month is the 25th anniversary of the deaths of four
leading republicans in 1980, sparking allegations
the British establishment set out to eliminate key
figures from the republican socialist movement and
the fledgling militant constitutional nationalist
organisation, the Irish Independence Party.
previous year, on 30 March, 1979, an INLA booby
trap bomb killed the Conservative spokesman on Northern
Ireland, former World War Two hero Airey Neave,
at the heart of British democracy in the
House of Commons car park.
had been the first British officer to escape from
the notorious Nazi prisoner of war camp at Colditz
castle in 1940 and later served indictments on leading
Nazi Hermann Goring and other war criminals at Nuremberg.
in the mid 1970s, he was one of the Tory Right-wingers
who masterminded Margaret Thatchers leadership
bid when she toppled former PM, the late Ted Heath
as Conservative boss.
he lived, Thatcher would have appointed Neave as
her Northern Secretary when she won the British
General Election a few months later in 1979.
his war experience and hardline Right-wing views,
Neave would not have adopted a softly, softly
approach to terrorism in the North, and would have
been particularly sore on the republican movement.
it has been suggested his tough policy on terrorism
could have seen the introduction of internment of
republican and loyalist suspects, and hot pursuit
by the British army and RUC across the Irish border
to trap IRA terrorists murdering Protestants and
the security forces along the border counties.
a former soldier, it was also believed he wanted
to unleash the elite British SAS killer units against
top IRA active service units, especially in south
Armagh, east Tyrone and south Derry. It has also
been suggested Neave was strongly in favour of a
shoot to kill official policy against
known IRA members on both sides of the Irish border.
pending no nonsense policy made Neave
a top target for republican extremists, but it was
the INLA not the Provos which masterminded
it is believed his death provoked the British establishment
into formulating a revenge policy against the republican
was similar to the alleged revenge strategy adopted
by Israel against the Palestinian organisation responsible
for the murder of nearly a dozen of its athletes
during the fateful 1972 Olympics massacre in Munich.
government-approved assassins reportedly traveled
the globe to eliminate those from the extremist
Black September Palestinian movement who had any
connection with the Munich slaughter.
18 months of Neaves murder, three leading
republican socialists had died violently
and all in mysterious circumstances.
first to be murdered was 52-year-old Miriam Daly,
a lecturer in political studies at Belfasts
Queens University who was a top member of
the Irish Republican Socialist Party, the INLAs
from her role in the IRSP, she was also viewed as
a key INLA strategist. A former member of Sinn Fein,
the mother of two was married to another leading
republican socialist, James Daly.
was also a key member of the National H Blocks/Armagh
Committee and was viewed as a formidable campaigner.
on 26 June 1980, her body was found with her hands
and feet bound. She had been killed by six fatal
9 mm shots to the head from a semi-automatic pistol.
Whilst her killing was never claimed, the nationalist
community blamed the UDA.
the clinical nature of her killing, another theory
was that she was the victim of an SAS undercover
squad. She is described on the INLA headstone in
Belfasts Milltown Cemetery as a volunteer.
SAS theory was fuelled on 15 October the same year
when two other leading republican socialists
Ronnie Bunting and Noel Lyttle were shot
dead at the formers Andersonstown home in
the heart of republican Belfast.
was the son of former leading Paisleyite, the late
Major Ronald Bunting. A Protestant by birth, Ronnie
junior became director of intelligence on the INLA
GHQ as well as adjutant of the Belfast Brigade.
A school teacher by profession, Bunting has been
viewed as the terrorist who planned the Neave assassination.
was a political strategist who had assumed the role
and responsibilities of Miriam Daly within the INLA
following her killing a few months earlier. Again,
whilst the UDA was blamed for the killings, the
hands of the SAS were again suspected.
wife, Susan, was severely wounded in the double
murder attack. Two weeks after her husbands
death, she said she had no doubt her husband and
Lyttle had been killed by the SAS a view
also supported at the time by Paddy Devlin, a former
SDLP chief whip and cabinet minister at Stormont.
fourth militant nationalist to die in questionable
circumstances was John Turnley, a Protestant and
former British army officer, who became a devout
republican. He was also a former SDLP member, but
had risen to fame within republican ranks as a member
of the National H Blocks Committee and founder of
the militant, but constitutional Irish Independence
he not been shot dead by the UDA on 4 June 1980,
Larne councillor Turnley could have developed his
IIP into the political position which Sinn Fein
now holds. He was hit nine times in the body, leg
and forearms in the east Antrim coastal village
March 1982, three UDA men from nearby Larne, including
two brothers, were sentenced to life imprisonment
One of the three claimed he had been working for
the SAS. A fourth UDA man pleaded guilty to manslaughter
and was sentenced to 12 years in jail, while another
man was given a four-year sentence for holding the
guns used in the killing.
years later, the INLA was to be torn apart in what
was to be a series of bloody internecine feuds.
The first was sparked in 1987, and saw the deaths
of 12 leading republican socialists including
three of the movements top strategists
Thomas Ta Power in January 1987; Mary
McGlinchey wife of former INLA Chief of Staff,
Dominic Mad Dog McGlinchey also
in January 1987, and top gunman Gerard Dr
has been some suggestion the republican socialist
feuds were started by elements of the British establishment
to wreck the movement once and for all.
February 1994, Dominic McGlinchey himself was shot
dead near his home in Drogheda. Three men got out
of a Northern-registered car and punched and kicked
him to the ground. He was then hit by 14 bullets,
receiving wounds to both legs, neck, left arm, and
chest before a final shot was fired at his head.
one of the most notorious republican gunmen, McGlinchey
was blamed for the Droppin Well pub bombing
in December 1982 in which 17 people died and the
attack on the Sunday evening service in November
1983 at Darkley Pentecostal Church in which three
church elders died.
mysterious republican socialist death occurred in
January 2002 when Donegal-born academic Mary Reid
was found dead on a beach at the Isle of Doagh.
She was a former IRSP member who was arrested in
Paris in 1982 on terror charges, but cleared on
was arrested with two others and the French army
alleged it found a death list, three
pistols and 500 grammes of explosives in the trios
suburban Paris apartment.
spite of protesting their innocence, the three were
tried and sentenced to five years in prison, but
they were released nine months later on appeal in
1983. French government agents subsequently admitted
they had planted the explosives.
inquest heard that Reid had drowned, but her family
has contested this verdict. She had been a former
editor of the IRSP journal, the Starry Plough. She
had once claimed she was under threat of assassination
from the British intelligence service, MI6.
leading republican socialist who was to meet his
death in France was Seamus Ruddy, who had been an
active member of both the IRSP and INLA. At one
time, he was the partys national organiser,
but was linked with gun running.
last known link with arms running was in late 1983
when the Gardai found documents on him relating
to an arms shipment from Australia. He later vanished,
but his body has never been found and it has been
presumed he was a victim of another supposed internal
the majority of the deaths detailed can be attributed
to either loyalist murder gangs or internal fighting,
the finger of suspicion has long been pointed at
the British establishment that the killing were
really a campaign of alleged revenge against the
republican socialist cause in retaliation for the
murder of one of the United Kingdoms greatest
war heroes Neave.