Two Deadly Days In February 1992
Sinn Fein Office on Sevastapol Street on the Falls Road, a plaque above the window honors the dead
On February 4th, 1992 three people were killed by an RUC Police Officer in the main Sinn Féin offices, Falls Road in Belfast. The following day five more nationalists were killed by Unionist Paramilitaries in an attack on a Bookmakers shop in South Belfast.
Here is an account from Gerry Adams on the attack on the Sinn Féin Office.
By Gerry Adams
“It was also a typically cold though dry day. Martin McGuinness and I left the Sinn Féin office at Sevastopol Street, just off the Falls Road, around 12.30 pm. This was a dangerous time. Sinn Féin offices were being regularly targeted for raids by the British Army and RUC (Police).
Following a South African arms shipment a few years earlier, facilitated by British intelligence, the UDA, UVF, and Ulster Resistance (Pro-British Unionist Pararmilitaries) were now well-armed with high-powered assault rifles, Rocket Propelled Grenades, hand grenades, and pistols.
The impact of this weapons shipment, which the British knew about from their senior agent Brian Nelson in the UDA, and from other agents in the north, as well as in South Africa, was significant.In the three years before receiving this weapons shipment, the loyalist death squads had killed 34 people. In the three years after the shipment, they killed 224 and wounded countless scores more. There was also a dramatic rise in the number of Sinn Féin activists and family members killed.
So, bringing senior activists together in a Sinn Fein office was rarely done. Locations for meetings were constantly changed. On that day we were meeting in Conway Mill.
Shortly after 1.00 pm Richard McAuley, who was due to attend the meeting and was typically late, left Sevastopol Street with Fra Fox.
Families of the victims honor their loved ones
The two of them walked down to the Mill. Just as they arrived word came through that the office had been hit. Richard immediately ran back up to Sevastopol Street. When he arrived the paramedics were navigating a stretcher, on which lay Pat McBride, out of the reception office and through the narrow front door. Pat died a short time later.
Richard went into the side reception room. On the floor lay Paddy Loughran. He had been shot in the head. On the floor opposite was Pat Wilson. He was sitting with his back to a bench. Pat was clearly very badly hurt but his eyes were open and he was looking at Richard. Michael O’Dwyer, who Richard didn’t know, was sitting on the bench behind the door. Richard went to him but it was obvious that he too was dead. Nora Larkin who had also been injured and had been in the advice centre was already on her way to the hospital.
Richard went over to Pat and knelt beside him. Louise from the POW office was also there. The two spoke quietly to Pat as they waited for the paramedics to arrive to lift him out. After they did Richard and Louise went upstairs. Michael O’Dwyer’s two year old son had been in his father’s arms when he was shot and was being looked after by some of the staff. For the O’Dwyer family this was the second tragedy to shatter their lives. Michael’s mother Sadie had been killed in a UVF bomb attack in North Belfast in 1976.
At that point we all assumed that it was an attack by either the UDA or UVF. As it turned out it was an RUC officer called Allan Moore, who then drove to the shores of Lough Neagh and shot himself. As he left the building Moore was grabbed by Marguerite Gallagher, a stalwart of the Green Cross Art Shop next door. Holding Moore, Marguerite was dragged by him round to his car which was parked on Sevastopol Street. He told her to ‘fuck off’ as he pushed her away and drove off.
I arrived up from Conway Mill to a scrum taking place outside the door of the office. The RUC wanted to close the building and the activists inside were refusing. They weren’t going to be intimidated by anyone. Later when some of those in the building got back into the reception room to clean it they discovered shotgun cartridges and the bag in which Moore had carried his shotgun.
The RUC’s forensic examination of the scene clearly wasn’t serious.
Sean Graham's Bookie Shop on the Ormeau
The attack on Sevastopol Street was not the first on that building or other Sinn Féin offices. In all 20 members of Sinn Féin, as well as family members – wives, sons, brothers were killed in this period, mostly by unionist paramilitaries in collusion with British state forces”
Within 24 hours of the Sevastopol Street attack, two UDA members entered Sean Graham’s bookmakers shop on the Ormeau Road in South Belfast. They opened fire killing 5 customers and wounding 9 other people. 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."
Gerry Adams is the Former President of Sinn Féin