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  • Writer's pictureFriends of Sinn Féin USA

Guns Supplied By British Agents Used in Mass Shooting 30 years Ago Today.

Shortly after 2.20pm two masked and heavily armed men entered Sean Graham's bookmakers on the Ormeau Road, South Belfast, and opened fire. In the crowded shop the loyalist gunmen fired over 50 shots, killing five and wounding nine other people, one critically and five seriously.

The youngest to die was a 15-year-old schoolboy, James Kennedy, the eldest a 67-year-old father of three, Jack Duffin, together with Christy Doherty (52), William McManus (54) and 18-year-old Peter Magee. As anticipated by the gunmen, all the victims were Catholic.

One of the injured described his ordeal. "At first I thought it was a hold-up but then someone yelled, "Hit the deck." I tried to, but I got hit in the leg on my way down. I just lay there and prayed the shooting would stop."

And when the shooting did stop, "there wasn't a sound for a few seconds, everyone was so stunned but then the screaming started. People were yelling in agony and others were crying. You could hardly see anything. The room was filled with gun smoke and the smell would have choked you."

Of the two weapons used in the attack, an assault rifle had been in part of a shipment imported by a British Agent with the knowledge and support of British Intelligence.

The second weapon a Browning Pistol was allegedly ‘stolen’ from Malone UDR Barracks Belfast on January 31st, 1989 by a British agent in the killer gang Ken Barrett and passed onto another agent, William Stobie. Stobie then gave his handlers the gun. They took charge of this weapon for a period before handing it back to the killer gang.

Immediately after the attack, a cover-up operation was put in place. Despite forensic, eye witness, and intelligence reports no one was ever convicted in the case.

The families and those injured were recently awarded damages for the role the state played in arming the killers.

Thirty years on and the families bereaved and those injured await truth and justice.

Early next week it is expected that the Police Ombudsman will issue a report into these and other killings in the area which involved collusion between the state and the killers.

This week Sinn Féin President, Mary Lou McDonald met with the victims group Relatives for Justice to discuss this and other collusion cases. Mark Skyes a survivor of the attack gave an account of the case and their hopes to achieve truth and justice.

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