Tag Archives: The Shankill

13th August – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

13th August

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

Wednesday 13 August 1969

Serious rioting spread across Northern Ireland from Derry to other Catholic areas stretching the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). The rioting deteriorated into sectarian conflict between Catholics and Protestants and many people, the majority being Catholics, were forced from their homes.

Jack Lynch, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), made a television address in which he announced that ‘field hospitals’ would be set up in border areas. He went on to say that:

“… the present situation is the inevitable outcome of the policies pursued for decades by successive Stormont governments. It is clear also that the Irish government can no longer stand by and see innocent people injured and perhaps worse.”

Lynch is often misquoted as having said: ‘stand idly by’.] [ August 1969; Partition; United Nations

Friday 13 August 1971

Hugh Herron

A Catholic man was shot dead by the British Army in Derry.

Tuesday 13 August 1974

   

Dennis Leach  & Michael Southern

Two British soldiers were killed by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in a remote controlled bomb attack near Crossmaglen, County Armagh.

Wednesday 13 August 1975

Bayardo_Bar_memorial 400

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a bomb and gun attack on the Bayardo Bar, Shankill Road, Belfast killing five people and injuring 40 others.

One of those killed was a member of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) the other four were Protestant civilians.

See The Bayardo Bar attack

Saturday 13 August 1983

James Mallon ( INLA)

Two members of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) were shot dead by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) in Dungannon, County Tyrone.

Monday 13 August 1984

There was a march in west Belfast in honour of Sean Downes killed on 12 August 1984 by a plastic baton round fired by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). The march was followed by serious rioting in the area

Wednesday 13 August 1986

Gerard O’Reilly, then being held awaiting extradition from the Republic of Ireland, was freed from a Dublin court following an error in the extradition warrant.

Friday 13 August 1993

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a series of fire-bomb attacks on the pier at Bournemouth, England, and a number of shops.

Saturday 13 August 1994

An Irish Republican Army (IRA) incendiary device caused damage to shops in Bognor Regis, England. Another incendiary device was discovered and defused in Brighton.

Sunday 13 August 1995 IRA “Haven’t Gone Away”

Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), addressed a demonstration at Belfast City Hall. During his speech a member of the crowd called out to Adams to, “bring back the IRA”. In an unscripted reply Adams said:

“They haven’t gone away, you know”.

[Although cheered by the crowd Adams was criticised for the remark. Unionists and the British government said that the remark highlighted the need for the decommissioning of Irish Republican Army (IRA) weapons. Since it was first uttered, the comment has been referred to repeatedly by critics of SF and the Good Friday Agreement.]

Thursday 13 August 1998

Mitchel McLaughlin, then National Chairperson of Sinn Féin (SF), issued a statement urging anyone with information about any of the ‘missing persons’ who disappeared during the course of the conflict to make that information available. [This statement was seen by many as having come about because of pressure on SF by relatives of people who had been abducted and never seen again.]

Friday 13 August 1999

Bernadette McAliskey, former MP, spoke at a rally held on the lower Ormeau Road in advance of the planned Apprentice Boys of Derry march. She said that

“marching is not a human right – for Orangemen or Republicans”.

The Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) criticised the decision of Castlereagh Borough Council decision to fly an Orange Order flag outside its civic offices. The PUP said it was “an affront to Roman Catholic and nationalist residents.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) accused the PUP of hypocrisy because of the PUP’s support of the flying of Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) flags.

Sunday 13 August 2000

The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) made safe a pipe-bomb on Drumlee Road in Ballymoney, County Antrim. The device had been pushed through the letterbox of a Catholic home. The attack was carried out by Loyalist paramilitaries.

Monday 13 August 2001 Suspected IRA Men Arrested in Colombia

Three Irish men were arrested at Bogotá Airport in Colombia, South America, for travelling on false documents. Colombian authorities reported that two of the men were travelling on false British passports while the third man was using a false Irish passport.

[There was speculation that the three men were members of the (Provisional) Irish Republican Army (IRA). It was reported that the men had been in area of the country that was under the control of left-wing guerrillas.

There was further media speculation that the men had been involved in helping to train some of the guerrillas. The men were later identified as Niall Connolly, who had lived in Cuba for a number of years, James Monaghan, formerly a member of the Sinn Féin ardcomhairle, and Martin McCauley, who had been an election worker for Sinn Féin in Armagh.]

Two Catholics, one of them a 14 year-old boy, were injured when Loyalists threw a blast-bomb among a Nationalist crowd in north Belfast.

The attack happened during disturbances involving hundreds of Loyalists and Nationalists.

A hoax nail bomb and fireworks were thrown at two houses in Glengormley, County Antrim.

The British Army were also called to deal with a hoax pipe-bomb in the same area.

Thomas McCauley, formerly from Belfast, was stabbed to death in Waterford, Republic of Ireland.

McCauley was given a Republican funeral on Friday 17 August 2001. He was reported as having been a member of the IRA who had broken his links with the movement some time

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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 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.

12  people lost their lives on the 13th August between 1971 – 1983

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13 August 1971


Huge Herron,   (31)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot during gun battle, Long Tower Street, Derry.

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13 August 1972
Thomas Madden, (48)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)
Found stabbed and beaten to death in shop doorway, Oldpark Road, Belfast

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13 August 1973

William McIlveen,   (36)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty reservist. Shot at his workplace, a factory, Cathedral Road, Armagh.

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13 August 1974

Dennis Leach (24) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in remote controlled bomb attack on hilltop British Army (BA) observation post, Drummuckavall, near Crossmaglen, County Armagh.

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13 August 1974

Michael Southern,  (19) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in remote controlled bomb attack on hilltop British Army (BA) observation post, Drummuckavall, near Crossmaglen, County Armagh.

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13 August 1975

William Gracey,  (63)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot during gun and bomb attack on Bayardo Bar, Shankill Road, Belfast.

See below for more details on this attack

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13 August 1975

 Samuel Gunning,   (55)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot during gun and bomb attack on Bayardo Bar, Shankill Road, Belfast.

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13 August 1975

Hugh Harris,   (21)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot during gun and bomb attack on Bayardo Bar, Shankill Road, Belfast.

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13 August 1975

 Joanne McDowell,   (29)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot during gun and bomb attack on Bayardo Bar, Shankill Road, Belfast.

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13 August 1975
Linda Boyle,  (19)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Injured during gun and bomb attack on Bayardo Bar, Shankill Road, Belfast. She died 21 August 1975.

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13 August 1983
Brendan Convery,   (25) Catholic
Status: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA),

Killed by: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)
Shot during attempted ambush of Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) members at security barrier, Dungannon, County Tyrone.

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13 August 1983

James Mallon,  (28)

Catholic
Status: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA),

Killed by: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)
Shot during attempted ambush of Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) members at security barrier, Dungannon, County Tyrone.

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See :  The Bayardo Bar attack

The Bayardo Bar attack

Bayardo Bar memorial.jpg

The Bayardo Bar attack took place on 13 August 1975 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. A unit of the Provisional IRA Belfast Brigade, led by Brendan McFarlane, launched a bombing and shooting attack on the pub on Aberdeen Street (off the loyalist Shankill Road), which was frequented by Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) members as well as civilians.

Four Protestant civilians and one UVF member were killed.

According to journalists Alan Murray and Peter Taylor, it was retaliation for the Miami Showband massacre almost a fortnight earlier, when the popular Dublin-based band were ambushed by the UVF at a bogus military checkpoint. Three band members were shot dead by the UVF gunmen after their minibus was blown up in a premature explosion.

McFarlane and two other IRA volunteers, Peter “Skeet” Hamilton and Seamus Clarke, were sentenced to life imprisonment for perpetrating the Bayardo attack.

Background

Main article: The Troubles

By the year 1975, the religious-political conflict in Northern Ireland known as “the Troubles“— was more than six years old. On 10 February 1975, the Provisional IRA and British government entered into a truce and restarted negotiations. The IRA agreed to halt attacks on the British security forces, and the security forces mostly ended its raids and searches.[1] However, there were dissenters on both sides. Some Provisionals wanted no part of the truce, while British commanders resented being told to stop their operations against the IRA just when—they claimed—they had the Provisionals on the run.[1] The security forces boosted their intelligence offensive during the truce and thoroughly infiltrated the IRA.[1]

There was a rise in sectarian killings during the truce, which ‘officially’ lasted until early 1976. Ulster loyalists, fearing they were about to be forsaken by the British government and forced into a united Ireland, increased their attacks on the Irish Catholic and nationalist community.

They hoped to force the IRA to retaliate and thus hasten an end to the truce. Under orders not to engage the security forces, some IRA units concentrated on tackling the loyalists. The fall-off of regular operations had caused serious problems of internal discipline and some IRA members, with or without permission from higher up, engaged in tit-for-tat killings.

In the early hours of 31 July 1975 the Miami Showband (a popular dance band) were driving back to Dublin following a gig in Banbridge. At Buskhill (outside Newry) they were flagged down at a checkpoint by Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) gunmen (some of whom were Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) soldiers) wearing British Army uniforms.

The band’s minibus pulled into a layby on the main A1 road, and the gunmen ordered the group to line-up facing a ditch. As one gunman took the names and addresses of the band members, two others hid a bomb in the back of the bus. However, the bomb detonated prematurely, and the two men were blown to bits. The surviving gunmen then opened fire on the five Miami Showband members, killing three and wounding two.

According to journalists Peter Taylor and Alan Murray, the attack on the Bayardo was retaliation for the massacre.

The attack

The Bayardo Bar was crowded with people of all ages on Wednesday 13 August 1975. Shortly before closing time a stolen green Audi car, containing a three-man unit of the IRA’s Belfast Brigade, pulled up outside. It was driven by the unit’s leader Brendan “Bik” McFarlane, a 24-year-old volunteer from Ardoyne.

Volunteers Seamus Clarke and Peter “Skeet” Hamilton got out and approached the pub’s side entrance in Aberdeen Street.  One of them immediately opened fire with an Armalite, instantly killing doorman William Gracey (63) and his brother-in-law Samuel Gunning (55), with whom he had been chatting outside.

The other volunteer then entered the pub, where patrons were drinking and singing, and at the entrance he dropped a duffel bag containing a ten-pound bomb. Both men made their getaway back to the waiting car. As panicked customers ran to the toilets for safety, the bomb exploded and brought down a section of the old brick-and-plaster building upon them. The bodies of civilian Joanne McDowell (29) and UVF member Hugh Harris (21) were later found beneath the rubble of fallen masonry.

Seventeen-year-old civilian Linda Boyle was pulled out alive, but died of her injuries in hospital on 21 August.  Over 50 people were injured in the attack. 

The Belfast Telegraph claimed that, as the IRA unit drove away down Agnes Street (an arterial road linking the Shankill to the Crumlin Road), they fired into a crowd of women and children queuing at a taxi rank; there were no fatalities. Within 20 minutes of the blast, the IRA unit were arrested after their car was stopped at a roadblock. The Armalite that had been used to kill William Gracey and Samuel Gunning was found inside the car along with spent bullet cases and fingerprints belonging to the three IRA men.

The IRA did not initially claim responsibility, However, it later stated that the Bayardo was attacked because it was a pub where UVF associates relaxed and “planned terrorist assaults” against nationalists.

The pub was in the UVF-dominated middle Shankill Road area, and the Ulster Banner was displayed from its upper windows. Martin Dillon said that the Bayardo was frequented by the UVF and that Lenny Murphy, head of the Shankill Butchers gang, was a regular customer. Steve Bruce also maintained that in the early 1970s, the UVF’s Brigade Staff (Belfast leadership) would often be found drinking in the pub, which was just around the corner from their headquarters above “The Eagle” chip shop on the Shankill Road.

A former IRA prisoner claimed that fellow inmate Lenny Murphy told him he had left the Bayardo ten minutes before the attack and that the Brigade Staff had just finished holding a meeting there.

Retaliation and counter-retaliation

Loyalists, especially the UVF, responded with another wave of sectarian attacks against Catholics. Two days after, a loyalist car bomb exploded without warning on the Falls Road, injuring 35 people. On 22 August, the UVF launched a gun and bomb attack on McGleenan’s Bar in Armagh. The attack was strikingly similar to that at Bayardo. One gunman opened fire while another planted the bomb; the explosion causing the building to collapse. Three Catholic civilians were killed (one of whom died on 28 August) and several more were wounded.

That same night, another bomb wrecked a Catholic-owned pub in nearby Blackwatertown, although there were no injuries.

These loyalist attacks were responded to in kind by the IRA (sometimes using the cover name Republican Action Force or similar), with the months that followed the Bayardo attack being characterised as a bloody game of tit-for-tat. This was met with disillusionment by imprisoned republicans such as Gerry Adams and Brendan Hughes, with the latter claiming that sectarianism was “destroying the whole struggle”.[21]

Convictions

In May 1976, Brendan McFarlane, Seamus Clarke, and Peter Hamilton were convicted in a non-jury Diplock Court and sentenced to life imprisonment inside the Maze Prison for carrying out the Bayardo murders.[5][10][11] Inside the Maze, McFarlane rose to become Officer Commanding IRA prisoners and in 1983 he led the Maze Prison escape, which was the mass break-out of 38 republican prisoners, including Clarke and Hamilton. McFarlane and Clarke then went on the run, although Hamilton was immediately recaptured outside the prison’s main perimeter gate.

McFarlane has never spoken about the killings, and the IRA leadership has never encouraged him to do so, considering the attack was viewed as having been “purely sectarian”. Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, however, told journalist Alan Murray that McFarlane “hadn’t a single, sectarian bone in his body”.

Peter “Skeet” Hamilton died of cancer in Dundalk on 25 February 2011 at the age of 57.

The Bayardo Somme Association has described the Bayardo attack as “a forgotten atrocity”. The association erected a memorial to the victims on the site where the Bayardo Bar stood before its demolition. The large steel monument was incorporated into the remaining section of the original structure; it bears the names and photographs of the five people who were killed plus photos of the pub taken before and after the bombing.

See: The Bayardo Bar attack

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Loyalist Feuds – Past & Present

Loyalist Feuds

A loyalist feud refers to any of the sporadic feuds which have erupted almost routinely between Northern Ireland‘s various loyalist paramilitary groups during and after the ethno-political conflict known as the Troubles broke out in the late 1960s. The feuds have frequently involved problems between and within the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) as well as, later, the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF).

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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.

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UDA-UVF feuds

See UDA Page

See UVF Page

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UDA-UVF Feud,

Johnny ‘Mad Dog’ Adair, Former UDA & UFF Loyalist Commander Talks About His Life.

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U.V.F Logo
U.V.F Logo

Although the UDA and UVF have frequently co-operated and generally co-existed, the two groups have clashed. Two particular feuds stood out for their bloody nature.

1974-1975

UDA Logo
UDA Logo

A feud in the winter of 1974-75 broke out between the UDA and the UVF, the two main loyalist paramilitary organisations in Northern Ireland. The bad blood originated from an incident in the Ulster Workers’ Council strike of May 1974 when the two groups were co-operating in support of the Ulster Workers’ Council.

Ulster Workers’ Council strike

That support the UDA & UVF members were giving involved shutting down their own social clubs & pubs due to complaints from loyalist wives of the striking men, the reason for this was with the men not working & funds being tight the wives saw what little money they did have being spent at the pubs & social clubs controlled by UDA/UVF, therefore the wives put pressure on the leaders of both groups to shut them down for the duration of the strike & after consultation they agreed.

All shut down except for a lone UVF affiliated pub on the shankill road. On a November night in 1974, a UVF man named Joe Shaw visited the pub for a drink. While there, he was “ribbed by the regulars about having allowed his local to be closed”.[2] A few pints later Shaw and some friends returned to their local, on North Queen St., and open it up. UDA men patrolling the area had seen the pubs lights on and ordered Shaw and his friends to close the place down & go home. Shaw refused, and the UDA men left, but they returned a short while later with a shotgun, determined to close the pub down.

Stephen Goatley

In the brawl that developed Shaw was fatally shot. A joint statement described it as a tragic accident although a subsequent UVF inquiry put the blame on Stephen Goatley and John Fulton, both UDA men. With antagonism grown another man was killed in a drunken brawl on 21 February 1975, this time the UDA’s Robert Thompson. This was followed by another pub fight in North Belfast in March and this time the UVF members returned armed and shot and killed both Goatley and Fulton, who had been involved in the earlier fight.

The following month UDA Colonel Hugh McVeigh and his aide David Douglas were the next to die, kidnapped by the UVF on the Shankill Road and taken to Carrickfergus where they were beaten before being killed near Islandmagee.

The UDA retaliated in East Belfast by attempting to kill UVF leader Ken Gibson who in turn ordered the UDA’s headquarters in the east of the city to be blown up, although this attack also failed. The feud rumbled on for several months in 1976 with a number of people, mostly UDA members, being killed before eventually the two groups came to an uneasy truce.

2000

Although the two organisations had worked together under the umbrella of the Combined Loyalist Military Command, the body crumbled in 1997 and tensions simmered between West Belfast UDA Brigadier Johnny Adair, who had grown weary of the Northern Ireland peace process and the Good Friday Agreement, and the UVF leadership. Adair by this time had forged close links with the dissident LVF, a group which the UVF had been on poor terms with since its foundation.

Amidst an atmosphere of increasing tension in the area, Adair decided to host a “Loyalist Day of Culture” on the Shankill on Saturday 19 August 2000, which saw thousands of UDA members from across Northern Ireland descend on his Lower Shankill stronghold, where a series of newly commissioned murals were officially unveiled on a day which also featured a huge UDA/UFF parade and armed UDA/UFF show of strength.

Unknown to the UVF leadership, who had sought and been given assurances that no LVF regalia would be displayed on the Shankill on the day of the procession, as well as the rest of the UDA outside of Adair’s “C Company”, Adair had an LVF flag delivered to the Lower Shankill on the morning of the celebrations, which he planned to have unfurled as the procession passed the Rex Bar, a UVF haunt, in order to antagonise the UVF and try and drag it into conflict with as much of the UDA as possible.

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The Rex Bar – Shankill

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Adair waited until the bulk of the parade of UDA men had made its way up into the heart of the Shankill before initiating the provocative gesture. When it happened skirmishes broke out between UVF men who had been standing outside the Rex watching the procession and the group involved in unfurling the contentious flag, which had been discreetly concealed near the tail end of the parade. Prior to this the atmosphere at the Rex had been jovial, with the UVF spectators even joining in to sing UDA songs along to the tunes of the UDA-aligned flute bands which accompanied the approximately ten thousand UDA men on their parade up the Shankill Road.

But vicious fighting ensued, with a roughly three hundred-strong C Company (the name given to the Lower Shankill unit of the UDA’s West Belfast Brigade, which contained Adair’s most loyal men) mob attacking the patrons of the Rex, initially with hand weapons such as bats and iron bars, before they shot up the bar as its patrons barricaded themselves inside.

Also shot up was the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) headquarters which faced the pub. C Company then went on the rampage in the Lower Shankill, attacking the houses of known UVF members and their families, including the home of veteran UVF leader Gusty Spence, and evicting the inhabitants at gunpoint as they wrecked and stole property and set fire to homes. By the end of the day nearly all those with UVF associations had been driven from the Lower Shankill.

Later that night C Company gunmen shot up the Rex again, this time from a passing car. While most of the UDA guests at Adair’s carnival had duly left for home when it became apparent that he was using it to engineer violent conflict with the UVF, festivities nonetheless continued late into the night on the Lower Shankill, where Adair hosted an open air rave party and fireworks display.

The UVF struck back on Monday morning, shooting dead two Adair associates, Jackie Coulter and Bobby Mahood, as they sat in a Range Rover on the Crumlin Road. The UVF also shot up the Ulster Democratic Party headquarters on the Middle Shankill. An hour later Adair’s unit burned down the PUP’s offices close to Agnes Street, the de facto border between the UVF-dominated Middle and Upper Shankill and the UDA-dominated Lower Shankill. The UVF responded by blowing up the UDP headquarters on the Middle Shankill. Adair was returned to prison by the Secretary of State on 14 September, although the feud continued with four more killed before the end of the year.

Violence also spread to North Belfast, where members of the UVF’s Mount Vernon unit shot and killed a UDA member, David Greer, in the Tiger’s Bay area, sparking a series of killings in that part of the city. In another incident the County Londonderry town of Coleraine saw tumult in the form of an attempted expulsion of UVF members by UDA members, which was successfully resisted by the UVF.

But aside from these exceptions Adair’s attempt to ignite a full-scale war between the two organisations failed, as both the UVF and UDA leaderships moved decisively to contain the trouble within the Shankill area, where hundreds of families had been displaced, and focused on dealing with its source as well as its containment. To Adair’s indignation even the “A” and “B” Companies of his West Belfast Brigade of the UDA declined to get involved in C Company’s war with the UVF.

Eventually a ceasefire was reluctantly agreed upon by the majority of those involved in the feuding after new procedures were established with the aim of preventing the escalation of any future problems between the two organisations, and after consideration was paid to the advice of Gary McMichael and David Ervine, the then leaders of the two political wings of loyalism.

UVF-LVF feuds

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Loyalist Feud in Portadown, March 2000

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The nature of the LVF, which was founded by Billy Wright when he, along with the Portadown unit of the UVF Mid-Ulster Brigade, was stood down by the UVF leadership on 2 August 1996 for breaking the ceasefire has led to frequent battles between the two movements. This had come about when Wright’s unit killed a Catholic taxi-driver during the Drumcree standoff.

Although Wright had been expelled from the UVF, threatened with execution and an order to leave Northern Ireland, which he defied, the feud was largely contained during his life and the two major eruptions came after his death.

1999-2001

Simmering tensions boiled over in a December 1999 incident involving LVF members and UVF Mid-Ulster brigadier Richard Jameson and his men at the Portadown F.C. social club in which the LVF supporters were severely beaten. The LVF members swore revenge and on 10 January 2000 they took it by shooting Jameson dead on the outskirts of Portadown.[14] The UVF retaliated by killing two Protestant teenagers suspected of LVF membership and involvement in Jameson’s death. As it turned out, the victims, Andrew Robb and David McIlwaine, were not part of any loyalist paramilitary organisation.

The UDA’s Johnny Adair supported the LVF and used the feud to stoke up the troubles that eventually flared in his feud with the UVF later that year. Meanwhile the UVF attempted to kill the hitman responsible for Jameson, unsuccessfully, before the LVF struck again on 26 May, killing PUP man Martin Taylor in Ballysillan. The LVF then linked up with Johnny Adair’s C Company for a time as their feud with the UVF took centre stage.

However the UVF saw fit to continue the battle in 2001, using its satellite group the Red Hand Commando to kill two of the LVF’s leading figures, Adrian Porter and Stephen Warnock. Adair however convinced the LVF that the latter killing was the work of one of his rivals in the UDA, Jim Gray, who the LVF then unsuccessfully attempted to assassinate.

See: Jim Gray – aka Doris Day

2005

In July 2005 the feud came to a conclusion as the UVF made a final move against its rival organisation. The resulting activity led to the deaths of at least four people, all associated with the LVF. As a result of these attacks on 30 October 2005 the LVF announced that its units had been ordered to cease their activity and that it was disbanding. In February 2006, the Independent Monitoring Commission reported that this feud had come to an end.

UDA internal feuds

The UDA, the largest of the loyalist paramilitary groups, has seen a number of internal struggles within its history.

Gangsters At War – Loyalist Paramilitaries in Northern Ireland

1972-1974

From its beginnings the UDA was wracked by internal problems and in 1972, the movement’s first full year of existence, three members, Ingram Beckett, John Brown and Ernest Elliott were killed by other UDA members. The main problems were between East Belfast chief Tommy Herron and Charles Harding Smith, his rival in the west of the city, over who controlled the movement. Although they had agreed to make compromise candidate Andy Tyrie the leader, each man considered himself the true leader. Herron was killed in September 1973 in an attack that remains unsolved.

Andy Tyrie

However with confirmed in overall control of the UDA Harding Smith initially remained silent until in 1974 he declared that the West Belfast brigade of the movement was splitting from the mainstream UDA on the pretext of a visit to Libya organised by Tyrie in a failed attempt to procure arms from Colonel Qadaffi. The trip had been roundly criticised by the Unionist establishment and raised cries that the UDA was adopting socialism, and so Harding Smith used it re-ignite his attempts to take charge.

Harding Smith survived two separate shootings but crucially lost the support of other leading Shankill Road UDA figures and eventually left Belfast after being visited by North Belfast Brigadier Davy Payne, who warned him that he would not survive a third attack.

1987-1989

South Belfast Brigadier John McMichael was killed by the Provisional IRA in December 1987 but it was later admitted that UDA member James Pratt Craig, a rival of McMichael’s within the movement, had played a role in planning the murder. A new generation of leaders emerged at this time and decided that the woes facing the UDA, including a lack of arms and perceived poor leadership by ageing brigadiers, were being caused by the continuing leadership of Andy Tyrie.

Tyrie was forced to resign in March 1988 and the new men, most of whom had been trained up by McMichael, turned on some of the veterans whom Tyrie had protected. Craig was killed, Tommy Lyttle was declared persona non grata and various brigadiers were removed from office, with the likes of Jackie McDonald, Joe English and Jim Gray taking their places.

2002-2003

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JOHN GREGG UDA- LEADERS FUNERAL

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A second internal feud arose in 2002 when Johnny Adair and former politician John White were expelled from the UDA. Many members of the 2nd Battalion Shankill Road West Belfast Brigade, commonly known as ‘C’ Company, stood by Adair and White, while the rest of the organisation were involved with attacks on these groups and vice versa. There were four murders; the first victim being a nephew of a leading loyalist opposed to Adair, Jonathon Stewart, killed at a party on 26 December 2002.

Roy Green was killed in retaliation. The last victims were John ‘Grug’ Gregg (noted for a failed attempt on the life of Gerry Adams) and Robert Carson, another Loyalist. Adair’s time as leader came to an end on 6 February 2003 when south Belfast brigadier Jackie McDonald led a force of around 100 men onto the Shankill to oust Adair, who promptly fled to England. Adair’s former ally Mo Courtney, who had returned to the mainstream UDA immediately before the attack, was appointed the new West Belfast brigadier, ending the feud.

UVF internal feuds

The feud between the UVF and the LVF began as an internal feud but quickly changed when Billy Wright established the LVF as a separate organisation. Beyond this the UVF has largely avoided violent internal strife, with only two killings that can be described as being part of an internal feud taking place on Belfast’s Shankill Road in late November 1975, with Archibald Waller and Noel Shaw being the two men killed. Several months prior to these killings, Mid-Ulster Brigadier Billy Hanna was shot dead outside his Lurgan home on 27 July 1975, allegedly by his successor, Robin Jackson. This killing, however, was not part of a feud but instead carried out as a form of internal discipline from within the Mid-Ulster Brigade.

See : Robin Jackson

See also

Ulster Defence Association ( U.D.A )

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.

Ulster Defence Association ( U.D.A )

Men of the UDA

The Ulster Defence Association (UDA) is the largest[5][6] Ulster loyalist paramilitary and vigilante[7] group in Northern Ireland. It was formed in September 1971 and undertook a campaign of almost twenty-four years during The Troubles. Within the UDA was a group tasked with launching paramilitary attacks; it used the covername Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) so that the UDA would not be outlawed. The United Kingdom outlawed the “UFF” in November 1973, but the UDA itself was not classified as a terrorist group until 10 August 1992.[8] The UDA/UFF is also classified as a terrorist organisation by the US State Department.[9]

The UDA were responsible for Approximately 260 deaths during The Troubles.

There are a further 250 loyalist killings where it is not yet certain which group was responsible

Loyalists in Northern Ireland – Full Documentary

The UDA’s/UFF’s declared goal was to defend Ulster Protestant loyalist areas[10] and to combat Irish republicanism, particularly the Provisional IRA. However, most of its victims were unarmed civilians.[11] The majority of them were Irish Catholics,[12][13] killed in what the group called retaliation for IRA actions or attacks on Protestants.[14][15] High-profile attacks carried out by the group include the Milltown massacre, the Sean Graham bookmakers’ shooting, the Castlerock killings and the Greysteel massacre. The vast majority of its attacks were in Northern Ireland, but from 1972 onward it also carried out bombings in the Republic of Ireland. The UDA/UFF declared a ceasefire in 1994, although sporadic attacks continued until it officially ended its armed campaign in November 2007.[16]

The Very British Terrorists – Full

The UDA were often referred to by their Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) rivals as the “Wombles”,[17] derived from the furry fictional creatures, The Wombles, or “Japs”,[18] owing to their mass rallies and marches in combat clothing. Its motto is Quis Separabit, Latin for “Who will separate [us]?”.

History

Beginning

The Ulster Defence Association emerged from a series of meetings during the summer of 1971 of loyalistvigilante” groups called “defence associations”.[19] The largest of these were the Shankill and Woodvale Defence Associations,[20] with other groups based in East Belfast, the Hammer and Roden Street.[21] The first meeting was chaired by Billy Hull, with Alan Moon as its vice-chair. Moon was quickly replaced by Jim Anderson and had left the organisation by the time of its formal launch in September.[22]

By this point, Charles Harding Smith had become the group’s leader, with former British soldier Davy Fogel as his second-in-command, who trained the new recruits in military tactics, the use of guns, and unarmed combat. Its most prominent early spokesperson was Tommy Herron,[19] however Andy Tyrie would emerge as leader soon after.[23] Its original motto was Cedenta Arma Togae (“Law before violence”) and it was a legal organisation until it was banned by the British Government on 10 August 1992.[19]

UDA members marching through Belfast city centre in a massive show of strength, summer 1972

At its peak of strength it held around forty thousand members, mostly part-time.[24][25] During this period of legality, the UDA committed a large number of attacks using the name Ulster Freedom Fighters,[26][27] including the assassination of Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) politician Paddy Wilson in 1973.[28] The UDA was involved in the successful Ulster Workers Council Strike in 1974, which brought down the Sunningdale Agreement—an agreement which some unionists thought conceded too much to nationalist demands. The UDA enforced this general strike through widespread intimidation across Northern Ireland. The strike was led by VUPP Assemblyman and UDA member, Glenn Barr.[29]

The UDA were often referred to as “Wombles” by their rivals, mainly the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). The name is derived from the furry fictional creatures The Wombles, and was given to the UDA because many of its members wore fur-trimmed parkas.[17] Its headquarters is in Gawn Street, off the Newtownards Road in east Belfast,[30] and its current motto is Quis Separabit, which is Latin for “Who will separate us?”

Women’s units

The UDA had several women’s units, which acted independent of each other.[31][32] Although they occasionally helped man roadblocks, the women’s units were typically involved in local community work and responsible for the assembly and delivery of food parcels to UDA prisoners. This was a source of pride for the UDA.[33] The first women’s unit was founded on the Shankill Road by Wendy “Bucket” Millar, whose sons Herbie and James “Sham” Millar would later become prominent UDA members.[34] The UDA women’s department was headed by Jean Moore, who also came from the Shankill Road. She had also served as the president of the women’s auxiliary of the Loyalist Association of Workers. Her brother Ingram “Jock” Beckett, one of the UDA’s founding members, had been killed in March 1972 by a rival UDA faction in an internal dispute.[35] Moore was succeeded by Hester Dunn of east Belfast, who also ran the public relations and administration section at the UDA headquarters.[36] Wendy Millar’s Shankill Road group was a particularly active women’s unit, and another was based in Sandy Row, south Belfast, a traditional UDA stronghold. The latter was commanded by Elizabeth “Lily” Douglas.[37] Her teenaged daughter, Elizabeth was one of the members.[38]

The Sandy Row women’s UDA unit was disbanded after it carried out a vicious “romper room” punishment beating on 24 July 1974 which left 32-year-old Ann Ogilby dead. The body of Ogilby, a Protestant single mother who had an affair with the husband of one of the unit’s members, was found in a ditch five days later.[39] The day of the fatal beating Ogilby was abducted and forced upstairs to the first floor of a disused bakery in Sandy Row that had been converted into a UDA club. Two teenage girls, Henrietta Cowan and Christine Smith,[40] acting under Elizabeth Douglas’ orders to give Ogilby a “good rompering”,[41] punched, kicked, then battered her to death with bricks and sticks; the autopsy later revealed that Ogilby had suffered 24 blows to the head and body. The killing, which was carried out within earshot of Ogilby’s six-year-old daughter, caused widespread revulsion throughout Northern Ireland and was condemned by the UDA prisoners serving inside the Maze Prison. None of the other UDA women’s units had consented to or been aware of the fatal punishment beating until it was reported in the news.[32] Douglas, Cowan, and Smith were convicted of the murder and sentenced to imprisonment at Armagh Women’s Jail. Seven other members of the women’s unit and a UDA man were also convicted for their part in the murder.[41][38] The UDA “romper rooms”, named after the children’s television programme, were places where victims were beaten and tortured prior to being killed. This was known as a “rompering”. The “romper rooms” were normally located in disused buildings, lock-up garages, warehouses, and rooms above pubs and drinking clubs.[42] The use of the “romper rooms” was a more common practise among male members of the UDA than their female counterparts.[32]

Paramilitary campaign

Masked and armed UDA/UFF members at a show of strength in Belfast

The flag of the “Ulster Freedom Fighters” with a clenched fist representing the Red Hand of Ulster and the Latin motto Feriens tego, meaning “striking I defend”

Throughout the majority of its period of legality, the UDA’s attacks were carried out under the name “Ulster Freedom Fighters” (UFF). The UDA’s campaign of violence began in 1972. In May of that year, the UDA’s pressured leader Tommy Herron decided that responsibility for acts of violence committed by the UDA would be claimed by the “UFF”. Its first public statements came one month later.[43]

The UDA’s official position during the Troubles was that if the Provisional Irish Republican Army (Provisional IRA) called off its campaign of violence, then it would do the same. However, if the British government announced that it was withdrawing from Northern Ireland, then the UDA would act as “the IRA in reverse.”[44]

Ulster Defence Association – Hunting The IRA (Documentary)

Active throughout the Troubles, its armed campaign gained prominence in the early 1990s through Johnny Adair‘s ruthless leadership of the Lower Shankill 2nd Battalion, C. Company, which resulted in a greater degree of tactical independence for the UFF.[45] C. Company’s hit squad, led by Stephen McKeag, became notorious for a campaign of random murders of Catholic civilians in the first half of the 1990s.[46]

They benefited, along with the Ulster Volunteer Force, and a group called Ulster Resistance (set up by the Democratic Unionist Party), from a shipment of arms imported from Lebanon in 1988.[47] The weapons landed included rocket launchers, 200 rifles, 90 pistols and over 400 grenades.[48] Although almost two–thirds of these weapons were later recovered by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), they enabled the UDA to launch an assassination campaign against their perceived enemies.

A UFF mural in the Kilcooley estate near Bangor

A UFF mural in the Sandy Row area of South Belfast

North Belfast UDA brigadier Davy Payne was arrested after his “scout” car had been stopped at a RUC checkpoint and large caches of the weaponry were discovered in the boots of his associates’ cars. He was sentenced to 19 years in prison.

In 1992 Brian Nelson, a prominent UDA member convicted of sectarian killings, revealed that he was also a British Army agent. This led to allegations that the British Army and RUC were helping the UDA to target Irish republican activists. UDA members have since confirmed that they received intelligence files on republicans from British Army and RUC intelligence sources.[49]

One of the most high profile UDA attacks came in October 1993, when three masked men attacked a restaurant called the Rising Sun in the predominantly Catholic village of Greysteel, County Londonderry, where two hundred people were celebrating Halloween. The two men entered and opened fire. Eight people, including six Catholics and two Protestants were killed and nineteen wounded in what became known as the Greysteel massacre. The UFF claimed the attack was in retaliation to the IRA’s Shankill Road bombing which killed nine, seven days earlier.

The Shankill Bombing

The Greysteel shootings

According to the Sutton database of deaths at the University of Ulster‘s CAIN project,[50] the UDA/UFF was responsible for 259 killings during the Troubles. 208 of its victims were civilians (predominantly Catholics), 12 were civilian political activists (mainly members of Sinn Fein), 37 were other loyalist paramilitaries (including 30 of its own members), three were members of the security forces and 11 were republican paramilitaries. A number of these attacks were carried out with the assistance or complicity of the British Army, the Royal Ulster Constabulary, or both, according to the Stevens Enquiry, although the exact number of people killed as a result of collusion has not been revealed. The preferred modus operandi of the UDA was individual killings of select civilian targets in nationalist areas, rather than large-scale bomb or mortar attacks.

The UDA employed various codewords whenever they claimed their attacks. These included: “The Crucible”, “Titanic”, and “Ulster Troubles”. The UFF used the codename of “Captain Black”.

Post-ceasefire activities

Its ceasefire was welcomed by the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Paul Murphy and the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Hugh Orde.

A UDA/UFF mural in Belfast

A UFF flag in Finvoy,a rural area of County Antrim

Since the ceasefire, the UDA has been accused of taking vigilante action against alleged drug dealers, including tarring and feathering a man on the Taughmonagh estate in south Belfast.[51][52] It has also been involved in several feuds with the UVF, which led to many killings. The UDA has also been riddled by its own internecine warfare, with self-styled “brigadiers” and former figures of power and influence, such as Johnny Adair and Jim Gray (themselves bitter rivals), falling rapidly in and out of favour with the rest of the leadership. Gray and John Gregg are amongst those to have been killed during the internal strife. On 22 February 2003, the UDA announced a “12-month period of military inactivity”.[53] It said it would review its ceasefire every three months. The UPRG’s Frankie Gallagher has since taken a leading role in ending the association between the UDA and drug dealing.[54]

Following an August 2005 Sunday World article that poked fun at the gambling losses of one of its leaders, the UDA banned the sale of the newspaper from shops in areas it controls. Shops that defy the ban have suffered arson attacks, and at least one newsagent was threatened with death.[55] The Police Service of Northern Ireland began accompanying the paper’s delivery vans.[56][57] The UDA was also considered to have played an instrumental role in loyalist riots in Belfast in September 2005.[58]

On 13 November 2005 the UDA announced that it would “consider its future”, in the wake of the standing down of the Provisional IRA and Loyalist Volunteer Force.[59]

In February 2006, the Independent Monitoring Commission reported UDA involvement in organised crime, drug trafficking, counterfeiting, extortion, money laundering and robbery.[60]

A UDA/UFF mural in Bangor

On 20 June 2006, the UDA expelled Andre Shoukri and his brother Ihab, two of its senior members who were heavily involved in crime. Some see this as a sign that the UDA is slowly coming away from crime.[61] The move did see the southeast Antrim brigade of the UDA, which had been at loggerheads with the leadership for some time, support Shoukri and break away under former UPRG spokesman Tommy Kirkham.[62] Other senior members met with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern for talks on 13 July in the same year.[63]

On 11 November 2007 the UDA announced that the Ulster Freedom Fighters would be stood down from midnight of the same day,[64] with its weapons “being put beyond use” although it stressed that these would not be decommissioned.[65]

Although the group expressed a willingness to move from criminal activity to “community development,” the IMC said it saw little evidence of this move because of the views of its members and the lack of coherence in the group’s leadership as a result of a loose structure. While the report indicated the leadership intends to follow on its stated goals, factionalism hindered this change. Factionalism was, in fact, said to be the strongest hindrance to progress. The report also said the main non-splintered faction remained active, though it was considerably smaller than the resulting party. Individuals within the group, however, took their own initiative to criminal activity. Although loyalist actions were curtailed, most of the loyalist activity did come from the UDA.

The IMC report concluded that the leadership’s willingness to change has resulted in community tension and the group would continue to be monitored, although “the mainstream UDA still has some way to go.” Furthermore, the IMC warned the group to “recognise that the organisation’s time as a paramilitary group has passed and that decommissioning is inevitable.” Decommissioning was said to be the “biggest outstanding issue for loyalist leaders, although not the only one.”[66]

A UDA/UFF South-East Antrim Brigade mural in Newtownabbey

On 6 January 2010, the UDA announced that it had put its weapons “verifiably beyond use”.[67] The decommissioning was completed five weeks before a government amnesty deadline beyond which any weapons found could have been used as evidence for a prosecution.[67] The decommissioning was confirmed by Canadian General John de Chastelain, chairman of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning, as well as Lord Eames, former Archbishop of Armagh and Sir George Quigley, former top civil servant.[68]

Chastelain stated that the decommissioning included arms, ammunition, explosives and explosive devices and the UDA stated that the arms “constitute the totality of those under their control”.[67] Following the decommissioning the Ulster Political Research Group, the UDA’s political representatives, stated that the “Ulster Defence Association was formed to defend our communities; we state quite clearly and categorically that this responsibility now rests with the Government and its institutions where legitimacy resides”.[68] UDA representative Frankie Gallagher also stated that the group now regretted being responsible for the killing of more than 400 people.[69]

Shaun Woodward, the British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, stated that this “is a major act of leadership by the UDA and further comprehensive evidence of the success of politics over violence in Northern Ireland” and the act was also welcomed by Sinn Féin and DUP politicians.[70] The President of the Republic of Ireland, Mary McAleese, described the decommissioning as “a very positive milestone on the journey of peace”.[71] US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also welcomed the move as a step towards lasting peace in Northern Ireland.[72]

South East Antrim breakaway group

The breakaway faction continues to use the “UDA” title in its name, although it too expressed willingness to move towards “community development.” Though serious crime is not prevalent among the members, some who were arrested for drug peddling and extortion were exiled by the Brigade. Although a clear distinction between the factions was not available in the 20th IMC report, as this was the first report to differentiate between the two, future reports would tackle the differences.[66]

Politics

Some UDA leaders supported an independent Northern Ireland in the mid–late 1970s

In the 1970s the group favoured Northern Ireland independence, but they have retreated from this position.[73]

The New Ulster Political Research Group (NUPRG) was initially the political wing of the UDA, founded in 1978, which then evolved into the Ulster Loyalist Democratic Party in 1981 under the leadership of John McMichael, a prominent UDA member killed by the IRA in 1987, amid suspicion that he was set up to be killed by some of his UDA colleagues.

Funeral of John McMichael

In 1987, the UDA’s deputy commander John McMichael (who was then the leader of the UFF) promoted a document titled “Common Sense”, which promoted a consensual end to the conflict in Northern Ireland, while maintaining the Union. The document advocated a power sharing assembly, involving both Nationalists and Unionists, an agreed constitution and new Bill of Rights. It is not clear however, whether this programme was adopted by the UDA as their official policy.[48] However the killing of McMichael that same year and the subsequent removal of Tyrie from the leadership and his replacement with an Inner Council saw the UDA concentrate on stockpiling weapons rather than political ideas.[74]

In 1989, the ULDP changed its name to the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) and finally dissolved itself in 2001 following very limited electoral success. Gary McMichael, son of John McMichael, was the last leader of the UDP, which supported the signing of the Good Friday Agreement but had poor electoral success and internal difficulties. The Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG) was subsequently formed to give political analysis to the UDA and act as community workers in loyalist areas. It is currently represented on the Belfast City Council.

In early January 1994, the UDA released a document calling for ethnic cleansing and repartition, with the goal of making Northern Ireland wholly Protestant.[75] The plan was to be implemented should the British Army withdraw from Northern Ireland. The vastly Catholic and nationalist areas would be handed over to the Republic, and those left stranded in the “Protestant state” would be “expelled, nullified, or interned”.[75] The story was printed in The Sunday Independent newspaper on 16 January.[76] The “doomsday plan” was based on the work of Dr Liam Kennedy, a lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast.[75] In 1986 he had published a book called Two Ulsters: A Case for Repartition; though it did not call for ethnic cleansing. The UDP’s Raymond Smallwoods said “I wasn’t consulted but the scenario set out is a perfectly plausible one”.[75] The DUP’s Sammy Wilson stated that the plan “shows that some loyalist paramilitaries are looking ahead and contemplating what needs to be done to maintain our separate Ulster identity”.[75]

Links with other groups

In his book Black Sun, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke claimed that the UDA had links with Neo-Nazi groups in Britain—specifically Combat 18[77] (formed in 1991) and the British National Socialist Movement[78] (formed in 1985). He claims that members of these groups helped to smuggle weapons for the UDA/UFF. Ian S Wood‘s book Crimes of Loyalty: A History of the UDA claims that the UDA has received backing from Combat 18, the British National Front and the British National Party.[79] In 2006, the BBC also reported that the group has links with Combat 18.[80] It is unknown whether these links still exist. The links may not have been politically motivated, but mutually beneficial arms deals. On one occasion the UDA sent Louis Scott, one of a few black members of the UDA, to make the transaction.[81]

The Red Hand Defenders is a cover name used by breakaway factions of the UDA/UFF and the LVF.[1] The term was originally coined in 1997 when members of the LVF carried out attacks on behalf of Johnny Adair‘s “UFF 2nd Battalion, ‘C’ Company (Shankill Road)” and vice versa.[1] The relationship between the UDA/UFF (specifically Adair’s unit, not the wider leadership of the UDA) was initially formed after the death of Billy Wright, the previous leader of the LVF, and Adair’s personal friendship with Mark ‘Swinger’ Fulton, the organisations new chief.

The necessity for a cover name resulted from the need to avoid tensions between the UDA and the UVF, the organisation from which the LVF had broken away. It was perceived that any open co-operation between the UDA and the LVF would anger the UVF, something which proved to be the case in following years and resulted in the infamous ‘Loyalist Feud’.[1] There has been debate as to whether or not the Red Hand Defenders have become an entity in their own right[82] made up of dissident factions from both the UDA and the LVF (both of which have now declared ceasefires whilst the RHD has not), though much intelligence has been based on the claims of responsibility which, as has been suggested,[1] are frequently misleading.

Structure and leadership

The UDA is made up of:

  • the Inner Council
  • the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)—whose role was to carry out attacks on republican and nationalist targets. However, many regard the UFF as merely a covername used when the UDA wished to claim responsibility for attacks.[83]
  • the Ulster Defence Force (UDF)—whose role was to give “specialist military training” to a select group of UDA members. The UDF was initiated by John McMichael[84] (the then UDA/UFF commander) in 1985 as a response to the Anglo-Irish Agreement. The UDF operated training camps in rural parts of Northern Ireland that young loyalists such as Johnny Adair claim to have attended.[84] One reported ‘survival’ training technique was to leave trainees stranded in Dublin with only £1.[84] Some of the training was given by former British Army soldiers and officers. It was described by the UDA as “the nucleus of a new loyalist army at the ready”.[85]
  • the Ulster Young Militants (UYM)—the “youth wing” of the group. Formed in 1973.[86]
  • the Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG)—the UDA’s “political advisory body”. Formed in 1978.[87]

The UDA operated a devolved structure of leadership, each with a brigadier representing one of its six “brigade areas”.[84] Currently, it is not entirely clear whether or not this structure has been maintained in the UDA’s post cease-fire state. The UDA’s six “brigade areas” were:

  • North Belfast
  • East Belfast
  • South Belfast, the UDA’s largest brigade area, covering all of South Belfast down to Lisburn and operating as far away as South County Down, Lurgan and Counties Tyrone and Fermanagh.[88]
  • West Belfast
  • Southeast [County] Antrim
  • North County Antrim & County Londonderry

A wall sign in Dervock showing support for the North Antrim and Londonderry brigade.

In addition to these six core brigades two others may have existed. A seventh Mid-Ulster Brigade is mentioned by Steve Bruce as having existed for part of the UDA’s history[89] although Henry McDonald and Jim Cusack characterise this as a “battalion” rather than a brigade and suggest that its rural location prevented it from fully developing.[90] In the late 1970s a Scottish Brigade was established under the command of Roddy McDonald but this proved short-lived. The security forces infiltrated this brigade almost immediately and in 1979 arrested almost its entire membership, ninety people in all. Six members received particularly lengthy prison sentences for their involvement in UDA activities in Perth and the Scottish Brigade quietly disappeared.[91]

Some of the notable past brigadiers include:

Jackie McDonald

South Belfast (~1980s-present)[92] Resident of the Taughmonagh estate in South Belfast.[92] McDonald was a cautious supporter of the UDA’s ceasefire and a harsh critic of Johnny ‘Mad Dog’ Adair during his final years of membership of the organisation.[92] McDonald remains the only brigadier who did not have a commonly used nickname.

Johnny ‘Mad Dog’ Adair—West Belfast (1990–2002)[84] An active figure in the UDA/UFF, Adair rose to notoriety in the early 1990s when he led the 2nd Battalion, C Company unit in West Belfast which was responsible for one of the bloodiest killing sprees of the Troubles.[84]

Jim ‘Doris Day’ Gray

East Belfast (1992–2005)[84][93] An unlikely figure in Northern Ireland loyalism, the openly bi-sexual[84] Gray was a controversial figure in the organisation until his death on 4 October 2005. Always flamboyantly dressed, Gray was a key figure in the UDA’s negotiations with Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid. It is widely believed that Gray received his nickname from the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) Special Branch.[84]

Jimbo ‘Bacardi Brigadier’ Simpson—North Belfast (Unknown–2002)[84] Simpson is believed to have been an alcoholic, hence his nickname. He was leader of the UDA in the volatile North Belfast area, an interface between Catholics and Protestants in the New Lodge and Tiger’s Bay neighbourhoods.[84]

Billy ‘The Mexican’ McFarland—North Antrim and Londonderry (Unknown–2013)[84] He Earned his nickname because of his moustache and swarthy appearance, and had overall command of the UDA’s North Antrim and Derry brigade at the time of the Good Friday Agreement. He supported the leadership against Johnny Adair and has been associated with the magazine ‘Warrior’, which makes the case for Ulster Independence

Andre ‘The Egyptian’ Shoukri[84]

North Belfast (2002–2005)[84] Initially a close ally of Johnny Adair, Shoukri and his brother Ihab became involved with the UDA in his native North Belfast. The son of an Egyptian father and a Northern Irish mother, he was expelled from the UDA in 2005 following allegations of criminality.

John ‘Grug’ Gregg

South East Antrim (c.1993[94]–2003) John ‘Grug’ Gregg was a man with a fearsome reputation within the loyalist movement, known as a “Hawk” in loyalist circles, and controlled the streets of south east Antrim. On 14 March 1984, he severely wounded Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams in an assassination attempt for which he was jailed. When asked by the BBC in prison if he regretted anything about the shooting, his reply was “only that I didn’t succeed.” He was killed on Belfast’s Nelson Street, along with another UDA member (Rab Carson), while travelling in a taxi from the docks in 2003, and the murder was blamed on supporters of Johnny Adair, who had recently been expelled from the UDA in 2002.

Deaths as a result of activity

UDA South Belfast Brigade memorial plaque in Sandy Row

According to Malcolm Sutton’s Index of Deaths from the Conflict in Ireland (part of the CAIN database), the UDA/UFF was responsible for at least 260 killings during the Troubles, between 1969 and 2001. There are a further 250 loyalist killings where it is not yet certain which group was responsible.[95]

Of those killed by the UDA/UFF:[11]

  • 209 (~80%) were civilians, 12 of whom were civilian political activists
  • 11 (~4%) were members or former members of republican paramilitary groups
  • 37 (~14%) were members or former members of loyalist paramilitary groups
  • 3 (~1%) were members of the British security forces

There were also 91 UDA members and four former members killed in the conflict.[96]

See also

Timeline of the Northern Ireland Troubles & List of those Murdered in 1969

Northern Ireland 1969

Timeline & Deaths 1969

1960–1969

Main Events

Since 1964, civil rights activists had been protesting against the discrimination against Catholics and Irish nationalists by the Ulster Protestant and unionist government of Northern Ireland. The civil rights movement called for: ‘one man, one vote‘; the end to gerrymandered electoral boundaries; the end to discrimination in employment and in the allocation of public housing; repeal of the Special Powers Act (which was used to intern both constitutional nationalist and republican activists); and the disbanding of the Ulster Special Constabulary (more commonly known as the B-Specials, an overwhelmingly Protestant reserve police force which was known for police brutality toward Catholics).[6]

1966

April Loyalists led by Ian Paisley, a Protestant fundamentalist preacher, founded the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee (UCDC) to oppose the civil rights movement. It set up a paramilitary-style wing called the Ulster Protestant Volunteers (UPV).[6]
21 May A loyalist group calling itself the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) issued a statement declaring war on the Irish Republican Army (IRA). The group claimed to be composed of “heavily armed Protestants dedicated to this cause”.[7] At the time, the IRA was not engaged in armed action, but Irish nationalists/republicans were marking the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising. Some unionists and loyalists warned “that a revival of the IRA was imminent”.[6]
May–June The UVF carried out three attacks on Irish Catholics in Belfast. In the first, a Protestant civilian died when UVF members firebombed the Catholic-owned pub beside her house. In the second, a Catholic civilian was shot dead as he walked home. In the third, the UVF opened-fire on three Catholic civilians as they left a pub, killing one and wounding the others.[6]

1968

20 June Civil rights activists (including Stormont MP Austin Currie) protested against discrimination in the allocation of housing by illegally occupying a house in Caledon, County Tyrone. An unmarried Protestant woman (the secretary of a local Unionist politician) had been given the house ahead of Catholic families with children. The protesters were forcibly removed by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).[8]
24 August Northern Ireland’s first civil rights march was held. Many more marches would be held over the following year. Loyalists attacked some of the marches and organized counter-demonstrations to get the marches banned.[8]
5 October A civil rights march was to take place in Derry. When the loyalist Apprentice Boys announced its intention to hold a march at the same place and time, the Government banned the civil rights march. When civil rights activists defied the ban, RUC officers surrounded the marchers and beat them indiscriminately and without provocation.[9] Over 100 people were injured, including a number of MPs.[9] This sparked two days of serious rioting in Derry between Catholics and the RUC. Some consider this to be the beginning of the Troubles.[8]
9 October About 2,000 students from Queen’s University Belfast tried to march to Belfast City Hall in protest against ‘police brutality’ on 5 October in Derry. The march was blocked by loyalists led by Ian Paisley. After the demonstration, a student civil rights group—People’s Democracy—was formed.[8]

1969

4 January A People’s Democracy march between Belfast and Derry was repeatedly attacked by loyalists. At Burntollet it was ambushed by 200 loyalists and off-duty police (RUC) officers armed with iron bars, bricks and bottles. The marchers claimed that police did little to protect them. When the march arrived in Derry it was broken up by the RUC, which sparked serious rioting between Irish nationalists and the RUC.[10] That night, RUC officers went on a rampage in the Bogside area of Derry; attacking Catholic homes, attacking and threatening residents, and hurling sectarian abuse.[11] Residents then sealed off the Bogside with barricades to keep the police out, creating “Free Derry“.
March–April Loyalists—members of the UVF and UPV—bombed water and electricity installations in Northern Ireland, blaming them on the dormant IRA and on elements of the civil rights movement. The loyalists intended to bring down the Unionist Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Terence O’Neill, who had promised some concessions to the civil rights movement. There were six bombings and all were widely blamed on the IRA. As a response, British soldiers were sent to guard installations. Unionist support for O’Neill waned, and on 28 April he resigned as Prime Minister.[12]
17 April People’s Democracy activist Bernadette Devlin became the youngest woman ever elected to Westminster.
19 April During clashes with civil rights marchers in Derry, RUC officers entered the house of uninvolved Catholic civilian Samuel Devenny, and beat him along with two of his teenage daughters.[13] One of the daughters was beaten unconscious as she lay recovering from surgery.[14] Devenny suffered a heart attack and died on 17 July from his injuries.
13 July During clashes with nationalists in Dungiven, RUC officers beat an uninvolved Catholic bystander; Francis McCloskey (67). He died of his injuries the nex day. Many consider this the first death of the Troubles.[15]
5 August The UVF planted their first bomb in the Republic of Ireland, damaging the RTÉ Television Centre in Dublin.[16]
12–14 August Battle of the Bogside – during an Apprentice Boys march, serious rioting erupted in Derry between Irish nationalists and the RUC. RUC officers, backed by loyalists, entered the nationalist Bogside in armoured cars and tried to suppress the riot by using CS gas, water cannon and eventually firearms. The almost continuous rioting lasted for two days.[17]
14–17 August Northern Ireland riots of August 1969 – in response to events in Derry, Irish nationalists held protests throughout Northern Ireland. Some of these became violent. In Belfast, loyalists responded by attacking nationalist districts. Rioting also erupted in Newry, Armagh, Crossmaglen, Dungannon, Coalisland and Dungiven. Eight people were shot dead and at least 133 were treated for gunshot wounds. Scores of houses and businesses were burnt-out, most of them owned by Catholics. Thousands of families, mostly Catholics, were forced to flee their homes and refugee camps were set up in the Republic.[17]The British Army was deployed on the streets of Northern Ireland, which marked the beginning of Operation Banner.
11 October Three people were shot dead during street violence in the loyalist Shankill area of Belfast. Two were Protestant civilians shot by the British Army and one was an RUC officer shot by the UVF. He was the first RUC officer to be killed in the Troubles. The loyalists “had taken to the streets in protest at the Hunt Report, which recommended the disbandment of the B Specials and disarming of the RUC”.[18]
October–December The UVF detonated bombs in the Republic of Ireland. In Dublin it detonated a car bomb near the Garda central detective bureau.[19] It also bombed a power station at Ballyshannon, a Wolfe Tone memorial in Bodenstown, and the Daniel O’Connell monument in Dublin.
December A split formed in the Irish Republican Army, creating what was to become the Official IRA (OIRA) and Provisional IRA (PIRA).

Battle of  Bogside August 1969

During 12–17 August 1969, Northern Ireland was rocked by intense political and sectarian rioting.  There had been sporadic violence throughout the year arising from the civil rights campaign, which was demanding an end to discrimination against Irish Catholics. Civil rights marches were repeatedly attacked by both Ulster Protestant loyalists and by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), a unionist and largely Protestant police force.

The disorder led to the Battle of the Bogside in Derry, a three-day riot in the Bogside district between the RUC and the nationalist/Catholic residents. In support of the Bogsiders, nationalists and Catholics launched protests elsewhere in Northern Ireland. Some of these led to attacks by loyalists working alongside the police. The most bloody rioting was in Belfast, where seven people were killed and hundreds more wounded. Scores of houses, most of them owned by Catholics, as well as businesses and factories were burned-out. In addition, thousands of mostly Catholic families were driven from their homes. In certain areas, the RUC helped the loyalists and failed to protect Catholic areas. Events in Belfast have been viewed by some as a pogrom against the Catholic and nationalist minority.[1][2][3]

The British Army was deployed to restore order and state control and peace lines began to be built to separate the two sides.

The events of August 1969 are widely seen as the beginning of the thirty-year conflict known as the Troubles.

—————————————————————————

1969

The were 16 deaths in 1969 . This would remain the lowest year for deaths until twenty years later in 1999 when there were  only 8 deaths . The  intervening years saw the slaughter increase substantially and 1972  was by far the worse year for deaths with an incredible 480 murders on the streets of Northern Ireland and mainland Britain.

– 1969 Deaths –

9 Catholic

7 Protestant

Total 16

Annual Killings by Military and Paramilitary Groups  1969

Year

Republican

Loyalist

British

Others

Total

1969

3

3

10

0

16

———————————————————————————

Remembering all Innocent victims of the Troubles

“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.

16 People lost their lives in 1969

————————————————————

14 July 1969
Francis McCloskey,   (67)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)
Died one day after being hit on head with batons during street disturbances, Dungiven, County Derry.

————————————————————

17 July 1969


Samuel Devenny,   (42)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)
Died three months after being badly beaten in his home, William Street, Bogside, Derry. He was injured on 19 April 1969.

————————————————————

14 August 1969
John Gallagher,   (30)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Special Constabulary (USC)
Shot during street disturbances, Cathedral Road, Armagh.

————————————————————

14 August 1969


Patrick Rooney,   (9)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)
Shot at his home, during nearby street disturbances, St Brendan’s Path, Divis Flats, Belfast.

————————————————————

15 August 1969
Herbert Roy,   (26)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Republican group (REP)
Shot while part of Loyalist crowd, during street disturbances, corner of Divis Street and Dover Street, Lower Falls, Belfast.

————————————————————

15 August 1969
Hugh McCabe,   (20)

Catholic
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)
On leave. Shot during street disturbances while on the roof of Whitehall Block, Divis Flats, Belfast.

————————————————————

15 August 1969


Samuel McLarnon,  (27)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)
Shot at his home during nearby street disturbances, Herbert Street, Ardoyne, Belfast.

————————————————————

15 August 1969


Michael Lynch,  (28)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)
Shot during street disturbances, Butler Street, Ardoyne, Belfast.

————————————————————

15 August 1969


Gerald McAuley,   (15)

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

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)
Shot during street disturbances, Bombay Street, Falls, Belfast.

————————————————————

15 August 1969
David Linton,   (48)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Republican group (REP)
Shot during street disturbances at the junction of Palmer Street and Crumlin Road, Belfast.

————————————————————

08 September 1969
John Todd,  (29)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Republican group (REP)
Shot during street disturbances, Alloa Street, Lower Oldpark, Belfast.

————————————————————

11 October 1969
George Dickie,  (25)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot during street disturbances, at the corner of Shankill Road and Downing Street, Belfast

————————————————————

11 October 1969
Herbert Hawe,  (32)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot during street disturbances, Hopeton Street, Shankill, Belfast.

————————————————————

11 October 1969


Victor Arbuckle,   (29)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)
Shot during street disturbances, Shankill Road, Belfast.

————————————————————

21 October 1969
Thomas McDowell, (45)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Died two days after being injured in premature bomb explosion at hydroelectric power station near Ballyshannon, County Donegal.

————————————————————

01 December 1969


Patrick Corry, (61)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)
Died four months after being hit on the head with batons, during altercation between local people and Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) patrol, Unity Flats, off Upper Library Street, Belfast. Injured on 2nd August 1969

————————————————————

Background

Northern Ireland was destabilised throughout 1968 by sporadic rioting arising out of the civil disobedience campaign of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA), which was demanding an end to discrimination against Catholics in voting rights, housing and employment. NICRA was opposed by Ian Paisley‘s Ulster Constitution Defence Committee (UCDC) and other loyalist groups.

During the summer of 1969, before the riots broke out, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) published a highly critical report on the British government‘s policy in Northern Ireland. The Times wrote that this report “criticised the Northern Ireland Government for police brutality, religious discrimination [against Catholics] and gerrymandering in politics”.[4] The ICJ secretary general said that laws and conditions in Northern Ireland had been cited by the South African government “to justify their own policies of discrimination” (see South Africa under apartheid).[4] The Times also reported that the Ulster Special Constabulary (USC), Northern Ireland’s reserve police force, was “regarded as the militant arm of the Protestant Orange Order“.[4] The Belfast Telegraph reported that the ICJ had added Northern Ireland to the list of states/jurisdictions “where the protection of human rights is inadequately assured”.[5]

Events leading up to the August riots

The first major confrontation between Civil Rights activists and the police occurred in Derry on 5 October 1968, when a NICRA march was baton-charged by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) police.[6] Disturbed by the prospect of major violence, the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Terence O’Neill, promised reforms in return for a “truce”, whereby no further demonstrations would be held.

However the truce was broken in January 1969 when People’s Democracy, a radical left-wing group, staged an anti-government march from Belfast to Derry. Loyalists attacked the marchers a number of times, most determinedly at Burntollet Bridge (about five miles (8 km) outside Derry), and the RUC were accused of not protecting the marchers. This action, and the RUC’s subsequent entry into the Bogside, led to serious rioting in Derry.[7]

In March and April 1969, there were six bomb attacks on electricity and water infrastructure targets, causing blackouts and water shortages. At first the attacks were blamed on the Irish Republican Army (IRA). In fact, it later emerged that members of the loyalist Ulster Protestant Volunteers (UPV) and Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) had carried out the bombings in an attempt to implicate the IRA, destabilise the Government and halt the reforms demanded by the Civil Rights movement and promised by Terence O’Neill.[7]

There was some movement on reform in Northern Ireland in the first half of 1969. On 23 April the Unionist Parliamentary Party voted by 28 to 22 to introduce universal adult suffrage in local government elections in Northern Ireland. The call for “one man, one vote” had been one of the key demands of the civil rights movement.[7] Five days later, Terence O’Neill resigned as UUP leader and Northern Ireland Prime Minister and was replaced in both roles by James Chichester-Clark. Chichester-Clark, despite having resigned in protest over the introduction of universal suffrage in local government, announced that he would continue the reforms begun by O’Neill.[7]

Street violence, however, continued to escalate. On 19 April there was serious rioting in the Bogside area of Derry following clashes between NICRA marchers, loyalists and the RUC. A Catholic, Samuel Devenny was severely beaten by the RUC and later died of his injuries.[7][8] On 12 July, during the Orange Order‘s Twelfth of July marches, there was serious rioting in Derry, Belfast and Dungiven, causing many families in Belfast to flee from their homes.[7] A Catholic civilian Francis McCloskey (67) died one day after being hit on the head with batons by RUC officers during rioting in Dungiven.[7][8]

Battle of the Bogside

See Battle of Bogside

Main article: Battle of the Bogside

Sporadic violence took place throughout the rest of the year between Catholic nationalists, Protestant loyalists and the RUC, and intensified over the summer, during the Orange Order‘s marching season. On 2 August, there was serious rioting in Belfast, when Protestant crowds from the Crumlin Road area tried to storm the Catholic Unity Flats. They were held back with difficulty by the police.

This unrest culminated in a pitched battle in Derry from 12–15 August. The Battle of the Bogside began when violence broke out around a loyalist Apprentice Boys of Derry parade on 12 August. The RUC, in trying to disperse the nationalist crowd, drove them back into the nationalist Bogside area and then tried to enter the area themselves. The Bogside’s inhabitants mobilised en masse to prevent them entering the area and a huge riot ensued between hundreds of RUC personnel and thousands of Bogsiders. On the second day of this confrontation, 13 August, the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association appealed for demonstrations across Northern Ireland in support of the Bogside, in an effort to draw off police resources from the conflict there. When nationalists elsewhere in Northern Ireland carried out such demonstrations, severe inter-communal violence erupted between Catholics, Protestants and the police.

Rioting in Belfast

A mural in Belfast remembering the 1969 riots

Belfast saw by far the most intense violence of the August 1969 riots. Unlike Derry, where Catholic nationalists were a majority, in Belfast they were a minority and were also geographically divided and surrounded by Protestants and loyalists.[9] For this reason, whereas in Derry the fighting was largely between nationalists and the RUC, in Belfast it also involved fighting between Catholics and Protestants, including exchanges of gunfire and widespread burning of homes and businesses.[10]

On the night of 12 August, bands of Apprentice Boys arrived back in Belfast after taking part in the Derry march. They were met by Protestant pipe bands and a large crowd of supporters. They then marched to Shankill Road waving Union Flags and singing “The Sash My Father Wore” (a popular loyalist ballad).[9]

According to journalists Patrick Bishop and Eamonn Mallie, “Both communities were in the grip of a mounting paranoia about the other’s intentions. Catholics were convinced that they were about to become victims of a Protestant pogrom; Protestants that they were on the eve of an IRA insurrection”.[11]

Wednesday 13 August

The first disturbances in Northern Ireland’s capital took place on the night of 13 August. Derry activists Eamonn McCann and Sean Keenan contacted Frank Gogarty of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association to organise demonstrations in Belfast to draw off police from Derry.[12] Independently, Belfast IRA leader Billy McMillen ordered republicans to organise demonstrations, “in support of Derry”.[13]

In protest at the RUC’s actions in Derry, a group of 500 nationalists and republicans assembled at Divis flats and staged a rally outside Springfield Road RUC station, where they handed in a petition.[14]

After handing in the petition, the crowd of 1–2000 people, including IRA members such as Joe McCann,[15] began a protest march along Falls Road and Divis Street to the Hastings Street RUC base.[14] When they arrived, about 50 youths broke away from the march and attacked the RUC base with stones and petrol bombs.[14][16] The RUC responded by sending out riot police[14] and by driving Shorland armoured cars at the crowd.[16] Protesters pushed burning cars onto the road to stop the RUC from entering the nationalist area.[9]

At Leeson Street, roughly halfway between the clashes at Springfield and Hastings Street RUC bases, an RUC Humber armoured car was attacked with a hand grenade and rifle fire.[16][17] At the time, it was not known who had launched the attack, but it has since emerged that it was IRA members, acting under the orders of Billy McMillen. McMillen also authorised members of the Fianna (IRA youth wing) to petrol bomb the Springfield Road RUC base.[15] Shots were exchanged there between the IRA and RUC.[16]

In addition to the attacks on the RUC, the car dealership of Protestant Isaac Agnew, on the Falls Road, was destroyed. The nationalist crowd also burnt a Catholic-owned pub and betting shop.[18] At this stage, loyalist crowds gathered on the Shankill Road but did not join in the fighting.[19]

That night barricades went up at the interface areas between Catholic and Protestant neighbourhoods.

A Shorland armoured car. The RUC used Shorlands mounted with Browning heavy machine-guns during the riots

Thursday 14 August and early hours of Friday 15 August

On 14 August, many Catholics and Protestants living on the edge of their ghettos fled their homes for safety.[9]

The loyalists viewed the nationalist attacks of Wednesday night as an organised attempt by the IRA “to undermine the constitutional position of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom”.[17]

The IRA, contrary to loyalist belief, was responding to events rather than orchestrating them. Billy McMillen called up all available IRA members for “defensive duties” and sent parties out to Cupar Street, Divis Street and St Comgall’s School on Dover Street. They amounted to 30 IRA Volunteers, 12 women, 40 youths from the Fianna and 15–20 girls. Their arms consisted of one Thompson submachine gun, one Sten submachine gun, one Lee–Enfield rifle and six handguns. A “wee factory” was also set up in Leeson Street to make petrol bombs.[20] Their orders at the outset were to, “disperse people trying to burn houses, but under no circumstances to take life”.[21]

Falls–Shankill interface near Divis Tower

That evening, a nationalist crowd marched to Hastings Street RUC station, which they began to attack with stones for a second night.[22] Loyalist crowds (wielding petrol bombs, bricks, stones, sharpened poles and protective dustbin lids) gathered at neighbouring Dover and Percy Streets.[23] They were confronted by nationalists, who had hastily blocked their streets with barricades. Fighting broke out between the rival factions at about 11:00 pm.[24] The RUC concentrated their efforts on the nationalist rioters, who they scattered with armoured cars.[9] Catholics claimed that USC officers had been seen giving guns to the loyalists,[9] while journalists reported seeing pike-wielding loyalists standing among the RUC officers.[25]

From the nearby rooftop of Divis Tower flats, a group of nationalists would spend the rest of the night raining missiles on the RUC below.[9] A chain of people were passing stones and petrol bombs from the ground to the roof.[26]

Loyalists began pushing into the Falls Road area along Percy Street, Beverly Street and Dover Street. The rioters contained a rowdy gang of loyalist football supporters who had returned from a match.[27] On Dover Street, the loyalist crowd was led by Ulster Unionist Party MP John McQuade.[28] On Percy Street, a loyalist opened fire with a shotgun,[23] and USC officers helped the loyalists to push back the nationalists.[17] As they entered the nationalist ghetto, loyalists began burning Catholic homes and businesses on Percy Street, Beverly Street and Dover Street.

Divis  came under heavy machine-gun fire from the RUC, killing two people

Memorial plaque to Patrick Rooney and Hugh McCabe

At the intersection of Dover and Divis Street, an IRA unit[29] opened fire on the crowd of RUC officers and loyalists, who were trying to enter the Catholic area. Protestant Herbert Roy (26) was killed[8] and three officers were wounded.[26] At this point, the RUC, believing they were facing an organised IRA uprising, deployed Shorland armoured cars mounted with heavy Browning machine guns,[17] whose .30 calibre bullets “tore through walls as if they were cardboard”.[30]

In response to the RUC coming under fire at Divis Street, three Shorland armoured cars were called to the scene. The Shorlands were immediately attacked with gunfire, an explosive device and petrol bombs. The RUC believed that the shots had come from nearby Divis Tower.[28] Gunners inside the Shorlands returned fire with their heavy machine-guns. At least thirteen Divis Tower flats were hit by high-velocity gunfire. A nine-year-old boy, Patrick Rooney, was killed by machine-gun fire as he lay in bed in one of the flats. He was the first child to be killed in the violence.[31]

At about 01:00, not long after the shooting of Patrick Rooney, the RUC again opened fire on Divis Tower. The shots killed Hugh McCabe (20), a Catholic soldier who was ‘on leave’.[8] He and another had been on the roof of the Whitehall building (which was part of the Divis complex) and were pulling a wounded man to safety. The RUC claimed he was armed at the time and that gunfire was coming from the roof, but this was denied by many witnesses.[32]

The Republican Labour Party MP for Belfast Central, Paddy Kennedy, who was on the scene, phoned the RUC headquarters and appealed to Northern Ireland Minister for Home Affairs, Robert Porter, for the Shorlands to be withdrawn and the shooting to stop. Porter replied that this was impossible as, “the whole town is in rebellion”. Porter told Kennedy that Donegall Street police station was under heavy machine-gun fire. In fact, it was undisturbed throughout the riots.[33]

Some time after the killing of Hugh McCabe, some 200 loyalists attacked Catholic Divis Street and began burning houses there.[34] A unit of six IRA volunteers in St Comgall’s School shot at them with a rifle, a thompson machine-gun and some pistols; keeping the attackers back and wounding eight of them.[35] An RUC Shorland then arrived and opened fire on the school.[34] The IRA gunmen returned fire and managed to escape.[17]

Falls–Shankill interface near Clonard Monastery

West of St Comgall’s, loyalists broke through the nationalist barricades on Conway Street and burned two-thirds of the houses. Catholics claimed that the RUC held them back so that the loyalists could burn their homes.[34] The Scarman Report found that RUC officers were on Conway Street when its houses were set alight, but “failed to take effective action”.[17] Journalist Max Hastings wrote that loyalists on Conway Street had been begging the RUC to give them their guns.[34]

Ardoyne

Rioting in Ardoyne, north of the city centre, began in the evening near Holy Cross Catholic church. Loyalists crossed over to the Catholic/nationalist side of Crumlin Road to attack Brookfield Street, Herbert Street, Butler Street and Hooker Street. These had been hastily blocked by nationalist barricades.[9] Loyalists reportedly threw petrol bombs at Catholics “over the heads of RUC officers”,[36] as RUC armoured cars were used to smash through the barricades.[37]

The IRA had little presence in Ardoyne and its defence was organised by a group of ex-servicemen armed with shotguns.[37]

The nationalist gunmen fired the first shots at the RUC, who responded by firing machine-guns down the streets, killing two Catholic civilians (Samuel McLarnon, 27, and Michael Lynch, 28) and wounding ten more.[8][38]

Friday 15 August

The morning of 15 August saw many Catholic families in central Belfast flee to Andersonstown on the western fringes of the city, to escape the rioting. According to Bishop and Mallie, “Each side’s perceptions of the other’s intentions had become so warped that the Protestants believed the Catholics were clearing the decks for a further attempt at insurrection in the evening”.[39]

At 04:30 on Friday 15 August, the Police Commissioner for Belfast asked for military aid.[40] From the early hours of Friday, the RUC had withdrawn to its bases to defend them. The interface areas were thus left unpoliced for half a day until the British Army arrived.[40] The Deputy Police Commissioner had assumed that the British Army would be deployed by 10:00 or 11:00.[40] At 12:25 that afternoon, the Northern Ireland cabinet finally sent a request for military aid to the Home Office in London.[40] However, it would be another nine hours until the British Army arrived at the Falls/Shankill interface where it was needed. Many Catholics and nationalists felt that they had been left at the mercy of loyalists by forces of the state who were meant to protect them.[40]

The IRA, which had limited manpower and weaponry at the start of the riots, was also exhausted and low on ammunition. Its leader Billy McMillen and 19 other republicans were arrested by the RUC early on 15 August under the Special Powers Act.[41]

There was fierce rioting in streets around Clonard Monastery (pictured), where hundreds of Catholic homes were burned

Falls–Shankill interface near Clonard Monastery

On 15 August, violence continued along the Falls/Shankill interface. Father PJ Egan of Clonard Monastery recalled that a large loyalist mob moved down Cupar Street at about 15:00 and was held back by nationalist youths.[42] Shooting began at about 15:45.[40] Egan claimed that himself and other priests at Clonard Monastery made at least four calls to the RUC for help, but none came.[42]

A small IRA party under Billy McKee was present and had two .22 rifles at their disposal. They exchanged shots with a loyalist sniper who was firing from a house on Cupar Street, but failed to dislodge him, or to halt the burning of Catholic houses in the area.[9][43] Almost all of the houses on Bombay street were burned by the loyalists, and many others were burned on Kashmir Road and Cupar Street – the most extensive destruction of property during the riots.[44]

A loyalist sniper shot dead Gerald McAuley (15), a member of the Fianna (IRA’s youth wing),[8] as he helped people flee their homes on Bombay Street.[45]

At about 18:30 the British Army’s The Royal Regiment of Wales was deployed on the Falls Road.[17][40] where they were greeted with subdued applause and cheering.[9] However, despite pleas from locals, they did not move into the streets that were being attacked.[40] At about 21:35 that night, the soldiers finally took up positions at the blazing interface[40] and blocked the streets with barbed-wire barricades. Father PJ Egan recalled that the soldiers called on the loyalists to surrender but they instead began shooting and throwing petrol bombs at the soldiers.[42] The soldiers could only fire back on the orders of an officer when life was directly threatened.[46] The loyalists continued shooting and burned more Catholic-owned houses on Bombay Street,[17] but were stopped by soldiers using tear gas.[9]

Ardoyne

British soldiers were not deployed in Ardoyne, and violence continued there on Friday night. Nationalists hijacked 50 buses from the local bus depot, set them on fire and used them as makeshift barricades to block access to Ardoyne. According to republican activist Martin Meehan, 20 Catholics were wounded by shotgun fire that night.[citation needed] A Protestant civilian, David Linton (48), was shot dead by nationalist gunmen at the Palmer Street/Crumlin Road junction.[8] Several Catholic-owned houses were set alight on Brookfield Street.[17] The Scarman Report found that an RUC armoured vehicle was nearby when Brookfield Street was set alight, but made no move.[17]

Saturday 16 August

On the evening of 16 August the British Army was deployed on Crumlin Road. Thereafter, the violence died down into what the Scarman report called, “the quiet of exhaustion”.[17]

Disturbances elsewhere

Towns and cities where major riots took place
Towns and cities where major riots took place

In aid of the Bogsiders, the NICRA executive decided to launch protests in towns across Northern Ireland.[17] The Scarman Report concluded that the spread of the disturbances “owed much to a deliberate decision by some minority groups to relieve police pressure on the rioters in Londonderry”. It included the NICRA among these groups.[17]

On the evening of 11 August a riot erupted in Dungannon after a meeting of the NICRA. This was quelled after the RUC baton charged nationalist rioters down Irish Street. There were claims of police brutality.[17]

On 12 August, protesters attacked the RUC bases in Coalisland, Strabane and Newry.[47]

On 13 August there were further riots in Dungannon, Coalisland, Dungiven, Armagh and Newry.[17] In Coalisland, USC officers opened fire on rioters without orders but were immediately ordered to stop.[17]

On 14 August riots continued in Dungannon, Armagh and Newry. In Dungannon and Armagh, USC officers again opened fire on rioters. They fired 24 shots on Armagh’s Cathedral Road, killing Catholic civilian John Gallagher and wounding two others.[17][48] In Newry, nationalist rioters surrounded the RUC station and attacked it with petrol bombs. In Crossmaglen on 17 August, the RUC station was attacked with petrol bombs and three hand grenades.[citation needed]

Reactions

  • On 13 August, Taoiseach Jack Lynch made a television address in which he stated that the Irish Defence Forces would set up “field hospitals” along the border. He went on to say:

    It is evident that the Stormont Government is no longer in control of the situation. Indeed the present situation is the inevitable outcome of the policies pursued for decades by successive Stormont Governments. It is clear, also, that the Irish Government can no longer stand by and see innocent people injured and perhaps worse.[7]

  • On 14 August, Northern Ireland Prime Minister James Chichester-Clark stated in the House of Commons:

    This is not the agitation of a minority seeking by lawful means the assertion of political rights. It is the conspiracy of forces seeking to overthrow a Government democratically elected by a large majority. What the teenage hooligans seek beyond cheap kicks I do not know. But of this I am quite certain – they are being manipulated and encouraged by those who seek to discredit and overthrow this Government”.[17]

  • On 23 August Cardinal William Conway, together with the Bishops of Derry, Clogher, Dromore, Kilmore, and Down & Connor, issued a statement which included the following:

    The fact is that on Thursday and Friday of last week the Catholic districts of Falls and Ardoyne were invaded by mobs equipped with machine-guns and other firearms. A community which was virtually defenceless was swept by gunfire and streets of Catholic homes were systematically set on fire. We entirely reject the hypothesis that the origin of last week’s tragedy was an armed insurrection.[7]

Effects

The rioting petered out by Sunday, 17 August. By the end of the riots:

  • 8 people had been killed, including[8]
    • 5 Catholics shot dead by the RUC
    • 2 Protestants shot dead by nationalist gunmen
    • 1 Fianna member shot dead by loyalist gunmen
  • 750+ people had been injured[49] – 133 (72 Catholics and 61 Protestants) of those injured suffered gunshot wounds[49]
  • 150+ Catholic homes[50] and 275+ businesses had been destroyed – 83% of all buildings destroyed were owned by Catholics[49]

During July, August and September 1969, 1,820+ families had been forced to flee their homes, including[51]

  • 1,505 Catholic families
  • 315 Protestant families

Catholics generally fled across the border into the Republic of Ireland, while Protestants generally fled to east Belfast.[51] The Irish Defence Forces set up refugee camps in the Republic – at one point the Gormanston refugee camp held 6000 refugees from Northern Ireland.[51]

Long-term effects

The modern “peace line” at Bombay Street in Belfast, seen from the Irish Catholic/nationalist side. This is the view from the back of a house.

The August riots were the most sustained violence that Northern Ireland had seen since the early 1920s. Many Protestants, loyalists and unionists believed the violence showed the true face of the Northern Ireland Catholic civil rights movement – as a front for the IRA and armed insurrection. They had mixed feelings regarding the deployment of British Army troops into Northern Ireland. Eddie Kinner, a resident of Dover Street who would later join the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), vividly recalled the troops marching down his street with fixed bayonets and steel helmets. He and his neighbours had felt at the time as if they were being invaded by their “own army”.[52] Catholics and nationalists, on the other hand, saw the riots (particularly in Belfast) as an assault on their community by loyalists and the forces of the state. The disturbances, taken together with the Battle of the Bogside, are often cited as the beginning of the Troubles. Violence escalated sharply in Northern Ireland after these events, with the formation of new paramilitary groups on either side, most notably the Provisional Irish Republican Army in December of that year. On the loyalist side, the UVF (formed in 1966) were galvanised by the August riots and in 1971, another paramilitary group, the Ulster Defence Association was founded out of a coalition of loyalist militants who had been active since August 1969. The largest of these were the Woodvale Defence Association, led by Charles Harding Smith, and the Shankill Defence Association, led by John McKeague, which had been responsible for what organisation there was of loyalist violence in the riots of August 1969. While the thousands of British Army troops sent to Northern Ireland were initially seen as a neutral force, they quickly got dragged into the street violence and by 1971 were devoting most of their attention to combatting republican paramilitaries.

The Irish Republican Army

The role of the IRA in the riots has long been disputed. At the time, the organisation was blamed by the Northern Ireland authorities for the violence. However, it was very badly prepared to defend nationalist areas of Belfast, having few weapons or fighters on the ground.

The Scarman Inquiry, set up by the British government to investigate the causes of the riots, concluded:

Undoubtedly there was an IRA influence at work in the DCDA (Derry Citizens’ Defence Association) in Londonderry, in the Ardoyne and Falls Road areas of Belfast, and in Newry. But they did not start the riots, or plan them: indeed, the evidence is that the IRA was taken by surprise and did less than many of their supporters thought they should have done.[17]

In nationalist areas, the IRA was reportedly blamed for having failed to protect areas like Bombay Street and Ardoyne from being burned out. A Catholic priest, Fr Gillespie, reported that in Ardoyne the IRA was being derided in graffiti as “I Ran Away”.[53] However, IRA veterans of the time, who spoke to authors Brian Hanley and Scott Millar disputed this interpretation. One, Sean O’Hare, said, “I never saw it written on a wall. That wasn’t the attitude. People fell in behind the IRA, stood behind them 100%. Another, Sean Curry recalled, “some people were a bit angry but most praised the people who did defend the area. They knew that if the men weren’t there, the area wouldn’t have been defended.”[54]

At the time, the IRA released a statement on 18 August, saying, it had been, “in action in Belfast and Derry” and “fully equipped units had been sent to the border”. It had been, “reluctantly compelled into action by Orange murder gangs” and warned the British Army that if it, “was used to supress [sic] the legitimate demands of the people they will have to take the consequences” and urged the Irish government to send the Irish Army over the border.[55]

Cathal Goulding, the IRA Chief of Staff, sent small units from Dublin, Cork and Kerry to border counties of Donegal, Leitrim and Monaghan, with orders to attack RUC posts in Northern Ireland and draw off pressure from Belfast and Derry. A total of 96 weapons and 12,000 rounds of ammunition were also sent to the North.[56]

Nevertheless, the poor state of IRA arms and military capability in August 1969 led to a bitter split in the IRA in Belfast. According to Hanley and Millar, “dissensions that pre-dated August [1969] had been given a powerful emotional focus”.[57] In September 1969, a group of IRA men led by Billy McKee and Joe Cahill stated that they would no longer be taking orders from the Dublin leadership of the IRA, or from Billy McMillen (their commander in Belfast) because they had not provided enough weapons or planning to defend nationalist areas. In December 1969, they broke away to form the Provisional IRA and vowed to defend areas from attack by loyalists and the RUC. The other wing of the IRA became known as the Official IRA. Shortly after its formation, the Provisional IRA launched an offensive campaign against the state of Northern Ireland.

The RUC and USC

The actions of the RUC in the August 1969 riots are perhaps the most contentious issue arising out of the disturbances. Nationalists argue that the RUC acted in a blatantly biased manner, helping loyalists who were assaulting Catholic neighbourhoods. There were also strong suggestions that police knew when loyalist attacks were to happen and seemed to disappear from some Catholic areas shortly before loyalist mobs attacked.[49] This perception discredited the police in the eyes of many nationalists and later allowed the IRA to effectively take over policing in nationalist areas. In his study, From Civil Rights to Armalites, nationalist author Niall Ó Dochartaigh argues that the actions of the RUC and USC were the key factor in the worsening of the conflict. He wrote:

From the outset, the response of the state and its forces of law and order to Catholic mobilisation was an issue capable of arousing far more anger and activism than the issues around which mobilisation had begun. Police behaviour and their interaction with loyalist protesters probably did more to politically mobilise large sections of the Catholic community than did any of the other grievances.[58]

The Scarman Inquiry found that the RUC were “seriously at fault” on at least six occasions during the rioting. Specifically, they criticised the RUC’s use of Browning heavy machine-guns in built-up areas, their failure to stop Protestants from burning down Catholic homes, and their withdrawal from the streets long before the Army arrived. However, the Scarman Report concluded that, “Undoubtedly mistakes were made and certain individual officers acted wrongly on occasions. But the general case of a partisan force co-operating with Protestant crowds to attack Catholic people is devoid of substance, and we reject it utterly”.[17] The report argued that the RUC were under-strength, poorly led and that their conduct in the riots was explained by their perception that they were dealing with a co-ordinated IRA uprising. They pointed to the RUC’s dispersal of loyalist rioters in Belfast on 2–4 August in support of the force’s impartiality.

Of the B-Specials (Ulster Special Constabulary or USC), the Scarman Report said:

There were grave objections, well understood by those in authority, to the use of the USC in communal disturbances. In 1969 the USC contained no Catholics but was a force drawn from the Protestant section of the community. Totally distrusted by the Catholics, who saw them as the strong arm of the Protestant ascendancy, they could not show themselves in a Catholic area without heightening tension. Moreover they were neither trained nor equipped for riot control duty.[17]

The report found that the Specials had fired on Catholic demonstrators in Dungiven, Coalisland, Dungannon and Armagh, causing casualties, which, “was a reckless and irresponsible thing to do”. It found that USC officers had, on occasion, sided with loyalists mobs. There were reports that USC officers were spotted hiding among loyalist mobs, using coats to hide their uniforms.[49]  Nevertheless, the Scarman Report concluded, “there are no grounds for singling out mobilised USC as being guilty of misconduct”.[17]

The Shankill – A Community Scarred By IRA Terrorism – Where my Soul was Forged!

The Shankill

A Community Scarred

By

IRA Terrorism

Shankill Road

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Shankill history mural

 

 

The Shankill Road (from IrishSeanchill, meaning “old church”) is one of the main roads leading through west Belfast, Northern Ireland. It runs through the predominantly loyalistworking-class area known as the Shankill. The road stretches westwards for about 2.4 km (1.5 mi) from central Belfast and is lined, to an extent, by shops.

The residents live in the many streets which branch off the main road. Much of the area along the Shankill Road forms the five wards of Court district electoral area.

 

History

Ulster loyalist banner and graffiti on a side street building off the Lower Shankill, early 1970s

 

The first Shankill residents lived at the bottom of what is now known as Glencairn: a small settlement of ancient people inhabited a ring fort, built where the Ballygomartin and Forth rivers meet.

A settlement around the point at which the Shankill Road becomes the Woodvale Road, at the junction with Cambrai Street, was known as Shankill from the IrishSeanchill meaning ‘old church’. Believed to date back to 455 CE,

it was known as the “Church of St Patrick of the White Ford” and in time had six smaller churches, known as “alterages”, attached to it across the west bank of the River Lagan. The church was an important site of pilgrimage and it is likely that the ford of the River Farset, which later became the core of Belfast, was important because of its site on the pilgrimage route.

As a paved road the Shankill dates back to around the sixteenth century as at the time it was part of the main road to Antrim, a role now filled by the A6.

The lower sections of the Shankill Road were in former times the edge of Belfast with both Boundary Street on the lower Shankill and Townsend Street in the middle Shankill taking their names from the fact that at the time they were built they marked the approximate end of Belfast.

The area expanded greatly in the mid to late 19th century with the growth of the linen industry. Many of the streets in the Shankill area, such as Leopold Street, Cambrai Street and Brussels Street, were named after places and people connected with Belgium or Flanders, where the flax from which the linen was woven was grown.

The linen industry, along with others that had previously been successful in the area, declined in the mid-20th century leading to high unemployment levels, which remain at the present time.

 

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The Harland and Wolff shipyard, although on the other side of Belfast, was also a traditional employer for the area, and it too has seen its workforce numbers decline in recent years. The area was also a regular scene of rioting in the nineteenth century, often of a sectarian nature after Irish Catholic areas on the Falls Road and Ardoyne emerged along with the city’s prosperity.

One such riot occurred on 9 June 1886 following the defeat of the Government of Ireland Bill 1886 when a crowd of around 2,000 locals clashed with Royal Irish Constabulary police attempting to stop the mob from looting a liquor store. Local law enforcement officers had to barricade themselves in Bower’s Hill barracks where a long siege followed.

Bower’s Hill was a name applied to the area of the road between Agnes Street and Crimea Street.  The West Belfast Division of the original Ulster Volunteer Force organised on the Shankill and drilled in Glencairn and many of its members saw service in the First World War with the 36th (Ulster) Division.

A garden of remembrance beside the graveyard and a mural on Conway Street commemorate those who fought in the war. Recruitment was also high during the Second World War and that conflict saw damage occur to the Shankill Road as part of the Belfast Blitz when a Luftwaffe bomb hit a shelter on Percy Street, killing many people. The site of the destruction was visited by the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester soon after the attack.

The Troubles

UVF mural in the Shankill

 

During the Troubles, the Shankill was a centre for loyalist paramilitarism. The modern Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) had its genesis on the Shankill and its first attack occurred on the road on 7 May 1966 when a group of UVF men led by Gusty Spencepetrol bombed a Catholic-owned pub. Fire also engulfed the house next door, killing the elderly Protestant widow, Matilda Gould (77), who lived there.

This was followed on 27 May by the murder of John Scullion (28), a Catholic, as he walked home from a pub.

On 26 June a Catholic civilian, Peter Ward (18), a native of the Republic of Ireland, was killed and two others wounded as they left a pub on the Shankill’s Malvern Street. Shortly after this attack, Spence and three others were arrested and later convicted.

The UVF would continue to be active on the Shankill throughout the Troubles, most notoriously with the Shankill Butchers led by Lenny Murphy, as well as the likes of William Marchant and Frankie Curry, the latter a member of the UVF’s Red Hand Commando.

UDA mural in the Shankill (removed June 2006)

 

Similarly the Ulster Defence Association, established in September 1971, also began on the Shankill when vigilante groups such John McKeague‘s Shankill Defence Association and the Woodvale Defence Association merged into a larger structure.Under the leadership of initially Charles Harding Smith and later Andy Tyrie the Shankill Road became the centre of UDA activity with the movement establishing its headquarters on the road and leading members such as James Craig, Davy Payne and Tommy Lyttle making their homes in the area.

The Shankill was covered by the West Belfast Battalion of the UDA which was divided into three companies A (Glencairn and Highfield), B (middle Shankill) and C (lower Shankill). During the 1990s C Company under Johnny Adair became one of the most active units in the UDA with gunmen such as Stephen McKeag responsible for several murders.

C Company would later feud with both the UVF and the rest of the UDA until 2003 when they were forced out. Following the exile of Adair and his supporters, as well as the murder of some such as Alan McCullough, the lower Shankill UDA was once again brought into line with the rest of the movement under former Adair supporter Mo Courtney.

Scene of the Shankill Road bombing, as of 2011

 

 

The Greater Shankill and its residents were also subjected to a number of bombings and shootings by Irish republican paramilitary forces. During 1971 two pub bombings took place on the Shankill, one in May at the Mountainview Tavern at which several people were injured and a second at the Four Step Inn in September which resulted in two deaths.[21] A further bomb exploded at the Balmoral Furnishing Company on 11 December that same year, resulting in four deaths, including two infants.

Another pub attack followed on 13 August 1975 when the IRA opened fire on patrons outside the Bayardo Bar and then left a bomb inside the crowded bar area, killing four civilians and one UVF member. Brendan McFarlane was given a life sentence for his part in the attack.

The Shankill Road bombing occurred on 23 October 1993. A bomb exploded in Frizzells Fish Shop, below the UDA’s Shankill heaquarters. The bomb exploded prematurely as it was being planted. Nine people were killed in addition to one of the bombers, Thomas Begley. None of the loyalist paramilitaries targeted were hurt, as they had postponed a planned meeting. Begley’s accomplice, Sean Kelly, survived and was imprisoned.

Areas of the Shankill Road

Lower Shankill

Jackie Coulter, a member of C Company of the UDA, commemorated on a mural on Hopewell Crescent

 

The Shankill Road begins at Peter’s Hill, a road that flows from North Street in Belfast city centre and quickly merges into the Shankill itself at the Westlink. Peter’s Hill is adjacent to the Unity Flats/Carrick Hill, a small nationalist area to the north of the city centre. The area of housing on the lower Shankill around Agnes Street was known colloquially as :

“The Hammer”, one of a number of nicknames applied to districts that included “the Nick”.

The Hammer name is recalled in the Hammer Sports Complex, the home ground of amateur football side Shankill United F.C. The Lower Shankill has been redeveloped in recent years although during the 1960s the housing was ranked as the worst in Belfast. A Lower Shankill Community Association is active in the area whilst the Shankill Leisure Centre is also located here.

The Shankill Women’ s Centre, a women’s educational initiative established by May Blood (now Baroness Blood) in 1987, is also located on the lower Shankill.George McWhirter, a writer and first Poet Laureate of Vancouver, B.C., Canada, also came from the area originally.

The “Diamond Jubilee Bar”, a popular UDA haunt

 

Several streets link the Shankill Road to the neighbouring Crumlin Road with the area around North Boundary Street formerly the stronghold of Johnny Adair’s C Company. Several members of C Company who have died are commemorated on murals around the area, notably Stephen McKeag, William “Bucky” McCullough, who was killed by the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) in 1981 as part of a series of tit for tat murders between that group and the UDA and Jackie Coulter, killed by the UVF during a loyalist feud in 2000.

The Shankill theoretically links to the neighbouring Falls Road at a few locations although most of these exits are blocked by peace lines. The entrance at Northumberland Street is sometimes open although it has lockable gates at the midpoint. The Lower Shankill is home to many loyalist pubs, the most notable being the “Malvern Arms”, associated with the UVF, and the “Diamond Jubilee” – a UDA haunt which became notorious as the main meeting place of “C Company” during the early 1990s.

The “Long Bar” and the “Windsor Bar”, both frequented by the UVF in the 1970s, have since vanished. According to investigative journalist Martin Dillon, the latter was used a centre of operations for a UVF platoon led by Anthony “Chuck” Berry.

Middle and upper Shankill

Grave of W.A. Sterling, amongst the youngest people killed on active service during the First World War

 

Although there is no precise dividing line between the Lower, Middle and Upper Shankill locally it is usually said that the lower Shankill ends at Agnes Street. The area was redeveloped some time before the lower Shankill leading to feelings locally that those in the upper part of the road were better off compared to the “Apaches” of the lower Shankill as they were colloquially known.

A number of Protestant churches are situated in this area including the West Kirk Presbyterian Church, the Shankill Methodist church and the independent Church of God.

The West Belfast Orange Hall is located near the top of the Road. This building, which houses the No. 9 District Orange Lodge, has been revamped by Belfast City Council.[36] The same is true of the nearby Shankill Cemetery, a small graveyard that has received burials for around 1000 years. The graveyard is noted for a statue of Queen Victoria as well as the adjacent memorial to the members of the 36th Ulster Division who died at the Battle of the Somme.

Amongst those buried in the graveyard is Rev Isaac Nelson, a Presbyterian minister who was also active in nationalist politics. Nelson lived at Sugarfield House on the Shankill, which has since given its name to Sugarfield Street.

Also buried here is 2nd Private W.A. Sterling, killed in action with the Royal Air Force on 5 November 1918 at the age of 14.

The “Lawnbrook Social Club” in Centurion Street, one of the drinking dens used by Lenny Murphy and the Shankill Butchers

 

The area includes Lanark Way, one of the few direct links to the neighbouring nationalist areas, which leads directly to the Springfield Road (although the street is gated close to the Springfield Road end and these are locked at night). A regular route for UDA gunmen seeking access to the Falls during the Troubles, it was dubbed the “Yellow Brick Road” by Stephen McKeag and his men.

A number of pubs frequented by UVF members were located in the area. These included the “Berlin Arms” at the Shankill and Berlin Street junction, and the “Bayardo”, which was situated on the corner of Shankill and Aberdeen Street. The pub was close to “The Eagle” where the UVF “Brigade Staff” had their headquarters in rooms above a chip shop bearing the same name at the Shankill and Spiers Place junction. The “Brown Bear” pub which loyalist Lenny Murphy used as his headquarters to direct his notorious murder gang – the Shankill Butchers – was located on the corner of the Upper Shankill and Mountjoy Street.

The pub, which went out of business, has since been demolished. Another drinking den in the area used by Murphy and his gang was the “Lawnbrook Social Club” in Centurion Street. The “Rex Bar” on the middle Shankill is one of the oldest pubs on the Shankill Road and frequented by members of the UVF. This bar was attacked by members of the UDA’s C Company in 2000 to launch a loyalist feud between the two groups.

Greater Shankill

Mural depicting James Buchanan on Ainsworth Street

 

The terms Greater Shankill is used by a number of groups active in the area, most notably the Greater Shankill Partnership, to refer to both the Shankill Road and the unionist/loyalist areas that surround it. The main areas identified within this area are Woodvale, Glencairn and Highfield. The Greater Shankill as a whole has a population of around 22,000.

Woodvale

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Woodvale Park

The Woodvale area begins after Ainsworth Avenue when the road changes from Shankill Road to Woodvale Road. As well as extensive housing the Woodvale area also contains the Woodvale Presbyterian Church, a building on the corner of the Woodvale and Ballygomartin Roads that dates back to 1899.

The area takes its name from Woodvale Park, a public gardens and sports area that was opened in 1888. Also found locally is St. Matthew’s Church of Ireland, which was rebuilt in 1872, taking its name from the original church which had sat in the grounds of the graveyard. The architecture of this church is called trefoil, which means it is built in the shape of a shamrock. The shamrock is the national emblem of Ireland and was supposedly used by St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland to explain the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

There is a book about the church which says that St. Matthew’s is actually a copy of a church in Salonika, as the rounded “leaves” do not have the indentations of the leaves of the shamrock. The water in the stone outside the front door was thought to cure warts and, certainly up to the 1990s, was considered to cure colic if a new, open, safety pin was thrown in.

The oldest stone in the Shankill graveyard was known locally as the “Bullaun Stone” and was traditionally said to cure warts if the effected area was rubbed on the stone. It was removed to the grounds of St Matthews in 1911.

Glencairn

Ballygomartin Road, as viewed from Springmartin Road, showing its largely rural nature

Glencairn is an area based around the Ballygomartin Road, which runs off the Woodvale Road, as well the Forthriver Road. It is bordered by the Crumlin Road. As well as a large housing estate the area also includes Glencairn Park, a large woodland area at the bottom of Divis Mountain. Previously the estate of the Cunningham family the area was open to the public in 1962.

The park features Fernhill House, the ancestral family home, which was not only used by Edward Carson to drill his Ulster Volunteers but was also the setting for the announcement of the Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC) ceasefire on 13 October 1994.

It subsequently became a museum but closed down in late 2010-early 2011. A further area of housing, known as the Lyndhurst area after a number of local streets, lies to the west of Glencairn Park (with the Glencairn estate to the east of the woodland area). The Lyndhurst area hit the headlines in 2003 when two leading loyalists, Jim Spence of the UDA and Jackie Mahood of the Loyalist Volunteer Force, were reported as brawling in the streets of the Lyndhurst area where they both lived.

The Ballygomartin Road extends as far as the nationalist Upper Whiterock Road although after Springmartin the area is mainly countryside. The estate was the scene of the killings of two prominent loyalists. In 1982 Lenny Murphy was shot and killed by the Provisional IRA close to his girlfriend’s house on the estate.

In 2001 William Stobie was killed by members of the UDA, a group to which Stobie had formerly belonged, after intimating that he would testify at a public inquiry into the death of Pat Finucane. Stobie’s killing, which occurred near his home on Forthriver Road, was publicly claimed by the Red Hand Defenders, a cover name used by various loyalist groups on ceasefire.

Highfield

The Springmartin barrier, with New Barnsley police station at one end

 

Highfield is a housing estate situated around the West Circular and Springmartin Roads, both of which run off the Ballygomartin Road. Highfield comes close to the nationalist Springfield Road and there is limited access between the two areas through West Circular and Springmartin. Due to its location parts of the area are sometimes known as the Springmartin estate.

Highfield is seen as an enclave and has been the scene of frequent sectarian tension. As a consequence the Springmartin Road is home to an 18-foot-high (5.5 m) peace line that runs for the length of the road from the junction with the Springfield Road until near that with the Ballygomartin Road.

In May 1972 the area was the scene of a two-day gun battle between republican and loyalist paramilitaries and the British Army, although a combination of the peace lines and demographic changes meant that such open conflict was not repeated later in the Troubles.

Politics

Democratic Unionist Party office, Woodvale Road

 

The Shankill has been traditionally unionist and loyalist, albeit with some strength also held by the labour movement. Belfast Shankill was established as a constituency of the Parliament of Northern Ireland in 1929 and existed until the body was abolished in 1973. During that time the seat was held by three men, Tommy Henderson (1929–1953), Henry Holmes (1953–1960) and Desmond Boal (1960–1973). Of these only Holmes belonged to the mainstream Ulster Unionist Party for the entirety of his career with Boal a sometime member who also designated as both independent Unionist and Democratic Unionist Party and Henderson always and independent who for a time was part of the Independent Unionist Association.

Henderson was a native of Dundee Street on the Shankill. A Belfast Shankill constituency also returned a member to the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1918–1922, with Labour UnionistSamuel McGuffin holding the seat. Further up the road there was also a Belfast Woodvale seat at Westminster and a seat of the same name at Stormont. Robert John Lynn of the Irish Unionist Alliance represented the seat at Westminster for the entirety of its existence (1918–1922).

The Stormont seat was held by John William Nixon (independent Unionist) from 1929 to 1950, Ulster Unionists Robert Harcourt (1950–1955) and Neville Martin (1955–1958), Billy Boyd of the Northern Ireland Labour Party until 1965 then finally John McQuade, who was variously Ulster Unionist, independent Unionist and Democratic Unionist until the seat was abolished in 1972. The Shankill is currently part of the Belfast West constituencies for the Northern Ireland Assembly and Westminster. As a consequence the Shankill is represented by five Sinn Féin MLAs and one from the Social Democratic and Labour Party whilst from 1966, when the seat was lost by the last sitting unionist member Jim Kilfedder, it has also always had a nationalist or republican MP.

The abstentionist policy of Sinn Féin MP Gerry Adams, who was West Belfast’s MP until his resignation in 2011, led to an attempted legal challenge by local councillor Frank McCoubrey who argued that Shankill residents were being denied their right to representation.

The case was not a success. On Belfast City Council the Greater Shankill area is covered by the Court electoral area. At the 2011 election the five councillors elected were William Humphrey, Naomi Thompson and Brian Kingston of the Democratic Unionist Party, the independent Frank McCoubrey (who is a member of the Ulster Political Research Group) and the Progressive Unionist Party‘s Hugh Smyth.

Robert McCartney, who led his own UK Unionist Party and represented North Down at Westminster, is also originally from the Shankill.

Sport

Boxing mural, Hopewell Crescent

 

Wayne McCullough, a gold medalist at the Commonwealth Games and a world champion in the Bantamweight division and an olympic silver medalist at the 1992 Summer Olympics representing Ireland is a native of the Shankill. He is one of a number of boxers from the area to be featured on a mural on Gardiner Street celebrating the area’s strong heritage in boxing.

The image has since been moved to Hopewell Crescent. McCullough trained in the Albert Foundry boxing club, located in the Highfield estate where he grew up.

Other locals to make an impact in the sport have included Jimmy Warnock, a boxer from the 1930s who beat world champion Benny Lynch twice, and his brother Billy. Football is also a popular sport in the area with local teams including Shankill United, Albert Foundry, who play on the West Circular Road, Lower Shankill, who share the Hammer ground with United and Woodvale who won the Junior Cup in 2011.

All four clubs are members of the Northern Amateur Football League. The main club in the area however is Linfield with a Linfield superstore trading on the Shankill Road despite the club being based on the Lisburn Road in south Belfast.

A Linfield Supporters and Social Club is situated on Crimea Street. An Ulster Rangers club is also open on the road, with the Glasgow club widely supported amongst Northern Irish Protestants. Norman Whiteside, the ex Northern Ireland and Manchester United midfielder, lived on the Shankill. Whiteside also lends his name to the Norman Whiteside Sports Facility, a community sports area used by Woodvale F.C.

he facility is located on Sydney Street West between the Shankill and the neighbouring Crumlin Road. The Ballygomartin Road is also home to a cricket ground of the same name which in 2005 hosted a List-A match between Canada and Namibia in the 2005 ICC Trophy. The ground is the home of Woodvale Cricket Club, established in 1887.

Education

Secondary schools serving the Shankill area include the Belfast Boys’ Model School and Belfast Model School for Girls due to their location in the Ballysillan area of the neighbouring Crumlin Road. Pupils from the area also attend Hazelwood College or Malone College which are both integrated schools, as well as Victoria College and the Royal Belfast Academical Institution both of which are grammar schools. Prior to its closure, and before several changes of name, Cairnmartin Secondary School also served the greater Shankill area. Famous pupils include footballer Norman Whiteside[66] and boxer Wayne McCullough.

The school, by then known as Mount Gilbert Community College, closed permanently in 2007 after a fall in pupil numbers. Primary schools in the greater Shankill area included Forth River Primary School on the Ballygomartin Road. Established in 1841, the original building was cramped and inspection reports over the years commented on the high standard of teaching despite the inadequacy of the building.

During the 1980s and 1990s, closure and amalgamation were both suggested and vehemently opposed by everyone connected with the school. Ultimately a new £1.4m state-of-the-art school was announced as a replacement for the old building and this new school, which is on the adjacent Cairnmartin Road, was officially opened by Prince Andrew, Duke of York in 2005.

Others primary schools in the area include three on the Shankill Road itself in Glenwood Primary School, established in 1981, Edenbrooke Primary School on Tennent Street and Malvern Primary School as well as Black Mountain Primary School and Springhill Primary School on Springmartin Road.

Shankill Graveyard

About the cemetery

Shankill Graveyard is one of the oldest cemeteries in Belfast.

It has been used for burials for more than 1,000 years and, although they no longer take place in the graveyard, it remains an important historical site. One of the oldest legible stones belongs to George McAuley who died in 1685.

A memorial stone book is located in a special landscaped portion of the cemetery, which includes an area of grass where cremated remains can be scattered.

The site’s gates and railings are listed due to their historical significance.

Another feature is the sculpture of Queen Victoria by artist John Cassidy, which you can see from the main entrance. The statue was originally located at in Durham Street, before being moved to the cemetery in 2003. It was carved from Portland stone in 1897 to celebrate the queen’s diamond jubilee and shows her wearing a dress of Nottingham lace.

History

The earliest church on this site, dating back to around 1306, is believed to have been the White Church of the Chapels of the Ford.

Although the name ‘Shankill’ means ‘old church’ (from the Irish ‘séan chill’), the name did not come into common use until the 17th century.

During the 18th century, most burials were of local people but, during the 19th century, residents from the nearby linen settlements of Glenalina, Ligoniel, Oldpark and Springfield were also buried in the cemetery. During this time, the site changed from a rural community graveyard to a town cemetery.

Many paupers and victims of the plague and other diseases are also buried in Shankill Graveyard, in unmarked graves. In fact, the Black Death sparked such fear, the ground surrounding the victims’ graves was ordered to be closed over and never reopened, in case the disease was ‘released’.

In 1834, a watchtower was built by William Sayers and Israel Milliken so families could guard new graves for a small fee. The idea was to prevent bodysnatchers from stealing ‘fresh’ remains for use in medical research.

Shankill Graveyard was handed over to the public in 1958, after it had fallen into disrepair following the decision to no longer accept new burials. Belfast Corporation (now the council) cleared and renovated the site, turning it into a ‘rest garden’ for local residents to enjoy.

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The Legend of Margorie McCall ~ 1705

mar mccall headstone

Lived Once , Buried Twice

Shankhill Graveyard

 

Times were hard in the 1700s, and people made a penny wherever they could. Some trades were frowned upon, however, and rightly so. One such trade was that of the resurrectionist, also known as a grave robber or ‘sack-em up’. These unsavoury types provided cadavers to the many private medical schools throughout the UK, and at the start of the 18th Century business was booming. Probably the most famous of the practitioners of this particular trade were Burke and Hare, who found infamy almost 100 years later. Their notoriety wasn’t really due to their grave-robbing, but more to do with their fresh supply of corpses to order. They were both originally from Ireland, but they met in Edinburgh, from where they went on to supply students of anatomy with more than their quota of cadavers.

The resurrectionists weren’t unique to Edinburgh. In Ireland, surgeons were prepared to pay a fair price for the newly deceased and this provided employment opportunities for the local resurrectionists. This practice was however to prove a hair raising experience for once such band of greave robbers in Lurgan in 1705.

Margorie McCall was wed to a doctor. They lived in Church Place, Lurgan, Co Armagh and by all accounts were very happy. When Margorie fell ill, her husband John was beside himself with worry – in the early 1700s many illnesses we consider minor today could be fatal and ‘the fever’ was a great catch-all for many of these ailments. Sadly, Margorie succumbed to her bout of fever and was buried in Shankill Church of Ireland Cemetery, not far from her home in Church Place. She was hastily buried for fear of the fever spreading, and that should have been the end of that; however, she was to become one of the most famous women in Lurgan – and is still talked about today.

There was quite a lot of commotion at the wake concerning a valuable ring that Marjorie was wearing. Many of the mourners tried in vain to prise the ring from her fingers – perhaps because they anticipated the possibility that grave robbers would desecrate Marjorie’s resting place in order to steal the ring. Margorie was buried still wearing her beautiful gold wedding ring. Due to her husband’s inability to remove it from her finger, which had swollen considerably since her death, but news of the treasure leaked out to the resurrectionists. They spotted the opportunity to gain themselves a bonus.

After the wake – which was traditionally an attempt to avoid premature burial as the family of the deceased would sit and watch over the body for a few days to see if the person awakened – Marjorie was duly interred in Shankill Graveyard.

That evening, before the soil had time to settle on Margorie’s coffin, the grave-robbers paid a visit. Working under cover of darkness they grappled in the dirt until they reached and opened her coffin. True to the rumour, the ring was still on her finger. Before removing the body, they attempted to purloin the valuable item, but it wouldn’t budge. Being businessmen, they weren’t about to allow such a prize to make its way to a surgeon’s slab, and since she couldn’t get any deader, they agreed to cut off her finger to free the ring.

See:  Lurgan Ancestry for full story

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More Details on Shankill Graveyard

Cemetery location

Shankill Road, Belfast,

BT13 3AE

Enter from Shankill Road.

Bereavement Services

Our Bereavement Services Office is located on the Ground Floor, Cecil Ward Building, 4-10 Linenhall Street, Belfast, BT2 8BP.

Our phone number is 028 9027 0296.

Contact our Bereavement Services Office if you have a query about our cemeteries.

Office opening hours

 Day  Time
Monday and Friday 8.30am – 4pm
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 9am – 4pm
Saturday 8.30am 11.30am

Cemetery opening hours

From 7.30am to dusk daily. 

Access information

Take Metro 11A/B/C/D from Belfast city centre. There is no car parking available at the cemetery, which is fully accessible to those with disabilities.

 

 

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Bits Of Belfast – Shankill Road 1 – 4 with Wayne McCullough

Bits Of Belfast – Shankill Road 1

Bits Of Belfast – Shankill Road 2

Bits Of Belfast – Shankill Road 3

Bits Of Belfast – Shankill Road 4

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