Friday 24 October 2014

Soldiers, labourers, women, children -- all murdered in the IRA's terror campaign

Martin McGuinness claims he left the Provisional IRA in 1974. But in the five years he admits to membership -- from 1969 -- the terror group killed hundreds of people. Here we recall some of the most horrific murders.

On August 14, 1969, 26-year-old Protestant Herbert Roy was shot dead during sectarian clashes in West Belfast. There is some dispute as to whether he was the first civilian killed by the IRA during the Troubles.

There is less doubt that David Linton, a Protestant father of three, was shot dead by the IRA two days later at a tribal barricade in North Belfast.

Because a substantial number of killings remain disputed, it is impossible to put an exact figure on IRA victims, but the following 10 atrocities from the years 1969-1974 are beyond dispute.

November 16, 1971

Catholic Arthur McKenna (35) and his partner in petty crime Alexander McVicker were the first people shot by the IRA for criminality. They were involved in protection rackets, fencing, burglary and moneylending. McKenna had left home that afternoon telling his wife he'd finish the decorating after he'd fitted some fans in another house.

February 9, 1971

Orangeman John Aiken (52) was a labourer with seven children on a work contract with the BBC. Along with fellow labourers Harry Edgar and George Beck, they drove to check a damaged TV transmitter in Tyrone, along with English BBC technician Malcolm Henson who had just arrived in NI. The IRA had sabotaged the transmitter and left a roadside bomb primed with a tripwire. All four died in the explosion.

March 9, 1971

Seventeen-year-old John McCaig went drinking with his brother Joseph (23), Dougald McCaughey (23) and other soldiers in a Belfast bar. With drink on board, they dropped their guard and allowed themselves to be lured away from their comrades. They were lined up on a lonely country road and executed. Children discovered their bodies. Dougald McCaughey's brother, serving in the same unit, would have been with them but for a duty shift.

may 25, 1971

Paratrooper Michael Willets (27) was on duty at Springfield Road RUC station in West Belfast when a car pulled up outside and a man flung a suitcase containing a bomb into the reception area. Willets shoved two children into a corner and heroically shielded them with his body, taking the full lethal blast.

july 21, 1972

With Belfast's streets full of afternoon shoppers, the IRA detonated 20 devices in 70 minutes on Bloody Friday, creating mayhem, killing nine, and injuring 130 others. Two devices accounted for all the deaths. A car bomb at Oxford St bus station killed four Ulsterbus employees, while another parked outside a row of shops killed two women and a young schoolboy.

february 4, 1974

Britain's trains were on strike so a coach was hired to carry servicemen and their families off for a holiday. A 25lb bomb was smuggled on to one coach in luggage. It exploded on the M62 motorway, killing 12, wiping out the entire family of Corporal Clifford Houghton, his wife Linda and sons Lee (5) and Robert (2).

october 5, 1974

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