Attack on James Murray's bookmakers
|James Murray bookmakers' shooting|
|Part of the Troubles|
|Date||14 November 1992 |
|Perpetrator||Ulster Defence Association|
On 14 November 1992, the Ulster Defence Association using the cover name the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) launched a gun and grenade attack on James Murray's bookmakers on the Oldpark Road in Belfast, Northern Ireland. One gunman opened fire on the customers, whilst another threw a grenade into the shop. The shop was in an Irish nationalist area and all of the dead were local Catholic civilians.
1992 had witnessed an intensification in the campaign of violence being carried out by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) under their UFF covername. In February the UDA South Belfast Brigade had shot dead 5 Catholic civilians in Sean Graham's bookmakers on the lower Ormeau Road, in retaliation for the 8 Protestants killed in the Teebane bombing by the IRA the previous month. The UDA West Belfast Brigade, led by notorious UFF commander Johnny Adair, had been particularly active throughout the year, killing several Catholic civilians, including young mother Philomena Hanna, who was shot dead at the chemist where she worked on the Springfield Road, and 18 year old Gerard O'Hara, who was shot dead in front of his mother at his home in the New Lodge. In the same month as the Gerard O'Hara killing, the brigade also sprayed the Dockers club in the Sailortown area of Belfast, wounding three Catholics. Major loss of life was averted because one of the doorman managed to close the door before the gunmen were able to get fully inside the club. On 13 November, an IRA van bomb had exploded in the centre of the predominantly unionist town of Coleraine, causing extensive damage.
In the afternoon of 14 November 1992 two UDA men entered the shop, which was situated on the Oldpark Road, in the Republican Bone area but just metres away from the peaceline with the Loyalist lower Oldpark. One man, allegedly Stephen McKeag, opened fire on the customers with a Vz58 assault rifle and another volunteer, reportedly C Company's second-in-command, threw a Soviet-made fragmentation grenade, shouting "Youse deserve it, youse Fenian bastards" as he did so. Two Catholics, Francis Burns(52) and Peter Orderly(47) were killed instantly, and a third John Lovett(72) who succumbed to his injuries in hospital the following day. During the attack, Lovett, who was a Second World War veteran who had survived torture in a Japanese camp as an RAF prisoner of war, reportedly shouted "keep your calm". Although it was situated in a Nationalist area, Protestants also frequented the betting shop, and one, who almost died, was among the several others injured in the attack. The killers escaped in a hijacked taxi which was found abandoned less than 200 metres away at Beechpark Place in the lower Oldpark area. The attack was reportedly followed by "a raucous celebration in a loyalist club in south Belfast with Johnny Adair occupying centre stage".
In March 1993, an IRA unit from Ardoyne shot dead UDA member Norman Truesdale in his shop at the junction of the Oldpark Road and Century Street in the lower Oldpark area. At the time of the attack his family claimed he had no paramilitary connections, but his brother has since stated his belief in an article to the Sunday Life that he was involved in the shooting at James Murray's bookmakers, and a UDA mural was erected in the area in his memory. He was also named by Lister and Jordan as team commander of C9 and an active gunman. IRA efforts to assassinate Johnny Adair also intensified, culminating in the Shankill Road bombing when an attempt by the IRA to wipe out the UDA leadership, including Adair, resulted in the deaths of 9 innocent Protestant civilians, and one of the IRA bombers, as the bomb exploded prematurely or so they said.
- Timeline of Ulster Defence Association actions
- Johnny Adair
- UDA West Belfast Brigade
- Sean Graham bookmakers' shooting
- Greysteel massacre
- Henry McDonald & Jim Cusack, UDA – Inside the Heart of Loyalist Terror, Dublin: Penguin Ireland, 2004, p. 222
- McDonald & Cusack, p. 237
- "Coleraine Times".
- McDonald & Cusack, pp. 237-238
- Wood, Ian.S (2006). Crimes of Loyalty : A History of the UDA. p. 167.
- List of Victims of the Troubles 1992, Conflict Archive on the Internet
- McKittrick, David (2001). Lost Lives: The Stories of the Men, Women and Children who Died as a Result of the Northern Ireland Troubles. Random House.
- "'Our Norman took part in massacre, so IRA got him'".
- "Loyalist mural replaced".
- Morris, Alison (25 January 2016). "Norman Truesdale murder among those to be investigated". The Irish News.
- Lister & Jordan, David & Hugh (2013). Mad Dog: The Rise and Fall of Johnny Adair and 'C Company'. Random House.