Category: Archive

A View North Collusion? Maybe,but at a low level

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Jack Holland

Allegations that the security forces have been colluding with the Ulster Defense Association, Ulster Volunteer Force and Red Hand Commandos in setting up members of the republican movement are now a contentious political issue. Many of those who allege collusion make claims that it was systematic and at a high level. Most sensationally, in October 1991 the documentary "The Committee" alleged that an "Inner Force" within the RUC, including prominent members of the Protestant community, was targeting "hawks" within the republican movement and that in the first nine months of one year, 1991, 24 republicans were killed as a result. These claims were later repeated in a book, "The Committee," by Sean McPhilemy.

One vital clue as to whether collusion was an important component of loyalist violence would be the number of republican military activists they actually succeeded in killing.

What follows is a list of IRA, INLA and IPLO members killed by the UDA, UVF, and RHC. It is based on the Provisional IRA’s own "Roll of Honor: 1969-1994," Malcolm Sutton’s "An Index of Deaths From The Conflict In Ireland 1969-93", and my own research and work on the conflict since 1975.


Aug. 15, Gerard McAuley (junior IRA): shot dead during street disturbances, West Belfast.

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June 27, Henry McIlhone (Provisional IRA): shot dead during gun battle, East Belfast.


No IRA deaths attributable to loyalists.


Dec. 16, Louis Leonard (Provisional IRA): assassinated in his shop, Derrylin, Co. Fermanagh.


Feb. 3, James Sloan and James McCann (Provisional IRA): shot dead from a passing car by UDA men, North Belfast.

April 14, Robert Millen (Official IRA): shot dead by loyalists from a passing car, South Belfast.

July 6, Patrick Bracken (Official IRA): shot dead from a passing car by the UVF, West Belfast.


May 7, Frederick Leonard (Provisional IRA): shot dead along with a Catholic workmate during a UDA gun attack on workers at a building site, North Belfast.

Sept. 18, Patrick McGreevy (Junior Official IRA): shot dead outside a cafe from passing car, North Belfast.1975

Jan. 10, John Green, (Provisional IRA, Officer Commanding North Armagh): hot dead by UVF while hiding at a farm, near the border, County Monaghan.

May 18, Francis Rice (Provisional IRA): found stabbed to death near Castlewellan, Co. Down.


July 13, Gerard Gilmore (Official IRA): shot dead from a passing car outside a pub, North Belfast.


No IRA/INLA deaths attributable to loyalists.


March 8, Thomas Trainor (Officer Commanding INLA North Armagh): shot dead along with Catholic friend by Red Hand Commandos after leaving dole office, Portadown, North Armagh.


April 25, Billy Carson (Provisional IRA Belfast Brigade): assassinated at his home by UVF, North Belfast.

June 9, Joseph McKee (Official IRA): shot dead by UDA at his shop, West Belfast.


Oct. 15, Ronnie Bunting (INLA Officer Commanding Belfast): assassinated by UDA gunmen in his home, West Belfast.


Feb. 23, James Burns (Provisional IRA Quartermaster Belfast Brigade): shot dead by UVF in his home, West Belfast.


No IRA/INLA deaths attributable to loyalists.


Dec. 5: Joseph Craven (INLA): shot dead from passing motorcycle by UVF as he left dole office, North Belfast.

1984, 1985, 1986

No IRA/INLA/IPLO deaths attributable to loyalists.


April 2, Laurence Marley (Quartermaster Provisional IRA Third Battalion): shot dead by UVF at his home, North Belfast.


March 15, Caoimhin MacBradaigh (Provisional IRA): killed with two other mourners in a gun and grenade attack on republican funeral by UDA, West Belfast.

July 25, Brendan Davison (Provisional IRA): shot dead by UVF at his home, Markets area, Belfast.


April 4, Gerard Casey (Provisional IRA): assassinated by UVF at his home near Rasharkin, North Antrim.

Nov. 29: Liam Ryan (Provisional IRA Officer Commanding East Tyrone): shot dead with Catholic customer at his pub by UVF, near Coagh, Co. Tyrone.


No IRA/INLA/IPLO deaths attributable to loyalists.


March 3, John Quinn, Dwayne O’Donnell and Malcolm Nugent (Provisional IRA): shot dead outside pub by UVF, Cappagh, Co. Tyrone.

Aug. 16, Martin "Rook" O’Prey (IPLO): shot dead at home by UVF, West Belfast.


April 29, Conor Maguire (IPLO): hot dead by UVF at his work place, North Belfast.


March 25, James Kelly (Provisional IRA): shot dead along with three Catholic workers at building site by UDA, County Derry.


May 21, Martin Doherty (Provisional IRA Dublin Brigade): shot dead by UVF during attack on a pub where he was a doorman, Dublin.

Loyalist groups murdered approximately 948 people between 1969 and 1994. Of those, as far as can be established, 30 were IRA, INLA or IPLO activists. But not even all of those can be credited to collusion. Two (McAuley and McIlhone) died in riots and street gun battles in 1969 and 1970, and eight were killed in what seems to have been random attacks directed at purely Catholic targets. These are Sloan, McCann, Millen, Bracken, Frederick Leonard, McGreevy, Gilmore and Kelly. Two, MacBradaigh and Doherty, were killed as a result of attacks on specifically republican gatherings. That leaves 18 deaths in which the victims seem to have been deliberately selected. In these cases, the killers possessed enough information to know the exact whereabouts of their intended victim. Seven — Carson, Bunting, Burns, Marley, Davison, Casey, O’Prey — were murdered at home. Four — Louis Leonard, McKee, Ryan and Maguire — were targeted at their work place, and one, Green, at a safe house. Two, Trainor and Craven, were murdered coming from the dole office, and three — Quinn, O’Donnell and Nugent — while arriving at a pub. Rice’s body was found along a pathway and his death may have been the result of an abduction.

These 18 cases in which the killers seemed to be acting on information that allowed them to locate a specifically "republican" target might suggest collusion, but not necessarily, since the information could have been the result of local knowledge. In Northern Ireland, killer and victim often live in the same district. In only one instance, that of Green, tracked to a safe house, is there an indication that the killers possessed high-level information.

The fact that so few actual "players" were victims does not rule out collusion, but it does suggest that more often than not when it did occur it was at a rather low level.

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