Wholesale Sectarian Slaughter
On the 5th of January, 1976, just after 5.30 in the evening, sixteen ordinary working men, all of them civilians, were travelling from their workplace, a textile mill in Glenanne, to their homes in the Bessbrook area. Five were Roman Catholics, the rest Protestants. Four of the Catholic men got out at Whitecross, while the rest of the men continued on towards Bessbrook. As their bus cleared the rise of a hill, it was stopped by a man in khaki uniform, standing on the road flashing a torch. The workers assumed they were being stopped and searched by the Army. As the bus stopped, eleven masked PIRA gunmen emerged from the hedges. A man “with a pronounced English accent” then began talking. He ordered them to line-up beside the bus before asking- “Who is the Catholic?”. The only Roman Catholic was Richard Hughes. His workmates, now fearing that the gunmen were Loyalists who had come to kill him, bravely tried to stop him from identifying himself. However, when Hughes stepped forward the gunman told him to “Get down the road and don’t look back”. The lead gunman then said “Right” and the rest of the murder gang opened fire on the workers.
The Provo gunmen fired 136 rounds in less than a minute. 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. The sheer barbarity, the extreme violence and callousness of the attack, demonstrates quite clearly the extreme levels of sectarian hatred within PIRA/Sinn Fein ranks. Amazingly, one of the men, Alan Black, survived despite having been shot eighteen times. His ten workmates were not so lucky, all of them being pronounced dead at the scene. A police officer who attended the site of the massacre said that the road was “an indescribable scene of carnage”. At least two of the victims were so badly mutilated that their relatives were prevented from identifying them. Although Kingsmill represented the most bloody episode of the period, PIRA/SF had been targeting and killing Protestant civilians throughout County Armagh since the start of ‘The Troubles’. In the 12 months before the Kingsmill Massacre, Provo murder gangs had killed 15 Protestant civilians and wounded many more. It is abundantly clear that in South Armagh, as in other border areas, it was PIRA/Sinn Fein policy to murder anyone who was not a Roman Catholic.
The Murder of an Entire Family
William and Elizabeth Herron had a small drapery shop in the village of Dromore, County Down. It was a family business, with the family living in the rooms above the shop. On the 7th of April, 1976, the Provos decided to firebomb the shop, probably because it was a Protestant owned shop in a predominantly Protestant village. William (64), Elizabeth (58) and their daughter Noeleen (26) were suffocated by thick, toxic smoke as their shop and family home went up in flames. All three were dead within minutes. The Provo vermin who firebombed the premises were bound to have known that the family lived upstairs. It is clear that they either didn’t care, or they had deliberately set out to murder the Herrons. Either way, the result was the same. The slaughter of an entire family. A family murdered simply because they were Protestants.
Two sisters from Portaferry and a Downpatrick man were jailed in connection with the firebombing, the man for 20 years on a manslaughter charge, the women – in 1980 and 1981 – for 12 years each on lesser charges. In 1985, then Secretary of State Douglas Hurd, exercised the Royal Prerogative of Mercy to remit part of the women’s sentences and they were released from Armagh Prison soon after. One can only guess why the two women were released early, no doubt some dirty deal had been done somewhere along the line. In 2006, as the 30th anniversary of the murders approached, the victims’ family submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the NIO, a request which was denied, without explanation. I would suggest that the most likely reason for the pairs early release from prison, is because they gave the Security Forces or the so-called ‘Security Service’ (ie. MI-5) information pertaining to PIRA operations or personnel. Whatever the motivation, the perpetrators of this vile crime got off very, very lightly. The remaining members of the Herron family circle deserve the truth, though when dealing with the NIO, the truth seems to be elusive.
Pub Shootings, Stabbings and Sectarian Slaughter
Between the 1st of May, 1976 and the 31st of July that year, the Provos murdered 22 Protestant civilians. Some, like 27 year old Richard Doherty were shot in their homes. Some, like Edward McMurray (41) and Robert Groves (45) were killed in bomb attacks on pubs frequented mainly by Protestants. Alexander Patterson, a 42 year old taxi driver, was lured to a bogus call by his Provo killers. Roberta Bartholomew (22) was killed by a PIRA bomb planted on a train travelling from Portadown to Belfast, and designed to cause maximum civilian casualties. 45 year old Tom McKenzie was abducted, tortured and stabbed to death by the Provos in West Belfast. The unfortunate man’s body was found dumped on waste ground near Divis Flats. Nine civilians were murdered by PIRA/Sinn Fein in gun attacks on public houses and social clubs.
Today, Irish republicans often deny that the Provos ever engaged in gun attacks on pubs and clubs. They bring up incidents such as Loughinisland and cite this as an example of how Loyalists (and only Loyalists) were the ones who carried out such attacks, asserting that the Provos would never resort to such blunt-force tactics. Like 90% of everything Irish nationalists say however, this is a lie. On Sunday, the 16th of May, 1976, two Protestant civilians, Roy McIlwaine (35) and William Martin (53), were killed in a PIRA/SF machine gun attack on the ‘Social Club’, on Alliance Road, Belfast. On Friday, the 25th of June, three Protestant civilians, Ruby Kidd (28), Joseph McBride (56) and Frank Walker who was just 17, were shot dead during a gun attack on The Store Bar, Lyle Hill Road, Templepatrick, Co. Antrim. The attack was carried out by a group calling itself the ‘Republican Action Force‘, but that was simply a cover-name for the Provisional IRA. On Friday, the 30th of July, 1976, the Provos carried out another sectarian ‘spray-job’, this time murdering four Protestant civilians as they sat in the Stag Inn, Belvoir, Belfast. The victims were- John McCleave (48), John McKay (50), Jim Doherty (70) and Thompson McCreight (60).
More Protestant civilians were to die in such indiscriminate attacks before the end of 1976. Crangle’s Bar in Belfast was the scene of the next attack on the 24th of September. Two civilians died in the attack- Fred McLaughlin (27) and George Rankin (50). The following day two members of a Protestant family, James Kyle (61) and Rosaleen Kyle (19), died as a result of a gun attack on their home in Ormonde Park, Finaghy, Belfast. There is some doubt as to whether the attack was carried out by PIRA/Sinn Fein or INLA/IRSP. There is no doubt however who was behind the next sickening, sectarian attack. On Wednesday, the 13th of October, two members of another Protestant family, William Corrigan (41) and Leslie Corrigan (19), died as a result of a gun attack outside their home at Annaghmore, near Loughgall, Co. Armagh. The Provos were proven to have been behind this attack, although some have speculated on their motive. I suggest that there is no need for such speculation, a PIRA murder gang set out that day to murder Protestants, any Protestants. William and Leslie Corrigan just happened to be the unlucky ones picked out by the republican psychopaths that day.
1977- Baby Killers and Kidnappers
If the long-suffering people of Northern Ireland hoped that 1977 would be a more peaceful year than 1976, those hopes were soon dashed, for on the very first day of that year, PIRA/Sinn Fein once again demonstrated their bloodlust and their shocking lack of morality. On Saturday, the 1st of January, 1977, a Provo gang left a bomb in a residential area of Glengormley, Co. Antrim. Some vague, mumbled warning was telephoned to a Belfast newsroom, just minutes before the device exploded. When the smoke cleared, 15 month old Graeme Dougan lay dead and many others were wounded. The Irish nationalist baby killers had struck again. Men who, when they planted that bomb, did not give a ‘tinker’s curse’ who was in the vicinity of the blast. Men who didn’t care who died in that explosion, just as long as they were not Catholics.
A little over a month later the Provos decided to widen their list of ‘legitimate targets’ yet again. This time business men were the latest group added to the ever-growing PIRA death list. On the 2nd of February, Jeffrey Agate (59), then Managing Director of the American Du Pont factory in Londonderry, was shot dead by members of PIRA/Sinn Fein outside his home at Talbot Park, L’derry. (This murder marked the beginning of a series of attacks on businessmen. There were further killings on the 2nd of March 1977 and the 14th of March 1977) but even these murders did not satisfy the blood lust of the Provo godfathers.
On the evening of 14th of May 1977, Robert Nairac, an undercover soldier, arrived at The Three Steps pub in Dromintee, South Armagh, alone. He is said to have told the men drinking in the bar that his name was Danny McErlaine, a motor mechanic and member of OIRA from Belfast. his objective was, apparently, to gather information about local republican terrorists. At around 11.45 pm, he was abducted, following a brief struggle in the pub’s car park, taken across the border into the Irish Republic, to a field in a wooded area known locally as Ravensdale, and shot in the back of the head. His body was never recovered. There are rumours that Capt. Nairac’s body was put through an industrial meat grinder at a processing plant in Co. Louth. Nothing would surprise me about the Provisional IRA.
The Provos have always displayed a sickening aptitude for murder and gruesome violence. They seem to thrive on it. When it comes to those known as ‘The Disappeared’ words actually fail me. It is one thing to kill a person, it is quite another to make that person disappear without trace. Leaving friends and loved ones to wonder what exactly has happened to that person. Denying the victim (and his or her family) a decent burial. It takes a special type of psychopath to do such a thing, and on a regular basis, since making people ‘disappear’ became a speciality of the Provos in the 1970s and 80s. Thankfully most of ‘The Disappeared’ been found in the last few years. Sadly though, some of those abducted, tortured and killed by PIRA/SF, still lie where they were buried in the dead of night by their killers. If Irish republicans had any decency, any shred of morality, they would have moved heaven and earth to try and locate the mortal remains of their victims. Instead a half-hearted attempt was made, by a few former Provo footsoldiers. Maps drawn on the back of beermats etc. are not enough, although what do we expect from the child killers and torturers of PIRA/Sinn Fein? They are a movement, a political cult, utterly without morality or decency.
NEXT WEEK: La MON, MOUNTBATTEN AND ETHNIC CLEANSING ON THE BORDER