In the INLA
A Catholic, he was raised in heavily republican West Belfast. Nicknamed "Doctor Death" by the media and by the Royal Ulster Constabulary for the multiple assassinations he purportedly accomplished,Steenson was widely associated with internecine violence between Irish republican groups. He joined the Official IRA's C Company in 1972 at the age of 14. Two years later, he left to join the INLA upon that paramilitary group's formation, consequent to their split from the Official IRA.
The Official IRA itself was born out of the split of the historical IRA in 1969, which resulted in two separate organisations, the other being the Provisional Irish Republican Army, also known as "the Provos," who eventually became the biggest and most active republican paramilitary during the Troubles.
Steenson first came to notoriety for killing in 1975 Billy McMillen, the Official IRA's Belfast leader during the feud between the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) and its armed wing, the INLA, against the Official IRA.
Creating the IPLO
In 1986, Steenson, Jimmy Brown and others formed the Irish People's Liberation Organisation (IPLO) with the express intention of wiping out the INLA and IRSP which they viewed as becoming "corrupt" and an obstacle to "the fight for socialism" and "Irish freedom". He argued in letters, written while he was in prison in the early 1980s, that the INLA had become militarily "inefficient" and "undisciplined", which had led, as he wrote, to its involvement in criminality and sectarian attacks.
In 1987, Steenson and fellow IPLO volunteer Tony McCarthy were ambushed, presumably by an INLA active unit, and killed while travelling in a car along Springhill Avenue, in Ballymurphy, Belfast, the site of the killing in 1971 of eleven Catholic civilians by the British Army's Parachute Regiment. Two revenge killings of INLA members followed before the end of the feud.
- "Terrorists recruit teenage soldiers", The Observer, 24 October 1999.
- "Army of mavericks lays down its arms" by David McKittrick, The Independent, 12 October 2009
- "A dozen die as Ulster's rebels feud", New York Times, 29 March 1987; accessed 4 May 2014.
- See article on the Provisional Irish Republican Army
- Paramilitary Feuds in Northern Ireland - List of people killed, CAIN project, University of Ulster
- McDonald, Henry & Jack Holland. INLA - Deadly Divisions, Torc (1994); ISBN 189814205X, ISBN 978-1898142058