Mountainview Tavern attack

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Mountainview Tavern attack
Part of The Troubles
LocationMountainview Tavern
Shankill Road,
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Coordinates54°36′14″N 5°56′53″W / 54.604008°N 5.948119°W / 54.604008; -5.948119Coordinates: 54°36′14″N 5°56′53″W / 54.604008°N 5.948119°W / 54.604008; -5.948119
Date5 April 1975
18:00 GMT
Attack type
Shooting, bombing
WeaponsHand guns
Time bomb
Deaths5 (4 Protestant civilians, 1 UDA member)
PerpetratorClaimed by Republican Action Force

On 5 April 1975 Irish republican paramilitary members killed a UDA volunteer and four Protestant civilians in a gun and bomb attack at the Mountainview Tavern on the Shankill Road - the heart of loyalist Belfast. The attack was claimed by the Republican Action Force believed to be a covername used by Provisional IRA (IRA) volunteers. Earlier in the day, two Catholic civilians were killed in a bomb attack in a Belfast pub carried out by the Protestant Action Force a name used by the Ulster Volunteer Force to claim some attacks. An elderly Catholic man was shot later the same night by loyalists bringing the death toll to eight for the day.[1]

Background and events leading up to the attack[edit]

By 1975, the religious-political conflict in Northern Ireland known as the Troubles was more than six years old. On 10 February 1975, the Provisional IRA and British government entered into a truce and restarted negotiations. The IRA agreed to halt attacks on the British security forces, and the security forces mostly ended its raids and searches.[2] However, there were dissenters on both sides. Some Provisionals wanted no part of the truce, while British commanders resented being told to stop their operations against the IRA just when—they claimed—they had the Provisionals on the run.[2] The security forces boosted their intelligence offensive during the truce and thoroughly infiltrated the IRA.[2]

There was a rise in sectarian killings during the truce, which 'officially' lasted until early 1976. Ulster loyalists, fearing they were about to be forsaken by the British government and forced into a united Ireland,[3] increased their attacks on the Irish Catholic and nationalist community. They hoped to force the IRA to retaliate and thus hasten an end to the truce.[4] Under orders not to engage the security forces, some IRA units concentrated on tackling the loyalists. The fall-off of regular operations had caused serious problems of internal discipline and some IRA members, with or without permission from higher up the command chain, engaged in tit-for-tat killings.[2]

Early in 1975 around the time of the IRA ceasefire starting, loyalist paramilitaries, specifically the UVF and the UFF of the UDA began stepping up their campaign of sectarian killings.[5] On 9 February 1975 two Catholic civilian teenagers were killed by loyalists as they left St. Brigids Roman Catholic Church in Belfast.[6] On 10 February Loyalists shot dead three more Catholic civilians, two in a pub were killed by the UVF and one who was doing his job as a road sweeper was shot by an unnamed loyalist group.[7] On 13 March the UVF carried out a gun and bomb attack on Conway's Bar, Greencastle, Belfast, in which two more people died. One of those killed was a Catholic civilian, and the other was a member of the UVF who died when the bomb he was planting in the pub exploded prematurely. That same day the UDA also shot dead a Catholic civilian.[8]

The attack[edit]

The attack was carried out by a three-man active service unit. At around 6.00pm two members of the unit opened fire in the bar with handguns before the third member of the unit ran in with the bomb, placed it where it would do most damage near the doorway, lit the fuse and then the unit ran out of the pub and drove away.[9] The force of the explosion was massive and brought the roof crashing in on the customers. The bar was packed with people waiting to watch the Grand National horse race when the attack happened. The bar was known to be popular with Volunteers of the UVF.[citation needed] The getaway car used in the attack was found abandoned in the Springfield Road area:[citation needed] a stronghold for the IRA. The five dead people were almost killed instantly and some of those injured had lost limbs. It took rescue services hours to free people from the rubble.[citation needed]

The Mountainview Tavern attack was similar to the Bayardo Bar attack carried out by the IRA's Belfast Brigade, in that attack 5 people were also killed including one loyalist paramilitary from the UVF and 4 Protestant civilians and close to 60 injured as well. Because both attacks were so similar most people believe the IRA was responsible for the Mountainview attack.[10] However, unlike the Mountainview attack, the IRA was caught at the Bayardo attack and Brendan "Bik" McFarlane was sentenced to life imprisonment for leading the attack.[citation needed]


Throughout 1975 sectarian attacks grew worse. With the IRA in talks with the British government they stopped attacks on the British Army and RUC whereas the UVF and UDA stepped up their killings of the Nationalist community. So the IRA concentrated on tackling the Loyalist paramilitaries and loyalist politicians, a feud between the Provisional IRA and Official IRA started the same year causing several deaths throughout Ireland.

On 12 April the UVF killed 6 Catholic civilians in a gun and bomb attack at a bar in Anderson Street, Short Strand, Belfast, it was similar to the attack carried out at Mountainview Tavern. Two of those killed in the Anderson town attack were two women in their mid 60s and another woman in her late 50s.[11]

Nine days later on 21 April the PAF claimed responsibility for killing 3 Catholic civilians when they bobby-trapped a car owned by one.[12]

Less than one week later on 27 April the PAF shot dead 3 more Catholic civilians in a social club.[13]

On 23 May the PAF claimed responsibility for shooting dead two brothers after they were lured to a house in Mount Vernon, Belfast.[14]

On 3 June two Protestant civilians and a UDR soldier were shot dead by the IRA in Killen, Armagh.[15] One week later the IRA shot dead a UVF member at his greengrocer's shop, Crumlin Road, near Ligoniel Road, Belfast.[16]

On 22 June two Protestant civilians were shot dead by the IRA in an attack at Westland Road, Belfast.[citation needed] Later on the same night the UVF stabbed a 48-year-old Catholic man to death.[17]

On 31 July the Ulster Volunteer Force carried out a gun and bomb attack on the members of the Miami Showband. Three members of the band were killed and one seriously injured during the attack. This attack shocked and outraged most people in Ireland.[18][19]

Two weeks after the Miami Showband attack on 13 August the IRA killed 5 people and injured 50+ in a gun and bomb attack on a Belfast bar.[20] see also - Bayardo Bar attack

The sectarian tit-for-tat killings culminated at the start of 1976 with two brutal sets of killings. On 4 January 1976 six Catholic civilians from two different families died as a result of two separate gun attacks by the UVF, 3 members of the O'Reavey family killed were all brothers and from the O'Dowd family of the three, two brothers and their father were killed.[21][22] see also - Reavey-O'Dowd killings

The next day on 5 January, in the Kingsmill massacre about 20 members from the Provisional IRA (and possibly the INLA using the cover-name South Armagh Republican Action Force shot 11 Protestant civilians returning home from their work, they were lined up against the van they were travelling in and then machine gunned to death, out of the 11 shot, one person managed to survive despite being shot over a dozen times.[23][22]

In 1973, 119 civilians were killed, in 1974, 192 were killed, 1975 had a small decrease as 174 civilians died that year but it jumped to 207 in 1976, making it the second worst year of the conflict behind 1972 for civilian deaths.[24][16][25][26][27]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". 5 April 1975. Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d Extracts from The Longest War: Northern Ireland and the IRA by Kevin J. Kelley. Zed Books Ltd, 1988. Conflict Archive on the Internet (CAIN)
  3. ^ Taylor, Peter (1999). Loyalists. London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. p.142
  4. ^ Taylor, Peter. Brits: The War Against the IRA. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2001. p.182
  5. ^ "CAIN: Chronology of the Conflict 1975". Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  6. ^ "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". 9 February 1975. Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  7. ^ "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". 10 February 1975. Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  8. ^ "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  9. ^ "Man arrested over 1975 Shankill bar bombing - BBC News". 1 March 2012. Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  10. ^ "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  11. ^ "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  12. ^ "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". 21 April 1975. Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  13. ^ "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". 27 April 1975. Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  14. ^ "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". 23 May 1975. Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  15. ^ "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". 3 June 1975. Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  16. ^ a b "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  17. ^ "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". 22 June 1975. Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  18. ^ "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". 31 July 1975. Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  19. ^ "Miami Showband massacre: HET raises collusion concerns - BBC News". Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  20. ^ "CAIN: Chronology of the Conflict 1975". Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  21. ^ "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  22. ^ a b "CAIN: Chronology of the Conflict 1976". Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  23. ^ "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". 5 January 1976. Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  24. ^ Deaths in each year of the Troubles, Northern Ireland, 1969-1998
  25. ^ CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths
  26. ^ CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths
  27. ^ CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths