26 June 2003 Edition

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Belfast Volunteers honoured

A large crowd of republicans from across Belfast gathered at the Republican Plot in Milltown Cemetery on Saturday 21 June to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the deaths of IRA Volunteers Dinny Brown, Jackie Mailey and Jim Mulvenna.

The trio were shot dead by an SAS under cover unit while on active service on 21 June 1978.

Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly, a cousin of Jim Mulvenna, gave the main oration at the graveside of the three men, who were Volunteers in the IRA's 3rd Battalion of the Belfast Brigade. Kelly described their killing as "the first shoot to kill operation carried out by the crown forces against unarmed IRA Volunteers".

On that night, a unit from the IRA's 3rd Battalion, consisting of four volunteers, was ambushed by an undercover unit of the SAS as they attempted to blow up a Post Office depot in the heart of the loyalist Ballysillan area of North Belfast.

All four Volunteers were unarmed, yet despite having information about the operation the British forces, who had the building staked out, decided to wipe out the unit rather than take the men prisoner.

The British opened fire without warning, killing three of the Volunteers, Dinny Brown, Jim Mulvenna and Jackie Mailey. The fourth Volunteer escaped but the British soldiers, who knew that the unit was four-strong, fired on a local man, a Protestant called William Hanna, killing him outright.

An Phoblacht
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