Tag Archives: Ulster

UDA – UFF – The Very British Terrorists

UDA – UFF 

The Very British Terrorists

 

– Disclaimer –

The views and opinions expressed in these documentary 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.

The UDA – Ulster Defence Association the largest Paramilitary group in Ireland has now reorganised, rearmed and has stepped up it’s campaign for the 1st time since the 1970’s and for the 1st time ever has killed more people in 1 year than the IRA. Those are the words of ‘This Weeks’ presenter Margaret Gilmore. This is a historical documentary created in 1992 please don’t dislike it because you hate the UDA or Loyalism.

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See UDA page for more information

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UDA – UVF – Loyalists in Northern Ireland – Full Documentary

Loyalists in Northern Ireland – Full Documentary

UDA (Ulster Defence Association)

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

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Belfast Shankill Loyalist Bands

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

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

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

History

Beginning

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

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

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

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

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

Women’s units

The UDA had several women’s units, which acted independent of each other.[31][32] Although they occasionally helped man roadblocks, the women’s units were typically involved in local community work and responsible for the assembly and delivery of food parcels to UDA prisoners. This was a source of pride for the UDA.[33] The first women’s unit was founded on the Shankill Road by Wendy “Bucket” Millar (b. 1944), whose sons Herbie and James “Sham” Millar would later become prominent UDA members.[34] The UDA women’s department was headed by Jean Moore, who also came from the Shankill Road. She had also served as the president of the women’s auxiliary Loyalist Association of Workers. Her brother Ingram “Jock” Beckett, one of the UDA’s founding members, had been killed in March 1972 by a rival UDA faction in an internal dispute.[35] Moore was succeeded by Hester Dunn of east Belfast, who also ran the Public Relations and administration section at the UDA headquarters.[36] Wendy Millar’s Shankill Road group was a particularly active women’s unit, and another was based in Sandy Row, south Belfast – a traditional UDA stronghold. The latter was commanded by Elizabeth “Lily” Douglas.[37] Her teenaged daughter, Elizabeth was one of the members.[38]

The Sandy Row women’s UDA unit was disbanded after it carried out a vicious “romper room” punishment beating on 24 July 1974 which left 32-year-old Ann Ogilby dead. The body of Ogilby, a Protestant single mother who had an affair with the husband of one of the unit’s members, was found in a ditch five days later.[39] The day of the fatal beating Ogilby was abducted and forced upstairs to the first floor of a disused bakery in Sandy Row that had been converted into a UDA club. Two teenage girls, Henrietta Cowan and Christine Smith,[40] acting under Elizabeth Douglas’ orders to give Ogilby a “good rompering”,[41] punched, kicked, then battered her to death with bricks and sticks; the autopsy later revealed that Ogilby had suffered 24 blows to the head and body. The killing, which was carried out within earshot of Ogilby’s six-year-old daughter, caused widespread revulsion throughout Northern Ireland and was condemned by the UDA prisoners serving inside the Maze Prison. None of the other UDA women’s units had consented to or been aware of the fatal punishment beating until it was reported in the news.[32] Douglas, Cowan, and Smith were convicted of the murder and sentenced to imprisonment at Armagh Women’s Jail. Seven other members of the women’s unit and a UDA man were also convicted for their part in the murder.[41][38] At the time of the murder the Sandy Row commander was Sammy Murphy, who also ran the South Belfast UDA. He had engaged in successful talks with the British Army to defuse a potential confrontation during the UWC strike over the erection of street barricades in the Sandy Row area.[42][43] The UDA “romper rooms”, named after the children’s television programme, were places where victims were beaten and tortured prior to being killed. This was known as a “rompering”. The “romper rooms” were normally located in disused buildings, lock-up garages, warehouses, and rooms above pubs and drinking clubs.[44] The use of the “romper rooms” was a more common practise among male members of the UDA than their female counterparts.[32]

Paramilitary campaign

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

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

Throughout the majority of its period of legality, the UDA’s attacks were carried out under the name “Ulster Freedom Fighters” (UFF). The UDA’s campaign of violence began in 1972. In May of that year, the UDA’s pressured leader Tommy Herron decided that responsibility for acts of violence committed by the UDA would be claimed by the “UFF”. Its first public statements came one month later.[45]

The UDA’s official position during the Troubles was that if the Provisional Irish Republican Army (Provisional IRA) called off its campaign of violence, then it would do the same. However, if the British government announced that it was withdrawing from Northern Ireland, then the UDA would act as “the IRA in reverse.”[46]

Active throughout the Troubles, its armed campaign gained prominence in the early 1990s through Johnny Adair‘s ruthless leadership of the Lower Shankill 2nd Battalion, C. Company, which resulted in a greater degree of tactical independence for the UFF.[47] C. Company’s hit squad, led by Stephen McKeag, became notorious for a campaign of random murders of Catholic civilians in the first half of the 1990s.[48]

They benefited, along with the Ulster Volunteer Force, and a group called Ulster Resistance (set up by the Democratic Unionist Party), from a shipment of arms imported from Lebanon in 1988.[49] The weapons landed included rocket launchers, 200 rifles, 90 pistols and over 400 grenades.[50] Although almost two–thirds of these weapons were later recovered by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), they enabled the UDA to launch an assassination campaign against their perceived enemies.

A UFF mural in the Kilcooley estate near Bangor

A UFF mural in the Sandy Row area of South Belfast

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

In 1992 Brian Nelson, a prominent UDA member convicted of sectarian killings, revealed that he was also a British Army agent. This led to allegations that the British Army and RUC were helping the UDA to target Irish republican activists. UDA members have since confirmed that they received intelligence files on republicans from British Army and RUC intelligence sources.[51]

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

According to the Sutton database of deaths at the University of Ulster‘s CAIN project,[52] the UDA/UFF was responsible for 259 killings during the Troubles. 208 of its victims were civilians (predominantly Catholics), 12 were civilian political activists (mainly members of Sinn Fein), 37 were other loyalist paramilitaries (including 30 of its own members), three were members of the security forces and 11 were republican paramilitaries. A number of these attacks were carried out with the assistance or complicity of the British Army, the Royal Ulster Constabulary, or both, according to the Stevens Enquiry, although the exact number of people killed as a result of collusion has not been revealed. The preferred modus operandi of the UDA was individual killings of select civilian targets in nationalist areas, rather than large-scale bomb or mortar attacks.

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

Post-ceasefire activities

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

A UDA/UFF mural in Belfast

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

Since the ceasefire, the UDA has been accused of taking vigilante action against alleged drug dealers, including tarring and feathering a man on the Taughmonagh estate in south Belfast.[53][54] It has also been involved in several feuds with the UVF, which led to many killings. The UDA has also been riddled by its own internecine warfare, with self-styled “brigadiers” and former figures of power and influence, such as Johnny Adair and Jim Gray (themselves bitter rivals), falling rapidly in and out of favour with the rest of the leadership. Gray and John Gregg are amongst those to have been killed during the internal strife. On 22 February 2003, the UDA announced a “12-month period of military inactivity”.[55] It said it would review its ceasefire every three months. The UPRG’s Frankie Gallagher has since taken a leading role in ending the association between the UDA and drug dealing.[56]

Following an August 2005 Sunday World article that poked fun at the gambling losses of one of its leaders, the UDA banned the sale of the newspaper from shops in areas it controls. Shops that defy the ban have suffered arson attacks, and at least one newsagent was threatened with death.[57] The Police Service of Northern Ireland began accompanying the paper’s delivery vans.[58][59] The UDA was also considered to have played an instrumental role in loyalist riots in Belfast in September 2005.[60]

On 13 November 2005 the UDA announced that it would “consider its future”, in the wake of the standing down of the Provisional IRA and Loyalist Volunteer Force.[61]

In February 2006, the Independent Monitoring Commission reported UDA involvement in organised crime, drug trafficking, counterfeiting, extortion, money laundering and robbery.[62]

A UDA/UFF mural in Bangor

On 20 June 2006, the UDA expelled Andre Shoukri and his brother Ihab, two of its senior members who were heavily involved in crime. Some see this as a sign that the UDA is slowly coming away from crime.[63] The move did see the southeast Antrim brigade of the UDA, which had been at loggerheads with the leadership for some time, support Shoukri and break away under former UPRG spokesman Tommy Kirkham.[64] Other senior members met with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern for talks on 13 July in the same year.[65]

On 11 November 2007 the UDA announced that the Ulster Freedom Fighters would be stood down from midnight of the same day,[66] with its weapons “being put beyond use” although it stressed that these would not be decommissioned.[67]

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

The IMC report concluded that the leadership’s willingness to change has resulted in community tension and the group would continue to be monitored, although “the mainstream UDA still has some way to go.” Furthermore, the IMC warned the group to “recognise that the organisation’s time as a paramilitary group has passed and that decommissioning is inevitable.” Decommissioning was said to be the “biggest outstanding issue for loyalist leaders, although not the only one.”[68]

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

On 6 January 2010, the UDA announced that it had put its weapons “verifiably beyond use”.[69] The decommissioning was completed five weeks before a government amnesty deadline beyond which any weapons found could have been used as evidence for a prosecution.[69] The decommissioning was confirmed by Canadian General John de Chastelain, chairman of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning, as well as Lord Eames, former Archbishop of Armagh and Sir George Quigley, former top civil servant.[70]

Chastelain stated that the decommissioning included arms, ammunition, explosives and explosive devices and the UDA stated that the arms “constitute the totality of those under their control”.[69] Following the decommissioning the Ulster Political Research Group, the UDA’s political representatives, stated that the “Ulster Defence Association was formed to defend our communities; we state quite clearly and categorically that this responsibility now rests with the Government and its institutions where legitimacy resides”.[70] UDA representative Frankie Gallagher also stated that the group now regretted being responsible for the killing of more than 400 people.[71]

Shaun Woodward, the British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, stated that this “is a major act of leadership by the UDA and further comprehensive evidence of the success of politics over violence in Northern Ireland” and the act was also welcomed by Sinn Féin and DUP politicians.[72] The President of the Republic of Ireland, Mary McAleese, described the decommissioning as “a very positive milestone on the journey of peace”.[73] US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also welcomed the move as a step towards lasting peace in Northern Ireland.[74]

South East Antrim breakaway group

The breakaway faction continues to use the “UDA” title in its name, although it too expressed willingness to move towards “community development.” Though serious crime is not prevalent among the members, some who were arrested for drug peddling and extortion were exiled by the Brigade. Although a clear distinction between the factions was not available in the 20th IMC report, as this was the first report to differentiate between the two, future reports would tackle the differences.[68]

Politics

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

In the 1970s the group favoured Northern Ireland independence, but they have retreated from this position.[75]

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

In 1987, the UDA’s deputy commander John McMichael (who was then the leader of the UFF) promoted a document titled “Common Sense”, which promoted a consensual end to the conflict in Northern Ireland, while maintaining the Union. The document advocated a power sharing assembly, involving both Nationalists and Unionists, an agreed constitution and new Bill of Rights. It is not clear however, whether this programme was adopted by the UDA as their official policy.[50] However the killing of McMichael that same year and the subsequent removal of Tyrie from the leadership and his replacement with an Inner Council saw the UDA concentrate on stockpiling weapons rather than political ideas.[76]

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

In early January 1994, the UDA released a document calling for ethnic cleansing and repartition, with the goal of making Northern Ireland wholly Protestant.[77] The plan was to be implemented should the British Army withdraw from Northern Ireland. The vastly Catholic and nationalist areas would be handed over to the Republic, and those left stranded in the “Protestant state” would be “expelled, nullified, or interned”.[77] The story was printed in The Sunday Independent newspaper on 16 January.[78] The “doomsday plan” was based on the work of Dr Liam Kennedy, a lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast.[77] In 1986 he had published a book called Two Ulsters: A Case for Repartition; though it did not call for ethnic cleansing. The UDP’s Raymond Smallwoods said “I wasn’t consulted but the scenario set out is a perfectly plausible one”.[77] The DUP’s Sammy Wilson stated that the plan “shows that some loyalist paramilitaries are looking ahead and contemplating what needs to be done to maintain our separate Ulster identity”.[77]

Links with other groups

In his book Black Sun, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke claimed that the UDA had links with Neo-Nazi groups in Britain—specifically Combat 18[79] (formed in 1991) and the British National Socialist Movement[80] (formed in 1985). He claims that members of these groups helped to smuggle weapons for the UDA/UFF. Ian S Wood‘s book Crimes of Loyalty: A History of the UDA claims that the UDA has received backing from Combat 18, the British National Front and the British National Party.[81] In 2006, the BBC also reported that the group has links with Combat 18.[82] It is unknown whether these links still exist. The links may not have been politically motivated, but mutually beneficial arms deals. On one occasion the UDA sent Louis Scott, one of a few black members of the UDA, to make the transaction.[83]

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

The necessity for a cover name resulted from the need to avoid tensions between the UDA and the UVF, the organisation from which the LVF had broken away. It was perceived that any open co-operation between the UDA and the LVF would anger the UVF, something which proved to be the case in following years and resulted in the infamous ‘Loyalist Feud’.[1] There has been debate as to whether or not the Red Hand Defenders have become an entity in their own right[84] made up of dissident factions from both the UDA and the LVF (both of which have now declared ceasefires whilst the RHD has not), though much intelligence has been based on the claims of responsibility which, as has been suggested,[1] are frequently misleading.

Structure and leadership

The UDA is made up of:

  • the Inner Council
  • the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)—whose role was to carry out attacks on republican and nationalist targets. However, many regard the UFF as merely a covername used when the UDA wished to claim responsibility for attacks.[85]
  • the Ulster Defence Force (UDF)—whose role was to give “specialist military training” to a select group of UDA members. The UDF was initiated by John McMichael[86] (the then UDA/UFF commander) in 1985 as a response to the Anglo-Irish Agreement. The UDF operated training camps in rural parts of Northern Ireland that young loyalists such as Johnny Adair claim to have attended.[86] One reported ‘survival’ training technique was to leave trainees stranded in Dublin with only £1.[86] Some of the training was given by former British Army soldiers and officers. It was described by the UDA as “the nucleus of a new loyalist army at the ready”.[87]
  • the Ulster Young Militants (UYM)—the “youth wing” of the group. Formed in 1973.[88]
  • the Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG)—the UDA’s “political advisory body”. Formed in 1978.[89]

The UDA operated a devolved structure of leadership, each with a brigadier representing one of its six “brigade areas”.[86] Currently, it is not entirely clear whether or not this structure has been maintained in the UDA’s post cease-fire state. The UDA’s six “brigade areas” were:

  • North Belfast
  • East Belfast
  • South Belfast, the UDA’s largest brigade area, covering all of South Belfast down to Lisburn and operating as far away as South County Down, Lurgan and Counties Tyrone and Fermanagh.[90]
  • West Belfast
  • Southeast [County] Antrim
  • North County Antrim & County Londonderry

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

In addition to these six core brigades two others may have existed. A seventh Mid-Ulster Brigade is mentioned by Steve Bruce as having existed for part of the UDA’s history[91] although Henry McDonald and Jim Cusack characterise this as a “battalion” rather than a brigade and suggest that its rural location prevented it from fully developing.[92] In the late 1970s a Scottish Brigade was established under the command of Roddy McDonald but this proved short-lived. The security forces infiltrated this brigade almost immediately and in 1979 arrested almost its entire membership, ninety people in all. Six members received particularly lengthy prison sentences for their involvement in UDA activities in Perth and the Scottish Brigade quietly disappeared.[93]

Some of the notable past brigadiers include:

Jackie McDonald—South Belfast (~1980s-present)[94] Resident of the Taughmonagh estate in South Belfast.[94] McDonald was a cautious supporter of the UDA’s ceasefire and a harsh critic of Johnny ‘Mad Dog’ Adair during his final years of membership of the organisation.[94] McDonald remains the only brigadier who did not have a commonly used nickname.

Johnny ‘Mad Dog’ Adair—West Belfast (1990–2002)[86] An active figure in the UDA/UFF, Adair rose to notoriety in the early 1990s when he led the 2nd Battalion, C Company unit in West Belfast which was responsible for one of the bloodiest killing sprees of the Troubles.[86]

Jim ‘Doris Day’ Gray—East Belfast (1992–2005)[86][95] An unlikely figure in Northern Ireland loyalism, the openly bi-sexual[86] Gray was a controversial figure in the organisation until his death on 4 October 2005. Always flamboyantly dressed, Gray was a key figure in the UDA’s negotiations with Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid. It is widely believed that Gray received his nickname from the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) Special Branch.[86]

Jimbo ‘Bacardi Brigadier’ Simpson—North Belfast (Unknown–2002)[86] Simpson is believed to have been an alcoholic, hence his nickname. He was leader of the UDA in the volatile North Belfast area, an interface between Catholics and Protestants in the New Lodge and Tiger’s Bay neighbourhoods.[86]

Billy ‘The Mexican’ McFarland—North Antrim and Londonderry (Unknown–2013)[86] He Earned his nickname because of his moustache and swarthy appearance, and had overall command of the UDA’s North Antrim and Derry brigade at the time of the Good Friday Agreement. He supported the leadership against Johnny Adair and has been associated with the magazine ‘Warrior’, which makes the case for Ulster Independence

Andre ‘The Egyptian’ Shoukri[86]—North Belfast (2002–2005)[86] Initially a close ally of Johnny Adair, Shoukri and his brother Ihab became involved with the UDA in his native North Belfast. The son of an Egyptian father and a Northern Irish mother, he was expelled from the UDA in 2005 following allegations of criminality.

John ‘Grug’ Gregg—South East Antrim (c.1993[96]–2003) John ‘Grug’ Gregg was a man with a fearsome reputation within the loyalist movement, known as a “Hawk” in loyalist circles, and controlled the streets of south east Antrim. On 14 March 1984, he severely wounded Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams in an assassination attempt for which he was jailed. When asked by the BBC in prison if he regretted anything about the shooting, his reply was “only that I didn’t succeed.” He was killed on Belfast’s Nelson Street, along with another UDA member (Rab Carson), while travelling in a taxi from the docks in 2003, and the murder was blamed on supporters of Johnny Adair, who had recently been expelled from the UDA in 2002.

Deaths as a result of activity

UDA South Belfast Brigade memorial plaque in Sandy Row

According to Malcolm Sutton’s Index of Deaths from the Conflict in Ireland (part of the CAIN database), the UDA/UFF was responsible for at least 260 killings during the Troubles, between 1969 and 2001. There are a further 250 loyalist killings where it is not yet certain which group was responsible.[97]

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

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

There were also 91 UDA members and four former members killed in the conflict.[98]

UVF ( Ulster Volunteer Force )

The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) is an Ulster loyalist paramilitary group in Northern Ireland. It emerged in 1966 and is named after the original UVF of the early 20th century. Its first leader was Gusty Spence, a former British soldier. The group undertook an armed campaign of almost thirty years during the Troubles. It declared a ceasefire in 1994 and officially ended its campaign in 2007, although some of its members have continued to engage in violence. The group is classified as a terrorist organization by the United Kingdom,[1] Republic of Ireland and United States.[2]

Until recent years,[3] it was noted for secrecy and a policy of limited, selective membership.[4][5][6][7][8] The UVF’s declared goals were to combat Irish republicanism – particularly the Irish Republican Army – and to maintain Northern Ireland’s status as part of the United Kingdom. It was responsible for at least 500 deaths, the vast majority (more than two-thirds)[9][10] of whom were Irish Catholic civilians. During the conflict, its deadliest attack in Northern Ireland was the 1971 McGurk’s Bar bombing, which killed fifteen civilians. The group also carried out attacks in the Republic of Ireland from 1969 onward. The biggest of these was the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings, which killed 33 civilians, making it the deadliest terrorist attack of the conflict. The no-warning car bombings had been carried out by units from the Belfast and Mid-Ulster brigades. The Mid-Ulster Brigade was also responsible for the 1975 Miami Showband killings, in which three members of the popular Irish cabaret band were shot dead at a bogus military checkpoint by gunmen in British Army uniforms. Two UVF men were accidentally blown up in this attack. The UVF’s last major attack was the 1994 Loughinisland massacre, in which its members shot dead six Catholic civilians in a rural pub.

Since the ceasefire, the UVF has been involved in rioting, organized crime, vigilantism and feuds with other loyalist groups.[11] Some members have also been orchestrating a series of racist attacks.[12]

Aim and strategy

A UVF publicity photo showing masked and armed UVF members

The UVF’s stated goal was to combat Irish republicanism – particularly the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) – and maintain Northern Ireland’s status as part of the United Kingdom.[13] The vast majority of its victims were Irish Catholic civilians, who were often killed at random.[14] Whenever it claimed responsibility for its attacks, the UVF usually claimed that those targeted were IRA members or were giving help to the IRA.[15] Other times, attacks on Catholic civilians were claimed as “retaliation” for IRA actions, since the IRA drew most of its support from the Catholic community. Such retaliation was seen as both collective punishment and an attempt to weaken the IRA’s support; it was thought that terrorizing the Catholic community and inflicting such a death toll on it would force the IRA to end its campaign.[16] Many retaliatory attacks on Catholics were claimed using the covername “Protestant Action Force” (PAF), which first appeared in Autumn 1974.[17] They always signed their statements with the fictitious name “Captain William Johnston”.[18]

Like the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), the UVF’s modus operandi involved assassinations, mass shootings, bombings and kidnappings. It used sub machine-guns, assault rifles, pistols, grenades (including homemade grenades), incendiary bombs, booby trap bombs and car bombs. Referring to its activity in the early and mid-1970s, journalist Ed Moloney described no-warning pub bombings as the UVF’s “forte”.[19] Members were trained in bomb-making and it developed home-made explosives.[20] In the late summer and autumn of 1973 the UVF detonated more bombs than the UDA and IRA combined,[21] and by the time of the group’s temporary ceasefire in late November it had been responsible for over 200 explosions that year.[22] However, from 1977 bombs largely disappeared from the UVF’s arsenal owing to a lack of explosives and bomb-makers, plus a conscious decision to abandon their use in favour of more contained methods.[23][24] The UVF did not return to regular bombings until the early 1990s when it obtained a quantity of the mining explosive Powergel.[25][26]

History

The 1960s

Since 1964, there had been a growing civil rights campaign in Northern Ireland. The civil rights movement sought to end discrimination against Catholics by the Protestant and Unionist-dominated government of Northern Ireland.[27] In March and April 1966, Irish republicans held parades throughout Ireland to mark the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising. On 8 March, a group of ex-Irish Republican Army (IRA) volunteers planted a bomb that destroyed Nelson’s Pillar in Dublin. At the time, the IRA was weak and not engaged in armed action, but some unionists and loyalists warned that it was about to be revived and launch another campaign against Northern Ireland.[27] In April, loyalists led by Ian Paisley, a Protestant fundamentalist preacher, founded the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee (UCDC). It set up a paramilitary-style wing called the Ulster Protestant Volunteers (UPV).[27] The ‘Paisleyites’ set out to stymie the civil rights movement and oust Terence O’Neill, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. Although O’Neill was a unionist, they saw him as being too ‘soft’ on the civil rights movement and too friendly with the Republic of Ireland. There was much overlap in membership between the UCDC/UPV and the UVF.[28]

A UVF mural on the Shankill Road

An old UVF mural on Shankill Road, where the group was formed

A UVF flag in Glenarm, County Antrim

On 7 May, loyalists petrol bombed a Catholic-owned pub in the loyalist Shankill area of Belfast. Fire engulfed the house next door, badly burning the elderly Protestant widow who lived there. She died of her injuries on 27 June.[27] The group called itself the “Ulster Volunteer Force” (UVF), after the original UVF of the early 20th century. It was led by Gusty Spence, a former British soldier. Spence claimed that he was approached in 1965 by two men, one of whom was an Ulster Unionist Party MP, who told him that the UVF was to be re-established and that he was to have responsibility for the Shankill.[29] On 21 May, the group issued a statement:

From this day, we declare war against the Irish Republican Army and its splinter groups. Known IRA men will be executed mercilessly and without hesitation. Less extreme measures will be taken against anyone sheltering or helping them, but if they persist in giving them aid, then more extreme methods will be adopted… we solemnly warn the authorities to make no more speeches of appeasement. We are heavily armed Protestants dedicated to this cause.[30]

On 27 May, Spence sent four UVF members to kill IRA volunteer Leo Martin, who lived in Belfast. Unable to find their target, the men drove around the Falls district in search of a Catholic. They shot John Scullion, a Catholic civilian, as he walked home.[31] He died of his wounds on 11 June.[27] Spence later wrote “At the time, the attitude was that if you couldn’t get an IRA man you should shoot a Taig, he’s your last resort”.[31]

On 26 June, the group shot dead a Catholic civilian and wounded two others as they left a pub on Malvern Street, Belfast.[27] Two days later, the Government of Northern Ireland declared the UVF illegal.[27] The shootings led to Spence being arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommended minimum sentence of twenty years.[32] Spence appointed Samuel McClelland as UVF Chief of Staff in his stead.[33]

By 1969, the Catholic civil rights movement had escalted its protest campaign, and O’Neill had promised them some concessions. In March and April that year, UVF and UPV members bombed water and electricity installations in Northern Ireland, blaming them on the dormant IRA and elements of the civil rights movement. Some of them left much of Belfast without power and water.[34] The loyalists “intended to force a crisis which would so undermine confidence in O’Neill’s ability to maintain law and order that he would be obliged to resign”.[35] There were bombings on 30 March, 4 April, 20 April, 24 April and 26 April. All were widely blamed on the IRA, and British soldiers were sent to guard installations.[34] Unionist support for O’Neill waned, and on 28 April he resigned as Prime Minister.[34]

On 12 August 1969, the “Battle of the Bogside” began in Derry. This was a large, three-day riot between Irish nationalists and the police (RUC). In response to events in Derry, nationalists held protests throughout Northern Ireland, some of which became violent. In Belfast, loyalists responded by attacking nationalist districts. Eight people were shot dead and hundreds were injured. Scores of houses and businesses were burnt-out, most of them owned by Catholics. The British Army were deployed on the streets of Northern Ireland. The Irish Army also set up field hospitals near the border. Thousands of families, mostly Catholics, were forced to flee their homes and refugee camps were set up in the Republic of Ireland.[34]

On 12 October, a loyalist protest in the Shankill became violent. During the riot, UVF members shot dead RUC officer Victor Arbuckle. He was the first RUC officer to be killed during the Troubles.[36]

The UVF had launched its first attack in the Republic of Ireland on 5 August 1969, when it bombed the RTÉ Television Centre in Dublin.[37][38] There were further attacks in the Republic between October and December 1969. In October, UVF and UPV member Thomas McDowell was killed by the bomb he was planting at Ballyshannon power station. The UVF stated that the attempted attack was a protest against the Irish Army units “still massed on the border in County Donegal“.[39] In December the UVF detonated a car bomb near the Garda central detective bureau and telephone exchange headquarters in Dublin.[40]

The early to mid-1970s

A UVF mural on Shankill Road, Belfast

In January 1970, the UVF began bombing Catholic-owned businesses in Protestant areas of Belfast. It issued a statement vowing to “remove republican elements from loyalist areas” and stop them “reaping financial benefit therefrom”. During 1970, 42 Catholic-owned licensed premises in Protestant areas were bombed.[41] Catholic churches were also attacked. In February it began to target critics of militant loyalism – the homes of MPs Austin Currie, Sheelagh Murnaghan, Richard Ferguson and Anne Dickson were attacked with improvised bombs.[41] It also continued its attacks in the Republic of Ireland, bombing the Dublin-Belfast railway line, an electricity substation, a radio mast, and Irish nationalist monuments.[42]

In December 1969 the IRA had split into the Provisional IRA and Official IRA. In early 1971 they began a concerted campaign against the British Army and RUC. The first British soldier to die in the conflict was killed by the Provisional IRA in February 1971. That year, a string of tit-for-tat pub bombings began in Belfast.[43] This came to a climax on 4 December, when the UVF bombed McGurk’s Bar, a Catholic-owned pub in Belfast. Fifteen Catholic civilians were killed and seventeen wounded. It was the UVF’s deadliest attack in Northern Ireland, and the deadliest attack in Belfast during the Troubles.[44]

The following year, 1972, was the most violent of the Troubles. Along with the newly formed Ulster Defence Association (UDA), the UVF began carrying out gun attacks on random Catholic civilians and using car bombs to attack Catholic-owned pubs. It would continue these tactics for the rest of its campaign. On 23 October 1972, the UVF carried out an armed raid against King’s Park camp, a UDR/Territorial Army depot in Lurgan. They managed to procure a large cache of weapons and ammunition including self-loading rifles, Browning pistols, and Sterling submachine guns. Twenty tons of ammonium nitrate was also stolen from the Belfast docks.[45]

The UVF launched further attacks in the Republic of Ireland during December 1972 and January 1973, when it detonated three car bombs in Dublin and one in Belturbet, killing five civilians. It would attack the Republic again in May 1974, during the two-week Ulster Workers’ Council strike. This was a general strike in protest against the Sunningdale Agreement, which meant sharing political power with Irish nationalists and the Republic having more involvement in Northern Ireland. Along with the UDA, it helped to enforce the strike by blocking roads, intimidating workers, and shutting any businesses that opened.[46] On 17 May, two UVF units from the Belfast and Mid-Ulster brigades detonated four car bombs in Dublin and Monaghan. Thirty-three people were killed and almost 300 injured. It was the deadliest attack of the Troubles. There are various credible allegations that elements of the British security forces colluded with the UVF in the bombings. The Irish parliament‘s Joint Committee on Justice called the bombings an act of “international terrorism” involving the British security forces.[47] Both the UVF and the British Government have denied the claims.

The UVF’s Mid-Ulster Brigade was founded in 1972 in Lurgan by Billy Hanna, a sergeant in the UDR and a member of the Brigade Staff, who served as the brigade’s commander until his shooting death in July 1975. From that time until the early 1990s, the Mid-Ulster Brigade was led by Robin “the Jackal” Jackson, who then passed the leadership to Billy Wright. Hanna and Jackson have both been implicated by journalist Joe Tiernan, and RUC Special Patrol Group (SPG) officer John Weir as having led one of the units that bombed Dublin.[48] Jackson was allegedly the hitman who shot Hanna dead outside his home in Lurgan, and subsequently took over his command.[49]

The brigade formed part of the Glenanne gang, a loose alliance of loyalist assassins which the Pat Finucane Centre has linked to 87 killings in the 1970s. The gang comprised, in addition to the UVF, rogue elements of the UDR, RUC, SPG, and the regular Army, all acting allegedly under the direction of British Military Intelligence and/or RUC Special Branch.[50]

Mid to late-1970s

UVF mural in the Shankill Road, where the Brigade Staff is based

In 1974, hardliners staged a coup and took over the Brigade Staff.[51] This resulted in a lethal upsweep of sectarian killings and internecine feuding with both the UDA and within the UVF itself.[51] Some of the new Brigade Staff members bore nicknames such as “Big Dog” and “Smudger”.[52] Beginning in 1975, recruitment to the UVF, which until then had been solely by invitation, was now left to the discretion of local units.[53]

The UVF’s Mid-Ulster Brigade carried out further attacks during this same period. These included the Miami Showband killings of 31 July 1975 – when three members of the popular showband from the Republic of Ireland were killed having been stopped at a fake British Army checkpoint outside of Newry in County Down. Two members of the group survived the attack and later testified against those responsible. Two UVF members, Harris Boyle and Wesley Somerville, were accidentally killed by their own bomb while carrying out this attack. Two of those later convicted (James McDowell and Thomas Crozier) were also serving members of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), a part-time, locally recruited regiment of the British Army.

From late 1975 to mid-1977, a unit of the UVF dubbed the Shankill Butchers (a group of UVF men based on Belfast’s Shankill Road) carried out a series of sectarian murders of Catholic civilians. Six of the victims were abducted at random, then beaten and tortured before having their throats slashed. This gang was led by Lenny Murphy. He was shot dead by the IRA in November 1982, four months after his release from the Maze Prison.

The group had been proscribed in July 1966, but this ban was lifted on 4 April 1974 by Merlyn Rees, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, in an effort to bring the UVF into the democratic process.[54] A political wing was formed in June 1974, the Volunteer Political Party led by UVF Chief of Staff Ken Gibson, which contested West Belfast in the October 1974 General Election, polling 2,690 votes (6%). The UVF spurned the government efforts however and continued killing. Colin Wallace, part of the intelligence apparatus of the British Army, asserted in an internal memo in 1975 that MI6 and RUC Special Branch formed a pseudo-gang within the UVF, designed to engage in violence and to subvert moves of the UVF towards the political process. Captain Robert Nairac of 14 Intelligence Company was alleged to have been involved in many acts of UVF violence.[55] The UVF was banned again on 3 October 1975 and two days later twenty-six suspected UVF members were arrested in a series of raids. The men were tried and in March 1977 were sentenced to an average of twenty-five years each.[56][57]

In October 1975, after staging a counter-coup, the Brigade Staff acquired a new leadership of moderates with Tommy West serving as the Chief of Staff.[58] These men had overthrown the “hawkish” officers, who had called for a “big push”, which meant an increase in violent attacks, earlier in the same month.[59] In fact, the UVF was behind the deaths of seven civilians in a series of attacks on 2 October.[60] The hawks had been ousted by those in the UVF who were unhappy with their political and military strategy. The new Brigade Staff’s aim was to carry out attacks against known republicans rather than Catholic civilians.[59] This had been thoroughly endorsed by Gusty Spence who issued a statement asking all UVF volunteers to support the new regime.[61] The UVF’s activities in the last years of the decade were increasingly being curtailed by the number of UVF members who were sent to prison.[59] Indeed, the number of killings in Northern Ireland had decreased from 300 per year during the period between 1973 and 1976 to just under 100 in the years 1977–1981.[62] In 1976, Tommy West was replaced with “Mr. F” who is alleged to be John “Bunter” Graham and remains the incumbent Chief of Staff to date.[63][64] West died in 1980.

On 17 February 1979, the UVF carried out its only major attack in Scotland, when its members bombed two pubs in Glasgow frequented by Catholics. Both pubs were wrecked and a number of people were wounded. It claimed the pubs were used for republican fundraising. In June, nine UVF members were convicted of the attacks.[65]

The early to mid-1980s

In the 1980s, the UVF was greatly reduced by a series of police informers. The damage from security service informers started in 1983 with “supergrass” Joseph Bennett’s information which led to the arrest of fourteen senior figures. In 1984, they attempted to kill the northern editor of the Sunday World, Jim Campbell after he had exposed the paramilitary activities of Mid-Ulster brigadier Robin Jackson. By the mid-1980s, a Loyalist paramilitary-style organisation called Ulster Resistance was formed on 10 November 1986. The initial aim of Ulster Resistance was to bring an end to the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Loyalists were successful in importing arms into Northern Ireland. The weapons were Palestine Liberation Organisation arms captured by the Israelis, sold to Armscor, the South African state-owned company which, in defiance of the 1977 United Nations arms embargo, set about making South Africa self-sufficient in military hardware.[citation needed] The arms were divided between the UVF, the UDA (the largest loyalist group) and Ulster Resistance.[66]

The UVF received large numbers of Sa vz. 58 assault rifles in the 1980s

The arms are thought to have consisted of:

  • 200 Czechoslovak Sa vz. 58 assault rifles,
  • 90 Browning pistols,
  • 500 RGD-5 fragmentation grenades,
  • 30,000 rounds of ammunition and
  • 12 RPG-7 rocket launchers and 150 warheads.

The UVF used this new infusion of arms to escalate their campaign of sectarian assassinations. This era also saw a more widespread targeting on the UVF’s part of IRA and Sinn Féin members, beginning with the killing of senior IRA member Larry Marley[67] and a failed attempt on the life of a leading republican which left three Catholic civilians dead.[68]

The late 1980s and early 1990s

The UVF also attacked republican paramilitaries and their political activists. These attacks were stepped up in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The largest death toll was on 3 March 1991 when the UVF killed IRA members John Quinn, Dwayne O’Donnell and Malcolm Nugent, and civilian Thomas Armstrong in the car park next to Boyle’s Bar, Cappagh.[69] Republicans had responded to the attacks by assassinating UVF leaders, including John Bingham, William “Frenchie” Marchant, Trevor King[70] and, allegedly, Leslie Dallas.[71] The UVF also killed republicans James Burns, Liam Ryan and Larry Marley.[72] According to Conflict Archive on the Internet (CAIN), the UVF killed 17 active and four former republican paramilitaries. CAIN also states that Republicans killed 13 UVF members.[73]

According to journalist and author Ed Moloney the UVF campaign in Mid Ulster in this period “indisputably shattered Republican morale”, and put the leadership of the republican movement under intense pressure to “do something”.[74]

1994 ceasefire

A UVF mural referencing the ceasefire

In 1990 the UVF joined the Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC) and indicated its acceptance of moves towards peace. However, the year leading up to the loyalist ceasefire, which took place shortly after the Provisional IRA ceasefire, saw some of the worst sectarian killings carried out by loyalists during the Troubles. On 18 June 1994, UVF members machine-gunned a pub in Loughinisland, County Down on the basis that its customers were watching the Republic of Ireland national football team playing in the World Cup on television and were therefore assumed to be Catholics. The gunmen shot dead six people and injured five.

The UVF agreed to a ceasefire in October 1994.

Post-ceasefire activities

More militant members of the UVF, led by Billy Wright who disagreed with the ceasefire, broke away to form the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF). This development came soon after the UVF’s Brigade Staff in Belfast had stood down Wright and the Portadown unit of the Mid-Ulster Brigade, on 2 August 1996, for the killing of a Catholic taxi driver near Lurgan during Drumcree disturbances.[75]

A UVF mural in Carrickfergus

There followed years of violence between the two organisations. In January 2000 UVF Mid-Ulster brigadier Richard Jameson was shot dead by a LVF gunman which led to an escalation of the UVF/LVF feud. The UVF was also clashing with the UDA in the summer of 2000. The feud with the UDA ended in December following seven deaths. Veteran anti-UVF campaigner Raymond McCord, whose son, Raymond Jr., a Protestant, was beaten to death by UVF men in 1997, estimates the UVF has killed more than thirty people since its 1994 ceasefire, most of them Protestants.[citation needed] The feud between the UVF and the LVF erupted again in the summer of 2005. The UVF killed four men in Belfast and trouble ended only when the LVF announced that it was disbanding in October of that year.[76]

On 14 September 2005, following serious loyalist rioting during which dozens of shots were fired at riot police, the Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain announced that the British government no longer recognised the UVF ceasefire.[77]

On 12 February 2006, The Observer reported that the UVF was to disband by the end of 2006. The newspaper also reported that the group refused to decommission its weapons.[78]

On 2 September 2006, BBC News reported the UVF may be intending to re-enter dialogue with the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning, with a view to decommissioning of their weapons. This move comes as the organisation holds high level discussions about their future.[79]

On 3 May 2007, following recent negotiations between the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) and Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and with Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde, the UVF made a statement that they would transform to a “non-military, civilianised” organisation.[80] This was to take effect from midnight. They also stated that they would retain their weaponry but put them beyond reach of normal volunteers. Their weapons stock-piles are to be retained under the watch of the UVF leadership.[81][82][83]

In January 2008, the UVF was accused of involvement in vigilante action against alleged criminals in Belfast.[84]

In 2008, a loyalist splinter group calling itself the “Real UVF” emerged briefly to make threats against Sinn Féin in Co. Fermanagh.[85]

In the twentieth IMC report, the group was said to be continuing to put its weapons “beyond reach”, (in the group’s own words) to downsize, and reduce the criminality of the group. The report added that individuals, some current and some former members, in the group have, without the orders from above, continued to “localised recruitment”, and although some continued to try and acquire weapons, including a senior member, most forms of crime had fallen, including shootings and assaults. The group concluded a general acceptance of the need to decommission, though there was no conclusive proof of moves towards this end.[86]

In June 2009 the UVF formally decommissioned their weapons in front of independent witnesses as a formal statement of decommissioning was read by Dawn Purvis and Billy Hutchinson.[87] The IICD confirmed that “substantial quantities of firearms, ammunition, explosives and explosive devices” had been decommissioned and that for the UVF and RHC, decommissioning had been completed.[88] On 30 May 2010, however, the UVF was believed to have carried out the shotgun killing of expelled RHC member Bobby Moffett on the Shankill Road in broad daylight. The shooting raised questions over the future of the PUP.

On 25–26 October 2010, the UVF was involved in rioting and disturbances in the Rathcoole area of Newtownabbey with UVF gunmen seen on the streets at the time.[89][90]

On 28 May 2010, the UVF was severely criticised over the murder of Moffett. The Independent Monitoring Commission was highly critical of the leadership for having condoned and even sanctioned the attack, in contrast to praise bestowed on the Brigade Staff for a moderating influence during the marching season. The Progressive Unionist Party‘s condemnation, and Dawn Purvis and other leaders’ resignations as a response to the Moffett shooting, were also noted. Eleven months later, a 40-year-old man was arrested and charged with the attempted murder of the UVF’s alleged second-in-command Harry Stockman, described by the media as a “senior Loyalist figure”. Fifty-year-old Stockman was stabbed more than 15 times in a supermarket in the Greater Shankill area; the attack was believed to have been linked to the Moffett killing. However, public opinion suggests that the stabbing was a personal vendetta and any connection being made to the Moffett case was simply a fictitious tale of revenge.[91]

On the night of 20 June 2011, riots involving 500 people erupted in the Short Strand area of East Belfast. They were blamed by the PSNI on members of the UVF, who also said UVF guns had been used to try to kill police officers.[92] The UVF leader in East Belfast, who is popularly known as the “Beast of the East” and “Ugly Doris” also known as by real name Stephen Matthews, ordered the attack on Catholic homes and a church in the Catholic enclave of the Short Strand. This was in retaliation for attacks on Loyalist homes the previous weekend and after a young girl was hit in the face with a brick by Republicans.[92][93] A dissident Republican was arrested for “the attempted murder of police officers in east Belfast” after shots were fired upon the police.[94]

In July 2011 a UVF flag flying in Limavady was deemed legal by the PSNI after the police had received complaints about the flag from nationalist politicians.[95]

During the Belfast City Hall flag protests of 2012 – 2013, senior UVF members were confirmed to have actively been involved in orchestrating violence and rioting against the PSNI and the Alliance Party throughout Northern Ireland during the weeks of disorder.[96] Much of the UVF’s orchestration was carried out by its senior members in East Belfast, where many attacks on the PSNI and on residents of the Short Strand enclave took place.[97] There were also reports that UVF members fired shots at police lines during a protest.[98] The high levels of orchestration by the leadership of the East Belfast UVF, and the alleged ignored orders from the main leaders of the UVF to stop the violence has led to fears that the East Belfast UVF has now become a separate loyalist paramilitary grouping which doesn’t abide by the UVF ceasefire or the Northern Ireland Peace Process.[99][100]

In October 2013, the policing board announced that the UVF was still heavily involved in gangsterism despite its ceasefire. Assistant chief constable Drew Harris in a statement said “The UVF are subject to an organized crime investigation as an organized crime group. The UVF very clearly have involvement in drug dealing, all forms of gangsterism, serious assaults, intimidation of the community.” [11]

In November 2013, after a series of shootings and acts of intimidation by the UVF. Police Federation Chairman, Terry Spence declared that the UVF ceasefire was no longer active. Spence told Radio Ulster that the UVF had been “engaged in murder, attempted murder of civilians, attempted murder of police officers. They have been engaged in orchestrating violence on our streets, and it’s very clear to me that they are engaged in an array of mafia-style activities.”They are holding local communities to ransom. On the basis of that, we as a federation have called for the respecification of the UVF [stating that its ceasefire is over].”[101]

Leadership

Brigade Staff

Masked UVF Brigade Staff members at a press conference in October 1974. They are wearing part of the UVF uniform which earned them their nickname “Blacknecks”

The UVF’s leadership is based in Belfast and known as the Brigade Staff. It comprises high-ranking officers under a Chief of Staff or Brigadier-General. With a few exceptions, such as Mid-Ulster brigadier Billy Hanna (a native of Lurgan), the Brigade Staff members have been from the Shankill Road or the neighbouring Woodvale area to the west.[102] The Brigade Staff’s former headquarters were situated in rooms above “The Eagle” chip shop located on the Shankill Road at its junction with Spier’s Place. The chip shop has since been closed down.

In 1972, the UVF’s imprisoned leader Gusty Spence was at liberty for four months following a staged kidnapping by UVF volunteers. During this time he restructured the organisation into brigades, battalions, companies, platoons and sections.[45] These were all subordinate to the Brigade Staff. The incumbent Chief of Staff, is alleged to be John “Bunter” Graham, referred to by Martin Dillon as “Mr. F”.[63][64][103] Graham has held the position since he assumed office in 1976.[63]

The UVF’s nickname is “Blacknecks”, derived from their uniform of black polo neck jumper, black trousers, black leather jacket, black forage cap, along with the UVF badge and belt.[104][105] This uniform, based on those of the original UVF, was introduced in the early 1970s.[106]

Chiefs of Staff

  • Gusty Spence (1966–1966). Whilst remaining de jure UVF leader after he was jailed for murder, he no longer acted as the Chief of Staff
  • Sam “Bo” McClelland (1966–1973)[33] Described as a “tough disciplinarian”, he was personally appointed by Spence to succeed him as Chief of Staff, due to his having served in the Korean War with Spence’s former regiment, the Royal Ulster Rifles. He was interned in late 1973, although by that stage the de facto Chief of Staff was his successor, Jim Hanna.[33][107]
  • Jim Hanna (1973 – April 1974)[107] Hanna was allegedly shot dead by the UVF as a suspected informer.[107]
  • Ken Gibson (1974)[108] Gibson was the Chief of Staff during the Ulster Workers’ Council Strike in May 1974.[108]
  • Unnamed Chief of Staff (1974 – October 1975). Leader of the Young Citizen Volunteers (YCV), the youth wing of the UVF. Assumed command after a coup by hardliners in 1974. He, along with the other hawkish Brigade Staff members were overthrown by Tommy West and a new Brigade Staff of “moderates” in a counter-coup supported by Gusty Spence. He left Northern Ireland after his removal from power.[61][109]
  • Tommy West (October 1975 – 1976)[58] A former British Army soldier, West was already the Chief of Staff at the time UVF volunteer Noel “Nogi” Shaw was killed by Lenny Murphy in November 1975 as part of an internal feud.[58]
  • John “Bunter” Graham, also referred to as “Mr. F” (1976–present)[63][64][103]

Strength, finance and support

The strength of the UVF is uncertain. The first Independent Monitoring Commission report in April 2004 described the UVF/RHC as “relatively small” with “a few hundred” active members “based mainly in the Belfast and immediately adjacent areas”.[110] Historically, the number of active UVF members in July 1971 was stated by one source to be no more than 20.[111] Later, in September 1972, Gusty Spence said in an interview that the organisation had a strength of 1,500.[112] A British Army report released in 2006 estimated a peak membership of 1,000.[113] Information regarding the role of women in the UVF is limited. One study focusing in part on female members of the UVF and Red Hand Commando noted that it “seem[ed] to have been reasonably unusual” for women to be officially asked to join the UVF.[114] Another estimates that over a 30-year period women accounted for just 2% of UVF membership at most.[115]

Prior to and after the onset of the Troubles the UVF carried out armed robberies.[116][117] This activity has been described as its preferred source of funds in the early 1970s,[118] and it continued into the 2000s with the UVF in Co Londonderry being active.[110] Members were disciplined after they carried out an unsanctioned theft of £8 million of paintings from an estate in Co Wicklow in April 1974.[119] Like the IRA, the UVF also operated black taxi services,[120][121][122] a scheme believed to have generated £100,000 annually for the organisation.[116] The UVF has also been involved in the extortion of legitimate businesses, although to a lesser extent than the UDA,[123] and was described in the fifth IMC report as being involved in organised crime.[124] In 2002 the House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee estimated the UVF’s annual running costs at £1–2 million per year, against an annual fundraising capability of £1.5 million.[125]

In contrast to the IRA, overseas support for loyalist paramilitaries including the UVF has been limited.[126] Its main benefactors have been in central Scotland,[127] Liverpool,[128] Preston[128] and the Toronto area of Canada.[129] Supporters in Scotland have helped supply explosives and guns.[130][131] Although Scottish support for loyalist paramilitaries has been hindered by the strong disapproval of the mainstream Orange Order in that country,[132][133] it is estimated that the UVF nevertheless received hundreds of thousands of pounds in donations to its Loyalist Prisoners Welfare Association.[134]

Drug dealing

The UVF have been implicated in drug dealing in areas from where they draw their support. Recently it has emerged from the Police Ombudsman that senior North Belfast UVF member and Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) Special Branch informant Mark Haddock has been involved in drug dealing. According to the Belfast Telegraph, “…70 separate police intelligence reports implicating the north Belfast UVF man in dealing cannabis, Ecstasy, amphetamines and cocaine.”[135]

According to Alan McQuillan, the assistant director of the Assets Recovery Agency in 2005, “In the loyalist community, drug dealing is run by the paramilitaries and it is generally run for personal gain by a large number of people.” When the Assets Recovery Agency won a High Court order to seize luxury homes belonging to ex-policeman Colin Robert Armstrong and his partner Geraldine Mallon in 2005, Alan McQuillan said “We have further alleged Armstrong has had links with the UVF and then the LVF following the split between those organisations.” It was alleged that Colin Armstrong had links to both drugs and loyalist terrorists.[136]

Billy Wright, the commander of the UVF Mid-Ulster Brigade, is believed to have started dealing drugs in 1991 [137] as a lucrative sideline to paramilitary murder. Wright is believed to have dealt mainly in Ecstasy tablets in the early 90s.[138] It was around this time that Sunday World journalists Martin O’Hagan and Jim Campbell coined the term “rat pack” for the UVF’s murderous mid-Ulster unit and, unable to identify Wright by name for legal reasons, they christened him “King Rat.” An article published by the newspaper fingered Wright as a drug lord and sectarian murderer. Wright was apparently enraged by the nickname and made numerous threats to O’Hagan and Campbell. The Sunday World’s offices were also firebombed. Mark Davenport from the BBC has stated that he spoke to a drug dealer who told him that he paid Billy Wright protection money.[139] Loyalists in Portadown such as Bobby Jameson have stated that the LVF (the Mid-Ulster Brigade that broke away from the main UVF – and led by Billy Wright) was not a ‘loyalist organisation but a drugs organisation causing misery in Portadown.’[140]

The UVF’s satellite organisation, the Red Hand Commando, was described by the IMC in 2004 as “heavily involved” in drug dealing.[110]

Affiliated groups

  • The Red Hand Commando (RHC) is an organisation that was established in 1972 and is closely linked with the UVF.
  • The Young Citizen Volunteers (YCV) is the youth section of the UVF. It was initially a youth group akin to the Scouts, but became the youth wing of the UVF during the Home Rule crisis.

Deaths as a result of activity

The UVF has killed more people than any other loyalist paramilitary group. According to the University of Ulster‘s Sutton database, the UVF and RHC was responsible for at least 485 killings during the Troubles, between 1969 and 2001. This includes killings claimed by the “Protestant Action Force” and “Protestant Action Group”. There are a further 250 loyalist killings where it is not yet certain which group was responsible.[9]

Of those killed by the UVF and RHC:[143]

  • 414 (~85%) were civilians, 11 of whom were civilian political activists
  • 21 (~4%) were members or former members of republican paramilitary groups
  • 44 (~9%) were members or former members of loyalist paramilitary groups
  • 6 (~1%) were members of the British security forces

There were also 66 UVF/RHC members and four former members killed in the conflict.[144]

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Why Ireland split into the Republic of Ireland & Northern Ireland

Disclaimer – The views and opinions expressed in these documentary 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.

A brief overview of the history of Ireland and the events that led to the political division of the island.

Including: the Norman and Tudor conquest of Ireland, the break away from the Roman Catholic Church, the Union of the Crowns, the various Irish Rebellions, Oliver Cromwell’s effect on Ireland, Irish joining the Union, the Irish War for Independence, the following Civil War, and the recent violence in Northern Ireland known as The Troubles.

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Why Ireland split into the Republic of Ireland & Northern Ireland

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The Kingsmill Massacre – 5 January 1976

Kingsmill Massacre

IRA murders 10 innocent Protestants.

The Kingsmill massacre occurred on January 5, 1976 when ten Protestant men were killed just outside the village of Kingsmill in south Armagh, Northern Ireland by Irish republicans IRA.

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The Kingsmill massacre was one of the worst single incidents in a period of severe sectarian violence during the Troubles, in Northern Ireland.

January 5, 1976, a Ford Transit mini-bus carried Protestant textile workers travelling home from work. The Provisional IRA South Armagh Brigade stopped the van and shot the men in cold blood with Armalite rifles, SLRs, a 9mm pistol and an M1 carbine, a total of 136 rounds were fired in less than a minute. No one was ever charged in relation to the Kingsmill killings.

The Kingsmill massacre took place on 5 January 1976 near the village of Kingsmill in south County Armagh, Northern Ireland. Gunmen stopped a minibus carrying eleven Protestant workmen, lined them up beside it and then shot them. Only one of them survived, despite having been shot 18 times.[1] A group calling itself the South Armagh Republican Action Force claimed responsibility. It said the shooting was retaliation for a string of attacks on Catholic civilians in the area by Loyalists, particularly the killing of six Catholics the night before.[2][3] The Kingsmill massacre was the climax of a string of tit-for-tat killings in the area during the mid-1970s, and was one of the deadliest mass shootings of the Troubles.

A 2011 report by the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) found that members of the Provisional IRA carried out the attack, despite the organisation being on ceasefire. It has been claimed that the IRA members acted without the sanction of the IRA Army Council. The HET report said that the men were targeted because they were Protestants[4][5][6] and that, although it was a response to the night before, it had been planned in advance.[6] The weapons used were linked to 110 other attacks.[7]

Following the massacre, the British government declared County Armagh to be a “Special Emergency Area” and hundreds of extra troops and police were deployed in the area. It also announced that the Special Air Service (SAS) was being moved into South Armagh. This was the first time that SAS presence in Northern Ireland was officially acknowledged.

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The Victims

Alan Black the only survivor of the massacre

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05 January 1976


John McConville,   (20)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Republican Action Force (RepAF)
Shot shortly after his firm’s minibus stopped at bogus vehicle check point while travelling home from work, Kingsmills, near Bessbrook, County Armagh.

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05 January 1976


Walter Chapman,   (23)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Republican Action Force (RepAF)
Shot shortly after his firm’s minibus stopped at bogus vehicle check point while travelling home from work, Kingsmills, near Bessbrook, County Armagh.

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05 January 1976


Reginald Chapman, (25)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Republican Action Force (RepAF)
Shot shortly after his firm’s minibus stopped at bogus vehicle check point while travelling home from work, Kingsmills, near Bessbrook, County Armagh.

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05 January 1976

Joseph Lemmon,   (46)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ)

Killed by: Republican Action Force (RepAF)
Shot shortly after his firm’s minibus stopped at bogus vehicle check point while travelling home from work, Kingsmills, near Bessbrook, County Armagh.

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05 January 1976


James McWhirter,   (58)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Republican Action Force (RepAF)
Shot shortly after his firm’s minibus stopped at bogus vehicle check point while travelling home from work, Kingsmills, near Bessbrook, County Armagh.

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05 January 1976


Kenneth Worton,   (24)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Republican Action Force (RepAF)
Shot shortly after his firm’s minibus stopped at bogus vehicle check point while travelling home from work, Kingsmills, near Bessbrook, County Armagh.

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05 January 1976


Robert Chambers,  (19)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Republican Action Force (RepAF)
Shot shortly after his firm’s minibus stopped at bogus vehicle check point while travelling home from work, Kingsmills, near Bessbrook, County Armagh.

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05 January 1976


John Bryans,   (46)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Republican Action Force (RepAF)
Shot shortly after his firm’s minibus stopped at bogus vehicle check point while travelling home from work, Kingsmills, near Bessbrook, County Armagh

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05 January 1976


Robert Freeburn,  (50)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Republican Action Force (RepAF)
Shot shortly after his firm’s minibus stopped at bogus vehicle check point while travelling home from work, Kingsmills, near Bessbrook, County Armagh.

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05 January 1976


Robert Walker,   (46)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Republican Action Force (RepAF)
Shot shortly after his firm’s minibus stopped at bogus vehicle check point while travelling home from work, Kingsmills, near Bessbrook, County Armagh.

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Survivor

Alan Black

Background

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.[8] 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.[8] The security forces boosted their intelligence offensive during the truce and thoroughly infiltrated the IRA.[8]

There was a rise in sectarian killings during the truce, which ‘officially’ lasted until February 1976. Loyalists, fearing they were about to be forsaken by the British government and forced into a united Ireland,[9] increased their attacks on Irish Catholics/nationalists. Loyalists killed 120 Catholics in 1975, the vast majority civilians.[10] They hoped to force the IRA to retaliate and thus hasten an end to the truce.[10] 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.[8] Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) members, and current or former members of the Official IRA, were also involved.[8]

Between the beginning of the truce (10 February 1975) and the Kingsmill massacre, loyalist paramilitaries killed 25 Catholic civilians in County Armagh and just over the border in County Louth.[11][12] In that same period, republican paramilitaries killed 14 Protestant civilians and 16 members of the security forces in County Armagh.[11]

  • On 1 September, five Protestant civilians were killed by masked gunmen at Tullyvallan Orange Hall near Newtownhamilton. The attack was claimed by a group calling itself the “South Armagh Republican Action Force”.[11] This was the first time the name had been used.
  • On 19 December, loyalists detonated a car bomb at Kay’s Tavern in Dundalk, a few miles across the Irish border. No warning was given beforehand and two civilians were killed.[11] Later that day, three Catholic civilians were killed and six were wounded in a gun and grenade attack on Donnelly’s Bar in Silverbridge. The “Red Hand Commandos” claimed responsibility for both attacks.[11] Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers investigating the attack said they believed the culprits included an RUC officer and a British soldier from the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR).[13]
  • On 31 December, three Protestant civilians were killed in an explosion at the Central Bar, Gilford. The “People’s Republican Army” claimed responsibility.[11] It is believed this was a cover name used by members of the INLA.[14]

The HET report found that while the massacre was in “direct response” to the Reavey and O’Dowd killings, the attack was planned before that: “The murderous attacks on the Reavey and O’Dowd families were simply the catalyst for the premeditated and calculated slaughter of these innocent and defenceless men”.[16]

The attack

The bullet-riddled minibus which had been transporting the 11 Protestant workers who were gunned down as they lined up beside the vehicle

On 5 January 1976 just after 5.30 pm, a red Ford Transit minibus was carrying sixteen textile workers home from work in Glenanne to Bessbrook. Five were Catholics and eleven were Protestants. Four of the Catholics got out at Whitecross, while the rest continued on the road to Bessbrook.[17] As the bus cleared the rise of a hill, it was stopped by a man in British Army uniform standing on the road and flashing a torch.[18] The workers assumed they were being stopped and searched by the British Army. As the bus stopped, eleven masked gunmen with blackened faces and wearing combat jackets emerged from the hedges. A man “with a pronounced English accent” then began talking.[19] He ordered them to line-up beside the bus and then asked “Who is the Catholic?”.[18] The only Catholic was Richard Hughes. His workmates—now fearing that the gunmen were loyalists who had come to kill him—tried to stop him from identifying himself.[19] However, when Hughes stepped forward the gunman told him to “Get down the road and don’t look back”.[20] The lead gunman then said “Right” and the other armed men immediately opened fire on the workers.[21]

The remaining eleven men were shot at very close range with AR-18 and L1A1 SLR rifles, a 9mm pistol, and an M1 carbine. A total of 136 rounds were fired in less than a minute. The dead and wounded men’s bodies fell on top of each other. When the shooting stopped, one of the gunmen walked amongst the dying men and shot each of them in the head as they lay on the ground.[22] Ten of them died at the scene; John Bryans, Robert Chambers, Reginald Chapman, Walter Chapman, Robert Freeburn, Joseph Lemmon, John McConville, James McWhirter, Robert Walker and Kenneth Worton.[23] Alan Black survived despite having eighteen gunshot wounds.[24]

Hughes managed to stop a car and was driven to Bessbrook RUC station, where he raised the alarm. Meanwhile, a man and his wife had come upon the scene of the killings and had begun praying beside the victims. They found Alan Black, who was lying in a ditch and badly wounded. When an ambulance arrived, Black was taken to hospital in Newry, where he was operated on and survived.[25] A police officer said that the road was “an indescribable scene of carnage”,[26] whilst Johnston Chapman, the uncle of victims Reginald and Walter Chapman, said that the dead men were “just lying there like dogs, blood everywhere”.[27] At least two of the victims were so badly mutilated by gunfire that immediate relatives were prevented from identifying them. One relative stated that the hospital mortuary “was like a butcher’s shop with bodies lying on the floor like slabs of meat”.[24]

Nine of the dead, the textile workers, were from the village of Bessbrook, while the bus driver, Robert Walker (46), was from nearby Mountnorris.[2] Four of the men were members of the Orange Order.[28]

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Evidence exists to arrest untouchable IRA killers who committed the Kingsmills massacre

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The perpetrators

The next day, a caller claimed responsibility for the attack on behalf of the South Armagh Republican Action Force. He said that it was retaliation for the Reavey and O’Dowd killings of the night before,[19][29] and that there would be “no further action on our part” if loyalists stopped their attacks. He added that the group had no connection with the IRA.[19]

The IRA at the time denied responsibility for the killings. It stated on 17 January 1976:

The Irish Republican Army has never initiated sectarian killings… [but] if loyalist elements responsible for over 300 sectarian assassinations in the past four years stop such killing now, then the question of retaliation from whatever source does not arise.[30]

However, a 2011 report by the Historical Inquiries Team (HET) found that Provisional IRA members were responsible[6][31] and that the “South Armagh Republican Action Force” was merely a covername. It added: “There is some intelligence that the Provisional IRA unit responsible was not well-disposed towards central co-ordination but there is no excuse in that. These dreadful murders were carried out by the Provisional IRA and none other”.[16] Responding to the report, Sinn Féin spokesman Mitchel McLaughlin said that he did “not dispute the sectarian nature of the killings” but continued to believe “the denials by the IRA that they were involved”.[32][33] SDLP Assemblyman Dominic Bradley called on Sinn Féin to “publicly accept that the HET’s forensic evidence on the firearms used puts Provisional responsibility beyond question” and cease “deny[ing] that the Provisional IRA was in the business of organising sectarian killings on a large scale”.[34]

According to the account of journalist Toby Harnden, the British Military Intelligence assessment at the time was that the attack was carried out by local IRA members “who were acting outside of the normal IRA command structure”.[35] He also quoted an alleged South Armagh IRA member, Volunteer M, who said that “IRA members were ordered by their leaders to carry out the Kingsmill massacre”.[36] Furthermore, Harnden reported a contradictory RUC allegation that the attack was planned, and that future Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt was among the IRA members who planned it (at the nearby Road House pub on New Year’s Eve) and took part.[37]

It was alleged by Harnden that IRA Chief of Staff Seamus Twomey, on the suggestion of Brian Keenan, ordered that there had to be a disproportionate retaliation against Protestants in order to stop Catholics being killed by loyalists. According to IRA informer Sean O’Callaghan, “Keenan believed that the only way to put the nonsense out of the Prods [Protestants], was to hit back much harder and more savagely than them”.[38] However, O’Callaghan reports that Twomey and Keenan did not consult the IRA Army Council before sanctioning the Kingsmill attack. Ruairí Ó Brádaigh claims that he and Twomey only learned of the Kingsmill attack after it had taken place.[39]

Two AR-18 rifles used in the shooting were found by the British Army in 1990 in a wall near Cullyhanna and forensically tested. It was reported that the rifles were linked to 17 killings in the South Armagh area from 1974 to 1990.[40] Further ballistic studies found that guns used in the attack were linked to 37 killings, 22 attempted killings, 19 non-fatal shootings and 11 finds of spent cartridges between 1974 and 1989.[41]

In 2012, a secret Royal Military Police (RMP) document shown to the Sunday World newspaper revealed that the gunman who finished off the dying men could have been arrested five months later. The document says that the man (referred to as ‘P’) was wounded when British soldiers engaged an IRA unit near the Mountain House Inn on the Newry–Newtownhamilton Road on 25 June 1976. He managed to flee over the border and was treated at Louth County Hospital shortly after. The three other members of the IRA unit were captured within hours. According to the RMP document, two of them named ‘P’ as the fourth member. Four guns were also captured by security forces after the gunfight, including two that had been used in the Kingsmill massacre. The RMP document reveals that both the British Army and RUC knew that ‘P’ was being treated at the hospital but “made no attempt to have him arrested and extradited”. This has led to suspicions that ‘P’ – “who has never been prosecuted despite extensive paramilitary involvement” – was a British agent.[22]

Ian Paisley’s claims

In 1999, Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Ian Paisley stated in the House of Commons that Eugene Reavey took part in the massacre. Eugene Reavey’s three brothers were shot by loyalists the day before, although Paisley made no reference to those killings.[42]

Eugene Reavey had “witnessed the immediate aftermath of the [Kingsmill] massacre, which took place near his home. He was driving to Newry and happened upon it. He and his family were on their way to Daisy Hill hospital to collect the bodies of two of his brothers, John (24) and Brian (22).”[43] Eugene Reavey “was also going to visit his younger brother, Anthony, who had been badly injured in the attack. The bodies of the murdered workmen were being brought into the mortuary when he arrived. He went into the room where the shattered families were gathering, and wept with them. Alan Black [sole survivor of the Kingsmill massacre] and Anthony Reavey shared a hospital room. Black lived whilst Reavey later died.”[43]

Paisley used parliamentary privilege to name those he believed responsible, including Eugene Reavey, whom he accused of being “a well-known republican” who “set up the Kingsmills massacre”. Paisley claimed to be quoting from what he described as a “police dossier” but what is believed to be an Ulster Defence Regiment intelligence file.[44][45] Paisley’s claims were rejected by the sole survivor of the Kingsmill massacre, Alan Black, and also by Reavey himself.

Susan McKay wrote in the Irish Times that Alan Black, on hearing Paisley’s accusations,

…went straight to the Reaveys’ house in Whitecross, south Armagh. He told Reavey that he knew he was innocent. The PSNI has stated that it had no reason to suspect Reavey of any crime, let alone of masterminding the atrocity … The then Northern Ireland deputy first minister, the SDLP‘s Seamus Mallon, expressed outrage. Reavey went to the chief constable of the RUC, Ronnie Flanagan. Flanagan said he had “absolutely no evidence whatsoever” to connect him with the massacre, and that no police file contained any such allegation.[46]

In January 2007, the Police Service of Northern Ireland‘s Historical Enquiries Team (HET) apologised to the Reavey family for security forces allegations that the three brothers killed in 1976 were IRA members or that Eugene Reavey had been involved in the Kingsmill attack.[47][48] Despite this, the allegation continued to be promoted by local unionist activist Willie Frazer of Families Acting for Innocent Relatives (FAIR).[49] In May 2010, the HET released a report which exonerated the three Reavey brothers and their family of any links to paramilitarism, leading Eugene Reavey to demand an apology from Ian Paisley for the comments he made in 1999.[50] Paisley died in 2014 without retracting his allegations.[51]

Strong indications of UDR involvement and collusion with the UVF led to a case being taken before the European Court of Human Rights regarding the killings.[52] In November 2007, the court ruled that the RUC had not properly investigated allegations made by John Weir, a former RUC officer and self-confessed former member of the Glennane gang.[53][54][55][56] Weir has made detailed claims of collusion between high-ranking members of the security forces and paramilitary groups.[57][56][58][dead link]

Alan Black’s claims

Alan Black survived the Kingsmill shooting
Alan Black

Alan Black, the sole survivor, has claimed that state agents were involved.[59]

Reactions and aftermath

The Kingsmill massacre was the last in the series of sectarian killings in South Armagh during the mid-1970s. According to Willie Frazer of FAIR, this was as a result of deal between the local UVF and IRA groups.[60]

Two days after the massacre, Prime Minister Harold Wilson announced that the Special Air Service (SAS) was being moved into the South Armagh area. This was the first time that SAS presence in Northern Ireland was officially acknowledged.[61] However, according to historian Richard English, “It seems clear that the SAS had been in the north well before this. According to the Provisionals since 1971; according to a former SAS soldier they had been there even earlier”. Units and personnel under SAS control are alleged to have been involved in loyalist attacks.[62] Author Toby Harnden places regiment’s B squadron in Belfast as early as 1974.[63]

Loyalist response

See Glenanne Gang

There were no immediate revenge attacks by loyalist paramilitaries. However, in 2007 it emerged that local UVF members from the “Glenanne gang” had planned to kill at least 30 Catholic school children as retaliation.[64][65] This gang had been involved in the Reavey–O’Dowd killings and it included members of the RUC’s Special Patrol Group and the British Army’s Ulster Defence Regiment.[64][65] Following the Kingsmill shootings, the gang drew-up plans to attack St Lawrence O’Toole Primary School in the South Armagh village of Belleeks.[64][65] The plan was aborted at the last minute on orders of the UVF’s Brigade Staff (Belfast leadership), who ruled that it would be “morally unacceptable”, would undermine support for the UVF, and could lead to civil war.[64][65] One Glenanne gang member said that the UVF leadership also feared the potential IRA response.[66] The gang member who suggested the attack was a UDR soldier. The leadership allegedly suspected that he was working for British Military Intelligence,[64][65] and that Military Intelligence were seeking to provoke a civil war.[66]

Another UVF gang, the “Shankill Butchers“, also planned retaliation for the massacre. This gang, led by Lenny Murphy, operated in Belfast and was notorious for its late-night kidnapping, torture and murder (by throat slashing) of random Catholic civilians. Within a week of the massacre, Murphy had laid the groundwork for an attack on a lorry that ferried Catholic workmen to Corry’s Timber Yard in West Belfast. The plan was to shoot all of those on board. However, Murphy abandoned the plan after the workers changed their route and transport.[67]

Some loyalists claim the Kingsmill massacre is the reason they joined paramilitary groups. One was Billy Wright, who said:

I was 15 when those workmen were pulled out of that bus and shot dead. I was a Protestant and I realised that they had been killed simply because they were Protestants. I left Mountnorris, came back to Portadown and immediately joined the youth wing of the UVF.[68]

He went on to assume command of the UVF Mid-Ulster Brigade when its leader Robin “the Jackal” Jackson “retired” in the early 1990s; Wright later founded the breakaway Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) in 1996. He was suspected of at least 20 sectarian killings of Catholics in the 1980s and 1990s.[69] Another with similar claims was RUC Special Patrol Group officer Billy McCaughey, who was one of the RUC officers present at the aftermath of the massacre. He told Toby Harnden, “the sides of the road were running red with blood and it was the blood of totally innocent Protestants”. Afterwards, McCaughey says that he began passing RUC intelligence to loyalist militants and also to participate in their operations. McCaughey was convicted in 1980 of one sectarian killing, the kidnapping of a Catholic priest, and one failed bombing.[70] However, McCaughey had colluded with loyalists before the Kingsmill attack, and later admitted to taking part in the Reavey killings the day before – he claimed he “was at the house but fired no shots”.[71] McCaughey also gave his view on how the massacre affected loyalists:

I think Kingsmills forced people to ask themselves where they were going, especially the Protestant support base, the civilian support base – the people who were not members of the UVF but would let you use a building or a field. Those people, many of them withdrew. It wasn’t because of anything the UVF did. It was fear of retaliation.[19]

No one was ever charged in relation to the Kingsmill massacre. In August 2003, there were calls for the Police Service of Northern Ireland to reopen the files relating to the massacre.[72]

Republican response

As noted above, the IRA denied involvement in the attack. Although author Toby Harnden and others have alleged that it was ordered by elements of the IRA leadership (Seamus Twomey and Brian Keenan), other republican leaders were reported to be very unhappy about it. According to the informer Sean O’Callaghan, Gerry Adams said in an Army Council meeting, “there’ll never again be another Kingsmill”.[73]

Harnden stated that IRA members in South Armagh who talked to him in the late 1990s generally condemned the massacre. One of them, Volunteer M, was quoted as saying that it was “a gut reaction [to the killing of Catholics] and a wrong one. The worst time in my life was in jail after Kingsmill. It was a dishonourable time”. Another, Volunteer G, was quoted as saying that he “never agreed with Kingsmill”. Republican activist Peter John Caraher said that those ultimately responsible were “the loyalists who shot the Reavey brothers”. He added, “It was sad that those people [at Kingsmill] had to die, but I’ll tell you something, it stopped any more Catholics being killed”.[74] This view was reiterated by a County Tyrone republican and Gaelic Athletic Association veteran who spoke to Ed Moloney. “It’s a lesson you learn quickly on the football field… If you’re fouled, you hit back”, he said.[75]

Memorial parade controversy

In February 2012, controversy arose when Willie Frazer of FAIR proposed a “March for Justice” in which the victims’ relatives, along with 11 loyalist bands, would follow the route taken by the workmen the night they were killed. This would have meant passing through the mainly nationalist village of Whitecross and past the homes of the Reavey family, where the three brothers had been killed the night before the massacre.[76] Over 200 people voiced their opposition to the march at a meeting with the Parades Commission in Whitecross. Local SDLP and Sinn Féin representatives also opposed it, saying it would raise sectarian tension in the area.[77] The Parades Commission approved the march on condition that there be no marching bands, flags, banners or placards. Pastor Barrie Halliday, a member of FAIR, received a death threat telling him that he would be shot and his church would be burnt if the march went ahead.[78] The organizers postponed the march; a move that was welcomed by local Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy and Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kennedy.[79]

Memorials

There is a memorial in Beesbrook inscribed ‘The Innocent Victims Murdered at Kingsmills’.[80]

A second memorial, near the site of the attack was vandalised on Friday 30 November 2012 while it was undergoing construction. IRA graffiti was scratched into the plaster of the memorial. Danny Kennedy MLA, who has campaigned on behalf of the families, said he was “absolutely appalled by the attack”. The Ulster Unionist representative also claimed that there was an attempt to “intimidate” construction workers at the memorial site, prior to the graffiti appearing. [81] [82]

In June 2013, Northern Ireland’s SDLP Environment Minister Alex Attwood apologised that his Department has sent a letter to the land owner of the memorial site demanding it be removed as it did not have planning permission. Attwood said: “That letter should not have been issued. How the planning system went off and issued a letter is beyond me. I am not happy.” MLA William Irwin criticised the Department’s action and contrasted it with its inaction over 19 “illegal roadside terrorist memorials”, five of which were in the Newry and Armagh constituency, which similarly had no planning permission

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Alan Black

Alan Black outside the Belfast Coroner's Court on Tuesday.

The sole survivor of the Kingsmill massacre has threatened legal action over the failure to appoint a new coroner to hear a fresh inquest into the murders of 10 Protestant workmen in South Armagh almost 40 years ago

A number of victims’ relatives joined Alan Black in issuing the ultimatum to the Department of Justice on Tuesday.

He was one of 11 textile workers who were ambushed in South Armagh in 1976. Ten of the men died when they were lined up against the minibus they were travelling in and shot.

Northern Ireland’s Senior Coroner John Leckey has been presiding over preliminary proceedings ahead of the new inquest being heard, but he is due to retire in the autumn.

No other coroner has been assigned to the case, despite calls from Mr Leckey for Justice Minister David Ford to find a successor.

During the final preliminary hearing in the case before retirement, a lawyer representing Mr Black and the family of victim John McConville warned judicial review proceedings would be initiated if no action is taken.

Mr Black said the families would not accept a further hold-up in their long battle for an inquest.

“Over the years since we got involved, it has been one obstacle put in our way after the other and all coming from the Department of Justice,” he said.

“They knew for two years that John Leckey was going to go. David Ford wants to kick us into the long grass again, we are not going.

“We’ll do whatever’s necessary with the legal people and hopefully get a result then.”

No one has been convicted of the murders, which were widely blamed on the IRA, although the organisation never admitted responsibility.

Mr Black was hit 18 times but survived the gun attack.

The only Catholic worker was told to flee the scene.

In a statement, a spokesman for the justice minister said: “The Department of Justice fully appreciates the concerns of the families who are awaiting inquests into the deaths of loved ones.

“The Coroners Service currently has three full-time coroners, including the senior coroner.

“The justice minister also recently approved the appointment of an additional county court judge to create additional judicial capacity for legacy cases.

“The assignment of a coroner to hear inquests is currently the responsibility of the senior coroner and will become the responsibility of the Lord Chief Justice when he assumes the Presidency of the Coroners’ Courts.”

This story first appeared on UTV in June 2015

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The sole survivor of a sectarian massacre of 10 Protestant workmen in Northern Ireland has led a solitary life since the slaughter, a lawyer told an inquest

Alan Black was shot 18 times and left for dead alongside the lifeless bodies of his friends, cut down in a hail of bullets by a South Armagh roadside in 1976, blamed on He has problems trusting people and suffered health issues, a Belfast courtroom was told. The elderly former engineer applied for legal representation in an upcoming coroner’s investigation into a mass killing near the village of Kingsmill, one of the most notorious Troubles shootings.

Barrister Fiona Doherty told the hearing: “He has not been able to work since the shooting and leads a solitary life.”

The textile workers were gunned down after a masked gang stopped their minibus close to Kingsmill as they were travelling home from work.

They were forced to line up alongside the van and ordered to divulge their religion. The only Catholic was told to flee while the 11 remaining were shot.

No-one has ever been convicted of the murders, widely blamed on the IRA even though the organisation never admitted responsibility

Ms Doherty said the only survivor had left school at 15 and worked as a mechanic or engineer until the incident.

She argued that she should be allowed to represent him, alongside relatives of the deceased, during what is expected to be one of the largest inquests in recent times in Northern Ireland.

She claimed it would be nearly impossible for him to properly understand and respond to the evidence and stressed his importance to shed light on what happened.

“He is not simply a witness, he is a survivor.

“He is the only person who can give a first hand account of what happened.”

She told coroner Brian Sherrard it may be only when another witness gave evidence or documents were made available that the value of his input was realised.

“The court should be very slow to disregard that full input and the benefit that you and the inquest get from having that input.”

She argued counsel for the coroner could not adequately replace a dedicated lawyer.

“He needs help and support to come from people he knows and trusts and has built up a rapport with. He has issues with trust stemming from the incident…and he needs help and support to be fully informed.”

She warned the consequences of not granting legal representation could be profound.

“There is a real risk that the inquest will pass him by.”

A barrister for the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), Peter Coll, asked what purpose would be served.

“What extra element will be brought to the inquest proceedings, what marks Mr Black out as being different from a witness/survivor in any other incident?

“We respectfully say there would be nothing to be gained from it.”

Proud to be British – Someone called me a Republican hater yesterday it made me stop and think !

Time for Peace

Someone called me a Republican hater yesterday and it made me stop and think. The twitter in question was from Ireland and accused me of being a loyalist and hating Republicans.

With all due respect she got that right on both counts and I make no apology for being from the Shankill Road, being proud to be British and hating (Sinn Fein/IRA ) Republicans

proud_to_be_british_by_the_angus_burger-d58yegj

That doesn’t mean I hate Catholics or Irish people (I don’t) and would wish any harm on them. In fact during the worst years of the troubles whenever I learnt of the death of an innocent Catholic or anyone else for that matter, my heart would bleed for them and those they left behind.

My sympathy extended to all innocent victims of the conflict, regardless of religious or political background , including the army and other security forces tasked with the impossible job of policing two communities whom at times seemed to want to destroy each other.

The security forces were caught in the middle and were always fighting a losing battle and I salute you all. I am a pacifist at heart and I abhor all murder, especially the murder of innocent people & those committed for political or religious reasons. Life’s to short and  hard enough without having to worry that you will be killed for following a certain political system or worshipping a different god.

The definition of loyalist is :

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

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

Growing up in West Belfast during the height of the troubles was no laughing matter and I have seen things that no child should ever have to witness .Death stalked the streets of Belfast day in and day out and there was no escape from the madness that surrounded and engulfed us.

shankill road

The communities from The Shankill , The Falls and surrounding areas arguable suffered most during the Troubles , as not only were we on the “frontline” of the sectarian divide , but the paramilitaries from both sides lived and operated among us.

I have lost count of how many people I grew up with whom have been murdered, imprisoned or had their life’s destroyed as a direct result of the Troubles. As a child growing up in loyalist West Belfast my day to day life was dominated by the conflict and my own family have suffered personally due to the Troubles.

But every other family in Belfast was living the  same nightmare and few escape the legacy of  Northern Ireland’s tortured past.

Ulster_Is_British_magnet

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

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

1. Irish republicanism is an ideology based on the belief that all of Ireland should be an independent republic.

It may surprise some readers to hear that I have no adverse objections to Republicanism as a concept or a United Ireland and I believe at some time in the far distant future this will come about.

But not in my lifetime or with my support.

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I abject to the misery and lost lives the IRA and other paramilitary groups are responsible for and yes I don’t like the IRA and all they stand for.

I was born British into a British country and I am extremely proud of my British & Unionist heritage and it saddens me to see this being slowly eradicated by Sinn Féin//IRA and other Irish Republican groups.

That doesn’t mean I hate Catholics or wish harm on them, it means I have a different point of view and democracy is all about freedom of choice and my choice is to maintain the Union with the UK and embrace and celebrate my loyalist culture and traditions.

1 Teddy with new text

If you have taken the time to read extracts from my autobiography, Belfast Child , you will know that my own family was ripped apart due to the sectarian divide in Northern Ireland and I spent most of my life searching for my missing Catholic mother, whom I thought was dead. Living in loyalist West Belfast I had to keep this dirty little secret to myself and when my father died when I was eleven I longed for my mother to be there, but of course she wasn’t. Times have much changed since my youth and the turbulent early years of the troubles and life is much better and less uncertain for the Children of Belfast today. Hopefully we can all put the past behind us and build a lasting peace and learn to live side by side and respect each other’s history and culture.

“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.” ― Maya Angelou

The Corporal Killings – Sickening IRA Murder of Two Off Duty British Army Corporals Belfast March 19th 1988

 

The Corporal Killings 

19th March 1988

Sickening IRA Murder of Two Off Duty British Army Corporals Belfast 1988

 

Corporals Killings

 

– Disclaimer –

The views and opinions expressed in this post / documentary  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.

 

Lest We Forget

 

Corporal Derek Wood was killed at the IRA funeral of Kevin Brady in Andersonstown in 1988..

Corporal Derek Wood was killed at the IRA funeral of Kevin Brady in Andersonstown in 1988..

British Army corporals David Howes and Derek Wood were killed by the Provisional IRA on 19 March 1988 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in an event which became known  as the corporals killings.

Corporal David Howes

Corporal David Howes  was killed at the IRA funeral of Kevin Brady in Andersonstown in 1988.

 

Image result for Catholic bishop Cahal Daly

Catholic bishop Cahal Daly said:

“For a ghastly half-hour the mask slipped. The real face of IRA violence was shown.

 

The plain-clothes soldiers were killed after driving a car into the funeral procession of an IRA member. Three days before, loyalist Michael Stone had attacked an IRA funeral and killed three people. Believing the soldiers were loyalists intent on repeating Stone’s attack, dozens of people surrounded and attacked their car.

During this, Corporal Wood drew his service pistol and fired a shot in the air. The soldiers were then dragged from the car, beaten, and taken to nearby waste ground where they were stripped and shot dead.

The incident was filmed by television cameras and the images have been described as some of the “most dramatic and harrowing” of the conflict in Northern Ireland.

IRA Murder of Two Off Duty British Army

 

Background

The killings took place against a backdrop of violence at high-profile Irish republican funerals. A heavy security presence was criticized as instigating unrest, leading authorities to adopt a “hands off” policy with respect to policing IRA funerals.

On 6 March 1988, three unarmed IRA members preparing for a bomb attack on the band of the Royal Anglian Regiment  were killed by members of the Special Air Service (SAS) in Gibraltar during Operation Flavius. Their unpoliced funerals in Belfast’s Milltown Cemetery on 16 March were attacked by Ulster Defence Association (UDA) member Michael Stone with pistols and hand grenades, in what became known as the Milltown Cemetery attack.

Three people were killed and more than 60 wounded, one of the dead being IRA member Caoimhín Mac Brádaigh (Kevin Brady). Mac Brádaigh’s funeral, just three days after Stone’s attack, took place amid an extremely fearful and tense atmosphere, those attending being in trepidation of another loyalist attack.

 The attendance at the funeral included large numbers of IRA members who acted as stewards.

 

David Robert Howes (23) and Derek Tony Wood (24) were corporals in the British Army’s Royal Corps of Signals. According to the British Army, Howes and Wood ignored general orders to stay away from IRA funeral processions. It has been presumed that the two men drove into the procession by accident.

The Killings

Image result for the corporal killings

David Howes and Derek Wood were wearing civilian clothes and driving in a silver Volkswagen Passat hatchback. The Mac Brádaigh funeral was making its way along the Andersonstown Road towards Milltown Cemetery when the car containing the two corporals appeared. The car headed straight towards the front of the funeral, which was headed by several black taxis. It drove past a Sinn Féin steward who signalled it to turn. Mourners at the funeral said they believed they were under attack from Ulster loyalists.

The car then mounted a pavement, scattering mourners, and turned into a small side road. When this road was blocked, it then reversed at speed, ending up within the funeral cortege. When the driver attempted to extricate the car from the cortege his exit route was blocked by a black taxi.

When the car was surrounded and the windows smashed, those surrounding attempted to drag the soldiers out. Wood produced a handgun, which certain off-duty members of the security forces were permitted to carry at the time.

Image result for the corporal killings

 

Wood climbed part of the way out of a window, firing a shot in the air which briefly scattered the crowd. Television pictures showed the crowd surging back, with some of them attacking the vehicle with a wheel-brace and a stepladder snatched from a photographer. The corporals were eventually pulled from the car and punched and kicked to the ground.

Journalist Mary Holland recalled seeing one of the men being dragged past a group of journalists:

“He didn’t cry out, just looked at us with terrified eyes, as though we were all enemies in a foreign country who wouldn’t have understood what language he was speaking if he called out for help.”

 

They were dragged to the nearby Casement Park sports ground. Here they were again beaten and stripped to their underpants and socks by a small group of men. According to the BBC and The Independent the men were also tortured.

A search revealed that the men were British Army soldiers.

Redemptorist priest Father Alec Reid, who later played a significant part in the peace process leading to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, intervened and attempted to get someone to call for an ambulance, but was dragged away and threatened with shooting if he did not stand up; he was then pulled away from the men.

The corporals were further beaten and thrown over a high wall to be put into a waiting black taxi. It was driven off at speed, while camera crews captured one of its passengers waving a fist in the air.

The two men were driven less than 200 yards to waste ground near Penny Lane (South Link), just off the main Andersonstown Road. There they were shot several times. Wood was shot six times, twice in the head and four times in the chest. He was also stabbed four times in the back of the neck and had multiple injuries to other parts of his body. Reid had been following the perpetrators in an attempt to intervene and save Howes and Wood; when he arrived at the scene he gave the last rites to the two men.

Priest Father Alex Reid gives last rites to one of the murdered soldiers on the waste ground. Picture: Pacemaker

According to photographer David Cairns, although photographers were having their films taken by the IRA, he was able to keep his by quickly leaving the area after taking a photograph of Reid kneeling beside the almost naked body of Howes, administering the last rites. Cairns’ photograph was later named one of the best pictures of the past 50 years by Life magazine.

Shortly after, the IRA released a statement:

The Belfast brigade, IRA, claims responsibility for the execution of two SAS members who launched an attack on the funeral cortege of our comrade volunteer Kevin Brady. The SAS unit was initially apprehended by the people lining the route in the belief that armed loyalists were attacking them and they were removed from the immediate vicinity.

Our volunteers forcibly removed the two men from the crowd and, after clearly ascertaining their identities from equipment and documentation, we executed them.

Aftermath

Image result for Alex Murphy and Harry Maguire

Northern Ireland Secretary Tom King acknowledged that the Milltown Cemetery attack and the killing of Howes and Wood were:

“wholly unacceptable and do require immediate review in regard to policing to be followed at any future funeral.”

Conservative MP Michael Mates nonetheless defended the “hands off” policy, saying “A return to heavy-handed policing could provoke riots, which is what the IRA want so they can say to the world:

‘They won’t even let us bury our dead in peace.'”

Fine Gael leader Alan DukesLabour leader Dick Spring and Taoiseach Charlie Haughey all condemned the killings. The British prime minister at the time, Margaret Thatcher called the killings :

“an act of appalling savagery”.

On 2 August 1988, Lance-Corporal Roy Butler of the Ulster Defence Regiment was shot and killed in Belfast with one of the guns taken from the corporals.

Two men, Alex Murphy and Harry Maguire, were found guilty of the murder of the corporals.

They were jailed for life in 1989, with a recommendation of a minimum 25 years. Murphy received a further 83 years, and Maguire 79 years, for bodily harmfalsely imprisoning the soldiers, and possessing a gun and ammunition.

Sir Brian Hutton, sentencing, said

“All murders are brutal, but the murders of Corporal Howes and Corporal Wood were particularly savage and vicious . . . They were stripped of most of their clothing and they lay in their own blood in the back of the taxi when you took them to the waste ground to be killed, and in that pitiable and defenceless state you brought about their murders as they lay on the ground.”

Both men had been listed as senior members of the IRA’s Belfast Brigade. In 1973, at the age of 15, Murphy had been the youngest republican internee in Long Kesh prison, which later became known as the Maze. Maguire became a member of the IRA’s “camp staff” in the Maze, one of the senior IRA men effectively in control of the republican wings, and met Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam when she visited the jail to negotiate with prisoners.

In November 1998, Murphy and Maguire were released from the Maze prison as part of the early prisoner release scheme under the Good Friday Agreement. Maguire is now chairman of the Belfast office of Community Restorative Justice Ireland, a police-supported group aimed at dealing with low-level crime through mediation and intended to replace the practice of “punishment beatings” and kneecappings by paramilitaries.

A further three men were in 1990 found guilty by common purpose of aiding and abetting the murder. The men (Pat Kane, Mickey Timmons, and Seán Ó Ceallaigh) were dubbed the “Casement Three” by republicans who disputed the validity of their convictions. Kane’s conviction was quashed on appeal due to the unreliability of his confession.

 Ó Ceallaigh was released in 1998 under the Good Friday Agreement.

Terence Clarke, the chief steward on the day, was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment for assaulting Corporal Wood. Clarke had served as Gerry Adams‘ bodyguard; he died of cancer in 2000.

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See See The Corporals killings & the events leading up to it

see Operation Flavious

See Michael Stone

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Michael Stone – Loyalist Hero or Psychopath? (Documentary)

 – Disclaimer –

 

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

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Michael Stone (born 2 April 1955) is an Ulster loyalist who was a volunteer in the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). Stone was born in England but raised in the Braniel estate in East Belfast, Northern Ireland. Convicted of murdering three people and injuring more than sixty in an attack on mourners at Milltown Cemetery in 1988, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. While in jail, he became one of the leaders of the Ulster Defence Association/Ulster Freedom Fighters (UDA/UFF) prisoners.[1]

In 2000, Stone was released from prison on licence under the Belfast Agreement and subsequently worked as an artist and writer. In November 2006, Stone was charged with (among other offences) the attempted murder of Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams, having been arrested attempting to enter the parliament buildings at Stormont while armed.[2] Stone was subsequently convicted and sentenced to a further 16 years’ imprisonment

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Early life

Stone was born in Harborne, Birmingham, to English parents Cyril Alfred Stone and his wife Mary Bridget (née O’Sullivan).[4] Mary Bridget walked out on the marriage soon after Stone’s birth and Cyril Alfred enlisted in the Merchant Navy, leaving the infant Michael in the care of John Gregg and his wife Margaret (Cyril’s sister) who lived in Ballyhalbert.[5] Stone has claimed that he suspects his biological mother may have been a Catholic because of her name but added that he was baptised in the Church of Ireland by the Greggs and as such he has always self-identified as Protestant.[6] Cyril Stone subsequently remarried and had two children, Michael Stone’s half-siblings, by his second wife – Tracey and Terence – the latter of whom converted to Buddhism and became a monk in Southeast Asia.[7] The Greggs had five biological children with whom Stone was raised and whom he identifies as siblings, a son John and four daughters, Rosemary, Colleen, Sharon and Shirley.[8]

The Greggs moved to the Braniel estate on the outskirts of Belfast in 1959 due to John Gregg securing employment with Harland and Wolff shipyard.[9] Stone attended Braniel Primary School and Lisnasharragh Secondary School, where fellow pupils included George Best, who was in the same class as Stone’s sister Rosemary Gregg.[10] Stone enrolled in the Army Cadet Force as a fourteen-year-old where he received basic training in firearm use.[11] Stone was expelled from school at fifteen and a half after a series of playground fights and left Lisnasharragh with no formal qualifications.[12] He would find work as a “hammer boy” in the shipyard only a few weeks later.[13] However he got into a fight with another worker and, following a suspension, resigned his position.[14]

Move to loyalism

The UFF East Belfast Brigade of which Stone became a member

In 1970 Stone helped establish a Braniel street gang, which called itself the Hole in the Wall Gang, and which Stone claims included Catholic and Protestant members.[15] Gang members, who adopted a form of uniform consisting of blue jeans and oxblood Dr. Martens and who carried knives, clashed regularly with members of other Braniel gangs as well as those from neighbouring estates in east Belfast.[16] In 1971 Stone joined a “Tartan Gang” that had started up on the Braniel estate and he was soon recognised as “general” of this loyalist group. The gangs were responsible for sectarian violence, which usually took the form of spending Saturday afternoons in Belfast city centre attacking Catholic youths, and vandalising the Catholic repository in Chapel Lane.[17]

Stone met Tommy Herron, commander of the Ulster Defence Association‘s East Belfast Brigade, when Herron moved into the Braniel estate in 1972.[18] According to Stone, Herron took him and three friends to the neighbouring Castlereagh Hills one day and brought a German shepherd dog with them. After the four had played with the dog for around half-an-hour, Herron produced a gun and told them to kill the dog. After his three friends refused Stone shot the animal and was praised by Herron for being ruthless.[19] He was sworn in as a member of the UDA at a ceremony the following week.[20] Stone was trained in weapon use by Herron himself for several months and according to Stone at one point in the training Herron shot him with a blank round from a shotgun.[21]

Stone’s early UDA activity was mostly confined to stealing and in 1972 he was sent to prison for six months for stealing guns and ammunition from a Comber sports shop.[22] He returned to jail soon after his release for stealing a car.[23] Tommy Herron was murdered, probably by colleagues, soon afterwards and the Braniel UDA went into abeyance.[24]

Red Hand Commando

Following Herron’s death, Stone withdrew from the UDA and in January 1974 attached himself to the Red Hand Commando (RHC), a loyalist group that also operated a Braniel unit under Sammy Cinnamond.[25] According to Stone, one of his earliest duties was acting as a bodyguard to Vanguard Unionist Progressive Party leader Bill Craig.[26] In 1978 the UDA encouraged Stone to join the Royal Irish Regiment at Ballymena in order that he could receive training with anti-tank weaponry although he did not receive this training and left after six months.[27] According to Martin Dillon, Stone also held membership of Tara, an anti-Catholic and anti-communist organisation led by William McGrath, a close associate of RHC leader John McKeague.[28] Dillon also argues that Stone had actually joined the RHC at an earlier date and held simultaneous membership of the other groups, Tara and the UDA. Cross-membership of more than one loyalist group was not unheard of in the early days of the Troubles.[29]

Stone became close to John Bingham, the commander of the Ballysillan Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF, which the RHC was very close to), and the two worked closely on a fund-raising drive for their groups.[30] According to Stone this included a meeting with two members of Mossad who wished to provide funding to the UVF.[31] Stone however was eager to become more closely involved in killing and under Cinnamond that was not on the agenda so he drifted from the RHC.[32]

Return to UDA

In 1984 Stone decided to reactivate his membership of the UDA and contacted Andy Tyrie to receive permission.[33] After a brief period with the near moribund Mid-Ulster Brigade, Stone, who felt he was too well known in east Belfast to rejoin the local brigade, met John McMichael and was soon seconded to his South Belfast Brigade.[34] McMichael soon provided Stone with guns and placed him in a team whose ostensible purpose was to fill McMichael’s hit list, a list of high-profile Irish republican targets the Brigadier wanted killed.[35] His first target was Owen Carron, who actually was a high-profile republican. Stone trailed Carron for several weeks but on the day he was due to kill the Sinn Féin activist, Stone was tipped off that the Royal Ulster Constabulary knew about the plan and were approaching, so the hit was abandoned.[36]

On 16 November 1984 Stone committed his first murder when he shot and killed Catholic milkman Patrick Brady, a man Stone claimed was a member of the Provisional IRA.[37] According to the Conflict Archive on the Internet, although Brady was a member of Sinn Féin, he was not in the IRA.[38] This was followed in 1985 by an attempt to kill another Sinn Féin activist, Robert McAllister, but on this occasion Stone was unsuccessful.[39] He subsequently killed Kevin McPolin in November 1985 and would also face charges for the murder of Dermot Hackett in 1987. Stone would subsequently admit to killing McPolin but has claimed that he did not kill Hackett but confessed to his murder in order that a young UFF member might escape punishment.[40] Both McPolin and Hackett were uninvolved Catholics.

Milltown Cemetery attack

See Below for more details on Milltown Attack

Stone attacked the people attending the funeral which was being held at the Milltown Cemetery for the three IRA members killed 10 days earlier in Gibraltar by the Special Air Service (SAS) in what was termed Operation Flavius. As Danny McCann, Seán Savage, and Mairéad Farrell were being buried, Stone launched a commando-style assault against the mourners with RGD-5 grenades and an semi-automatic pistol. He killed three people, including IRA member Kevin Brady, and injured sixty others. Stone was eventually overpowered by infuriated mourners and was then arrested by members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). He still walks with a slight limp as a result of the dislocated thigh bone he received in the aftermath of the attack.[41]

According to Ulster Defence Association (UDA) member Sammy Duddy, two UDA “brigadiers” from two Belfast battalions, fearing IRA reprisals against themselves or the areas they controlled, telephoned the IRA after the Milltown attack, denying knowledge of Stone or his intentions. The two brigadiers both claimed that Stone was a “rogue loyalist” acting without UDA sanction or authorisation.[42] Duddy, however, described Stone as “one of the UDA’s best operators”.[43]

Stone, who apparently objected to the newspapers’ portrayal of him as a mad Rambo-style gunman, also confessed to shooting dead three other Catholics between 1984 and 1987. He claimed the victims were linked to the IRA, although it appears that they were unaligned civilians. At his trial he pleaded not guilty, but refused to offer any defence. Convicted of six murders, he was sentenced to life imprisonment with sentences totalling 684 years, with a recommendation he serve at least thirty years.[44]

While in HM Prison Maze, Stone became one of the five leaders of the Ulster Defence Association/”Ulster Freedom Fighters” prisoners.[1] Alongside the other four, he met Mo Mowlam during the 1998 negotiations between the government and paramilitaries as part of the peace process. The goal was to get the paramilitaries to come to the negotiation table.[1] He also collaborated with Martin Dillon on a book about his life entitled Stone Cold.[45]

Release

On 24 July 2000, Stone was released from prison after 13 years under the Good Friday Peace Agreement. Stone had been living in East Belfast, London and Spain with his girlfriend Suzanne Cooper until the events of 24 November 2006.[46] In 2001 Stone and Ms Cooper exchanged bullet-proof jackets as Christmas gifts. Stone has nine children from his first two marriages.[47]

Since leaving prison Stone concentrated on work in the community and being an artist, a hobby he began in the Maze. His paintings are vivid and not so much political as topical. They fetch between a few hundred and a few thousand pounds each. Stone published his autobiography titled None Shall Divide Us, in which he claimed that he had received “specialist assistance” from RUC operatives in carrying out the cemetery killings.[48] A second book and the auctioning of the jacket he wore at the Milltown Cemetery at a Scottish loyalist club for £10,000 have brought forward legislation to ban former convicted paramilitaries released through the Northern Ireland Peace Process from profiting from their crimes.

In March 2002 it was reported in the Sunday Life that Stone and Cooper had fled Northern Ireland for France following death threats from loyalists opposed to the peace process. The aim of those behind the threats – reported as being from the Orange Volunteers – was the eventual destruction of the Good Friday Agreement and the end of Northern Ireland’s troubled peace process.[49] Following time in Birmingham, Stone returned to East Belfast.

Stone was featured in the BBC2 television series Facing the Truth mediated by Archbishop Desmond Tutu where he met relatives of a victim of loyalist violence. Sylvia Hackett talked with Stone, who was convicted of murdering her husband Dermot, a Catholic delivery man. Although he previously admitted to the murder, Stone told his victim’s widow that he had no direct responsibility, having been withdrawn after planning the attack. At the end of their meeting she forced herself to walk over to Stone and shake his hand – when he placed a second hand on hers, she recoiled and fled from the room.[50]

In November 2006, he claimed that in the 1980s he had been “three days” away from killing the then leader of the Greater London Council and former Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, over his invitations to Sinn Féin‘s Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness to visit him in London.[51] The plot was reportedly cancelled over fears it had been infiltrated by Special Branch detectives.[52]

Stormont arrest

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Stormont Saga – Michael Stone

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On 24 November 2006, at 11.16 am, Stone was arrested for attempting to enter the parliament buildings at Stormont armed with an imitation Beretta 92FS pistol, a knife and a “viable” bomb, after placing 8 “pipe bombs” within the grounds of Stormont.[53] Three civilian security guards disarmed him as he entered the building, by trapping him within the revolving doors of the main lobby entrance. The security guards were injured during the struggle with Stone.[54] Following the security breach, the building was evacuated and an Army Bomb Disposal Unit was called to examine the suspect device. Before entering the building he had scrawled an incomplete graffiti stating “Sinn Féin IRA mur[derers]” on the Parliament building. Later examination from the bomb squad revealed that the bag Stone had been carrying contained between six and eight viable explosive devices. Sir Hugh Orde, the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, said “their potential for death, destruction and injury is being assessed” but added they were “fairly amateurish”. As a result of Stone’s actions, talks between political parties about power sharing and the election of a First Minister, which had only just resumed, had to be abandoned.[55]

On 19 December 2006, Stone’s defence lawyer, Arthur Harvey, QC, claimed that the Stormont incident was not intended to endanger the life of anyone. “It was, in fact, a piece of performance art replicating a terrorist attack”, claimed Harvey.[56] During his trial in September 2008, on 13 charges including the attempted murder of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, Stone repeated that his actions were “an act of performance art“.[57]

The then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Peter Hain) indicated that Stone’s licence for release under the “Good Friday Agreement” would be revoked, and the full 638-year sentence for triple murder, terrorist charges and firearm charges be reimposed on him, in line with his sentencing in 1988. On 25 November 2006, Stone appeared in court in Belfast charged with attempting to murder Sinn Féin leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness. Stone faced a total of five charges of attempted murder following the incident at Stormont.

Stone was charged with possession of articles for terrorist purposes, possession of an imitation firearm in a public place, assault, grievous bodily harm, possession of an offensive weapon and possession of explosives. The court heard the articles allegedly for terrorist purposes included nailbombs, an axe and a garrotte. He was remanded in custody until 22 December 2006.[44] A letter written by Stone was published in the Belfast Telegraph on 29 November 2006. In the letter dated 24 November 2006, Stone described his “mission to Kill” Adams and McGuinness in detail, giving a description of his intended movements once inside the building.[56]

On 14 November he was found guilty of attempting to murder Adams and McGuinness. The judge said defence evidence that Stone had been taking part in some sort of a “comic parody” was “hopelessly unconvincing” and “self-contradictory”. On 8 December 2008, Stone received a 16-year sentence for his actions at Stormont.[58]

Personal life

Stone married Marlene Leckey in 1976 and had three sons with her. The couple separated in 1978 and divorced in 1983.[26] At the time of his divorce Stone was cohabiting with Leigh-Ann Shaw. Stone and Shaw were subsequently married[26] in 1985. Although the marriage produced two children, it also ended in divorce.[59]

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Milltown Cemetery attack

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Milltown Massacre

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Milltown Cemetery attack.JPG

The funerals, minutes before the attack
Location Milltown Cemetery, Belfast,
Northern Ireland
Coordinates 54°35′0″N 5°58′38″W / 54.58333°N 5.97722°W / 54.58333; -5.97722Coordinates: 54°35′0″N 5°58′38″W / 54.58333°N 5.97722°W / 54.58333; -5.97722
Date 16 March 1988
Weapons RGD-5 hand grenades; Browning Hi-Power 9mm pistol; Ruger .357 magnum revolver
Deaths 3
Non-fatal injuries
60+ [1]
Perpetrator Michael Stone

The Milltown Cemetery attack (also known as the Milltown Cemetery killings or Milltown Massacre[2]) took place on 16 March 1988 in Belfast‘s Milltown Cemetery. During the funeral of three Provisional IRA volunteers killed in Gibraltar, an Ulster Defence Association (UDA) volunteer, Michael Stone, attacked the mourners with hand grenades and pistols. As Stone then ran towards the nearby motorway, a large crowd began chasing him and he continued shooting and throwing grenades. Some of them caught him and began beating him, but he was rescued by the police and arrested. Three people had been killed and more than 60 wounded. The “unprecedented, one-man attack”[1] was filmed by television news crews and caused shock around the world.[3]

Three days later, at the funeral of one of Stone’s victims, two non-uniformed British soldiers drove into the funeral procession. Bystanders, who reportedly thought it was a replay of an attack like that carried out by Stone, dragged the soldiers from their car; the two corporals were later shot dead by the IRA.

Background

See SAS Operation Flavius

See Corporal Murders

On 6 March 1988, Provisional IRA members Daniel McCann, Seán Savage and Mairéad Farrell were shot dead by the SAS in Gibraltar. This caused outrage among Irish republicans and their supporters as the three were unarmed and allegedly shot without warning. They were due to be buried in the republican plot at Milltown Cemetery on 16 March. For years, republicans had complained about heavy-handed policing of IRA funerals, which had led to violence. In a change from normal procedure, the British Army and Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) decided they would pull back from the funerals of the “Gibraltar Three” and keep watch from the sidelines.[1] This followed negotiations with Catholic church leaders.[4]

Michael Stone’s self-professed mission was “to take out the Sinn Féin and IRA leadership at the graveside”.[5] He told journalist Peter Taylor that his attack was retaliation for the IRA’s Remembrance Day bombing four months earlier. Taylor wrote, “He said it was symbolic: the IRA had attacked a British cenotaph and he was taking revenge by attacking the IRA equivalent”.[6] Stone claimed a “senior member of the UDA” had given him the organisation’s “official” clearance for the attack[7] and claimed he was given a Browning Hi-Power 9mm pistol, a Ruger .357 Magnum revolver and seven RGD-5 grenades the night before the funeral.[5]

Attack

The funeral service and requiem mass went ahead as planned, and the cortege made its way to Milltown Cemetery, off the Falls Road. Present were thousands of mourners and top members of the IRA and Sinn Féin, including Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.[7] Two RUC helicopters hovered overhead.[8] Stone claimed that he entered the graveyard through the front gate with the mourners.[5] Some eyewitnesses claimed to have seen Stone enter the graveyard from the M1 motorway with three other people (two men and a woman). The others walked across the graveyard and later left on the Falls Road side. As the third coffin was about to be lowered into the ground, Stone threw two grenades—which had a seven-second delay—toward the republican plot and began shooting.[5]

The first grenade exploded near the crowd and about 20 yards (18 m) from the grave.[8] Amid the panic and confusion, people took cover behind gravestones. Stone began jogging toward the motorway, several hundred yards away, chased by dozens of men and youths. He continued shooting and throwing grenades at his pursuers. Three people were killed while pursuing Stone:[1] two Catholic civilians Thomas McErlean (20) and John Murray (26), and a Provisional IRA volunteer, Caoimhín Mac Brádaigh (30). During the attack about 60 people were wounded by bullets, grenade shrapnel and fragments of marble and stone from gravestones. Among those wounded was a pregnant mother of four, a 72-year-old grandmother and a ten-year-old boy.[1]

In the 19 March edition of the Irish Times, columnist Kevin Myers, an opponent of republican paramilitary violence, wrote: “Unarmed young men charged against the man hurling grenades and firing an automatic pistol […] The young men stalking their quarry repeatedly came under fire; they were repeatedly bombed; they repeatedly advanced. Indeed this was not simply bravery; this was a heroism which in other circumstances, I have no doubt, would have won the highest military decorations”.[1]

A memorial in Milltown Cemetery to the ‘Gibraltar Three’ and to the three men killed in the attack on their funeral

A white van that had been parked by the motorway suddenly drove off as Stone fled from the angry crowd. The RUC said the van was part of an uninvolved police patrol.[8] Stone later claimed that a getaway vehicle, driven by a UDA member, was waiting for him on the motorway but the driver “panicked” and left.[5] By the time Stone reached the motorway, he had seemingly ran out of ammunition.[1] He ran out onto the road and tried to stop cars,[8] but was caught by the crowd and beaten unconscious. RUC officers quickly arrived, “almost certainly saving his life”.[1] They arrested him and took him to Musgrave Park Hospital for treatment of his injuries. The whole event had been recorded by television news cameras.

Aftermath

That evening, angry youths in republican districts burnt hijacked vehicles and attacked the RUC.[8] Immediately after the attack, the two main loyalist paramilitaries—the UDA and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)—denied responsibility. The leader of the UDA’s West Belfast Brigade, Tommy Lyttle, said that Stone was a rogue loyalist acting without orders from the UDA, though he did not condemn the attack. Lyttle told other UDA leaders to keep to this line. UDA member Sammy Duddy said: “After Milltown, two UDA brigadiers from two Belfast battalions telephoned the IRA to say they didn’t know Michael Stone […] But Michael was UDA, he was a travelling gunman who went after the IRA and Republicans and he needed no authority for that because that was his job. Those two brigadiers were scared in case the IRA would retaliate against them […] so they disclaimed Michael, one of our best operators”.[7]

Sinn Féin and others “claimed that there must have been collusion with the security forces, because only a small number of people knew in advance of the reduced police presence at the funerals”.[4] Stone later claimed he had assurances that British soldiers and RUC officers would not be deployed in the graveyard. He also claimed to have had detailed information about British Army and RUC movements.[7] Stone wrote that, the night before the attack, he was “given his pick of weapons from an Ulster Resistance cache at a secret location outside Belfast” and was “driven back into the city by a member of the RUC”.[7] According to journalist Martin Dillon, the weapons he used were given to him on the orders of UDA intelligence chief Brian Nelson, who was later revealed to be an undercover agent of the British Army’s Force Research Unit (FRU).[5]

Three days after the Milltown killings, one of Stone’s victims, Caoimhín Mac Brádaigh, was being buried when two plain-clothes British Army Corporals (Derek Wood and David Howes) in an unmarked car drove into the path of the funeral cortège – apparently by mistake. Some of those present, believing the soldiers to be loyalist gunmen, surrounded and attacked their car. Corporal Wood drew his service pistol and fired a shot in the air. The two men were then dragged from the car before being taken away, beaten and shot dead by republicans.[4] The incident is often referred to as the corporals killings and, like the attack at Milltown, much of it was filmed by television news cameras. The Browning pistol Stone used during the killings was stolen by the mob on the day of the attack and was eventually used by an IRA unit to ambush a combined RUC/British Army patrol in Belfast on 13 October 1990. A constable was shot dead and another badly injured.[9]

Many hardline loyalists saw Stone as a hero and he became a loyalist icon.[2] In March 1989, he was convicted for the three murders at Milltown, for three paramilitary murders before, and for other offences. He received sentences totaling 682 years, but was released after serving 13 years as a result of the Good Friday Agreement. Apart from time on remand spent in Crumlin Road Prison, Stone spent all of his sentence in HM Prison Maze. Stone later published an autobiography, None Shall Divide Us, which included an account of the attack, in which he wrote that he deeply regretted the hurt he had caused the families of those he killed, and paid tribute to the bravery of two of the men killed while pursuing him at the cemetery (Murray, Mac Brádaigh). Stone wrote “I didn’t choose killing as a career, killing chose me”.[

The Shankill Bomb

Disclaimer – The views and opinions expressed in these documentary 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.

The Shankill Road bombing was carried out by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) on 23 October 1993 and is one of the most notorious incidents of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The IRA intended to assassinate loyalist paramilitary leaders, who were to be meeting in a room above Frizzell’s fish shop on Shankill Road, Belfast. Two IRA members were to enter the shop disguised as deliverymen, then force the customers out at gunpoint and plant a time bomb with a short fuse. However, when the IRA members entered the shop with the bomb, it exploded prematurely. One of the IRA members was killed along with a UDA member and eight Protestant civilians.[1] More than fifty people were wounded. Unbeknownst to the IRA, the meeting had been rescheduled.

The loyalist Shankill Road had been the location of other bomb and gun attacks, including the Balmoral Furniture Company bombing in 1971 and Bayardo Bar attack in 1975; but the 1993 bombing had the highest casualties and resulted in a wave of revenge attacks by loyalists. In the week that followed, loyalists killed 14 civilians, almost all of them Irish Catholics. The deadliest attack took place in Greysteel, where UDA members opened fire in a pub frequented by Catholics, killing eight civilians and wounding 13.

The Twelfth in Northern Ireland 2013 (BBC Documentary)

Disclaimer – The views and opinions expressed in these documentary 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

Documentary about Loyalists celebrating their culture on their yearly Orange festival. Contains violence and riotous behaviour.