Tag Archives: udr

UDR – Ballydugan Four – Lest We Forget!

LEST WE FORGET!

udr 9th april 1990

UDR – Ballydugan Four  – Slaughtered by the IRA

1990 Downpatrick Roadside Bomb

 

Related image

On 9 April 1990 the Provisional IRA (PIRA) detonated a massive IED roadside bomb under an Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) mobile patrol which killed four members of the UDR. It was the worst attack against the UDR since seven years previously when, in July 1983, four soldiers of the same regiment were killed in a similar attack near Ballygawley.

It was also one of the worst attacks against the security forces in County Down since the Warrenpoint Ambush of August 1979 when 18 British soldiers were killed and six injured.

The Attack

Pte John Birch (28), LCpl John Bradley (25), LCpl Michael Adams (23) and Pte Steven Smart (23), all members of the Ulster Defence Regiment were killed in an attack on their patrol on the morning of 9 April 1990.

 

The Innocent Victims 

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09 April 1990


John Bradley  (25)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in land mine attack on Ulster Defence Regiment mobile patrol, Ballydugan Road, Downpatrick, County Down

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09 April 1990


John Birch  (28)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in land mine attack on Ulster Defence Regiment mobile patrol, Ballydugan Road, Downpatrick, County Down.

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09 April 1990


Steven Smart   (23)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in land mine attack on Ulster Defence Regiment mobile patrol, Ballydugan Road, Downpatrick, County Down.

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09 April 1990
Michael Adams   (23)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in land mine attack on Ulster Defence Regiment mobile patrol, Ballydugan Road, Downpatrick, County Down.

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The men were killed in a Provisional IRA land mine attack on their mobile patrol on the Ballydugan Road, Downpatrick. They were travelling as part of a two Land Rover patrol from Ballykinlar to Downpatrick when the PIRA used a command wire to detonate a 1000lb landmine bomb hidden in a culvert beneath the road which exploded under the men’s Land Rover killing them instantly. Four UDR soldiers in the lead Land rover were treated for injuries along with two civilians passing by.

The force of the explosion was so powerful that it launched the Land Rover over a hedge and 30 yards into a field and left a crater 50 feet long, 40 feet wide and 15 feet deep

See : 9th April – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

 

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Parliament logo

It is always a privilege to speak in this House on any issue, but on this occasion I speak about something I have wanted to raise for some time: the case of the four Ulster Defence Regiment men who were murdered at Ballydugan, outside Downpatrick.

Four men jump into a vehicle and head to the next part of their job. They have worked together for some time, and the craic is great as they journey through the beautiful countryside on an idyllic morning. Just as any of us might do on any given day, they leave behind wives, children and loved ones to do their job and earn their pay. There the similarity ends, however, as the atrocity unfolds.

This is an important issue, and I am sure that Members in the House will heed its significance. I declare an interest as a former member of the Ulster Defence Regiment. I served in it for three years, as did some of my colleagues on this side of the House. Other hon. and gallant Members in this House have served in other regiments, and I am pleased that they have made an effort to come to the Chamber as well.

On the morning of 9 April 1990, Private John Birch, Lance Corporal John Bradley, Private Michael Adams and Private Steven Smart, all members of the Ulster Defence Regiment, were murdered by the Provisional IRA in an attack on their mobile patrol on Ballydugan Road, Downpatrick. The four young soldiers, all in their 20s, were travelling as part of a two Land Rover patrol en route from Ballykinlar to Downpatrick when a 1,000 lb bomb placed in a culvert beneath the road—I repeat, a 1,000 lb bomb; imagine the magnitude of that—was detonated by command wire. The explosion was so powerful that it lifted the soldiers’ Land Rover 30 ft into the air and hurled it 30 yards into a field, killing them instantly and leaving a crater 50 ft long, 40 ft wide and 15 ft deep.

Those are the facts of what happened on that fateful morning. These are the faces of those whose lives were destroyed and whose family’s lives were torn apart, never to be the same. The men in the service of Queen and country, much like the officer on duty in this place last month, were simply doing their job and nothing else; there were no links to anything other than their desire to wear a uniform and their bravery in serving the community in Northern Ireland, which we salute.

I remember three of these men very well. Lance Corporal John Bradley, 25, of Cregagh, Belfast, was married with a two-year-old son and a three-month-old daughter. He had recently been promoted, having served four years with the Ulster Defence Regiment. He had served with the Royal Highland Fusiliers, and came from Port Glasgow in Renfrewshire. Private John Birch, 28, was married with a four-year-old son. He had joined the regiment in February the previous year, and came from Ballywalter, where I was raised. The fact of the matter is that I can remember when John Birch was born. His wife was expecting again. Private Steven Smart, 23, was from Newtownards, the main town of my Strangford constituency. He had served for 18 months in the regiment. His mother is dead, but his father is still living.

See: here for more details

See : 9th April – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

 

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13th August – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

13th August

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

Wednesday 13 August 1969

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

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

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

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

Friday 13 August 1971

Hugh Herron

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

Tuesday 13 August 1974

   

Dennis Leach  & Michael Southern

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

Wednesday 13 August 1975

Bayardo_Bar_memorial 400

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

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

See The Bayardo Bar attack

Saturday 13 August 1983

James Mallon ( INLA)

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

Monday 13 August 1984

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

Wednesday 13 August 1986

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

Friday 13 August 1993

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

Saturday 13 August 1994

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

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

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

“They haven’t gone away, you know”.

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

Thursday 13 August 1998

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

Friday 13 August 1999

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

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

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

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

Sunday 13 August 2000

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

Monday 13 August 2001 Suspected IRA Men Arrested in Colombia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

collage

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Remembering all innocent victims of the Troubles

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

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

– Thomas Campbell

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

– To  the Paramilitaries  –

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

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

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13 August 1971


Huge Herron,   (31)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

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

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13 August 1972
Thomas Madden, (48)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

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

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13 August 1973

William McIlveen,   (36)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

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

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13 August 1974

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

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

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13 August 1974

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

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

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13 August 1975

William Gracey,  (63)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

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

See below for more details on this attack

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13 August 1975

 Samuel Gunning,   (55)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

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

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13 August 1975

Hugh Harris,   (21)

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

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13 August 1975

 Joanne McDowell,   (29)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

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

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13 August 1975
Linda Boyle,  (19)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

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

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

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

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13 August 1983

James Mallon,  (28)

Catholic
Status: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA),

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

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See :  The Bayardo Bar attack

The Bayardo Bar attack

Bayardo Bar memorial.jpg

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

Four Protestant civilians and one UVF member were killed.

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

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

Background

Main article: The Troubles

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

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

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

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

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

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

The attack

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Retaliation and counter-retaliation

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

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

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

Convictions

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

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

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

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

See: The Bayardo Bar attack

9th August – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

9th August

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

Monday 9 August 1971

Internment

Operation Demetrius

Operation Demetrius was a British Army operation in Northern Ireland on 9–10 August 1971, during the Troubles. It involved the mass arrest and internment (imprisonment without trial) of 342 people suspected of being involved with the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which was waging a campaign against the state. It was proposed by the Northern Ireland Government and approved by the British Government. Armed soldiers launched dawn raids throughout Northern Ireland, sparking four days of violence in which 20 civilians, two IRA members and two British soldiers were killed. All of those arrested were Catholic Irish nationalists. Due to faulty intelligence, many had no links with the IRA. Ulster loyalist paramilitaries were also carrying out acts of violence, which were mainly directed against Catholics and Irish nationalists, but no loyalists were included in the sweep

See below for additional details on Internment

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Internment, 17 People Killed

In a series of raids across Northern Ireland, 342 people were arrested and taken to makeshift camps as Internment was re-introduced in Northern Ireland. There was an immediate upsurge of violence and 17 people were killed during the next 48 hours. Of these 10 were Catholic civilians who were shot dead by the British Army (BA).

Hugh Mullan (38) was the first Catholic priest to be killed in the conflict when he was shot dead by the British Army as he was giving the last rites to a wounded man.

Winston Donnell (22) became the first Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) solider to die in ‘the Troubles’ when he was shot by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) near Clady, County Tyrone.

[There were more arrests in the following days and months. Internment was to continue until 5 December 1975. During that time 1,981 people were detained; 1,874 were Catholic / Republican, while 107 were Protestant / Loyalist. Internment had been proposed by Unionist politicians as the solution to the security situation in Northern Ireland but was to lead to a very high level of violence over the next few years and to increased support for the IRA. Even members of the security forces remarked on the drawbacks of internment.]

Wednesday 9 August 1972

There was widespread and severe rioting in Nationalist areas on the anniversary of the introduction of Internment.

Friday 9 August 1974

A report on the Dublin bombings investigation was completed by the Garda Síochána (the Irish police).

[A number of further inquiries were carried out by the Garda Síochána between 1974 and 1976 but nothing of consequence resulted.]

Tuesday 9 August 1977

The Queen began a two-day visit to Northern Ireland as part of her jubilee celebrations. It was the first visit by the Queen for 11 years.

Saturday 9 August 1980

Following protests on the ninth anniversary of Internment there was continuing violence and three people were killed and 18 injured in a number of incidents.

Sunday 9 August 1981

Liam Canning (19), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a covername used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), as he walked along Alliance Avenue, Ardoyne, Belfast.

Peter Maguinness (41), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by a plastic bullet fired by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) while he was outside his home on the Shore Road, Greencastle, Belfast.

There were continuing riots in Nationalist areas of Northern Ireland.

Tuesday 9 August 1983

In the run-up to the anniversary of the introduction of Internment in 1971 there was rioting in Nationalist areas of Belfast. A young Catholic man was shot dead by a British soldier following an altercation between local people and a British Army (BA) foot patrol on the Whiterock Road, Ballymurphy, Belfast.

Thursday 9 August 1984

Martin Galvin, then leader of NORAID (Irish Northern Aid Committee), appeared at a rally in Derry despite being banned from the UK.

Galvin appeared at another rally in Belfast on 12 August 1984.

Wednesday 9 August 1989

Seamus Duffy (15) was killed by a plastic bullet fired by a member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).

Friday 9 August 1991

Garry Lynch (28), who was an election worker with the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP), was shot dead in an attack at his workplace in Derry.

Wednesday 9 August 1995

Albert Reynolds, the former Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), said that the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons had not been highlighted in the talks leading to the Downing Street Declaration. He further stated that if the issue had been raised he would not have signed the Declaration.

Monday 19 August 1996

Jimmy Smith, one of those who had escaped from the Maze prison in 1983, was extradited from the United States of America.

Saturday 9 August 1997

The Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) planted a hoax van bomb on Craigavon Bridge in Derry, prior to the start of the Apprentice Boys’ parade through the city. When the march got underway there were disturbances when Loyalist bandsmen broke ranks to attack Nationalist residents who were observing the parade. An Apprentice Boys’ parade through Dunloy, County Antrim, was rerouted by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).

The Royal Black Preceptory decided to cancel a parade in Newtownbutler, County Fermanagh, because of protests by the Nationalist residents of the village.

Monday 9 August 1999

The Director of Public Prosecutions decided not to press charges against Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers who were accused of assaulting David Adams, an Irish Republican Army (IRA) member.

Adams had received £30,000 compensations for injuries, including a broken leg, inflicted upon him while being held in Castlereagh Holding Centre. Adams had been arrested in 1994 and later sentenced to 25 years for conspiracy to murder a senior RUC detective.

A man from north Belfast appeared in Belfast High Court and was charged with the murder of Charles Bennett on 30 July 1999.

The Northern Ireland Parades Commission decided to allow an Apprentice Boys march down the lower Ormeau Road, Belfast, on 14 August 1999 despite the opposition of local Nationalist residents. Delegates from the Apprentice Boys of Derry and the Bogside Residents’ Group met in an effort to reach a compromise on the arrangement for the forthcoming parade in Derry.

Thursday 9 August 2001

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued a statement about its meetings with the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD). David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), said the statement did not go far enough and his party wanted to see a beginning to actual decommissioning.

The UUP and Sinn Féin (SF), and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), held separate meetings with John Reid, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, at Hillsborough Castle, County Down. The UUP argued for a suspension of the institutions of devolved government, whereas SF favoured fresh elections to the Assembly.

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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.

.26 People lost their lives on the 9th August between 1971 – 1991

9th August

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09 August 1971
William Atwell,  (40)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Republican group (REP)
Security man. Killed by nail bomb thrown into Mackie’s factory, Springfield Road, Belfast.

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09 August 1971
 Sarah Worthington,  (50)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot in her home, Velsheda Park, Ardoyne, Belfast.

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09 August 1971
Leo McGuigan,   (16)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot while walking along Estoril Park, Ardoyne, Belfast.

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09 August 1971

Patrick McAdorey,   (24)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

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

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09 August 1971
John Beattie,  (17)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot, from British Army (BA) observation post in Clonard Monastery, while driving van along Ashmore Street, Shankill, Belfast.

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09 August 1971

Francis Quinn,   (20)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot during gun battle, Springfield Park, Ballymurphy, Belfast, by BA snipers from the nearby New Barnsley British Army (BA) base, while going to the aid of a wounded man.

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09 August 1971

Hugh Mullan,  (38)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Catholic Priest. Shot during gun battle, Springfield Park, Ballymurphy, Belfast, by BA snipers from the nearby New Barnsley British Army (BA) base, while going to the aid of a wounded man.

————————————–

09 August 1971
Francis McGuinness,   (17)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot during street disturbances, Finaghy Road North, Belfast.

————————————–

09 August 1971

Desmond Healey, (14)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot during street disturbances, Lenadoon Avenue, Belfast.

————————————–

09 August 1971

 Joan Connolly,   (50)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot as she stood opposite New Barnsley British Army (BA) base, Springfield Road, Belfast.

————————————–

09 August 1971
Daniel Teggart,  (44)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot as he stood opposite New Barnsley British Army (BA) base, Springfield Road, Belfast.

————————————–

09 August 1971
Noel Phillips,   (20)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot as he stood opposite New Barnsley British Army (BA) base, Springfield Road, Belfast.

————————————–

09 August 1971
 Joseph Murphy,  (41)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot as he stood opposite New Barnsley British Army (BA) base, Springfield Road, Belfast. He died on 22 August 1971.

————————————–

09 August 1971
Winston Donnell,  (22)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot while at British Army (BA) Vehicle Check Point (VCP), Clady near Strabane, County Tyrone.

————————————–

09 August 1972

Colm Murtagh, (24)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Died in premature bomb explosion in garage, Dublin Road, Newry, County Down.

————————————–

09 August 1973

 Henry Cunningham,   (17) nfNI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
From County Donegal. Shot during gun attack on his firm’s van, from bridge overlooking the M2 motorway, near Templepatrick, County Antrim.

————————————–

09 August 1977

Paul McWilliams,  (16)

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

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot from British Army (BA) observation post, in Corry’s Timber Yard, Springhill Avenue, Ballymurphy, Belfast

————————————–

09 August 1977
Loius Harrison (20) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot by sniper while standing outside Henry Taggart British Army (BA) base, Springfield Road, Ballymurphy, Belfast.

————————————–

09 August 1980
James McCarren,  (19)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
Shot during sniper attack on British Army (BA) mobile patrol, Shaw’s Road, Andersonstown, Belfast.

————————————–

09 August 1980

Brien Brown,   (29) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed by remote controlled bomb while on British Army (BA) foot patrol, Forkhill, County Armagh.

————————————–

09 August 1980

Michael Donnelly,  (21)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot by plastic bullet at the junction of Leeson Street and Falls Road, Belfast.

————————————–

09 August 1981
Liam Canning,  (19)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)
Shot while walking along Alliance Avenue, Ardoyne, Belfast.

————————————–

09 August 1981

Peter McGuinness,  (41)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)
Shot by plastic bullet outside his home, Shore Road, Greencastle, Belfast.

————————————–

09 August 1983

Thomas Reilly,  (22)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot during altercation between local people and British Army (BA) foot patrol, Whiterock Road, Ballymurphy, Belfast.

————————————–

09 August 1989

Seamus Duffy,   (15)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)
Shot by plastic bullet while walking along Dawson Street, New Lodge, Belfast

————————————–

09 August 1991

 Lynch, Gary (27)  

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Association (UDA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Also Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) member. Shot at his workplace, Foyle Meats, Lisahally, Derry.

————————————–


Operation Demetrius

Internment

Operation Demetrius was a British Army operation in Northern Ireland on 9–10 August 1971, during the Troubles. It involved the mass arrest and internment (imprisonment without trial) of 342 people suspected of being involved with the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which was waging a campaign against the state. It was proposed by the Northern Ireland Government and approved by the British Government. Armed soldiers launched dawn raids throughout Northern Ireland, sparking four days of violence in which 20 civilians, two IRA members and two British soldiers were killed. All of those arrested were Catholic Irish nationalists. Due to faulty intelligence, many had no links with the IRA. Ulster loyalist paramilitaries were also carrying out acts of violence, which were mainly directed against Catholics and Irish nationalists, but no loyalists were included in the sweep.

The introduction of internment, the way the arrests were carried out, and the abuse of those arrested, led to mass protests and a sharp increase in violence. Amid the violence, about 7,000 people fled or were forced out of their homes. The interrogation techniques used on the internees were described by the European Commission of Human Rights in 1976 as torture, but the European Court of Human Rights ruled on appeal in 1978 that while the techniques were “inhuman and degrading”, they did not constitute torture.

It was later revealed that the British Government had withheld information from the ECHR and that a policy of torture had in fact been authorized by British Government ministers. In December 2014 the Irish government asked the European Court of Human Rights to revise its 1978 judgement.

The policy of internment was to last until December 1975 and during that time 1,981 people were interned;1,874 were Catholic/Irish republican, while 107 were Protestant/loyalist. The first Protestant/loyalist internees were detained in February 1973.

Background and planning

Internment had been used a number of times during Northern Ireland‘s (and the Republic of Ireland‘s) history, but had not yet been used during the Troubles, which began in the late 1960s. Ulster loyalist paramilitaries such as the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) had been engaged in a low-level violent campaign since 1966. After the August 1969 riots, the British Army (BA) was deployed on the streets to bolster the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). Up until this point the Irish Republican Army (IRA) had been largely inactive. However, as the violence and political situation worsened, the IRA was divided over how to deal with it. It split into two factions: the Provisional IRA and Official IRA. In 1970–71, the Provisionals launched an armed campaign against the British Army and the RUC. The Officials stated that their policy was one of defence.

During 1970–71 there were numerous clashes between state forces and the two wings of the IRA, and between the IRA and loyalists. Most loyalist attacks were directed against Catholic civilians and the Irish nationalist/republican community, but they also clashed with state forces on a number of occasions.

The idea of re-introducing internment for republican militants came from the unionist government of Northern Ireland, headed by Prime Minister Brian Faulkner. It was agreed to re-introduce internment at a meeting between Faulkner and UK Prime Minister Edward Heath on 5 August 1971. The British cabinet recommended “balancing action”, such as the arrest of loyalist militants, the calling in of weapons held by (generally unionist) rifle clubs in Northern Ireland and an indefinite ban on parades (most of which were held by unionist/loyalist groups). However, Faulkner argued that a ban on parades was unworkable, that the rifle clubs posed no security risk and that there was no evidence of loyalist terrorism

It was eventually agreed that there would be a six-month ban on parades but no targeting of loyalists and that internment would go ahead on 9 August, in an operation carried out by the British Army.

On the initial list of those to be arrested, which was drawn up by RUC Special Branch and MI5, there were 450 names, but only 350 of these were found. Key figures on the list, and many who never appeared on them, had got wind of the swoop before it began. The list included leaders of the non-violent civil rights movement such as Ivan Barr and Michael Farrell. But, as Tim Pat Coogan noted,

What they did not include was a single Loyalist. Although the UVF had begun the killing and bombing, this organisation was left untouched, as were other violent Loyalist satellite organisations such as Tara, the Shankill Defence Association and the Ulster Protestant Volunteers. It is known that Faulkner was urged by the British to include a few Protestants in the trawl but he refused.

In the case brought to the European Commission of Human Rights by the Irish government against the government of the United Kingdom, it was conceded that Operation Demetrius was planned and implemented from the highest levels of the British government and that specially trained personnel were sent to Northern Ireland to familiarize the local forces in what became known as the ‘five techniques‘, methods of interrogation described by opponents as “a euphemism for torture”.

Legal basis

The internments were initially carried out under Regulations 11 and 12 of 1956 and Regulation 10 of 1957 (the Special Powers Regulations), made under the authority of the Special Powers Act. The Detention of Terrorists Order of 7 November 1972, made under the authority of the Temporary Provisions Act, was used after direct rule was instituted.

Internees arrested without trial pursuant to Operation Demetrius could not complain to the European Commission of Human Rights about breaches of Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) because on 27 June 1957, the UK lodged a notice with the Council of Europe declaring that there was a “public emergency within the meaning of Article 15(1) of the Convention.”

The operation and immediate aftermath

The HMS Maidstone, a prison ship docked at Belfast where many internees were sent

Operation Demetrius began on Monday 9 August at about 4AM.

The operation was in two parts:

In the first wave of raids across Northern Ireland, 342 people were arrested. Many of those arrested reported that they and their families were assaulted, verbally abused and threatened by the soldiers. There were claims of soldiers smashing their way into houses without warning and firing baton rounds through doors and windows. Many of those arrested also reported being ill-treated during their three-day detention at the holding centres. They complained of being beaten, verbally abused, threatened, harassed by dogs, denied sleep, and starved.

Some reported being forced to run a gauntlet of baton-wielding soldiers, being forced to run an ‘obstacle course’, having their heads forcefully shaved, being kept naked, being burnt with cigarettes, having a sack placed over their heads for long periods, having a rope kept around their necks, having the barrel of a gun pressed against their heads, being dragged by the hair, being trailed behind armoured vehicles while barefoot, and being tied to armoured trucks as a human shield.[12][13] Some were hooded, beaten and then thrown from a helicopter. They were told they were hundreds of feet in the air, but were actually only a few feet from the ground.

The operation sparked an immediate upsurge of violence, which was said to be the worst since the August 1969 riots. The British Army came under sustained attack from Irish nationalist/republican rioters and gunmen, especially in Belfast. According to journalist Kevin Myers:

“Insanity seized the city. Hundreds of vehicles were hijacked and factories were burnt. Loyalist and IRA gunmen were everywhere”.

People blocked roads and streets with burning barricades to stop the British Army entering their neighbourhoods. In Derry, barricades were again erected around Free Derry and “for the next 11 months these areas effectively seceded from British control”.  Between 9 and 11 August, 24 people were killed or fatally wounded: 20 civilians (14 Catholics, 6 Protestants), two members of the Provisional IRA (shot dead by the British Army), and two members of the British Army (shot dead by the Provisional IRA).

A mural commemorating those killed in the Ballymurphy Massacre during Operation Demetrius

 

Of the civilians killed, 17 were killed by the British Army and the other three were killed by unknown attackers. In West Belfast’s Ballymurphy housing estate, 11 Catholic civilians were killed by 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment between 9 and 11 August in an episode that has become known as the Ballymurphy Massacre. Another flashpoint was Ardoyne in North Belfast, where soldiers shot dead three people on 9 August.

Many Protestant families fled Ardoyne and about 200 burnt their homes as they left, lest they “fall into Catholic hands”.Protestant and Catholic families fled “to either side of a dividing line, which would provide the foundation for the permanent peaceline later built in the area”.  Catholic homes were burnt in Ardoyne and elsewhere too. About 7000 people, most of them Catholics, were left homeless.

About 2500 Catholic refugees fled south of the border, where new refugee camps were set up.

By 13 August, media reports indicated that the violence had begun to wane, seemingly due to exhaustion on the part of the IRA and security forces.

On 15 August, the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) announced that it was starting a campaign of civil disobedience in response to the introduction of internment. By 17 October, it was estimated that about 16,000 households were withholding rent and rates for council houses as part of the campaign of civil disobedience.

On 16 August, over 8000 workers went on strike in Derry in protest at internment. Joe Cahill, then Chief of Staff of the Provisional IRA, held a press conference during which he claimed that only 30 Provisional IRA members had been intern

On 22 August, in protest against internment, about 130 non-Unionist councillors announced that they would no longer sit on district councils. The SDLP also withdrew its representatives from a number of public bodies. On 19 October, five Northern Ireland Members of Parliament (MPs) began a 48-hour hunger strike against internment. The protest took place near 10 Downing Street in London. Among those taking part were John Hume, Austin Currie, and Bernadette Devlin.

Protests would continue until internment was ended in December 1975.

Long-term effects

Anti-internment mural in the Bogside area of Derry

 

The backlash against internment contributed to the decision of the British Government under Prime Minister Edward Heath to suspend the Northern Ireland Government and replace it with direct rule from Westminster, under the authority of a British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. This took place in 1972.

Following the suspension of the Northern Ireland Government and Parliament, internment was continued by the direct rule administration until 5 December 1975. During this time a total of 1,981 people were interned: 1,874 were from a Catholic or Irish nationalist background, while 107 were from a Protestant or Ulster loyalist background.

Historians generally view the period of internment as inflaming sectarian tensions in Northern Ireland, while failing in its goal of arresting key members of the IRA. Many of the people arrested had no links whatsoever with the IRA, but their names appeared on the list of those to be arrested through bungling and incompetence. The list’s lack of reliability and the arrests that followed, complemented by reports of internees being abused, led to more people identifying with the IRA in the Irish nationalist community and losing hope in other methods.

After Operation Demetrius, recruits came forward in huge numbers to join the Provisional and Official wings of the IRA. Internment also led to a sharp increase in violence. In the eight months before the operation, there were 34 conflict-related deaths in Northern Ireland. In the four months following it, 140 were killed.

A serving officer of the British Royal Marines declared:

It (internment) has, in fact, increased terrorist activity, perhaps boosted IRA recruitment, polarised further the Catholic and Protestant communities and reduced the ranks of the much needed Catholic moderates.

In terms of loss of life, 1972 was the most violent of the Troubles. The fatal march on Bloody Sunday (30 January 1972) in Derry, when 14 unarmed civil rights protesters were shot dead by British paratroopers, was an anti-internment march.

Interrogation of internees

All of those arrested were interrogated by the British Army and RUC. However, twelve internees were then chosen for further “deep interrogation”, using sensory deprivation. This took place at a secret interrogation centre, which was later revealed to be Shackleton Barracks, outside Ballykelly. In October, a further two internees were chosen for deep interrogation. These fourteen became known as “the Hooded Men”, or “the Guineapigs”.

After undergoing the same treatment as the other internees, the men were hooded, handcuffed and flown to the base by helicopter. On the way, soldiers severely beat them and threatened to throw them from the helicopter. When they arrived they were stripped naked, photographed, and examined by a doctor.

For seven days, when not being interrogated, they were kept hooded and handcuffed in a cold cell and subjected to a continuous loud hissing noise. Here they were forced to stand in a stress position for many hours and were repeatedly beaten on all parts of their body. They were deprived of sleep, food and drink. Some of them also reported being kicked in the genitals, having their heads banged against walls, being shot at with blank rounds, and being threatened with injections. The result was severe physical and mental exhaustion, severe anxiety, depression, hallucinations, disorientation and repeated loss of consciousness.

The interrogation methods used on the men became known as the ‘five techniques‘. Training and advice regarding the five techniques came from senior intelligence officials in the British government. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) defined the five techniques as follows:

  • (a) wall-standing: forcing the detainees to remain for periods of some hours in a “stress position”, described by those who underwent it as being “spreadeagled against the wall, with their fingers put high above the head against the wall, the legs spread apart and the feet back, causing them to stand on their toes with the weight of the body mainly on the fingers”;
  • (b) hooding: putting a black or navy coloured bag over the detainees’ heads and, at least initially, keeping it there all the time except during interrogation;
  • (c) subjection to noise: pending their interrogations, holding the detainees in a room where there was a continuous loud and hissing noise;
  • (d) deprivation of sleep: pending their interrogations, depriving the detainees of sleep;
  • (e) deprivation of food and drink: subjecting the detainees to a reduced diet during their stay at the centre and pending interrogations.

The fourteen Hooded Men were the only internees subjected to the full five techniques. However, over the following months, some internees were subjected to at least one of the five techniques, as well as other interrogation methods. These allegedly included waterboarding,  electric shocks, burning with matches and candles, forcing internees to stand over hot electric fires while beating them, beating and squeezing of the genitals, inserting objects into the anus, injections, whipping the soles of the feet, and psychological abuse such as Russian roulette.

Parker Report

When the interrogation techniques used on the internees became known to the public, there was outrage at the British government, especially from Irish nationalists. In answer to the anger from the public and Members of Parliament, on 16 November 1971, the British government commissioned a committee of inquiry chaired by Lord Parker (the Lord Chief Justice of England) to look into the legal and moral aspects of the ‘five techniques’.

The “Parker Report” was published on 2 March 1972 and found the five techniques to be illegal under domestic law:

10. Domestic Law …(c) We have received both written and oral representations from many legal bodies and individual lawyers from both England and Northern Ireland. There has been no dissent from the view that the procedures are illegal alike by the law of England and the law of Northern Ireland. … (d) This being so, no Army Directive and no Minister could lawfully or validly have authorized the use of the procedures. Only Parliament can alter the law. The procedures were and are illegal.

On the same day (2 March 1972), United Kingdom Prime Minister Edward Heath stated in the House of Commons:

[The] Government, having reviewed the whole matter with great care and with reference to any future operations, have decided that the techniques … will not be used in future as an aid to interrogation… The statement that I have made covers all future circumstances.

As foreshadowed in the Prime Minister’s statement, directives expressly forbidding the use of the techniques, whether alone or together, were then issued to the security forces by the government.  While these are still legally in force and the use of such methods by UK security forces is not officially condoned by the government, the five techniques were still being used by the British Army in 2003.

European Commission of Human Rig

The Irish Government, on behalf of the men who had been subject to the five techniques, took a case to the European Commission on Human Rights (Ireland v. United Kingdom, 1976 Y.B. Eur. Conv. on Hum. Rts. 512, 748, 788-94 (Eur. Comm’n of Hum. Rts.)). The Commission stated that it

…unanimously considered the combined use of the five methods to amount to torture, on the grounds that (1) the intensity of the stress caused by techniques creating sensory deprivation “directly affects the personality physically and mentally”; and (2) “the systematic application of the techniques for the purpose of inducing a person to give information shows a clear resemblance to those methods of systematic torture which have been known over the ages…a modern system of torture falling into the same category as those systems applied in previous times as a means of obtaining information and confessions.

European Court of Human Rights

The Commissions findings were appealed. In 1978, in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) trial Ireland v. the United Kingdom (Case No. 5310/71), the court ruled:

167. … Although the five techniques, as applied in combination, undoubtedly amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment, although their object was the extraction of confessions, the naming of others and/or information and although they were used systematically, they did not occasion suffering of the particular intensity and cruelty implied by the word torture as so understood. …168. The Court concludes that recourse to the five techniques amounted to a practice of inhuman and degrading treatment, which practice was in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights Article 3 (art. 3).

On 8 February 1977, in proceedings before the ECHR, and in line with the findings of the Parker Report and UK Government policy, the Attorney-General of the United Kingdom stated:

The Government of the United Kingdom have considered the question of the use of the ‘five techniques’ with very great care and with particular regard to Article 3 (art. 3) of the Convention. They now give this unqualified undertaking, that the ‘five techniques’ will not in any circumstances be reintroduced as an aid to interrogation.

Later developments

In 2013, declassified documents revealed the existence of the interrogation centre at Ballykelly. It had not been mentioned in any of the inquiries. Human rights group the Pat Finucane Centre accused the British Government of deliberately hiding it from the inquiries and the European Court of Human Rights.

In June 2014, an RTÉ documentary entitled The Torture Files uncovered a letter from the UK Home Secretary Merlyn Rees in 1977 to the then British Prime Minister James Callaghan. It confirmed that a policy of ‘torture’ had in fact been authorized by the British Government’s ministers—specifically the Secretary for Defence Peter Carrington—in 1971, contrary to the knowledge of the Irish government or the ECHR. The letter states:

“It is my view (confirmed by Brian Faulkner before his death) that the decision to use methods of torture in Northern Ireland in 1971/72 was taken by ministers – in particular Lord Carrington, then secretary of state for defence”.

Following the 2014 revelations, the President of Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams, called on the Irish government to bring the case back to the ECHR because the British government, he said,

“lied to the European Court of Human Rights both on the severity of the methods used on the men, their long term physical and psychological consequences, on where these interrogations took place and who gave the political authority and clearance for it”.

On 2 December 2014 the Irish government announced that, having reviewed the new evidence and following requests from the survivors, it had decided to officially ask the ECHR to revise its 1978 judgement.

3rd August – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

3rd  August

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

Tuesday 3 August 1976

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

Monday 3 August 1981

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

Sunday 3 August 1997

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

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

The Claudy Bombing

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

See Claudy Bombing

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

Monday 3 August 1998

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

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

Tuesday 3 August 1999

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

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

Friday 3 August 2001

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

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

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

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

 3rd August   2010

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

——————————————

Remembering all innocent victims of the Troubles

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

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

– Thomas Campbell

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

– To the Paramilitaries –

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

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

————————————————————–

03 August 1972

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

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

————————————————————–

03 August 1972

Robert McCrudden,   (19)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

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

————————————————————–

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

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

————————————————————–

 03 August 1974

Martin Skillen, (21)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

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

————————————————————–

 03 August 1974
Charles McKnight,   (25)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

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

————————————————————–

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

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

————————————————————–

03 August 1979
Whilliam Whitten  (65)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

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

————————————————————–

 03 August 1980
William Clarke, (59)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

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

————————————————————–

 03 August 1988

Raymond McNicholl,  (30)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

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

————————————————————–

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

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

————————————————————–

14th October – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

14th October

Saturday 14 October 1972

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

Friday 14 October 1977

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

Saturday 14 October 1978

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

Monday 14 October 1985

the troubles new logo

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

Friday 14 October 1988

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

Friday 14 October 1994

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

Saturday 14 October 1995

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

Monday 14 October 1996

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

Thursday 14 October 1999

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

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

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

Saturday 14 October 2000

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

Sunday 14 October 2001

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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

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14 October 1972
Terence Maguire,  (23)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

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

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14 October 1972
Leo John Duffy, (45)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

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

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14 October 1972
Thomas Marron,  (59)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

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

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14 October 1975


Andrew Baird,  (37)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

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

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14 October 1975
Stewart Robinson,  (23)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF),

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

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14 October 1991


Henry Conlon,   (54)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

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

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21st September – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

21st September

Thursday 21 September 1972

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

Thursday 21 September 1978

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

Monday 21 September 1981

Michael James Devine

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

Saturday 21 September 1991

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

Monday 21 – Wednesday 23 September 1992

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

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

Tuesday 21 September 1993

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

Thursday 21 September 1995

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

Sunday 21 September 1997

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

Monday 21 September 1998

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

Tuesday 21 September 1999

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

Thursday 21 September 2000

South Antrim By-election

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

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

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

Friday 21 September 2001

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Remembering all innocent victims of the Troubles

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

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

– To  the Paramilitaries  –

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

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

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21 September 1971
James Finlay,   (31)

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

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

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21 September 1972


Thomas Bullock,   (53)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

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

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21 September 1972
Emily Bullock,   (50)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

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

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11th September – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

11th   September

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

Thursday 11 September 1975

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

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

Monday 11 September 1989

Further security forces documents, containing details of suspected Irish Republican Army (IRA) members, were reported to have gone missing. Nationalists called for the disbandment of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR).

Wednesday 11 September 1996

John Bruton, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), addressed a joint session of the United States Congress. His address was upbeat and optimistic about the prospects for progress in the all-party talks and also the possibility of a new Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire.

Thursday 11 September 1997

An Phoblacht published an interview with an Irish Republican Army (IRA) spokesperson who said that “the IRA would have problems with sections of the Mitchell Principles”. However, the person said that what Sinn Féin (SF) decided to do “was a matter for them”.

[SF signed up to the Mitchell Principles on 9 September 1997.]

In a referendum in Scotland the electorate voted for a devolved parliament with tax-raising powers.

[The Labour Party policy of conceding devolution was considered by many commentators as an attempt to undermine growing demands for independence for Scotland. Some people believe that independence in Scotland would have implications on the constitutional position of Northern Ireland.]

Friday 11 September 1998

First Paramilitary Prisoners Released Under Agreement The first of the paramilitary prisoners were released from jails in Northern Ireland under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. Seven prisoners, including three Republican and three Loyalist, were released in a programme that was expected to take two years to complete.

Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), told Chris Patten, then chairman of the Commission reviewing the future of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), that major reform of the force was necessary if the force was to become acceptable to both communities in Northern Ireland. Ahern made his comments during a meeting with Patten at Government buildings in Dublin.

Monday 11 September 2000

A family escaped uninjured after a pipe-bomb was thrown at their home on the Ballysally estate in Coleraine, County Derry. The attack was carried out by Loyalist paramilitaries.

Tuesday 11 September 2001

Richard Haass, then a United States special envoy, was in Dublin for a meeting with Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), when news of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington were passed to the two men. Richard Haass decided to continue with his meetings in Dublin and then to travel to Belfast for pre-arranged meetings with political leaders in Northern Ireland.

The Loyalist protest at the Holy Cross Girls’ Primary School followed the pattern of yesterday. Loyalist protesters remained silent as Catholic children and parents made their way into the school along a security cordon. However, protesters used air horns (klaxons), blew whistles, and banged metal bin lids, as the Catholic parents made their way back down the Ardoyne Road.

Aidan Troy (Fr), then Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Holy Cross Girls’ Primary School, together with a local Protestant clergyman, held a meeting with representatives of the Concerned Residents of Upper Ardoyne (CRUA) who were engaged in a protest at the school. The meeting was described as “exploratory”. John Reid, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, held a meeting with representatives of the residents of the Glenbryn estate who were engaged in the protest at the Holy Cross school in Ardoyne, north Belfast. The meeting lasted for 2 hours but residents made no comment after the meeting.


Remembering all innocent victims of the Troubles

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

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

– To  the Paramilitaries  –

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

 3 People lost their lives on the 11th September  between 1976 – 1992

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11 September 1976


Victor Moody,  (18)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Association (UDA),

Killed by: Ulster Defence Association (UDA)
Found shot in entry off Disraeli Street, Shankill, Belfast. Internal Ulster Defence Association (UDA) dispute.

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11 September 1978


Howard Donaghy, (24)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Shot at the site of his new home, Loughmacrory, near Carrickmore, County Tyrone

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11 September 1992


Michael Macklin,   (31)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish People’s Liberation Organisation (IPLO)
Shot outside his home, Whiterock Gardens, Ballymurphy, Belfast. Internal Irish People’s Liberation Oraganisation (IPLO) feud.

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Main source CAIN Web Service

Major Events in the Troubles

See 12th Sept

9th September – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

9th September

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

Wednesday 9 September 1971

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

Thursday 11 September 1975

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

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

Thursday 9 September 1976

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

Wednesday 9 September 1992

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

Friday 9 September 1994

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

Monday 9 September 1996

The ‘General Head Quarters’ (GHQ) faction of the Irish National Liberation Army announced that the group was disbanding. This decision followed the killing of Hugh Torney on 3 September 1996.

This marked the ending of a feud within the INLA which started with the killing of Gino Gallagher on 30 January 1996.

This latest feud had claimed six lives.

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

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

Tuesday 9 September 1997

Sinn Féin Signed Mitchell Principles

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

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

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

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

The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), and the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) all refused to attend the session at Stormont. The PUP and the UDP held meetings with Adam Ingram, then Security Minister, to discuss the situation of Loyalist prisoners

. A number of UDP supporters took part in a protest outside the gates of Stormont. Madeline Albright, then Secretary of State of the United States of America (USA), asked the Attorney General to suspend the extradition to Britain of six men who were former members of the IRA.

Thursday 9 September 1999

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

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

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

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

William Billy Giles

There was an inquest in Belfast into the death by hanging of William Giles (41). Giles had been part of an Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) gang which had abducted and killed Michael Fay (25), a Catholic civilian, on 20 November 1982.

Billy Giles.jpg
Billy Giles

Giles had been released from prison in 1997 after serving 15 years of a life sentence. It was claimed that Giles had hanged himself out of remorse.

See here for more info on: Billy Giles ,Life & Death


Remembering all innocent victims of the Troubles

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

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

– To  the Paramilitaries  –

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

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

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09 September 1971


David Stewardson,  (29) nfNI

Status: British Army (BA),

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


See: The Long Walk – Iconic Pictures & Story behind them

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09 September 1975
George Quinn,  (41)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

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

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

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

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09 September 1987


Patrick Hamill,   (29)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

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

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09 September 1987


Harry Sloan,  (38)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

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

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09 September 1988


Colin Abernethy,

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

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

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Main source CAIN Web Service

Major Events in the Troubles

See: 10th September

Miami Showband Killings – The Day The Music Died

Miami Showband Killing

The Miami Showband killings (also called the Miami Showband Massacre) was an attack by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), a loyalist paramilitary group, on 31 July 1975. It took place on the A1 road at Buskhill in County Down, Northern Ireland. Five people were killed, including three members of The Miami Showband, who were then one of Ireland’s most popular cabaret bands.

The Day The Music Died

The band was travelling home to Dublin late at night after a performance in Banbridge. Seven miles (11 km) north of Newry, their minibus was stopped at what appeared to be a military checkpoint, where gunmen in British Army uniforms ordered them to line up by the roadside. At least four of the gunmen were serving soldiers from the British Army’s Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) but, unbeknownst to the band, all were members of the UVF. While two of the gunmen (both soldiers) were hiding a time bomb on the minibus, it exploded prematurely and killed them.

It has been suggested that the plan had been for it to explode en route and kill the band, who would be branded IRA bomb smugglers. The other gunmen then opened fire on the dazed band members, killing three and wounding two.

Two serving British soldiers and one former British soldier were found guilty of the murders and received life sentences; they were released in 1998. Allegations of collusion between British military intelligence and the loyalist militants persist. According to former Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) agent Captain Fred Holroyd, the killings were organised by British Army Captain Robert Nairac (a member of 14th Intelligence Company), in collaboration with the UVF’s Mid-Ulster Brigade and its commander Robin “The Jackal” Jackson.

Robin Jackson.jpg

Robin ( The Jackal)  Jackson

The Historical Enquiries Team, which investigated the killings, released their report to the victims’ families in December 2011. It confirmed that Jackson was linked to the attack by fingerprints. There are claims that those involved in the Miami Showband killings belonged to the Glenanne gang; a secret alliance of loyalist militants, rogue police officers and British soldiers.

In a report published in the Sunday Mirror in 1999, Colin Wills called the Miami Showband attack “one of the worst atrocities in the 30-year history of the Troubles”. Irish Times diarist Frank McNally summed up the massacre as “an incident that encapsulated all the madness of the time”

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

Background

Political situation in Northern Ireland

UVF-logo123.png

The conflict in Northern Ireland, known as “The Troubles“, began in the late 1960s. The year 1975 was marked by an escalation in sectarian attacks and a vicious feud between the two main loyalist paramilitary groups, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). On 4 April 1974 the proscription against the UVF had been lifted by Merlyn Rees, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. This meant that both it and the UDA were legal organisations.

The UVF would be once more banned by the British government on 3 October 1975.

In May 1974 unionists called a general strike to protest against the Sunningdale Agreement – an attempt at power-sharing, setting up a Northern Ireland Executive and a cross-border Council of Ireland, which would have given the Government of Ireland a voice in running Northern Ireland. During that strike on 17 May, the UVF carried out the Dublin and Monaghan car bombings, which killed 33 civilians. The Provisional IRA were suspected by British police of bombing two pubs in the English city of Birmingham the following November, resulting in 21 deaths.

UK Home Secretary Roy Jenkins introduced the Prevention of Terrorism Act, which gave the government unprecedented powers against the liberty of individuals in the United Kingdom in peacetime. At Christmas 1974 the IRA declared a ceasefire, which theoretically lasted throughout most of 1975. This move made loyalists apprehensive and suspicious that a secret accord was being conducted between the British government and the IRA, and that Northern Ireland’s Protestants would be “sold out”.

Their fears were slightly grounded in fact, as the MI6 officer Michael Oatley was involved in negotiations with a member of the IRA Army Council, during which “structures of disengagement” from Ireland were discussed. This had meant the possible withdrawal of British troops from Northern Ireland. The existence of these talks led unionists to believe that they were about to be abandoned by the British government and forced into a united Ireland; as a result, the loyalist paramilitary groups reacted with a violence that, combined with the tit-for-tat retaliations from the IRA (despite their ceasefire), made 1975 one of the “bloodiest years of the conflict”.

In early 1975 Merlyn Rees set up elections for the Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention at which all of Northern Ireland’s politicians would plan their way forward. These were held on 1 May 1975 and the United Ulster Unionist Council (UUUC), which had won 11 out of 12 Northern Irish seats in the February 1974 general election, won a majority again. As the UUUC would not abide any form of power-sharing with the Dublin government, no agreement could be reached and the convention failed, again marginalising Northern Ireland’s politicians and the communities they represented

Robin Jackson and the Mid-Ulster UVF

 

refer to caption

Ulster Volunteer Force mural.

The UVF’s Mid-Ulster Brigade, led by Robin Jackson, was one of the most ruthless paramilitary groups that operated in the 1970s.

The UVF Mid-Ulster Brigade operated mainly around the Portadown and Lurgan areas. It had been set up in Lurgan in 1972 by part-time Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) sergeant and permanent staff instructor Billy Hanna, who made himself commander of the brigade. His leadership was endorsed by the UVF’s leader Gusty Spence.

The brigade was described by author Don Mullan as one of the most ruthless units operating in the 1970s. At the time of the attack the Mid-Ulster Brigade was commanded by Robin Jackson, also known as “The Jackal”. Jackson had assumed command of the Mid-Ulster UVF just a few days before the Miami Showband attack, after allegedly shooting Hanna dead outside his home in Lurgan on 27 July 1975.

According to authors Paul Larkin and Martin Dillon, Jackson was accompanied by Harris Boyle when he killed Hanna. Hanna was named by former British Intelligence Corps operative Colin Wallace as having organised and led the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings, along with Jackson.  Journalist Joe Tiernan suggested that Hanna was shot for refusing to participate in the Miami Showband attack and that he had become an informer for the Gardaí in exchange for immunity from prosecution for the Dublin bombings.  Dillon suggested that because a large number of joint UDR/UVF members were to be used for the planned Miami Showband ambush, Hanna was considered to have been a “security risk”, and the UVF decided he had to be killed before he could alert the authorities.

Jackson was an alleged RUC Special Branch agent who was said by Yorkshire Television‘s The Hidden Hand: The Forgotten Massacre programme to have had links to both the Intelligence Corps and Captain Robert Nairac.  A report in the Irish Times implicated Jackson in the Dublin bombings. More than 100 killings have been attributed to him by the Pat Finucane Centre, the Derry-based civil rights group.

The Miami Showband

 

refer to caption

The Miami Showband in 1975; one of the last photos of the band before the attack
L–R: Tony Geraghty, Fran O’Toole, Ray Millar, Des McAlea (“Des Lee”), Brian McCoy, Stephen Travers

The Miami Showband was a popular Dublin-based cabaret band, enjoying fame and, according to journalist Peter Taylor, “Beatle-like devotion” from fans on both sides of the Irish border. A typical Irish showband was based on the popular six- or seven-member dance band. Its basic repertoire included cover versions of pop songs that were currently in the charts and standard dance numbers. The music ranged from rock and country and western to Dixieland jazz. Sometimes the showbands played traditional Irish music at their performances.

Originally called the Downbeats Quartet, the Miami Showband was reformed in 1962 by rock promoter Tom Doherty, who gave them their new name. With Dublin-born singer Dickie Rock as frontman, the Miami Showband underwent many personnel changes over the years. In December 1972, Rock left the band to be briefly replaced by two brothers, Frankie and Johnny Simon. That same year keyboardist Francis “Fran” O’Toole (from Bray, County Wicklow) had won the Gold Star Award on RTÉ‘s Reach For the Stars television programme.

 

In early 1973, Billy MacDonald (aka “Billy Mac”) took over as the group’s frontman when the Simon brothers quit the band. The following year, Fran O’Toole became the band’s lead vocalist after Mick Roche (Billy Mac’s replacement) was sacked. O’Toole was noted for his good looks and popularity with female fans.  was described by the Miami Showband’s former bass guitarist, Paul Ashford, as having been the “greatest soul singer” in Ireland. Ashford had been asked to leave the band in 1973, for complaining that performing in Northern Ireland put their lives at risk.

He was replaced by Johnny Brown, who in turn was replaced by Dave Monks until Stephen Travers eventually became the band’s permanent bass player. In late 1974, the Miami Showband’s song Clap Your Hands and Stomp Your Feet (featuring O’Toole on lead vocals) reached number eight in the Irish charts.

The 1975 line-up comprised four Catholics and two Protestants. They were: lead vocalist and keyboard player Fran O’Toole (28, Catholic), guitarist Anthony “Tony” Geraghty (24, Catholic) from Dublin, trumpeter Brian McCoy (32, Protestant) from Caledon, County Tyrone, saxophonist Des McAlea (aka “Des Lee”), 24, a Catholic from Belfast, bassist Stephen Travers (24, Catholic) from Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary and drummer Ray Millar (Protestant) from Antrim. O’Toole and McCoy were both married; each had two children. Geraghty was engaged to be married.

Their music was described as “contemporary and trans-Atlantic”, with no reference to the Northern Ireland conflict. By 1975 they had gained a large following, playing to crowds of people in dance halls and ballrooms across the island.The band had no overt interest in politics nor in the religious beliefs of the people who made up their audience. They were prepared to travel anywhere in Ireland to perform for their fans.

According to the Irish Times, at the height of the Irish showband’s popularity (from the 1950s to the 1970s), up to as many as 700 bands travelled to venues all over Ireland on a nightly basis.

Ambush

Bogus checkpoint

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Volkswagen Type 2 (T2)
similar to the minibus used by the band

 

Five members of the Dublin-based band were travelling home after a performance at the Castle Ballroom in Banbridge, County Down on Thursday 31 July 1975. Ray Millar, the band’s drummer, was not with them as he had chosen to go to his home town of Antrim to spend the night with his parents. The band’s road manager, Brian Maguire, had already gone ahead a few minutes earlier in the equipment van. At about 2.30 a.m., when the band was seven miles (11 km) north of Newry on the main A1 road, their Volkswagen minibus (driven by trumpeter Brian McCoy with Stephen Travers in the front seat beside him) reached the townland of Buskhill.

Near the junction with Buskhill Road they were flagged down by armed men dressed in British Army uniforms waving a red torch in a circular motion. During “The Troubles” it was normal for the British Army to set up checkpoints daily, at any time.

Assuming it was a legitimate checkpoint, McCoy informed the others inside the minibus of a military checkpoint up ahead and pulled in at the lay-by as directed by the armed men.

As McCoy rolled down the window and produced his driving licence, gunmen came up to the minibus and one of them said in a Northern Irish accent,

“Goodnight, fellas. How are things? Can you step out of the van for a few minutes and we’ll just do a check”.

The unsuspecting band members got out and were politely told to line up facing the ditch at the rear of the minibus with their hands on their heads.  More uniformed men appeared from out of the darkness, their guns pointed at the minibus. About 10 gunmen were at the checkpoint, according to author and journalist Martin Dillon.

After McCoy told them they were the Miami Showband, one gunman, Thomas Crozier (who had a notebook) asked the band members for their names and addresses, while the others bantered with them about the success of their performance that night.

As Crozier took down the information, a car pulled up and another uniformed man appeared on the scene. He wore a uniform and beret noticeably different from the others. He spoke with an educated English accent and immediately took charge, ordering a man who appeared to have been the leader of the patrol, to tell Crozier to obtain their names and dates of birth instead of addresses.

The jocular mood of the gunmen abruptly ceased. At no time did this new soldier speak to any of the band members nor did he directly address Crozier. He relayed all his instructions to the gunman in command.  Travers, the band’s new bass player, assumed he was a British Army officer; an opinion shared by McCoy. Just after the arrival of this mysterious soldier, McCoy nudged Travers, who was standing beside him, and reassured him by saying “Don’t worry Stephen, this is British Army”.  Travers thought that McCoy, a Protestant from Northern Ireland, was familiar with security checkpoints and had reckoned the regular British Army would be more efficient than the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), who had a reputation for unprofessional and unpredictable behaviour especially towards people from the Irish Republic.

McCoy, son of the Orange Order‘s Grand Master for County Tyrone,  had close relatives in the security forces; his brother-in-law was a former member of the B Specials which had been disbanded in 1970. Travers described McCoy as a “sophisticated, father-type figure. Everybody was respectful to Brian”. McCoy’s words, therefore, were taken seriously by the other band members, and anything he said was considered to be accurate.

Explosion

 

At least four of the gunmen were soldiers from the UDR; a locally recruited infantry regiment of the British Army in Northern Ireland. Martin Dillon suggested, in The Dirty War, that at least five serving UDR soldiers were present at the checkpoint.

All the gunmen were members of the UVF’s Mid-Ulster Brigade, and had been lying in wait to ambush the band having set up the checkpoint just minutes before.

Out of sight of the band members, two of the gunmen placed a ten-pound (4.5 kg) time bomb in the rear of the minibus.  The UVF’s plan was that the bomb would explode once the minibus had reached Newry, killing all on board. However, Martin Dillon alleged that the bomb was meant to go off in the Irish Republic.

He suggested that had all gone according to plan, the loyalist extremists would have been able to clandestinely bomb the Republic of Ireland, yet claim that the band were republican bomb-smugglers carrying explosives on behalf of the IRA. They had hoped to embarrass the Government of Ireland, as well as to draw attention to its under-patrolled border. This would have resulted in the Irish authorities enforcing tighter controls over people crossing the border, thus greatly restricting IRA operations.

Dillon opined that another reason the UVF decided to target the Miami Showband was because the nationalist community held them in high regard; to attack the band was to strike the nationalists indirectly.

Stephen Travers heard the gunmen rummaging in the back of the minibus, where he kept his guitar. Concerned it may be damaged, he approached the two gunmen and told them to be careful. Asked whether he had anything valuable inside the case, Travers replied no. The gunman turned him round, punched him in the back and pushed him on the shoulder back into the line-up.

When the two gunmen closed the rear door, clumsy soldering on the clock used as a timer caused the device to explode prematurely, blowing the minibus apart and killing the gunmen Harris Boyle (aged 22, a telephone wireman from Portadown) and Wesley Somerville (aged 34, a textile worker from Moygashel) instantly. Hurled in opposite directions, they were both decapitated and their bodies dismembered. What little that remained intact of their bodies was burnt beyond recognition; one of the limbless torsos was completely charred.

Shootings

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Luger P08 pistol
similar to the one used to kill Brian McCoy

Following the explosion, the remaining gunmen opened fire on the dazed band members, who had all been knocked down into the field below the level of the road from the force of the blast. The order to shoot was given by the patrol’s apparent leader, James McDowell, to eliminate witnesses to the bogus checkpoint and subsequent bombing. Three of the musicians were killed: lead singer Fran O’Toole, trumpeter Brian McCoy, and guitarist Tony Geraghty.

Brian McCoy was the first to die, having been hit in the back by nine rounds from a 9mm Luger pistol in the initial volley of gunfire.  Fran O’Toole attempted to run away, but was quickly chased down by the gunmen who had immediately jumped down into the field in pursuit. He was then machine-gunned 22 times, mostly in the face, as he lay supine on the ground. Tony Geraghty also attempted to escape; but he was caught by the gunmen and shot at least four times in the back of the head and back. Both men had pleaded for their lives before they were shot; one had cried out,

“Please don’t shoot me, don’t kill me”.

 

Bassist Stephen Travers was seriously wounded by a dum-dum bullet which had struck him when the gunmen had first begun shooting.

He survived by pretending he was dead, as he lay beside the body of McCoy.Saxophone player Des McAlea was hit by the minibus’s door when it was blown off in the explosion, but was not badly wounded. He lay hidden in thick undergrowth, undetected by the gunmen. He also survived. However, the flames from the burning hedge (which had been set on fire by the explosion) soon came dangerously close to where he lay; he was forced to leave his hiding spot. By this time the gunmen had left the scene, assuming everyone else had been killed. Travers later recalled hearing one of the departing gunmen tell his comrade who had kicked McCoy’s body to make sure he was not alive: “Come on, those bastards are dead. I got them with dum-dums”.

McAlea made his way up the embankment to the main road where he hitched a lift to alert the RUC at their barracks in Newry.

Forensic and ballistic evidence

 

When the RUC arrived at the site they found five dead bodies, a seriously injured Stephen Travers, body parts, the smouldering remains of the destroyed minibus, debris from the bomb blast, bullets, spent cartridges, and the band members’ personal possessions, including clothing, shoes, and a photograph of the group, strewn across the area. They also discovered a stolen white Ford Escort registration number 4933 LZ, which had been left behind by the gunmen, along with two guns, ammunition, green UDR berets and a pair of glasses later traced to James McDowell, the gunman who had ordered the shootings.

One of the first RUC men who arrived at Buskhill in the wake of the killings was scenes of crime officer James O’Neill. He described the scene as having “just the smell of utterly death about the place … burning blood, burning tyres”. He also added that “that bomb was definitely placed there with a view to killing all in that band”.

The only identifiable body part from the bombers to survive the blast (which had been heard up to four miles away) was a severed arm belonging to Wesley Somerville. It was found 100 yards from the site with a “UVF Portadown” tattoo on it.

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Sterling submachine gun
similar to the those used in the attack

 

The RUC’s investigative unit, the Assassination or “A” Squad of detectives, was set up to investigate the crime and to discover the identities of the UVF gunmen who perpetrated the killings.  Afterwards, as Travers recovered in hospital, the second survivor Des McAlea gave the police a description of McDowell as the gunman with a moustache and wearing dark glasses who appeared to have been the leader of the patrol. Some time after the attack, RUC officers questioned Stephen Travers at Dublin Castle. He subsequently stated they refused to accept his description of the different-coloured beret worn by the soldier with the English accent.

The UVF gunmen had worn green UDR berets, whereas the other man’s had been lighter in colour.

The dead bombers were named by the UVF, in a statement issued within 12 hours of the attack.  Harris Boyle and Wesley Somerville were UDR soldiers as well as holding the rank of major and lieutenant, respectively, in the UVF.

In 1993 Boyle was named by The Hidden Hand programme as one of the Dublin car bombers.

The stolen Ford Escort belonged to a man from Portadown, who according to Captain Fred Holroyd, had links with one of the UVF bombers and the driver of the bomb car which had been left to explode in Parnell Street, Dublin on 17 May 1974. He was also one of the prime suspects in the sectarian killing of Dorothy Traynor on 1 April 1975 in Portadown.

Ballistic evidence indicates that the 10-member gang took at least six guns with them on the attack.  An independent panel of inquiry commissioned by the Pat Finucane Centre has established that among the weapons actually used in the killings were two Sterling 9mm submachine guns and a 9mm Luger pistol serial no. U 4. The submachine guns, which had been stolen years earlier from a former member of the B Specials, were linked to prior and later sectarian killings, whereas the Luger had been used to kill leading IRA member, John Francis Green, the previous January.

 

In a letter to the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Bombing of Kay’s Tavern dated 22 February 2004, the Northern Ireland Office stated that: “The PSNI [The Police Service of Northern Ireland] have confirmed that a 9mm Luger pistol was ballistically traced both to the murder of John Francis Green and to the Miami Showband murders.”

In May 1976, Robin Jackson’s fingerprints were discovered on the metal barrel of a home-made silencer constructed for a Luger.[53] Both the silencer and pistol – which was later established to have been the same one used in the Miami Showband killings – were found by the security forces at the home of Edward Sinclair. Jackson was charged with possession of the silencer but not convicted, the trial judge having reportedly said: “At the end of the day I find that the accused somehow touched the silencer, but the Crown evidence has left me completely in the dark as to whether he did that wittingly or unwittingly, willingly or unwillingly”. The Luger was destroyed by the RUC on 28 August 1978.[54]

Aftermath

Reactions

Within 12 hours of the attack the UVF’s Brigade Staff (Belfast leadership) issued a statement. It was released under the heading Ulster Central Intelligence Agency – Miami Showband Incident Report:

A UVF patrol led by Major Boyle was suspicious of two vehicles, a minibus and a car parked near the border. Major Boyle ordered his patrol to apprehend the occupants for questioning. As they were being questioned, Major Boyle and Lieutenant Somerville began to search the minibus. As they began to enter the vehicle, a bomb was detonated and both men were killed outright.

At the precise moment of the explosion, the patrol came under intense automatic fire from the occupants of the other vehicle. The patrol sergeant immediately ordered fire to be returned. Using self-loading rifles and sub-machine guns, the patrol returned fire, killing three of their attackers and wounding another. The patrol later recovered two Armalite rifles and a pistol.

The UVF maintains regular border patrols due to the continued activity of the Provisional IRA. The Mid-Ulster Battalion has been assisting the South Down-South Armagh units since the IRA Forkhill boobytrap which killed four British soldiers. Three UVF members are being treated for gunshot wounds after last night but not in hospital.

It would appear that the UVF patrol surprised members of a terrorist organisation transferring weapons to the Miami Showband minibus and that an explosive device of some description was being carried by the Showband for an unlawful purpose. It is obvious, therefore, that the UVF patrol was justified in taking the action it did and that the killing of the three Showband members should be regarded as justifiable homicide. The Officers and Agents of the Ulster Central Intelligence Agency commend the UVF on their actions and tender their deepest sympathy to the relatives of the two Officers who died while attempting to remove the bomb from the minibus.

Harris Boyle and Wesley Somerville were given UVF paramilitary funerals conducted by Free Presbyterian minister William McCrea, a Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) politician.[

The killings shocked both Northern Ireland and Ireland and put a serious strain on Anglo-Irish relations.

The Irish Times reported that on the night following the attack, the British ambassador Sir Arthur Galsworthy was summoned to hear the Government of Ireland’s strong feelings regarding the murder of the three band members. The government held the view that the British Government had not done enough to stop sectarian assassinations in Northern Ireland.

Following the post-mortems, funerals were held for the three slain musicians; they received televised news coverage by RTÉ, Ireland’s public service broadcaster. According to RTÉ,

“Their families were in deep mourning and Ireland mourned with them”.

According to Peter Taylor, the Provisional IRA’s gun and bomb attack on the loyalist Bayardo Bar in Belfast’s Shankill Road on 13 August was in retaliation for the Miami Showband ambush. Four Protestant civilians (two men and two women) and UVF member Hugh Harris were killed in the attack.

Two days later, Portadown disc jockey Norman “Mooch” Kerr, aged 28, was shot dead by the IRA as he packed up his equipment after a show at the Camrick Bar in Armagh. Although not a member of any loyalist paramilitary group, he was a close friend of Harris Boyle and the two were often seen together.

 

Robert Nairac

See Robert Nairac

The IRA said it killed him because of an alleged association with British Army officer and member of 14th Intelligence Company, Captain Robert Nairac, and claimed it was in possession of his diary, which had been stolen in Portadown.

Altnamachin attack

Less than one month after the Miami Showband massacre, another UVF unit, operating as part of the Glenanne gang, used the same modus operandi on 24 August 1975, at Altnamachin, outside Tullyvallen, close to the border with the Republic of Ireland. Two Gaelic football supporters, Colm McCartney and Sean Farmer, were stopped in their car by a UVF patrol wearing full military combat uniforms at a bogus vehicle checkpoint. The two men were ordered out of the car and then both were shot dead a short distance away. Three RUC men had earlier been stopped in their unmarked car by the same “soldiers”, who let them through upon ascertaining their identity.

The RUC, however, had suspected that the checkpoint had been fake. After receiving radio confirmation that there were no authorised regular army or UDR checkpoints in the area that night, they reported the incident and requested help from the British Army to investigate it, but no action was taken.  UDR corporal Robert McConnell was implicated by RUC Special Patrol Group officer John Weir in this attack.

Convictions

A number of suspects were arrested by the RUC in early August 1975. One of these men, Lance-Corporal Thomas Raymond Crozier (aged 25, a painting contractor from Lurgan) of C Company, 11th Battalion UDR was charged with the Miami killings. It was believed he had been betrayed to the RUC by a member of the gang.

Thomas Crozier recounted that on the night of the killings, he had driven to the grounds of a school in Lurgan where he had picked up two men. He then drove to a lay-by on the Newry-Banbridge dual carriageway and met up with another five men, who were all wearing British Army uniforms. They subsequently set up a roadblock with “all the trappings of a regular military checkpoint”. Crozier told police, and later a court, that he had not played a large part in the attack. He refused to name his accomplices, as he felt that to do so would put the lives of his family in danger.

On 22 January 1976, a second UDR soldier, Sergeant James Roderick Shane McDowell (aged 29, an optical worker, also from Lurgan) was arrested and charged with the Miami killings. He served in C Company, 11th Battalion UDR. The RUC were led to him through his glasses which had been found at the murder scene. Tests done on the glasses, which were eventually traced back to McDowell, revealed that the lenses were of a prescription worn by just 1 in 500,000 of the population.

McDowell’s statement of admission was published in David McKittrick‘s book Lost Lives:

“There was very little planning. I only came into it because of my UDR connection and the fact that I had a uniform. I was given a sub-machine gun but I had never fired it. I passed out when the explosion happened and that was when I lost the gun, the glasses, and a UDR beret”.

On 15 October 1976, Crozier and McDowell both received life sentences for the Miami Showband murders. McDowell had pleaded guilty. Crozier had pleaded not guilty. The judge, by sentencing McDowell and Crozier to 35 years imprisonment each, had handed down the longest life sentences in the history of Northern Ireland; he commented that “killings like the Miami Showband must be stopped”. He added that had the death penalty not been abolished, it would have been imposed in this case.

A third person, former UDR soldier John James Somerville (aged 37, a lorry-helper and the brother of Wesley), was arrested following an RUC raid in Dungannon on 26 September 1980. He was charged with the Miami Showband murders, the attempted murder of Stephen Travers, and the murder of Patrick Falls in 1974. He was given a total of four life sentences (three for the murders of the Miami Showband members and one for the Falls murder) on 9 November 1981;  he had pleaded not guilty.

The three convicted UVF men, although admitting to having been at the scene, denied having shot anyone. None of the men ever named their accomplices, and the other UVF gunmen were never caught. The three men were sent to serve their sentence in the Maze Prison, on the outskirts of Lisburn. Fortnight Magazine reported that on 1 June 1982, John James Somerville began a hunger strike at the Maze to obtain special category status. Crozier, McDowell, and Somerville were released after 1998 under the terms of the Belfast Agreement.

Allegations

A continued allegation in the case has been the presence of Captain Robert Nairac at the scene. Former serving Secret Intelligence Service agent Captain Fred Holroyd, and others, suggested that Nairac had organised the attack in co-operation with Robin Jackson and the Mid-Ulster UVF.  In his maiden parliamentary speech on 7 July 1987, Ken Livingstone MP told the House of Commons,  “it was likely” that Nairac had organised the attack.

Surviving band members Stephen Travers and Des McAlea told police and later testified in court that a British Army officer with a “crisp, clipped English accent” oversaw the Buskhill attack, the implication being that this was Nairac.

 

In his book The Dirty War, Martin Dillon adamantly dismissed the allegation that Nairac had been present. He believed it was based on the erroneous linkage of Nairac to the earlier murder of IRA man John Francis Green in County Monaghan – the same pistol was used in both attacks. Regarding the soldier with the English accent, Dillon wrote:

it is to say the least highly dubious, if not absurd to conclude from such superficial factors that Nairac was present at the Miami murders. I was told by a source close to “Mr. A” and another loyalist hitman that Nairac was not present at either murder [Miami Showband and John Francis Green].

Travers had described the English-accented man as having been of normal height and thought he had fair hair, but was not certain. Travers was not able to positively identify Nairac, from his photograph, as having been the man at Buskhill . The RTÉ programme Today Tonight aired a documentary in 1987 in which it claimed that former UVF associates of Harris Boyle revealed to the programme’s researchers that Nairac had deliberately detonated the bomb to eliminate Boyle, with whom he had carried out the Green killing.

Emily O’Reilly Senate of Poland.JPG

Journalist Emily O’Reilly noted in the Sunday Tribune that none of the three men convicted of the massacre ever implicated Nairac in the attack or accused him of causing Boyle’s death.

The band’s road manager, Brian Maguire stated that when he drove away from Banbridge in the lead, a few minutes ahead of the band’s minibus, he passed through security barriers manned by the RUC. As Maguire continued ahead, up the by-pass towards Newry, he noticed a blue Triumph 2000 pulling-out from where it had been parked in a lay-by. Maguire recalled that the car first slowed down, then it accelerated, flashing its lights. Two men had been observed acting suspiciously inside the Castle Ballroom during the band’s performance that night, suggesting that the Miami Showband’s movements were being carefully monitored.

Another persistent allegation is the direct involvement of Mid-Ulster UVF leader Robin Jackson. He was one of the men taken in by the RUC in August 1975 and questioned as a suspect in the killings, but was released without charge. The independent panel of inquiry commissioned by the Pat Finucane Centre concluded that there was “credible evidence that the principal perpetrator [of the Miami Showband attack] was a man who was not prosecuted – alleged RUC Special Branch agent Robin Jackson”.

The same panel revealed that about six weeks before the attack, Thomas Crozier, Jackson, and the latter’s brother-in-law Samuel Fulton Neill, were arrested for the possession of four shotguns.  Neill’s car was one of those allegedly used in the Buskhill attack. He was later shot dead in Portadown on 25 January 1976, allegedly by Jackson for having informed the RUC about Thomas Crozier’s participation in the attack.

The panel stated that it was unclear why Crozier, Jackson, and Neill were not in police custody at the time the Miami Showband killings took place. Martin Dillon maintained in The Dirty War that the Miami Showband attack was planned weeks before at a house in Portadown, and the person in charge of the overall operation was a former UDR man, whom Dillon referred to for legal reasons as “Mr. A”. Dillon also opined in God and the Gun: the Church and Irish Terrorism that the dead bombers, Harris Boyle and Wesley Somerville, had actually led the UVF gang at Buskhill.

Journalists Kevin Dowling and Liam Collins in the Irish Independent however, suggested in their respective articles that Jackson had been the leader of the unit.

Former British soldier and writer Ken Wharton published in his book Wasted Years, Wasted Lives, Volume 1, an alternative theory that was suggested to him by loyalist paramilitarism researcher Jeanne Griffin; this was that the ambush was planned by Robin Jackson as an elaborate means of eliminating trumpet player Brian McCoy.

Griffin suggests that McCoy, who originally came from Caledon, County Tyrone and had strong UDR and Orange Order family connections, was possibly approached at some stage by Jackson with a view of securing his help in carrying out UVF attacks in the Irish Republic. When McCoy refused, Jackson then hatched his plan to murder McCoy and his band mates in retaliation, even macabrely choosing Buskhill as the ambush site due to its similarity to Bus-kill. Griffin goes on to add that the bogus checkpoint was set up not only to plant the bomb on board the van but to ensure the presence of McCoy which would have been confirmed when he handed over his driver’s license to the gunmen.

She also thinks that had everything gone to plan once the bomb was planted in the van McCoy would have been instructed to drive through Newry where the bomb would have gone off and the UVF could then afterwards portray the Miami Showband as IRA members on a mission to blow up the local RUC barracks. Griffin based her theory on the nine bullets that were fired from a Luger into McCoy’s body and that Jackson’s fingerprints were found on the silencer used for a Luger.

She furthermore opined that Jackson was the man Travers saw kicking McCoy’s body to make sure he was dead.

The Pat Finucane Centre has named the Miami Showband killings as one of the 87 violent attacks perpetrated by the Glenanne gang against the Irish nationalist community in the 1970s. The Glenanne gang was a loose alliance of loyalist extremists allegedly operating under the command of British Military Intelligence and/or RUC Special Branch. It comprised rogue elements of the British security forces who, together with the UVF, carried out sectarian killings in the Mid-Ulster/County Armagh area. Their name comes from a farm in Glenanne, County Armagh, which was owned by RUC reservist James Mitchell; according to RUC Special Patrol Group officer John Weir, it was used as a UVF arms dump and bomb-making site.

Weir alleged the bomb used in the Miami Showband attack came from Mitchell’s farm. Weir’s affidavit implicating Robin Jackson in a number of attacks including the 1974 Dublin bombings was published in the 2003 Barron Report; the findings of an official investigation into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings commissioned by Irish Supreme Court Judge Henry Barron.

Later years

During the six years from the onset of “The Troubles” until the July 1975 attack, there had never been an incident involving any of the showbands. The incident had an adverse effect on the Irish showband scene, with many of the bands afraid to play in Northern Ireland. The emergence of discos later in the decade meant that ballrooms were converted into nightclubs, leaving the showbands with few venues available in which to perform. By the mid-1980s, the showbands had lost their appeal for the Irish public; although The Miami Showband, albeit with a series of different line-ups, did not disband until 1986.

The Miami Showband reformed in 2008, with Travers, Des McAlea, Ray Millar and other new members. It is fronted by McAlea, who returned to Northern Ireland the same year after living in South Africa since about 1982.

In 1994, Eric Smyth, a former UDR member and the husband of Brian McCoy’s sister, Sheila, was killed by the IRA.

Travers travelled to Belfast in 2006 for a secret meeting with the second-in-command of the UVF’s Brigade Staff, in an attempt to come to terms with the killing of his former colleagues and friends. The meeting was arranged by Rev. Chris Hudson, a former intermediary between the government of Ireland and the UVF, whose role was crucial to the Northern Ireland peace process. Hudson, a Unitarian minister, had been a close friend of Fran O’Toole.

The encounter took place inside Hudson’s church, All Souls Belfast. The UVF man, who identified himself only as “the Craftsman”, apologised to Travers for the attack, and explained that the UVF gunmen had opened fire on the band because they “had panicked” that night.  It was revealed in Peter Taylor’s book Loyalists that “the Craftsman” had been instrumental inbringing about the 1994 Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC) ceasefire.

Travers also visited the home of Thomas Crozier, hoping to meet with him, but the latter did not come to the door. He presently resides near Craigavon. James McDowell lives in Lurgan, and John James Somerville became an evangelical minister in Belfast.  The UVF had cut all ties with Somerville after he had opposed the 1994 ceasefire. In January 2015 he was found dead in his Shankill Road flat. Aged 70, he died of cancer of the kidney.

Memorials

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Memorial to the three dead band members at Parnell Square, Dublin

 

A monument dedicated to the dead Miami Showband members was unveiled at a ceremony at Parnell Square North, Dublin, on 10 December 2007. Survivors Stephen Travers and Des McAlea were both present at the unveiling, as was the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, who made a tribute. The monument, made of limestone, bronze and granite, by County Donegal sculptor Redmond Herrity, is at the site of the old National Ballroom, where the band often played.

A mural and memorial plaque to Harris Boyle and Wesley Somerville is in the Killycomain Estate in Portadown, where Boyle had lived. The plaque describes them as having been “killed in action”.

In a report on Nairac’s alleged involvement in the massacre, published in the Sunday Mirror newspaper on 16 May 1999, Colin Wills called the ambush “one of the worst atrocities in the 30-year history of the Troubles”.

Irish Times diarist, Frank McNally, summed up the massacre as “an incident that encapsulated all the madness of the time”.  In 2011, Journalist Kevin Myers denounced the attack with the following statement: “in its diabolical inventiveness against such a group of harmless and naïve young men, it is easily one of the most depraved [of the Troubles]”.

A stamp was issued in Ireland on 22 September 2010 commemorating the Miami Showband. The 55-cent stamp, designed with a 1967 publicity photograph of the band, included two of the slain members Fran O’Toole and Brian McCoy as part of the line-up when Dickie Rock was the frontman. It was one of a series of four stamps issued by An Post, celebrating the “golden age of the Irish showband era from the 1950s to the 1970s”.

The HET Report

The Historical Enquiries Team (HET), which was set up to investigate the more controversial Troubles-related deaths, released its report on the Miami Showband killings to the victims’ families in December 2011. The findings noted in the report confirmed Mid-Ulster UVF leader Robin Jackson’s involvement and identified him as an RUC Special Branch agent.

According to the report, Jackson had claimed during police interrogations that after the shootings, a senior RUC officer had advised him to “lie low”. Although this information was passed on to RUC headquarters, nothing was done about it. In a police statement made following his arrest for possession of the silencer and Luger on 31 May 1976, Jackson maintained that a week before he was taken into custody, two RUC officers had tipped him off about the discovery of his fingerprints on the silencer; he also claimed they had forewarned him: “I should clear as there was a wee job up the country that I would be done for and there was no way out of it for me”.

Although ballistic testing had linked the Luger (for which the silencer had been specifically made) to the Miami Showband attack, Jackson was never questioned about the killings after his fingerprints had been discovered on the silencer, and the Miami inquiry team were never informed about these developments.

Robin Jackson died of cancer on 30 May 1998, aged 49.

The families held a press conference in Dublin after the report was released. When asked to comment about the report, Des McAlea replied, “It’s been a long time but we’ve got justice at last”. He did, however, express his concern over the fact that nobody was ever charged with his attempted murder.

Stephen Travers

Stephen Travers offered, “We believe the only conclusion possible arising from the HET report is that one of the most prolific loyalist murderers of the conflict was an RUC Special Branch agent and was involved in the Miami Showband attack”.

The HET said the killings raised “disturbing questions about collusive and corrupt behaviour”.

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

Northern Ireland 1969

Timeline & Deaths 1969

1960–1969

Main Events

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

1966

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

1968

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

1969

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

Battle of  Bogside August 1969

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

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

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

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

—————————————————————————

1969

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

– 1969 Deaths –

9 Catholic

7 Protestant

Total 16

Annual Killings by Military and Paramilitary Groups  1969

Year

Republican

Loyalist

British

Others

Total

1969

3

3

10

0

16

———————————————————————————

Remembering all Innocent victims of the Troubles

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

– Thomas Campbell

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

– To  the Paramilitaries  –

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

16 People lost their lives in 1969

————————————————————

14 July 1969
Francis McCloskey,   (67)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

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

————————————————————

17 July 1969


Samuel Devenny,   (42)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

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

————————————————————

14 August 1969
John Gallagher,   (30)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

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

————————————————————

14 August 1969


Patrick Rooney,   (9)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

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

————————————————————

15 August 1969
Herbert Roy,   (26)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

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

————————————————————

15 August 1969
Hugh McCabe,   (20)

Catholic
Status: British Army (BA),

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

————————————————————

15 August 1969


Samuel McLarnon,  (27)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

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

————————————————————

15 August 1969


Michael Lynch,  (28)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

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

————————————————————

15 August 1969


Gerald McAuley,   (15)

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

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

————————————————————

15 August 1969
David Linton,   (48)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

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

————————————————————

08 September 1969
John Todd,  (29)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

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

————————————————————

11 October 1969
George Dickie,  (25)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

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

————————————————————

11 October 1969
Herbert Hawe,  (32)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

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

————————————————————

11 October 1969


Victor Arbuckle,   (29)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

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

————————————————————

21 October 1969
Thomas McDowell, (45)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF),

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

————————————————————

01 December 1969


Patrick Corry, (61)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

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

————————————————————

Background

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

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

Events leading up to the August riots

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

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

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

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

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

Battle of the Bogside

See Battle of Bogside

Main article: Battle of the Bogside

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

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

Rioting in Belfast

A mural in Belfast remembering the 1969 riots

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

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

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

Wednesday 13 August

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 14 August and early hours of Friday 15 August

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

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

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

Falls–Shankill interface near Divis Tower

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

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

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

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

Memorial plaque to Patrick Rooney and Hugh McCabe

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

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

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

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

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

Falls–Shankill interface near Clonard Monastery

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

Ardoyne

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

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

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

Friday 15 August

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

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

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

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

Falls–Shankill interface near Clonard Monastery

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

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

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

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

Ardoyne

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

Saturday 16 August

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

Disturbances elsewhere

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reactions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Effects

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

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

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

  • 1,505 Catholic families
  • 315 Protestant families

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

Long-term effects

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

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

The Irish Republican Army

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The RUC and USC

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

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

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

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

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

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