The Forgotten Atrocity
On Tuesday, the 12th of June, 1973, the Provisional IRA detonated two bombs in Coleraine, Co.Londonderry. The first device, 150 lb of explosives packed into a stolen Ford Cortina, went off at 3.00 p.m on Railway Rd, outside an off-license, killing six and injuring 33; several people lost limbs and several more were left crippled for life. Many of the wounded were children. A second bomb exploded five minutes later at Hanover Place. The Provos had sent a warning for the second bomb but said it had “mistakenly given the wrong location“. One would have thought that when dealing with deadly explosive devices the greatest care should be taken to avoid any error, PIRA/Sinn Fein though, did not give a damn about the deaths of civilians. Indeed I would contend that multiple civilian deaths was the very objective of such bombings.
The six innocent civilians killed by the Railway Road bomb were all Protestants, all over the age of 60. The victims were- Elizabeth Craigmile (76), Robert Scott (72), Dinah Campbell (72), Francis Campbell (70), Nan Davis (60), and Elizabeth Palmer (60). Elizabeth Craigmile, the Campbells and their daughter Hilary had been on a day outing and were beside the car-bomb at the moment of detonation. Hilary Campbell, whose parents had both been killed, lost a leg in the explosion. The bomb had left a deep crater in the road and the off-license was engulfed in flames; it also caused considerable damage to vehicles and other buildings in the vicinity. Railway Road was a scene of carnage and devastation, the mangled wreckage of the Cortina resting in the middle of the street, the bodies of the dead and injured lying in pools of blood amongst the fallen masonry and roof slates, shards of glass from blown-out windows blanketing the ground. Ambulance crews and firemen who arrived at the scene spoke of “utter confusion” with many people “wandering around in a state of severe shock“. Five minutes later, the second bomb exploded on the forecourt of Stuart’s Garage in Hanover Place. Although this explosion caused no injuries, it added to the panic and confusion caused by the first bomb. It also hindered the Emergency Services in their attempts to save the lives of the many seriously injured people on Railway Road. Undoubtedly this was the PIRA murder gang’s intention. Not content with causing horrific injuries, the unscrupulous killers seemed determined to hamper any effort to aid the wounded.
It has been alleged that no warning at all was given for the first bomb. This has led to speculation that the bombers intention was to draw people towards the bomb in Railway Road and inflict as many civilian casualties as possible. This would not be surprising given PIRA/Sinn Fein’s complete and total disregard for human life. Indeed, it would fit their modus operandi. The death toll would have been much, much higher had the bomb gone off just a few minutes later, when girls from a nearby school would have been leaving for home and walking along the street. In January 1974, a woman was acquitted of charges linked to the bombings. Her boyfriend however received an eight-year prison sentence for his part in the attacks, and the leader of the bomb team, 18-year-old Sean McGlinchey, was convicted of planting the Railway Road bomb. He was sentenced to just 18 years imprisonment in Long Kesh/The Maze. McGlinchey, the younger brother of former INLA ‘Chief of Staff‘ Dominic ‘Mad-Dog’ McGlinchey, later became a Sinn Fein councillor and, unbelievably, was elected mayor of Limavady in 2011. What sort of people go out and vote for a man that murdered six senior citizens? Throughout the conflict, the leadership of the Irish nationalist community (at that time mainly the SDLP) repeatedly gave assurances to their Protestant neighbours that the majority of Catholics and nationalists did not support the Provo death squads. Really? So then who’s voting for men like Sean McGlinchey? Ordinary, decent people in that community need to know, need to see, that every vote for Provisional Sinn Fein is a vote for those who murdered and maimed innocent women and children (or supported, aided and gave voice to those who did).
Birmingham Pub Bombings: Evil Beyond Belief
Mention the Birmingham Pub Bombings to most people and the first thing many will say is “oh, the Birmingham Six“, to which the correct response should be, “no, the Birmingham Twenty-One”, for the focus should be on the twenty-one innocents slaughtered by Irish republican fanatics, not on the men wrongfully convicted of the crime! The Birmingham Six suffered an awful miscarriage of justice but it should never be forgotten that 21 people were murdered in cold blood, the majority of them under the age of 25.
On the 21st of November, 1974, a Provo bomb exploded inside the ‘Mulberry Bush’ pub. The bomb, containing 6lb of Gelignite and hidden inside a duffel-bag, went off at just after 8p.m. Ten people were killed and dozens wounded, many of them seriously. Police were attempting to clear the nearby ‘Tavern in the Town’ pub, on New Street, below King Edward House, when at 20:27 a second bomb exploded there, killing another eleven people and leaving many with appalling injuries. The bodies of the dead and injured were strewn about the ruined pub like ragdolls. The explosion was so powerful that several victims were blown through a brick wall into an area just below the main front entrance to King Edward House. Their bodies were wedged between the rubble and underground electric cables; it took hours for firemen to remove them. The scene was like something straight out of a horror film. The two devastated pubs were just 50yds apart. A third bomb had been left on nearby Hagley Road, but thankfully failed to explode.
That PIRA/SF had set out that night to massacre innocent civilians is beyond question. However, I would also suggest a secondary, albeit subconscious, motivation. The Irish nationalist community, overlapping as it does with the Roman Catholic community, has always been deeply conservative in it’s attitudes. Despite the politically correct sound-bites of the nationalist/republican politicos, attitudes towards women, particularly young women, in that community have always been rather backwards and repressive. It is my contention that the real perpetrators of the Birmingham Pub Bombings, rather than being appalled by the deaths of so many young women, many of them just teenagers, would have , at least subconsciously, felt that those young English girls deserved their fate, for being out drinking and flirting with men, rather than being at home under the watchful eye of their fathers or brothers, as young women within the Irish nationalist community ‘back home‘ were expected to be, at least in those days. Like their friends in the Taliban or Hamas, the men of the Provisional IRA expected their women to do as they were told, be ‘seen and not heard’. I would argue that, deep down, the murderous scumbags that bombed those pubs were quietly pleased so many ‘English slags’ had been killed by their bomb. Perhaps I am completely wrong, it doesn’t really make much of a difference. The fact remains that PIRA/SF set out to murder as many civilians as they could. A final word about the Birmingham Six. PIRA/SF could have undermined those men’s convictions at any time. They could have ensured their convictions were overturned. Had the real bombers stepped forward, had they been big enough to take their punishment, those six innocent men would have walked free. To the Provos though, the Birmingham Six were expendable. They cared about their fate only marginally more than they cared about the fate of those they murdered and maimed.
The Second ‘Bloody Friday’
On Tuesday, 21st of January, 1975, the Provos set out to repeat the carnage and slaughter of ‘Bloody Friday’, that infamous day in July, 1972, when they had set off 26 bombs, killing eleven people and wounding 130 more. Now just two and a half years later, PIRA/Sinn Fein set out to do something similar. As the people of Belfast went about their daily routine, the Provo godfathers planned mass murder. Earlier that day they had sent out several young, misguided men to plant nine bombs across the city in crowded civilian areas. The intention was clear; to murder and maim as many innocent people as possible. Fortunately though, the Irish nationalist lunatic’s plans went awry. Two of the bombs were discovered and made safe by Army technical officers, the rest did explode but by some miracle no-one was injured. Details are sketchy but it seems that the RUC were vigilant and spotted some of the suspect vehicles containing the bombs, evacuating the areas in question before the bombs went off. Whatever the reason, vigilance or blind good fortune, the Provos were thwarted and many, many innocent lives were spared.
The people of Ulster had another slice of good luck that day. That morning two young republican thugs, John ‘Bap’ Kelly (26) and John Stone (23), had been dispatched towards Belfast city centre in a stolen car packed with explosives. No doubt instructed by their cowardly leaders to go out and ‘kill women and kids for Ireland’. The two would-be mass murderers set off, unaware that they were both about to pay for their actions with their lives. Just two more Irish republican gangsters who would die for nothing.
As the cowardly pair drove along Victoria Street, on the way to their intended target, the bomb they were transporting exploded prematurely, killing them both instantly. As their mortal remains were being scraped off the public highway, the leaders of the Provo’s ‘D Company, 2nd Battalion‘ met to discuss the failure of their attempt at mass murder. They undoubtedly knew that people would die that day, killed at the hands of PIRA/Sinn Fein, just not their people. Their intention was to murder people out shopping, eating in restaurants and cafes, mothers pushing prams down the street. It had not been their intention to kill two of their own members. I only regret that the doomed vehicle in which Kelly and Stone died had not been a mini-bus load of Provos. Maybe the violent death of 20 of their own men would have focussed the minds of the Provisional leadership, just as the killing of entire PIRA ‘Active Service Units‘, in Loughgall at the hands of the S.A.S and in Cappagh at the hands of the Ulster Volunteer Force, had focussed the minds of the republican leadership in Mid-Ulster in the late 80s and early 90s.
Next Week: Part Three, The Murder of Ross McWhirter the ‘Dolphin Restaurant’ shootings and the Balcombe Street Gang