as an ‘irreplaceable loss’.[22]

The IRA claimed responsibility for killing Gow, stating that he was targeted because he was a “close personal associate” of Margaret Thatcher and because of his role in developing British policy on Northern Ireland.[23]

Aftermath

Evaluations of Gow’s political career by obituarists were mixed in tone. All commented on his personal charm and his skills in public speaking and political manoeuvre. But his obituary in The Times stated, “It could not be said that his resignation in 1985 cut short a brilliant ministerial career”.[24] A tendency toward political intrigue (for example, trying to covertly undermine Jim Prior‘s Northern Ireland initiative after 1982) made him some enemies. Nicholas Budgen commented that Gow’s personal devotion to Thatcher may not have been good for Thatcher or her government.

Gow’s widow Jane was appointed a DBE in 1990 and thus became Dame Jane Gow. On 4 February 1994,[7] she remarried in West Somerset[25] to Lt-Col. Michael Whiteley, and became known as Dame Jane Whiteley.[19] She continues to promote the life and work of her first husband.

When the Eastbourne by-election for his seat in the House of Commons was won by the Liberal Democrat David Bellotti, the Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe sent a message to voters saying that the IRA would be “toasting their success”.[26]

14th October – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

14th October

Saturday 14 October 1972

Three people were killed in two incidents in Belfast. Loyalist paramilitaries carried out a raid on the Headquarters of the 10 Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) at Lislea Drive in Belfast and stole 14 British Army issue self-loading rifles (SLRs) and a quantity of ammunition. The camp guard claimed that they were ‘overpowered’ by the Loyalists. [There was another raid on a UDR base on 23 October 1972.]

Friday 14 October 1977

Tomás Ó Fiaich was appointed as the new Catholic Primate of Ireland.

Saturday 14 October 1978

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) organised another march in Derry to protest against the march in the city on the previous Sunday, 8 October 1978. There were clashes between Loyalists and Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers which resulted in 32 policemen being injured and there was also damage to property in the city.

Monday 14 October 1985

the troubles new logo

The Irish Information Partnership published some results from its database of deaths from the conflict. The information showed that more than 50 per cent of the 2,400 dead had been killed by Republican paramilitaries. In addition the data also showed that over 25 per cent of those killed by Republicans were Catholic civilians.

Friday 14 October 1988

Duisburg Meetings Members from four Northern Ireland political parties met for talks in Duisburg, West Germany. The parties involved were; Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI), Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Little progress was reported from the meetings.

Friday 14 October 1994

John Major, then British Prime Minister, address the Conservative Party conference and told delegates that he would pursue the peace process in his own time.

Saturday 14 October 1995

There were scuffles between Sinn Féin (SF) supporters and Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers when SF attempted to hold a demonstration in the centre of Lurgan, County Armagh. The last ‘peace train’ travelled between Dublin and Belfast.

Monday 14 October 1996

Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then the British Labour Party spokesperson on Northern Ireland, met with Loyalist prisoners in the Maze Prison in an effort to “keep the talks process alive”. The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) agreed on a draft agenda for the Stormont talks.

Thursday 14 October 1999

The funeral of Patrick Campbell, who was an Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) member, took place in Belfast.

Campbell had been injured on 6 October 1999 in Dublin and died on 10 October. Approximately 1,000 people attended the funeral among them Patrick’s father Robert Campbell who had been ‘on the run’ in the Republic of Ireland since 1981.

A joint statement was issued by anti-Agreement Unionists including the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP), the Northern Ireland Unionist Party, and some members of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). The statement set out a common strategy for opposing any political deal leading the establishment of a power-sharing Executive which included Sinn Féin (SF).

Saturday 14 October 2000

A Catholic father-of-six and his two teenage sons all escaped uninjured when a bomb exploded in their car. The explosion happened shortly before 9.00pm at Blackstaff Way, off the Grosvenor Road, in west Belfast. The man said he was with his two sons, aged 17 and 18, for a driving lesson in the Kennedy Road Industrial Estate. He tried to adjust the driver’s seat, with one of his sons sitting in it, when he found a jar containing liquid and a pipe. He said it started to “fizz” and the three of them immediately fled from the vehicle just seconds before the device exploded. The attack was carried out by Loyalist paramilitaries.

Sunday 14 October 2001

Martin McGuinness, the Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), said that he was working “flat out” to convince the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to put its weapons beyond use.

[McGuinness made the comments on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) ‘Radio Ulster’ programme. There was continuing media speculation that the IRA was close to making a move on decommissioning.]

Aidan Troy (Fr), then Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Holy Cross Girls’ Primary School, called on Loyalist protesters to immediately end the daily protest at the school. Troy was speaking at Sunday mass and said that a member of the congregation had made the point that the only other country where girls are prevented from having an education was Afghanistan.

It was revealed in the media that David Burnside, then Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) MP, had held a meeting with the ‘inner council’ of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) sometime during the summer of 2001.

[Burnside later defended his decision to hold private talks with the Loyalist paramilitary group and said he would meet the group again if asked. Burnside said that he would not meet with the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Burside was an opponent of the Good Friday Agreement.]

The Irish government held a state funeral for 10 Irish Republican Army (IRA) men who had been executed by British authorities during Ireland’s War of Independence 80 years ago. The men had originally been buried in Mountjoy Prison but were reburied in Glasnevin cemetery following a mass at the Pro-Cathedral. The most famous of the 10 men was Kevin Barry an 18-year-old medical student who took part in the rebellion and was hanged in 1920. He is remembered today in a still-popular song that bears his name.

———————————————————————————

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.

  6 People lost their lives on the 14th October  between 1972 – 1991

————————————————————–

14 October 1972
Terence Maguire,  (23)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)
Found shot in entry, off Clandeboye Street, Belfast.

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14 October 1972
Leo John Duffy, (45)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)
Shot at his workplace, Northern Wine Company, Tate’s Avenue, off Lisburn Road, Belfast.

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14 October 1972
Thomas Marron,  (59)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)
Shot at his workplace, Northern Wine Company, Tate’s Avenue, off Lisburn Road, Belfast.

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14 October 1975


Andrew Baird,  (37)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Died three weeks after being injured by booby trap bomb attached to security barrier, Church Street, Portadown, County Armagh.

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14 October 1975
Stewart Robinson,  (23)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Found shot in entry off Aberdeen Street, Shankill, Belfast. Internal Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) dispute.

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14 October 1991


Henry Conlon,   (54)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)
Taxi driver. Shot when lured to bogus call, Finnis Drive, Taughmonagh, Belfast.

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21st September – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

21st September

Thursday 21 September 1972

A member of the UDR and his wife were killed in an IRA attack near Derrylin, County Fermanagh.

Thursday 21 September 1978

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a bomb attack on Eglinton airfield, County Derry. The terminal building, two aircraft hangers, and four planes were destroyed in the attack.

Monday 21 September 1981

Michael James Devine

James Devine, then an Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoner, joined the hunger strike. The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) was openly critical of the hunger strike.

Saturday 21 September 1991

Loyalist prisoners started a fire in the dining-hall of Crumlin Road Jail, Belfast. Peter Brooke, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, left Northern Ireland to begin a five-day visit to the United States of America (USA).

Monday 21 – Wednesday 23 September 1992

James Molyneaux, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), led a delegation from the UUP to talks in Dublin Castle, Dublin, with the Irish Government. The talks were based on Strand Two and the topics discussed included constitutional matters, security co-operation, channels of communication between the two states, and identity and allegiance. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) did not attend the talks in Dublin.

[These were the first formal discussions by Unionists in Dublin since 1922.]

Tuesday 21 September 1993

The Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), placed bombs at the homes of four Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) councillors. No one was injured in the attacks. Senior members of the SDLP expressed support for the ‘Hume-Adams’ talks.

Thursday 21 September 1995

It was revealed that the total amount of compensation paid by the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) for ‘Troubles’ related incidents (to the end of March 1995) was £1.12 billion.

Sunday 21 September 1997

[Frank Steele, formerly a member of MI6, claimed that various British governments had been in contact with the Irish Republican Army (IRA) since the first contact was established on 7 July 1972.]

Monday 21 September 1998

Members of the Garda Síochána (the Irish police) and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) detained 12 men as part of their investigation into the Omagh bombing. Six were arrested in south Armagh, six in north Louth, Republic of Ireland. Jeffrey Donaldson, then a Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Member of Parliament (MP) and a critic of the Agreement, said that David Trimble, then First Minister designate, had mentioned in several private meetings the possibility of his resignation over the issue of decommissioning. Trimble said that he had never made such a threat.

Tuesday 21 September 1999

The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) met a Sinn Féin (SF) delegation at Stormont. The meeting was part of the Mitchell Review of the Good Friday Agreement.

Thursday 21 September 2000

South Antrim By-election

A 71 year old Protestant woman in Newtownabbey, County Antrim, escaped injury after she handled a pipe-bomb that had been put through her letterbox. A similar device was put through the letterbox of a house in north Belfast.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) won the Westminster by-election in South Antrim taking the seat from the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). The area had previously been the second safest UUP seat. Willie McCrea (Rev.), who was a strong opponent of the Good Friday Agreement, won the seat by 822 votes to beat David Burnside the UUP candidate who was also an opponent of the Agreement.

[Commentators speculated that UUP supporters who were in favour of the Agreement had stayed at home and decided not to vote in the election.]

Friday 21 September 2001

Assembly Suspended For 1 Day John Reid, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, announced that he was suspending the Northern Ireland Assembly at midnight.

[The suspension lasted just 24 hours. The effect of the suspension was to allow another period of six weeks (until 3 November 2001) in which the political parties would have an opportunity to come to agreement and elect a First Minister and Deputy First Minister.]

The Irish Times (a Republic of Ireland newspaper) published the results of an opinion poll conducted on a sample of 1,000 people in Northern Ireland. Of those questioned 85 per cent said they thought the Irish Republican Army (IRA) should “now begin the process of putting its weapons beyond use”. While 64 per cent of the sample indicated that they had voted in favour of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 only 52 per cent said they would vote in favour of it now.

[The survey was conducted conducted last Saturday and Monday on behalf of the Irish Times and Prime Time by MRBI Ltd.]

Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), said that Nationalist recruits to the new Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) would be “accorded the same treatment as the RUC” [Royal Ulster Constabulary].

[Unionists claimed that the comments implied a threat to Catholic recuits; this was denied by SF.]

It was reported that the number of Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers claiming compensation for trauma had risen to over 3,000.


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.

3 People lost their lives on the 21st   September  between 1971 – 1972

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21 September 1971
James Finlay,   (31)

Protestant
Status: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)
Died eight days after being injured in premature bomb explosion at house, Bann Street, Lower Oldpark, Belfast. Explosion occurred on 13 September 1971.

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21 September 1972


Thomas Bullock,   (53)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Shot together with his wife at their home, Aghalane, near Derrylin, County Fermanagh

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21 September 1972
Emily Bullock,   (50)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot together with her husband, an Ulster Defence Regiment member, at their home, Aghalane, near Derrylin, County Fermanagh.

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9th September – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

9th September

Wednesday 9 September 1971

A British soldier was killed trying to defuse a bomb near Lisburn.

Thursday 11 September 1975

Harold Wilson, then British Prime Minister, together with Merlyn Rees, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, held a meeting with Margaret Thatcher, then leader of the Conservative Party, to brief her about a number of matters including Northern Ireland.

[On 3 May 2006 the Irish News (a Belfast based newspaper) published details of confidential cabinet minutes that had been taken at the meeting. The minutes reveal that the British government was aware of collusion between the security forces, particularly the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), and Loyalist paramilitaries.]

Thursday 9 September 1976

The leaders of the main churches in Ireland issued a statement supporting the Women’s Peace Movement.

Wednesday 9 September 1992

Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), together with Peter Robinson, then deputy leader of the DUP, walked out of Strand Two of the political talks (later known as the Brooke / Mayhew talks). The politicians left because Articles 2 and 3 of the Irish Constitution were not the first item on the agenda for the talks. Two members of the DUP remained in the talks as ‘observers’.

Friday 9 September 1994

John Taylor, then Deputy Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), said that he believed that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire was “for real”.

Monday 9 September 1996

The ‘General Head Quarters’ (GHQ) faction of the Irish National Liberation Army announced that the group was disbanding. This decision followed the killing of Hugh Torney on 3 September 1996. This marked the ending of a feud within the INLA which started with the killing of Gino Gallagher on 30 January 1996.

This latest feud had claimed six lives.

The Stormont talks resumed after a break during the summer. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the United Kingdom Unionists brought a complaint against the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) and the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) for breach of the ‘Mitchell Principles’ because of their failure to condemn threats made against Billy Wright and Alex Kerr; both Loyalists from Portadown, County Armagh.

The Irish Times (a Dublin based newspaper) published the details of a poll, one of the results of which showed that two-thirds of people in Northern Ireland thought the Stormont talks would fail.

Tuesday 9 September 1997

Sinn Féin Signed Mitchell Principles

Petrol bombs were thrown at the homes of two Catholic families in the Protestant Ballykeel estate in Ballymena, County Antrim.

[One of the families, who had been living on the estate for 33 years, decided to leave their home following the attack.]

Representatives of Sinn Féin (SF) entered Stormont, Belfast, to sign a pledge that the party would agreed to abide by the Mitchell Principles.

[See 11 September 1997 for the reaction of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).]

The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), and the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) all refused to attend the session at Stormont. The PUP and the UDP held meetings with Adam Ingram, then Security Minister, to discuss the situation of Loyalist prisoners. A number of UDP supporters took part in a protest outside the gates of Stormont. Madeline Albright, then Secretary of State of the United States of America (USA), asked the Attorney General to suspend the extradition to Britain of six men who were former members of the IRA.

Thursday 9 September 1999

Patten Report Published The Report of the Independent Commission on Policing in Northern Ireland was released and was accompanied by a statement from the author Chris Patten. Patten called on Catholics to join the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). It contained recommendations for a radical overhaul of the police service in the region. The proposed changes to the ethos, composition, training and structure of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) met with a mixed reaction. David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), described it as “the most shoddy piece of work I have seen in my entire life”, and there were strong objections from rank-and-file RUC officers.

The UUP also issued an initial statement on the report. Many criticisms related to the proposed change to the name and symbols of the RUC. Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), issued a statement about the proposals.

The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) statement and the Sinn Féin (SF) statement indicated that the two parties were prepared to view the document positively. Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State of Northern Ireland, issued a statement. The Irish government issued a statement on the report. The Police Federation for Northern Ireland also issued a statement.

There was a sectarian attack on a 13 year old Catholic student attending Hazelwood Integrated College in north Belfast. The young boy was attacked by three loyalists and beaten with baseball bats and shot in the stomach with a pellet gun. The attack happened near the White City estate in Belfast. Police said the motive for the attack was sectarian.

There was an inquest in Belfast into the death by hanging of William Giles (41). Giles had been part of an Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) gang which had abducted and killed Michael Fay (25), a Catholic civilian, on 20 November 1982. Giles had been released from prison in 1997 after serving 15 years of a life sentence. It was claimed that Giles had hanged himself out of remorse.


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.

6 People lost their lives on the 9th September  between 1971 – 1988

————————————————————–

09 September 1971


David Stewardson,  (29) nfNI

Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed attempting to defuse bomb at Castlerobin Orange Hall, Drumankelly, near Lisburn, County Antrim.

————————————————————–

09 September 1975
George Quinn,  (41)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)
Found shot near Turf Lodge roundabout, Springfield Road, Belfast.

————————————————————–

09 September 1985
James Burnett,   (28) nfNI
Status: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA),

Killed by: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
From County Dublin. Found shot, Killeen, County Armagh. Alleged informer.

————————————————————–

09 September 1987


Patrick Hamill,   (29)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)
Died several hours after being shot at his home, Forfar Street, off Springfield Road, Belfast.

————————————————————–

09 September 1987


Harry Sloan,  (38)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot outside his home, Alliance Parade, Belfast. Mistaken for off duty Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) member.

————————————————————–

09 September 1988


Colin Abernethy,

(30) Protestant
Status: Civilian Political Activist (CivPA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Ulster Clubs member. Shot while travelling on train to his workplace, Finaghy, Belfast

————————————————————–

Robert Nairac – Undercover Soldier & Hero His Capture & Death

Robert Nairac
Robert Nairac.jpg
Robert Nairac
Robert Nairac in his Grenadier Guards uniform
Born (1948-08-31)31 August 1948
Mauritius
Died 15 May 1977(1977-05-15) (aged 28)
Republic of Ireland
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svgBritish Army
Years of service 1972 – 1977
Rank Captain
Unit Grenadier Guards
Battles/wars Operation Banner
Awards George Cross

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

BBC Panorama – Bandit Country, South Armagh

Captain Robert Laurence Nairac

31 August 1948 –15 May 1977

Captain Robert Laurence Nairac GC (31 August 1948 –15 May 1977) was a British Army officer who was abducted from a pub in Dromintee, south County Armagh, during an undercover operation and killed by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) on his fourth tour of duty in Northern Ireland as a Military Intelligence Liaison Officer. He was posthumously awarded the George Cross in 1979.

A number of claims have been made about both Nairac’s involvement in the killing of an IRA member and his collusion with loyalist paramilitaries, although he was never charged.[1]

Whilst several men have been imprisoned for his death, the whereabouts of his body remains unknown.

Background

Nairac was born in Mauritius to English parents. His family – long settled in Gloucestershire – had ancestors from the south of Ireland.[2] His family name originates from the Gironde area of France. His father was an eye surgeon who worked first in the north of England and then in Gloucester. He was the youngest of four children, with two sisters and a brother.[3]

Nairac, aged 10, attended prep school at Gilling Castle, a feeder school for the Roman Catholic public school Ampleforth College which he attended a year later. He gained nine O levels and three A levels, was head of his house and played rugby for the school. He became friends with the sons of Lord Killanin and went to stay with the family in Dublin and Spiddal in County Galway.[4]

He read medieval and military history at Lincoln College, Oxford, and excelled in sport; he played for the Oxford rugby 2nd XV and revived the Oxford boxing club where he won four blues in bouts with Cambridge. He was also a falconer, keeping a bird in his room which was used in the film Kes.[5

]

He left Oxford in 1971 to enter Royal Military Academy Sandhurst under the sponsorship of the Grenadier Guards and was commissioned with them upon graduation.[6][7][8] After Sandhurst he undertook post-graduate studies at the University of Dublin, before joining his regiment.[9]

Nairac has been described by former army colleagues as “a committed Roman Catholic”[10] and as having “a strong Catholic belief”.[11]

Military career in Northern Ireland

Nairac’s first tour of duty in Northern Ireland was with No.1 Company, the Second Battalion of the Grenadier Guards. The Battalion was stationed in Belfast from 5 July 1973 to 31 October 1973. The Grenadiers were given responsibility first for the Protestant Shankill Road area and then the predominantly Catholic Ardoyne area. This was a time of high tension and regular contacts with paramilitaries. Ostensibly, the battalion’s two main objectives were to search for weapons and to find paramilitaries. Nairac was frequently involved in such activity on the streets of Belfast. He was also a volunteer in community relations activities in the Ardoyne sports club. The battalion’s tour was adjudged a success with 58 weapons, 9,000 rounds of ammunition and 693 lbs of explosive taken and 104 men jailed.

The battalion took no casualties and had no occasion to shoot anyone. After his tour had ended he stayed on as liaison officer for the replacement battalion, the 1st Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. The new battalion suffered a baptism of fire with Nairac narrowly avoiding death on their first patrol when a car bomb exploded on the Crumlin Road.[12]

Rather than returning to his battalion, which was due for rotation to Hong Kong, Nairac volunteered for military intelligence duties in Northern Ireland. Following completion of several training courses, he returned to Northern Ireland in 1974 attached to 4 Field Survey Troop, Royal Engineers, one of the three sub-units of a Special Duties unit known as 14 Intelligence Company (14 Int). Posted to South County Armagh, 4 Field Survey Troop was given the task of performing surveillance duties. Nairac was the liaison officer among the unit, the local British Army brigade, and the Royal Ulster Constabulary.[13]

He also took on duties which were outside his official jurisdiction as a liaison officer – working undercover, for example. He apparently claimed to have visited pubs in republican strongholds and sung Irish rebel songs and acquired the nickname “Danny Boy”. He was often driven to pubs by former Conservative[14] MP Patrick Mercer, who was then an Army officer.[15] Former SAS Warrant Officer Ken Connor, who was involved in the creation of 14 Int, wrote of him in his book, Ghost Force, p. 263:

Had he been an SAS member, he would not have been allowed to operate in the way he did. Before his death we had been very concerned at the lack of checks on his activities. No one seemed to know who his boss was, and he appeared to have been allowed to get out of control, deciding himself what tasks he would do.

Nairac finished his tour with 14th Int in mid-1975 and returned to his regiment in London. Nairac was promoted to captain on 4 September 1975.[16] Following a rise in violence culminating in the Kingsmill massacre, British Army troop levels were increased and Nairac accepted a post again as a liaison officer back in Northern Ireland.

Nairac on his fourth tour was a liaison officer to the units based at Bessbrook Mill. It was during this time that he was abducted and killed.

Shot by the Provisional IRA

On the evening of 14 May 1977, Nairac arrived at The Three Steps pub in Dromintee, South Armagh, by car, alone. He is said to have told regulars of the pub that his name was Danny McErlaine, a motor mechanic and member of the Official IRA from the republican Ardoyne area in north Belfast. The real McErlaine, on the run since 1974, was killed by the Provisional IRA in June 1978 after stealing arms from the organisation.[17]

Witnesses say that Nairac got up and sang a republican folk songThe Broad Black Brimmer” with the band who were playing that night. At around 11.45 p.m., he was abducted following a struggle in the pub’s car park and taken across the border into the Republic of Ireland to a field in the Ravensdale Woods in County Louth. Following a violent interrogation during which Nairac was allegedly punched, kicked, pistol-whipped and hit with a wooden post, he was shot dead.[18]

He did not admit to his true identity. Terry McCormick, one of Nairac’s abductors, posed as a priest in order to try to elicit information by way of Nairac’s confession. Nairac’s last words according to McCormick were: ‘Bless me Father, for I have sinned’.[19]

His disappearance sparked a huge search effort throughout Ireland. The hunt in Northern Ireland was led by Major H. Jones, who as a colonel in the Parachute Regiment was to be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross in the Falklands War. Jones was Brigade Major at HQ 3rd Infantry Brigade. Nairac and Jones had become friends and would sometimes go to the Jones household for supper. After a four-day search, the Garda Síochána confirmed to the Royal Ulster Constabulary that they had reliable evidence of Nairac’s killing.[20]

An edition of Spotlight broadcast on 19 June 2007, claimed that his body was not destroyed in a meat grinder, as alleged by an unnamed IRA source.[21] McCormick, who has been on the run in the United States for thirty years because of his involvement in the killing (including being the first to attack Nairac in the car park), was told by a senior IRA commander that it was buried on farmland, unearthed by animals, and reburied elsewhere. The location of the body’s resting place remains a mystery.[22] Nairac is one of nine IRA victims, whose graves have never been revealed and who are collectively known as ‘The Disappeared’. The cases are under review by the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains.

In May 2000 allegations were made claiming that Nairac had married, and fathered a child with a woman named Nel Lister, also known as Oonagh Flynn or Oonagh Lister. In 2001, her son sought DNA testing himself and revealed the allegations to be a hoax.[23][24]

Criminal prosecutions

In November 1977, Liam Townson, a 24-year-old IRA member from the village of Meigh outside Newry, was convicted of Nairac’s murder. Townson was the son of an Englishman who had married a County Meath woman. He confessed to killing Nairac and implicated other members of the unit involved. Townson made two admissible confessions to Garda officers. The first was made around the time of his arrest, it started with

“I shot the British captain. He never told us anything. He was a great soldier.”

The second statement was made at Dundalk police station after Townson had consulted a solicitor. He had become hysterical and distressed and screamed a confession to the officer in charge of the investigation.[25]

Townson was convicted in Dublin’s Special Criminal Court of Nairac’s murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. He served 13 years in prison and was released in 1990. He was part of Conor Murphy‘s 1998 election campaign team and as of 2000 he was living in St. Moninna Park, in Meigh.[26]

In 1978, the RUC arrested five men from the South Armagh area. Three of them – Gerard Fearon, 21, Thomas Morgan, 18, and Daniel O’Rourke, 33 -were charged with Nairac’s murder. Michael McCoy, 20, was charged with kidnapping, and Owen Rocks, 22, was accused of withholding information. Fearon and Morgan were convicted of Nairac’s murder. O’Rourke was acquitted but found guilty of manslaughter and jailed for ten years. McCoy was jailed for five years and Rocks for two. Morgan died in a road accident in 1987, a year after his release. O’Rourke became a prominent Sinn Féin member in Drumintee.

Two other men, Terry McCormick and Pat Maguire, wanted in connection with this incident remain on the run.[27] Maguire has been reported as living in New Jersey in the US.[28]

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Man charged with murder of undercover British Army officer in 1977

A man has been charged with the murder of Robert Nairac, an undercover British Army officer, in Northern Ireland more than 30 years ago

Kevin Crilly: Man charged with murder of undercover British Army officer in 1977

Crilly was interviewed by detectives in the weeks after the incident but left for the United States before officers could arrest him on suspicion of murder Photo: PA

Kevin Crilly, 59, from Lower Foughill Road, Jonesborough, Co Armagh, is already facing charges of kidnapping and falsely imprisoning the 29-year-old Grenadier Guardsman near the Irish border in 1977.

The captain, originally from Gloucestershire, was interrogated, tortured and then shot dead by the IRA after being snatched from a pub car park near Jonesborough and driven to a field at Ravensdale, Co Louth. His body has never been found.

Prosecutors laid the murder charge before Crilly as he appeared at Newry Magistrates’ Court for a routine bail hearing on the two lesser counts, with which he was charged last year.

District Judge Austin Kennedy granted Crilly bail; however, he ordered him to remain in custody after Crown lawyers indicated that they may seek to appeal against the decision in the High Court in Belfast.

In the years after Capt Nairac’s disappearance, three men were convicted of his murder, but police have always said they were looking for more suspects.

Crilly was interviewed by detectives in the weeks after the incident but left for the United States before officers could arrest him on suspicion of murder.

Judge Kennedy was told today that the suspect had remained in the US for almost 30 years.

Investigating officer Detective Sergeant Barry Graham said that, when he returned, he took another name, explaining that Crilly was adopted as a child and had assumed his birth name of Declan Parr.

“The only reason he returned to Northern Ireland was because he was in a long-term relationship in America and that relationship had broken down,” he said.

The officer told the judge that he could connect Crilly with the murder charge and the two other counts of kidnapping and false imprisonment.

Crilly, dressed in a black leather jacket, white check shirt and blue jeans, spoke only to acknowledge that he understood the charges that he was facing.

His defence team objected that the prosecution had given them no prior warning that the murder charge would be put to their client or that they would be objecting to his bail.

Noting that Crilly had complied with all bail requirements since his original arrest 18 months ago and pointing out that, at that point, the defendant was aware that the Public Prosecution Service was examining whether there were grounds for charging him with murder, Judge Kennedy rejected the prosecution objection to bail.

The magistrate said any appeal against his decision would have to be lodged within two hours. He ordered that Crilly was held in the cells until the PPS signalled its intentions.

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On 20 May 2008, 57-year-old IRA veteran Kevin Crilly of Jonesborough, County Armagh, was arrested at his home by officers of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). He had been on the run in the United States but had returned to Northern Ireland under an alias after the 1998 Belfast Agreement. He was charged the following day with the kidnapping and false imprisonment of Nairac.[29] In November 2009, Crilly was also charged with the murder of Robert Nairac at Newry magistrates’ court during a bail hearing on the two counts on which he had been charged in 2008.[30] Crilly was cleared on all counts in April 2011 as the Judge considered that the prosecution failed to prove intention or prior knowledge on the part of Crilly.[31]

Nairac’s killing is one of those under investigation by the PSNI’s Historical Enquiries Team (HET).[32]

George Cross award

On 13 February 1979 Nairac was posthumously awarded the George Cross.

Captain Nairac’s posthumous George Cross citation reads, in part:[33]

[…]On his fourth tour Captain Nairac was a Liaison Officer at Headquarters 3 Infantry Brigade. His task was connected with surveillance operations.

On the night of 14/15 May 1977 Captain Nairac was abducted from a village in South Armagh by at least seven men. Despite his fierce resistance he was overpowered and taken across the border into the nearby Republic of Ireland where he was subjected to a succession of exceptionally savage assaults in an attempt to extract information which would have put other lives and future operations at serious risk. These efforts to break Captain Nairac’s will failed entirely. Weakened as he was in strength – though not in spirit – by the brutality, he yet made repeated and spirited attempts to escape, but on each occasion was eventually overpowered by the weight of the numbers against him. After several hours in the hands of his captors Captain Nairac was callously murdered by a gunman of the Provisional Irish Republican Army who had been summoned to the scene. His assassin subsequently said ‘He never told us anything’.

Captain Nairac’s exceptional courage and acts of the greatest heroism in circumstances of extreme peril showed devotion to duty and personal courage second to none.

Collusion allegations

Claims have been made abouts Nairac’s involvement in the killing of an IRA member in the Republic of Ireland and his relationship with Ulster loyalist paramilitaries.

Hidden Hand documentary

Dublin Monaghan Bombings 1974 – First Tuesday -1993

Allegations were made concerning Nairac in a 1993 Yorkshire Television documentary about the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings of 1974 entitled Hidden Hand. The narrator of Hidden Hand states:

We have evidence from police, military and loyalist sources which confirms the links between Nairac and the Portadown loyalist paramilitaries. And also that in May 1974, he was meeting with these paramilitaries, supplying them with arms and helping them plan acts of terrorism against republican targets. In particular, the three prime Dublin suspects, Robert McConnell, Harris Boyle and the man called ‘The Jackal’ (Robin Jackson, Ulster Volunteer Force [UVF] member from Lurgan), were run before and after the Dublin bombings by Captain Nairac.

According to the documentary, support for this allegation was said to have come from various sources:

They include officers from RUC Special Branch, CID and Special Patrol Group; officers from the Gardaí Special Branch; and key senior loyalists who were in charge of the County Armagh paramilitaries of the day….

Holroyd

It was alleged by a former Secret Intelligence Service operative, Captain Fred Holroyd, that Nairac admitted involvement in the assassination of IRA member John Francis Green on 10 January 1975 to him. Holroyd claimed in a New Statesman article written by Duncan Campbell that Nairac had boasted about Green’s death and showed him a colour Polaroid photograph of Green’s corpse taken directly after his assassination.[34]

These claims were given prominence when, in 1987, Ken Livingstone MP told the House of Commons that Nairac was quite likely to have been the person who organised the killing of three Miami Showband musicians.[35]

The Barron Report stated that:

The evidence before the Inquiry that the polaroid photograph allegedly taken by the killers after the murder was actually taken by a Garda officer on the following morning seriously undermines the evidence that Nairac himself had been involved in the shooting.

Holroyd’s evidence was also questioned by Barron in the following terms:

The picture derived from this is of a man increasingly frustrated with the failure of the British Authorities to take his claims seriously; who saw the threat to reveal a crossborder SAS assassination as perhaps his only remaining weapon in the fight to secure a proper review of his own case. His allegations concerning Nairac must be read with that in mind.[36]

Barron report

Nairac was mentioned in Justice Henry’ Barron’s inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings when it examined the claims made by the Hidden Hand documentary, Holroyd and Colin Wallace

Former RUC Special Patrol Group member John Weir, who was also a UVF member, claimed he had received information from an informant that Nairac was involved in the killing of Green:[37]

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

In addition, “Surviving Miami Showband members Steve Travers and Des McAlee testified in court that an Army officer with a crisp English accent oversaw the Miami attack” (see Miami Showband killings), the implication being that this was Nairac.[38] Fred Holroyd and John Weir also linked Nairac to the Green and Miami Showband killings. Martin Dillon, however, in his book The Dirty War maintained that Nairac was not involved in either attack.[39]

Colin Wallace, in describing Nairac as a Military Intelligence Liaison Officer (MILO) said “his duties did not involve agent handling”. Nevertheless, Nairac “seems to have had close links with the Mid-Ulster UVF, including Robin Jackson and Harris Boyle”. According to Wallace, “he could not have carried out this open association without official approval, because otherwise he would have been transferred immediately from Northern Ireland” [40] Wallace wrote in 1975; Nairac was on his fourth tour of duty in 1977.

Robin Jackson was implicated in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of May 1974, and Harris Boyle was blown up by his own bomb during the Miami Showband massacre.

The Barron Inquiry found a chain of ballistic history linking weapons and killings under the control of a group of UVF and security force members, including RUC Special Patrol Group members John Weir and Billy McCaughey, that is connected to those alleged to have carried out the bombings. This group was known as the “Glenanne gang“. Incidents they were responsible for “included, in 1975, three murders at Donnelly’s bar in Silverbridge, the murders of two men at a fake Ulster Defence Regiment checkpoint, the murder of IRA man John Francis Green in the Republic, the murders of members of the Miami showband and the murder of Dorothy Trainor in Portadown in 1976, they included the murders of three members of the Reavey family, and the attack on the Rock Bar in Tassagh.”[41] According to Weir, members of the gang began to suspect that Nairac was playing republican and loyalist paramilitaries off against each other, by feeding them information about murders carried out by the “other side” with the intention of “provoking revenge attacks”.[42]

The Pat Finucane Centre stated when investigating allegations of collusion between the security forces and loyalist paramilitaries, that although Nairac has been linked to many attacks, “caution has to be taken when dealing with Nairac as attacks are sometimes attributed to him purely because of his reputation”.[43]

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Irish Republican Army. (I.R.A) – History & Background

Irish Republican Army. (I.R.A) – History & Background

The views and opinions expressed in this page and  documentaries are soley intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland.

They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors.

Provisional Irish Republican Army

The IRA were responsible for approx.  1,823 deaths

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IRA Bombers (IRA Documentary

 


Gaddafi and the IRA – Full

 


The Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA or PIRA) was[5][6][7][8] an Irish republican paramilitary organisation that sought to remove Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom and bring about an independent republic encompassing all of Ireland.[9][10] It was the biggest and most active republican paramilitary group during the Troubles. It saw itself as the successor to the original IRA and called itself simply the Irish Republican Army, or Óglaigh na hÉireann in Irish.[11] It was also widely referred to as such by others. The IRA is designated an unlawful terrorist organisation in the UK and an unlawful organisation in the Republic of Ireland.[12][13]

The Provisional IRA emerged in December 1969, following a split in the republican movement. The Troubles had begun a year before, when a Catholic, nonviolent civil rights campaign was met with violence from both Ulster loyalists and the police, culminating in the August 1969 riots and deployment of British troops.[14]

Secret Undercover British Army Terrorist Force – Military Reaction Force Disclosed

 

The IRA initially focused on defence, but it began an offensive campaign in 1971 (see timeline). The IRA’s primary goal was to force the British to negotiate a withdrawal from Northern Ireland. It used guerrilla tactics against the British Army and Royal Ulster Constabulary in both rural and urban areas. It also carried out a bombing campaign in Northern Ireland and England against what it saw as political and economic targets. Telephoned warnings were usually sent before such bombings. The IRA called a final ceasefire in July 1997, when Sinn Féin were re-admitted into the Northern Ireland peace talks. It supported the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and in 2005 it disarmed under international supervision.

Overview of strategies

The IRA’s initial strategy was to use force to cause the collapse of the government of Northern Ireland and to inflict enough casualties on British forces that the British government would be forced by public opinion to withdraw from the region.[15] This policy involved recruitment of volunteers, increasing after the 1972 Bloody Sunday incident, in which the British military killed unarmed protesters, and launching attacks against British military and economic targets.[16][17] The campaign was supported by arms and funding from Libya[18] and from some groups in the United States.[19][20]

The IRA agreed to a ceasefire in February 1975, which lasted nearly a year[21] before the IRA concluded that the British were drawing them into politics without offering any guarantees in relation to the IRA’s goals (as well as launching an intelligence offensive),[22] and hopes of a quick victory receded.[23] As a result, the IRA launched a new strategy known as “the Long War”. This saw them conduct a war of attrition against the British and increase emphasis on political activity, via the political party Sinn Féin.[24]

The success of the 1981 Irish hunger strike in mobilising support and winning elections led to the Armalite and ballot box strategy, with more time and resources devoted to political activity. The abortive attempt at an escalation of the military part of that strategy led republican leaders increasingly to look for a political compromise to end the conflict, with a broadening dissociation of Sinn Féin from the IRA. Following negotiations with the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and secret talks with British civil servants, the IRA ultimately called a ceasefire in 1994 on the understanding that Sinn Féin would be included in political talks for a settlement.[25] When the British government, dependent on Ulster Unionist Party votes at Westminster, then demanded the disarmament of the IRA before it allowed Sinn Féin into multiparty talks, the IRA called off its ceasefire in February 1996.

This demand was quickly dropped after the May 1997 general election in the UK. The IRA ceasefire was then reinstated in July 1997 and Sinn Féin was admitted into all-party talks, which produced the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. The IRA’s armed campaign, primarily in Northern Ireland but also in England and mainland Europe, caused the deaths of approximately 1,800 people. The dead included around 1,100 members of the British security forces, and about 640 civilians.[26][27] The IRA itself lost 275–300 members[28] and an estimated 10,000 imprisoned at various times over the 30-year period.[1][29]

On 28 July 2005, the IRA Army Council announced an end to its armed campaign, stating that it would work to achieve its aims using “purely political and democratic programmes through exclusively peaceful means”,[30] and shortly afterwards completed decommissioning. In September 2008, the nineteenth report of the Independent Monitoring Commission stated that the IRA was “committed to the political path” and no longer represented “a threat to peace or to democratic politics”, and that the IRA’s Army Council was “no longer operational or functional”.[31][32] The organisation remains classified as a proscribed terrorist group in the UK and as an illegal organisation in the Republic of Ireland.[12][33] Two small groups split from the Provisional IRA, the Continuity IRA in 1986, and the Real IRA in 1997. Both reject the Good Friday Agreement and continue to engage in paramilitary activity.

On 26 July 2012, it was announced that some former members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army were merging with the Real Irish Republican Army, other independent republican paramilitary groups and the vigilante group Republican Action Against Drugs (but, notably, not with the Continuity Irish Republican Army) into a unified formation known simply as the “Irish Republican Army”.[34][35] This new IRA group is estimated by Police Service of Northern Ireland intelligence sources to have between 250 and 300 active militants and many more supporting associates.[36]

Origins

An IRA badge – the Phoenix is frequently used to symbolise the origins of the Provisional IRA.

In August 1969, a confrontation between Catholic residents of the Bogside and police Londonderry ollowing an Apprentice Boys of Derry march led to a large communal riot now referred to as the Battle of the Bogside – three days of fighting between rioters throwing stones and petrol bombs and police who saturated the area with CS gas.

Protests and riots organised by NICRA in support of the Bogsiders began elsewhere in the Province sparking retaliation by Protestant mobs; the subsequent burning, damage to property and intimidation largely against the minority community forced 1,505 Catholics from their homes in Belfast in what became known as the Northern Ireland riots of August 1969, with over 200 Catholic homes being destroyed or requiring major repairs[14] and a number of people were killed on both sides, some by the forces of law and order. The Irish Republican Army had been poorly armed and unable to adequately defend the Catholic community, which had been considered one of its traditional roles since the 1920s.[37]

Veteran republicans were critical of the IRA’s Dublin leadership which, for political reasons, had refused to prepare for aggressive action in advance of the violence.[38][39] On 24 August Joe Cahill, Seamus Twomey, Dáithí Ó Conaill, Billy McKee and several other future Provisional leaders came together in Belfast intending to remove the Belfast leadership and turn back to traditional militant republicanism.[40] Although the pro-Goulding commander Billy McMillen stayed in command, he was told it was only for three months and he was not to have any communication with the IRA’s Dublin based leadership.[40]

Traditional republicans formed the “Provisional” Army Council in December 1969, after an IRA Army convention was held at Knockvicar House in Boyle, County Roscommon.[41][42][43] The two main issues were the acceptance of the “National Liberation Strategy” and a motion to end abstentionism and to recognise the British, Irish and Northern Ireland parliaments. While the motion on the “National Liberation Strategy” was passed unanimously[43] the motion on abstentionism was only passed by 28 votes to 12. Opponents of this change argued strongly against the ending of abstentionism, and when the vote took place, Seán Mac Stíofáin, present as IRA Director of Intelligence, announced that he no longer considered that the IRA leadership represented republican goals.[44] However, there was not a walkout. Those opposed, who included Mac Stíofáin and Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, refused to go forward for election to the new IRA Executive.[45]

While others canvassed support throughout Ireland, Mac Stíofáin was a key person making a connection with the Belfast IRA under Billy McKee and Joe Cahill, who had refused to take orders from the IRA’s Dublin leadership since September 1969, in protest at their failure to defend Catholic areas in August.[46][47] Nine out of thirteen IRA units in Belfast sided with the Provisionals in December 1969, roughly 120 activists and 500 supporters.[48] The first “Provisional” Army Council was composed of Seán Mac Stíofáin, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, Paddy Mulcahy, Sean Tracey, Leo Martin, and Joe Cahill,[49] and issued their first public statement on 28 December 1969, stating:

We declare our allegiance to the 32 county Irish republic, proclaimed at Easter 1916, established by the first Dáil Éireann in 1919, overthrown by forces of arms in 1922 and suppressed to this day by the existing British-imposed six-county and twenty-six-county partition states.[50]

The Sinn Féin party split along the same lines on 11 January 1970, when a third of the delegates walked out of the Ard Fheis in protest at the party leadership’s attempt to force through the ending of abstentionism, despite its failure to achieve a two-thirds majority vote of delegates required to change the policy.[51] Despite the declared support of that faction of Sinn Féin, the early Provisional IRA was extremely suspicious of political activity, arguing rather for the primacy of armed struggle.[52]

There are allegations that the early Provisional IRA received arms and funding from the Fianna Fáil-led Irish government in 1969, resulting in the 1970 “Arms trial” in which criminal charges were pursued against two former government ministers. Roughly £100,000 was donated by the Irish government to “Defence Committees” in Catholic areas and, according to historian Richard English, “there is now no doubt that some money did go from the Dublin government to the proto-Provisionals”.[53]

The Provisionals maintained the principles of the pre-1969 IRA; they considered both British rule in Northern Ireland and the government of the Republic of Ireland to be illegitimate, insisting that the Provisional IRA’s Army Council was the only valid government, as head of an all-island Irish Republic. This belief was based on a series of perceived political inheritances which constructed a legal continuity from the Second Dáil.[54][55]

The Provisionals inherited most of the existing IRA organisation in the north by 1971 and the more militant IRA members in the rest of Ireland. In addition, they recruited many young nationalists from the north, who had not been involved in the IRA before, but had been radicalised by the communal violence that broke out in 1969. These people were known in republican parlance as “sixty niners”, having joined after 1969.[56] The Provisional IRA adopted the Phoenix as symbol of the Irish republican rebirth in 1969. One of its common slogans is “out of the ashes rose the provisionals”.[57]

Organisation

The Provisional IRA was organised hierarchically. At the top of the organisation was the IRA Army Council, headed by the IRA Chief of Staff.

Leadership

All levels of the organisation were entitled to send delegates to IRA General Army Conventions (GACs). The GAC was the IRA’s supreme decision-making authority. Before 1969, GACs met regularly. Since 1969, there have only been two, in 1970 and 1986, owing to the difficulty in organising such a large gathering of an illegal organisation in secret.[58][59]

The GAC in turn elected a 12-member IRA Executive, which selected seven volunteers to form the IRA Army Council.[58] For day-to-day purposes, authority was vested in the Army Council which, as well as directing policy and taking major tactical decisions, appointed a Chief of Staff from one of its number or, less commonly, from outside its ranks.[60]

PIRA re-enacment in Galbally, County Tyrone (2009)

The Chief of Staff would appoint an adjutant general as well as a General Headquarters (GHQ), which consisted of heads of the following departments:

  • Armory
  • Finance
  • Engineering
  • Training
  • Intelligence
  • Publicity
  • Operations
  • Security

Regional command

Republican colour party in Dublin – March 2009. The blue flag being carried at the front is that of “Dublin Brigade IRA”

The IRA was divided into a Northern Command, which operated in the nine Ulster counties as well as County Leitrim and County Louth, and a Southern Command, operating in the rest of Ireland. The Provisional IRA was originally commanded by a leadership based in Dublin. However, in 1977, parallel to the introduction of cell structures at local level, command of the “war-zone” was given to the Northern Command. According to Ed Moloney, these moves at reorganisation were the idea of Ivor Bell, Gerry Adams and Brian Keenan.[61]

Brigades

The IRA refers to its ordinary members as volunteers (or óglaigh in Irish). Up until the late 1970s, IRA volunteers were organised in units based on conventional military structures. Volunteers living in one area formed a company as part of a battalion, which could be part of a brigade, although many battalions were not attached to a brigade.

For most of its existence, the IRA had five Brigade areas within what it referred to as the “war-zone”. These Brigades were located in Armagh, Belfast, Derry, Donegal and Tyrone/Monaghan.[62] The Belfast Brigade had three battalions, respectively in the west, north and east of the city. In the early years of the Troubles, the IRA in Belfast expanded rapidly. In August 1969, the Belfast Brigade had just 50 active members. By the end of 1971, it had 1,200 members, giving it a large but loosely controlled structure.[63]

The Derry Brigade had two battalions – one based in Derry City, known as the South Derry Brigade, and another in Donegal. The Derry Battalion became the Derry Brigade in 1972 after a rapid increase in membership following Bloody Sunday when British paratroopers killed 13 unarmed demonstrators at a civil rights march.[64] Volunteers based in Donegal were a part of the Derry Brigade as well. County Armagh had three battalions, two very active ones in South Armagh and a less active unit in North Armagh. For this reason the Armagh IRA unit is often referred to as the South Armagh Brigade. Similarly, the Tyrone/Monaghan Brigade, which operated from around the Border of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, is often called the East Tyrone Brigade. Fermanagh, South Down and North Antrim had units not attached to Brigades.[65] The leadership structure at battalion and company level was the same: each had its own commanding officer, quartermaster, explosives officer and intelligence officer. There was sometimes a training officer or finance officer.

Active service units

Ulster Defence Association – Hunting The IRA (Documentary

 

From 1973, the IRA started to move away from the larger conventional military organisational principle owing to its security vulnerability.[66] A system of two parallel types of unit within an IRA brigade was introduced in place of the battalion structures. Firstly, the old “company” structures were used for tasks such as “policing” nationalist areas, intelligence gathering, and hiding weapons. These were essential support activities. However, the bulk of actual attacks were the responsibility of a second type of unit, the active service unit (ASU). To improve security and operational capacity, these ASUs were smaller, tight-knit cells, usually consisting of five to eight members. The ASU’s weapons were controlled by a brigade’s quartermaster.[67] By the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was estimated that in the late 1980s the IRA had roughly 300 members in ASUs and about another 450 serving in supporting roles.[65]

The exception to this reorganisation was the South Armagh Brigade, which retained its traditional hierarchy and battalion structure and used relatively large numbers of volunteers in its actions.[68]

The IRA’s Southern Command, located in the Republic of Ireland, consists of a Dublin Brigade and a number of smaller units in rural areas. These were charged mainly with the importation and storage of arms for the Northern units and with raising finances through robberies and other means.[69]

Details on strategy 1969–1998

Initial phase

Following the violence of August 1969, the IRA began to arm and train to protect nationalist areas from further attack.[70] After the Provisionals’ split from the Official IRA the Provisional IRA began planning for an all-out offensive action against what it claimed was British occupation.[71]

The Official IRA were opposed to such a campaign because they felt it would lead to sectarian conflict, which would defeat their strategy of uniting the workers from both sides of the sectarian divide. The IRA Border Campaign in the 1950s had avoided actions in urban centres of Northern Ireland to avoid civilian casualties and resulting sectarian violence.[72] The Provisional IRA, by contrast, was primarily an urban organisation, based originally in Belfast and Derry.

The Provisional IRA’s strategy was to use force to cause the collapse of the Northern Ireland administration and to inflict casualties on the British forces such that the British government be forced by public opinion to withdraw from Ireland. According to journalist Brendan O’Brien, “the thinking was that the war would be short and successful. Chief of Staff Seán Mac Stíofáin decided they would ‘escalate, escalate and escalate’ until the British agreed to go”.[15] This policy involved recruitment of volunteers and carrying out attacks on British forces, as well as mounting a bombing campaign against economic targets. In the early years of the conflict, IRA slogans spoke of, “Victory 1972″ and then “Victory 1974″.[16] Its inspiration was the success of the “Old IRA” in the Irish War of Independence (1919–1922). In their assessment of the IRA campaign, the British Army would describe these years, 1970–72, as the “insurgency phase”.[73]

The British government held secret talks with the IRA leadership in 1972 to try and secure a ceasefire based on a compromise settlement within Northern Ireland after the events of Bloody Sunday when IRA recruitment and support increased. The IRA agreed to a temporary ceasefire from 26 June to 9 July. In July 1972, Seán Mac Stíofáin, Dáithí Ó Conaill, Ivor Bell, Seamus Twomey, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness met a British delegation led by William Whitelaw. The Irish republicans refused to consider a peace settlement that did not include a commitment to British withdrawal, a retreat of the British Army to its barracks, and a release of republican prisoners. The British refused and the talks broke up.[74]

Éire Nua and the 1975 ceasefire

The Provisionals’ goal in this period was the abolition of both the Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland states and their replacement with a new all-Ireland federal republic, with decentralised governments and parliaments for each of the four Irish historic provinces. This programme was known as Éire Nua (New Ireland). The Éire Nua programme remained IRA policy until discontinued by the Army Council in 1979.[75] Éire Nua remained Sinn Féin policy until 1982.[76]

By the mid-1970s, the hopes of the IRA leadership for a quick military victory were receding. The British military was unsure of when it would see any substantial success against the IRA. Secret meetings between Provisional IRA leaders Ruairí Ó Brádaigh and Billy McKee with British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Merlyn Rees secured an IRA ceasefire which began in February 1975. The IRA initially believed that this was the start of a long-term process of British withdrawal, but later came to the conclusion that Rees was trying to bring them into peaceful politics without offering them any guarantees.[23] Critics of the IRA leadership, most notably Gerry Adams, felt that the ceasefire was disastrous for the IRA, leading to infiltration by British informers, the arrest of many activists and a breakdown in IRA discipline resulting in sectarian killings and a feud with fellow republicans in the Official IRA. At this time, the IRA leadership, short of money, weapons and members, was on the brink of calling off the campaign. The ceasefire, however, broke down in January 1976.[21]

The “Long War

IRA political poster from the 1980s, featuring a quote from Bobby Sands – “There can never be peace in Ireland until the foreign, oppressive British presence is removed, leaving all the Irish people as a unit to control their own affairs and determine their own destinies as a sovereign people, free in mind and body, separate and distinct physically, culturally and economically”.

Thereafter, the IRA evolved a new strategy which they called the “Long War”. This underpinned IRA strategy for the rest of the Troubles and involved the re-organisation of the IRA into small cells, an acceptance that their campaign would last many years before being successful and an increased emphasis on political activity through Sinn Féin. A republican document of the early 1980s states, “Both Sinn Féin and the IRA play different but converging roles in the war of national liberation. The Irish Republican Army wages an armed campaign… Sinn Féin maintains the propaganda war and is the public and political voice of the movement”.[77] The 1977 edition of the Green Book, an induction and training manual used by the IRA, describes the strategy of the “Long War” in these terms:

  1. A war of attrition against enemy personnel [British Army] based on causing as many deaths as possible so as to create a demand from their [the British] people at home for their withdrawal.
  2. A bombing campaign aimed at making the enemy’s financial interests in our country unprofitable while at the same time curbing long term investment in our country.
  3. To make the Six Counties… ungovernable except by colonial military rule.
  4. To sustain the war and gain support for its ends by National and International propaganda and publicity campaigns.
  5. By defending the war of liberation by punishing criminals, collaborators and informers.[78]

Confidential documents released on 30 December 2008 from the British state archives show that the IRA leadership proposed a ceasefire and peace talks to the British government in 1978. The British refused the offer. Prime Minister James Callaghan decided that there should be “positive rejection” of the approach on the basis that the republicans were not serious and “see their campaign as a long haul”. Irish State documents from the same period say that the IRA had made a similar offer to the British the previous year. An Irish Defence Forces document, dated 15 February 1977, states that “It is now known that feelers were sent out at Christmas by the top IRA leadership to interest the British authorities in another long ceasefire.”[79]

1981 hunger strikes and electoral politics

Insight: The 1981 Hunger Strike 20 Years On – 2001

 

IRA funeral, 1981

IRA prisoners convicted after March 1976 did not have Special Category Status applied in prison. In response, over 500 prisoners refused to wash or wear prison clothes (see Dirty protest and Blanket protest). This activity culminated in the 1981 Irish hunger strike, when seven IRA and three Irish National Liberation Army members starved themselves to death in pursuit of political status. The hunger strike leader Bobby Sands and Anti H-Block activist Owen Carron were elected to the British Parliament, and two other protesting prisoners were elected to the Irish Dáil. In addition, there were work stoppages and large demonstrations all over Ireland in sympathy with the hunger strikers. Over 100,000 people attended the funeral of Sands, the first hunger striker to die.[80]

After the success of IRA hunger strikers in mobilising support and winning elections on an Anti H-Block platform in 1981, republicans increasingly devoted time and resources to electoral politics, through the Sinn Féin party. Danny Morrison summed up this policy at a 1981 Sinn Féin Ard Fheis (annual meeting) as a “ballot paper in this hand and an Armalite in the other”.[81]

Peace strategy

The success of the 1981 Irish hunger strike in mobilising support and winning elections led to what was referred to by Danny Morrison as, “the Armalite and ballot box strategy” with more time and resources devoted to political activity. The perceived stalemate along with British government’s hints of a compromise[82] and secret approaches in the early 1990s led republican leaders increasingly to look for a political agreement to end the conflict,[83][84] with a broadening dissociation of Sinn Féin from the IRA. Following negotiations with the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and secret talks with British civil servants, the IRA ultimately called a ceasefire in 1994 on the understanding that Sinn Féin would be included in political talks for a settlement.[25] When the British government then demanded the disarmament of the IRA before it allowed Sinn Féin into multiparty talks, the organisation called off its ceasefire in February 1996. The renewed bombings caused severe economic damage, with the Manchester bombing and the Docklands bombing causing approximately £500 million in combined damage. After the ceasefire was reinstated in July 1997, Sinn Féin was admitted into all-party talks, which produced the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. The IRA’s armed campaign, primarily in Northern Ireland but also in England and mainland Europe, caused the deaths of approximately 1,800 people. The dead included around 1,100 members of the British security forces, and about 630 civilians.[26][27] The IRA itself lost 275–300 members,[28] of an estimated 10,000 total over the 30-year period.[1]

According to author Ed Moloney, the IRA made an attempt to escalate the conflict with the so-called “Tet Offensive” in the 1980s, which was reluctantly approved by the Army Council and did not prove successful. On the other hand, public speeches from two Northern Ireland Secretaries of State, Peter Brooke[85] and Patrick Mayhew[86] hint that, given the cessation of violence, a political compromise with the IRA was possible. Gerry Adams entered talks with John Hume, the leader of the moderate nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) in 1993, and secret talks were also conducted since 1991 between Martin McGuinness and a senior MI6 officer, Michael Oatley.[82][84][87] Thereafter, Adams increasingly tried to disassociate Sinn Féin from the IRA, claiming they were separate organisations and refusing to speak on behalf of the IRA.[88] Within the Republican Movement (the IRA and Sinn Féin), the new strategy was described by the acronym “TUAS”, meaning either “Tactical Use of Armed Struggle” or “Totally Unarmed Strategy”.[89]

Weaponry and operations

The Armalite AR-18, obtained by the IRA from an IRA member in the United States in the early 1970s, was an emotive symbol of its armed campaign

An AK-47 assault rifle (over 1,000 of which were donated by Muammar Gaddafi to the IRA in the 1980s)

Heckler & Koch G3. 100 of these, stolen from the Norwegian police, finished up with the IRA

In the early days of the Troubles the IRA was very poorly armed, mainly with old World War II weaponry such as M1 Garands and Thompson submachine guns, but starting in the early 1970s it procured large amounts of modern weaponry from such sources as supporters in the United States, Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi,[21] and arms dealers in Europe, America, the Middle East and elsewhere. The Libyans supplied the IRA with the RPG-7.

The RPG-7

In the first years of the conflict, the IRA’s main activities were providing firepower to support nationalist rioters and defending nationalist areas from attacks. The IRA gained much of its support from these activities, as they were widely perceived within the nationalist community as being defenders of Irish nationalist and Roman Catholic people against aggression.[90]

Grand Hotel following a bomb attack

 
————————————

Thatcher and the IRA Dealing with Terror BBC Documentary 2014 Full

 

From 1971–1994, the IRA launched a sustained offensive armed campaign that mainly targeted the British Army, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), and economic targets in Northern Ireland. In addition, some IRA members carried out attacks against Protestant civilians.[91]

The IRA was chiefly active in Northern Ireland, although it took its campaign to England and mainland Europe. The IRA also targeted certain British government officials, politicians, judges, establishment figures, British Army and police officers in England, and in other areas such as the Republic of Ireland, West Germany and the Netherlands. By the early 1990s, the bulk of the IRA activity was carried out by the South Armagh Brigade,[citation needed] well known through its sniping operations and attacks on British Army helicopters. The bombing campaign principally targeted political, economic and military targets, and approximately 60 civilians were killed by the IRA in England during the conflict.[92]

It has been argued that this bombing campaign helped convince the British government (who had hoped to contain the conflict to Northern Ireland with its Ulsterisation policy) to negotiate with Sinn Féin after the IRA ceasefires of August 1994 and July 1997.[93][94]

Ceasefires and decommissioning of arms

On 31 August 1994, the IRA declared an indefinite ceasefire. However, from February 1996 until July 1997, the IRA called off its 1994 ceasefire because of its dissatisfaction with the state of negotiations. They re-instated the ceasefire in July 1997, and it has been in operation since then.[95]

The IRA decommissioned all of its remaining arms between July and September 2005. The decommissioning of its weaponry was supervised by the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD). Among the weaponry estimated (by Jane’s Information Group) to have been destroyed as part of this process were:

A “Sniper at Work” sign in Crossmaglen. The PIRA used snipers as a tactic in south Armagh to disrupt foot patrols

Having compared the weapons destroyed with the British security forces’ estimates of the IRA weaponry, and because of the IRA’s full involvement in the process of destroying the weapons, the IICD arrived at their conclusion that all IRA weaponry has been destroyed.[97]

Since the process of decommissioning was completed, unnamed sources in MI5 and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) have reported to the press that not all IRA arms were destroyed during the process. This claim remains unsubstantiated so far.[98] In its report dated April 2006 the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) stated that it had no reason to disbelieve the IRA or to suspect that it had not fully decommissioned. It believed that any weaponry that had not been handed in had been retained locally and against the wishes of the IRA leadership.[99] The Russian and British Intelligence services alleged that during the decommissioning process the IRA secretly purchased a consignment of 20 Russian special forces AN-94 rifles in Moscow.[100][101][102]

In mid-July 2013, the Gardaí displayed arms and explosives (Semtex) recently recovered from dissident republicans in the Dublin area. The Gardaí believe this Semtex to have come from the Libyan connection back in the 1980s and therefore should have been decommissioned.[103][104][105]

Other activities

Apart from its armed campaign, the IRA has also been involved in many other activities.

Sectarian attacks

IRA, purely sectarian, calculated slaughter of Protestants at Kingsmill

 

The IRA publicly condemned sectarianism and sectarian attacks.[106] However, some IRA members became involved in sectarian tit-for-tat violence and attacked Protestants in retaliation for attacks on Catholics.[106] Of those killed by the IRA, Sutton classifies 130 (about 7%) of them as sectarian killings of Protestants.[107] Unlike loyalists, the IRA denied responsibility for sectarian attacks and the members involved used covernames, such as Republican Action Force.[108][109] Many in the IRA opposed these sectarian attacks, but others deemed them effective in preventing sectarian attacks on Catholics.[110]

Some unionists allege that the IRA took part in “ethnic cleansing” of the Protestant minority in rural border areas, such as Fermanagh.[111][112] Many local Protestants allegedly believed that the IRA tried to force them into leaving. However, most Protestants killed by the IRA in these areas were members of the security forces, and there was no exodus of Protestants.[113]

Alleged involvement in organised crime

The IRA have allegedly been involved in criminal activities, including racketeering, bank robbery, fuel laundering, drug dealing and kidnapping.[114][115][116]

In 2004, £26.5m was stolen from the Northern Bank‘s vaults in Belfast city centre. The British and Irish governments agreed with the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s report blaming the robbery on the IRA.[117] On 18 January 2005, the IRA issued a statement denying any involvement in the robbery.[118] In February 2005, the Independent Monitoring Commission’s Fourth Report stated their belief that the robbery was carried out with the prior knowledge and authorisation of the IRA’s leadership.[119] Commentators including Suzanne Breen have stated that the IRA was the only organisation capable of carrying out the raid.[120] In May 2009, two men were arrested in Cork, and charged with IRA membership and offences relating to the robbery.[121]

According to several sources, the organisation has also been involved in the Irish drugs trade. A 1999 report by John Horgan and Max Taylor cited Royal Ulster Constabulary reports, alleging that this involves the “licensing” of drug operations to criminal gangs and the payment of protection money, rather than direct involvement.[114][122][123] However, Chief of the RUC Drugs Squad Kevin Sheehy notes “the Provisional IRA did its best to stop volunteers from becoming directly involved [in drugs]” and noted that on one occasion an IRA member caught in possession of a small amount of cannabis for personal use was “disowned and humiliated” in his local area.[124] According to Horgan and Taylor’s report, the IRA are also involved in several legitimate businesses including taxi firms, construction, restaurants and pubs. The IRA have also been involved in racketeering, which involves the extortion of money from legitimate businesses for “protection”.[125]

Speaking at Sinn Féin 2005 Ard Fheis, Gerry Adams stated that “‘There is no place in republicanism for anyone involved in criminality”. However, he went on to say “we refuse to criminalise those who break the law in pursuit of legitimate political objectives”.[126]

In 2013 it was reported that an Italian police investigation had revealed links between the IRA and the Mafia in a €450m money laundering scheme.[127]

Vigilantism

The IRA saw itself as the police force of nationalist areas of Northern Ireland during the Troubles instead of the RUC.[128] This was made possible by a feeling of mistrust by some members of the community against the police force and army. The feeling, that the RUC, B-Specials, UDR, British Army and other arms of the Governmental apparatus in Northern Ireland were biased against the nationalist community was not new; it predated the Troubles and took in organisations like the Ulster Defence Volunteers, a home guard body of World War II, who were also widely considered sectarian.[129] Catholics did, however, serve in the UDV,[130] Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), and Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).

Also, the RUC and other forces of the authorities were, in some instances, reluctant to enter or patrol certain Nationalist areas unless it was in armoured Land Rovers and in convoy. Police stations were also heavily armoured because of persistent attacks from the IRA. This gave them the appearance of being fortresses. This vacuum in policing was functional for the IRA because it stopped the local community being in contact with the police which may have posed a threat if information was passed.[131] Therefore, the community would turn to the IRA first to deal with troublemakers or those practising what came to be called “anti-social behaviour”.[132] In efforts to stamp out “anti-social behaviour” and alleged instances of drug dealing reported to or noticed by the organisation, the IRA killed or otherwise attacked suspected drug dealers and other suspected criminals. These attacks varied in severity and depended on various factors. In the first instance, the IRA may warn their intended victim, with further transgressions escalated to an attack known as a “punishment beating”. The process which the IRA went through to determine an offender’s “guilt” or “innocence” was never open to debate or scrutiny.[citation needed] The IRA also engaged in attacks that broke the bones of alleged offenders, or involved shooting through the hands, or knees for persistent offenders of activities such as joyriding or drug dealing. In certain cases, for persistent offenders the IRA would intimidate the individual into leaving the country; this was known as being “put out” of the community/country, and the clear message given to individuals served with these notices was that if they returned to the community/country they would be killed. This practice was frequently criticised by all sections of the political establishment in Northern Ireland as “summary justice“.[citation needed]

Irish Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, speaking in the Dáil Éireann, challenged Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams, over allegations of sexual abuse cover up by Sinn Féin/IRA. In the same debate Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin said victims of sex abuse by IRA members were sworn to silence. Adams denied there was any Sinn Féin cover up and accused Kenny and Martin of politicising the issue.[133] Adams also apologised to abuse victims who he said were “let down” by the IRA’s failure to properly investigate their claims of abuse.[134]

Killing of alleged informers

IRA execute suspected informer | South Armagh | 20th July 1991

 

In an effort to stamp out what the IRA termed “collaboration with British forces” and “informing”, they killed a number of Catholic civilians, such as Joseph Fenton. Purges against these individuals, whom the IRA considered traitors to their own community and to the cause of nationalism, were most prevalent when the IRA found itself persistently vulnerable to infiltration. Investigations into informers and infiltration are suspected to have been dealt with by an IRA unit called the Internal Security Unit (ISU), known colloquially as the “Nutting Squad”. This unit is said to be directly attached to IRA GHQ. Where a confession was solicited, the victim was often exiled or executed with a bullet in the back of the head. The body was either buried or, later in the IRA campaign, left in a public place, often in South Armagh.

One particular example of the killing of a person deemed by the IRA to have been an informer that is the source of continuing controversy is that of Jean McConville from Belfast, who was killed by the IRA. Ed Moloney and IRA sources continue to claim she was an informer despite the Police Ombudsman recently stating that this was not the case. The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) have described the killing as a “war crime“. Her family contend that she was killed as a punishment for aiding a dying British soldier in West Belfast, however this claim has been rejected in an official investigation,[135] while neither the Sutton Index or Lost Lives record the death of any British soldier near her home prior to her killing.[136] In March 2014, Ivor Bell – former IRA Chief of Staff – was arrested and charged with aiding and abetting in the murder of Jean McConville.[137] In April 2014, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams was arrested and questioned by PSNI detectives in relation to the abduction and murder of Jean McConville.[138] He was released four days later without charge.[139]

In March 2007, Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan announced that there would be an inquiry into claims of collusion between IRA members working as agents for the Special Branch and other agencies and the British security forces.[140]

Conflict with other republican paramilitaries

The IRA has also feuded with other republican paramilitary groups such as the Official IRA in the 1970s and the Irish People’s Liberation Organisation in the 1990s.

Leading Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA) member Joseph O’Connor was shot dead in Ballymurphy, west Belfast on 11 October 2000. Claims have been made by O’Connor’s family and people associated with the RIRA that he was killed by the IRA as the result of a feud between the organisations,[141] but Sinn Féin denied the claims.[142] No-one has been charged with his killing.

Casualties

This is a summary. For a detailed breakdown of casualties caused by and inflicted on the IRA see Provisional IRA campaign 1969-1997#Casualties

An IRA signpost with the word “Provoland” underneath in Strathroy, Omagh, County Tyrone.

The IRA was responsible for more deaths than any other organisation during the Troubles.[143] Two detailed studies of deaths in the Troubles, the CAIN project at the University of Ulster, and the book Lost Lives,[144] differ slightly on the numbers killed by the IRA. CAIN gives a minimum figure of 1,707 and a maximum of 1,823, while Lost Lives gives a figure of 1,781. Of these, about 1,100 were members or former members of the security forces (the British Army, Royal Ulster Constabulary etc.), while between 510[145] and 640[27] were civilians. The civilian figure also includes civilians employed by British forces, politicians, members of the judiciary, and alleged criminals and informers. The remainder were either loyalist or republican paramilitary members (including over 100 IRA members accidentally killed by their own bombs or shot for being security force agents or informers).

A little under 300 IRA members were killed in the Troubles.[146] In addition, roughly 50–60 members of Sinn Féin were killed.[147] However, many more IRA volunteers were imprisoned than killed. Journalists Eamonn Mallie and Patrick Bishop estimate in their book The Provisional IRA that roughly 8,000 people passed through the ranks of the IRA in the first 20 years of its existence, many of them leaving after arrest (senior officers are required to surrender their post after being arrested), retiring from the armed campaign or “disillusionment”. They give 10,000 as the total number of past and present IRA members at that time.[148]

Categorisation

The IRA is a proscribed organisation in the United Kingdom under the Terrorism Act 2000[12] and an unlawful organisation in the Republic of Ireland under the Offences Against the State Acts.[149] Harold Wilson‘s secret 1971 meeting with IRA leaders with the help of John O’Connell angered the Irish government; Garret FitzGerald wrote 30 years later that “the strength of the feelings of our democratic leaders … was not, however, publicly ventilated at the time” because Wilson was a former and possible future British prime minister.[150] Members of IRA are tried in the Republic of Ireland in the Special Criminal Court. In Northern Ireland, the IRA are referred to as terrorists by the Ulster Unionist Party, the Democratic Unionist Party, the Progressive Unionist Party, the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland,[151] and the Social Democratic and Labour Party.[152] On the island of Ireland, the largest political party to state that the IRA is not a terrorist organisation is Sinn Féin. Sinn Féin is widely regarded as the political wing of the IRA, but the party insists that the two organisations are separate.[153]

Peter Mandelson, a former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, contrasted the post-1997 activities of the IRA with those of Al-Qaeda, describing the latter as “terrorists” and the former as “freedom fighters” (though Mandelson subsequently denied this sentiment).[154] The IRA prefer the terms freedom fighter, soldier, or volunteer.[155][156][157] The US Department of State lists them in the category ‘other selected terrorist groups also deemed of relevance in the global war on terrorism.’[153] The organisation has also been described as a “private army” by a number of commentators and politicians.[158][159][160]

The IRA described its actions throughout “The Troubles” as a military campaign waged against the British Army, the RUC, other security forces, judiciary, loyalist politicians and loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland, England and Europe. The IRA considers these groups to be all part of the same apparatus. As noted above, the IRA seeks to draw a direct descendancy from the original IRA and those who engaged in the Irish War of Independence. The IRA sees the previous conflict as a guerrilla war which accomplished some of its aims, with some remaining “unfinished business”.[161]

A process called “Criminalisation” was begun in the mid-1970s as part of a British strategy of “Criminalisation, Ulsterisation, and Normalisation”. The policy was outlined in a 1975 British strategy paper titled “The Way Ahead”, which was not published but was referred to by Labour’s first Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Merlyn Rees, and came to be the dominant British political theme in the conflict as it raged into the 1980s.[citation needed]

Another categorisation avoids the terms “guerrilla” or “terrorist” but does view the conflict in military terms. The phrase originated with the British military strategist Frank Kitson who was active in Northern Ireland during the early 1970s. In Kitson’s view, the violence of the IRA represented an “insurrection” situation, with the enveloping atmosphere of belligerence representing a “low intensity conflict” – a conflict where the forces involved in fighting operate at a greatly reduced tempo, with fewer combatants, at a reduced range of tactical equipment and limited scope to operate in a military manner.[citation needed]

Membership of the IRA remains illegal in both the UK and the Republic of Ireland, but IRA prisoners convicted of offences committed before 1998 have been granted conditional early release as part of the Good Friday Agreement.[162] In the United Kingdom a person convicted of membership of a “proscribed organisation”, such as the IRA, still nominally faces imprisonment for up to 10 years.[163]

Strength and support

Numerical strength

In the early to mid-1970s, the numbers recruited by the IRA may have reached several thousand, but these were reduced when the IRA re-organised its structures from 1977 onwards. An RUC report of 1986 estimated that the IRA had 300 or so members in Active Service Units and up to 750 active members in total in Northern Ireland.[65] This does not take into consideration the IRA units in the Republic of Ireland or those in Britain, continental Europe, and throughout the world. In 2005, the then Irish Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Michael McDowell told the Dáil that the organisation had “between 1,000 and 1,500″ active members.[164]

According to the book The Provisional IRA (by Eamon Mallie and Patrick Bishop), roughly 8,000 people passed through the ranks of the IRA in the first 20 years of its existence, many of them leaving after arrest, “retirement” or disillusionment.[148] In later years, the IRA’s strength has been somewhat weakened by members leaving the organisation to join hardline splinter groups such as the Continuity IRA and the Real IRA. According to former Irish Minister for Justice Michael McDowell, these organisations have little more than 150 members each.[164]

Electoral and popular support

The popular support for the IRA’s campaign in the Troubles is hard to gauge, given that Sinn Féin, the IRA’s political wing, did not stand in elections until the early 1980s. Most nationalists in Northern Ireland voted for the moderate Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) until 2001. After the 1981 hunger strike, Sinn Féin mobilised large electoral support and won 105,000 votes, or 43% of the nationalist vote in Northern Ireland, in the United Kingdom general election, 1983, only 34,000 votes behind the SDLP.[165] However, by the 1992 UK General Election, the SDLP won 184,445 votes and four seats to Sinn Féin’s 78,291 votes and no seats.[166] In the 1993 Local District Council Elections in Northern Ireland, the SDLP won 136,760 votes to Sinn Féin’s 77,600 votes.[167]

Few Protestant voters voted for Sinn Féin. In 1992, many of them voted for SDLP West Belfast candidate Joe Hendron rather than a unionist candidate to make sure Gerry Adams of Sinn Féin lost his seat in the constituency.[168]

An IRA wall mural in Coalisland, County Tyrone

The IRA enjoyed some popular support in the Republic of Ireland in the early 70s. However, the movement’s appeal was hurt badly by bombings such as the killing of civilians attending a Remembrance Day ceremony at the cenotaph in Enniskillen in 1987 (Remembrance Day bombing), and the death of two children when a bomb exploded in Warrington, which led to tens of thousands of people demonstrating on O’Connell Street in Dublin to call for an end to the IRA’s campaign. In the 1987 Irish General Election, they won only 1.7% of the votes cast.[169] They did not make significant electoral gains in the Republic until after the IRA ceasefires and the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. By the 2011 Irish general election Sinn Féin’s proportion of the popular vote had reached 9.9 percent.

Sinn Féin now has 27 members of the Northern Ireland Assembly (out of 108), five Westminster MPs (out of 18 from Northern Ireland) and 14 Republic of Ireland TDs (out of 166).

Support from other countries and organisations

The IRA have had contacts with foreign governments and other illegal armed organisations.

Libya has been the biggest single supplier of arms and funds to the IRA, donating large amounts: three shipments of arms in the early 1970s and another three in the mid-1980s, the latter reputedly enough to arm two regular infantry battalions.[18]

The IRA has also received weapons and logistical support from Irish Americans in the United States. Apart from the Libyan aid, this has been the main source of overseas IRA support. American support has been weakened by the War against Terrorism, and the fallout from the events of 11 September 2001.[19][20]

In the United States in November 1982, five men were acquitted of smuggling arms to the IRA after they claimed the Central Intelligence Agency had approved the shipment, although the CIA denied this.[170] There are allegations of contact with the East German Stasi, based on the testimony of a Soviet defector to British intelligence Vasili Mitrokhin. Mitrokhin revealed that although the Soviet KGB gave some weapons to the Marxist Official IRA, it had little sympathy with the Provisionals.[171] The IRA has received some training and support from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). In 1977, the Provisionals received a ‘sizeable’ arms shipment from the PLO, including small arms, rocket launchers and explosives, but this was intercepted at Antwerp after the Israeli intelligence alerted its European counterparts.[172] According to Dr Mir Ali Montazam, one-time first secretary at the Iranian embassy, Iran played a key part in funding the IRA during the 1980s. Iranian officials deposited £4 million into a secret Jersey bank account, funded by the sale of artwork from the Iranian Embassy in London. Hadi Ghaffari, the “machinegun mullah”, was sent to Belfast and organised the distribution of the money via sympathetic Irish businessmen.[173]

Falls Road in 1981

It has been alleged that the IRA had a co-operative relationship with Basque militant group ETA since the early 1970s. In 1973 it was accused of providing explosives for the assassination of Luis Carrero Blanco in Madrid.[174] In the 1970s, ETA also exchanged a quantity of handguns for training in explosives with the IRA.[175] In addition, the leaders of the political wings of the respective Irish republican and Basque separatist movements have exchanged visits on several occasions to express solidarity with each other’s cause.[176] Prominent former IRA prisoners such as Brendan McFarlane and Brendan Hughes have campaigned for the release of ETA prisoners.[177][178] In the mid-1990s after the IRA ceasefire, Basque media outlets followed the process carefully, sending a team to follow the families of those killed on Bloody Sunday as they campaigned for apology.[citation needed]

IRA propaganda poster

In May 1996, the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s internal security service, publicly accused Estonia of arms smuggling, and claimed that the IRA had contacted representatives of Estonia’s volunteer defence force, Kaitseliit, and some non-government groups to buy weapons.[179][180] In 2001, three Irish men, who later became known as the Colombia Three, were arrested after allegedly training Colombian guerrillas, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), in bomb making and urban warfare techniques. The US House of Representatives Committee on International Relations in its report of 24 April 2002 concluded “Neither committee investigators nor the Colombians can find credible explanations for the increased, more sophisticated capacity for these specific terror tactics now being employed by the FARC, other than IRA training”.[181]

In December 2013 the report of the Smithwick Tribunal concluded that “on the balance of probability” collusion took place between the IRA and members of the Garda Síochána in the 1989 killing of two RUC officers; however, the report could not conclusively prove this.[182]

Aftermath of Manchester bombing

Good Friday Agreement

Main article: Good Friday Agreement

The IRA ceasefire in 1997 formed part of a process that led to the 1998 Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement. One aim of the Agreement is that all paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland cease their activities and disarm by May 2000.

Calls from Sinn Féin led the IRA to commence disarming in a process that was monitored by Canadian General John de Chastelain‘s decommissioning body in October 2001. However, following the collapse of the Stormont power-sharing government in 2002, which was partly triggered by allegations that republican spies were operating within Parliament Buildings and the Civil Service, the IRA temporarily broke off contact with General de Chastelain.[citation needed]

In December 2004, attempts to persuade the IRA to disarm entirely collapsed when the Democratic Unionist Party, under Ian Paisley, insisted on photographic evidence. Justice Minister Michael McDowell (in public, and often) insisted that there would need to be a complete end to IRA activity.[citation needed]

At the beginning of February 2005, the IRA declared that it was withdrawing from the disarmament process, but in July 2005 it declared that its campaign of violence was over, and that transparent mechanisms would be used, under the de Chastelain process, to satisfy the Northern Ireland communities that it was disarming totally.

End of the armed campaign

On 28 July 2005, the IRA Army Council announced an end to its armed campaign, stating that it would work to achieve its aims using “purely political and democratic programmes through exclusively peaceful means”,[30] and shortly afterwards completed decommissioning. In September 2008, the nineteenth report of the Independent Monitoring Commission stated that the IRA was “committed to the political path” and no longer represented “a threat to peace or to democratic politics”, and that the IRA’s Army Council was “no longer operational or functional”.[31][32] The organisation remains classified as a proscribed terrorist group in the UK and as an illegal organisation in the Republic of Ireland.[12][33] Two small groups split from the IRA, the Continuity IRA in 1986, and the Real IRA in 1997. Both reject the Good Friday Agreement and continue to engage in paramilitary activity.

In a statement read by Séanna Breathnach, the organisation stated that it had instructed its members to dump all weapons and not to engage in “any other activities whatsoever” apart from assisting “the development of purely political and democratic programmes through exclusively peaceful means”. Furthermore, the organisation authorised its representatives to engage immediately with the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) to verifiably put its arms beyond use “in a way which will further enhance public confidence and to conclude this as quickly as possible”.[30]

This is not the first time that organisations styling themselves IRA have issued orders to dump arms.[183] After its defeat in the Irish Civil War in 1924 and at the end of its unsuccessful Border Campaign in 1962, the IRA Army Council issued similar orders. However, this is the first time in Irish republicanism that any organisation has voluntarily decided to dispose of its arms.[184] Some authors, like Patrick McCarthy, Peter Taylor and Brendan O’Brien concluded that, unlike previous IRA campaigns, the provisionals were not defeated.[185][186][187]

On 25 September 2005, international weapons inspectors supervised the full disarmament of the IRA, a long-sought goal of Northern Ireland’s peace process. The office of IICD chairman John de Chastelain, a retired Canadian general who oversaw the weapons’ decommissioning at secret locations, released details regarding the scrapping of many tons of IRA weaponry at a news conference in Belfast on 26 September. He said the arms had been “put beyond use” and that they were “satisfied that the arms decommissioned represent the totality of the IRA’s arsenal.”

The IRA permitted two independent witnesses, including a Methodist minister, Rev. Harold Good, and Father Alec Reid, a Roman Catholic priest close to Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, to view the secret disarmament work.[188] Ian Paisley, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), complained that since the witnesses were appointed by the IRA themselves, rather than being appointed by the British or Irish governments, they therefore could not be said to be unbiased witnesses to the decommissioning. Nationalists and Catholics viewed his comments as reflecting his refusal to support devolution in Northern Ireland with Catholics in power.[189]

In 2011 Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said: “The war is over. The IRA is gone. The IRA embraced, facilitated and supported the peace process. When a democratic and peaceful alternative to armed struggle was created the IRA left the stage.”[190] In 2014 Adams said: “The IRA is gone. It is finished”.[191]

Continuing activities of IRA members

The 10th report published in April 2006 from the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), an organisation monitoring activity by paramilitary groups on behalf of the British and Irish governments, prefaced its remarks about IRA activity by commenting that the IRA leadership has committed itself to following a peaceful path and that in the last three months this process has involved the further dismantling of the IRA as a military structure.

The report commented that there was no paramilitary or violent activity sanctioned by the leadership; there is a substantial erosion in the IRA’s capacity to return to a military campaign; and, that the IRA had no intentions of returning to violence.[192] However the IMC report also noted that following decommissioning, the IRA still retained a considerable amount of weaponry beyond what was needed for self-defence.[193]

The IMC has come in for criticism (mainly by republicans) as having been set up outside the terms of the Good Friday Agreement as a sop to Unionism. Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy stated that the IMC was established outside and in breach of the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and that it is politically biased, and had an anti-Sinn Féin agenda.[194]

On 4 October 2006, the IMC ruled that the IRA were no longer a threat.[195]

In late 2008, the The Sunday Times quoted a senior Garda intelligence officer as saying that “the IRA had recruited in recent years, still held arms despite apparently decommissioning the lot, and was being maintained in ‘shadow form.’” The Gardaí also said that the IRA was still capable of carrying out attacks.[193][196] A senior member of the PSNI, Assistant Chief Constable Peter Sheridan, said that it was unlikely that the IRA would disband in the foreseeable future.[197]

At the end of March 2010, SDLP MLA Dominic Bradley said that the IRA were still active and that they had been responsible for a number of incidents in his constituency including a punishment shooting and an armed robbery during which a shot was fired.[198]

In August 2010, the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, the Republican Network for Unity and the UPRG, claimed that the IRA were responsible for a shooting incident in the Gobnascale area of Derry. It is claimed that up to 20 masked men, some armed with handguns, attacked a group of teenagers who were engaging in anti-social behaviour at an interface area. A number of the teenagers were attacked and shots were fired into the air. The men are then reported to have removed their masks when the PSNI arrived and were subsequently identified as members of the Republican Movement. Sinn Féin denied the IRA were involved.[199][200][201]

“P. O’Neill”

The IRA traditionally uses a well-known signature in its public statements, which are all issued under the pseudonym of “P. O’Neill” of the “Irish Republican Publicity Bureau, Dublin”.[202] According to Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, it was Seán Mac Stiofáin, as chief of staff of the IRA, who invented the name. However, under his usage, the name was written and pronounced according to Irish orthography and pronunciation as “P. Ó Néill”. According to Danny Morrison, the pseudonym “S. O’Neill” was used during the 1940s.[202]

Informers

Throughout the Troubles, some members of the IRA passed information to the security forces. Members of the IRA suspected of being informants were usually executed after an IRA court-martial. In the 1980s, many more IRA members were imprisoned on the testimony of former IRA members known as “supergrasses” such as Raymond Gilmour. A Belfast newspaper has claimed that secret documents show that half of the IRA’s top men were also British informers.[203]

In recent years, there have been some high profile allegations of senior IRA figures having been British informers. In May 2003, a number of newspapers named Freddie Scappaticci as the alleged identity of the British Force Research Unit‘s most senior informer within the IRA, code-named Stakeknife, who is thought to have been head of the IRA’s internal security force, charged with rooting out and executing informers. Scappaticci denies that this is the case and, in 2003, failed in a legal bid to force the then NIO Minister, Jane Kennedy, to state he was not an informer.[204] She has refused to do so, and since then Scappaticci has not launched any libel actions against the media making the allegations.

On 16 December 2005, senior Sinn Féin member Denis Donaldson appeared before TV cameras in Dublin and confessed to being a British spy for twenty years.[205] He was expelled from Sinn Féin and was said to have been debriefed by the party.[206] Donaldson was a former IRA volunteer and subsequently highly placed Sinn Féin party member. Donaldson had been entrusted by Gerry Adams with the running of Sinn Féin’s operations in the US in the early 1990s.[207] On 4 April 2006, Donaldson was found shot dead at his retreat near Glenties in County Donegal.[208] When asked whether he felt Donaldson’s role as an informer in Sinn Féin was significant, the IRA double agent using the pseudonym “Kevin Fulton” described Donaldson’s role as a spy within Sinn Féin as “the tip of the iceberg”.[209] The Real IRA claimed responsibility for his assassination on 12 April 2009.[210]

On 8 February 2008, Roy McShane was taken into police protection after being unmasked as an informant. McShane, a former IRA member, had been Gerry Adams’ personal driver for many years. Adams said he was “too philosophical” to feel betrayed.[211]

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