Derry/Londonderry (or ‘How Monty Python named Ulster’s second city’)

Picture the scene

BBC television centre, 1971, comedy group ‘Monty Python’ have, for reasons unknown, been tasked with naming Ulster’s second largest city. John Cleese wants to call it ‘Derek’, but is dismissed by the others as a “lumbering buffoon”. Chapman, Idle and Jones want to name the city ‘Derry’, but Gilliam and Palin think the name should be ‘Londonderry’. The Pythons are bitterly divided. Michael Palin has been holding Eric Idle in a sleeper hold for almost an hour. Terry Jones has adopted the role of a sniper, viciously firing a homemade slingshot at Palin, Gilliam and the supposedly neutral Cleese, from behind the cover of an overturned desk. The BBC tealady, a Mrs. Edith Runnymede of Peckham, has refused to enter the room, likening the scene to the Battle of Salamis in 480 BCE.

After many hours of comedic warfare, and with the belligerents exhausted, a compromise is agreed. Dismissing Cleese’s suggestion as “the deranged utterance of a gigantic, moustache wearing fruit-bat”, the group decide, in typical surrealist fashion, to simply give the city both names. From then on, the second largest city in Northern Ireland would be known by the unlikely moniker of ‘Derry/Londonderry’.

Londonderry. Northern Europe’s forgotten jewel

Fast forward to 2018

Ulster’s barbarian tribes have been warring since time immemorial. They fought over which flag to fly. They fought over which language everyone should be forced to speak, and they fought over what exactly their second city should be called. The Green tribe, known for their love of strong drink and their propensity for blowing up small children, insisted that it be called ‘Derry’. The Orange tribe, known for their love of synchronised walking and their propensity for shooting people in the face, insisted that the correct name was ‘Londonderry’. For decades, both tribes stuck to their respective choice, then unbelievably, the freshly installed High Chief of the Green tribe, the fabled warrior queen, Mary Lou, uttered the ‘L’ word, calling the second city ‘Londonderry’!

The Green tribe was sharply divided. Some, perhaps mellowed by years of alcohol abuse and sad folk ballads, argued that it was ok to call the place Londonderry sometimes. Others though, incensed by the addition of two extra syllables, argued that Mary Lou had committed an inexcusable act of treason and could no longer be High Chief of the Green tribe. Meanwhile, most of the Orange tribe merely smirked and went back to beating their very large drums with very thin sticks, whilst the civilised tribes to the south and across the narrow sea to the east, scratched their heads and wondered just how they had ended up being the neighbours of such clearly insane people.

A section of Derry’s walls

Seriously though

The furore that erupted recently over Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald’s use of the term ‘Londonderry’, was tragically comic. I was born and raised in County Londonderry. I use the terms Derry and Londonderry interchangeably. The Orange anthem ‘the Sash my Father Wore’ calls it Derry. The Apprentice Boys of Derry call it Derry (shocker!). In all honesty it is simply not that big an issue for most Loyalists and Unionists. An official name change is a different matter, although personally I would not be that bothered. It would seem though that for Irish nationalists and republicans this is a much more touchy subject.

Derry is both historic and modern

The reaction of some Irish republicans has been hilarious. To see the usually well rehearsed and polished republican propaganda machine scrambling to try and bury this “controversy” has been highly amusing. These are the same people who made much of the fact that (some) Unionists and Loyalists placed such importance on flags and emblems. Is the word ‘Derry’ not a verbal emblem? I hope, although I don’t expect for one moment, that the numerous ‘satirical’ groups (lol) on social media have lampooned hardline republicans over this issue in the same way that they used the flags issue to try to belittle and mock the fringe elements of Loyalism and Unionism. Of course, that would be too much to ask. After all, one cannot be the drinking buddy of certain north Belfast republican dissidents, and then use one’s multiple social media accounts to lambast and laugh at republicans. Better to just trot out the same old bile you’ve been vomiting out since 2012 (there might still be a few £ in it yet ;).

And finally…

You see, this is why I was reluctant to start blogging about N.I. politics again. Whilst I’ve had a chuckle at the pettiness and insecurities of Irish republicans, the whole episode has also been slightly depressing. Twenty years after the signing of the Belfast Agreement and Ulster remains as divided, and as ridiculous as ever.

Between 1969 & 1999, more than 30,000 Ulster-Scots were “ethnically cleansed” from Derry’s west-bank

If you are one of the many foreign readers of this blog, please don’t let the infantile squabbles of extreme Irish nationalists put you off visiting our beautiful little nation, and visiting Londonderry in particular. Derry is a wonderful, charming, vibrant city. The most well preserved walled city in western Europe. It is historic, picturesque (mostly), welcoming and inexpensive to visit. In fact, whatever you like to call it, it’s the greatest little city in the whole British Isles!

Beautiful and historic Londonderry

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J. M. Andrews; Ulster’s forgotten Prime Minister

https://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/j-m-andrews-ni-s-second-prime-minister-got-the-job-a-decade-too-late-1-8479933

A superb piece from the Newsletter on the subject of John Miller Andrews, second Prime Minister of Northern Ireland and something of a forgotten figure in Ulster history.

Andrews served as MP for Mid-Down (and before that as MP for Co.Down). He served as Minister of Labour from 1921 to 1937, and as Minister of Finance from 1937 to 1940. When Lord Craigavon died, in 1940, he became leader of the Unionist Party and the second Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.

In April 1943 dissent from backbenchers forced him from office. He was replaced as Prime Minister by Sir Basil Brooke. Andrews remained, however, the recognised leader of the UUP for a further three years. Five years later he became the Grand Master of the Orange Order. From 1949, he was the last parliamentary survivor of the original 1921 Northern Ireland Parliament, and as such was recognised as the ‘Father of the House’. He is the only Prime Minister of Northern Ireland not to have been elevated to the peerage; both his successor and predecessor received hereditary viscountcies.

Throughout his life he was deeply involved in the Orange Order; he held the positions of Grand Master of County Down from 1941 and Grand Master of Ireland (1948–1954). In 1949 he was appointed Imperial Grand Master of the Grand Orange Council of the World.

J. M. Andrews as a young man, with his parents and family, including his brother Thomas

Andrews was a committed and active member of the ‘Non-subscribing Presbyterian Church’. Regularly attending worship in his home town of Comber. Andrews served on the Comber Congregational Committee from 1896 until his death in 1956 (holding the position of Chairman from 1935 onwards). He is buried in the small graveyard adjoining the church.

Fire Up The Time Machine

The blog is back

Ok folks, I’m back. Almost three years since I took an enforced sabbatical from the heady world of blogging. On a personal level, things have changed. I have changed. At least in some ways. Sadly though the same cannot be said for Ulster politics. Twenty years after the signing of the Belfast Agreement, the political landscape in Northern Ireland still resembles a battlefield. The DUP and Sinn Féin still thrive on confrontation and contention, much of it wholly manufactured, whilst the majority of the population grit their collective teeth and try to get on with their lives.

The Loyalist community is supposed to be absolutely outraged at the prospect of a Gaelic language act (legislation to protect a minority language? Arrgggghhh, the horror, the horror!), whilst Sinn Féin voters are supposedly weeping and gnashing their teeth because of how oppressed and downtrodden they are. Well, that’s Northern Ireland according to Arlene and Michelle anyway. Personally I couldn’t give a monkeys if the toy-town parliament up at Stormont is ever restored or not. Don’t get me wrong, in principle I believe in devolution, indeed, I believe in the radical decentralisation of power, far beyond what the N.I. assembly delivers, or rather doesn’t deliver. In Ulster though, devolution has become a soap opera. A repetitive, stale and formulaic soap opera, rehashing the same old storylines again and again. Direct rule is hardly an attractive proposition, but at this point no alternative to the present self-perpetuating stalemate should be off the table. I’m sure I speak for many Ulster folk when I say that I have simply become bored with the whole DUP/Sinn Féin charade, which is why I’m now going to move on to the important bit—

An unenthusiastic return

In all honesty, I wasn’t entirely sure whether It’s Still Only Thursday would ever return. As I said, since 2015 I have changed personally.
I am still, as I have been since my mid teens, a militant Ulster Loyalist. I maintain the position that Ulster, in it’s modern six county form, constitutes an ethnic nation with an inalienable right to self-determination, and furthermore, that the Ulster-Scots people, like every other national community, have an inalienable right to defend themselves in the face of violence, aggression and attempted genocide. I make no apology for my political persuasion. I am not, nor have I ever been, a “loyal to the crown” Loyalist. My loyalty lies with my people, my ethnic cohort, I offer no loyalty whatsoever to the institution of the monarchy (an institution I am at best ambiguous about) and no loyalty to the UK state, or any organ thereof. To quote the old Ulster folk song, ‘the Armagh Brigade’, “Ulster is my heritage and Ulster is my cause”. The overwhelming majority of people here wish to maintain the Union, therefore, although I am personally agnostic about the benefits of continuing that Union (Loyalist not Unionist) I am obliged to accept that most Loyalists, and many others besides, see the continuation of the Union as being beneficial for this country (whatever non-Loyalists wish to call it). My politics remain unaffected by the passage of time, although it would be disingenuous of me to pretend that I, as a human being, have remained untouched by the relentless march of years.

I would now describe myself as being very much in “post conflict” mode. I have, to wax lyrical, been overtaken by normalcy. The world I once knew; a world of conflict, violence and intercommunal tension, has long disappeared. So-called “legacy” issues notwithstanding, the Northern Ireland of 2018 has settled so firmly into relative normality as to be almost boring. That can only be a good thing. For me at least, politics has faded into the background. Whilst continuing to engage in community activity (or is that “activism”?), I have firmly relegated politics to the backburner, which is why I was unsure whether or not to resurrect this blog.

Had it not been for the surprising popularity of this blog, and no one was more surprised by it’s popularity than me, I honestly don’t think I would have returned to it. However, because it was/is far more popular than I could ever have imagined, and because of the almost universally positive feedback I received, I decided that I couldn’t just let it die, or rather, allow it to become a sort of cyber ghost, forever floating in the internet ether, untended, ignored and more or less forgotten. For some reason, some people (and in some very unusual places) found this blog informative, entertaining, or otherwise enlightening. I therefore felt I had something of an obligation to return to blogging, although to be frank it is an unenthusiastic return. A blog, like a small child, requires a lot of attention, although fortunately it requires only a modest investment of energy. I could put that energy into some other endeavour, but I’m here now so I might as well get on with it!

It’s Still Only Thursday might not be exactly as it once was. I will be covering issues beyond the usual fray of Ulster politics; futurism, the environment, economics etc., although I will still return to the politics and history of Northern Ireland regularly. I have written a fair bit about such things already but, as is so often the case in this troubled little corner of Europe, there is always much more to say. Unfortunately, the historical revisionism of the Irish republican propaganda machine shows no sign of abating, therefore I will no doubt feel obliged to address some of their more outrageous fabrications, however I intend, as always, to focus on being pro-Loyalist as opposed to being merely anti-republican. Hopefully my old readership will continue to read and enjoy It’s Still Only Thursday, and hopefully we will pick up a few new readers too. I can’t say that I’m enjoying writing again, yet, but we’ll see. I have a sneaking suspicion that I might. Soon.

Bonfires

Does Size Matter?

As we fast approach the 12th of July, bonfires are being built in Loyalist communities across Northern Ireland. For many people bonfires are an enjoyable part of the annual July festivities, for others they are a scar on the landscape. Whatever your opinion though, bonfires are here to stay.  I have nothing against a good ‘bonny’, but, I will say that in my humble opinion, bonfires should be scaled back in size. Some of the bonfires that are built each year are truly gigantic, do they have to be so large?

I contend that they do not. After all, isn’t the point of them to replicate the signal fires lit across the high hills of Ulster to communicate the news that King William III had landed at Carrick? Those original fires were not massive edifices. I fully understand that in some areas, especially in the Greater Belfast area, having the biggest bonfire is a sort of badge of honour. There is obviously a lot of fierce competition. However, there are other factors which need to be urgently considered.

Some Eleventh Night bonfires are on a truly epic scale

Some Eleventh Night bonfires are on a truly epic scale

Safety First

Last “11th Night” I attended a bonfire in County Antrim. Whilst not by any means a record breaker the bonfire was still very large. Consisting almost entirely of wooden pallets, the fire was not very wide at the base but was quite tall. After it was lit it began to burn on only one side. A few minutes later and the inevitable happened- the bonfire collapsed and fell over. Fortunately nobody was hurt but I am convinced that it is only a matter of time before one of these really large bonfires costs someone their life. Shouldn’t the safety of the community, and especially the youth of the community, be paramount? Bonfires don’t have to be gargantuan.

Some Loyalist communities have switched from large, and quite frankly ugly, bonfires to the much smaller and neater beacons. These beacons are metal, usually wrought iron, cage like structures into which combustible bonfire type material is placed. They have a number of benefits: they are safer, easier to clean up afterwards, easier to light etc. I know that in some places pressure has been applied to community groups/representatives to make the switch from bonfire to beacon but that is a counterproductive tactic. Often communities simply dig their heels in and refuse to even consider a beacon. To bribe communities with the promise of funding for other things (children’s playparks etc) is downright reprehensible, though I know full well of several examples of such shady practice.

Flag Burning

I don’t condone the burning of flags on bonfires. On the field of battle, an enemies colours, once captured, are rarely desecrated let alone destroyed, the Irish tricolour is though, being routinely burned on 11th of July bonfires, just as Loyalist flags are burned on Irish nationalist/republican bonfires. I can understand the reasoning of the flag burners, even though I don’t agree with their views. For many Loyalists and Unionists the Irish tricolour is a flag that will forever be tainted by it’s association with many and various terrorist gangs. PIRA/SF, RIRA, IPLO, CIRA, OIRA, INLA/IRSP, have all used (or continue to use) the tricolour as their emblem. If you ask the young bonfire builders what the Irish tricolour represents, many of them will tell you that it is the flag of “the IRA”, arguably they would not be incorrect in such an assertion.

It's not just Loyalists that burn flags on bonfires as vividly demonstrated by this republican "anti-internment" bonfire

It’s not just Loyalists that burn flags on bonfires as vividly demonstrated by this republican “anti-internment” bonfire

Nationalist/republican flags will also continue to go up in flames every summer whilst the Union flag and Ulster banner continue to be burned on republican bonfires. This is a sad indictment of Ulster society but unfortunately that is where we are at in terms of community relations. We live in a “zero sum” society. If one side of our divided community does something, the other side will do the same. “Yous burn our flag and we’ll burn yours”.

An Appeal to Common Sense

Whether or not you agree with me on the issue of bonfires, if you attend the Eleventh Night festivities please use your common sense and keep yourself and those around you safe. Too much alcohol is never a good idea at anytime, and especially not in the vicinity of a large open fire! Orange men and bandsmen should know not to indulge too much, after all, the 12th is a long day for those involved in the actual parade.

Keep dogs away from the bonfire. Never throw glass bottles etc into the fire. Keep a close eye on the youngsters and try to avoid getting your eyebrows singed off! What will I be doing? I’ll be tucked up in bed. Like I said, the 12th is a long day. I might not take an active part anymore but still, a good nights sleep is essential the night before Europe’s largest outdoor cultural festival.

PIRA/Sinn Fein: A Movement Without Morals (Part 6)

1980/81: Horror Upon Horror

As the 1970s drew to a close it was obvious to the leadership of the republican ‘movement’ that any military victory was impossible. They had promised their supporters much but delivered nothing. The Westminster government had, unconstitutionally,  prorogued Ulster’s parliament but that action was influenced by the undemocratic machinations of Heath’s Tory party, not by the storm of violence ad death unleashed by PIRA/SF. The Provos had promised that 1975 would be “the year of victory”, yet in reality, it was simply another 12 months of senseless barbarity.

The leadership of PIRA/SF had promised their deluded supporters that they could gain some kind of victory in a short space of time.

The leadership of PIRA/SF had promised their deluded supporters that they could gain some kind of military victory in a short space of time.

As 1980 dawned, few in Northern Ireland dared to hope that the 1980s would be any different to the decade just gone. It would though turn out to be somewhat different. Many people forget that for a period in the mid-Eighties, it looked as if terrorism in Ulster was being defeated. The number of PIRA/SF and INLA/IRSP attacks diminished and it seemed quite possible that the nightmare was, perhaps, drawing to a close. We now know, with the benefit of hindsight, that it wasn’t. The nightmare would continue, and indeed get worse, before it was finally over. The violence picked up again in the latter years of the 80s, marked by some of the most savage acts ever chronicled in the annals of conflict. The 90s, contrary to popular (mis)belief, were much worse. Ulster was taken to the very brink of Civil War on at least a few occasions. Though tentative discussions about peace were already well under way, few in Ulster would have predicted (relative) peace before the end of 1994.

The first years of the 1980s saw PIRA/Sinn Fein carry out some truly heinous acts. The continued slaughter of innocent civilians, the indiscriminate bombing, the ethnic cleansing of Protestants in areas across Northern Ireland, the fire-bombings and the kneecappings. The continued use of weasel words and grandiose language, used by PIRA/Sinn Fein to try to defend the indefensible. Most people in Ulster, at least of those who had not used wealth to insulate themselves from the realities of war, would have described themselves as being fairly hardened to all the killing and destruction by the beginning of 1980, but few could have envisioned the horrors about to be perpetrated by Irish nationalist terror gangs. Few could have imagined the depths to which the Irish republican thugs would stoop.

By 1980, Ulster's conflict had been raging for over a decade.

By 1980, Ulster’s conflict had been raging for over a decade.

1980

The first months of the decade saw much terror and death in Northern Ireland. On the 17th of January, three civilians were murdered when PIRA/SF detonated a bomb aboard a packed Lisburn-Belfast commuter train. Those civilians, Mark Cochrane (17), Abayoni Max Olorenda (35) and Kevin Delaney (26), had no chance of escape. Yet again, the Provo murder gangs had deliberately chosen to visit mass slaughter on the civilian population. That republican apologists even attempt to deny PIRA/SF’s deliberate targeting of civilians is pushing credibility to it’s very limits. The facts speak for themselves. On the 14th of May, 1980, PIRA/Sinn Fein killed Roy Hamilton (22) in an overtly sectarian gun attack on a building site in the Ballymagroarty area of Londonderry. The construction workers on site were almost all Protestants, a fact soon learned by the local Provo death squad, who decided that they could not have such ‘Heretics’ in their midst. Two gunmen were dispatched to the site and as the Protestant workers sat down to their morning tea-break they were fired upon. Roy Hamilton, a young man who was just out to do an honest days work, was shot and killed. Three of his workmates were wounded. On the 15th of August, Ulster was stunned by a cold-blooded and senseless double murder. Two Protestant civilians, William Younger (87) and his daughter, Letitia Younger (57), were found murdered in their home in the Ligoniel area of North Belfast. They had been repeatedly stabbed before being shot. No group ever claimed responsibility for the vile double killing (unsurprisingly). There was some speculation, no doubt carefully crafted within the Irish nationalist community, that the deaths of William and Letitia Younger were not ‘Conflict related’. Quite frankly I think that is nonsense. There is evidence which points to this brutal act having been the work of PIRA/Sinn Fein. 

Provo 'Mad Bombers' often struck civilian targets.

Provo ‘Mad Bombers’ often struck civilian targets.

The day after the Youngers were brutally slain inside their home another civilian, Colette Meek (47) was murdered standing outside her own front door. Mrs Meek was standing in the driveway of her at home at Alliance Avenue in the Ardoyne area of North Belfast when a PIRA/SF gang opened fire on a nearby Police patrol. The Provo gunmen, clearly not the best of marksmen, shot and killed the mother of four “by accident”. No RUC Officers were wounded in the bungled attack which left Colette Meek’s children without a mother.

The IRA claimed responsibility. They said they were sorry and that she wasn’t their intended target. It makes me angry…I never got to know my mummy. I was deprived of her when I was growing up. She was the best in the world; she was my mummy.” – Mrs Meek’s daughter (from ‘Ardoyne – The Untold Truth’)

Abduction and Torture

On Sunday, the 31st of August, 1980, Wallace Allen (49), an RUC Reservist and farmer, was abducted by the Provisional IRA from the cab of the milk lorry he was driving, near Newtownhamilton, Co. Armagh. His mortal remains were found nearby on the 12th of September. He had been tortured before being shot in the head. What suffering the poor man must have known in those 12 days PIRA/SF kept him captive. What agonies must have been inflicted on him?. This was the Provo’s ethnic cleansing of Protestants in Border areas in brutal action. Wallace Allen was given as gruesome and as violent a death as possible, to serve as a warning to other Protestants in the area (the few who had dared remain). The Provo’s message was as simple as it was chilling- “Get out or this will happen to you or one of your family”. PIRA apologists will shriek that Wallace Allen was murdered because he was a member of the RUC Reserve, but that is not the real reason he was killed. He was killed because he was a ‘stubborn Prod’ who not leave the place he called home. He was tortured for almost a fortnight before being killed as a warning to other Protestants in South Armagh.

Not content with abducting, torturing and murdering one Protestant in the area, the Provo psychopaths decided to slake their thirst for blood by abducting, torturing and murdering another Protestant man. This time their victim was Ross Hearst (56). On evening of the 4th of September, Mr Hearst had been visiting friend across the Border in Co. Monaghan in the Irish Republic when he was kidnapped by a PIRA/SF murder gang (almost certainly acting in collusion with local members of An Garda Síochána). His body was found several hours later, at Wards Cross near Middletown in South Armagh. Like Wallace Allen, he had been tortured before being shot in the head. Thankfully the duration of his suffering was much shorter than that of Wallace Allen.

Wallace Allen. Abducted, held prisoner and finally murdered by a Provo killer gang.

Wallace Allen. Abducted, held prisoner and finally murdered by a Provo killer gang.

At the start of December, the Provos murdered another housewife. This time their victim was Heather Pollock (53), from Strabane, who was struck by gunfire in her own home after yet another botched PIRA/Sinn Fein gun attack on the RUC. A mobile patrol had been passing through the area when a Provo sniper opened up on them. Rather than hitting his intended target though, the incompetent republican thug shot and fatally wounded Heather Pollock. She died in hospital two days after Christmas. Sinn Fein made a stomach churning statement, absolving their terrorist wing of responsibility and spewing out the usual garbage about “intended targets” and how Mrs Pollock’s murder was a “mistake”.

1981

On New Year’s Day, 1981, the Provos tried their old trick of making someone ‘disappear’. Their unfortunate victim was Eugene Simons (27), from Castlewellan, Co. Down. He was never officially listed as one of ‘The Disappeared’ because, purely by chance, his body was found in a desolate bog, near Knockbridge, Co. Louth, in the Irish Republic, in May, 1984. Eugene Simons had lain in an unmarked, shallow grave for over three years. His callous killers hadn’t even the basic human decency to allow his family to give him a proper burial. Why PIRA/Sinn Fein murdered Mr Simons is not known. Perhaps he was a suspected informer. Perhaps he once had a conversation with a soldier. It is more likely though that he was killed (‘disappeared’) because he had insulted or disrespected some local Provo godfather. PIRA/SF, like the Mafia, don’t like to be shown up as the petty thugs and bully boys that they really are!

Eugene Simons, 'Disappeared' by the Provos. Thankfully his body was later found, although by accident.

Eugene Simons, ‘Disappeared’ by the Provos. Thankfully his body was later found, although by accident.

On Wednesday, the 21st of January, 1981, the Provos once again shocked the civilised world with their barbarism and cruelty. That night an armed gang of ten Irish nationalist terrorists crossed the Border, hijacked two vehicles and went to Tynan Abbey, the isolated mansion home of Sir Norman Stronge (86) and his son James Stronge (48), located near Middletown in South Armagh. The Provo gang murdered the two men. Shooting them dead in their own home. They then bombed the historic building before making their escape. Following the brutal double murder, the Provisional IRA claimed responsibility, stating that it was a reprisal for recent attacks by Loyalists on republican activists (so much for PIRA/SF not reacting to Loyalist violence!). Over the previous six weeks, four leading Irish republicans had been killed by the UFF. Just a few days earlier, embittered Irish nationalist militant Bernadette McAliskey and her husband, a senior member of PIRA, had been badly wounded. It seems that PIRA/SF felt that murdering an 86 year old man and his son would somehow ‘even the score’ with the Ulster Freedom Fighters, who were targeting and killing the republican leadership, seemingly at will.

The Murder of Joanne Mathers

Joanne Mathers (pictured with her baby son), murdered by PIRA/Sinn Fein because she was a Protestant.

Joanne Mathers (pictured with her baby son), murdered by PIRA/Sinn Fein because she was a Protestant.

Few incidents from Ulster’s dark past provokes as much disgust, as much horror, as the sickening murder of Joanne Mathers, a young wife and mother, cruelly cut down in her prime. Joanne Mathers was just 29-years-old when on the 7th of April, 1981, a cowardly PIRA gunman shot her dead on the doorstep of a Gobnascale home whilst she chatted to the man who lived there. Mrs Mathers was the mother of a toddler and was collecting census forms when she was ruthlessly killed. As Mrs Mathers casually chatted to the householder, a masked man dashed forward, snatched the clipboard she was holding with one hand, placed a gun to her neck with his other hand and fired. Mrs Mathers cried out and ran past the householder into his home. The man, to his credit, slammed a glass panelled door in the hallway shut in an attempt to stop the killer following, but the fanatical gunman kept coming, smashed through the glass door and as Joanne Mathers lay dying on the ground, took the rest of the census forms. He then made his escape whilst brandishing the murder weapon in the air as a deterrent against anyone attempting to apprehend him. Sinn Fein had issued a laughable diktat that no-one in the Irish nationalist/republican community was to complete or return their census forms, in a “demonstration of love and support for the Hunger Strikers”, but if that was the excuse for the murder of Joanne Mathers, why murder the young woman collecting the forms? Why not, as PIRA/SF had done so many times before, simply ‘make an example’ of someone in their own community who they knew disobeyed them and filled in the census forms? The answer is patently obvious. Joanne Mathers was killed because she was a Protestant. Because of the republican organised boycott of the census, anyone out collecting census forms was almost guaranteed to have been a Protestant. Going against PIRA/Sinn Fein orders by filling out one’s census forms was one thing, openly defying them by taking a job collecting census forms was quite another, therefore, those going around the doors collecting the forms were bound to be from the Protestant community. Joanne Mathers was murdered because of her perceived religious affiliation.

Former RUC Special Branch agent Raymond Gilmour lays responsibility for Mrs Mather’s death squarely at the feet of Martin McGuinness. In a revised edition of his bestselling book ‘What Price The Truth’, Gilmour states:

“Nothing, and I mean nothing, happened in Derry without the say so and nod from Martin McGuinness. He was top of the pile. There was no one higher up the ladder than him. McGuinness was the power behind the throne in Derry. Everything had to be cleared through McGuinness first. So I can say with absolute certainty that McGuinness gave the order to kill Mrs Mathers.’’

Raymond Gilmour was in a position to know. Martin McGuinness, Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead, has much innocent blood on his hands, would any Loyalist be surprised to learn that he gave the order for a young wife and mother to be murdered? 

Did Martin McGuinness (circled) order the murder of Joanne Mathers?

Did Martin McGuinness (circled) order the murder of Joanne Mathers?

Desmond and Eric Guiney

On the 5th of May, 1981, PIRA gunman and firebomber, Bobby Sands, died in Long Kesh. Sands had been on hunger strike for 66 days. When news of Sands’ death broke, the Irish nationalist/republican community erupted (this is the same community who, it is claimed, never supported the Provisional IRA!). There was widespread rioting, disorder and destruction of property. Eric Guiney (45) a local milkman, and his son Desmond Guiney (14), both Protestant civilians, were driving along the New Lodge Road in North Belfast. When they got to the junction of the Antrim Road they came under sustained attack from Irish nationalist stone throwers. Eric Guiney had his window down and was struck on the head by one the missiles thrown by the baying republican mob. Their little milk lorry crashed into a lamp-post and Desmond went through the windscreen. When the ambulance and fire brigade arrived to help the injured man and his son, they too came under attack from the stone throwing thugs. Eric and Desmond were taken to the Mater Hospital, where both were sent immediately to the Intensive Care ward.

The aftermath of the vicious attack on Eric and Desmond Guiney.

The aftermath of the vicious attack on Eric and Desmond Guiney.

Desmond Guiney died of his injuries three days later. His mother was with him when he finally succumbed to his horrific injuries. His funeral was attended by thousands of people, including his traumatised school friends. Eric Guiney never regained consciousness after the crash and was not even aware of his son’s death. He died on the 13th of May. Many Irish republican sympathisers laud Bobby Sands as some sort of hero, but how many such people even know the names- Desmond and Eric Guiney? How many remember the ‘New Lodge Milkman’ and his young son, murdered by a republican mob enraged because one of their Provo poster-boys had starved himself to death in prison?

Sectarian Shootings

Throughout the rest of 1981, PIRA/Sinn Fein took many more lives. As more Hunger Strikers died the republican ‘movement’  became ever more enraged and blood thirsty. On the 21st of July, John Hazlett (43), a Protestant builder, was shot dead by a Provo murder gang as he renovated premises at Bank Square, Maghera, Co. Londonderry. On the 11th of August, another Protestant civilian, Charles Johnston (43), was shot by a PIRA/SF gunman, riding pillion on a motorcycle, in a ‘drive-by’ type killing in Belfast. On the 8th of November, 1981, Trevor Foster (17), was killed by a Provo booby-trap bomb outside his parent’s home in Co. Armagh. Two days later, Charles Neville (56), was murdered by a Provo gun gang as he left his workplace in Loughgall, Co. Armagh. The most high profile of this series of sectarian murders took place in Belfast on the 14th of November, when once again, the Provisional IRA would demonstrate their deep rooted hatred for anything and anyone Protestant, Loyalist or Unionist.

PIRA psychopaths often carried out random sectarian killings.

PIRA psychopaths often carried out random sectarian killings.

Rev Robert Bradford was a Methodist minister and UUP MP for South Belfast. He was conducting a constituency surgery in Finaghy, Belfast, when shortly before 11.30am on Saturday, November 14, 1981, three armed PIRA members carrying ladders and dressed in painters’ boilersuits arrived at the community centre at Benmore Drive, which Rev. Bradford was using to meet constituents and hear their concerns. At first their arrival did not arouse suspicion; there was ongoing work at the centre. One of the gang members, carrying a sub-machine-gun, took up position at the front door. One of his accomplices shouted “freeze” before opening fire on the caretaker, 29-year-old Kenneth Campbell, who was returning to the centre after a break at his nearby home. He died at the scene. While one of the nationalist terrorists pinned an RUC bodyguard to the ground at gunpoint, another gunman quickly turned to Reverend Bradford, the gunman coldly opened fire, shooting him in the eye, chest, neck and ear. The 40-year-old father-of-one died instantly. When Rev. Bradford and Mr Campbell were shot, children at a kids’ disco in the community centre witnessed the horrific murders. A 15-year-old DJ described how he threw a chair at one of the killers while shouting at other children to dive for cover.  “The gunmen pushed the children out of the way as they made their way out of the building,” he added. An 11-year-old told reporters afterwards: “They shot the Rev. Bradford about six times. We were quite close by. The shots were very loud.” Provo killer gangs care little for the fate of bystanders, even children.

The Rev. Bradford had become a Methodist minister when he was just 22, turning his back on a career as a professional footballer with Sheffield Wednesday FC. He joined the UUP when he served as a minister in the Loyalist enclave of Suffolk in West Belfast and was elected MP for South Belfast in 1974. He was an outspoken critic of PIRA/Sinn Fein and had demanded the reintroduction of hanging for terrorist killers. Rev. Bradford’s widow, Norah, was 33 at the time of the killing. They had one daughter, Claire. Speaking after the murder, she told reporters:

“They have tried several times at the advice centre. They came at least two times before and they were caught out watching the advice centre, but he would not give it up just for them. He knew it would be the most likely place for them to get him. He never feared he would be attacked. He felt it was a possibility. He did not fear it.”

The murder of a Methodist minister should be ample evidence of the deeply sectarian nature of PIRA/Sinn Fein. What would have happened I wonder, if at any point in ‘The Troubles’, Loyalists had killed a Roman Catholic priest? Even a priest like James Chesney, an active PIRA terrorist who had a hand in the 1972 Claudy bombing?. Or his un-named confederate, also a Catholic priest, also involved in the Claudy bombing, who fled to New York in fear of his life?. What reaction would there have been in such a hypothetical scenario? One can only imagine the furious uproar in the media, the hysterical hand wringing from certain, dubious, Unionists (so-called Unionists to be more accurate), the crocodile tears of the Irish nationalist/republican leadership. Rev. Roy Bradford was not a Roman Catholic priest though. He was ‘just an auld Prod’. Therefore, in the eyes of our controlled media, his life had little value. In the wake of his murder (and that of Kenneth Campbell), there wasn’t much handwringing from the Irish nationalist community. No calls for the killers to be cast out of their midst. One is left to speculate why?

Protestant clergyman and Unionist MP Rev. Roy Bradford, murdered by Roman Catholic extremists- PIRA/SF

Protestant clergyman and Unionist MP, Rev. Roy Bradford, murdered by Roman Catholic extremists- PIRA/SF

When Irish nationalists deny that PIRA/SF carried out overtly sectarian murders, or when they deny that “da RA” deliberately targeted civilians, they are vomiting out a carefully crafted lie. Not just a lie, but a snide, sneering, disgusting insult. An insult to hundreds of dead innocents. An insult to those who dared take a stand against the loathsome bigots of PIRA/Sinn Fein. This lie, is not repeated out of ignorance, even the most cursory glance at the historical record would be enough to acquaint anyone with the real facts of the matter, rather it is repeated because of pure, raw, visceral hatred. Sectarian hatred. When some republican bigot attempts to assert that the Provo death squads were non-sectarian, or that they did not set out to deliberately murder civilians, they are mocking you. They are insulting you. They may as well be spitting in your face, and they know it! You see, Irish nationalists don’t care how many innocent people died at the hands of PIRA/SF. In their heart of hearts they don’t give a damn. That some nationalists publicly condemn the actions of the Provos is merely a matter of expediency. Irish nationalism is incapable of reform. It is irredeemable. Just like Nazism, Stalinism or Ba’athism.

Don’t be fooled by the saccharin sweet smiles, the politically correct language or the sharp suits. PIRA/Sinn Fein have no remorse for the murder and mayhem they inflicted on this society for 30 years. In fact, far from being remorseful or showing any kind of contrition, they revel in their past misdeeds. They gloat about the number of Protestants their murder-machine cut down. They praise and adulate their ‘fallen comrades’, men like Thomas Begley, sectarian mass-murderer, sent out by Provo godfathers to kill and maim as many Shankill Road residents as possible. Sadly for them though, there are those of us on the Loyalist side who do not forget and who are not easily fooled (or bought!). We know our enemy. We remember their evil deeds. To quote the motto of a certain secret intelligence agency- “We Do Not Forgive. We Do Not Forget”

NEXT WEEK: PART 7

 

PIRA/Sinn Fein: A Movement Without Morals, Part Five

La Mon: No Greater Mark of Shame

The Provisional IRA have many shameful episodes in their dark and shadowy history, the deliberate targeting and murder of civilians, the killing of infants, the ‘Disappeared’, all shameful, repugnant acts, but few PIRA/SF attacks were as shocking, as blatantly sectarian or as gruesome as the La Mon bombing. Not only because 12 Protestant civilians, the majority of them women, were murdered, but also because of the way in which they murdered. Not riddled with gunfire, not blown to pieces, but burned alive. Just let that sink in for a moment. Twelve innocent civilians burned alive. Some of those poor people burned beyond recognition. Can you imagine the agony, the suffering? Can you put yourself in the place of the relatives, given the grizzly task of identifying the charred remains of a sister, brother, daughter or spouse? I cannot begin to imagine what those families went through, what they must still go through on a daily basis, left traumatised and mentally scarred by the actions of a gang of cowardly, uneducated, delusional republican thugs.

The La Mon House hotel/restaurant sits in the Castlereagh hills, just outside Belfast. Today it is a popular venue for weddings and functions, just as it was in the 1970s. At that time in Ulster, dinner-dances were all the rage, with almost every club, association, society and fraternity in the country holding an annual dinner-dance. The Irish Collie Club and the Northern Ireland Junior Motorcycle Club were no different. The two clubs having hired out the ‘Peacock Room’ and the ‘Gransha Room’ of the La Mon hotel/restaurant respectively, to hold their annual functions. On the night of Friday the 17th of February, 1978, the two dinner-dances were underway. The diners had just sat down to the first course of their meal when a Provo incendiary device, comprised of a small blast-bomb attached to four large canisters filled with a Napalm like mixture of petrol and sugar, exploded outside the ‘Peacock Room’. (The sugar having been added to the mixture to make it stick to whatever it hit.) The device had been placed against one of the function room’s large picture windows and when it detonated the explosion created an instantaneous and devastating fireball, 40 feet high and 60 feet wide, which engulfed the room. A single, vague warning had been telephoned in by PIRA/Sinn Fein, just 9 minutes before the bomb exploded. Later they gave miserable excuses for having not given adequate warning and thus avoiding, or at least minimising, the number of deaths and devastating injuries, at one point the Irish nationalist murder gang even suggested that the huge loss of life was down to the UDR, a unit of the regiment having stopped the gang’s car after they had planted their deadly firebomb and were, supposedly, on their way to a public call-box to telephone in a warning. Anyone with even a small amount of knowledge about PIRA/Sinn Fein however can see through their pernicious lies and vile fabrications. An inadequate, deliberately vague warning was given so the Provos could murder as many Protestants as possible whilst still maintaining the pretence that they gave a prior warning in order to avoid casualties. A cynical tactic used by these fanatics all too often.

Gordon Crothers (30) and his wife Joan (26) murdered by PIRA/SF at La Mon for not being Roman Catholic.

Gordon Crothers (30) and his wife Joan (26) murdered by PIRA/SF at La Mon for not being Roman Catholic.

“Like a Scene From Hell”

The massive fireball that engulfed the ‘Peacock Room’ killed twelve people. Innocent civilians murdered because of their perceived religion. Thirty others suffered horrible burns. Young men and women were left disfigured. Others lost limbs. Some of those injured in the attack are still receiving treatment for their injuries over 35 years after the event! One witness to the carnage described it as being “like a scene from Hell”. The survivors, with their hair and clothing on fire, rushed to escape the burning room. It must surely have been a harrowing scene. It took firemen almost two hours to put out the blaze, such was the intensity of the fire. Some of the victims were found beneath a pile of hot ash and debris, charred beyond all recognition, making identifying them extremely difficult as all their individual human features had been completely burned away. Some of the bodies had shrunk so much in the intense heat, it was first believed that there were children among the victims. One doctor who saw the remains described them as being like “charred logs of wood”.

In the aftermath of the bombing most Protestants recognised it for what it was, a sectarian attack against their community. They called for a return of the death penalty. More than 2000 people attended a lunchtime service organised by the Orange Institution at City Hall in Belfast. Belfast International Airport shut for an hour, while many workers in Belfast and Larne stopped work for a time. Workers at a number of factories said they were contributing their half-day’s pay to a fund for the victims and their families. A team of 100 RUC detectives was deployed in the investigation. As part of the investigation, 25 people were arrested in Belfast, including Gerry Adams. Adams was released from custody in July 1978 and became President of Sinn Fein shortly after. There were just two prosecutions in relation to the La Mon massacre. A Belfast man was charged with the twelve murders but was acquitted. He was convicted of PIRA membership but successfully appealed. In September, 1981, another Belfast man, Robert Murphy, was given twelve life sentences for the manslaughter of those who died. He was freed from prison in 1995, having served just 14 years, a little over one years imprisonment for every life taken at La Mon. Why was this repellent, odious, repugnant creature not charged with 12 counts of murder? As is often the case in Ulster, one is left shaking one’s head in sheer disbelief.

Ethnic Cleansing Of Ulster’s Frontier 

It is very common in literature on Northern Ireland and ‘The Troubles’ to see it portrayed largely in terms of a dominant Protestant majority and a Catholic minority. In the border areas however, it was Protestants who were in the minority and who suffered for it. It has been ignored in large part because it does not fit into the ‘oppressive Protestants/oppressed Catholics’ dichotomy, and yet it is an element of Ulster’s recent past that cannot, and should not, be ignored. It is also one where the brutal sectarian dimension of PIRA/SF is undeniable: the relentless bombing of Protestant businesses, the burning of farms, the shooting up of farmhouses to force the occupants out, and the relentless campaign to kill Protestants (in and out of uniform). One tactic employed by the Irish nationalist murder gangs that roamed throughout the border areas was to kill the only son (often the only child) of middle-aged or elderly Protestant farmers, thus ensuring that ten, twenty or thirty years down the line there would be no-one to inherit the land and it would have to be sold. With many Protestants having been forced out, and with Protestants in the minority to begin with, the buyers of such properties would, almost inevitably, be Irish nationalists. 

This loathsome tactic was used again and again in parts of County Armagh, County Fermanagh, South Down and County Tyrone. Protestants in the affected areas (the few stalwarts who remain) can list literally dozens of names of victims of ‘Only Son Murders’. Of course, some of those killed were part-time members of the UDR, or RUC Reservists, thus giving PIRA/Sinn Fein a way to attempt to justify the killings. At other times such killings were put down to ‘mistaken identity’ or excused by saying that the dead man was ‘not the intended target’. Words used to masque the truth, the truth being that such murders were part of a systematic campaign of Ethnic Cleansing, perpetrated by the Provos against rural, peaceful, working class Protestant communities. 

Ethnic Cleansing: A tactic still employed by Irish nationalism, even now.

Ethnic Cleansing: A tactic still employed by Irish nationalism, even now.

Many of the victims of this tactic were men in their twenties. Unmarried men. The reasoning for this was as simple as it was brutal- ‘Kill the Orange bastards before they have a chance to breed’. You see dear reader, Irish nationalists and republicans are obsessed with numbers- 6, 26, 32, 81, 1798, 1916 etc etc. They are also, rather disturbingly, obsessed with the procreation and mating habits of Protestants. There are even a few Irish nationalist/Gaelic supremacist blogs dedicated to that very subject! In the minds of some of these extremist half-wits, a Roman Catholic majority in NI automatically means the creation of an all-island unitary state, because in their completely sectarian little minds, Roman Catholic and Irish nationalist/republican are interchangeable terms meaning one and the same thing. They endlessly postulate on when the ‘glorious dawn’ will come and Catholics will become a clear majority. They misread and blatantly falsify census data. And they are utterly pre-occupied with ‘non-Catholic’ birthrates. You see, according to the likes of ‘Ulster’s Doomed’ et al, all Protestants are impotent old coots, 70 or 80 years old, obstinately refusing to die just to spite the vibrant young Catholics with their football (sorry, I mean ‘soccer’) teams of rosy-cheeked children. I have even seen one such blog suggest that almost all the ‘Prods’  in one particular Ulster council area could be killed off by ‘one bad winter’ (quick, someone pass me my tartan blanket and slippers!), the borough in question by the way, is at present, around 76% Protestant. That alone should serve as ample illustration of the depths of Irish nationalist/republican delusion and their, quite frankly creepy, obsession with what their Protestant (and Hindu, Jewish, Sikh, Atheist etc) neighbours do, or rather what they imagine they don’t do, in the bedroom. Is it any wonder that Irish nationalists have found they have so much in common with Hezbollah, Hamas and the fascist ‘Islamic State’? After all, religious fanatics are religious fanatics, it doesn’t really matter whether they’re firing rockets in Gaza or firing guns in Ardoyne, a zealot is a zealot.

PIRA/Sinn Fein used the Irish Republic as a safe haven from which to launch their campaign of ethnic cleansing

PIRA/Sinn Fein used the Irish Republic as a safe haven from which to launch their campaign of ethnic cleansing

There have been calls from Unionist politicians, for some sort of reparation to be made to those who were forced from their homes in border areas. It has also been suggested that the Dublin government should issue an apology for the documented collusion between ‘An Garda Síochána’ and the Provo death squads, as well as for giving republican gangs ‘safe haven’ in Eire. Of course such calls have, so far, fallen on deaf ears. The toxic and deeply biased Northern Ireland media don’t like to discuss such things. The wannabe ‘Guardianistas’ at Broadcasting House sneer at the very notion of Unionists/Loyalists being victims, or that the ‘RA’ were anything other than ‘freedom fighting revolutionaries’. Even former government employees have rubbished the idea of any kind of reparation or apology coming from the Irish government.  A former head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, who described the Provos border campaign as “pure ethnic cleansing”, has also said that it would be “fruitless” to even seek an apology from the current government of the Irish Republic, adding that “It is almost as if you are going to invite the current German government to apologise for the Holocaust.” I would tend to agree with Sir Kenneth. It would though, be hugely encouraging if the Unionist ‘mainstream’ were to make their calls for an apology a little louder and a little more persistent. I won’t hold my breath!

Mountbatten: There Were Other Victims Too!

Yesterday marked the 35th anniversary of the murder of Lord Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl of Burma, and cousin of HM Queen Elizabeth II. Lord Mountbatten was murdered by Provisional IRA/Sinn Fein on the 27th of August, 1979, while holidaying in Eire. At the time of his death Irish nationalists and republicans celebrated wildly. A member of the Royal Family had been ‘taken out’ by their beloved PIRA, and on the same day as 18 soldiers were murdered at Narrow Water, near Warrenpoint in Co.Down. What had transpired in reality was that a Provo murder gang had blown up a 79 year old man, an 83 year old woman, and two young boys aged just 14 and 15. This was no ‘spectacular’, Mountbatten and his party were soft targets. Had one of the victims not been related to the Queen, this act would be seen for the atrocity that it was. Although, speaking from personal experience, I think the nationalist/republican community would have celebrated the murders anyway, even if Mountbatten had been Joe Bloggs from Manchester or Billy Bloggs from Portadown.

One of PIRA/SF's 'legitimate targets'. 15 year old Paul Maxwell

One of PIRA/SF’s ‘legitimate targets’. 15 year old Paul Maxwell

Lord Mountbatten and his family had traditionally spent their summer holiday at their castle at Mullaghmore in County Sligo, they had been doing so for many, many years. They did not try to keep their presence a secret. Local people would look forward to the arrival of Lord Mountbatten and his party. After all, they would provide a small but welcome boost for the village’s shopkeepers and did nothing to harm the reputation of the place as a quiet haven for tourists etc. On the morning of the 27th, Lord Mountbatten, his daughter and son-in-law, his daughter’s mother-in-law, the Dowager Lady Brabourne, the Earl’s twin grandsons, Nicholas and Timothy, and Paul Maxwell, a teenager from Fermanagh employed for the summer by Mountbatten, set out in the Earl’s 30ft sailboat, the ‘Shadow V’, when, a short distance from shore, at approximately 11:30 am, a bomb ripped through the vessel. The boat was destroyed by the force of the blast, and Lord Mountbatten’s legs were almost blown off. Mountbatten, then aged almost 80, was pulled alive from the water by nearby fishermen, but died from his injuries before being brought to shore. The Dowager Lady Brabourne was also pulled from the water alive, though terribly injured. She died the following day. The two boys, Mountbatten’s grandson Nicholas Knatchbull and Paul Maxwell, were killed instantly. Lord and Lady Brabourne, Mountbatten’s son-in-law and daughter, along with their other twin son Timothy, survived the explosion but were seriously injured.

In the immediate aftermath of the atrocity, while the bodies of the dead were still lying in Mullaghmore harbour, PIRA/Sinn Fein ‘President’ Gerry Adams crowed that “The IRA gave clear reasons for the execution. He knew the danger involved in coming to our country. In my opinion, the IRA achieved its objective”. He offered no words of apology for the murder of two children, or the killing of a frail 83 old woman. As he spoke he smiled broadly, truly the mark of a dangerous psychopath. How close he came to his comeuppance, when the Ulster Freedom Fighters came within a hair’s breadth of putting down this rabid dog in 1984 (his miserable life was saved by British soldiers, a fact conveniently forgotten by most Irish nationalists!). Adams has a very great deal of innocent blood on his hands, unsurprising then that he felt nothing for the lives of an old lady and two teenage boys. 

Unlike his fascist/supremacist killers, Lord Mountbatten took pride in enhancing intercultural understanding, and in 1984, with his elder daughter as the patron, the ‘Mountbatten Internship Programme’ was developed to allow young adults the opportunity to enhance their intercultural appreciation and experience by spending time abroad, immersing themselves in other cultures. The City Of Ottawa erected Mountbatten Avenue in his memory. The Avenue runs from Blossom Drive to Fairbanks Avenue. Lord Louis Mountbatten was not some boogeyman. He was not the ‘evil Brit imperialist’ that Irish nationalists made him out to be. What was the reason for his murder, aside from whom he happened to be related to? And why was being in this man’s company enough to earn Nicholas Knatchbull, Paul Maxwell and the Dowager Lady Brabourne a death sentence? I propose that they were murdered because the Provos hated the fact that Lord Mountbatten spent every summer in part of their territory. Or what they considered to be ‘their territory’. These Gaelic supremacist jackals simply couldn’t abide the fact that a cousin of HM Queen Elizabeth was happy and content to spend a few weeks of every year in the West of Ireland. Perhaps these deranged fascists thought that Mountbatten and his family might contaminate the ‘pure blooded Gaels’ of Co. Sligo with his Britishness. Their minds have been so warped by hatred, their judgement so impaired, their view of the world so skewed, that anything is possible. These are, after all, the same people who gave the order for 12 Protestant civilians to be burned alive, they are, in short, bloodthirsty thugs, and in any normal society they would now be snugly tucked up…below 6ft of topsoil.

NEXT WEEK: 1980/81 HORROR AFTER HORROR

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

Targeting Civilians

Beginning in January, 1975, PIRA/SF renewed their campaign in England. This fresh offensive was characterised by no-warning bombs, gun attacks on pubs and cafes and the indiscriminate murder of civilians. On the 27th of January the Provos set off five I.E.Ds in London and another in Manchester, wounding 26 innocent civilians. On Friday the 5th of September, a Provo bomb exploded in the lobby of the Hilton hotel in London, killing a man and a young woman. Sixty-three others were injured including a party of school children, some as young as four. On the 28th and 29th of September there were further outrages with bomb attacks on civilian targets in Caterham, in the Surrey commuter belt, and in London’s packed Oxford Street, although by some miracle no-one was killed. On the 9th of October PIRA/Sinn Fein detonated a bomb outside the busy Green Park Underground Station, killing 23 year old civilian Graham Tuck and wounding twenty others.

TV personality and author Ross McWhirter. Murdered by Irish nationalist extremists.

TV personality and author Ross McWhirter. Murdered by Irish nationalist extremists.

On Tuesday, the 18th of November, 1975, two more civilians were deliberately targeted and killed by the Provo murder gang operating in London. Audrey Edgson (45) and Theo Williams (49) were murdered when a bomb was thrown through the window of Walton’s Restaurant in Chelsea. Twenty-three others, diners and bystanders, were wounded. Disgusted by the mindless, indiscriminate bombing and killing, Guinness Book of Records co-founder, editor, and BBC Record Breakers presenter, Ross McWhirter offered a cash reward of £50,000 for information leading to the arrest of the Irish nationalist gang responsible for this latest wave of murder and maiming. The Provisional IRA did not take it well. They were incensed. In their minds no-one had the right to criticise them or their nefarious ‘cause’ , and having the audacity to actually offer a reward for the capture of their foot-soldiers could mean only one thing, a death sentence. On the 27th of November, the Provos carried out that sentence. When Mr McWhirter’s wife, Rosemary, arrived home, she got out of her blue Ford Granada and was approached by two men holding pistols. She ran into the house as her husband came to the front door and seconds later heard two shots.The killers then used her car to escape. Police later found the car abandoned a few miles away in Tottenham. It was a murder of which the Mafia would have been proud. The ‘removal’ of someone against whom the PIRA held a very personal grudge. Indeed, one could say that this was a vendetta. So much for the Provos being “an army“.

The Balcombe Street Gang

The Provo gang that killed Ross McWhirter and carried out dozens of other attacks in London throughout 1975, was apprehended two weeks later. Martin O’Connell, Edward Butler, Harry Duggan and Hugh Doherty, exchanged gunfire with police in central London on the 6th of December, and escaped to a flat in Balcombe Street, sparking a lengthy siege, (hence the gang’s sobriquet of ‘Balcombe Street Gang’). The siege began after a chase through London. The Metropolitan Police pursuing the four Irish nationalist fanatics through the streets after they had fired gunshots through the window of Scotts Restaurant in Mayfair, aiming to murder yet more civilians. The Provo gang had thrown a bomb through the window of the very same restaurant just a few weeks before, on the 12th of November 1975, killing one person and injuring 15 others. The four terrorists, the police close on their heels, ended up in a flat at 22b Balcombe Street, Marylebone, taking its two residents, John Matthews (54) and his wife Sheila (53), hostage. The couple were relaxing in their flat, watching an episode of Kojak on television, when the armed republican thugs kicked down the door of their humble home and ordered them to lie face down on the floor. The men declared that they were members of PIRA, and when police negotiators were summoned, the gang informed them they wanted a plane to fly both them and their hostages to the safe-haven of the Irish Republic. A lengthy stand-off followed. The gang only surrendered after several days of intense negotiations between Metropolitan Police Bomb squad officers Peter Imbert and Jim Nevill, and the gang’s leader Joe O’Connell. Mr and Mrs Matthews endured days of terror whilst the whole of the UK watched and waited, wondering if the unfortunate couple would live or die.

The siege of Balcombe Street. A Provo gang held 2 innocent civilians captive at gunpoint.

The siege of Balcombe Street. A Provo gang held 2 innocent civilians captive at gunpoint.

In 1977 the four Provo killers were found guilty, at the Old Bailey, of seven murders, conspiring to cause explosions, and falsely imprisoning John and Sheila Matthews. O’Connell, Butler and Duggan each received twelve life sentences, and Doherty eleven. Each of the men was later given a whole life tariff, the only Irish republican murderers to receive such a tariff. The Balcombe Street Gang’s reign of terror and murder was over but they had left many broken bodies and many broken families in their wake. The four extremists (and their accomplices) had carried out forty-one bombings, several gun attacks, and had murdered no fewer than 35 people. All of those murdered, with the exception of Police constable Stephen Tibble, had been innocent civilians going about their daily lives. The revisionist notion that PIRA/SF never deliberately targeted civilians is, in light of the evidence, almost laughable. The Balcombe Street Gang set out to murder civilians. They bombed restaurants, pubs and tube stations. They assassinated a much loved, inoffensive old man for daring to stand up to them, not with threats or actual violence but with the offer of a reward for information! The Balcombe Street Gang acted on the direct orders of the PIRA ‘Army Council’. The plain truth here is that Irish nationalist terror gangs have no qualms about targeting civilians, they never had. It didn’t matter if you were eating in a London restaurant or a café in L’derry, if you were not singing from the same hymn sheet as the Provos, you were regarded as a ‘legitimate target’. 

The Dolphin Restaurant Murders

 Four days before the start of the Balcombe Street siege, Irish nationalists murdered two Protestant civilians as they sat in the Dolphin Restaurant on Strand Road, Londonderry. The two men, Charles McNaul (55) and Alexander Mitchell (46), had no connection to the Security Forces, Loyalist paramilitaries or even any Unionist/Loyalist political party. They were murdered because they were Protestants. A cut and dried case of sectarian murder. As the two men sat eating, gunmen walked calmly into the restaurant and shot them dead. Today some claim that this cold-blooded double murder was the work of the INLA/IRSP. It was not. It was the work of PIRA/Sinn Fein! 

The INLA had been formed in December, 1974. It was born out of a split in the Official IRA. Initially, it was known as the ‘People’s Liberation Army’  and was the armed wing of the IRSP. For months after its formation the INLA/IRSP was involved in a deadly feud with the OIRA. In fact, that INLA vs OIRA feud continued, on and off, until 1977. During those years most INLA/IRSP attacks were directed at the Official IRA (and vice versa). The INLA were not adverse to sectarian murder. Their history is full of examples of it. But in December, 1975, the INLA/IRSP were far more concerned with trying to wipe out their former comrades in the OIRA than attacking their supposed ‘real enemy’, ie. Unionists, Loyalists and the wider Protestant community. The double murder in the Dolphin Restaurant was not the work of INLA/IRSP, a group at that time fighting for its very survival in a bloody republican feud. Far more likely that it was the work of PIRA/Sinn Fein. Part of their wider strategy to ‘ethnically cleanse’ Londonderry’s West Bank of any and all non-Catholics. A campaign which saw an estimated 30,000 people uprooted and forced from their homes. Some forced out at the point of a gun, some intimidated out, some worn down by years of sectarian persecution and harassment.

Whichever Irish nationalist/republican murder gang was responsible, the message was still the same. Protestants had better stay out of the City-side. Or else! Irish nationalists in Londonderry succeeded in their aims. Today the West Bank of the Foyle is almost exclusively nationalist, republican and Catholic (all but the small enclave of The Fountain, an area under almost constant sectarian attack from the Bogside). Now in other parts of Ulster they are trying to achieve the same objective. Exclusive claims of ownership have been placed on areas like the Crumlin Road in North Belfast, the Garvaghy Road in Portadown and the whole village of Rasharkin in North Antrim. Today though this cultural/sectarian Apartheid isn’t enforced with murder, it doesn’t have to be, for now PIRA/SF and their fellow travellers have the Parades Commission and the utterly corrupt PSNI to do their bidding and enforce their territorial claims for them. All they have to do is set up a ‘Residents Group’ and go crying to the PC or the PSNI, organs of the British state that they supposedly so despise. Tribalism has become so entrenched within the Irish nationalist/republican community that it is now seen almost as virtue. The years and years of murder and indiscriminate bombing have been forgotten and the nationalist community have once again decided to play the victim.

Next Week: 1976 and 77, the Herron Family, Pub Shootings and Indiscriminate Slaughter