Tag Archives: William “Frenchie” Marchant

28th April – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

                                                                                           28th April

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Monday 28 April 1969

As he was unable to regain the confidence of the Unionist party Terence O’Neill, then Northern Ireland Prime Minister, resigned to be replaced later by James Chichester-Clark.

Monday 28 April 1975

Liam McMillan (48), then a member of the Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA), was shot dead by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in the continuing feud between the OIRA and the INLA.

A Protestant civilian was shot dead by Loyalists in Belfast. His Catholic workmate had been the intended target.

Wednesday 27 April 1977

A series of personal attacks on one another by leading figures such as Enoch Powell, James Molyneaux, and Ian Paisley, illustrated the growing disagreement within unionism on the issue of the planned United Unionist Action Council (UUAC) strike.

Roy Mason, then Secretary of State, announced that the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast was to receive an order worth some £70 million to co

nstruct two liquid gas carriers.

Tuesday 28 April 1981

The private secretary of Pope John Paul II paid a visit to Bobby Sands in the Maze Prison but was unable to persuade him to end his hunger strike.

Humphrey Atkins, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, stated that: “If Mr Sands persisted in his wish to commit suicide, that was his choice. The government would not force medical treatment upon him.” In the United States of America (USA) Ronald Reagan, then President of the USA, said that America would not intervene in the situation in Northern Ireland but he was “deeply concerned” at events there.

Thursday 28 April 1988

A Thames Television documentary, Death on the Rock, about the deaths of the three Irish Republican Army (IRA) members in Gilbraltar on 6 March 1988 was screened. Sir Geoffrey Howe, then British Foreign Secretary, unsuccessfully tried to have the programme banned.

gib3 with text

See Operation Flavius

Tuesday 28 April 1992

Philomena Hanna (26), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), at her place of work – a chemist shop on the Springfield Road, west Belfast.

[There was widespread condemnation at the killing of a woman whose work meant that she delivered medical supplies to both communities in the area.]

Wednesday 28 April 1993

Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), said that he would not enter new political talks.

Thursday 28 April 1994

James Brown (47), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) at his shop, Garmoyle Street, Docks, Belfast.

Eric Smyth (40), an ex-member of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), was shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) outside his home, Salters Grange Road, near Armagh.

Mitchell McLaughlin, then Sinn Féin (SF) chairman, was given a United States visa to allow him into the USA to speak at a conference in Cleveland, Ohio.

The Iranian Chargé d’Affaires was summoned to the Foreign Office, London, to explain claims that the government in Iran was planning to supply the Irish Republican Army (IRA) with arms and money.

Friday 28 April 1995

Catholic Civilian Killed by IRA

Michael Mooney (34), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead while in the ’18 Steps Bar’, Ann Street, Belfast.

[Although no organisation claimed responsibility it was generally believed that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) had carried out the killing. It was alleged that Mooney was involved in drug dealing and this was the reason why he had been shot. A number of other men were killed by the IRA during the year. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) issued a statement on 20 December 1995 about the killings.]

There was a ceremony in Dublin to commemorate all Irishmen who had died in the two world wars. The ceremony was attended by: John Bruton, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Ken Maginnis, then Security Spokesman of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and John Alderdice, then leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI).

Tom Hartley, then Chairman of Sinn Féin (SF), also attended the ceremony.

Sunday 28 April 1996

Michael Ancram, then Political Development minister at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), said that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) must restore its ceasefire and Sinn Féin (SF) must agree to be bound by the six ‘Mitchell Principles’ before it could join all-party talks.

The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) stopped a group of Orangemen from marching through the lower Ormeau Road in Belfast. This decision led to a two-hour stand-off.

Monday 28 April 1997

A car bomb was planted by Loyalist paramilitaries outside the Falls Road office of Sinn Féin (SF).

The bomb was defused. Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) prisoners at Maghaberry Prison held a prison officer hostage at gunpoint before giving themselves up. The prisoners were protesting at the transfer of Billy Wright, then leader of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF), from Maghaberry to the Maze Prison.

[The INLA killed Wright in the Maze Prison on 27 December 1997.]

Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, approved tighter security measures in the Maze Prison following the discovery of an escape tunnel on 24 March 1997.
John Major, then British Prime Minister, paid an election campaign visit to Belfast. Tony Blair, then leader of the Labour Party, called on the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to renew their ceasefire and to agree to the Mitchell principles, and then to “take their place at the talks table”.

Tuesday 28 April 1998

It was confirmed that Chris Patten, a former Governor of Hong Kong, would chair the new Commission on the future role of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) had objected to the appointment of an “non British” person to head the Commission.

Wednesday 28 April 1999

A pipe-bomb exploded in the car park of the Ramble Inn, situated on the main Antrim to Ballymena Road. Several cars damaged, but there were no injuries.

The Loyalist paramilitary group the Orange Volunteers (OV) claimed responsibility for the attack.

John Stevens, then Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, stated that during one of his earlier investigations of collusion between Loyalists paramilitaries and the security forces had found a connection to the killing of Pat Finucane that had caused him “concern”.
The Northern Ireland (Location of Victims’ Remains) Bill was presented to the House of Commons at Westminster.

[The Bill became law in late May 1999. The first body was recovered on 28 May 1999.]

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Remembering all innocent victims of the Troubles

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

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

– Thomas Campbell

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

– To the Paramilitaries –

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

 9 People lost their lives on the 28th  April   between 1973– 1995

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28 April 1973
Kerry Venn (23)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot by sniper while on British Army (BA) foot patrol, Carn Hill, Shantallow, Derry.

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28 April 1975


Liam McMillen    (48)

Catholic
Status: Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA),

Killed by: People’s Liberation Army (PLA)
Shot while walking along Falls Road at the junction with Spinner Street, Belfast. Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA) / Irish Nationalist Liberation Army (INLA) feud.

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28 April 1975
Samuel Grierson   (25)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Defence Association (UDA)
Shot while working on railway line, near Donegall Road, Belfast. Catholic workmate the intended target.

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28 April 1981
Richard McKee   (27)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot by sniper while travelling in British Army (BA) civilian-type van, Dublin Road, Castlewellan, County Down.

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28 April 1987

William ” Frenchie” Marchant (39)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot from passing car while standing outside Progressive Unionist Party office, Shankill Road, Belfast.

See William ” Frenchie” Marchant 

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28 April 1992


Philomena Hanna   (26)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)
Shot at her workplace, chemist shop, Springfield Road, Belfast.

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28 April 1994


James Brown   (47)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Shot, at his shop, Garmoyle Street, Docks, Belfast.

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28 April 1994
Eric Smyth  (40)

Protestant
Status: ex-Ulster Defence Regiment (xUDR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot, outside his home, Salters Grange Road, near Armagh.

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28 April 1995
Michael Mooney   (34)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot, while in 18 Steps Bar, Ann Street, Belfast.

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William “Frenchie” Marchant 1948 – 28 April 1987

William ” Frenchie ”  Marchant

Frenchie_Marchant

1948 – 1987

 

Disclaimer 

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

William “Frenchie” Marchant (c. 1948 – 28 April 1987) was a Northern Irish loyalist and a high-ranking volunteer in the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).

He was on a Garda list of suspects in the 1974 Dublin car bombings which left a total of 26 people dead and close to 300 injured. Marchant was allegedly the leader of the Belfast UVF unit known as “Freddie and the Dreamers” which hijacked and stole the three cars which were used in the bombings.

Nine days after the bombings he was arrested and interned at the Maze Prison in relation to the bombings. When questioned by detectives regarding the latter he refused to answer. He was never brought to trial due to lack of evidence. Marchant held the rank of major in the UVF’s A Company, 1st Battalion Belfast Brigade. He was shot to death by a Provisional IRA volunteer from a passing car as he stood outside “The Eagle” chip shop below the offices where the UVF Brigade Staff had their headquarters on the Shankill Road.

Dublin car bombings

A green 1970 model Hillman Avenger was one of the hijacked cars used in the Dublin bombings. It exploded in Parnell Street, killing 10 people.
Marchant was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in about 1948. He grew up in the Ulster loyalist Shankill Road neighbourhood and was brought up as a Protestant. Some time prior to 1974, he joined the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), an illegal loyalist paramilitary organisation. He held the rank of major in its A Company, 1st Battalion Belfast Brigade. Marchant’s nickname was “Frenchie”.

 

Dublin and Monaghan bombings victim

Two units from the UVF’s Belfast and Mid-Ulster Brigades exploded three no-warning car bombs in Dublin’s city centre on 17 May 1974, the third day of the Ulster Workers Council Strike.

This was a general strike in Northern Ireland called by hard-line unionists, who opposed the Sunningdale Agreement and the Northern Ireland Assembly which had proposed their sharing political power with nationalists and planned a role for the Republic of Ireland in the governance of Northern Ireland. The explosions occurred almost simultaneously during evening rush hour resulting in the deaths of 26 people, mostly young women; close to 300 people were injured, many maimed and scarred for life.

According to former British soldier and psychological warfare operative Colin Wallace, the bombings had been organised by Billy Hanna, the Mid-Ulster Brigade’s commander at the time.

The three cars used in the attacks had been stolen and hijacked that morning in Belfast by a UVF unit known as “Freddie and the Dreamers” (named after the 1960s English pop group) allegedly led by Marchant, and then, according to the 1993 Yorkshire Television documentary The Hidden Hand: The Forgotten Massacre, driven to a farm in Glenanne, County Armagh. This farm, which had been used to make and store the bombs, was owned by Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) reservist James Mitchell of the Glenanne gang.

See Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

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Dublin Monaghan Bombings 1974 – First Tuesday -1993

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After the cars were delivered to the waiting bomb unit, the latter drove them across the border down to the Coachman’s Inn pub carpark. Journalist Joe Tiernan suggested that the cars were driven directly to the North Dublin carpark, with only one stop in Portadown by one of the cars to collect David Alexander Mulholland, one of the alleged bombers.

Robin  “the Jackal ” Jackson

 

It was at the carpark that the three bombs, which had been transported in a chicken lorry by senior Mid-Ulster UVF member Robin “the Jackal” Jackson, were placed inside the boots of the cars by Hanna and Jackson. The cars – a metallic green 1970 model Hillman Avenger and blue Austin 1800 Maxi – that ended up in Parnell Street and South Leinster Street had been hijacked while the metallic blue mink Ford Escort which detonated in Talbot Street had been stolen from Belfast’s docks area. All three cars had retained their original registration numbers.

The Hidden Hand: The Forgotten Massacre named Marchant as having been on a Garda Síochána list of suspects as the leader of the gang which obtained the bomb cars.[12]

Ninety minutes after the Dublin blasts, another car bomb exploded in Monaghan, causing a further seven deaths. A detective from Dublin’s Store Street Garda Station received confidential information that Marchant had masterminded both the Dublin and Monaghan attacks.

On 26 May, he was arrested by the Northern Ireland security forces under the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provision) Act 1974 and interned at the Maze Prison on an Interim Custody Order partly on suspicion of having participated in the car bombings. He was interrogated by detectives but refused to reply to any questions relating to the Dublin bombings.

Marchant and the others who had also been interned as suspects in the attacks, were never brought to trial due to lack of evidence. The RUC Special Branch, in a reply dated 23 July 1974 to an earlier Garda enquiry regarding Marchant, stated that Marchant “was our guest for a number of hours (and CID) but with negative result”.

The Barron Report which was the findings of the official investigation into the car bombings commissioned by Irish Supreme Court Justice Henry Barron confirmed that Marchant was named in the Garda files as the leader of the gang which provided the bomb cars.  Colin Wallace briefed the media without attribution, identifying Marchant as the person responsible for the car hijackings and theft, based on his own information.

In a written statement to Justice For the Forgotten (an organisation of victims and relatives seeking justice for the Dublin and Monaghan bombings), Wallace maintained that Marchant was “identified to [British] Army Intelligence as a Special Branch source being run by a named officer”. When queried by the organisation’s legal team, Wallace qualified the statement by adding:

“That’s right, that was my belief…there were a number of Special Branch people who at this time appeared to have very close links with various loyalist groups. I’m not saying for good or ill, but certainly had close links with key loyalists. Marchant may well have been an informant, but I don’t know”.

 

Peter Taylor

 

Many years later, journalist Peter Taylor questioned Progressive Unionist Party politician and former senior Belfast UVF member David Ervine about UVF motives for bombing Dublin in 1974. He replied they [UVF] were “returning the serve”. Although Ervine said he had nothing to do with the bombings, he said they were carried out to make Catholics in the Republic suffer as Protestants in Northern Ireland had been suffering as the result of the IRA bombing campaign.

As of 2015, nobody has ever been convicted of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

Supergrass trials

In the mid-1980s Marchant was one of a number of leading UVF figures arrested on the evidence of William “Budgie” Allen, a UVF member who turned supergrass and provided evidence on the activities of a number of his fellow members.

Initially held in 1983, Marchant was granted bail in order to marry although he failed to return and was eventually rearrested after a high speed pursuit through the Shankill Road.

Based on Allen’s evidence Marchant faced a number of charges, including the attempted murder of a member of Gerry Adams’ family. However, although he was held in custody for eighteen months, Marchant was released from prison in 1985 after the Allen trial collapsed.

Although he had appeared before Belfast’s Crumlin Road Crown Court, the case against him and the others had collapsed when the judge decided Allen’s evidence was “”totally unreliable”. Allen was declared persona non grata by the UVF, who announced that he would be killed if he left his hiding place in England, although Marchant surprisingly announced that he personally forgave Allen.

Killing

 Marchant commemorated, along with Trevor King and Davy Hamilton, on the Shankill Road at the corner of Spier’s Place. Marchant was shot dead by IRA gunmen from a passing car as he stood outside “The Eagle” chip shop on the crowded Shankill Road on 28 April 1987. The UVF Brigade Staff had their headquarters in the rooms above the shop.
The shooting took place close to the offices of the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP). Marchant’s fatal shooting was in retaliation for the UVF’s killing of Larry Marley, a close friend of Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams and a senior IRA member from Ardoyne, less than a month before.
The IRA claimed in a statement that Marchant had been directly involved in the killing of Marley.
On 1 May 1987, Marchant was given a full UVF paramilitary funeral.  The address given at his funeral service, which denounced all paramilitary organisations and their acts of violence, was afterwards praised by Roman Catholic bishop Cathal Daly.
Marchant’s widow later gave her permission for their son to go to the USA for an ecumenical student exchange visit.
George Seawright, Independent Unionist candidate, June 1987, UK General Election, 19870603GS1 Copyright Image from Victor Patterson, 54 Dorchester Park, Belfast, UK, BT9 6RJ Tel: +44 28 9066 1296 Mob: +44 7802 353836 Voicemail +44 20 8816 7153 Skype: victorpattersonbelfast Email: victorpatterson@me.com Email: victorpatterson@ireland.com (back-up) IMPORTANT: If you wish to use this image or any other of my images please go to www.victorpatterson.com and click on the Terms & Conditions. Then contact me by email or phone with the reference number(s) of the image(s) concerned.

See George Seawright

George Seawright, a member of Belfast City Council who also maintained clandestine UVF membership, stated in the aftermath of Marchant’s shooting that he had “no hesitation in calling for revenge and retribution”. Several months after Marchant’s shooting, the UVF sought to avenge his death with an attempt on the life of Anthony “Booster” Hughes, a suspected IRA man from Ardoyne.

According to author and journalist Martin Dillon, Marchant’s daily movements leading up to his death had been unpredictable and erratic; this indicated the possibility that just before his shooting someone had alerted the IRA by telephone, advising them of Marchant’s presence on the Shankill Road.

The IRA would normally have kept a hit squad on standby in a neighbourhood close to
where their intended target was likely to be.
See John Bingham
Marchant’s killing was the third assassination carried out in the 1980s by the IRA against senior UVF members. The UVF conducted an internal inquiry in an attempt to establish whether someone within the organisation had supplied information to the IRA which had led to the killings of Marchant and the other two: Lenny Murphy and John Bingham.

Although the inquiry revealed that Marchant – as well as Murphy and Bingham – had quarrelled with powerful West Belfast UDA fund-raiser James Pratt Craig before their deaths, the UVF Brigade Staff did not consider the evidence sufficient to warrant an attack against Craig, who ran a large protection racket.

According to Dillon, Marchant had been due to meet Craig outside “The Eagle” before he was shot dead. Instead of getting out of the car at the chip shop where Marchant waited, Craig got out at the Inter-City furniture shop on the corner of Conway Street. There he engaged in conversation with another person for five minutes. Within the five minutes, Marchant was gunned down just 50 yards away. In October 1988, Craig was shot to death in an East Belfast pub by the UDA (using their cover name Ulster Freedom Fighters) for “treason”, claiming that he had been involved in the death of UDA leader John McMichael, who was blown up the previous December in a booby-trap car bomb planted by the IRA.

Steve Bruce disputes the claim that Craig was involved in Marchant’s death and quotes another (anonymous) UVF member who stated that Marchant was “like a bloody cigar store Indian”, spending long periods standing outside the PUP headquarters taking to various people.

At the junction of Spier’s Place and the Shankill Road, there is a mural and memorial plaque commemorating Marchant