PIRA Warcrimes

PIRA/SINN FEIN: A MOVEMENT WITHOUT MORALS (PART 10)

PART TEN
By 1993 the Provo leadership was slowly coming to the realisation that the so-called “Armed Struggle” would never bring Ulster to its knees. Years of bombing and murder had not forced any real concessions from the British government nor had it broken the will of the people. Loyalist resistance groups- namely the UVF and Ulster Freedom Fighters- were carrying out more and more audacious and brazen attacks. The previous two years had been particularly successful ones for the Loyalist paramilitaries. PIRA/SF had lost a number of high profile activists and many more had been wounded or left psychologically scarred. Sinn Fein ‘Advice Centres’ had become frequent targets of UVF bombers and the UFF’s ‘Rocket Team’, a specially selected group of volunteers armed with RPG-7s.

UVF volunteers pose with an assortment of weapons, including an RPG. 

With much of their terrorist activity curtailed by the actions of the UFF and UVF, and with more and more of their NI based members devoting more and more of their time and energy to try to retaliate against- and keep themselves safe from- the Loyalist groups, PIRA/Sinn Fein took the decision to concentrate their efforts on the British Mainland. Some within the senior ranks of the Provos had been advocating a renewed bombing campaign in England for some time. Believing that such a campaign would finally bring some sort of victory. Even though behind the scenes, the SDLP and senior figures within the Roman Catholic Church had been tentatively discussing the prospect of a ceasefire with PIRA/Sinn Fein, and even though there were those within Provo ranks who appeared to genuinely desire peace, there was still a strong element which argued that a Mainland bombing campaign could, and would, rejuvenate the so-called “Armed Struggle” and bring the fevered desires of rabid Irish nationalists a step closer to realisation.

Indiscriminate Violence

On Friday, the 26th of February, 1993, a PIRA bomb gang exploded three devices at a gasworks near the town of Warrington, Cheshire. The bombs caused extensive damage but no injuries. Whilst fleeing the scene, the bombers shot and injured a police officer and two of them were then caught after a high-speed pursuit. Less than a month later the Provo bombers were back, though this time they were out for blood. On Saturday, the 20th of March, as the people of Warrington went about their daily business, PIRA/Sinn Fein plotted mass murder. Two bombs, hidden in litter bins, exploded on Bridge Street, a busy shopping area. The two devices had been placed less than 100yds apart, one outside McDonalds, the other outside Argos. The blasts happened within a minute of each other. Eye-witnesses reported how “the first explosion drove panicking shoppers into the path of the next blast just seconds later“. A brutal and cynical tactic used many times by the bloodthirsty Provos. It was later found that the bombs had been deliberately placed inside cast-iron litter bins, causing huge amounts of shrapnel to fly out in all directions, causing maximum death and serious injury. Buses were organized to ferry people away from the scene and 20 paramedics and crews from 17 ambulances were sent to deal with the terrible aftermath.

Three-year-old Johnathan Ball died at the scene. He had been in town with his babysitter. The second victim was 12-year-old Tim Parry, who received the full force of the blast and suffered terrible injuries. He died on the 25th of March, 1993, when doctors switched his life support machine off, having asked permission to do so from his family, after tests had found minimal brain activity. Fifty-four other people were injured, including a dozen children and two pregnant women. A piece on BBC North West’s ‘Inside Out’ programme in September, 2013, speculated that the bombing may have been the work of a “rogue” PIRA gang, which was supported by the Provos but operated independently and was driven by a warped, extreme Left-Wing ideology. This murder gang reportedly used operatives who were from England to avoid suspicion. The programme suggested, but provided no evidence, that those who planted the bombs were members of the Marxist-Leninist group ‘Red Action’.

Tim Parry, age 12, and Jonathan Ball, age 3. Innocent victims of psychotic Irish republican gangsters 

More Bombs- More Tragedy
Despite the international outrage at the deaths of two children in Warrington, PIRA/SF continued to attack civilian targets in England. On the 23rd of April they bombed a fuel storage depot in North Shields, near Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. On Saturday, the 24th of April the Provos detonated a massive bomb, containing more than a ton of home-made explosives, at Bishopgsate, London. Photographer Ed Henty was killed and 44 others wounded. The bomb caused extensive damage and extended as far north as Liverpool Street station. On the 12th of May, the city of Oxford became the Provos next target. They detonated a device in an area popular with students but the device only partially exploded and no-one was injured.

The Provos then decided, for reasons unknown, to target England’s seaside towns. In August they targeted Bournemouth, detonating a number of crude fire-bombs in shops in the town and also targeting the pier. Brighton was next, though fortunately the 4 devices left by the incompetent PIRA gang all failed to explode. On the 4th of October PIRA/SF once again turned their attention back to London. Five bombs, all placed in crowded civilian areas, exploded injuring five people, the youngest of whom was just 8 years old. More innocent people would have died but for the fact that, for some reason, timer units being used by the terror gangs seemed to be defective and devices were only partially exploding.

The Shankill Bombing: Sectarian Slaughter
The Shankill Road in west Belfast has long been regarded as one of the spiritual homes of Ulster Loyalism. Alongside Dan Winter’s cottage and the walled city of Londonderry, the Shankill Road has become something of an iconic location for Loyalists and Unionists. The ‘Road’, with its close-knit community and spirit of defiance had become a powerful symbol of Ulster Loyalist resilience. On Saturday, the 23rd of October, 1993, PIRA/Sinn Fein visited carnage on the people of the Shankill. Coldly, calculatedly and deliberately. The Irish republican gangsters unleashed terror onto the entire Unionist/Loyalist people and, as a direct result of their murderous actions, onto their own community as well.

Two PIRA members, Sean Kelly and Thomas ‘Bootsy’ Begley were dispatched on a mission of mass-murder. Unbeknownst to Kelly and Begley, the Provo godfathers had intended it to be a suicide mission. Kelly was 21 years-old, Begley was slightly older but had been described at secondary school as being “educationally sub-normal” and was functionally illiterate. The two hapless goons were bundled into a stolen Ford Escort car, handed a five pound bomb with a 7 second fuse and told to place the bomb on the counter of Frizzell’s Fish Shop on the Lower Shankill and “run like Hell”.

The alleged target was a supposed meeting of the UDA’s ‘Inner Council’ (the collective leadership of that organisation) which was taking place in an upstairs room. Irish nationalists/republicans claim the bomb was designed to kill Johnny Adair and the entire leadership of the Ulster Freedom Fighters. That myth, presented as truth by, among others, Wikipedia and the CAIN Index of Deaths, is a deliberate and cruel lie! It is also stretching credulity to breaking point. How can anyone expect there not to be civilian casualties when a bomb with a seven second fuse (or an 11 second fuse, or even a 30 second fuse) is placed in a busy shop, in the middle of a street packed with innocent people? What kind of hate-filled imbecile really believes that everybody in that fish shop, in adjacent shops and walking past outside, could put a safe distance between themselves and the bomb blast in just a few seconds? What kind of terrorist masterminds send two gluesniffers, one of them (Kelly) a petty thief and joyrider, the other (Begley) an illiterate man-child with learning difficulties, on a hugely important (if the Irish republican narrative is to be believed) mission to destroy the HQ of your most bitter enemy and obliterate their leadership in the process? Surely such an allegedly vital mission would have been undertaken by much more experienced and senior members of the Provisional IRA? How can a device with a 7 second fuse “explode prematurely“? But that’s just it, nobody does seriously believe it. Those who trot out that despicable, callous, filthy lie do so in the full knowledge that it is absolute garbage. It is designed to divert blame and absolve the perpetrators of their guilt. The Provo godfathers knew full well that they were unleashing sectarian slaughter on the Shankill, that was their objective, and that is why, rather than sending hardened and competent terrorists they sent two utterly expendable, completely ignorant young thugs. If Adair or other senior members of the UDA/UFF were killed alongside the civilian dead, then in their eyes- “so much the better“- for the deaths of any Loyalist activist would, no doubt, be used as pathetic justification for a cowardly and sickening attack.

“They Were Bringing Out Limbs in Plastic Bags”

The Shankill Road was devastated by the PIRA bomb. The whole road was covered by a thick layer of dust. Acrid smoke rose into the air. Local men formed a human chain to remove debris from the wrecked and partially demolished fish shop. The first thing many of the desperate rescuers saw was a mangled pram, sticking out from under the rubble. Tiles, bricks and pieces of wood were falling from what remained of the shattered building but nobody was deterred. They disregarded their own safety to search for survivors. There were a number of girls trapped in a hair salon above one of the adjoining shops and rescuers were faced with the dilemma of whether to try and get them out first, or to try to help people on the ground until the emergency services arrived.

Seven year old Michelle Baird, youngest victim of the Shankill bomb outrage. 

As the rescue operation continued, a huge crack appeared in the wall of a nearby building, sparking fears that more buildings would collapse, killing and maiming even more people. One local man later spoke of how severed human limbs were carried away from the scene “in plastic bags“. In total 9 people were murdered on the Shankill that day. Provo killer Thomas Begley was also killed. More than 50 people were wounded, many of them women and children. Some of them suffered horrific injuries that still limit their lives to this day.

A Heavy Price

In the wake of the sectarian carnage on the Shankill, the UFF issued a chilling statement warning that “Gerry Adams, John Hume and the entire nationalist electorate will pay a heavy price” for the attack and also stating that “all units” had been placed in a state of readiness. Ulster held it’s breath, waiting for the inevitable retribution. Two days later the UVF shot and killed two men- Sean Fox, an elderly man killed at his home in Glengormley and Martin Moran (22), an alleged republican activist shot dead as he delivered take-aways in the Donegall Pass area of Belfast. The following day, the 26th of October, an ASU from the UFF’s 2nd battalion, C’ company, opened fire at a Belfast City Council depot in Andersonstown, killing two council workers. Meanwhile, the Mid-Ulster Brigade of the UVF shot and killed the Cairns brothers at their home near Lurgan. As bad as these ‘tit-for-tat’ killings had been, worse was yet to come. On the night of the 30th October, two UFF volunteers entered the ‘Rising Sun‘ bar in Greysteel, an exclusively Irish nationalist village a few miles from the city of Londonderry. The two gunmen opened fire, killing 8 people.

Northern Ireland was on the edge of an abyss. PIRA/SF had unleashed unbridaled carnage on the Loyalist/Unionist community, the UFF and UVF responded in kind.

The Downing Street Declaration 

On Wednesday, the 15th of December, 1993, the Prime Minister, John Major and the Irish Taioseach, Albert Reynolds, delivered the Downing Street Declaration, affirming both the right of the people of Ulster to self-determination, and the concept of consent, i.e.- that there could be no change to the constitutional status of Northern Ireland unless a clear majority of the population advocated such a change and thereafter voted to that effect in a referendum. It also included, as part of the prospective of the so-called “Irish dimension“, the principle that the people of the “island of Ireland”, had the exclusive right to solve the issues between Ulster and Éire. It is the latter statement that provided PIRA/SF with a “way out”. The joint declaration had pledged the British and Irish governments to seek a peaceful constitutional settlement, and promised that parties linked to armed groups, such as Sinn Féin, could take part in the talks, provided that they abandoned violence.


Contrary to recent historical revisionism, the 1993 Downing Street Declaration was not universally well received by Irish nationalists and republicans. 

Irish nationalism now had an opportunity to completely abandon their rapidly failing military campaign, without losing control of their core constituency, and without the humiliation of having to quietly slink away back into the shadows without a single concession to show for 25 years of murder, destruction and atrocity. Messrs Major and Reynolds had just provided PIRA/SF with an opportunity for “peace with honour“. The Provos were neither foolish enough, nor suicidal enough, to reject the “exit strategy” that had just been handed to them on a silver plater. Any ethically minded organisation, any group sincerely interested in the well being of their community, would’ve begun the transition from war to peace immediately, but Provisional IRA/Sinn Féin are neither. Better, at least for them if not for their community, to carry on killing and maiming, whilst at the same time negotiating. It would seem that for the Provo godfathers “war/jaw” was preferable to either “war/warorjaw/jaw“. 

1994: New year, same old nightmare 

As 1994 dawned a few in Northern Ireland dared to hope for peace, but for many that peace seemed as far away as ever. In December of the previous year the Provisional IRA and the Ulster Freedom Fighters had continued the killing, and the UFF continued to plan for a renewed bombing campaign against Irish republican targets in the Irish Republic. In the first three months of ’94 ten people were killed, half by Loyalist groups, half by republicans. Amongst the dead was former INLA warlord Dominic McGlinchey, shot dead as he stood in a telephone box in Drogheda, Co. Louth.

Very few people, anywhere in the British Isles, were aware of the intricate politicking that was inching PIRA/SF, painfully slowly, towards peace. As Winter turned once more to Spring, the violence that had blighted Ulster since 1969 continued. Inside the “republican movement” however, the uncomfortable truth that the Provos were a razor’s edge from military defeat, not by the “Crown Forces” but by the Combined Loyalist Military Command, had become an accepted fact. The so-called “armed struggle” could not be maintained in the face of constant and brutal pressure from the UVF and the Ulster Freedom Fighters. In the wake of the Downing Street Declaration and the United States’ allowing Gerry Adams to enter the country, apparently to seek the counsel of some of the terrorists more senior financial backers, the Provo leadership seems to have come to the obvious conclusion that “the war” was lost. Their only realistic option was the abandonment of their much vaunted “armed struggle“, and with it a significant portion of traditional republican precepts, negotiating a settlement with their sworn enemies and accepting the existence of the Northern Ireland state. Such a defeat had been unthinkable just a few years previously and their were many PIRA activists who would never acquiesce to a “partitionist settlement” or a “return to Stormont“, but Adams and McGuinness felt confident that they could secure enough support to at least claim that they spoke for the majority of their mafia like organisation. Peace was on the horizon, but the murder gangs of the Provisional IRA had not completely satisfied their bloodlust, not yet. They had a few more innocents to slaughter first!


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

PIRA/Sinn Fein: A Movement Without Morals (Part 7)

The Early 80s

The early 80s were a turbulent time in Ulster. PIRA/SF continued to target civilian and security force targets alike. The no-warning bombings and sectarian gun attacks continued. Meanwhile, a rejuvenated UDA/UFF was tracking down and killing leading Irish nationalists and republicans. The INLA/IRSP had been hit especially hard by the UFF Active Service Units, losing three of their ‘leading lights’- Miriam Daly, Ronnie Bunting and Noel Lyttle- in the space of just four months in 1980. But it was not only the largest of the Loyalist paramilitary groups that was inflicting serious damage on the Irish republican war machine. The Security Forces too were enjoying some success. Leading republicans had been convicted and imprisoned. PIRA/Sinn Fein, OIRA and INLA/IRSP had been infiltrated by double agents and were riddled with informers. By 1982/83 the number of violent attacks was decreasing and, at least for a short while, it looked as if the RUC and UDR, with the support of the Army, were winning. Some dared to hope that ‘The Troubles’ were drawing to a close. Sadly, such hopes were short lived.

INLA terror gang leaders Ronnie Bunting and Noel Lyttle, killed by the Ulster Freedom Fighters.

INLA terror gang leaders Ronnie Bunting and Noel Lyttle, killed by the Ulster Freedom Fighters.

Despite the fact that the volume of attacks had dropped sharply, PIRA/SF still managed to carry out some truly shocking and wicked atrocities. On Monday, the 15th of March, 1982, Alan McCrum, aged just 11, was killed and 35 other civilians wounded when a Provo bomb gang detonated a large device, without warning, in the centre of Banbridge, County Down. A little over a month later the Provos attempted to emulate the awful carnage of ‘Bloody Friday’, though this time on a countrywide scale, when they set off no-warning bombs in towns across Northern Ireland. Wilbert Kennedy (36) and Noel McCulloch (32), were killed by a no-warning bomb in the quiet market town of Magherafelt, Co. Londonderry. Five other civilians were wounded. Meanwhile bombs were detonated in five other towns and cities- Armagh, Ballymena, Belfast, Bessbrook and Londonderry- causing widespread damage to property and injuring a further 8 people.

On Wednesday , the 7th of December, 1983, Edgar Graham, an Ulster Unionist Party Assembly member, was shot dead by a PIRA gang at the Queen’s University of Belfast. Graham was also a lecturer in the Faculty of Law at the university. As the earlier murder of the Rev.Roy Bradford had shown, PIRA/Sinn Fein were uninterested in democracy, they couldn’t have cared less about Roy Bradford or Edgar Graham’s constituents, or the electoral mandate those constituents had given the two murdered politicians. For Irish nationalists/republicans it would seem that a democratic mandate only matters when it is given by nationalist/republican voters! Just 10 days after the sectarian murder of Edgar Graham, PIRA/SF once again decided to visit their hatred on the people of England. Three members of the police and three innocent civilians (including a journalist and an American tourist) were killed in a Provo bomb attack on Harrod’s department store, Brompton Road, London. Approximately 90 people were also injured as a result of the blast. Incredibly, PIRA/Sinn Fein later issued a statement claiming that the attack had not been “authorised by the Army Council” and that it “regretted the deaths”. I’m sure the weasel words of the mad bombers were scant comfort to the wounded and the bereaved.

The UUP's Edgar Graham, murdered by PIRA/SF.

The UUP’s Edgar Graham, murdered by PIRA/SF.

Nothing is Sacred to the Provo Psychopaths

Nothing is Sacred to the Provo Psychopaths, not even the Catholic Church. On Sunday, the 8th of April, 1984, the Travers family had just left St Brigid’s Catholic Church in Derryvolgie Avenue, South Belfast. Tom Travers, a local Magistrate, his wife and daughter, were making their way home after Sunday Mass when they were approached by two PIRA/SF gunmen who opened fire on them without warning. Mary Travers was shot once through the back and her father was shot six times. One gunman brought his gun to point-blank range at her mother’s face and attempted to fire twice, but the gun jammed. Tom Travers survived the merciless attack, his young daughter did not. Mary Travers, a teacher by profession, was just 22 years old. A young woman with her whole life ahead of her, cruelly cut down by unfeeling, inhuman terrorists. Many years later Tom Travers said:

“Mary’s murder was carried out by member of an evil and brutal criminal organisation. Some of her killers were members of the murder machine, self-named Provisional IRA. At least one was a member of political Sinn Fein… May I say that on the day my lovely daughter was murdered her killer tried to murder my darling wife also. At that time Mary lay dying on her mum’s breast, her gentle heart pouring its pure blood on to a dusty street in Belfast. The murderer’s gun, which was pointed at my wife’s head, misfired twice. Another gunman shot me six times. As he prepared to fire the first shot I saw the look of hatred on his face, a face I will never forget.”

After the attack the Provos claimed Tom Travers had been “a legitimate target because of his role in the British judicial system”. They also tried to claim that the bullet which killed the young schoolteacher, Mary Travers, had passed through her father’s body first. A post mortem found she was shot directly in the spine. PIRA/Sinn Fein are not only cowardly, amoral, sneak killers but also liars who would not know the truth if it came up and slapped them in the face. Their pathetic attempts to justify their repugnant actions only added insult to injury for the Travers family, and indeed, for all right-thinking people in Northern Ireland.

The Brighton Bombing

Brighton is a picturesque and somewhat bohemian town on England’s south coast. It features some unique architecture and has a laid back, cosmopolitan atmosphere, possibly because it is the (unofficial) LGBT capital of the United Kingdom. The bustling coastal town is very far removed from the divided, conflict scarred towns and cities of Ulster. Yet not even Brighton could escape the horrors of the Provisional IRA’s blood-drenched terror campaign. On Friday, the 12th of October, 1984, just before 3 o’clock in the morning, a Provo bomb containing around 20lb of Frangex (gelignite), exploded in the bathroom of room 629 of the ‘Grand Hotel’, Brighton. At the time, the hotel was the venue of the Conservative Party’s annual conference. The explosion tore through the building, leaving a gaping hole in the hotel’s façade. Had the building not been a solidly built Victorian structure, it is almost certain that part of the building would have collapsed, killing scores of people.

The aftermath of the Brighton bombing.

The aftermath of the Brighton bombing.

Five people were killed in the explosion, three of them women. 34 people were injured, with many of them left permanently disabled and/or disfigured. The dead were- Anthony Berry MP (59), Eric Taylor (54), Roberta Wakeham (45), Jeanne Shattock (52) and Muriel McClean (54). The Provo’s intention, so they claimed, was to kill Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her government. One can understand why PIRA/SF would regard the UK government as so-called ‘legitimate targets’, one can even understand the motivation for killing the PM and her Cabinet, after all, for Irish nationalists it is natural to wish to destroy the government of the country that , at least in theory, stands in the way of their aspirations. Why though did PIRA/Sinn Fein decide to target Thatcher and her Cabinet in such a haphazard way? The ‘Grand Hotel ‘ was packed with people that weekend, only a tiny fraction of whom were government ministers. Aside from the ordinary delegates and members of the Tory party, their wives/husbands and children, there were also scores of journalists, TV news crews, dozens of hotel employees and others. Clearly, given their ‘blunderbuss’ tactics, the Provos didn’t care how many innocent people had to die, just as long as they were able to murder a few members of the government and a few Tory grandees.

Today many republicans claim that the Brighton bombing was a “spectacular”. A hammer blow to the British government. A strike at the very heart of the Establishment. It was nothing of the sort. On the 12th of October, 1984, the Provisional IRA tried, and failed, to strike at the UK government in the easiest way possible. Rather than go after individuals, targeting one Cabinet member or another with, for example, an under-car booby-trap bomb or a well placed sniper, they instead chose to strike at the government in the one place, and at the one time of year, when they would all be gathered together (alongside hundreds of others), in a public, non-governmental, and unsecured setting, ie. the Party conference. Disregarding the amount of ‘collateral damage’ such a strike was undoubtedly going to cause, the Provos had no way of knowing which rooms the Prime Minister or government ministers (and their spouses) would be occupying, no way of knowing if they’d even be in their rooms at the time selected for the bomb to go off, no way to avoid causing huge damage to the building, and thus, no way to minimise civilian casualties. Of course, technically, all of those people targeted by the Brighton bombers were civilians, since regardless of the attitude taken by Irish nationalists, Margret Thatcher and her Cabinet colleagues were the democratically elected government of the United Kingdom. They were not Police or Army personnel, they were not volunteer soldiers of the UVF or Ulster Freedom Fighters, they were elected politicians. Like Edgar Graham and the Reverend Roy Bradford, they were democratically elected representatives of the people.  No, dear reader, this was no terrorist “spectacular”, plainly speaking, this was PIRA/SF using a large net to catch a lot of fish, in the hope that at least a few would be the fish they wanted! It was the only way the Provo murder gangs were ever going to stand a chance of killing Thatcher or any members of her government.

Collusion: The Murder of Maurice and Cecily Gibson

On the 25th of April, 1987, High Court judge, Lord Justice Maurice Gibson and his wife Cecily were murdered by a PIRA/Sinn Fein roadside bomb as they crossed the border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland. Murdered as they drove the short stretch of road between leaving their Garda escort and rendezvousing with the RUC officers assigned to accompany them on the rest of their journey home, the incident remains one of the more controversial of ‘The Troubles’, with evidence of Garda collusion prompting a deeply flawed independent review by retired Canadian judge Peter Cory. Lord and Lady Gibson had spent the night of April the 24th/25 th onboard the Liverpool to Dublin ferry. They had been in England on holiday to visit friends and family. Tired but looking forward to getting back to their Co. Down home, the Gibsons drove their blue Ford Escort onto the ferry late that evening and settled down to spend what would be, unbeknownst to them, the last night of their 42-year marriage together.

At 7 o’clock the next morning, the couple were met at Dublin port by two officers from An Garda Síochána , whose job it was to escort the Gibsons up to the Border in an unmarked car. As Lady Gibson, who was driving, was unfamiliar with the streets of Dublin, the two detectives took the lead for the first part of the journey, allowing the Gibsons to pass them as they reached the open road. An hour-and-a-half later, as the two cars reached the Customs post at Dromad, Co.Louth, Lady Gibson pulled over to allow her husband to get out, as he always did after receiving an escort, to thank the officers for their assistance. After shaking hands, the gardai followed the Gibsons right up to the Border before parting company. They watched as the judge and his wife drove across the frontier, seconds later there was an almighty explosion. The detectives spun round to see a column of thick black smoke rising into the sky. Lord and Lady Gibson (aged 74 and 67 respectively) were already dead: killed instantly by a bomb left in a stolen car and detonated by radio control as they drove by. The RUC officers assigned to escort the Gibsons on the Ulster side of the Border, were just outside Newry, minutes from the designated rendezvous point, when the bomb went off.

Maurice and Cecily Gibson: Murdered by PIRA/SF acting in collusion with An Garda Síochána.

Maurice and Cecily Gibson: Murdered by PIRA/SF acting in collusion with An Garda Síochána.

Eyewitness reports indicated that the stolen blue Ford Cortina that carried the bomb had been left in it’s final destination only 20 minutes before the Gibsons passed by. Lord and Lady Gibson’s travel plans were a closely guarded secret, though somehow the Provo death squad had managed to track them almost by the mile and the minute. Moreover, they had struck at the only point in the couple’s 100-mile journey where they were without a police escort to check the route ahead. In his 1999 work entitled ‘Bandit Country’, author Toby Harden alleged that elements within An Garda Síochána  in Dundalk had tipped off the Provisional IRA as to the Gibsons’ precise movements. This assertion was repeated in an article in the Irish News a year later. Both sources also claimed elements within the Dundalk Garda had fed other information to the PIRA/Sinn Fein enabling them to perpetrate a large number of killings in the Border area. It was these allegations, proven to be factual by the Irish government’s ‘Smithwick Tribunal’, that prompted the review by Judge Cory, who was tasked to re-examine all evidence relating to the case and surmise whether there was any basis for a public inquiry into collusion. Cory found “insufficient evidence” to warrant a public inquiry into the incident. But the later ‘Smithwick Tribunal’ found that Cory had been mistaken in questioning the reliability of intelligence that a member of the Garda had helped the Provos in the Gibsons’ murders, and in May this year former Northern Ireland First Minister, Lord Trimble, called for an inquiry into whether there was collusion. If such an inquiry was to take place, if it were to be truly independent, and if the conclusions of such an inquiry were to be arrived at without regard to the “political sensitivities of the nationalist/republican community”, (to quote the NIO), then undoubtedly the murder of this elderly couple would be revealed as yet another case of Garda/PIRA collusion.

Irish nationalists and republicans used to bring up alleged cases of collusion ad nauseam, in recent times though they have been strangely silent about incidents of collusion. Is it coincidence that they have become more reticent about discussing such matters now that collusion between PIRA/SF murder gangs and the organs of the Irish state is a proven, documented, undeniable fact? Did nationalists/republicans really believe that Loyalists were not capable of calling for inquiries into incidents of collusion? Maybe they have started to believe their own vile “all Prods is stupid” propaganda? Or, more plausibly, they did not believe that the British and Irish governments would ever accede to Loyalist/Unionist demands for inquiries. Whatever their thinking was, they must now surely regret propagandising the issue of collusion quite so vociferously. The amusingly simplistic slogan, “collusion is no illusion”, seems to have backfired on Irish nationalism rather spectacularly.

NEXT WEEK: (PART 8) ENNISKILLEN, THE ‘FUN RUN’ BOMBING & THE MURDER OF THE HANNA FAMILY