John Francis Green
|John Francis Green|
John Francis Green
|Born||18 December 1946
Lurgan, County Armagh, Northern Ireland
|Died||10 January 1975
Mullyash, Castleblayney, County Monaghan, Republic of Ireland
|Allegiance||Provisional Irish Republican Army|
|Years of service||1969–1975|
|Rank||Staff Captain and Intelligence Officer|
|Unit||North Armagh Brigade|
John Francis Green (18 December 1946– 10 January 1975), was a leading member of the North Armagh Brigade of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, holding the rank of Staff Captain and Intelligence Officer. He was killed in a farmhouse outside Castleblayney, County Monaghan, by members of the Mid-Ulster Brigade of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). According to Secret Intelligence Service operative Captain Fred Holroyd, British Army Captain Robert Nairac was involved in Green's killing. Green's was one of the 87 killings attributed by the Pat Finucane Centre to the group of loyalist extremists known as the Glenanne gang. No one was ever prosecuted for the killing.
Green was born in Lurgan, County Armagh, Northern Ireland and grew up in a Roman Catholic family. He was an active member of the civil rights campaign, and later joined the Provisional Irish Republican Army. He held the rank of Staff Captain and Intelligence Officer in the North Armagh Brigade. Green was forced to "go on the run" following the introduction of internment in August 1971, but was arrested and interned on the Maidstone prison ship. Green was afterwards transferred to Long Kesh internment camp. On 9 September 1973, Green escaped from Long Kesh disguised as a priest. During a visit with his brother, Fr. Gerrard Green, a Catholic priest, the two men exchanged clothing, and Green made his escape undetected by the guards. Gerrard was later discovered tied up in one of the prison's compounds.
Following his escape, Green lived in the Monaghan and Castleblayney areas. A British agent, Sean O'Callaghan, claimed to have met Green at an IRA training camp in County Kerry at the end of 1973. During the IRA Christmas ceasefire in 1974, Green returned home to Lurgan to visit his family. While he was there the British Army arrived at his house and carried out a routine check-up, the Green family being prominent republicans. On the evening of 10 January 1975, he drove to a farmhouse in Mullyash, outside Castleblayney. When the farmer, an elderly republican sympathiser, went to tend a neighbour's cow, Ulster loyalist gunmen from the UVF Mid-Ulster Brigade kicked down the front door and shot Green six times in the head at close range, killing him instantly. To the Ulster Volunteer Force in mid-Ulster, Green was a high-profile target. According to journalist, Peter Taylor the killers left behind some bullets in the shape of the letters UVF. The UVF claimed responsibility for the killing in the June 1975 edition of its magazine Combat. Green's killing occurred during an IRA ceasefire, which had been declared the previous month.
It was claimed by Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) Special Patrol Group (SPG) officer John Weir, that the UVF killers were Robin Jackson (who was also allegedly involved in the 1974 Dublin car bombings as well as a series of sectarian killings), Robert McConnell, and Harris Boyle. The men, including Weir, were all members of the Glenanne gang, which was made up of rogue elements of the RUC, Ulster Defence Regiment, regular British Army, and the UVF Mid-Ulster Brigade. These allegations were published in the 2003 Barron Report, which was the findings of an official investigation of the bombings by Irish Supreme Court Justice Henry Barron. In the same report, Weir claimed that he had received information from an informer that British Army captain Robert Nairac was also involved in Green's killing. The 1993 Yorkshire Television documentary The Hidden Hand: The Forgotten Massacre states that Robin Jackson and his UVF comrades were controlled by Nairac, who was attached to 14th Intelligence Company. Secret Intelligence Service operative Captain Fred Holroyd also asserted that Nairac had executed Green, who was, according to Holroyd, commander of the Provisional Battalion of North Armagh. Captain Holroyd claimed that Nairac boasted about the killing and had shown him a colour polaroid photograph of Green's corpse taken after the killing. Holroyd also told the Garda Síochána that he had received a photograph of Green some months prior to his killing. Holroyd enlarged the photograph and had it distributed. He believed from that time until Green's death, 4 Field Survey Troop, one of the three sub-units of the 14th Intelligence Company led by Captains Nairac and Tony Ball, had Green placed under surveillance. Nairac's claim has been discounted by two Garda investigations which revealed that the polaroid was one of a series taken of Green's body by a Garda officer the morning following his fatal shooting.
Years after the death of John Francis Green, journalist Peter Taylor conducted an interview with his brother, Leo, who had been a key figure in the 1981 hunger strikes at the Maze Prison. When asked about John Francis' killers, Leo told Taylor he believed they had been "loyalists or British Army or a combination of both". Green went on to add that the UVF's motives for killing his brother may not have been solely on account that John Francis was a prominent IRA member.
"I would suggest that it would have annoyed the loyalists that there was a [IRA] truce with the British Government and there may well have been fear that some sort of negotiated settlement was going on behind their backs. Probably my brother's killing would have been designed to anger and provoke the IRA into breaking the truce".
A post-mortem revealed that John Francis Green had been shot six times in the head at close range, the bullets all having entered from the front. At the time of his death, Green was married and the father of three children.
After his killing, the Gardai found Green's car (a Volkswagen Beetle) parked beside the house. They discovered weapons, ammunition and documents hidden behind the backseat. In the glove compartment were 26 photographs of members of the Provisional and Official IRA, all of whom were wanted by the security forces in Northern Ireland. A further search inside the house and the grounds disclosed more ammunition and bomb-making materials.
Green's killing was one of 87 which the Pat Finucane Centre has linked to the Glenanne gang, a group comprising rogue elements of the British Army, the RUC, SPG, UDR, and military intelligence, which together with the UVF, carried out a series of sectarian attacks in the Mid-Ulster/South Armagh area in the 1970s.
According to the Barron Report (2003), one of the pistols (a Luger) used in Green's killing was linked six months later to the Miami Showband killings, which left three band members dead. Both Robin Jackson and Robert Nairac were allegedly behind that attack, while Harris Boyle was blown up after the bomb he and Wesley Somerville (another UVF and Glenanne gang member) had placed in the band's minibus had gone off prematurely. Martin Dillon, in his book The Dirty War, claims that Nairac was not involved in Green's killing, nor the Miami Showband attack.
Captain Robert Nairac was abducted and killed in 1977 by the IRA. On 7 April 1977, the South Armagh Republican Action Force claimed responsibility for shooting dead Protestant man Hugh Clarke at Tullymacreeve near Forkill, County Armagh. The book Lost Lives says that the IRA shot Clarke. It adds: "the IRA claimed Hugh Clarke was involved in the killing of IRA member John Francis Green. On the night of the Green killing, he had been at the house where the IRA man's body was found".
On 9 January 2005, in Castleblayney, over 800 people participated in a march and unveiling of a memorial at Keady Cross to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the killing of Green.
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