Máire Drumm murdered in her hospital bed.

On 28th October 1976, 28 years ago, Sinn Féin Vice President Máire Drumm was shot dead in her hospital bed.

Máire Drumm (née McAteer), was born in the townland of Killeen, South Armagh, on 22 October 1919 to a staunchly republican family. Máire’s mother had been active in the Tan War and the Civil War.

In 1940, Máire joined Sinn Féin in Dublin. In 1942, she moved to Belfast, which became her adopted city and she continued her republican activities. Every weekend, Máire would carry food parcels to the republican prisoners in Crumlin Road Jail and it was here that she met Jimmy Drumm, who she married in 1946.

When the IRA renewed the armed struggle in the late 1950s, Jimmy was again interned without trial from ’57 to ’61.

Máire became actively involved in the Civil Rights Movements of the 1960s. She worked tirelessly to rehouse the thousands of nationalists forced from their homes by unionist/loyalist pogroms.

During her work as a Civil Rights activist, Máire emerged as one of the Republican Movement’s most gifted leaders and organisers. Máire was the first to warn that the British troops sent in as “peace keepers” were a force of occupation. Máire was a dynamic and inspirational speaker. Once, when addressing a rally in Derry after the shooting of two men from the city, Máire said:

“The people of Derry are up off their bended knees. For Christ sake stay up. People should not shout up the IRA, they should join the IRA.”

In 1972, Máire became Vice President of Sinn Féin. Due to their dedication to the republican struggle, Máire’s family was continuously harassed by the RUC, British Army and by loyalist intimidation. The British Army even constructed an observation post facing their home in Andersonstown. At one point, her husband and son were interned at the same time. Her husband, Jimmy became known as the most jailed republican in the Six Counties. Máire was also jailed twice for ‘seditious’ speeches, once along with her daughter.

In 1976, her eyesight began to fail and she was admitted for a cataract operation to the Mater Hospital, Belfast. On 28 October 1976, as Máire lay in her hospital bed, loyalist killers wearing doctors white coats walked into her room and shot her dead.

Máire Drumm, freedom fighter and voice of the people, was buried in Milltown Cemetery. One of her most famous quotes was:

 

“We must take no steps backward, our steps must be onward, for if we don’t, the martyrs that died for you, for me, for this country will haunt us forever.”

https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsAbout maire drumm https://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2016/07/09/maire-drumm-1919-1976/

 

With many thanks to: Easter Rising War of Independence and Irish Civil War History.

‘IRA” says it struck police vehicle with EFP (explosively formed projectile).

THE Republican paramilitary group known as the ‘IRA’ last night claimed it was “confident” it struck an RUC/PSNI vehicle with an EFP mortar in Strabane last week.

In a statement the organisation, sometimes referred to as the ‘New IRA’, said it fired the potentially lethal device at the passing patrol car at Townsend Street in the Tyrone town last Tuesday night. The group claims the EFP (explosively formed projectile) mortar contained Semtex and was triggered by command wire and fired from a distance of nine feet at the police vehicle as it passed at around 8pm. The ‘IRA’ claims that the mortar was moved from another location in the border town earlier on Tuesday after the security forces failed to show up.

Using a recognised codeword, the republican group claimed that an attempt to target a police car with the same device at Townsend Street was abandoned an hour before the attack because of the prescence of civillian vehicles in the area. The RUC/PSNI has said that the device, which it described as a “roadside bomb with command wire attached” was “designed to kill or seriously injure” its officers. Three officers who were travelling in the vehicle were uninjured but believed to be left shaken. The RUC/PSNI vehicle left the area after the attack and police were later criticised for failing to cordon off the scenne for three hours.

Several people were removed from their homes during a follow up operation but later allowed to return. Politicians have condemned the latest attack which came just weeks after the ‘IRA’ tried to kill a Catholic police officer in Derry using an undercar bomb. Policing Board member and SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan said: “Such attacks on the PSNI (RUC) have no place in a modern progressive society.” DUP MLA Tom Buchánan said: “There must be a united and resolute stand from right across the political spectrum to such activities.”

In August 2015, a motar was discovered and disarmed at a cemetery in Strabane after a security operation. EFPs, which can pierce armour over a long distance, have been used by the ‘IRA’ in Derry and Belfast in the past. On those occasions no-one was injured. Unexploded EFPs have also been recovered by the security forces accross the north. Believed to have been developed in Iran, the homemade weapon was regularly used in Iraq. It is considered by some as the modern version of the horizontal mortar – known to republicans as a ‘doodle bug’ – which was used by the Provisionals. Meanwhile, police have been given additional time to question a 20-year-old man arrested in Newtownstewart in connection with the attack last week, while a 31-year-old man arrested on Saturday continued to be questioned last night.

With many thanks to: The Irish News, for the orgional story.

The McMahon Family Massacre

The McMahon Family Massacare

On 23 March 1922, five members of the McMahon family and another man were murdered by the RIC in their family home in North Belfast.

At 1.20 am, masked men sledgehammered down the door of the three-storey house at 3 Kinnaird Terrace, rousing the occupants, who at first suspected a bomb had been put in the letterbox, from their beds.

The murderers quickly collected the women of the house and locked them in a back room. They then forced 50-year-old Owen McMahon and his five sons, ages 11 to 24, and a 25-year-old male boarder, into the living room. The leader of the assassins told the men and boys to avail of the few moments to pray for their souls. As they were praying, the gang opened fire.

Owen McMahon and three of his boys died instantly, as did boarder Ed McKinney. Another McMahon son, Bernard, died of his wounds a week later. Amazingly, the shots intended for 11-year-old John McMahon missed. The boy, shrieking with fright, ran round the dining-room table. Two more shots were fired at him as he ran, these ricocheted off the table into the wall. The boy managed to get under the sofa and lay there until the killers had fled. John McMahon later identified the killers as uniformed, but masked, police. He was absolutely categorical about the murderers’ identity in his statement to local clergy: “Four of the five men were dressed in the uniform of the RIC but, from their appearance, I know they are Specials, not regular RIC.”

An explosion of violence accompanied Britain’s 1920 partitioning of Ireland, the Irish Tan War, and the ensuing Irish Civil War. From July 1920 to July 1922, 453 died in Belfast alone. Over 60 percent were Catholics, who then made up a third of the population. The McMahons, a business family, were killed in reprisal for the IRA killing of two police auxiliaries the day before.

There is no doubt that some members of the B-Specials were present at the McMahon killings but it must be remembered that the ‘Specials’ were in fact mere ‘helpers’ to those who were involved in the planning and carrying out of such attacks and who were all members, and in most cases high rankings members, of the RIC. They were known as the Cromwell Club and were established in Belfast. These death squads were set up by the Unionist Party and attacked Catholics when the opportunity arose. Their sectarian purpose was to drive all the Catholics out of the newly formed Ulster State.

A chief Belfast death squad leader was Inspector John Nixon. The Stormont government eventually tried to dismiss him, but backed off when he threatened to publicly name senior police and unionist politicians who had helped in the murder gangs.

Nixon was elected five times to Britain’s Parliament and he was awarded an MBE by King George in 1923 for his “valuable service during the troubled period”.

After interviewinree Sinn Féiners (in their homes)… the only way to stop these cold-blooded murders.”

A week after the McMahon incident, in a deliberate attempt to wreck the Craig-Collins pact, lorry loads of RIC and Specials from Brown Square barracks perpetrated the “Arnon Street Massacre” of five Catholics.

Such was the weight of evidence against Nixon and named police for these murders that DI Lynn not only “investigated… the police for murder” but ordered the police suspects to parade for identification.

However, as Fr Laverty reported, they refused; and Craig resisted demands for an inquiry.

On Sunday 26 March 1922, the funeral of the Owen McMahon and his three sons, Frank, Patrick and Gerald, left St Patrick’s Church, Donegall Street, en route for burial in Milltown Cemetery. Thousands lined the streets to show their abhorrence for the brutal killings.

One week later the RIC were renamed the RUC.

On 29 January 2003,the North Belfast News reported that, following a request from the DUP’s Ian Crozier, Belfast City Hall would ask the Department of Social Development for the former home of RUC Officer and Unionist MP John Nixon to be declared a national monument.

With many thanks to: Easter Rising War of Independence and Irish Civil War History.

Strabane security alert ongoing, police say

 Police are dealing with an ongoing security alert in Strabane.

RUC/PSNI said there was no access to the County Tyrone town via Liskey Road as a result of the incident.

The PSNI warned in a tweet that the alert in Townsend Street was likely to cause some disruption to residents in the area.

Francis Hughes – A determined and totally fearless soldier

THE SECOND republican to join the H-Block hunger-strike for political status – a fortnight after Bobby Sands.

Was twenty-five-year-old Francis Hughes, from Bellaghy in South Derry: a determined, committed and totally fearless IRA Volunteer who organised a spectacularly successful series of military operations before his capture, and was once described by the RUC as their ‘most wanted man’ in the North.
Eluding for several years the relentless efforts of the British army, UDR and RUC to track him down, Francis operated boldly throughout parts of Tyrone and north and south Antrim, but particularly in his native South Derry, with a combination of brilliant organisation and extreme daring – until his capture after a shoot-out with the SAS – which earned him widespread popular renown, and won general support for the republican cause, as well as giving him an undisputed reputation as a natural-born soldier and leader.

ROOTED

Francis Hughes was born on February 28th, 1956, the youngest son amongst ten children, into a staunchly republican family which has been solidly rooted, for most of this century, in the townland of Tamlaghtduff, or Scribe Road, as it is otherwise called.

His parents who married in 1939, are Patrick Joseph Hughes, aged 72, a retired small cattle farmer born in the neighbouring town land of Ballymacpeake, and Margaret, aged 68, whose maiden name is McElwee, and who was born in Tamlaghtduff.

A quarter-of-a-mile away from the Hughes’ bungalow, on the other side of the Scribe Road is the home of Thomas and Benedict McElwee – first cousins of Francis. Benedict is currently serving a sentence in the H-Blocks. Thomas – the eldest – embarked on hunger strike on June 8th, and died sixty-two days later on August 8th.

In Tamlaghtduff, as throughout the rest of Bellaghy, sympathy as well as active support for the republican cause runs at a very high level, a fact testified to by the approximately twenty prisoners-of-war from around Bellaghy alone.

Francis was an extremely popular person, both to his family and to his republican colleagues and supporters.

His father recalls that as a boy he was always whistling, joking and singing: a trait which he carried over into his arduous and perilous days as a republican, when he was able to transmit his enthusiasm and optimism both to Volunteers under his command and to Sympathisers who offered them – at great personal risk, food and shelter

It was qualities like these, of uncomplaining tirelessness, of consideration for the morale of those around him, and his ruling wish to lead by example, that have made Francis Hughes one of the most outstanding Irish revolutionary soldiers this war has produced and a man who was enormously respected in his native countryside.

BOY

As a boy, Francis went first to St. Mary’s primary school in Bellaghy, and from there to Clady intermediate school three miles away.

He enjoyed school and was a fairly good student whose favourite subjects were history and woodwork. He was not particularly interested in sport, but was very much a lively, outdoor person, who enjoyed messing around on bikes, and later on, in cars.

He enjoyed dancing and regularly went to ceilidh as a young man, even while ‘on the run’, although after ‘wanted’ posters of him appeared his opportunities became less frequent.

His parents recall that Francis was always extremely helpful around the house, and that he was a “good tractor man”.

DECORATOR

Leaving school at sixteen, Francis got a job with his sister Vera’s husband, as an apprentice painter and decorator, completing his apprenticeship shortly before ‘going on the run’.

In later days, Francis would often do a spot of decorating for the people whose house he was staying in

On one occasion, shortly after the ‘wanted’ posters of him had been posted up all over South Derry, Francis was painting window frames at the front of the house he was staying in when two jeep-loads of British soldiers drove past. While the other occupants of the house froze in apprehension, Francis waved and smiled at the curious Brits as they passed by, and continued painting.

It was such utter fearlessness, and the ability to brazen his way through, that saved him time and time again during his relatively long career as an active service Volunteer.

On one such occasion, when stopped along with two other Volunteers as they crossed a field, Francis told a Brit patrol that they didn’t feel safe walking the roads, as the IRA were so active in the area. The Brits allowed the trio to walk on, but after a few yards Francis ran back to the enemy patrol to scrounge a cigarette and a match from one of the British soldiers.

A turning point for Francis, in terms of his personal involvement in the struggle, occurred at the age of seventeen, when he and a friend were stopped by British soldiers at Ardboe, in County Tyrone, as they returned from a dance one night.

The pair were taken out of their car and so badly kicked that Francis was bed-ridden for several days. Rejecting advice to make a complaint to the RUC, Francis said it would be a waste of time, but pledged instead to get even with those who had done it, “or with their friends.”

Notwithstanding such a bitter personal experience of British thuggery, and the mental and physical scars it left, Francis’ subsequent involvement in the Irish Republican Army was not based on a motive of revenge but on a clear and abiding belief in his country’s right to national freedom.

INVOLVEMENT

During the early part of ‘the troubles’, the ‘Officials’ were relatively strong in the South Derry area and Francis’ first involvement was with them.

However, disillusioned, as were many others, with the ‘Sticks’ unilateral ceasefire in 1972, he left to set up and command an ‘independent’ military unit in the Bellaghy area. About the end of 1973 the entire unit – including Francis – was formally recruited into the IRA.

Francis’ involvement brought him increasingly to the attention of the British army and RUC and he was regularly held for a few hours in Magherafelt barracks and stopped on the road by British patrols; and on one occasion he was held for two days at Ballykelly camp.

As the 1975 IRA/British army truce came to an end Francis, fearing his imminent arrest, went ‘on the run’. From that time on, he led a life perpetually on the move, often moving on foot up to twenty miles during one night then sleeping during the day – either in fields and ditches or in safe houses; a soldierly sight in his black beret and combat uniform, and openly carrying his rifle, a handgun and several grenades as well as food rations.

The enemy reacted with up to fifty early morning raids on Francis’ home, and raids on the homes of those suspected of harbouring him. Often, houses would be staked out for days on end in the hope of capturing Francis. Often, it was only his sheer nerve and courage which saved him. One night, Francis was followed to a ‘safe house’ and looked out to see the Brits surrounding the place and closing in. Without hesitating, the uniformed Francis stepped outside the door, clutching his rifle, and in the darkness crept gradually through their lines, occasionally mumbling a few short words to British soldiers he passed, who, on seeing the shadowy uniformed figure, mistook him for one of themselves.

On numerous occasions, Francis and his comrades were stopped at checkpoints along the country roads while moving weapons from one locality to another but always calmly talked their way through. Once, a UDR soldier actually recognised Francis and his fellow Volunteers in a car but, fully aware that Francis would not be taken without a shoot-out, he waved their car on.

ACTIVE

The years before Francis’ capture were extremely active ones in the South Derry and surrounding areas with the commercial centres of towns and villages like Bellaghy, Maghera, Toome, Magherafelt and Castledawson being blitzed by car bombs on several occasions, and numerous shooting attacks being carried out as well.

Among the Volunteers under his command Francis had a reputation of being a strict disciplinarian and perfectionist who could not tolerate people taking their republican duties less seriously, and selflessly, than was necessary. He also, however, inspired fellow Volunteers by his example and by always being in the thick of things, and he thrived on pressure.

During one night-time operation, a weapon was missing and Francis gave away his own weapon to another Volunteer, taking only a torch himself which he used to its maximum effect by shining it at an oncoming enemy vehicle, which had its headlights off, to enable the other Volunteers to direct their fire.

Francis’ good-humoured audacity also showed itself in his republican activity. At the height of his ‘notoriety’ he would set up road-blocks, hoping to lure the Brits into an ambush (which by hard experience they learned to avoid), or he would ring up the Brits and give them his whereabouts!

Such joking, however, did not extend only to the enemy. One day, lying out in the fields, he spied one of his uncles cycling down a country road. Taking careful aim with his rifle he shot away the bike’s rear wheel. His uncle ran alarmed, into a nearby house shouting that loyalists had just tried to assassinate him!

BATTLE

The determination of the British army and RUC to capture Francis Hughes came to a head in April 1977. In that month, on Good Friday, a car containing three IRA Volunteers was overtaken and flagged down on the Moneymore Road at Dunronan, in County Derry, by a carload of RUC men.

The Volunteers attempted to make a U-turn but their car got stuck in a ditch as the armed RUC men approached. Jumping from the car, the Volunteers opened fire, killing two RUC men and injuring another before driving off. A hundred yards further up the road a second gun battle ensued but the Volunteers escaped safely.

Subsequently, the RUC issued a ‘wanted’ poster of Francis Hughes and two fellow republicans, Dominic McGlinchey and Ian Milne, in which Francis was named as the ‘most wanted man’ in the North.

When his eventual capture came, it was just as he had always said it would be: “I’ll get a few of them before they get me.”

STAKE-OUT

At 8.00 p.m. on March 16th, 1978, two SAS soldiers took up a stake-out position opposite a farm, on the south side of the Ronaghan road, about two miles west of Maghera, in the townland of Ballyknock.

At 9.15 p.m. they saw two men in military uniform and carrying rifles, walking in single file along the hedgeline of the field towards them. Using their ‘night sights’ in the darkness, the SAS men observed the military behaviour of the two on-comers and having challenged them, heard the men mumble a few words to each other in Irish accents and assumed that the pair were UDR soldiers.

One of the pair, in fact, was Francis Hughes, the other a fellow Volunteer, and with only a second’s hesitation both Volunteers cocked their rifles and opened fire. One SAS man fell fatally wounded but the other – though shot in the stomach – managed to fire a long burst from his sterling sub-machine gun at the retreating figures, and to make radio contact with his base.

Within three minutes, nearby Brit patrols were on the scene and the area was entirely sealed off. The following morning hundreds of Brits took part in a massive search operation.

Fifteen hours after the shooting, at around 12.15 p.m. the next day, they found Francis Hughes sitting in the middle of a gorse bush in a field three hundred yards away, bleeding profusely from a bullet wound which had shattered his left thigh. As he was taken away on a stretcher he yelled defiantly, through his considerable pain: “Up the Provies”.

His comrade, though also wounded, slightly, managed to evade the dragnet and to escape.

SURVIVED

How he survived the night of the shooting, possibly the coldest night of that year, bears eloquent testimony to Francis’ grim determination to evade capture. After being shot, he dragged himself – unable to walk – across the Ronaghan road and across two fields without a sound, before burying himself in a thick clump of gorse bushes.

At one point, en-route, Francis fell down a sharp drop between fields, and his left leg – the muscle and bone completely disintegrated – came up over his shoulder; but Francis worked it carefully down before continuing to crawl on his way. In his hiding place, he lay through the night, motionless and soundless, till his capture.

When he was found, unable to move through the cold, pain and stiffness, Francis, knowing that both Brits and RUC were on instructions to shoot him on sight, gave his name as Eamonn Laverty and his address as Letterkenny, County Donegal.

Francis was taken to Magherafelt hospital and from there to Musgrave Park military hospital in Belfast, and it was only then that his true identity was revealed. He spent ten months in Musgrave Park where his leg was operated on, reducing his thigh bone by an inch-and-a-half and leaving him dependent on a crutch to walk.

CASTLEREAGH

On Wednesday, January 24th, 1979, Francis was taken from Musgrave Park hospital to Castlereagh interrogation centre where he spent six days before being charged on January 29th. For more than four days Francis refused food and drink, fearing that it might have been drugged to make him talk.

His behaviour in Castlereagh was typical of the fiercely determined and courageous republican Volunteer that he was. His frustrated interrogators later described him as “totally uncooperative”.

Nevertheless, at his trial in Belfast in February 1980, after a year on remand in Crumlin Road jail, Francis was found ‘guilty’ on all charges.

He received a life sentence for killing the SAS soldier, and fourteen years for attempting to kill the other SAS man. He also received fifty-five years on three other charges.

H-BLOCK

In the H-Blocks, Francis immediately went on the protest for political status and, despite the severe disability of his wounded leg, displayed the same courage and determination that had been his hallmark before his capture.

And, just as always wanting to be in the thick of things and wanting to shoulder responsibility for other political prisoners as he had earlier looked after the morale of fellow Volunteers, Francis was one of those to volunteer for the hunger strike which began on October 27th, 1980. He was not one of the first seven hunger strikers selected but was among the thirty men who joined the hunger strike in its closing stages as Sean McKenna’s condition became critical.

That utter selflessness and courage came to its tragic conclusion on Tuesday, May 12th, when Francis died at 5.43 p.m. after fifty-nine days on Hunger Strike.

With many thanks to: Sean Larkin – South Derry.

The Milltown Massacre

The Milltown Massacre took place on 16th March 1988 in Belfast’s Milltown Cemetery. During the funerals of IRA volunteers Mairéad Farrell, Séan Savage and Dan McCann Murdered in Gibraltar by the S.A.S, an Ulster Defence Association (UDA) volunteer, Michael Stone, attacked the mourners with hand grenades and pistols. As Stone then ran towards the nearby motorway, a large crowd began chasing him and he continued shooting and throwing grenades. Three people had been killed and more than 60 wounded. The evil, attack was filmed by television news crews and caused shock around the world.The funeral service and requiem mass went ahead as planned, and the cortege made its way to Milltown Cemetery, off the Falls Road. Present were thousands of mourners and top members of the IRA. Two RUC helicopters hovered overhead. Stone claimed that he entered the graveyard through the front gate with the mourners. Some eyewitnesses claimed to have seen Stone enter the graveyard from the M1 motorway with three other people (two men and a woman). The others walked across the graveyard and later left on the Falls Road side. As the third coffin was about to be lowered into the ground, Stone threw two grenades—which had a seven-second delay—toward the republican plot and began shooting.

The first grenade exploded near the crowd and about 20 yards (18 m) from the grave. Amid the panic and confusion, people took cover behind gravestones. Stone began jogging toward the motorway, several hundred yards away, chased by dozens of men and youths. He continued shooting and throwing grenades at his pursuers. Three people were killed while pursuing Stone two Catholic civilians Thomas McErlean (20) and John Murray (26), and a Provisional IRA volunteer, Caoimhín Mac Brádaigh (30). During the attack about 60 people were wounded by bullets, grenade shrapnel and fragments of marble and stone from gravestones. Among those wounded was a pregnant mother of four, a 72-year-old grandmother and a ten-year-old boy.
In the 19 March edition of the Irish Times, columnist Kevin Myers, an opponent of republican paramilitary violence, wrote: “Unarmed young men charged against the man hurling grenades and firing an automatic pistol. The young men stalking their quarry repeatedly came under fire; they were repeatedly bombed; they repeatedly advanced. Indeed this was not simply bravery; this was a heroism which in other circumstances, I have no doubt, would have won the highest military decorations.
A white van that had been parked by the motorway suddenly drove off as Stone fled from the angry crowd. The RUC said the van was part of an uninvolved police patrol. Stone later claimed that a getaway vehicle, driven by a UDA member, was waiting for him on the motorway but the driver “panicked” and left. By the time Stone reached the motorway, he had seemingly run out of ammunition. He ran out onto the road and tried to stop cars, but was caught by the crowd and beaten. RUC officers quickly arrived at that point and arrested him.

with many thanks to: Sean Larkin – South Derry.

Arrest fears may keep son of INLA chief Dominic McGlinchey from funeral of brother – BelfastTelegraph.co.uk

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Declan and Dominic jnr McGlinchey

http://m.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/arrest-fears-may-keep-son-of-inla-chief-dominic-mcglinchey-from-funeral-of-brother-34164229.html

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Declan McGlinchey, lays a wreath at the Easter commemoration - Easter Saturday 2015.

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Sappers - Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar, murdered during the Massereene attack
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Declan McGlinchey - 38-year's-old.