Economic & Strategic Warfare; The UDA/UFF Bombing Campaign in Éire (Part 1)

“In Striking we Defend”

Although formed as a defensive organisation, shortly after its formation the leadership of the Ulster Defence Association came to the realisation that certain pro-active operations would have to be undertaken in order to preserve the existence of Northern Ireland and ensure the safety of the Loyalist and wider Unionist community.

The UDA Inner Council (the collective leadership of the organisation) recognised the fact that Irish republican extremists, primarily the breakaway PIRA, were recieving significant aid and material support from the Irish Republic. With the “Arms Crisis” of 1970 proving that the Dublin government had armed, funded and, at least partially, organised the nascent Provisional IRA, the UDA leadership made the decision to designate the Irish state, and the organs thereof, as “Enemies of Ulster“, thus making them legitimate targets.

Plans were put in place, as early as the summer of 1971, to undertake offensive operations against Éire, concentrating on certain symbolic, strategic and economic targets, although no such operations were attempted until the autumn of 1972.

The Ulster Defence Association, circa 1971

The “Autumn Offensive” 1972

On the night of the 28/29th of October, a bomb containing approximately 12 lbs of commercial explosives was discovered at Connolly Station, Dublin. The device was defused by Irish Army technical officers. Incendiary devices were also left at four Dublin hotels. These attacks were however, just the beginning of what would turn out to be an effective offensive.

On the evening of the 2nd of November, 1972, The UDA’s Londonderry & North Antrim Brigade (then known as the “Londonderry Command” or “North-West Command”) bombed the ‘Hole In The Wall’ pub, near St. Johnston, Co.Donegal. Armed volunteers from ‘A’ Company, 1st Battalion, ordered everyone out of the premises, before detonating a hand grenade and a large blast-bomb type device inside the pub, causing extensive damage.

Just over a fortnight later, on the 19th of November, the Londonderry & North Antrim brigade struck another target in Co.Donegal. On this occasion a car showroom, owned by a prominent republican, was targeted with a bomb containing 7 and a half pounds of explosive. The device exploded causing substantial damage.

Londonderry & Nth. Antrim UDA/UFF

At approximately 1:15am on Sunday, 26th of November, 1972, an “unusually large” bomb exploded outside the rear exit door of the ‘Film Centre‘ Cinema, Burgh Quay, Dublin during a late night showing of a film. The bomb went off in the laneway connecting Burgh Quay with Leinster Market injuring 40 people, around 20 of them seriously, including facial, leg and serious abdominal wounds. There were approximately 160 people (both patrons and staff) inside the cinema at the time of the blast and a Garda spokesman said that it had been “nothing short of a miracle” that there had been no fatalities. The force of the explosion had hurled customers out of their seats and onto the floor and one employee had been blown the full length of the central aisle.

A large number of shops and buildings in the immediate vicinity received extensive damage from the blast. The area was quickly sealed off by the Garda and they immediately launched a forsenic investigation 9f the scene. A ballistic officer determined that the epicentre of the explosion had been just outside an emergency door leading from the cinema to the laneway. However, due to the ferocity of the blast and the total combustion of the explosive material, no trace of the bomb or the explosives used were ever found. Garda detectives at the time suspected the bombing to be the work of republican “subversive elements”, soon after however, Gardai discounted republican involvement and intimated that they now believed the bomb attack to have been the work of Loyalists, most likely a UDA active service unit “from the Derry or Mid-Ulster areas“.

Political Gain: the 1st of December Dublin Bombings

On the 1st of December, 1972, shortly before 8pm, a large bomb, concealed inside the boot of a blue Hillman Avenger car, exploded at 29 Eden Quay, Dublin. The blast blew the Avenger apart and what remained of the vehicle was catapulted 18 feet away, coming to rest outside an optician’s office. Six cars parked in the vicinity of the Avenger were set on fire, and piled on top of each other. Every window of the nearby ‘Liberty Hall‘ and a number of other nearby buildings were shattered. Although a number of people suffered injuries – some horrific – nobody was killed.
At the same time the car-bomb detonated in Dublin, the Belfast Newsletter received a telephone call from a man warning that two bombs had been left in cental Dublin and would explode imminently, giving the locations of the bombs as Liberty Hall and Abbey Street. Staff at the newspaper immediately phoned the RUC who in turn relayed the warnings to the Garda Control Room, Dublin, at just before 8:10pm. A team of Gardai were immediately dispatched to investigate the area.

Dublin, 1972

At a quarter past eight that evening, a large explosive device, packed into the boot and rear foot-wells of a silver Ford Escort, detonated in Sackville Place, 40 feet away from the junction at Marlborough Street. Two CIÉ (Córas Iompair Éireann/Irish Transport) employees, George Bradshaw (30), a bus driver, and Thomas Duffy (23), a conductor, were killed. One witness described the aftermath as follows- “There was a large pall of smoke hanging over the area of the blast. At least six cars were on fire . . . there were people strewn all over the street. One man was lying unconscious in a pool of blood from his legs . . . everywhere there was sobbing and screaming . . . people were running in all directions.”

As well as the two bus-men who were killed over 130 people were injured in the two incidents. Around 50 of them seriously. As at Eden Quay, the Sackville Place bombing caused considerable damage to buildings and vehicles near the blast’s epicentre. Sackville Place being a narrow street off O’Connell Street, Dublin’s main thoroughfare.

The bombs however did not just cause death and destruction; they also literally blasted into law controversial new measures. Just as the bombs were exploding in the city centre, Dáil Éireann was debating the controversial bill to amend the Offences Against the State Act’, which would enact stricter measures against the Provisional IRA and other republican murder gangs. As a result of the two bomb attacks, the Dáil voted for the amendment which introduced special emergency powers. In particular this meant that a member of a terrorist group could be sentenced on the sworn evidence of a senior Garda officer in front of three judges. Before the bombings, many commentators had believed the bill – considered by some to be “draconian” – would be soundly defeated. Indeed, until it was interrupted by the sound of Loyalist bombs exploding, the debate in the Dáil had been a bitter and heated one. Neil Blaney, recently expelled from Fianna Fáil due to his part in the “Arms Crisis”, spoke out forcefully against the proposed measures, describing the Provos as “freedom fighters“. In turn, supporters of the new legislation described the Fianna Fáil government as having “blood on their hands”, whilst Edward Collins TD castigated them as “the godfathers of the Provisional IRA“. At the last minute, undoubtedly swayed by the sound of bombs just a short distance away, Fine Gael TD’s abstained, thus ensuring that the bill would pass.

Sackville Place, Dublin, 1st December, 1972

Militant Ulster Loyalists had forced the hand of the Irish government in an unprecedented manor, forcing the authorities in Éire to take active steps against Irish republican terrorists for the first time in the conflict. Although the violent deaths of two civilians is deeply regrettable, the 1st of December bomb attacks had been spectacularly successful. Timed to precision and ruthlessly carried out, the bomb blitz in the heart of Dublin had demonstrated to the Irish state, in brutal fashion, that they would have to take action against the very terrorist groups that they had helped to create just two years earlier, or face the consequences!

Although there is speculation about whether the 1st of December attacks were the work of the UDA or the Ulster Volunteer Force, such speculation is more or less meaningless. Physical force Loyalism had, once again, penetrated into the heart of the Irish capital to devastating, and deadly effect. Forcing the hand of the Irish government and denying Irish republican murder gangs free reign in that country, although Éire would continue to be both a safe haven and a base of operations for republican terror groups throughout the conflict in Ulster.

Part 2- next week

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PIRA/Sinn Fein: A Movement Without Morals (Part 9)

The 90s: Another Decade of Death

As the 1980s ended and the 90s began the situation in Ulster was more or less the same as it had been at the start of the previous decade. PIRA/Sinn Fein continued its murderous campaign whilst Loyalist paramilitaries attempted to force them to stop. Killings were followed by retaliatory killings. Violence was met with counter-violence. But whilst the UDA/UFF and UVF continued to target and kill men, and increasingly turned their sights on active republican terrorists, PIRA/SF continued to target men, women and children, often without regard to age or gender. Few could’ve foreseen in the first days of the 1990s that this would be the decade that would finally see an end to ‘The Troubles’. Indeed, many times in the 90s it seemed that the Conflict was, almost inevitably, going to escalate into a full-blown civil war. Indeed, all out war seemed more likely than peace. Yet before peace would arrive, before the final days of ‘The Troubles’, Ulster would witness some of the most awful and bloody atrocities in the whole sorry history of the Conflict.

Provo Godfather Gerry Adams. Still wedded to violence in the early 90s

Provo Godfather Gerry Adams. Still wedded to violence in the early 90s

The Provisional IRA were limited in their activities during this period because of the increasing effectiveness of Loyalist paramilitaries. Between 1989 and 1994 (when the CLMC ceasefire was called) the UVF and Ulster Freedom Fighters killed dozens of PIRA/SF, INLA/IRSP and IPLO activists as well as a large number of others who were providing Irish nationalist terror groups with information, financial and/or logistical support. This effectively neutered the Provo murder gangs in many parts of Northern Ireland. Despite this however, PIRA/Sinn Fein still did their utmost to cause havoc and commit murder. The Provos, becoming ever more desperate, sunk lower and lower, carrying out some of the most heinous crimes the ‘Western World‘ has ever seen.

Human Bombs

On Wednesday, the 24th of October, 1990, eleven members of the Provo’s ‘Derry City Brigade’ kidnapped 42 year old Patsy Gillespie from his home in the Shantallow area of Londonderry. While his wife and children were being held at gunpoint, Patsy was forced to drive his Vauxhall Nova car to a rural spot on the Co. Donegal side of the Border. Patsy Gillespie was then forced into a van loaded with 1,000lbs (450kg) of explosives and told to drive to the Coshquin permanent Border checkpoint on the Buncrana Road. Armed PIRA gunmen followed him in a stolen car to ensure he obeyed their commands, the Provo terrorists having already told Gillespie that his wife and children would be murdered if he did not follow their orders.  Four minutes from the checkpoint, the PIRA hoods armed the bomb remotely. When Patsy Gillespie reached the checkpoint, at 3:55 AM, he desperately tried to get out and warn the soldiers, but the bomb detonated when he attempted to open the door. The callous Provo bomb makers had installed a detonation device linked to the van’s interior light, which came on whenever the van door opened. As a ‘safeguard’, the bombers also used a timing device to ensure the bomb detonated at the right moment (ie. when the bombers were safely out of the way). Patsy Gillespie and five soldiers were killed instantly when the device exploded. Witnesses reported hearing “shouting, screaming and then shots” right before the explosion. The bomb devastated the base, destroying the operations room. The death toll would have been much higher if most of the soldiers hadn’t been sleeping in a recently built mortar-proof bunker. The blast also damaged 28 nearby houses, with many of the occupants of those homes requiring treatment for shock and minor injuries. At Patsy Gillespie’s funeral, Roman Catholic Bishop Edward Daly said that PIRA/Sinn Fein and its supporters were:

“the complete contradiction of Christianity. They may say they are followers of Christ. Some of them may even still engage in the hypocrisy of coming to church, but their lives and their works proclaim clearly that they follow Satan.”

Meanwhile in Newry, at the other end of Northern Ireland, members of PIRA/SF took over the home of James McAvoy (65). He was allegedly targeted because he served RUC officers at his filling station(!), which was beside the house. He was driven away in a Toyota HiAce van while his terrified family was held at gunpoint. At Flagstaff Hill, near the Border, members of the Provo’s ‘South Armagh Brigade’ loaded the van with a ton of explosives. James McAvoy was strapped into the driver’s seat and told to drive the van to Cloghoge permanent vehicle checkpoint. Before he drove off, one of the terrorists seemed to have a pang of conscience and told James McAvoy not to open the van’s door, but to exit the vehicle through the window. The cowardly Provo gang followed the van in a stolen car and turned into a side-road well before it reached its intended target. When James McAvoy stopped the van and climbed out the window, a soldier came over and began shouting at him to move the vehicle. Seconds later the device exploded. The soldier was killed outright and 13 others were injured. James McAvoy survived with just a broken leg. 21 year old Ranger Cyril J. Smith, from No.4 Platoon, B. Coy., 2nd Battalion RIR, was posthumously awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal, for leading James McAvoy to safety and trying to warn his comrades about the bomb rather than running for cover. Ranger Smith was a Catholic from Carrickfergus. He had recently gotten engaged. At about the same time, there was a third attempted “proxy bombing” in Co. Tyrone. A third innocent man was strapped into a car and forced to drive it to Lisanelly Army base in Omagh while his young wife and seven year old child were held at gunpoint. This third bomb weighed 1,500lbs (680kg) but, due to a faulty detonator, failed to explode.

A memorial to 'Proxy Bomb' victim Patsy Gillespie.

A memorial to ‘Proxy Bomb’ victim Patsy Gillespie.

These ‘proxy bomb’ attacks, or to describe them more accurately, involuntary suicide attacks, marked a new low, even for PIRA/Sinn Fein. A tactic so despicable, so disgusting, that it has not been copied by any other terrorist group anywhere in the world. Not even al-Qaeda, Hamas or Boko Haram. That alone is ample demonstration of PIRA/SF’s absolute lack of morality. To hold a civilian’s wife and children at gunpoint and force them to drive a van, laden with high explosive, to a target where the bomb will explode, killing the kidnapped man and anyone who happens to be in the vicinity, is a vile and cruel tactic. The work of individuals too cowardly to confront their so-called “enemy” face to face. Individuals too wretched and pathetic to wage war by the accepted standards of warfare.

The aftermath of a Provo "Proxy bomb" attack.

The aftermath of a Provo “Proxy bomb” attack.

Teebane: An Attack on the Entire Protestant Community

On Friday, the 17th of January, 1992, at a place known as Teebane crossroads in Co. Tyrone, the Provos carried out the single biggest planned mass killing of Protestant workmen since the Kingsmills massacre of 1976. Eight Protestant men, travelling home from work, were murdered and another six badly injured when a PIRA/SF roadside bomb exploded, destroying the Ford Transit mini-bus they were travelling in. The Provos later added insult to injury by declaring that the dead men were “eight collaborators engaged in rebuilding Lisanelly barracks”. It is very probable that the sick minded bigot that concocted that vile statement is now a Sinn Fein elected representative!

Teebane: The mass-murder of Protestant civilians coming home from a days work.

Teebane: The mass-murder of Protestant civilians coming home from a days work.

The victims of the Teebane bombing came from a wide area of Northern Ireland, from Doagh, Magherafelt, Ballymena, Cookstown. Many Protestant communities were deeply affected by the atrocity. One of the dead was Gary Bleeks (25) who had returned from England to his native Cookstown, taking up a job with Karl Construction Ltd., from Antrim. He lived with his elderly Grandmother, Elma. She later described how she and the rest of the young man’s family had learned of his death:

We waited in suspense from six o’clock. Didn’t know until ten. We rang the hospitals. He wasn’t admitted and we knew if he wasn’t admitted [to hospital] he must be dead. And a woman came yesterday and told us that her daughter had held his hand till he died. She asked him where he was from and he told her Cookstown. He was quick to tell her that. A lorry driver came and helped him till he died. And so it was a comfort, to know there was somebody with him, that he wasn’t dying on his own”

In a way the Teebane massacre was another case of “mistaken identity” by the Provo death squads. In the immediate aftermath of the atrocity the bungling terrorists had insisted that their innocent victims were employees of Henry Brothers, based in Magherafelt, a company that had been targeted repeatedly by the sectarian killers of PIRA/Sinn Fein. Needless to say that the Provos really didn’t care who the men worked for, just as long as they had been working at an Army base or police station, thus giving the hate-filled bombers an excuse to mask their deep-seated sectarianism, for Teebane was a sectarian attack. A deliberate act of savagery, directed squarely at the Protestant community as a whole.

More Dead Children: More Wrecked Lives

On Friday, the 10th of April, 1992, at about 9:20pm, Irish nationalist terrorism returned to London. A Provo bomb, containing one ton of explosives packed into a large white Volvo lorry, with a detonation cord made from 100lbs (45kg) of semtex, exploded at the Baltic Exchange, London. It killed three people: Paul Butt (29), a Baltic Exchange employee, Thomas Casey (49), and 15 year old Danielle Carter, a schoolgirl from Essex. Another 91 people were injured. Almost half of the wounded were women and children. The façade of the Exchange’s offices at 30 St. Mary Axe was partially demolished, the rest of the building extensively damaged.

PIRA/SF bombed the Baltic Exchange on 10th of April 1992, killing 2 men and a young girl. This was the sight that greeted those who came to inspect the damage the following day.

PIRA/SF bombed the Baltic Exchange on 10th of April 1992, killing 2 men and a young girl. This was the sight that greeted those who came to inspect the damage the following day.

The bomb led to the destruction of the Baltic Exchange which has now been replaced by The Gherkin. London had seen more than its fair share of PIRA/SF bombings and gun attacks but the murder of two men and a young girl was truly shocking. Irish republican apologists will try to warp the facts of the matter and claim that the civilians murdered that night were killed “in error”, but the facts speak for themselves. PIRA/Sinn Fein set out to destroy the Baltic Exchange and as much of the surrounding area as possible. The bombers didn’t care who died in the blast. They probably cheered when they heard that they had killed three ‘Brits’. PIRA/Sinn Fein’s sectarianism only being matched by their racist hatred for anyone and anything that is not Irish and ‘Gaelic’.

On Monday, the 12th of October, 1992, that xenophobic hatred was once again visited upon the innocent civilians of the UK’s capital. A Provo bomb gang left a small device, packed with ball-bearings and other deadly shrapnel, inside ‘The Sussex’, a busy pub on Upper St.Martin’s Lane in the popular Covent Garden area of the city. Five people were badly wounded in the attack. One of those unfortunate people, David Heffer (30), succumbed to his wounds the following day. The bomb attack on ‘The Sussex’ was just one of several such attacks in October of that year, although thankfully the other indiscriminate bombings caused only minor injuries to 12 people and no-one else was killed.

Any Irish republican reprobate who still foolishly clings to the notion that PIRA/SF did not deliberately target civilians should do some research. Not only did they target civilians, at times en masse, but the Provo thugs did it throughout the Conflict. From their emergence (aided and funded by the Irish government) in 1970, right up until their first ceasefire in 1994, PIRA/Sinn Fein targeted and killed civilians, deliberately, coldly, callously, without compunction. The sanitising of PIRA/Sinn Fein’s history needs to stop because it is farcical, it is damaging to the ‘Peace Process’ and it is insulting, not only to victims and their families, but to every decent, sane, rational person of a certain age who can remember ‘The Troubles’ as they really were, not as republicans would have the world believe they were.

NEXT WEEK: PART TEN – FROM WARRINGTON TO THE SHANKILL