Remembering with pride Volunteers Ronnie Bunting & Noel Little, Belfast Brigade, Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) who were murdered by Loyalist paramilitaries, on the 15th of October 1980.
Ronnie Bunting was a staff officer in the INLA and the commander of its Belfast Brigade, as well as a member of the IRSP’s Ard Chomhairle (national executive) and a member of the National H-Block/Armagh Committee, formed to support the struggle of prisoners of war within British prisons in the North of Ireland.
He grew up in a middle class Protestant family, and because of this background, pro-British loyalists considered him to be a “renegade Protestant.”
His father was Major Ronald Bunting, a British Army officer who became an aide to Ian Paisley and organized attacks on civil rights marchers in 1969.
He began his political activism while an arts student at Queen’s
University of Belfast. He was briefly a member of People’s Democracy before joining Official Sinn Féin and the Official Irish Republican Army in 1970. He was interned without trial by the British government in its Long Kesh prison camp from 1971 to 1973.
He was expelled from OSF and the OIRA in 1974 because of his support for Seamus Costello. When Costello formed the IRSP and the INLA on 8 December 1974, Bunting was there with him.
Ronnie Bunting was only 32 when he was assassinated in his home in the Turf Lodge area of West Belfast. Although a pro-British death squad known as the Ulster Freedom Fighters took credit, a unit of the British Army’s Special Air Service was suspected of carrying out the assassination. Three previous attempts on Bunting’s life had been made between 1975 and 1978.
Noel Little, a fellow member of the IRSP and the INLA, was also killed in the attack. Ronnie’s wife Suzanne survived being shot in the head.
A memorial to Bunting and Little was unveiled in the Gransha/Turf Lodge area of West Belfast on 13 October 2002.
Noel Little began his political activism in the 1960s as a member ofthe Northern Ireland Labour Party before becoming involved in theNorth’s civil rights movement and helping to found People’s Democracy.
Opposition within People’s Democracy to the growing armed struggle eventually led Little to leave and join the small Red Republican Party. After discussions with members of the IRSP in Belfast, he joined the IRSP and the INLA in 1980. He was also a member of the National H-Block/Armagh Committee.
He was 44 when he was assassinated along with Ronnie Bunting by what was suspected to be a unit of the British Army’s Special Air Service, although a pro-British death squad known as the Ulster Freedom Fighters took credit.
A memorial to Little and Bunting was unveiled in the Gransha/Turf Lodge area of West Belfast on 13 October 2002.
With many thanks to: Stephen Codd for the original story.
On their 32nd anniversary Flo O�Riordan recalls the night her two best friends were murdered.
32 years have passed since Flo O’Riordan (right) witnessed her two best friends being murdered by the British army. She narrowly escaped death herself and the painful memory of that day is still woven into the fabric of Flo’s life.
Maura Meehan (31) and Dorothy Maguire (19) were sisters. Both were members of the female wing of the IRA, the Cumann na mBan. It’s only now that Flo can publicly talk about those awful events.
Flo and Maura had helped set up the Clonard Women’s Action Committee. One of the roles the group played was to alert the community if the British Army were raiding homes in the area.
On the night Maura and Dorothy were murdered the sisters set out with Flo and a local man, Billy Davidson, after hearing the British army were raiding homes in the Lower Falls.
With the introduction of internment in August of that year the women knew the army would be wrecking homes and arresting local men.
The women had recently obtained foghorns.
As they drove towards Cape Street they noticed a British army Land Rover across the middle of the street.
There were 75 British army personnel in the area at the time, 32 of those were in Cape Street as part of the raiding party, a mix of Green Howards and Green Jackets.
The car the group were travelling in turned left to gain access to Cape Street and at that point Flo clearly remembers seeing a soldier crouch down and take aim at the car.
�I remember shouting ‘duck’ but it was too late they had already started firing.
�There was noise all around but inside the car I can only remember silence, complete horrible silence.
�The girls didn’t stand a chance. The car swerved and hit the wall. I got out and looked into the back to try and open the door and get the girls out.
�Maura was just bleeding from every part of her body, even her ankles were bleeding, one of the bullets had severed her spinal cord.
�The car was like a pepper mill, completely riddled with bullets. They had wanted us all dead so no one would live to tell what really happened.
�The shots had torn through Dorothy’s head and her whole face was disfigured.
�People came from everywhere it’s hard to put all the details into the proper sequence.
�Local people took me to hospital.
Despite being badly injured herself Flo was only in the hospital for a few hours when the RUC came and arrested her. They took her to Castlereagh interrogation centre where she went through three days of hell before finally being charged with attempted murder of unnamed British soldiers.
Billy Davidson attended a press conference the following day to dispute the British army’s version of events; the British said the women had opened fire on them from the car.
�I was worried about my own six children and if they were okay but I knew the girls were dead and I knew that Maura’s four children would never see her again.
�Altogether I spent five years of my life in and out of prison, but my children were the ones that suffered.
�I lost my best friends, I lost my beautiful son, my children were left without a mother on many occasions.
�There are times when I just fall to pieces. Sen’s birthday falls three days after the anniversary of Maura and Dorothy’s death. From there it is just a spiral of grief that lasts until the anniversary of his death on 23 March. “May he rest in peace”.
�In many ways the actions of the women in those days was overlooked, it is always the men who get the medals. In republican circles it was acknowledged how important a role we were playing, but because it was all behind the scenes there was very little public recognition for the risks we took.
�The difference with women who were involved is that they were also the home-makers, if they went to jail or died they were leaving their families to fend for themselves.
�When you look at the political process and what we have been through this week you have to ask yourself, all that suffering and for what?
�My family have had their fair share of suffering, so have many others, but we believed that we were fighting for a 32 county Ireland.
�I will never forget all those people who died, all those young lads who gave so much, and sacrificed their lives for that cause.
�And even though for many that cause is forgotten, the people who died during those terrible years will never be forgotten should 30, 40, 50 or even 100 years pass.�
While on active duty but without a loaded firearm John was murdered in cold bloody by the Free State Police an Gardai Síochána who we will ever denounce and revile for this cowardly dirty slaughter of our man.
Rest in peace brave and loyal soldier for the cause.
We will remember you with deep respect forever.
Let the fight go on…..ARISE WORKING CLASS!
SAOIRSE GO DEO MOROCCO!!!
● Patsy O’Hara’s family saw gashes and bruises on his face when the RUC released his body
» SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
WHEN the RUC hijacked the corpse of Hunger Striker Patsy O’Hara and it was eventually recovered from the RUC in Derry last Friday morning, 22 May, eight hours after his death in Long Kesh prison camp, his family noticed gashes and marks on his face, as if it had been scratched and beaten.
This desecration was the climax of distress to and harassment of the O’Hara family which had, like the smear campaign against the McCreesh family, particularly intensified in the last days of their son’s life.
After Patsy O’Hara died, Long Kesh Prison Governor Stanley Hilditch told Mr James O’Hara that his son’s body would be brought to Omagh and he would have to phone the RUC to find out where it could be collected.
However, at 4:40am, Friday 22 May, the O’Haras received a phone call from friends in Derry to the house they were staying at in Belfast.
Patsy’s brother, Seán Séamus, explains:
“The RUC had phoned Derry with a message for us, ‘If you want to collect this thing, you had better collect it before daylight, otherwise it is going to get dropped at O’Haras’ front doorstep.’
“They said they were not allowing any daylight processions and if we attempted that then what they would do was take the body and drop it by helicopter to Derry.
“They were very, very abusive the whole time.
“The undertakers collected the body from Omagh at about six o’clock in the morning and I took the body from the undertakers to the house.
“When the coffin was opened, the first thing I noticed was that Patsy had a lot of marks around his nose – very deep cuts which he should not have had. He had bruising on his eyes and apparently there were a lot of marks on his body which appeared to be cigarette burns. I noticed it and I said: ‘Look, that was not there.’
“It was said to me that maybe in the heat of the moment I did not notice it. But the minute my mother walked in, the minute my father walked in, the minute Jim Daly walked in, the minute my sister walked in, everyone of them said, ‘What happened to Patsy? There were no marks on the body.’
“So what I think may have happened was that they threw him head-first into a Land Rover or into a helicopter (we don’t know which transported the body to Omagh). That would allow for the nose to be broken. But I do not know how he got the other bruises.”