Rebalancing Legacy- the Irish republican perspective

The “Legacy Battle”

Recently the Loyalist and wider Unionist community have been campaigning to bring some semblance of balance to the issue of the legacy of ‘The Troubles’. Loyalists and Unionists assert that Irish republicans/Irish supremacists have been busily engaged in a coordinated and concentrated effort to rewrite the history of the Ulster conflict- whitewashing Irish republican war-crimes, airbrushing out any reference to collusion between republican murder gangs and outside agencies, and generally trying to minimise the brutality and cruelty of Irish republican criminal gangs, especially PIRA/Sinn Fein.

Irish republicans strenuously deny any kind of historical revisionism or rewriting of history. That is a blatant and bare-faced lie, which this blog post and several more will prove, beyond any shadow of a doubt.

We will be using tweets, sent by Irish supremacists, to illustrate how these individuals a) are indeed attempting to rewrite the history of ‘The Troubles’, and b) that for reasons which will become clear at a later date, all of these individuals seem to be “singing from the same hymn sheet”. We had considered redacting the Twitter usernames of those whose tweets we will publish, however, these tweets were posted on a public forum and those responsible for authoring them should have no problem with them being seen on another public forum.

The ‘Examples’

The following are but a tiny fraction of some of the screenshots that we have taken over the past 5 weeks or so. They will prove ample illustration of the sort of attitudes held by Irish republicans and their peculiar, warped view of the history of Northern Ireland and, more specifically, the internecine conflict which ravaged our country between 1969 and the mid 1990’s.

You will no doubt notice the similarities in these tweets and in the type of Twitter user (or “bot”) that posted them. Enjoy and try not injure yourself laughing!

This is just a small snapshot, more will be posted soon. We believe that this is ample evidence, not only of the sheer bigotry, sectarianism and anti-British racism of Irish republican extremists, but also of their pathetic attempts to rewrite the history of Northern Ireland.

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Who Armed the Provos? Dublin, Monaghan & the ‘Civil Rights’ Connection

Ulster- 1969

On the 16th of August, while parts of Belfast burned, Paddy Kennedy, then a protégé of Gerry Fitt, travelled to Dublin accompanied by fellow Stormont MP’s Paddy Devlin and Paddy O’Hanlon. They crossed the border looking for guns: making an impassioned appeal at a public meeting outside the GPO on O’Connell Street, and in private to officials in the Department of External Affairs. The crowd outside the GPO was sympathetic but largely unable to help. Later, the three were roundly rebuffed at Iveagh House. If these official channels proved uncooperative, however, other ‘official channels’ were more forthcoming.

It was through conversations with Paddy Kennedy that a certain John Devine first became aware of the importation and distribution of arms and ammunition to Irish nationalists and the role being played by certain Irish government minsters in facilitating this. Using information gleaned from Kennedy and others, including Paddy Devlin, Gerry Fitt and sources in the press, Devine began to piece together a remarkably detailed picture of covert operations that were ongoing across Ulster. Clearly a great deal of work went into compiling the document and checking the veracity of its claims. Devine stated:

Much of the information which follows has been checked out by me, and found to be fairly accurate. What is contained, unchecked, is passed on because it comes from what are described as “usually reliable” sources.”

The information that emerged subsequently- through the so-called “arms trials”, the investigation by the public accounts committee, Peter Berry’s diaries (published in ‘Magill’ magazine in 1980) and the numerous other exposés on the subject- have clearly demonstrated that the information contained in the memorandum were indeed remarkably accurate in every respect.

An early PIRA recruitment poster; Note how well armed the Provo gang in the above image is, just months after the formation of that organisation. How many of the Provo’s guns were gifted to them by the Irish state?

John Devine’s Investigation

Devine began by noting that since the publication of the Cameron report on the 12th of September, 1969, a great deal of media attention had been given to- “The influence of Left-Wing elements in the Civil Rights agitation in the North. While our attention has been diverted in that direction, certain other forces have been at work, and are working

He continued- “Since the recent major outbreaks of trouble an “agent” of Messrs. Haughey, Blaney and Boland, has been conducting military intelligence gathering on trips behind the barricades. Contacts are being built up and ammunition, arms and money have already been distributed…..the contacts are among the republican element in the North, who have more or less broken with the Dublin HQ of the IRA [those who would soon become known as the Provisional IRA], principally because this “agent” can deliver what the IRA cannot. The IRA is highly worried and indignant at the influence which these Fianna Fáil people are having among Northern republicans, the possibility of retaliation is likely from the Dublin end. Fianna Fáil have now established a chain of links from Belfast to Derry, including places like Dungannon, Newry, Armagh, Coalisland, Omagh and in other places where their sphere of contacts up to now has been negligible. Their aid is being accepted

The ‘Civil Rights’ Connection

Devine’s report went on to note that an office had been set up in Monaghan town, with the approval of the named ministers, from which the ‘Monaghan Civil Rights office‘ of NICRA (the so-called ‘Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association’) operated. Among those activities was the production of Irish republican propaganda, including the pamphlet ‘Terror in Northern Ireland‘ (written by the journalist and arch-republican Séamus Brady, who was close to Blaney), which Paddy Devlin had distributed in London. The ‘Monaghan Office‘ also organised public demonstrations such as the meeting outside the GPO in Dublin on the 27th of September, 1969.

Paddy Kennedy MP, Republican-Labour

At that meeting, speakers called for donations to be made to the ‘Monaghan Civil Rights Group‘, and Paddy Kennedy (‘Republican Labour’ MP for Belfast Central) had told the crowd that “I think you will know what I mean if I say that never again do we want an August 14th in my city“. Other speakers were much more explicit- one called for guns and explosives, with all donations to go to the ‘Civil Rights Group‘ in Monaghan, while another appealed for actual recruits, unequivocally stating that the “machine-guns and revolvers” bought with public donations would require able bodied men to fire them. John Devine’s report continued-

The activities directly attributable to the ‘Monaghan Office’ continue to expand. It is now clear that a large number of meetings have been organised, especially in the western counties [of Northern Ireland)], and are aimed purely at rising the spirit of republicanism”. On Friday next the first of a series of weekly propaganda newspapers [‘Voice of the North’] will be circulated and distributed in the North. The paper will be bitterly anti-Unionist. The committee of management involves some of those named on the ‘Monaghan Committee’; Blaney, Boland and Haughey’s agent, and others, also known to me. The paper will be printed in the ‘Anglo-Celt’, Cavan. Five or six vans, necessary for transporting the newspaper, have already been acquired. As well, plans are in hand for the setting up of a powerful mobile pirate radio . . . This also has cabinet backing“.

A Strange Conclusion

Having gathered and verified his information, which clearly implicated government ministers and agents of the state in the illegal importation of arms and the founding, organising and funding of a vicious terrorist grouping (the Provisional IRA) Devine was left in a terrible predicament. The Gardaí were aware of what was happening but there was no visible evidence that anything was being done to interfere, nor was it likely that anything would be done.

Knowing that the information was good but not legally publishable, Devine decided to pass the information to the one person he believed had the sophistication to deal with it in the appropriate manner: The Irish Labour Party’s Northern Ireland spokesman- Conor Cruise O’Brien. O’Brien held the appropriate portfolio, he was also sharp enough to appreciate what exactly was in the document and how to deal with it, introducing it into Dáil Éireann through supplementary questions or by other means. It would appear however that somebody had ‘gotten at’ O’Brien. A couple of weeks before he had been given the Devine’s report O’Brien’s play ‘King Herod‘ had opened at the Dublin Theatre Festival.
Later that month, O’Brien travelled to New York to meet a Broadway producer for discussions on the possibility of staging his latest theatrical effort. Before boarding his flight, he rang John Devine from a payphone in Dublin airport to tell him he was “going away“, and promptly boarded his flight and left. Devine believed that O’Brien would take action arising from his dossier when he returned, but strangely nothing ever happened.

Conor Cruise O’Brien
It is very difficult to comprehend how or why he failed to act on the intelligence provided to him, especially when it concerned his nemesis, Charles Haughey. We cannot know what, or who, stopped O’Brien from using the information given to him, neither can we be certain what would have happened had he used Devine’s information appropriately. What seems likely, however, is that, in the face of the accusations becoming public, Lynch would have been compelled to act sooner rather than later, and at the very least the “Arms Crisis” of the following year would have been averted. Perhaps some of the substantial aid given to the Provo murder gangs by the Irish government in 1970-71 would not have been given. How many deaths are directly attributable to the Irish government of that period who, in the final analysis, were responsible for organising, financing, arming and training the nascent Provisional IRA? Would the Ulster conflict have escalated to the nightmarish internecine war it became in 1972, ’73, ’74 and later?

Collusion is not an Illusion

Devine’s dossier is further evidence of the extent of collusion between the nascent Provisional IRA and the Irish government during the formative early years of the Provo’s existence. Without the money, banking facilities, arms, ammunition, safe houses and organisation provided to the PIRA murder gangs (and their immediate predecessors) by the Irish state in the years 1969-1972 (and almost certainly later), it is highly unlikely that the Provos could have sustained an effective campaign for more than 7 or 8 years. Of course, the unjustifiable slaughter of ‘Bloody Sunday’ gave the Provos not only an influx of new recruits but also an increase in support, both passive and active, within the community from which they first emerged. However, had the government of Éire not sponsored republican terrorism in Northern Ireland, ‘Bloody Sunday’ might never have happened. The outbreak of inter-ethnic violence which had erupted in the Summer of 1969 might well have petered out by the following Spring. Especially since most, if not all, of NICRA’s demands had been met by the NI government by early 1970.

Belfast, September 1969

At the time, and for many years since, a section of Loyalism and Unionism has maintained that, at least from 1968 onwards, the ‘Civil Rights’ movement had become a front for violent Irish nationalism. At one time I would have dismissed such claims, as most people did. Now however I am reasonably convinced that NICRA did indeed become a vehicle for Irish republican terrorists, acting in collusion with the Irish state. From early 1969, at the latest, NICRA, or a significant element thereof, had been thoroughly infiltrated by people who would go on to involve themselves in some of the most heinous, reprehensible, inhuman acts of violence ever committed.

Whilst researching this article I was put in touch with two gentlemen, now elderly, from the South L’derry area. Both are from a Unionist background and both had been involved in the ‘Civil Rights’movement, albeit briefly, in 1969. Their take on the events of that era was quite illuminating, as was the fact that both had turned their backs on Leftist protest politics by the beginning of 1970, so much so in fact that when I asked how they would describe themselves now, one man said- “I suppose I’d maybe call myself a TUV man now“. The other man declared unequivocally that since 1998 he would describe himself as a “Dissident Loyalist”. That is quite a turn around, even in 49 years, but it is perhaps unsurprising given the events, and the horrors, witnessed by the two men since 1969.

I will end this piece now with the words of one of those men (both of whom wish to remain anonymous) when I asked about his involvement in the ‘Civil Rights’ movement-

I saw injustice, not only among the Roman Catholic people but among Protestants too. Catholics in Derry lived in slum housing and there was gerrymandering as they called it as well. Protestants in Derry didn’t have it much better but there were things the government could have done and should have done. ‘One man one vote’ should have been brought in here [NI] when it was in England after the [Second World] War. Stormont did not listen, never did, and didn’t seem to care. Many more Protestants and Unionists would have come to support the Civil Rights Association but they [Irish republicans] couldn’t keep the gun out of it. They didn’t really want decent houses and a fair vote, they wanted to overthrow the very state and a lot of them just wanted to kill Protestants. They couldn’t keep the gun out of it. I soon saw what was happening, even though they [republicans] were wary of talking freely in ‘mixed company’, so to speak, it was blatantly obvious what was going to happen. I walked away from it. Four or five months was more than enough to see what way the wind was blowing.

Economic & Strategic Warfare; The UDA/UFF Bombing Campaign in Éire (Part 2)

The Campaign Continues-

On the 20th of January, 1973, Dublin was once again hit by a Loyalist bomb. Bus conductor Thomas Douglas (25) was killed and 17 people injured when a car bomb exploded in Sackville Place, off O’Connell Street. The car used in the bombing had been hijacked earlier at Agnes Street, Belfast. No group claimed responsibility for the attack but it was most likely the work of the Ulster Volunteer Force, who throughout 1973, would match the Provisional IRA almost bomb for bomb.

After the January bomb attack there was something of a lull in offensive operations against targets in the Irish Republic, as both the UFF and UVF concentrated on targets within Northern Ireland.

On the 17th of March, the North Antrim & L’derry Brigade of the UDA/UFF lost a courageous and dedicated young NCO, Sergeant Lindsay Mooney, who was only 19 years old. Sgt. Mooney, of ‘A’ company, 1st Battalion, was killed when the IED he was taking to its target exploded prematurely, outside ‘Kirk’s Bar’, at Cloughfinn, near Lifford in Co.Donegal.

Mural dedicated to the memory of Sergeant Lindsay Mooney- 1st Btn, A coy.

On the 28th of September, 1973, a UFF Active Service Unit from the Border Counties Brigade (which comprised battalions from Armagh, Fermanagh, South & West Tyrone), detonated a car bomb in the centre of Pettigo, Co.Donegal. Thirteen people were wounded. This would be the last bomb attack carried out against a target in Éire by the Ulster Freedom Fighters for some time.

The Dublin Airport Bombing

Despite some minor sabotage operations, including the destruction of two stone bridges in Co.Monaghan in late ’73, the placing of some small incendiary type devices etc, the Ulster Freedom Fighters concentrated on operations within Northern Ireland for most of 1973-74. The UWC strike, which had brought down the hated ‘Sunningdale Agreement’, had consumed much time and energy and the UDA/UFF had also been busy in other areas. Significant time and resources had been put into the establishment of small arms factories, often in garages and workshops in rural Ulster, producing home-made sub-machine guns, pistols and ammunition.

On the 29th of November, 1975, Dublin Airport was rocked by an explosion. A bomb exploded in the public toilets in the arrivals terminal. The explosion killed Aer Lingus employee, John Hayes (38), and injured nine others (some reports put the number of wounded at 12). The device was hidden in a toilet tissue dispenser and went off after Hayes washed his hands and was about to leave. The blast ripped through a wall into the public bar. The airport was evacuated and a second, larger device, was discovered and made safe.

The aftermath of the Dublin airport bombing 1975

The bombing of the airport was designed to damage Éire’s burgeoning tourist industry,and therefore damage the economy of that state. Although in a statement admitting responsibility the UFF said –

We are striking back against the Irish Republic in retaliation for the murders of members of the security forces by the Provisional IRA, operating unhindered from the safe-haven of the Irish Republic with the blessing of the Dublin government“.

Further evidence that the attack was intended to damage the Irish tourist industry came on the 20th of February, 1976, when a 40 lbs. bomb exploded inside the ‘Shelbourne Hotel’ in Dublin causing extensive damage. No fewer than eight incendiary bombs also exploded in department stores and shops in the Grafton Street and Henry Street areas.

On the 3rd of July, 1976, the UFF detonated bombs at four hotels across the Irish Republic. There were explosions in Dublin, Limerick, Rosslare, Co.Wexford and Killarney, Co.Kerry. Adequate warnings were given in all cases and there were no fatalities or serious injuries, although substantial damage was caused. Five days later another UFF bomb exploded at the rear of the ‘Salthill Hotel’, Salthill, Co.Galway. Again there were no fatalities.

UFF Policy Changes

Towards the end of 1976 the leadership of the Ulster Freedom Fighters decided to call a halt to offensive operations in Éire. Although the situation in Northern Ireland was still critical, it was decided that further attacks against targets south of the border may be counter-productive, at least for the time being.

As it transpired, the “bomber holiday” would last a few years. With increased security on the border and a growing realisation that bomb attacks in Éire which caused civilian casualties did nothing to enhance the Loyalist cause, and with increasing success by the Security Forces in combating Irish republican violence within Northern Ireland itself, “bombs across the border” were no longer part of UDA/UFF strategic planning.

The 90’s

With the exception of a handful of, largely symbolic attacks, against the offices of ‘An Phoblacht‘ in 1981, and against economic targets in the Irish Republic in the wake of the signing of the ‘Anglo-Irish Agreement‘ in 1986-87 for example, the Ulster Freedom Fighters did not mount any kind of sustained bombing offensive against targets in Éire until the 1990’s.

With the UFF resurgent in Northern Ireland (benefiting as it did from the removal of certain senior figures in the late 1980’s), it was only a matter of time before economic and strategic warfare against the Irish Republic resumed.

In February, 1991, two incendiary devices were left in a Dublin department store but failed to detonate. On the 10th of March, 1991, an incendiary device partially exploded in a clothing store in Dundalk, Co.Louth, but it caused only minimal damage.

On the 25th of May, 1991, a UFF Active Service Unit assassinated PIRA/SF supremo Eddie Fullerton at his home in Co.Donegal. The UFF unit crossed Lough Foyle in a collapsible dinghy before making their way to Fullerton’s home in Buncrana. The UFF said that they killed Fullerton, a Sinn Féin councillor and also (allegedly) the former O/C of the Provisional IRA in Donegal, because of his involvement in the murder of a Co.Tyrone man, who had been shot dead by a Provo murder gang near the Tyrone/Donegal border earlier in the year.

PIRA/SF “activist” Eddie Fullerton

During the night of the 27th/28th of July, 1991, seven UFF incendiary bombs exploded in shops across Dublin, causing significant damage. Three days later a further three firebombs exploded in premises in Letterkenny, Co.Donegal.

At the beginning of 1992, a number of letter bombs were intercepted at mail sorting offices in the Irish Republic. Most of the devices were inside hollowed out books and addressed to PIRA/Sinn Féin activists living in counties Dublin, Monaghan and Louth. On the 29th of March a Dublin shop was extensively damaged by an incendiary device. The UFF later claimed responsibility for the attack.

In the run up to Christmas, 1992, the UFF carried out eight firebomb attacks against commercial targets- four in Dublin and two each in Moville and Buncrana, Co.Donegal- over a 48 hour period, causing significant damage. On the 20th of December Gardai confirmed that a “powerful incendiary device” started a fire in city centre store. It’s believed the UFF were responsible.

On the 18th of September, 1993, On the day of the “All-Ireland hurling final”, the Ulster Freedom Fighters claim responsibility for planting a bomb outside Store Street Garda station, Dublin. The Garda station’s phone lines were also cut during the attack. On Christmas eve, 24th of December, 1993, incendiary type devices were found at a school in Dundalk Co. Louth and at a postal sorting office in Dublin. The devices had not detonated. On the 24th of January, 1994, five more UFF incendiary devices were discovered in Dublin and in Co.Cavan. On the 8th of June, in what would prove to be the last UDA/UFF bomb attack in Éire before the CLMC ceasefire, a small incendiary device exploded at a snooker hall in Trim, Co.Meath, causing only superficial damage.

Armed UFF volunteers delivering an official statement- circa 1993

Epilogue

It is almost impossible to gauge how much the UDA/UFF bombing campaign against economic and strategic targets in Éire effected public opinion in that country, or impacted government policy. Unquestionably it was Loyalist bombs that forced the Irish government in 1972 to pass draconian anti-terror legislation and distance themselves from the Provo murder gangs that they, the Irish state, had helped to create, fund and arm.

Later on in the mid 1970’s, it was Loyalist bombs that forced the Dublin government to tighten up security on their side of the border, consequently making it somewhat more difficult for Irish nationalist terrorists to transport arms, explosives and personnel into Northern Ireland from their logistical bases in the Republic.

For those reasons alone the UDA/UFF bombing campaign in Éire, and the equally effective (although more deadly in terms of civilian casualties) campaign of the Ulster Volunteer Force, must be regarded as a strategic and militarily successful one. Whilst the Ulster Defence Association and later the Ulster Freedom Fighters did their utmost to minimise “collateral damage”, i.e. civilian fatalities, it must be remembered that Irish civilians did die as a direct result. That is regrettable. It was right and correct therefore that the CLMC ceasefire pronouncement of 1994 offered “abject and true remorse” for any such civilian deaths.

“As we express our remorse, we must never forget that the most sincere form of contrition is not merely to utter the words, but also to live by them”

Humbly dedicated to the eternal memory of Sgt. L. Mooney. Forever young. QS

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

“In Striking we Defend”

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

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

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

The Ulster Defence Association, circa 1971

The “Autumn Offensive” 1972

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

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

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

Londonderry & Nth. Antrim UDA/UFF

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

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

Political Gain: the 1st of December Dublin Bombings

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

Dublin, 1972

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

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

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

Sackville Place, Dublin, 1st December, 1972

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

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

Part 2- next week

When the UFF bombed London

The Target

In the 1970’s, Biddy Mulligan‘s pub on High Road, Kilburn, northwest London, was a notorious Irish republican meeting place. The unofficial headquarters of both the Official and Provisional factions of the IRA and a focal point for republicans from all across London. The premises lacked any semblance of class or charm, although that did not seem to deter the clientele, which included not only militant Irish nationalist extremists but also Far-Left activists and a not inconsiderable criminal element. “Biddy’s” was frequented by terrorists, petty criminals, would-be Communist revolutionaries, terrorist sympathisers and political tourists. The collection bucket was passed round on an almost nightly basis, with the donations, or at least most of them, being sent across the Irish Sea to help fund the murderous activities of the Official IRA and PIRA/Sinn Féin. The pub was once described by a local Conservative as being “a festering boil on the face of north London”. Just before Christmas, 1975, that “boil” was lanced in violent and spectacular fashion.

“Lancing the boil”

On the evening of Sunday, 21st December, 1975, a young man entered the premises carrying a small holdall. After a brief altercation with the bar steward, John Constantine, the young man left. Nobody seemed to notice that when he went he no longer had his holdall with him. There were 90 people in the pub at the time and the IRA collection bucket had not long been passed round. It seemed to be business as usual in Biddy Mulligan’s. Then, at shortly before 10 o’clock, the pub was rocked by an explosion. Five people were fairly seriously wounded, although none of the injuries were life threatening, and a number of others suffered minor injuries (the majority of whom refused hospital treatment and quietly slipped away before the police could question them).

The Metropolitan Police later stated that a bomb, containing “about three to five pounds of explosive” had been left in the pub doorway. The Police also said that a phone call had been received by the BBC the previous night, from an individual claiming to represent the Ulster Young Militants, the youth wing of the UFF, calmly stating that the UYM were going to “carry the war against the IRA onto the mainland“. The Provisional republican movement in England were panicked, with Sinn Féin representatives openly expressing the concern that the Kilburn bombing was merely a prelude to a much wider ranging Loyalist bomb campaign against republican targets in England and Scotland. The Provos main concern however, was not the well being of republican activists and sympathisers. Tellingly one Sinn Féin man had spoken openly about how they raised “more than £17,000 a year” in Kilburn, most of that amount almost certainly coming out of Biddy Mulligan’s pub.

Aftermath

The following day landlords of Irish pubs across London and beyond put guards on the door to check people’s bags as they entered. Without the slightest hint of irony locals were said to be “very concerned” that the ‘Troubles’ had spread to Kilburn and told journalists that they now felt under “immense threat”. One might wonder how exactly they felt when they were stuffing pound notes into collection tins for Irish republican murder gangs, or if they ever spared a thought for the innocent victims of those gangs.
In October, 1976, four men appeared at the Old Bailey and were found guilty of carrying out the daring attack. Two young men from north Down received sentences of 14 and 15 years respectively. A 20 year old electrician from Belfast, the alleged bomb maker, got 12 years, and a 40 year old lorry driver, from Cumbernauld, Scotland, who allegedly procured the explosives for the bomb, received 10 years. In sentencing it was said the men were Loyalists who “were determined that the IRA and IRA sympathisers should not meet in the pub without retribution“. The judge said however that, “It should be clearly understood whatever political, religious or social feelings people may have, a crime of vengeance is not allowed“. Such is the lacklustre attitude of the UK establishment towards dens of sedition and terrorism in their own capital.

The Motive

It seems that the decision to strike at republican targets in England was taken by the Ulster Freedom Fighters in the wake of the events of Saturday, 8th June, 1974, when an estimated 3,000 people lined the streets of Kilburn for the funeral (or rather the first of three funerals) of Provisional IRA member Michael Gaughan. Gaughan, originally from Co. Mayo, Éire, had been living in the Kilburn area for a number of years when, in 1971, his ham-fisted attempts at armed robbery, supposedly on behalf of the OIRA, earned him a seven year prison sentence. Whilst in prison he defected to the Provos and in March, 1974, began a hunger strike that was to last 64 days and ultimately claim his life. He was joined on hunger strike by Hugh Feeney, the “Old Bailey bomber”, Frank Stagg, who along with Catholic priest, (Father) Patrick Fell, had commanded a PIRA unit based in the West Midlands, and Sinn Féin’s very own “medallion man”, Gerry Kelly, at the time better known as “bomber Kelly” for his part in bombing the Old Bailey and the Ministry of Agriculture in Whitehall.


Biddy Mulligan’s pub circa 1975


It would seem, with the benefit of hindsight, that the Ulster Freedom Fighters never had any serious intention of mounting a sustained campaign against republican targets in England. The Kilburn bombing seems to have been a warning, a “shot across the bows” as it were. It seems improbable that, if the UFF really had intended to strike at multiple targets in England and Scotland, that no other such attacks occurred. The capture of the Active Service Unit responsible for the attack on Biddy Mulligan’s was unfortunate, from the UFF’s point of view, but it would not have been at all difficult for them to have dispatched another ASU, or to have recruited one from Loyalists resident on the mainland. It is worth remembering that the UDA maintained, and to some extent still maintains, a “Mainland Brigade”, which is in actuality a number of brigades, with the UDA particularly strong in Ayrshire, Lanarkshire, Glasgow, the northeast of England, Yorkshire, the Midlands and London.

Undoubtedly the decision not to begin a wholesale bombing campaign in England was the correct one. Whatever the benefits of striking Irish republican targets on the Mainland, they are more than outweighed by the potential detrimental effects such a campaign would have brought. No doubt a Loyalist bomb blitz, regardless of the nature of the targets, would have cost Loyalism much support, or at least grudging respect, from the English populace. In this instance, the decision by the leadership of the Ulster Freedom Fighters to refrain from action was ultimately a prudent one.

The Irish diaspora in England seemed to heed the warning that the UFF had so ruthlessly delivered in London. Collections on behalf of the republican murder gangs became much less frequent and there were no more displays like Michael Gaughan’s funeral. Biddy Mulligan’s continued on into the 1980’s but it’s heyday was most definitely over. Today “Biddy’s”, the once notorious republican mecca, is a bookmakers shop. Few who live in Kilburn even remember the name of the infamous pub that was once bombed by the UFF.

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 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