Tag Archives: UDA

28th July – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

28th July

Key events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

Saturday 28 July 1984

Martin Galvin, then leader of NORAID (Irish Northern Aid Committee), was banned from entering the United Kingdom (UK).

[Despite the ban Galvin appeared at rallies in Derry (9 August 1984) and Belfast (12 August 1984) where a Catholic civilian was killed by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).]

Monday 28 July 1986

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued a statement threatening any civilians who worked for the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) or the British Army (BA).

On 30 July 1986 the IRA killed a civilian contractor who worked for the RUC. On 5 August 1986 the IRA issued a further threat to people working with the security

Sunday 28 July 1991

The Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) exploded seven incendiary devices in shops in the Republic of Ireland.

Friday 28 July 1995

The British government transferred three Republican prisoners involved in a ‘dirty’ protest at Whitemoor Prison in Cambridgeshire to prisons in Northern Ireland. Four other prisoners continued with their protest at Whitemoor.

This brought the number of prisoners transferred to Northern Ireland to 21.

Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, lifted a fund-raising ban on organisations suspected of having paramilitary links. The ban had been imposed 10 years earlier.

Monday 28 July 1997

James Coopey (26) from County Down was charged with the murder of James Morgan on 24 July 1997.

[Later a second man was also charged with the killing.]

Tuesday 28 July 1998

The Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act became law. The legislation allowed for the early release of paramilitary prisoners. Only prisoners who were members of organisations that were observing ceasefires could benefit from the legislation. Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, declared that the Irish Republican Army (IRA), Ulster Defence Association (UDA), and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), were inactive.

[There was criticism of this decision by those who highlighted continuing violence by these organisations.]

Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), announced that the Union Flag would not be flown outside RUC stations on public holidays.

 

Flanagan said that this would bring RUC policy on the matter into line with the rest of the United Kingdom (UK). [Some Unionists reacted angrily to the announcement.

As part of a government reshuffle of ministerial posts, John McFall replaced Tony Worthington at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO).

Wednesday 28 July 1999

Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, retained her position in a British government reshuffle that left all but one member of Tony Blair’s cabinet in place. Mowlam had earlier briefed journalists that she wanted to stay in post to complete the Good Friday Agreement. Peter Robinson, then deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), called the decision “a disaster”, however, Nationalists welcomed the development.

Relatives of the 14 men shot dead and 13 people wounded by British soldiers in Derry on 30 January 1972 expressed disappointment at an Appeal Court ruling that the soldiers who opened fire would not be named during the proceedings of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry.

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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.

4  People lost their lives on the 28th  July between 1972 – 1998

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28 July 1972

Seamus Cassidy, (22)

Catholic

Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: British Army (BA)

Died one day after being shot by sniper while sitting in parked car outside Starry Plough Bar, New Lodge Road, Belfast.

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28 July 1972

Philip Maguire,  (55)

Catholic

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)

Found shot in his firm’s van, Carrowreagh Road, Dundonald, Belfast.

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28 July 1979
James McCann,  (20)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Shot while walking along Obins Street, Portadown, County Armagh.

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28 July 1988

Michael Matthews,  (37) nfNI

Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)

Died one day after being injured during land mine attack on British Army (BA) / Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) foot patrol, Cullyhanna, County Armagh.

24th July – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

24th July

Saturday 24 August 1968

First Civil Rights March

The Campaign for Social Justice (CSJ), the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA), and a number of other groups, held the first ‘civil rights march’ in Northern Ireland from Coalisland to Dungannon.

Loyalists organised a counter demonstration in an effort to get the march banned and in fact the planned rally was officially banned.

[This was a tactic that was to be used throughout the period of ‘the Troubles’]. Despite this the march took place and passed off without incident. The publicity surrounding the march acted as encouragement to other protesting groups to form branches of the NICRA.

Wednesday 24 July 1974

Patrick Kelly (33), a Nationalist councillor, disappeared after leaving Trillick, County Tyrone, to travel home. Later in the day bloodstains, and cartridge cases were found on the roadside about one mile outside of Trillick.

[Kelly’s body was discovered on 10 August 1974 in Lough Eyes, near Lisbellaw, County Fermanagh. He had been shot a number of times and his body had been weighted down and dumped in the lake. Nationalists claimed that there had been security force involvement or collusion in his killing.

Allegations were made that Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) members had taken part in the attack. On 29 July 2003 it was announced that a new inquiry into the killing would be undertaken by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).]

Thursday 24 July 1975

Merlyn Rees, then Secretary of Sate for Northern Ireland, announced that all those interned without trial would be released by Christmas.

Monday 24 July 1989

Peter Brooke was appointed as the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. John Cope became Minister of State, and Lord Skelmersdale and Peter Bottomley were appointed as Under-Secretaries.

Tuesday 24 July 1990

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a bomb near Armagh killing three members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and a Catholic nun who was driving past the scene of the attack.

Friday 24 July 1992

There was a summer adjournment in Strand Two of the political talks (later known as the Brooke / Mayhew talks). The talks recommenced on 2 September 1992.

Sunday 24 July 1994

Sinn Féin Conference Sinn Féin (SF) held a special conference in Letterkenny, County Donegal to consider the Downing Street Declaration (DSD). The conference was addressed by Gerry Adams, then President of SF. He is reported to have said that the DSD

“suggests a potentially significant change in the approach of the [two] governments to resolving the conflict in Ireland, and we welcome this. But it does not deal adequately with some of the core issues, and this is crucial.”

[The mainly critical tone about the DSD led many observers to conclude the proposals had been rejected.]

Thursday 24 July 1997

James Morgan (16), a Catholic civilian, was abducted after he accepted a lift in a car while travelling from Newcastle to Annsborourgh, County Down.

 Morgan’s body was found on 27 July 1997. He had been tortured before being killed and his body was dumped in a water-logged pit full of animal parts. No group claimed responsibility for his killing but it was believed by most commentators that the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) was responsible.

To the astonishment of many people the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) did not ascribe a sectarian motive to the abduction and killing until 28 July 1997.

What was described as a “crude parcel bomb” was delivered by post to the office of Robert McCartney, then leader of the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP), at his office in Stormont. The device was defused by the British Army. McCartney was on holiday at the time of the incident.

David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), said that it was important for Unionists to remain in the talks in order to win the propaganda war. He also said that Sinn Féin (SF) would eventually have to accept a partitionist solution to the conflict.

John Kelly, then a SF Councillor in Magherafelt, issued an apology to Protestants in Maghera and Swinford for “wanton acts of sectarian vandalism” when Nationalists engaged in rioting following the events at Drumcree.

The ‘Birmingham Six’ said that they would seek compensation in the European Court after Jack Straw, then British Home Secretary, said that he would not meet them to reconsider their case. [The six men each received £200,000 compensation (in addition to some interim payments) as compensation for 16 years of wrongful imprisonment.

The men were also looking for an apology from the British government

Friday 24 July 1998

The Police (Northern Ireland) Act was passed in the House of Commons. It was announced in the Republic of Ireland that 1997 had been a record year for Irish tax revenue earnings reflecting the buoyant nature of the Irish economy. In a ruling on the conduct of the new inquiry into the events of ‘Bloody Sunday’ the chairman Lord Saville said that soldiers giving evidence would be entitled to “partial anonymity”.

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Remembering all innocent victims of the Troubles

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

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

– Thomas Campbell

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

– To the Paramilitaries –

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

10 People lost their lives on the 24th  July between 1972 – 1990

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24 July 1972

James Casey,  (57)

Catholic

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)

Shot while travelling in car along Park Avenue, Rosemount, Derry

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24 July 1972

Frederick Maguire,  (56)

Protestant

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Defence Association (UDA)

Found shot, Mayo Street, Shankill, Belfast. Assumed to be a Catholic.

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24 July 1972

Brian Thomas, (20) nfNI

Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA) Shot by sniper, while in Vere Foster School British Army (BA) base, Ballymurphy, Belfast.

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24 July 1973

Leonard Rossborough,  (38)

Protestant

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) Publican. Died three days after being shot during armed robbery at his workplace, Horseshoe Bar, Shankill Road, Belfast.

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Wednesday 24 July 1974
item mark
Patrick Kelly (33), a Nationalist councillor, disappeared after leaving Trillick, County Tyrone, to travel home. Later in the day bloodstains, and cartridge cases were found on the roadside about one mile outside of Trillick. [Kelly’s body was discovered on 10 August 1974 in Lough Eyes, near Lisbellaw, County Fermanagh. He had been shot a number of times and his body had been weighted down and dumped in the lake. Nationalists claimed that there had been security force involvement or collusion in his killing. Allegations were made that Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) members had taken part in the attack. On 29 July 2003 it was announced that a new inquiry into the killing would be undertaken by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).]

24 July 1974

Patrick Kelly, (33)

Catholic

Status: Civilian Political Activist (CivPA),

Killed by: Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) Independent Councillor. Abducted shortly after leaving his licensed premises, Corner House Bar, Main Street, Trillick, County Tyrone. Found shot in Lough Eyes, near Lisbellaw, County Fermanagh, on 10 August 1974.

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24 July 1980

Michael McCartan,  (16)

Catholic

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) Shot by undercover Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) member, in entry, off Dromara Street, Ormeau Road, Belfast.

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 24 July 1990

Joshua Willis,  (35)

Protestant

Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), by: Irish Republican Army (IRA) Killed in land mine attack on Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) armoured patrol car, Killylea Road, Armagh.

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 24 July 1990

William Hanson, (37)

Protestant

Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA) Killed in land mine attack on Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) armoured patrol car, Killylea Road, Armagh.

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  24 July 1990

David Sterritt, (34)

Protestant

Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA) Killed in land mine attack on Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) armoured patrol car, Killylea Road, Armagh.

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 24 July 1990

Catherine Dunne,  (37) nfNI

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA) Catholic Nun originally from Dublin. Killed while travelling in her car, during land mine attack on adjacent Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) armoured patrol car, Killylea Road, Armagh.

 

William ” Billy “Stobie 1950 – 12 Dec 2001

William “Billy” Stobie

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

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

———————————————

William “Billy” Stobie (1950 – 12 December 2001) was an Ulster Defence Association (UDA) quartermaster and RUC Special Branch informer  who was involved in the shootings of student Brian Adam Lambert in 1987 and solicitor Pat Finucane in 1989.

See Pat Finucane

His 1990 admissions, to journalist Neil Mulholland, provided new information which led, in February 1999, to British Irish Rights Watch submitting a confidential report to the British Government.

This in turn would lead to the reopening of the Stevens Enquiry, which uncovered state/paramilitary collusion at a level “way beyond” what Sir John Stevens had originally reported.

William Stobie
William Stobie.jpg

Stobie leaving court in 2001
Born William Stobie
1950
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Died 12 December 2001 (age 51)
Glencairn estate, Belfast
Cause of death Multiple gunshot wounds
Nationality British
Organization Ulster Defence Association
Known for Special Branch agent
Title Quartermaster
Religion Protestantism

Early life

Stobie was a native of loyalist west Belfast who joined the UDA for the first time around the time of its foundation in 1971. After a short spell he left and joined the British Army, serving outside Northern Ireland. Returning to Belfast when his spell in the army ended he rejoined the UDA and served the organisation as an armourer.

Stobie had initially applied to join the Ulster Volunteer Force but was rejected by that organisation, which feared that he might be a government agent due to his time in the army, and instead rejoined the UDA, joining A Company of the UDA West Belfast Brigade in Highfield.

Brian Adam Lambert

On 8 November 1987, the IRA detonated a powerful bomb at the Enniskillen Remembrance Sunday ceremony killing eleven.

enniskillenpoppydayexplosion25thanniv011

See Enniskillen Remembrance Bomb

There was no immediate direct reprisal, partially as a result of an appeal by Gordon Wilson, father of one of the victims. The exception to this was when Brian Adam Lambert was mistakenly targeted and shot the following day at a building site in Highfield, Belfast. He was a 19-year-old Protestant student with no criminal record or paramilitary links, but was assumed to have been a Catholic.

At the Stevens Enquiry (“Overview & Recommendations”), Stobie admitted supplying the guns for the attack and driving Stephen Harbinson in the getaway car. Both Stobie and Harbinson stated they were sickened by the mistake and for the first time Stobie realised that the UDA was unprofessional. Harbinson was also arrested; he was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Following his release under the Good Friday Agreement he skipped bail on drug dealing charges in Northern Ireland. He was rearrested on the Costa Del Sol on separate charges of drug trafficking, kidnapping and arms possession. Once more he was given bail and disappeared.

Discovery as an informer

Stobie’s informing did not go unnoticed and in May 1992 he narrowly avoided being killed by other members of the West Belfast Brigade who suspected he was a “tout”. At the time Stobie was operating the switchboard at Circle Taxis on the Shankill when their offices were raided by the police and the owners questioned about a taxi that had been ordered to the Glencairn estate.

MadDogAdair.jpg

This car had been hijacked whilst on that call by the UVF and used in an abortive operation by the group. West Belfast brigadier Johnny Adair was told by a friend that Stobie had told the police about the incident and it was decided that he would be shot as an informer.

On the evening of 21 May 1992, Stobie was called to the house of Jackie Thompson on Snugville Street where a party was being held, with Adair and fellow UDA members Donald Hodgen, Tommy Potts and others in attendance. Stobie did not attend so Thompson and Hodgen drove up to his house and dragged him out. They took him to an alleyway where Adair was waiting and after a struggle a fleeing Stobie was shot five times in the back and legs.

However he survived the attack despite his injuries.

Pat Finucane

Patrick Finucane

According to Henry McDonald and Jim Cusack, Stobie provided the gun used to kill Pat Finucane and they further claimed that once he gave the weapon to the hit team he called the RUC to let them know that a killing was about to take place.

In April 1999, as part of the Stevens Enquiry, Stobie was arrested and charged with Finucane’s murder. In June that year, as agreed, journalist Ed Moloney published Stobie’s version of the circumstances of Finucane’s death.The charges were later commuted to aiding and abetting the murder. Stobie’s trial eventually collapsed because of the failure of Neil Mulholland, by now Northern Ireland Office Press Officer, to take the witness stand.

See Pat Finucane

Stevens 3

Stobie was rearrested and charged with murder as a result of Stevens 3. At his trial the chief witness, Neil Mullholland, refused to take the witness stand and Stobie was released. In his overview and recommendations John Stevens stated:

“I have uncovered enough evidence to lead me to believe that the murders of Patrick Finucane and Brian Adam Lambert could have been prevented”.

Death

In 2001, Stobie let it be known that he would be willing to testify at an inquiry into Finucane’s killing, stating that he would not name loyalists but would name their RUC “handlers”. By declaring that he supported the Finucane family’s demand for a public inquiry he effectively made himself a target for his former UDA comrades.

On 12 December 2001, Stobie was shot dead outside his home at Forthriver Road, Glencairn, Belfast. The Red Hand Defenders (RHD) claimed responsibility. Stobie’s killers, who shot him five times, had actually belonged to the UDA and were using the Red Hand Defenders cover name.

In a statement made by a masked paramilitary after the killing it was claimed:

“Billy Stobie could have stayed on the Shankill and been left alone had he not spoken out on Ulster Television and backed the public inquiry [into the Finucane killing,  He betrayed his comrades by doing that and for that reason he paid for his treason”

 

 

11th June – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

11th June

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Sunday 11 June 1972

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 11 June 1980

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

Thursday 11 June 1981

A general election was held in the Republic of Ireland.

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

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

Saturday 11 June 1983

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

Wednesday 11 June 1986

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

[Magee later received eight life sentences.]

Thursday 11 June 1987

General Election

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

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

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

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

Friday 11 June 1993

Queen Elizabeth paid a visit to Northern Ireland.

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

Tuesday 11 June 1996

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

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

Wednesday 11 June 1997

Robert (‘Basher’) Bates (48)

Robert Basher Bates

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

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

Bates had pleaded guilty in January 1979 to 10 murders.

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

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

See Robert “Basher” Bates

See Shankill Butchers

See Lenny Murphy

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

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

Thursday 11 June 1998

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

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

Friday 11 June 1999

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

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

 

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Remembering all innocent victims of the Troubles

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

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

– Thomas Campbell

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

– To the Paramilitaries –

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

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

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11 June 1972
John Madden  (43)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

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

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11 June 1972


Joseph Campbell  (16)

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

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

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11 June 1972


Norman McGrath  (18)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

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

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11 June 1972
Peter Raistric  (18)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

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

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11 June 1975
Kenneth Conway   (20)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

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

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11 June 1976
William Palmer   (50)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

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

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11 June 1976
Edward Walker  (20)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Association (UDA),

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

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11 June 1982


David Reeves  (24)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

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

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11 June 1997

Robert Bates  (48)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF),

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

See Shankill Butchers

See Lenny Murphy

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

Robert William Bates

” Basher “

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

Shankill Butchers

Shankill Butchers.

See Shankill Butchers

Disclaimer

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

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

 

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

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

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

William moore.jpg
William Moore

 

 

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

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

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

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

Gerard McLaverty and Joseph Morrissey

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

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

In prison

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

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

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

Brendan hughes.jpg
Brendan Hughes

 

 

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

Early release and death

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He went on to describe him as having been:

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

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

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

Mairead Maguire, July 2009

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

See Shankill Butchers

Shankill Butchers.

See Shankill Butchers

lennie murphy

See Lenny Murphy

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Wednesday 11 June 1997

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Proud to be a Loyalist – But I don’t hate Catholic’s

I am 

Unashamedly Proud of My Loyalist and British Heritage.

 queen union jack.jpg

In fact I want the world to know that despite what loony lefties and followers of Corbyn think – its perfectly normal to take pride in our country and celebrate and embrace our long and glorious history.

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Someone emailed me yesterday after visiting my website and praised me for writing about the history of The Troubles and commemorating the memory of all those who had died during the  30 year conflict.

So far – so good!

And then she asked me………..

“Did I hate Catholic’s and what I thought of a United Ireland ?”.

Well at this stage my antenna went up and I thought ” Here we go again “

Let me explain….

When I set up this blog/website  last year my primary objective was to promote my Autobiography Belfast Child and hopefully attract some attention from the publishing world and maybe one day see my book printed and share my story with the world.

That was the objective anyways and the process  has been long and full of disappointments – but I am now working with high profile ghost writing Tom Henry  to complete the book and his enthusiasm for the subject is feeding my dream.

 

I  have always   thought I had an interesting story to tell ( I would wouldn’t I ? ) and within weeks of launching the site I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was receiving a lot of visitors and people were commenting on my story. As of yesterday I have had more 100,000 visitors to the site and this figure is growing and increasing weekly by a few thousand and this I must say surprised me.

It had always been my aim to dedicate the book/my story to the memory of all those killed in the Troubles  and off course to the memory of  my beloved father John Chambers – who died way to young and left a wound in my soul that can never been healed or soothed.

So with this in mind I decided to use my website to tell the story of the Northern Ireland conflict and include an unbiased (mostly) comprehensive history of all major events and deaths in the Troubles. Due to my loyalist heritage and background this has not always been easy, considering I lived through the worst years of the Troubles among the loyalist communities of West Belfast and like those around me I was on the front-line of the sectarian slaughter and there was no escape from the madness that surrounded and engulfed us.

I blamed the IRA ( and other republican terrorists ) for all the woes of life in Belfast and  I hated them with a passion  – still do.

Growing up as a protestant in Northern Ireland  is unlike life in any other part of the UK or British territories and from cradle to grave our lives are governed by the tenuous umbilical cord that reluctantly connects us to the rest of the UK and Westminster’s corridors of power.

Unlike most other communities throughout the UK we are fanatically proud of our Britishness and we have literally fought for the right to remain part of Britain and have Queen Elizabeth II as the mother of our nation.

Long may she reign

shankill road where my soul was forged.jpg

If you have read extracts from my Autobiography Belfast Child ( It’s worth it – promise ) you will know that  I was raised within the heartlands of loyalist Northern Ireland – The Glorious Shankill Road.

The UDA ( Ulster Defense Force) and other loyalist paramilitaries governed and controlled our daily lives and lived and operated among us. The loyalist community stood as one against the IRA and other republican terrorists and although there was often war between the various different groups , they were untied in their hatred of Republican’s and pride in the Union.

The definition of loyalist is :

a. A supporter of union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland

b. A person who remains loyal to the established ruler or government, especially in the face of a revolt.

 

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Why Ireland split into the Republic of Ireland & Northern Ireland

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A bit of history for you

A very brief  outlined of the beginning of the modern troubles

Whilst the Protestants’ clung to their British sovereignty and took pride in the union, our Catholic counterparts felt abandoned and second class citizens in a Unionist run state. The civil rights marches of the 60’s & Republican calls for a United Ireland were the catalyst for the IRA and other Republican terrorist groups to take up arms against the British and feed the paranoia of the loyalist community.

Northern Ireland descended into decades of sectarian conflict & slaughter. An attack on the crown was an attack on the Protestant people of the North and the Protestant paramilitaries took up arms and waged an indiscriminate war against the IRA, the Catholic population and each other. Many innocent Catholic’s and Protestant’s became targets of psychopathic sectarian murder squad’s. Murder was almost a daily occurrence and the killings on both sides perpetuated the hatred and mistrust between the two ever-warring communities. It was a recipe for disaster and Northern stood on the brink of all out civil war.

Growing up in this environment it is hardly surprising to learn that  I hated republicans and all they stood for. But that doesn’t mean I hated Catholic’s or Irish people and would  wish  any harm on them – I don’t and I didn’t.

It means I have a different point of view and democracy is all about freedom of choice and my choice is to maintain the Union with the UK and embrace and celebrate my loyalist culture and tradition. It also means I have the right to take pride in the union with the rest of the UK and I wear my nationality like a badge of honor for all the world to  see.

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proud to be british jason mawer

Jason Mawer has been warned twice to remove his jacket in case it offends someone

The unique Mod-style jacket in red, white and blue was made a few years ago for a Who convention in London

Pub landlord Jason Mawer has twice been asked in public to remove his treasured Union Jack jacket – for risk of it being ‘offensive’.

He was told to take off his valuable Mod-style Barbour jacket – designed in honour of legendary rock band The Who – by officials who appeared to be council enforcement officers.

On the second occasion the female official warned him: ‘Would you mind removing your coat it might offend somebody.’

See Daily Mail for full Story 

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In recent years it has become almost politically  “incorrect” to show any signs of pride in being British and mad lefties and their deluded disciples are always banging on about offending other religions and communities throughout the UK. The fact that the UK has such a diverse melting pot of different nationalities and religions  and is generally accommodating to them – is lost on these do gooders and they ignore our country’s  long history of religious and politically tolerance and instead accuse us of being  xenophobic  and this offends me no end.

Have they forgotten that it was our forefathers who fought and died for our great nation and our democracy is built on their ultimate  sacrifice for our freedom – they did not die in vain.

…back to the email

If you had taken the time to have a proper  look through my site you would be aware that I commemorate the deaths of all innocent people killed as a direct result of the conflict in Northern Ireland , regardless of political or religious  background  . I also cover the deaths of paramilitaries from both sides killed “in Action” as my objective to to give a complete picture of the history of the Troubles.

I receive lots of emails and comments about my site and although most of these are positive –  a few ( normally from republicans ) accuse me of being a loyalist and somehow responsible for the all the deaths in Northern Ireland’s tortured history. Generally I ignore these emails as they are so far of the mark – if they had taken the time to read my story they would know a bit more about my history and know that I preach love – not hate!

Just because I am proud of the union and my British heritage does not mean I hate Catholics or Irish people or any others for that matter – in fact I judge no man on his colour , creed , religious or political background (apart from Republican Terrorists ).

I judge people on their humanity and empathy towards others and the world around us . Life is for living – so live and let live.

Anne Frank

“In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
Anne Frank

14th April – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

                                                                                           14th April   

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Friday 14 April 1972

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded 23 bombs at locations all over Northern Ireland.

[Public Records 1972 – Released 1 January 2003: Current Situation Report No 118 by A.W.Stephens, then Head of Defence Secretariat 10 at the Ministry of Defence, providing details of security incidents during the previous 24 hours in Northern Ireland.]

Wednesday 14 April 1982

The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) carried out a raid on the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) headquarters in Belfast.

The raid uncovered ammunition and gun parts. Four leading members of the UDA were arrested.

[At this time the UDA was not a ‘proscribed’ organisation. It was only declared illegal on 10 August 1992.]

Sunday 14 April 1991

Bishop Desmond Tutu, from South Africa, attended an Anglican conference in Newcastle, County Down. Tutu said that Sinn Féin (SF) should be invited to attend the forthcoming talks on the future of Northern Ireland.

Tuesday 14 April 1992

Michael Newman

A British Army (BA) recruiting sergeant died after being shot by the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) in Derby, England.

[This was the first killing by the INLA in Britain since March 1979.]

Thursday 14 April 1994

Teresa Clinton

Teresa Clinton (34), a Catholic Civilian, was shot dead by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), during a gun attack on her home, off Ormeau Road, Belfast.

Her husband had been a former Sinn Féin (SF) election candidate.

The UFF carried out another gun attack and wounded of two Catholic civilians.

The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) offered to clarify, for the benefit of SF, specific points related to the Downing Street Declaration (DSD).

Friday 14 April 1995

The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) discovered 40 weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition which were believed to belong to the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). The cache was found in Holywood, County Down.

[Three men were arrested following the discovery. A second cache of arms was later found in the town.]

Monday 14 April 1997

There was an arson attack on St Peter’s Catholic church in Stoneyford, County Antrim. The chapel was badly damaged by the fire.

A man (24) was seriously injured in what was believed to be a Loyalist ‘punishment’ shooting that took place in the Ballysally estate in Coleraine, County Derry.

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) was believed to be responsible for a ‘punishment’ beating attack on a man in Derry. The man subsequently went into hiding.

See Corporal Killings

Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, referred the case of Patrick Kane to the Court of Appeal. Kane had been convicted of, and was serving a life sentence for, the murder of corporals Derek Wood and David Howes on 19 March 1988.

Tuesday 14 April 1998

In the Republic of Ireland the Irish authorities released nine Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoners from Portlaoise Prison. On their release the prisoners pledged their “total support” for the leadership of Sinn Féin (SF).

[The releases were criticised by Unionists and by the Garda Representative Association.]

Wednesday 14 April 1999

Liz O’Donnell, then Irish Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, acknowledged that the Hillsborough Declaration would not be the basis for resolving the decommissioning impasse.

Saturday 14 April 2001

Bomb Explosion in London

There was a bomb explosion at a Post Office delivery depot in north London at 11.28pm (2328BST).

There had been no warning of the bomb but no one was injured in the explosion which caused “minor” damage to the building at The Hyde in Hendon. The “real” Irish Republican Army (rIRA) was thought to have been responsible for the attack.

 

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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.

8 People lost their lives on the 14th  April   between 1973– 1994

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14 April 1973


Robert Millen,   (23)

Protestant
Status: Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Shot from passing car while standing in McClure Street, off Ormeau Road, Belfast

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14 April 1974
Anthony Pollen,  (27)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Undercover British Army (BA) member. Shot while observing Republican Easter commemoration parade, Meenan Square, Bogside, Derry.

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14 April 1975


Stafford Mateer,   (32)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: not known (nk)
Died two days after being shot while driving his car, at the junction of Albertbridge Road and Woodstock Road, Belfast.

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14 April 1978


James McKee,  (61)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Shot while driving school bus, Creggan, near Pomeroy, County Tyrone.

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14 April 1978

Robert McCullough,   (27)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Shot at his home, Rathmore Drive, Rathcoole, Newtownabbey, County Antrim.

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14 April 1986


White, Keith (20)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)
Died 15 days after being shot by plastic bullet, during street disturbances, Woodhouse Street, Portadown, County Armagh.

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14 April 1992


Michael Newman,   (34)

nfNIB
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
Shot shortly after leaving British Army (BA) recruiting office, Derby, England.

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14 April 1994


Teresa Clinton,  (34)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)
Shot during gun attack on her home, Balfour Avenue, off Ormeau Road, Belfast. Her husband a Sinn Fein (SF) member.

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John Gregg (UDA) The man who shot Gerry Adam?

 John Gregg

UDA

John Gregg (1957 – 1 February 2003) was a senior member of the UDA/UFF loyalist paramilitary organisation in Northern Ireland. In 1984, Gregg seriously wounded Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams in an assassination attempt. From the 1990s until his shooting death in 2003 by rival associates, Gregg served as brigadier of the UDA’s South East Antrim Brigade. Widely known as a man with a fearsome reputation, Gregg was considered a “hawk” in loyalist circles

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

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

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John Gregg
John Gregg UDA.jpg

John “Grugg” Gregg in 1990
Birth name John Gregg
Nickname(s) “Grugg”, “The Reaper”
Born 1957
Died 1 February 2003 (aged 45–46)
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Buried at Carnmoney Cemetery
Allegiance Ulster Defence Association
Service/branch UDA South East Antrim Brigade
Years of service 1971-2003
Rank Brigadier
Conflict The Troubles
Relations Stuart Gregg (son

Early life

Gregg was born in 1957 and raised in a Protestant family from the Tigers Bay area of North Belfast. Gregg when explaining his family background, revealed that his father, regarded as a quiet man, had trust in the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and British Army but joined the loyalist vigilante groups set up around the start of the Troubles ostensibly to protect the Protestant community from attacks by republicans. His own earliest memory of the Troubles was the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association marches in Derry, a movement to which Gregg and his family were strongly opposed.

Ulster Defence Association

Gregg joined the Ulster Young Militants (UYM), the youth wing of the loyalist paramilitary Ulster Defence Association (UDA) at the age of 14.  He spent six months in jail for rioting in 1977. He later became part of the UDA South East Antrim Brigade. Members of this brigade were believed to be behind the killings of Catholic postman Danny McColgan, Protestant teenager Gavin Brett and Trevor Lowry (the latter kicked to death in the mistaken belief he was a Catholic), and a spate of pipe bomb attacks on the homes of Catholics.

Assassination attempt on Gerry Adams

On 14 March 1984, he severely wounded Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams in an attack supposedly ordered as a response to the earlier killings of Ulster Unionist Party politicians Robert Bradford and Edgar Graham.

Gregg, at the time the head of the UDA commando in Rathcoole, was in charge of a three-man hit team that pulled up alongside Adams’ car near Belfast City Hall and opened fire injuring Adams and his three fellow passengers, who nonetheless escaped to seek treatment at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast.

Policeman outside ward where Gerry Adams was treated
Police guard outside hospital were Adams is treated

Gregg and his team were apprehended almost immediately by a British Army patrol that opened fire on them before ramming their car.[4] The attack had been known in advance by security forces due to a tip-off from informants within Rathcoole; Adams and his co-passengers had survived in part because Royal Ulster Constabulary officers, acting on the informants’ information, had replaced much of the ammunition in the UDA’s Rathcoole weapons dump with low-velocity bullets.

Gregg was jailed for 18 years; however, he only served half his sentence and was released in 1993.

When asked by the BBC in prison if he regretted anything about the shooting, his reply was:

“Only that I didn’t succeed.”

Brigadier

UDA mural in Gregg’s Rathcoole stronghold

Following his release from prison, Gregg returned to Rathcoole where he again became an important figure, taking a central role in the illegal drug trade, with his Rathcoole stronghold a centre of narcotics.Sometime after the Combined Loyalist Military Command of 1994 he succeeded Joe English, who had emerged as a leading figure in the Ulster Democratic Party, as brigadier of the South-East Antrim UDA.

Under Gregg the South-East Antrim Brigade were prepared to ignore the terms of the loyalist ceasefire, such as on 25 April 1997 when he dispatched a five-man team to Carrickfergus to set fire to a Catholic church in retaliation for a similar attack on a Protestant church in East Belfast (this earlier attack had actually been organised by dissident loyalists seeking to provoke the UDA into returning to violence).[9] Gregg’s fearsome reputation earned him the nickname “the Reaper” and he bore a tattoo of the Grim Reaper on his back as a tribute.

Gregg played the bass drum in the UDA-affiliated flute band Cloughfern Young Conquerors, a loyalist flute band which police claimed regularly caused trouble at Orange Order parades. In late August 1997 this band was one of a number of similar flute bands to travel to Derry for the annual Apprentice Boys of Derry march through the city centre.

As the band prepared to take the train home that evening they met members of the Shankill Protestant Boys, another band in town for the parade that was affiliated to the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). Brawls between the two had been frequent and tensions had been growing between the UDA and UVF leading to a drink-fuelled pitched battle between the two groups at the train station.

During the course of the melee a Shankill Protestant Boys member managed to gouge out Gregg’s eye, although it is also claimed that Gregg lost his eye due to a fight with republicans at the same parade.

Anti-Catholic campaigns

Along with Jackie McDonald and Billy McFarland, fellow brigadiers on the UDA’s Inner Council, Gregg was lacking in enthusiasm for the Belfast Agreement when it appeared in 1998. Throughout 1999 his brigade continued to be active, undertaking a pipe bomb campaign against Catholic homes whilst on 12 May members of his brigade shot and wounded a Catholic builder in Carrickfergus under the cover name “Protestant Liberation Force”. Much of this activity was inspired by Gregg’s personal hatred of Catholics.

A senior police source once described him as a man driven by “pure and absolute bigotry”.  Gregg was also characterised as “a bully, a racketeer, and a sectarian bigot who took particular delight in carrying out vicious punishment attacks and randomly targeting Roman Catholics.”

In 2000 he helped to ensure that a proposal before the Inner Council to initiate the decommissioning of weapons was rejected.

Having witnessed demographic shifts in Glengormley and Crumlin, traditionally loyalist majority towns that had come to have nationalist majorities on account of loyalists moving out of Belfast, he determined that the same thing would not happen in Carrickfergus and Larne and so launched a campaign of pipe bomb and arson attacks on Catholic homes there (despite these towns having very small Catholic populations).

The main target proved to be Danny O’Connor, a Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) representative on initially Larne Borough Council and then the Northern Ireland Assembly, whose home and office were attacked at least twelve times by Gregg’s men between 2000 and 2002. Protestant Trevor Lowry (aged 49) was beaten to death in Glengormley by UDA members under Gregg’s command on 11 April 2001 after he was mistaken for a Catholic. Catholic workman Gary Moore was killed in Monkstown in 2000 in another killing attributed to Gregg’s unit.

In late 2001, Gregg’s reign of terror in Rathcoole, where drug dealing, knee-capping and savage beatings were the norm, was challenged by local British Labour Party Councillor Mark Langhammer, who also objected to Gregg’s close links to neo-Nazi groups in Great Britain.

He called on the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to establish an auxiliary police “clinic” on the estate, which had no permanent police building, so as locals concerned about crime could have somewhere to go.  This followed in summer 2002 when a community centre was taken over for this purpose although Gregg’s UDA objected and daubed the building with the word “tout”.

On 4 September Langhammer’s car was blown up outside his Whiteabbey home by Gregg’s men, although Langhammer himself was asleep at the time and no one was injured.

Johnny Adair

Despite the continuing activity of his brigade, and his own earlier maiming, Gregg shared the reluctance of other brigadiers about what he saw as a coming war between the UVF and West Belfast brigadier Johnny Adair Nonetheless he was not keen to antagonise Adair and so, along with McFarland, McDonald and Jimbo Simpson, accepted his invitation to attended a “Loyalist Day of Culture” organised by Adair on the Lower Shankill on 19 August 2000. Old tensions resurfaced however, and after Adair’s men fought with UVF supporters at the Shankill’s Rex Bar, Adair launched a pogrom of the lower Shankill, forcing out all UVF members and their families and initiating a loyalist feud.[22]

Gregg initially remained aloof from the struggle and instead concentrated on his anti-Catholic campaign. However in the second half of 2002 he was dragged into the conflict after Adair made him a target in his own attempts to take full control of the UDA. A UDA member originally from the Woodvale Road had moved to Rathcoole where he had been beaten up after it emerged that he was a friend of Joe English, the former brigadier who had been exiled from the estate by Gregg for his anti-drugs stance.

As a result of the attack, three Woodvale UDA members went to Gregg and complained about the attack. Gregg took this as a threat and, after complaining to senior figures in the West Belfast UDA, ordered the three men to be kneecapped. The shootings raised some anger on the Shankill, where the three were well-liked figures, and Adair sought to exploit this as a method of getting rid of Gregg. He sought to portray Gregg as unstable and thuggish and spread a rumour that he was about to be replaced as brigadier.

By September 2002, Adair had even circulated stories to contacts in the media that Gregg was under death threat from the UDA. In late August, Adair had even managed to have Gregg stood down as Brigadier for “not being militant enough” and replaced by one of Adair’s own associates.

However, this proved short-lived. In October 2002, Gregg was one of the brigadiers who passed the resolution expelling Adair from the UDA for his involvement in the non-fatal shooting of Jim Gray

Adair ignored the expulsion, erecting “West Belfast UDA – Business as Usual” banners on the Shankill Road, whilst continuing his struggles with the remaining brigadiers, Gregg in particular. On 8 December a bomb was found under Gregg’s car, apparently placed there by one of Adair’s allies from the Loyalist Volunteer Force. 

Soon after two pipe bombs were thrown at Gregg’s house, and his friend Tommy Kirkham‘s house was shot at. In response, graffiti appeared around the walls of Rathcoole in December, stating:

“Daft Dog and White beware. The Reaper is coming for you”

as a threat to “Mad Dog” Adair and his ally John White A bomb attack on Adair’s house on 8 January 2003 was blamed on Gregg by White, although Adair himself was returned to prison two days later after a dossier detailing his drug-dealing and racketeering activities was shown to Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Paul Murphy

Shooting death and aftermath

A mural commemorating Gregg and Carson in Cloughfern

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 John Gregg – Funeral
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1 February 2003, along with another UDA member, Robert “Rab” Carson, Gregg was shot dead on Nelson Street, in the old Sailortown district near the Belfast docks, while travelling in a red Toyota taxi after returning from Glasgow where he regularly went to watch Rangers F.C. games. Gregg had been a regular visitor to Ibrox Park for a number of years,

often in the company of Michael Stone, and had even picked up a conviction for violence at an Old Firm match. Gregg’s movements were known to C Company member Alan McCullough who, receiving instruction from Adair (then in HMP Maghaberry), arranged for a hit team to kill Gregg and his associate as the taxi took them from the port of Belfast.

When the taxi stopped at traffic lights close to the motorway, it was rammed by another taxi which had been hijacked earlier on the Shankill Road. Masked gunmen immediately opened fire on the occupants with automatic weapons. Gregg, seated in the backseat, was hit at close range and died instantly.

A mortally-wounded Carson died later in hospital, and taxi driver William McKnight was seriously hurt. Gregg’s 18-year-old son Stuart and another man were also in the vehicle but neither sustained injuries in the shooting attack.  Carson was described by UDA sources as a “dear friend” of Gregg’s and a junior member of the South-East Antrim Brigade.

South East Antrim Brigade mural in Ballymena honouring Gregg

Gregg’s killing proved to be the undoing of Adair. Gregg was the most senior UDA member killed since South Belfast brigadier John McMichael was blown up by the IRA in 1987. Despite his reputation for gangsterism, Gregg’s failed attack on Gerry Adams had afforded him legendary status and, under the direction of Jackie McDonald, the remaining UDA brigadiers concluded that Adair had to be removed.

Gregg was given a paramilitary funeral which was attended by thousands of mourners, including senior UDA members Jackie McDonald, Jim Gray, Sammy Duddy and Michael Stone. Senior members of the Ulster Volunteer Force and Red Hand Commando also attended. A volley of shots was fired over his coffin by UDA gunmen outside his Rathcoole home. The coffin was draped in the Ulster flag and the flag of the UFF. Members of the Cloughfern Young Conquerors dressed in uniform accompanied the coffin.

Afterwards a lone piper led the cortege to Carnmoney Cemetery where he was buried. At the service on 6 February, UVF/RHC representatives joined the UDA leadership in a show of anti-Adair solidarity. That same night Jackie McDonald’s forces invaded the lower Shankill and ran those members of C Company that had remained loyal to Adair, who was still in prison, out of the city. In May of that same year, Alan McCullough was himself killed by the UDA.

Following the conclusion of the feud with Adair the UDA reconstituted its ceasefire in what they christened the “Gregg initiative”. The juxtaposition of this initiative with the name of Gregg was condemned by the mother of a Catholic who had been killed by members of the South-East Antrim Brigade in 2000 as she argued:

“it’s sickening to call it the Gregg initiative when he was a ruthless terrorist….Everyone goes on about Johnny Adair but they’re all as bad as each other”.

In November 2011, Stuart Gregg received £400,000 compensation for psychological trauma due to having witnessed his father’s murder.

Personal life

Gregg was married with one son and two stepdaughters

21st February – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

21st February

Monday 21 February 1972

Justice, Lord Widgery

The first session of the Widgery Tribunal was held in Coleraine, County Derry. A total of 17 sessions were held between the 21 February 1972 and the 14 March 1972. 114 witnesses gave evidence. A further three sessions were held at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on the 16, 17 and 20 March.

Four members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) died when a bomb they were transporting in a car exploded prematurely on the Knockbreda Road, Belfast.

Friday 21 February 1975

Robert Lowry, then Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, was appointed as the Chairman of the Constitutional Convention.

Monday 21 February 1977

Margaret Thatcher, then leader of the Conservative Party, visited Belfast and Derry.

Saturday 21 February 1981

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a series of fire bomb attacks on eight shops in Belfast and three in Derry which resulted in damage to all 11 stores.

Tuesday 21 February 1984

sas shootout

Two members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and a British Army (BA) soldier were killed in a gun battle between an undercover BA unit and the IRA at Dunloy, County Antrim.

Wednesday 21 February 1990

Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and William McCrea, then DUP Member of Parliament (MP), hand in a ‘Hands off the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR)’ petition to Downing Street.

Thursday 21 February 1991

The High Court in Belfast ruled that actions taken by Belfast City Council to try to exclude Sinn Féin (SF) from the business of the Council were illegal.

Monday 21 February 1994

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a mortar attack on an Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) station in Beragh, County Tyrone. The attack caused extensive damage to the police station and to the surrounding village.

In a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) television programme Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State, confirmed that two “unauthorised” meetings had taken place between representatives of the IRA and British officials in 1993. However, Mayhew stated that no official had been given permission to say that Britain intended to withdraw eventually from Northern Ireland.

Wednesday 21 February 1996

An area of the centre of Belfast was evacuated because of a bomb scare. It is the first bomb scare in Northern Ireland since the Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire.

John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), met with members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) Council to discuss the ending of the IRA ceasefire.

The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) published a document outlining proposals for a 90 member elected body to be based in Stormont, Belfast.

Sunday 21 February 1999

Seven people were arrested in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in connection with the Omagh bombing.

[One man was later charged on 24 February with offences related to the bombing but most of those arrested were released without charge by 25 February 1999.]

Wednesday 21 February 2001

Political Discussions

David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), travelled to London for a meeting with Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, at Downing Street. Trimble stated that the Good Friday Agreement was moving towards a review because of a lack of progress on disarmament.

Blair also held meetings with other pro-Agreement parties. Seamus Mallon, then deputy leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), said there was a real risk that the Agreement might collapse within a week.

Thursday 21 February 2002

Matthew Burns (26) was shot and killed and his brother Patrick Burns was shot and injured as they sat in a car in Castlewellan, County Down, at approximately 7.00pm (1900GMT). Matthew Burns had survived a bomb attack and a paramilitary punishment attempt within the past two years.

[Sinn Féin later denied claims that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) had killed Burns over alleged drug-dealing.]

A man was shot in the wrist in a paramilitary ‘punishment’ attack in north Belfast. The man was taken from his house and driven to an alleyway off the New Lodge Road he was shot.

There was major traffic disruption when an explosive device (pipe-bomb) was found on the Castledawson to Toomebridge Road, County Antrim.

The Northern Ireland Policing Board (NIPB) held a meeting to discuss the appointment of a successor to Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). The NIPB was split on the matter of whether Flanagan should be asked to remain on while a successor was found or whether his Deputy should be asked to fill the post in the interim period. It took the casting vote of the Chairman who supported the former option.

Edward_Daly_Bloody_Sunday

Lawyers representing relatives of the victims of Bloody Sunday began an action at the Court of Appeal to challenge a decision by the High Court in Belfast (on Tuesday 19 February 2002) not to prevent police witnesses being screened when giving evidence at the Inquiry.

[The families said that they were challenging the ruling because they believed it could be followed by applications by soldiers to also give evidence from behind screens.]

See Bloody Sunday

Two Irishmen appeared at the Old Bailey in London charged in relation to “real” Irish Republican Army (rIRA) bomb attacks in London and Birmingham during 2001.

[The men were remanded in custody to reappear in court on May 20th. Two other men are in custody charged in connection with the bombs.]

 

———————————————————————

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.

13 People   lost their lives on the 21st February between 1972– 1988

  —————————————————————————

21 February 1972
 Gerard Steele,   (27)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Died in premature bomb explosion while travelling in car along Knockbreda Road, near to Castlereagh Road roundabout, Belfast.

  —————————————————————————

21 February 1972
Gerard Bell,   (20)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Died in premature bomb explosion while travelling in car along Knockbreda Road, near to Castlereagh Road roundabout, Belfast.

  —————————————————————————

21 February 1972
Joseph Magee,  (31)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Died in premature bomb explosion while travelling in car along Knockbreda Road, near to Castlereagh Road roundabout, Belfast.

  —————————————————————————

21 February 1972
Robert Dorrian,   (28)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Died in premature bomb explosion while travelling in car along Knockbreda Road, near to Castlereagh Road roundabout, Belfast.

  —————————————————————————

21 February 1973
Michael Doyle,   (20)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot while on guard duty outside Fort Pegasus British Army (BA) base, Whiterock Road, Ballymurphy, Belfast.

  —————————————————————————

21 February 1973
Leonard Durber,  (26)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: not known (nk)
Died four months after being hit on the head by missile thrown from crowd, during street disturbances, while travelling in British Army (BA) civilian type car, Newtownards Road, Belfast. He was injured on 5 October 1972.

  —————————————————————————

21 February 1974
Hugh Devlin,   (82)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)
Killed in bomb attack on Spa Inn, Spamount Street, New Lodge, Belfast.

  —————————————————————————

21 February 1983


Gordon Wilson,   (29)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed by remote controlled bomb, hidden in derelict building, while on Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) foot patrol, Lower English Street, Armagh.

  —————————————————————————

21 February 1984


Paul Oram,  (26)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in gun battle between undercover British Army (BA) members and Irish Republican Army (IRA) members, Dunloy, near Ballymoney, County Antrim.

  —————————————————————————

21 February 1984


Declan Martin,  (18)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Killed in gun battle between undercover British Army (BA) members and Irish Republican Army (IRA) members, Dunloy, near Ballymoney, County Antrim.

  —————————————————————————

21 February 1984


Henry Hogan,  (21)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Killed in gun battle between undercover British Army (BA) members and Irish Republican Army (IRA) members, Dunloy, near Ballymoney, County Antrim

  —————————————————————————

21 February 1985


Francis Murphy,   (30)

Catholic
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot while driving Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) civilian type minibus, Drumsallen, near Armagh

  —————————————————————————

21 February 1988


Aidan McAnespie,  (24)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot while walking past permanent British Army (BA) Vehicle Check Point (VCP), Aughnacloy, County Tyrone

  —————————————————————————

 

Sean Graham bookmakers’ shooting

Sean Graham bookmakers’ shooting

5 February 1992

On 5 February 1992, a mass shooting took place at the Sean Graham bookmaker‘s shop on the Lower Ormeau Road in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Members of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), a loyalist paramilitary group, opened fire on the customers, killing five civilians and wounding another nine. The shop was in an Irish nationalist area, and all of the victims were local Catholic civilians. The UDA claimed responsibility using the cover name “Ulster Freedom Fighters”, and said the shooting was retaliation for the Teebane bombing, which had been carried out by the Provisional IRA less than three weeks before

 

Background

 

Ulster Freedom Fighters insignia in the Annadale Flats area, January 2012

The start of 1992 had witnessed an intensification in the campaign of violence being carried out by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) under their UFF covername. The group’s first killing that year was on 9 January when Catholic civilian Phillip Campbell was shot dead at his place of work near Moira by a Lisburn-based UDA unit.[1] The same group killed another Catholic civilian, Paul Moran, at the end of the month and a few days later taxi driver Paddy Clarke was killed at his north Belfast home by members of the UDA West Belfast Brigade.[2]

However, the Inner Council of the UDA, which contained the six brigadiers that controlled the organisation, felt that these one-off killings were not sending a strong enough message to republicans and so it sanctioned a higher-profile attack in which a number of people would be killed at once.[2] On this basis the go-ahead was given to attack Sean Graham bookmaker’s shop on the Irish nationalist Lower Ormeau Road. This was a major arterial route in the city and was near the UDA stronghold of Annadale Flats.[2] According to David Lister and Hugh Jordan, the bookmaker’s shop was chosen by West Belfast Brigadier and Inner Council member Johnny Adair because he had strong personal ties with the commanders of the Annadale UDA.[3] A 1993 report commissioned by RUC Special Branch also claimed that Adair was the driving force behind the attack.[3]

The shooting

Names of the dead commemorated on a plaque in Hatfield Street

The attack occurred at 2:20 in the afternoon.[4] A car parked on University Avenue facing the bookmakers and two men, wearing boiler suits and balaclavas, left the car and crossed the Ormeau Road to the shop.[5] One was armed with a VZ.58 Czechoslovak semi-automatic rifle and the other with a 9mm pistol. They entered the shop—in which there were 15 customers—and opened fire, unleashing a total of 44 shots on the assembled victims.[6]

Five Catholic men and boys were killed: Christy Doherty (52), Jack Duffin (66), James Kennedy (15), Peter Magee (18) and William McManus (54).[7] Nine others were wounded, one critically.[4] Four of them died at the scene although 15-year-old Kennedy survived until he reached the hospital, his final words being reported as “tell my mummy that I love her”.[8] Kennedy’s mother Kathleen died two years later after becoming a recluse. Her husband, James (Sr.), blamed his wife’s death on the shooting by claiming “the bullets that killed James didn’t just travel in distance, they travelled in time. Some of those bullets never stopped travelling”.[8]

One of the wounded described the shooting to British journalist Peter Taylor:

“There was a right crowd in [the betting shop] and I cracked a joke with a couple of them – they were like that, always laughing and carrying on. I had only been in for about twenty or twenty-five minutes when the shooting started – I was standing next to the door with a docket in my hand studying the form. At first I thought it was a hold-up but then the shooting started and somebody yelled, ‘Hit the deck’. I just lay there and prayed that the shooting would stop. It seemed to go on for a lifetime. There wasn’t a sound for a few seconds – everybody was so stunned, but then the screaming started. People were yelling out in agony. You could hardly see anything. The room was full of gun smoke and the smell would have choked you”.[9]

In a separate incident, a unit of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) had travelled to the area at the time of the attack with the intention of killing a local Sinn Féin activist based on intelligence they had received that he returned home about that time every day. The attack was abandoned, however, when the car carrying the UVF members was passed by speeding Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) vehicles and ambulances. The UVF members, who had already retrieved their weapons for the attack, were said to be livid with the UDA for not co-ordinating with them beforehand and effectively spoiling their chance to kill a leading local republican.[10]

  —————————————————————————

The Victims

  —————————————————————————

05 February 1992


Peter Magee,  (18)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)
Shot during gun attack on Sean Graham’s Bookmaker’s shop, Ormeau Road, Belfast

  —————————————————————————

05 February 1992


 Jack Duffin,   (66)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)
Shot during gun attack on Sean Graham’s Bookmaker’s shop, Ormeau Road, Belfast

  —————————————————————————

05 February 1992


James Kennedy,  (15)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)
Shot during gun attack on Sean Graham’s Bookmaker’s shop, Ormeau Road, Belfast

  —————————————————————————

05 February 1992


William McManus,   (54)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)
Shot during gun attack on Sean Graham’s Bookmaker’s shop, Ormeau Road, Belfast

  —————————————————————————

05 February 1992


Christy Doherty,  (52)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)
Shot during gun attack on Sean Graham’s Bookmaker’s shop, Ormeau Road, Belfast

  —————————————————————————

Aftermath

Memorial stone laid in February 2012

A UDA statement in the aftermath of the attack claimed that the killings were justified as the Lower Ormeau was “one of the IRA‘s most active areas”.[8] The statement also included the phrase “remember Teebane”, suggesting that they intended the killings as retaliation for the Teebane bombing in County Tyrone less than three weeks earlier. In that attack, the IRA had killed eight Protestant men who were repairing a British Army base.[11] The same statement had also been yelled by the gunmen as they ran from the betting shop.[8] Alex Kerr, who was then UDA Brigadier for South Belfast, released a second statement about a month after the attack in which he sought to justify the killings. Kerr stated that “the IRA was extremely active in the lower Ormeau and the nationalist population there shielded them. They paid the price for Teebane”. He added that if there were any further bombings like that at Teebane then the UDA would retaliate in the same way as at Sean Graham’s.[12]

See Teebane Bus Bomb

teebane2
Teebane Bus Bomb

 

 

The idea that the killings were justified because of Teebane was shunned by Rev. Ivor Smith, a Presbyterian minister who was based in the area and who worked with the families of the bomb victims. He said that the UDA claim was “like a knife through the heart. We were absolutely appalled at the thought that somebody would try to do something like that and justify it by bringing in Teebane. As far as the families were concerned, it was very definitely not ‘in my name'”.[11] A letter expressing deep sympathy from Betty Gilchrist, a Protestant whose husband had been killed at Teebane, was read out at the funeral of Jack Duffin.[12] Alasdair McDonnell, a general practitioner and Social Democratic and Labour Party councillor in the area, also suggested that the attack had been in response to Teebane. However, he was strongly rebuked by the Lower Ormeau Residents Action Group, a residents’ association with Sinn Féin links, for seemingly justifying the killings with this claim.[13]

When a July 1992 Orange Order march passed the scene of the shooting, Orangemen shouted pro-UDA slogans and held aloft five fingers as a taunt to residents over the five deaths.[4][14] The claim is corroborated by Henry McDonald and Jim Cusack. The images of Orangemen and loyalist flute band members holding up five fingers as they passed the shop were beamed around the world and was a public relations disaster for the Order.[15] Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said that the actions of the marchers “would have disgraced a tribe of cannibals”.[14] The incident led to a more concerted effort by Lower Ormeau residents to have the marches banned from the area, which later succeeded.[15]

No one was ever convicted for the killings although, locally, blame fell on Joe Bratty and his sidekick Raymond Elder, the two leading UDA figures in the Annadale Flats.[12] McDonald and Cusack suggest that, whilst Bratty had been the brains behind the attack, the gunmen he had used were actually from East Belfast and that a UDA member later convicted of supplying one of the guns had been at the shooting.[12] Lister and Jordan, however, claim that one of the gunmen was actually from west Belfast and was supplied to Bratty by Adair.[3] Bratty was charged with involvement in the attack although the charges were withdrawn.[16] Following his release from custody, Adair organised a lavish celebration party for Bratty in Scotland where he allegedly gave Bratty a gold ring inscribed with the initials UFF.[3]

The IRA did not immediately retaliate although in a statement they claimed to know the identity of the killers and claimed that they would “take them out when the time was right”.[17] When Bratty and Elder were shot dead by the IRA in July 1994, revellers in the Lower Ormeau hailed the attack as revenge for Sean Graham’s.[18]

On 5 February 2002 a plaque was erected on the side of the bookmaker’s shop in Hatfield Street carrying the names of the five victims and the Irish language inscription Go ndéana Dia trócaire ar a n-anamacha (“May God have mercy on their souls”). A small memorial garden was later added.[19] The unveiling ceremony, which took place on the tenth anniversary of the attack, was accompanied by a two-minute silence and was attended by relatives of the dead and survivors of the attack.[20] A new memorial stone was laid on 5 February 2012 to coincide with the publication of a booklet calling for justice for the killings.[21]

Historical Enquiries Team findings

The attack was one of a number to be investigated by the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) in 2010. It found that a Browning pistol used by the gunmen had been given to them by the police. UDA quartermaster and police agent William Stobie had handed the gun to police and the police had given it back to him. Police “may have thought they had tampered with it to prevent it from being used”. According to the HET report this operation “would have required both the authority of a senior police officer and a recovery plan, generally short-term and where possible supported by the security forces within a short period of time. Clearly in this case, there was a significant failure and the repercussions were tragic and devastating”. The gun was, the report continued, also used in other UDA killings.[22]

Alex Maskey, a Sinn Féin MLA for the area, commented that “the finding by the HET that the Browning pistol used by the UDA in this attack was handed back to them by the RUC will come as no surprise to the people of the Lower Ormeau area who have long known that a high degree of collusion took place in this attack”.[22]

Officers from the HET were told by police that the assault rifle used in the attack had been “disposed of”. However, it was later discovered on display in the Imperial War Museum.[23]

Jackie McDonald

In February 2012 Jackie McDonald, the incumbent commander of the UDA South Belfast Brigade (the area in which the shop is located), admitted that the victims of the shooting had been innocent. However, McDonald said that he could not apologise for the attack, arguing that as he was imprisoned at the time he played no part in what had happened.[11] In an earlier interview with Peter Taylor, McDonald suggested that it was the rise in sectarian killings and attacks such as that at Sean Graham’s that “brought about the ceasefire at the end of the day”.[9]

Attack on James Murray’s bookmakers

On the afternoon of 14 November 1992, the UDA carried out another attack on a betting shop in Belfast. The target was James Murray’s betting shop on the Oldpark Road in the north of the city, which was used mostly by Catholics.[24] One gunman fired into the shop from the doorway with an automatic weapon, while another smashed the window and threw a grenade inside. As he did so, he shouted “Yous deserve it, yous Fenian bastards!”.[25] Two Catholic civilians were killed outright and another died in hospital shortly after;[25] all of them were elderly men.[26] Thirteen others were wounded, some seriously. Like the shooting at Sean Graham’s, the November attack had also been planned by Adair. It “was followed by a raucous celebration in a loyalist club in south Belfast with Adair occupying centre stage”.[25] According to McDonald and Cusack the attack on this shop, which also had a few Protestant patrons who were present during the shooting, was carried out by Stephen McKeag.[27]