The Kingsmill massacre was a mass shooting that took place on 5 January 1976 near the village of Whitecross in south County Armagh, Northern Ireland. Gunmen stopped a minibus carrying eleven Protestant workmen, lined them up alongside it and shot them. Only one victim survived, despite having been shot 18 times. A Catholic man on the minibus was allowed to go free. A group calling itself the South Armagh Republican Action Force claimed responsibility. It said the shooting was retaliation for a string of attacks on Catholic civilians in the area by Loyalists, particularly the killing of six Catholics the night before. The Kingsmill massacre was the climax of a string of tit-for-tat killings in the area during the mid-1970s, and was one of the deadliest mass shootings of the Troubles.
A 2011 report by the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) found that members of the Provisional IRA carried out the attack, despite the organisation being on ceasefire. The HET report said that the men were targeted because they were Protestants and that, although it was a response to the night before, it had been planned. The weapons used were linked to 110 other attacks.
Following the massacre, the British government declared County Armagh to be a "Special Emergency Area" and hundreds of extra troops and police were deployed in the area. It also announced that the Special Air Service (SAS) was being moved into South Armagh. This was the first time that SAS presence in Northern Ireland was officially acknowledged.
|Part of the Troubles|
|Location||Kingsmill, County Armagh|
|Date||5 January 1976 |
c. 17:30 (UTC)
|Perpetrators||Some members of the Provisional IRA using the covername "South Armagh Republican Action Force"|
On 10 February 1975, the Provisional IRA and British government entered into a truce and restarted negotiations. The IRA agreed to halt attacks on the British security forces, and the security forces mostly ended its raids and searches. However, there were dissenters on both sides. Some Provisionals wanted no part of the truce, while British commanders resented being told to stop their operations against the IRA just when they claimed to have had the Provisionals on the run. The security forces boosted their intelligence offensive during the truce and thoroughly infiltrated the IRA.
There was a rise in sectarian killings during the truce, which 'officially' lasted until February 1976. Loyalists, fearing they were about to be forsaken by the British government and forced into a united Ireland, increased their attacks on Irish Catholics/nationalists. Loyalists killed 120 Catholics in 1975, the vast majority civilians. They hoped to force the IRA to retaliate and thus end the truce. Some IRA units concentrated on tackling the loyalists. The fall-off of regular operations had caused unruliness within the IRA and some members, with or without permission from higher up, engaged in tit-for-tat killings. Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) members, and current or former members of the Official IRA, were also involved. According to a police intelligence report, the Provisional IRA leadership reprimanded its South Armagh Brigade for carrying out sectarian killings.
Between the beginning of the truce (10 February 1975) and the Kingsmill massacre, loyalist paramilitaries killed 35 Catholic civilians in County Armagh or on its borders. In that same period, republican paramilitaries killed 16 Protestant civilians and 17 members of the security forces in the same area. Many of the loyalist attacks have been linked to the Glenanne gang; an alleged secret alliance of loyalist militants, British soldiers from the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), and police officers from the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). A former member of the group said they wanted to provoke a civil war, believing that when civil war erupted they could then "crush the other side".
The HET report found that while the Kingsmill massacre was in "direct response" to the Reavey and O'Dowd killings, the attack was planned before that. Following the earlier loyalist attacks, republicans had apparently decided to "dramatically retaliate" if loyalists struck again. The report said "The murderous attacks on the Reavey and O'Dowd families were simply the catalyst for the premeditated and calculated slaughter of these innocent and defenceless men".
On 5 January 1976, just after 5.30 pm, a red Ford Transit minibus was carrying sixteen textile workers home from their workplace in Glenanne. Five were Catholics and eleven were Protestants. Four of the Catholics got out at Whitecross and the bus continued along the rural road to Bessbrook. As the bus cleared the rise of a hill, it was stopped by a man in combat uniform standing on the road and flashing a torch. The workers assumed they were being stopped and searched by the British Army. As the bus stopped, eleven gunmen in combat uniform and with blackened faces emerged from the hedges. A man "with a pronounced English accent" began talking. He ordered the workers to get out of the bus and to line up facing it with their hands on the roof. He then asked "Who is the Catholic?". The only Catholic was Richard Hughes. His workmates—now fearing that the gunmen were loyalists who had come to kill him—tried to stop him from identifying himself. However, when Hughes stepped forward the gunman told him to "Get down the road and don't look back".
The lead gunman then said "Right", and the others immediately opened fire on the workers. The eleven men were shot at very close range with automatic rifles, which included Armalites, an M1 carbine and an M1 Garand. A total of 136 rounds were fired in less than a minute. The men were shot at waist-height and fell to the ground; some fell on top of each other, either dead or wounded. When the initial burst of gunfire stopped, the gunmen re-loaded their weapons. The order was given to "Finish them off", and another burst of gunfire was fired into the heaped bodies of the workmen. One of the gunmen also walked amongst the dying men and shot them each in the head with a pistol as they lay on the ground. Ten of them died at the scene: John Bryans (46), Robert Chambers (19), Reginald Chapman (25), Walter Chapman (23), Robert Freeburn (50), Joseph Lemmon (46), John McConville (20), James McWhirter (58), Robert Walker (46) and Kenneth Worton (24). Alan Black (then 32) was the only one who survived. He had been shot eighteen times and one of the bullets had grazed his head. He said, "I didn't even flinch because I knew if I moved there would be another one".
After carrying out the shooting, the gunmen calmly walked away. Shortly after, a married couple came upon the scene of the killings and began praying beside the victims. They found the badly-wounded Alan Black lying in a ditch. When an ambulance arrived, Black was taken to hospital in Newry, where he was operated on and survived. The Catholic worker, Richard Hughes, had managed to stop a car and was driven to Bessbrook RUC station, where he raised the alarm. One of the first police officers on the scene was Billy McCaughey, who had taken part in the Reavey killings. He said "When we arrived it was utter carnage. Men were lying two or three together. Blood was flowing, mixed with water from the rain". Some of the Reavey family also came upon the scene of the Kingsmill massacre while driving to hospital to collect the bodies of their relatives. Johnston Chapman, the uncle of victims Reginald and Walter Chapman, said the dead workmen were "just lying there like dogs, blood everywhere". At least two of the victims were so badly mutilated by gunfire that immediate relatives were prevented from identifying them. One relative said the hospital mortuary "was like a butcher's shop with bodies lying on the floor like slabs of meat".
Nine of the dead were from the village of Bessbrook, while the bus driver, Robert Walker, was from Mountnorris. Four of the men were members of the Orange Order and two were former members of the security forces: Kenneth Worton was a former Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) soldier while Joseph Lemmon was a former Ulster Special Constabulary (USC) officer.
The next day, a telephone caller claimed responsibility for the attack on behalf of the "South Armagh Republican Action Force" or "South Armagh Reaction Force". He said that it was retaliation for the Reavey–O'Dowd killings the night before, and that there would be "no further action on our part" if loyalists stopped their attacks. He added that the group had no connection with the IRA.
The IRA denied responsibility for the killings at the time. It stated on 17 January 1976:
The Irish Republican Army has never initiated sectarian killings, and sectarianism of any kind is abhorrent to the Republican Movement [...] If the loyalist elements responsible for over 300 sectarian assassinations in the past four years stop such killing now, then the question of retaliation from whatever source will not arise.
However, a 2011 report by the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) concluded that Provisional IRA members were responsible and that they had claimed the attack using a covername. It added: "There is some intelligence that the Provisional IRA unit responsible was not well-disposed towards central co-ordination but there is no excuse in that. These dreadful murders were carried out by the Provisional IRA and none other". Responding to the report, Sinn Féin spokesman Mitchel McLaughlin said that he did "not dispute the sectarian nature of the killings" but continued to believe "the denials by the IRA that they were involved". SDLP Assemblyman Dominic Bradley called on Sinn Féin to "publicly accept that the HET's forensic evidence on the firearms used puts Provisional responsibility beyond question" and to stop "deny[ing] that the Provisional IRA was in the business of organising sectarian killings on a large scale".
According to journalist Toby Harnden, the British Military Intelligence assessment was that the attack was carried out by local IRA members "who were acting outside the normal IRA command structure". According to Harnden, RUC files suggest that 14 IRA members – including future 'Real IRA' leader Michael McKevitt – had met on New Year's Eve to plan the attack. Harnden quotes an alleged South Armagh IRA member, Volunteer M, who said that "IRA members were ordered by their leaders to carry out the Kingsmill massacre". Harnden also quotes Sean O'Callaghan, an IRA member who worked for the security forces as a double agent. O'Callaghan claims that IRA Chief of Staff, Seamus Twomey, authorised the attack after Brian Keenan argued it was the only way to prevent more Catholics being killed. However, O'Callaghan says the two men did not consult the IRA Army Council about the attack. Ruairí Ó Brádaigh claims that he and Twomey only learned of the Kingsmill attack after it had happened. According to a police intelligence report, the IRA Army Council reprimanded the South Armagh Brigade six weeks before the massacre for carrying out sectarian killings.
Two AR-18 rifles used in the shooting were found by the British Army in 1990 near Cullyhanna and forensically tested. It was reported that the rifles were linked to 17 killings in South Armagh from 1974 to 1990. Further ballistic studies found that guns used in the attack were linked to 37 killings, 22 attempted killings, 19 non-fatal shootings and 11 finds of spent cartridges between 1974 and 1989. The attacks all took place within the same area and it is likely they were carried out by the same small group.
In 2012, a secret Royal Military Police (RMP) document shown to the Sunday World newspaper revealed that the gunman who finished off the dying men could have been arrested five months later. The document says that the man (referred to as 'P') was wounded when British soldiers engaged an IRA unit near the Mountain House Inn in South Armagh on 25 June 1976. He managed to flee over the border and was treated at Louth County Hospital, but the other three IRA members were captured within hours. According to the RMP document, two of them named 'P' as the fourth member. Two of the guns captured had been used in the Kingsmill massacre. The RMP document reveals that the security forces knew 'P' was being treated at the hospital but "made no attempt to have him arrested and extradited". This has led to suspicions that 'P' – "who has never been prosecuted despite extensive paramilitary involvement" – was a British agent.
Alan Black, the only survivor of Kingsmill, believes that IRA members involved in the massacre were double agents working for the British state. He believes there was a "cover up" and that British security forces knew the massacre was going to happen but allowed it to. Karen Armstrong, sister of victim John McConville, said: "A lot of people were being protected back then and they still are". It has been suggested that the gunman with the English accent could have been British Intelligence officer Robert Nairac. John Weir, a former RUC officer and member of the "Glenanne gang", claims he discovered that British Intelligence, through Nairac, was "playing republican and loyalist paramilitaries off against each other".
Immediately after the Kingsmill attack, some members of the security forces began a campaign of harassment against the Reavey family, and accused Eugene Reavey of organising the massacre. His three brothers had been shot by loyalists the day before. Eugene and some of his family happened upon the scene of the Kingsmill massacre while driving to hospital to collect his brothers' bodies. "The bodies of the murdered workmen were being brought into the mortuary when he arrived. He went into the room where the shattered families were gathering, and wept with them".
In 1999, Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Ian Paisley stated in the House of Commons that Eugene Reavey was a "well-known republican" and had "set up the Kingsmills massacre". Paisley made the claims under parliamentary privilege, which meant he could not be prosecuted for his remarks. He claimed to be quoting from a "police dossier" but it is believed to have been an Ulster Defence Regiment intelligence file.
Paisley's claims were flatly rejected by Reavey and by the only survivor of the massacre, Alan Black. Susan McKay wrote in the Irish Times that, on hearing Paisley's accusations, Black went straight to the Reaveys' house and told Reavey that he knew he was innocent. The then Northern Ireland deputy first minister, the SDLP's Seamus Mallon, expressed outrage at Paisley's claims. Ronnie Flanagan, chief constable of the RUC, said there was "no evidence whatsoever" to connect Reavey with the massacre, and that no police file contained any such allegation.
In January 2007, the police's Historical Enquiries Team (HET) apologised to the Reavey family for security forces allegations that Reavey had been involved in the Kingsmill attack. Despite this, the allegation continued to be promoted by local unionist activist Willie Frazer of Families Acting for Innocent Relatives (FAIR). In May 2010, the HET released a report which exonerated the three Reavey brothers and their family of any links to paramilitarism, leading Eugene Reavey to demand an apology from Paisley for his comments. Paisley died in 2014 without withdrawing his allegations.
The massacre was condemned by the British and Irish governments, the main political parties and Catholic and Protestant church leaders. Merlyn Rees, the British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, condemned the massacre and forecast that the violence would escalate, saying "This is the way it will go on unless someone in their right senses stops it, it will go on".
The British government immediately declared County Armagh a "Special Emergency Area" and deployed hundreds of extra troops and police in the area. A battalion of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) was called out and the Spearhead Battalion was sent into the area. Two days after the massacre, the British Prime Minister Harold Wilson announced that the Special Air Service (SAS) was being sent into South Armagh. This was the first time that SAS operations in Northern Ireland was officially acknowledged. It is believed that some SAS personnel had already been in Northern Ireland for a few years. Units and personnel under SAS control are alleged to have been involved in loyalist attacks.
The Kingsmill massacre was the last in the series of sectarian killings in South Armagh during the mid-1970s. According to Willie Frazer of FAIR, this was as a result of deal between the local UVF and IRA groups.
There were no immediate revenge attacks by loyalists but in the 2000s it emerged that local UVF members had plotted to kill 30 Catholic schoolchildren as retaliation, by attacking St Lawrence O'Toole Primary School in Belleeks. The loyalists were members of the "Glenanne gang", which had carried out the Reavey–O'Dowd killings and included RUC and UDR members. The attack was allegedly called off because the UVF leadership ruled it would be "morally unacceptable" and would lead to a harsh IRA response and likely civil war. Allegedly, the leadership also suspected that the member who suggested the attack was working with British Military Intelligence and that Military Intelligence were seeking to provoke a civil war. The plot was revealed by two former Glenanne gang members, including Billy McCaughey, who admitted the plot in a 2004 documentary.
Another UVF gang, the "Shankill Butchers", also planned retaliation for the massacre. This gang, led by Lenny Murphy, operated in Belfast and was notorious for its late-night kidnapping, torture and murder (by throat slashing) of random Catholic civilians. Murphy planned to attack a lorry that ferried Catholic workmen to Corry's Timber Yard in West Belfast, shooting all on board. Murphy abandoned the plan after the workers changed their route and transport. Some loyalists claim the Kingsmill massacre is the reason they joined paramilitary groups. One was Billy Wright, who said,
I was 15 when those workmen were pulled out of that bus and shot dead. I was a Protestant and I realised that they had been killed simply because they were Protestants. I left Mountnorris, came back to Portadown and immediately joined the youth wing of the UVF.
He became commander of the UVF Mid-Ulster Brigade in the early 1990s; Wright later founded the breakaway Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) in 1996. He was suspected of at least 20 sectarian killings of Catholics in the 1980s and 1990s.
Another with similar claims was RUC Special Patrol Group officer Billy McCaughey, who was one of the first RUC officers on the scene of the massacre. He told Toby Harnden, "the sides of the road were running red with blood and it was the blood of totally innocent Protestants". Afterwards, McCaughey says, he began passing RUC intelligence to loyalist militants and also to participate in their operations. McCaughey was convicted in 1980 of a sectarian killing, the kidnapping of a Catholic priest and an attempted bombing. McCaughey had colluded with loyalists before the Kingsmill attack and later admitted taking part in the Reavey killings the day before – he claimed he "was at the house but fired no shots". McCaughey also gave his view on how the massacre affected loyalists,
I think Kingsmills forced people to ask themselves where they were going, especially the Protestant support base, the civilian support base – the people who were not members of the UVF but would let you use a building or a field. Those people, many of them withdrew. It wasn't because of anything the UVF did. It was fear of retaliation.
The IRA denied involvement in the attack but the double agent Sean O'Callaghan and others have alleged it was ordered by two IRA leaders, other republican leaders were reported to be very unhappy about it. According to O'Callaghan, Gerry Adams said in an Army Council meeting, "there'll never again be another Kingsmill". One South Armagh IRA member allegedly resigned in disgust at the massacre.
Toby Harnden said that IRA members in South Armagh who talked to him in the late 1990s generally condemned the massacre. One, Volunteer G, was quoted as saying that he "never agreed with Kingsmill". Another, Volunteer M, was quoted as saying that it was "a gut reaction [to the killing of Catholics] and a wrong one. The worst time in my life was in jail after Kingsmill. It was a dishonourable time". Republican activist Peter John Caraher said that those ultimately responsible were "the loyalists who shot the Reavey brothers". He added, "It was sad that those people [at Kingsmill] had to die, but I'll tell you something, it stopped any more Catholics being killed". This view was reiterated by a County Tyrone republican and Gaelic Athletic Association veteran who spoke to Ed Moloney. "It's a lesson you learn quickly on the football field... If you're fouled, you hit back". Colin Worton, whose brother was killed in the massacre, said "Kingsmill did stop Catholics being killed in South Armagh, but that doesn't justify it".
Sinn Féin politician John O'Dowd later condemned the massacre as "shameful" and was backed by his party colleagues. O'Dowd's uncle and two of his cousins had been shot dead by loyalists in the day before the massacre.
There is a memorial in Bessbrook dedicated to 'The Innocent Victims Murdered at Kingsmills'. For many years after the massacre there was a small memorial at the site of the massacre. A new and much larger memorial was built there in 2012. This memorial has been vandalised and it is claimed there was an attempt to "intimidate" the builders. The following year, Northern Ireland's Environment Minister Alex Attwood (of the SDLP) apologised after his Department mistakenly sent a letter to the landowner demanding it be removed for lack of planning permission. Unionist politician William Irwin criticised the Department and said it had not taken action against "illegal roadside terrorist memorials" erected by republicans.
In February 2012, controversy arose when Willie Frazer of FAIR proposed a "March for Justice" in which the victims' relatives, along with 11 loyalist bands, would follow the route taken by the workmen the night they were killed. This would have meant passing through the mainly Catholic village of Whitecross and past the homes of the Reavey family, where the three brothers had been killed the night before the massacre. Over 200 people opposed the march at a meeting with the Parades Commission in Whitecross. Local SDLP and Sinn Féin politicians also opposed it, saying it would raise sectarian tension in the area. The Parades Commission approved the march on condition that there be no marching bands, flags, banners or placards. One organiser received a death threat telling him that he would be shot and his church would be burnt if the march went ahead. The organisers postponed the march; a move that was welcomed by local nationalist politicians and by Ulster Unionist politician Danny Kennedy.
On 11 February 1990, an active service unit of the Provisional IRA East Tyrone Brigade shot down a British Army Gazelle helicopter (serial number ZB687) along the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It took place between Augher in County Tyrone and Derrygorry in County Monaghan. The helicopter was hit several times by heavy machine-gun fire and crash-landed on an open field, injuring three members of its crew of four.Attack on Ballygawley barracks
On 7 December 1985 the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) attacked the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) base at Ballygawley, County Tyrone. Two RUC officers were shot dead and the base was raked with gunfire before being completely destroyed by a bomb, which wounded a further three officers.Attack on Cloghoge checkpoint
The attack on Cloghoge checkpoint was an unconventional bomb attack carried out on 1 May 1992 by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) against a British Army permanent vehicle checkpoint. The IRA's South Armagh Brigade fitted a van with wheels that allowed it to move along a railway line. A large bomb was placed inside the van, which was then driven along the railway line to the target. The explosion killed one British soldier and injured 23 others. The compound, just north of the village of Cloghoge in County Armagh, on the southern outskirts of Newry, was wrecked.Ballydugan
Ballydugan or Ballydougan (from Irish Baile Uí Dhúgáin, meaning 'Ó Dúgáin's townland') is a townland in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. It lies on the County Armagh–County Down border, between Lurgan and Gilford. Ballydougan is within the Craigavon Borough Council area.Ballygawley bus bombing
The Ballygawley bus bombing was a roadside bomb attack by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) on a bus carrying British soldiers in Northern Ireland. It occurred in the early hours of 20 August 1988 in the townland of Curr near Ballygawley, County Tyrone. The attack killed eight soldiers and wounded another 28. In the wake of the bombing the British Army began ferrying its troops in and out of County Tyrone by helicopter.Barry McElduff
Columba Barry McElduff (Irish: Barra Mac Giolla Duibh, born 16 August 1966) is an Irish Sinn Féin member and former politician. He was the Member of Parliament (MP) for the West Tyrone UK parliament constituency. He was also a Member of the Legislative Assembly in the Northern Ireland Assembly from its creation in 1998 until his election as MP in 2017. He resigned his seat on 16 January 2018 after publishing a video which was seen to be mocking the Kingsmill massacre.Belleeks landmine attack
The Belleeks landmine attack was a Provisional IRA (PIRA or IRA) bomb attack on a British Army landrover that occurred on the 31 March 1976 near the South Armagh village of Belleeks.
Three soldiers were killed in the attack & another seriously injured. They were the first British soldiers to be killed by the IRA South Armagh Brigade since the 1975 truce with the British officially ended in early January 1976.Crumlin Road Prison bombing
On the 24 November 1991 the Provisional IRA (IRA) exploded a home made bomb along the Crumlin Road inside of the Crumlin Road Prison in the Ulster Loyalist wing of the prison killing two Loyalist prisoners, one from the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) and one from the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). This came at the height of a debate on the issues of desegregation between Loyalist and Irish Republican prisoners.Drummuckavall Ambush
The Drummuckavall Ambush was an attack by the South Armagh Brigade of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) on a British Army observation post in Drummuckavall, southeast of Crossmaglen, County Armagh, on 22 November 1975. The attack, which occurred along the border with the Republic of Ireland, resulted in the deaths of three British soldiers and triggered the official deployment of the Special Air Service (SAS) in Northern Ireland.Dungannon land mine attack
The Dungannon land mine attack was a IED bombing and shooting against a British Army mobile patrol. The attack was carried out by IRA volunteers from the Provisional IRA's (PIRA) East Tyrone Brigade on 16 December 1979, along the Ballygawley Road, just outside Dungannon in County Tyrone. Four British soldiers who were on mobile patrol were killed in the ambush.Inglis Barracks bombing
The Inglis Barracks bombing was a bomb attack carried out by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) on 1 August 1988 on a British Army barracks called Inglis Barracks in Mill Hill, London. The attack killed one soldier from the Royal Engineers, injured nine more and destroyed large parts of the barracks. It was the first IRA attack in England since the 1984 Brighton Bombing.Mortar attack on Enniskillen barracks
On 4 September 1985, the Provisional IRA fired mortar bombs at a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) base and training centre in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh. Nobody was killed, but 30 people were injured in the attack and the base, which was mainly used to train new recruits, was very badly damaged.
The IRA hoped to repeat the success they had earlier in the year when Newry RUC station was attacked with mortars and nine RUC officers were killed and almost 40 injured. It was one of numerous IRA mortar attacks on British Army and RUC bases around this time period.Mountainview Tavern bombing 1975
On 5 April 1975 Irish Republican paramilitary members killed a UDA volunteer and four Protestant civilians in a gun and bomb attack at the Mountainview Tavern on the Shankill Road - the heart of Loyalist Belfast. The attack was claimed by the Republican Action Force believed to be a covername used by Provisional IRA (IRA) volunteers. Earlier in the day, two Catholic civilians were killed in a bomb attack in a Belfast pub carried out by the Protestant Action Force a name used by the Ulster Volunteer Force to claim some attacks. An elderly Catholic man was shot later the same night by Loyalists bringing the death toll to eight for the day.Occupation of Cullaville
The occupation of Cullaville took place on 22 April 1993, when 12 armed members of the South Armagh Brigade of the Provisional IRA set up a checkpoint on the main crossroads of Cullaville, County Armagh, Northern Ireland, isolating the small village for a two-hour period, despite the presence of a British Army watchtower some yards away. The IRA men withdrew before the security forces in the area could react.Peter Cleary
Peter Joseph Cleary (18 September 1950 – 15 April 1976) was an Irish republican and a leading member of the 1st Battalion of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA)'s South Armagh Brigade. He held the rank of Staff Officer and served as the unit's treasurer. He was implicated by journalist and author Joe Tiernan in the killing of Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) corporal and alleged Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) member Robert McConnell. Ten days after McConnell's killing, Cleary was shot dead by the Special Air Service (SAS) after being arrested at the home of his girlfriend outside Forkhill. He was widely believed to have been the mastermind behind the Kingsmill massacre, when ten Ulster Protestant workers were taken from their work van and shot dead by the roadside. He was the first person in Northern Ireland to be killed by the SAS, following the admission of their deployment there in January 1976. According to the SAS, he was shot after attempting to take the rifle from the officer who was guarding him in a bid to escape.RFA Fort Victoria bombing
The bombing of RFA Fort Victoria took place on 6 September 1990, when a unit of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) planted two bombs aboard the Royal Fleet Auxiliary replenishment ship at Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where the vessel had been launched four months before. One of them exploded in the engine room, causing flooding and serious damage. The second device didn't explode and was defused several days later. The attack resulted in a two-year delay before Fort Victoria became fully operational.Reavey and O'Dowd killings
The Reavey and O'Dowd killings were two co-ordinated gun attacks on 4 January 1976 in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. Six Irish Catholic civilians died after members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), an Ulster loyalist paramilitary group, broke into their homes and shot them. Three members of the Reavey family were shot at their home in Whitecross and four members of the O'Dowd family were shot at their home in Ballydougan. Two of the Reaveys and three of the O'Dowds were killed outright, with the third Reavey victim dying of brain hemorrhage almost a month later.
The shootings were part of a string of attacks on Catholics and Irish nationalists by the "Glenanne gang"; an alliance of loyalist militants, British soldiers and Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) police officers. Billy McCaughey, a police officer from the RUC Special Patrol Group, admitted taking part and accused another officer of being involved. His colleague John Weir said that those involved included a British soldier, two police officers and an alleged police agent: Robin 'the Jackal' Jackson.
The next day, gunmen shot dead ten Ulster Protestant civilians in the Kingsmill massacre. This was claimed as retaliation for the Reavey and O'Dowd shootings. Kingsmill was the climax of a string of tit-for-tat killings in the area during the mid-1970s.The Store Bar shooting
The Store Bar shooting was a mass shooting that occurred on the 25 June 1976 in the late evening when an armed group of men calling themselves the Republican Action Force walked into The Store Bar (which was also known as Walkers Bar) on Lyle Hill Road in Templepatrick, County Antrim.
The Republican group said some words before spraying the pub with a AR-15 assault rifle killing three people and injuring about a half a dozen. It was reported the gunmen left a bomb at the front of the pub but it failed to go off.
The three dead civilians Ruby Kidd (28), Francis Walker (17) (who was the son of owner) and Joseph McBride (56), were all Protestant civilians just like in other attacks claimed by the South Armagh Republican Action Force and Republican Action Force, like the Kingsmill massacre in January 1976 when 10 Protestant workers were gunned down, and the Tullyvallen massacre in which 5 civilians died and 7 badly wounded.Thiepval barracks bombing
The Thiepval Barracks bombing was a double car bomb attack carried out by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) on 7 October 1996. The bombs exploded inside Thiepval Barracks, the British Army headquarters in Northern Ireland. One British soldier was killed and 31 people were injured. This bombing was the first major attack on a military base in Northern Ireland since the end of the IRA's ceasefire eight months earlier.
See also: The Troubles in Britain and Europe
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