Donegall Arms shooting

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Donegall Arms' shooting
Part of the Troubles
Donegall Arms shooting is located in Northern Ireland
Donegall Arms shooting
Location Donegall Arms, Roden Street, Village, Belfast
Coordinates 54°35′07.8″N 5°55′22.7″W / 54.585500°N 5.922972°W / 54.585500; -5.922972Coordinates: 54°35′07.8″N 5°55′22.7″W / 54.585500°N 5.922972°W / 54.585500; -5.922972
Date 21 December 1991
18:30 (GMT)
Target Ulster Loyalists
Protestant civilians
Attack type
Mass shooting
Deaths 2 civilians
Non-fatal injuries
5 civilians
Perpetrator Irish People's Liberation Organisation

The Donegall Arms shooting took place on 21 December 1991, when gunmen from the small Irish Republican paramilitary group the Irish People's Liberation Organisation (IPLO) burst into the Donegall Arms public house and sprayed it with gunfire, killing two Protestant civilians and injuring several others in the bar. The attack happened at a time when Republican and Loyalist paramilitaries (like the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)) were engaged in a large number of tit-for-tat sectarian killings.


The IPLO was formed by former members of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) in 1986. Unlike other Republican groups, the IPLO was willing to engage in sectarian killings of Protestant civilians.[citation needed]

During the late 1980s/early 1990s, the Loyalist paramilitaries, in particular the UVF and the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), stepped up their sectarian campaign of attacks against Catholic civilians and known Republican activists. For example, in 1985, the UVF carried out just four attacks, but by 1990, this number had soared to around 20 per year, and continued to rise steadily.[1] The UDA was following a similar pattern to the UVF.[2][3] [4]

The shootings

On the night of 21 December, the IPLO Volunteers carried out their attack. The attackers knew the pub would be packed with customers on a Saturday night. Three IPLO Volunteers seemed to be involved in the attack, 2 gunmen and a getaway driver. According to witnesses two gunmen entered the bar, one with an automatic rifle and the other with a hand gun. The gunman with the rifle shot at anything that moved in the bar, while terrified patrons scrambled for cover. The gunfire lasted less than a minute, but it left two Protestant civilians dead: Thomas Gorman, 55, and Barry Watson, 25, who both died almost instantly. Three other people, also civilians, were injured in the shooting. The stolen car used in the attack was found at Devonshire Place in the Lower Falls area of west Belfast.[5] A few hours after the attack, the UDA shot dead a Catholic civilian less than 2 miles from the Donegall Arms.[6]

ITN News report of shooting Video

  • IPLO shot up Donegall Arms Pub.

See Also


  • Jack Holland, Henry McDonald, INLA – Deadly Divisions'
  • "IPLO - Donegal Arms pub shooting - 21 December 1991 - YouTube". Retrieved 12 November 2017. 


  1. ^ Aaron Edwards - UVF: Behind the Mask p.181
  2. ^ Sutton, Malcolm. "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". 
  3. ^ Sutton, Malcolm. "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". 
  4. ^ Aaron Edwards - UVF: Behind the Mask p.208-209
  5. ^ McKittrick, David (2001). Lost Lives: The Stories of the Men, Women and Children who Died as a Result of the Northern Ireland Troubles. Random House. 
  6. ^ Sutton, Malcolm. "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". 
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