A Catholic from Belfast, he was raised in heavily republican West Belfast. Nicknamed "Doctor Death" by sections of the Irish media, he 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 the paramilitary group's formation consequent to their split from the Official IRA. He came to notoriety as a 16 year-old for killing Billy McMillen, the Official IRA's Belfast leader during the IRSP/INLA's feud with the Official IRA. He had been dubbed "Dr. Death" by the Royal Ulster Constabulary for the chain of assassinations he purportedly accomplished.
Steenson, Jimmy Brown and others formed the Irish People's Liberation Organisation 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, and that this had led to involvement in criminality and sectarian attacks. In 1987, Steenson and Tony McCarthy[who?] were killed by the INLA.[where?] Two revenge killings of INLA members followed before the end of the feud.
- New York Times article referencing INLA feud, nytimes.com; accessed 4 May 2014.
- Henry McDonald, Jack Holland, INLA - Deadly Divisions, Torc (1994); ISBN 189814205X, ISBN 978-1898142058
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