Robert "Big Bobby" Storey is an Irish republican from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He was sentenced to a total of 25 years in jail but was released early under the terms of the Belfast Agreement. Prior to an 18-year conviction for possessing a rifle, he also spent time on remand for a variety of charges and in total served 20 years in prison. He also played a key role in the Maze Prison escape, the biggest prison break in British penal history.
The family was originally from the Marrowbone area, on the Oldpark Road in North Belfast. The family had to move when Bobby was very young due to Ulster loyalist attacks on the district, moving to Manor Street, an interface area also in North Belfast. Bobby’s father, also Bobby, was involved in the defence of the area in the 1970s.
Bobby was one of four children. He had two brothers, Seamus and Brian, and a sister Geraldine. Seamus escaped from Crumlin Road Jail in 1971. Seamus and Bobby senior had been arrested after a raid on their home which uncovered a rifle and a pistol. Bobby senior was later released but Seamus was charged. He escaped a couple of months later.
On his mother Peggy’s side of the family there was also a history of republicanism, but Bobby, according to An Phoblacht, says "the dominant influences on" him "were the events that were happening around" him. These included the McGurk's Bar bombing in the New Lodge, some of those killed being people who knew his family, and also Bloody Sunday 1972. This then led to his attempts to join the IRA.
Storey left school when he was fifteen and went to work with his father selling fruit. At sixteen, he became a member of the IRA.
On his seventeenth birthday, he was interned and held in Long Kesh for two years. He had been arrested 20 times previous to this but was too young for internment. He was in the "Cages", as the Nissen huts used to house internees were called, in October 1974 when republican prisoners burnt them down. He was released in 1975 but in 1976 was arrested again, charged with blowing up the Skyways Hotel. Held on remand for thirteen months, he was released but was arrested on the day of his trial leaving the court house and charged with a shooting-related incident.
As the authorities were unable to convict him, he was released in March 1977, but was arrested again that August, charged with the shooting of two British soldiers. The charges were dropped that December. Charged again in 1978 with shooting a soldier, he was placed on remand but was released in May 1979. Storey was later arrested in London and charged with conspiring to hijack a helicopter to help Brian Keenan escape from Brixton Prison, but was released in April 1981. That August he was arrested in possession of a rifle after a soldier was shot and sentenced to eighteen years' imprisonment.
Storey was involved in the Maze Prison escape in 1983, when 38 republican prisoners broke out of the H-Blocks. Captured, he was given an additional seven years. Released in 1994, he was again arrested in 1996 and charged with having information on the Lord Chief Justice.
Having spent over twenty years in prison, almost all of it on remand, his final release came in 1998, and he again became involved in developing republican politics and strategy, eventually becoming the Northern chairman of Sinn Féin.
On 11 January 2005 Ulster Unionist Member of Parliament for South Antrim David Burnside told the British House of Commons under parliamentary privilege that Storey was head of intelligence for the IRA.
On 9 September 2015, Storey was arrested and held for two days in connection with the killing of former IRA volunteer Kevin McGuigan the previous month.He was subsequently released without any charges, and Storey filed for unlawful arrest through his solicitor.
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- An Phoblacht, 18.12 2008. Pg. 8–9
- An Phoblacht, 18.12.08. Pg.8-9
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- "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 11 Jan 2005 (pt 16)". the-stationery-office.co.uk.
- "Bobby Storey arrested as part of McGuigan murder investigation". The Irish Times. 9 September 2015.
- House of Commons Hansard Debates for 11 January 2005 — House of Commons debate containing allegations against Storey
- The Trouble with Guns — journalist Malachi O'Doherty's account of a meeting with Storey in 1995