Brian Robinson (loyalist)

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Brian Robinson mural on Disraeli Street, February 2012

Brian Robinson (c. 1962 - 2 September 1989) was a loyalist from Belfast, Northern Ireland and member of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) who was witnessed murdering a Catholic civilian. His death as a result of an undercover British Army unit is unique as it is one of the only deaths from the alleged shoot-to-kill policy in Northern Ireland which involved a loyalist victim.[1]


Robinson was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland to Rab and Margaret Robinson, and brought up a Protestant on Disraeli Street in the staunchly loyalist Woodvale district of the Shankill Road. It is not known when he became a member of the local Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). He held the rank of volunteer in its "B Company", 1st Battalion Belfast Brigade.[2] By the time of his death he had moved to Forthriver Crescent in the Glencairn estate, an area immediately northwest of Woodvale.[3]


Robinson and a fellow UVF member Davy McCullough were travelling on a motorbike where Robinson was the passenger and gunman on 2 September 1989 in Belfast's Crumlin Road close to the nationalist area of Ardoyne. Upon seeing Paddy McKenna, a Catholic man who was walking along the street, Robinson opened fire hitting McKenna a total of 11 times, killing him. After exiting the murder scene, unknown to the two UVF members, an undercover British Army unit was in the area. Giving chase in a car, the Army collided with the motorbike forcing both men off on to the road. Robinson was then shot twice in the back of the head by a female Army operative.[4] He was 27.[5] Upon hearing the news of her son's death, Robinson's mother, Margaret suffered a fatal heart attack.[citation needed] The two were buried on the same day.

The UVF leadership in west Belfast would later claim that the intelligence leading to Robinson's death had been provided by one of their own men, Colin "Crazy" Craig, whom they alleged had been a police informer for several years. Craig was killed by the Irish National Liberation Army in 1994 along with fellow UVF members Trevor King and David Hamilton with a UVF commander being quoted as mourning King and Hamilton but adding that Craig was in line to be shot by the UVF anyway.[6]


Robinson's funeral was well attended as it left his home in Forthriver Crescent. Despite his membership of the UVF there were no paramilitary displays at the funeral. The coffin was covered in the Union Jack instead of any UVF standard. Robinson was a member of the Orange Order and several members of his lodge wearing their sashes flanked the coffin. The cortege then met up with Margaret Robinson's funeral as it left her home in Crimea Street. A lorry carrying floral tributes lead the cortege. Both mother and son were buried in Roselawn Cemetery.[3]A death notice appeared from his Old Boyne Island Heroes lodge in local press which attracted controversy and a letter of complaint to the Belfast Telegraph.[7]

Controversy surrounding commemorative parades[edit]

Robinson's death is commemorated annually in a band parade attended by loyalist bands in the Belfast area. One band Star of the Shankill have "In Memory of Brian Robinson" written on their crest and emblazoned upon their bass drum.[4] The band also attracted controversy when it appeared at a parade organised by the Apprentice Boys. The parade passed near the area where Robinson's victim was murdered.[8][9] In 2010 Rab Robinson, the brother of Brian, issued an appeal to the parades organisers to postpone the parade that year due to the death of his younger brother earlier that year.[10]

Robinson is commemorated in a mural on Disraeli Street off the Woodvale Road in Belfast.[2] In 2015 his son Robert removed a SAS flag which had been erected by the loyalists at the Twaddell Avenue protest camp.The Shankill UVF were said to be reviewing their policy of flying the flag.[11]