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28 May 2009 Edition

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The Mary Nelis Column

The bloody hands of the Butchers

THIRTY years after the trial of the unionist murder gang ‘The Shankill Butchers’, the man thought to be the mastermind behind the savage sectarian murders, has been found dead.
Serial killer Billy Moore died somewhat conveniently before he could be questioned by police from the Historical Enquiries Team about the sectarian murder of John Crawford, a 52-year-old man from Andersonstown. Some years  prior to the Butchers’ co-ordinated killing spree,  John Crawford was abducted and beaten before being shot dead.
Much has been written over the years about the cold-blooded, bestial slaughter of human beings, carried out with apparent ease, under the noses of the RUC and the British Intelligence services.
In hindsight, it is clear that they must have at least suspected that the killings were planned in the Long Bar in the Shankill Road, the UVF ‘local’.
Moore – who was aptly named ‘The Butcher’, both for his trade and by his capacity to cut up his victims in the manner of butchering animals – was a barman in the Long Bar. He also owned and drove a black taxi and used the same taxi time after time to hunt out his victims.
Over a period of 18 months, six Catholics had their throats cut, some from ear to ear. Another was bludgeoned to death with a hatchet.
They were gruesome sectarian murders of human beings.
The Butchers actually murdered at least 19 people (including seven Protestants whom they mistakenly believed to be Catholics).
Other murders involving ritual knife-cutting of the victim’s bodies had occurred in Belfast in the early 1970s. Thomas Madden was found dead, apparently strangled, but he had been stabbed approximately 150 times and all over his body little pieces of his flesh had been cut out.
In 1973, the knife murders of the SDLP Senator Paddy Wilson and his friend, Irene Andrews, shocked and terrified the already-shaken Catholic communities in Belfast. Wilson had been stabbed more than 30 times and his throat was cut from ear to ear. Andrews was stabbed 20 times in the head and chest.
After their deaths, the UFF claimed to The Sunday Telegraph that the ritual killing of Wilson and Andrews was “a godsend to get rid of vermin like that”.
But the most frightening and depraved attack by a unionist organisation whose motto is “For God and Ulster” was the knife, hatchet and hammer attack in 1977 of 52-year-old Joe Morrisey. Although he did not have a single grey hair on his head prior to his abduction, his corpse, when found, had hair as white as snow.
The context under which this ritual slaughter of Catholics was permitted and encouraged had its origins in the counter-insurgency strategy of  Brigadier Frank Kitson’s Low Intensity Operations and his theory of ‘gangs and counter gangs’.
The entire Catholic population of Belfast was gripped with hysterical fear, especially when it appeared that the UVF serial killers were given a free hand by the so-called ‘security forces’. Not only did the RUC and the British Army refuse to deal with the campaign of terror, they denied that it even existed, with the RUC claiming that the murders were “motiveless” and the work of a psychopath. It was only the survival of one of the victims, mutilated and left for dead, who forced the RUC to act, that led to the UVF killers being caught.
The Shankill Butchers were part of a co-ordinated campaign by unionist paramilitaries acting under the shadowy network of the Intelligence services to smash republicanism by terrorising the Catholic community.
The same strategy is now being deployed to try and wreck the Peace Process and destabilise the institutions.

An Phoblacht Magazine

AN PHOBLACHT MAGAZINE:

  • The first edition of this new magazine will feature a 10 page special on the life and legacy of our leader Martin McGuinness to mark the first anniversary of his untimely passing.
  • It will include a personal reminiscence by Gerry Adams and contributions from the McGuinness family.
  • There will also be an exclusive interview with our new Uachtarán Mary Lou McDonald.

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