Gerard Steenson

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Gerard Steenson (c. 1957 – 14 March 1987) was an Irish republican paramilitary combatant in Northern Ireland.

Early life and career

A Catholic and son of Frank Steenson born in 1957, he was raised in heavily republican West Belfast. Nicknamed "Doctor Death" by the media[1][2] and by the Royal Ulster Constabulary for the multiple assassinations he purportedly accomplished according to The New York Times[3] However Fortnight alleges that he got his nickname after he dressed up in a white coat to attack British soldiers guarding a patient at the Royal Victoria Hospital.[4]

Steenson was widely associated with internecine violence between Irish republican groups. He joined the Official IRA's C Company in 1972 at the age of 14. Two years later, he left to join the INLA upon that paramilitary group's formation, consequent to their split from the Official IRA.

He became head of the INLA in Belfast.[5]

Steenson first came to notoriety in 1975 for killing Billy McMillen, the Official IRA's Belfast leader, during the feud between the INLA and the Official IRA when he was just 16 years of age.

Jim Cusack, a journalist describes him as the "assassin-in-chief" of Hugh Torney.[6]

In 1985 he was convicted of 67 terrorist offences (including six murders) after his former friend Harry Kirkpatrick testified against him.[7][8][9] Kirkpatrick and Steenson were rarely seen apart in public and were given the nicknames "Pinkie and Perky".[10]

While in prison Steenson bit the nose off fellow INLA prisoner Mickey Kearney according to Fortnight[11]

Creating the IPLO

In 1986, Steenson, Jimmy Brown and others formed the Irish People's Liberation Organisation (IPLO) with the express intention of wiping out the INLA and IRSP which they viewed as becoming "corrupt" and an obstacle to "the fight for socialism" and "Irish freedom". He argued in letters, written while he was in prison in the early 1980s, that the INLA had become militarily "inefficient" and "undisciplined", which had led, as he wrote, to its involvement in criminality and sectarian attacks.

He was involved in the Rosnaree Hotel shooting

Reputation

He was viewed highly in the movement with Brown calling him a "committed and highly efficient military activist and a dedicated revolutionary". However he was described by Lord Justice Cardwell as "a most dangerous and sinister terrorist. A ruthless and highly dedicated, resourceful and indefatigable planner of criminal exploits who did not hesitate to take a leading role in assassinations and other crimes". Henry McDonald and Jack Holland write "Both his friends and enemies spoke in a tone of awestruck at his paramilitary abilities".[12] Ken Wharton refers to him as a "notorious psychopath".[13] Sean O'Callaghan describes Steenson as someone who "never took to orders".[14]

Terry George wrote of him that he "was extremely clever and even wittier than Billy McMillan. He had an angelic face and women adored him. He was also ruthless, cunning and fearless.". [15] A member of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers deployed in West Belfast wrote "I can say without hesitation that he will remain the most evil person I have ever met. There was an aura around him that oozed pure evil, as if he was the son of Satan himself...I will never forget that evil bastard's face."[16]

Death

In 1987, Steenson and fellow IPLO volunteer Tony McCarthy were ambushed and killed, presumably by an INLA active unit, while travelling in a car along Springhill Avenue, in Ballymurphy, Belfast,[17] An INLA spokesperson said Steenson was killed for being "actively involved in continuous and concerted efforts to undermine the authority of the ... movement.'[18] Jimmy Brown gave the graveside oration. [19]

Two revenge killings of INLA members followed before the end of the feud.[20]

In 1992, the Provisional IRA, through a series of assassinations and other actions, forced the disbandment of the IPLO.[citation needed]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Terrorists recruit teenage soldiers", The Observer, 24 October 1999.
  2. ^ "Army of mavericks lays down its arms" by David McKittrick, The Independent, 12 October 2009
  3. ^ "A dozen die as Ulster's rebels feud", New York Times, 29 March 1987; accessed 4 May 2014.
  4. ^ Clarke, Liam (1987). "INLA: Back from the Political Grave?". Fortnight (251): 8–9. JSTOR 25551178.
  5. ^ Owen, Arwel Ellis (1994-11-30). The Anglo-Irish Agreement: The first three years. ISBN 9780708312742.
  6. ^ https://www.pressreader.com/ireland/sunday-independent-ireland/20070812/282226596330621
  7. ^ "Diary of Events". Fortnight (232): 18. 1986. JSTOR 25550716.
  8. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/1987/03/29/world/a-dozen-die-as-ulster-s-rebels-feud.html
  9. ^ https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/army-of-mavericks-lays-down-its-arms-1801337.html%3famp
  10. ^ Wharton, Ken (2013-07-19). Wasted Years, Wasted Lives Volume 1: The British Army in Northern Ireland 1975-77. ISBN 9781909384552.
  11. ^ Clarke, Liam (1987). "INLA: Back from the Political Grave?". Fortnight (251): 8–9. JSTOR 25551178.
  12. ^ McDonald, Henry; Holland, Jack (2016-06-29). I.N.L.A - Deadly Divisions.
  13. ^ Wharton, Ken (2016-10-19). Another Bloody Chapter in an Endless Civil War. Volume 1: Northern Ireland and the Troubles, 1984-87. ISBN 9781912174270.
  14. ^ Morrison, John F (2013-12-19). The Origins and Rise of Dissident Irish Republicanism: The Role and Impact of Organizational Splits. ISBN 9781623566777.
  15. ^ http://irishamerica.com/2005/10/our-legacy-of-loss/
  16. ^ Cite error: The named reference v was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  17. ^ Paramilitary Feuds in Northern Ireland - List of people killed, CAIN project, University of Ulster
  18. ^ https://www.upi.com/Archives/1987/03/15/Dr-Death-of-IRA-splinter-group-is-slain/6195542782800/
  19. ^ https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/an-irishman-s-diary-1.1170854
  20. ^ McDonald, Henry & Jack Holland. INLA - Deadly Divisions, Torc (1994); ISBN 189814205X, ISBN 978-1898142058
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