Tag Archives: Thomas Kane,

4th December – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

4th December

Wednesday 4 December 1968

Following a civil rights march in Dungannon there was a violent clash between Loyalists and those who were taking part in the march.

Saturday 4 December 1971 McGurk’s Pub Bombing

Fifteen Catholic civilians were killed when Loyalist paramilitaries exploded a bomb at The Tramore Bar, better known as McGurk’s bar, in North Queen Street, north Belfast. The bomb had been planted by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). Four of those killed were women (including the owner’s wife and 14 year old daughter). [This attack was one of the worst single incidents during the Northern Ireland conflict. Only one of the bombers, the driver of the getaway car, was ever convicted. Immediately after the bombing, and for some time later, the security forces and various official sources maintained that the bomb had gone off inside the bar, implying that it was being prepared by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and thus represented an ‘own goal’.]

See McGurk’s Bar Bombing

Tuesday 4 December 1973

Francis Pym, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, held a meeting with Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Paisley stormed out of the meeting having been told that Loyalists would not be invited to participate in the Sunningdale conference but could come to put their point of view. [ Sunningdale. ]

Saturday 4 December 1976

The annual conference of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) debated a motion calling on Britain to declare its intention of withdrawing from Northern Ireland. The motion was defeated by 158 votes to 111.

Sunday 4 December 1983

Undercover soldiers of the Special Air Service (SAS) shot dead two members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) near Coalisland, County Tyrone.

Tuesday 4 December 1984

Douglas Hurd, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, told the Northern Ireland Assembly that Unionists would have move their political position in order to find an accommodation with Nationalists.

Wednesday 4 December 1991

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a bomb, estimated at 1,200 pounds, in Glengall Street in Belfast. The bomb caused extensive damage to the Grand Opera House which is close to the headquarters of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). Peter Brooke, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, again met the leaders of the political parties in Northern Ireland to try to begin all-party talks. John Major, then British Prime Minister, travelled to Dublin, Republic of Ireland, to meet with Charles Haughey, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister). This was the first visit by a British Prime Minister since 1980. The two leaders agreed to hold biannual meetings.

Friday 4 December 1992

John May (Sir), previously a Court of Appeal judge, published a report into the wrongful convictions of the Maguire family (‘Maguire seven’). The May Report called for the establishment of a review tribunal to look into cases of alleged miscarriages of justice.

Monday 4 December 1995

The home of a Catholic family in west Belfast, which faced a Protest housing estate, was attacked by Loyalists for the 56th time in nine years. John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), led their respective parties in political talks in Belfast.

Wednesday 4 December 1996

Two Catholic families were forced to leave their homes in the mainly Protestant Ballykeel Estate, Ballymena, after petrol bomb attacks on their houses. David Ervine, then leader of the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), said that he would support Catholics trying to get to mass at Harryville, Ballymena. [Ervine did not appear at Harryville but suggested that there should be dialogue instead of confrontation.]

Thursday 4 December 1997

Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), and Martin McGuinness, then Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), held a meeting with the Speaker of the House of Commons. The Speaker refused their request for office facilities because they had not taken their seats as this would have involved taking the Oath of allegiance to the Queen. Pearse McCauley (32) was charged in a court in Dublin with the capital murder of Gerry McCabe, then a Detective in the Garda Síochána (the Irish police), in Adare on 7 June 1996.

Saturday 4 December 1999

The interlocutor appointed by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) held a meeting with the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) at an undisclosed location. Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), welcomed the meeting and called for reductions in the number of British troops in Northern Ireland. A man from Lurgan, County Armagh, was charged with the murder of Elizabeth O’Neill in Portadown on 5 June 1999. The annual Lundy’s Day parade held by the Apprentice Boys of Derry (ABD) passed off without serious trouble.

Monday 4 December 2000

John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), stepped down as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) at Stormont. Hume was then a Member of Parliament (MP) and a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and said that he needed to reduce his workload.

Tuesday 4 December 2001

The British Army defused a bomb (estimated at 35 kilograms of home-made explosives) which was found under a railway line at Killeen Bridge near Newry, County Down, close to the border with the Republic of Ireland. The operation brought a six-day security alert in the area to an end. The track between Newry and Dundalk, County Louth, Republic of Ireland, had been closed since Thursday 29 November 2001 after police had received a number of telephoned bomb warnings

. A man was beaten in a paramilitary ‘punishment’ attack close to the Conlig reservoir near Bangor, Conuty Down, at approximately 9.30pm (2130GMT). The man had been abducted earlier in Bangor and driven to the reservoir where he was beaten with baseball bats and sticks. He was later taken to hospital with a broken ankle, broken finger, and other injuries to his body and arms.

A memorial was unveiled in north Belfast to mark the 30th anniversary of a Loyalist paramilitary bombing in which 15 men, women, and children, died. The bomb had been planted by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) at The Tramore Bar (McGurk’s bar) in North Queen Street on Saturday 4 December 1971.

[Only one of the bombers, the driver of the getaway car, was ever convicted. Immediately after the bombing, and for some time later, the security forces and various official sources maintained that the bomb had gone off inside the bar indicating that it was being prepared by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) and thus represented an ‘own goal’.]

See McGurk’s Bar Bombing

Bairbre de Brún (SF), then Minister of Health, announced additional funding of £250,000 to try to reduce teenage pregnancies in Northern Ireland. The region has one of the highest rates in Europe. In 1995, there were 1,434 pregnancies to teenagers in the province, but this figure rose to 1,795 in 1999. The money was to be spent on projects that support action on teenage pregnancy.

Tom Constantine, then Oversight Commissioner for Policing Reform, said that there had been an excellent start to the reforms of the police service but that he had concerns about a lack of progress in some areas. Constantine was appointed to oversee the implementation of the changes which are required to transform the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) into the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). Jane Morrice (NIWC), then deputy speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, introduced a motion calling for the Euro to be given dual currency status in Northern Ireland because of its land border with the Republic of Ireland. The Euro is due to be introduced into the Republic on 1 January 2002. The Assembly did not support the motion.

It was disclosed that Peter Mandelson, the former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, had written an article for the January 2001 issue of ‘GQ’ magazine in which he stated that the British government had “no stomach” to fight the Irish Republican Army (IRA). He also said that Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), could see a United Ireland in his lifetime.

[Later John Reid, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, dismissed the views and said that there was nothing inevitable about a change in the constitutional status of Northern Ireland.]

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Remembering all innocent victims of the Troubles

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

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die

– Thomas Campbell

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

– To  the Paramilitaries  –

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

18  People lost their lives on the 4th December  between 1971 – 1983

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See McGurk’s Bar Bombing

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04 December 1971


Philomena McGurk,   (46)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in bomb attack on McGurk’s bar, junction of Gt. George’s Street and North Queen Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

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04 December 1971


Maria McGurk,  (14)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in bomb attack on McGurk’s bar, junction of Gt. George’s Street and North Queen Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

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04 December 1971


James Cromie,   (13)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in bomb attack on McGurk’s bar, junction of Gt. George’s Street and North Queen Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

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04 December 1971
John Colton,  (49)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in bomb attack on McGurk’s bar, junction of Gt. George’s Street and North Queen Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

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04 December 1971


Thomas McLaughlin,   (55)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in bomb attack on McGurk’s bar, junction of Gt. George’s Street and North Queen Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

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04 December 1971
David Milligan,  (53)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in bomb attack on McGurk’s bar, junction of Gt. George’s Street and North Queen Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

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04 December 1971


James Smyth,  (58)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in bomb attack on McGurk’s bar, junction of Gt. George’s Street and North Queen Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

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04 December 1971


Francis Bradley,  (62)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in bomb attack on McGurk’s bar, junction of Gt. George’s Street and North Queen Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

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04 December 1971


Thomas Kane,   (48)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in bomb attack on McGurk’s bar, junction of Gt. George’s Street and North Queen Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

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04 December 1971


Kathleen Irvine,   (53)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in bomb attack on McGurk’s bar, junction of Gt. George’s Street and North Queen Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

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04 December 1971


Philip Garry,  (73)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in bomb attack on McGurk’s bar, junction of Gt. George’s Street and North Queen Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

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04 December 1971


 Edward Kane,   (29)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in bomb attack on McGurk’s bar, junction of Gt. George’s Street and North Queen Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

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04 December 1971


Edward Keenan, (69)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in bomb attack on McGurk’s bar, junction of Gt. George’s Street and North Queen Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

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04 December 1971


Sarah Keenan,  (58)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in bomb attack on McGurk’s bar, junction of Gt. George’s Street and North Queen Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

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04 December 1971


Robert Spotswood,   (38)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in bomb attack on McGurk’s bar, junction of Gt. George’s Street and North Queen Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

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04 December 1972


Bernard Fox, (16)

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

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot while standing at the junction of Brompton Park and Crumlin Road, Ardoyne, Belfast

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04 December 1983
Colm McGirr,  (23)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot by undercover British Army (BA) members, while walking across field towards arms cache, off Cloghog Road, near Coalisland, County Tyrone.

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04 December 1983


Brian Campbell, (19)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot by undercover British Army (BA) members, while walking across field towards arms cache, off Cloghog Road, near Coalisland, County Tyrone.

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McGurk’s Bar bombing – On 4 December 1971

McGurk’s Bar Bombing

 

On 4 December 1971, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), an Ulster loyalist paramilitary group, detonated a bomb at McGurk’s Bar in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The pub was frequented by Irish Catholics/nationalists.

The explosion caused the building to collapse, killing fifteen Catholic civilians—including two children—and wounding seventeen more. It was the deadliest attack in Belfast during the Troubles.

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McGurk’s Bar Bombing: Loss of Innocence

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Despite evidence to the contrary, the British security forces asserted that a bomb had exploded prematurely while being handled by Irish Republican Army (IRA) members inside the pub, implying that the victims themselves were partly to blame. A report later found that the police (Royal Ulster Constabulary) were biased in favour of this view, and that this hindered their investigation.

The victims’ relatives allege that the security forces deliberately spread disinformation to discredit the IRA. In 1977, UVF member Robert Campbell was sentenced to life imprisonment for his part in the bombing and served fifteen years.

The bombing sparked a series of tit-for-tat bombings and shootings by loyalists and republicans, which would help make 1972 the bloodiest year of the conflict.

McGurk’s Bar bombing
McGurks bombing.jpg

A British soldier surveys the aftermath of the bombing
Location Corner of North Queen Street and Great George’s Street, Belfast,
Northern Ireland
Date 4 December 1971
20:45 (GMT)
Target Irish Catholics
Attack type
Time bomb
Deaths 15
Non-fatal injuries
17
Perpetrator Ulster Volunteer Force

Disclaimer 

The views and opinions expressed in these pages/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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Spotlight – The Mcgurk’s Bar Bombing

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Background

McGurk’s (also called the Tramore Bar) was a two-storey public house on the corner of North Queen Street and Great George’s Street, in the New Lodge area to the north of Belfast city centre. This was a mainly Irish nationalist and Catholic neighbourhood, and the pub’s regular customers were from the community.

The pub was owned by Patrick and Philomena McGurk, who lived on the upper floor with their four children.

The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) was formed in Belfast in 1966, declaring “war” on the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Until 1971, however, its actions were few and it:

 

“scarcely existed in an organisational sense”.

 

The British Army was deployed in Northern Ireland following the August 1969 riots, which are usually seen as the start of the Troubles. In December 1969 the IRA split into two factions: the ‘Official’ IRA and Provisional IRA. Both launched armed campaigns against the British Army, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and the government of Northern Ireland.

During 1971, the violence gradually worsened. There were daily bombings and shootings by republicans, loyalists and the security forces. During the first two weeks of December, there were about 70 bombings and about 30 people were killed.

On 2 December, three republican prisoners escaped from Crumlin Road prison, not far from McGurk’s. Security was tightened and there was a heavy RUC and British Army presence in the area over the next two days.

Eyewitnesses asserted that the checkpoints around McGurk’s were removed just an hour before the attack.

The bombing

Plaque near the site of the bombing listing those killed

 

On the evening of Saturday 4 December 1971, a four-man UVF team met in the Shankill area of Belfast and were ordered to bomb a pub on North Queen Street. According to the only convicted bomber—Robert Campbell—they were told not to return until the job was done. Campbell said that their target had not been McGurk’s, but another pub nearby.

It is believed this was a pub called The Gem, which was allegedly linked to the Official IRA. The 50 pounds (23 kg) bomb was disguised as a brown parcel, which they placed in a car and drove to their target. Campbell says they stopped near The Gem at about 7:30pm, but could not gain access to it because there were security guards outside.

After waiting for almost an hour, they drove a short distance to McGurk’s. At about 8:45pm, one of them placed the bomb in the porch entrance on Great George’s Street and rushed back to the car.

It exploded just moments after they drove off. Campbell implied that McGurk’s had been chosen only because it was:

“the nearest Catholic pub”.

The blast caused the building to collapse. Bystanders immediately rushed to free the dead and wounded from the rubble. Firefighters, paramedics, police and soldiers were quickly on the scene. Fifteen Catholic civilians had been killed—including two children and a further seventeen wounded. The rescue effort lasted many hours.

The Victims

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04 December 1971


Philomena McGurk,   (46)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in bomb attack on McGurk’s bar, junction of Gt. George’s Street and North Queen Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

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04 December 1971


Maria McGurk,  (14)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in bomb attack on McGurk’s bar, junction of Gt. George’s Street and North Queen Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

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04 December 1971


James Cromie,   (13)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in bomb attack on McGurk’s bar, junction of Gt. George’s Street and North Queen Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

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04 December 1971
John Colton,  (49)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in bomb attack on McGurk’s bar, junction of Gt. George’s Street and North Queen Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

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04 December 1971


Thomas McLaughlin,   (55)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in bomb attack on McGurk’s bar, junction of Gt. George’s Street and North Queen Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

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04 December 1971
David Milligan,  (53)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in bomb attack on McGurk’s bar, junction of Gt. George’s Street and North Queen Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

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04 December 1971


James Smyth,  (58)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in bomb attack on McGurk’s bar, junction of Gt. George’s Street and North Queen Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

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04 December 1971


Francis Bradley,  (62)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in bomb attack on McGurk’s bar, junction of Gt. George’s Street and North Queen Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

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04 December 1971


Thomas Kane,   (48)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in bomb attack on McGurk’s bar, junction of Gt. George’s Street and North Queen Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

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04 December 1971


Kathleen Irvine,   (53)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in bomb attack on McGurk’s bar, junction of Gt. George’s Street and North Queen Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

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04 December 1971


Philip Garry,  (73)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in bomb attack on McGurk’s bar, junction of Gt. George’s Street and North Queen Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

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04 December 1971


 Edward Kane,   (29)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in bomb attack on McGurk’s bar, junction of Gt. George’s Street and North Queen Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

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04 December 1971


Edward Keenan, (69)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in bomb attack on McGurk’s bar, junction of Gt. George’s Street and North Queen Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

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04 December 1971


Sarah Keenan,  (58)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in bomb attack on McGurk’s bar, junction of Gt. George’s Street and North Queen Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

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04 December 1971


Robert Spotswood,   (38)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in bomb attack on McGurk’s bar, junction of Gt. George’s Street and North Queen Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

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Within two hours of the blast, a sectarian clash had erupted nearby at the New Lodge–Tiger’s Bay interface The British Army and RUC moved in and a gun battle developed.

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Enter a caption

Major Jeremy Snow

In a despicable act the IRA shot Major Jeremy Snow as he attended the scene. He died of his injuries four days later on the 8th December .

 

Jeremy Snow was at the Royal Fusiliers headquarters a short distance away from the scene of the explosion when the bomb went off. Such was the strength of the blast that the soldiers initially thought that it was their building which had come under attack. Snow began organising the rescue operation but quickly handed this over to Major Mike Dudding who, using a loudhailer, organised a human chain of volunteers to remove the rubble.

At around 10pm a crowd of Protestants began gathering in the New Lodge/Tiger’s Bay area intent on mocking the Catholic victims of the blast. Before long a Catholic crowd of around 100 gathered and the two groups began trading insults and throwing stones at one another. Sensing trouble, Jeremy Snow called up a reserve platoon and, having decided that the crowds were getting out of hand, decided to separate the two groups at North Queen Street. At 10.30pm, as he alighted from his vehicle at Hillman Street a quarter of a mile from the scene of the bombing, he was shot and wounded in the neck by an Irish Republican Army sniper. He was placed on a stretcher and taken by armoured ambulance to the Royal Victoria Hospital. His wife was at his bedside when he died from his wounds four days later.

One of the soldiers from his Company wrote:-

“Major Snow was my company commander. Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. I was with the Major the day of the incident. We were plodding along, like you do, when a civilian asked for directions. As Major Snow crossed the road to go to him, he was gunned down.

He was a lovely bloke, a real gent and we all had the utmost respect for him. We were all gutted when it happened. I met my wife to be at his memorial service and we have been together for 30 years and to this day we do not forget the sacrifice he made. He was one of the many casualties we had to bear to make N.I. the safe and secure place it is today… I salute you Sir…”

He was Mentioned in Despatches for his services in Northern Ireland which was announced by St James’s Palace on the 23rd of May 1972.

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A British Army officer, Major Jeremy Snow, was shot by the IRA on New Lodge Road and died of his wounds on 8 December.  Two RUC officers and five civilians were also wounded by gunfire. Eventually, five companies of troops were sent into the district and they searched almost 50 houses.

Meanwhile, the UVF team had driven to a nearby pickup point where they dumped their car. They walked to the area of St Anne’s Cathedral and were picked up by another. They were driven back to the Shankill and met the man who had ordered the attack in an Orange Hall, telling him that:

“the job has been done”.

Among those killed were Philomena and Maria McGurk, wife and 12-year-old daughter of the pub owner Patrick McGurk. Patrick and his three sons were seriously injured. Shortly after the attack, McGurk appeared on television calling for no retaliation:

“It doesn’t matter who planted the bomb. What’s done can’t be undone. I’ve been trying to keep bitterness out of it.”

See: Balmoral Furniture Company Bombing