John Graham (loyalist)

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John "Bunter" Graham (born c. 1945[1]) is a long-standing prominent Ulster loyalist figure.[2]

It is unknown when Graham joined the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) but he quickly rose high in its ranks as a member of the "Brigade Staff" (Belfast leadership) to allegedly become UVF Chief of Staff in 1976.[2] At some point in the late 1970s, he was admitted to the Mater Hospital for a short stay. Although he was watched by bodyguards, the Provisional IRA decided to assassinate him, in what they termed "Operation Bunter". However, this was prevented by the police, acting on information received from an informant.[3]

In 1983, Joseph Bennett, a UVF commander, became an informant for the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). As a result, fourteen prominent members of the UVF were imprisoned, including Graham.[2][4]

Graham was targeted for assassination by the Irish People's Liberation Organisation (IPLO) and on 10 October 1991 an IPLO unit entered the Diamond Jubilee bar on Graham's native Shankill Road and shot a patron dead. However the man they killed was Harry Ward, a 42-year-old Protestant Ulster Defence Association (UDA) member whom they mistook for Graham.[5][6] On 14 January 1993, Graham was hit by rifle shots, fired through the window of his home. The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) claimed responsibility.[7] The attack led to a number of other leading loyalists turning their homes into miniature fortresses for fear that they too would be targeted.[8]

Graham has been named on several occasions as the incumbent UVF Chief of Staff, and as such holding Brigadier-General rank: for example, by Pat Rabbitte, and by campaigner Raymond McCord.[9] Investigative journalist and author Martin Dillon uses the pseudonym "Mr F." to refer to a "military commander" in the UVF, who he states was "known as Bunter".[10]

Ed Moloney in his book Voices From the Grave: Two Men's War in Ireland stated that he has held the position of UVF Chief of Staff since 1976.[2] Raymond McCord claimed, in a statement to the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs, that Graham had acted as an "agent of the state".[9]

In 2000, amid a violent UDA-UVF feud, Graham was involved in talking to hardliners in the UVF and dissuading them from escalating the conflict.[11] Under Graham's influence the UVF members who were feuding with the UDA West Belfast Brigade agreed to a truce negotiated by the group's political representatives David Ervine of the UVF-linked Progressive Unionist Party and Gary McMichael of the UDA's political arm, the Ulster Democratic Party.[12]

In 2012, Graham went on a trip with other veteran loyalists and republicans to the Middle East to study the Arab-Israeli conflict and the lessons it might provide for Northern Ireland.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Life for 2 Protestant terrorists", Philadelphia Inquirer, 12 April 1983.
  2. ^ a b c d Moloney, Ed (2010). Voices From the Grave: Two Men's War in Ireland. Haber & Haber. pp.377-378
  3. ^ Hugh Jordan, Milestones in Murder
  4. ^ "Abstracts on Organisations - 'U'", CAIN.ulst.ac.uk; accessed 11 November 2015.
  5. ^ David Lister & Hugh Jordan, Mad Dog: The Rise and Fall of Johnny Adair and 'C' Company, Edinburgh: Mainstream Publishing, 2004, ISBN 1840188901, p. 103
  6. ^ Sutton Index of Deaths 1991
  7. ^ The Irish Emigrant Archived 2012-03-27 at the Wayback Machine., emigrant.ie, 18 January 1993.
  8. ^ Henry McDonald & Jim Cusack, UDA - Inside the Heart of Loyalist Terror, Penguin Ireland, 2004, p. 219
  9. ^ a b David Gordon, "McCord: British government colluded with terrorist organisations and should apologise", Belfast Telegraph, 17 December 2009.
  10. ^ Dillon, Martin (1989). The Shankill Butchers: the real story of cold-blooded mass murder. New York: Routledge. p. 133
  11. ^ Wood, Ian S. (2006). Crimes of Loyalty: A History of the UDA. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. p.257
  12. ^ McDonald & Cusack, UDA, p. 340
  13. ^ "Bunter Snubbed Parade to Go On Sunshine Junket", Sunday World, 27 May 2012