Orange Cross Social Club shooting

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Orange Cross Club shooting
Part of the Troubles
Orange Cross Social Club shooting is located in Northern Ireland
Orange Cross Social Club shooting
Location Craven Street, Shankill Road, Belfast
Date 16 February 1989
13:20 (GMT)
Target Ulster loyalist paramilitaries and civilians
Attack type
Mass shooting
Deaths 1 Red Hand Commando [1]
Non-fatal injuries
1 UDR soldier, 4 civilians
Perpetrator Irish People's Liberation Organisation

On 16 February 1989, three Irish People's Liberation Organisation (IPLO) volunteers walked into the Orange Cross social club on the Shankill Road, Belfast. They ordered the patrons into one room and then shot at them, killing one.


The IPLO began as a breakaway faction from the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), who they feuded with for much of 1986-87. The IPLO was a small but very violent Irish republican paramilitary organisation which was formed in 1986 by disaffected and expelled members of the INLA, whose factions coalesced in the aftermath of the supergrass trials. It developed a reputation for intra-republican and sectarian violence, and criminality.

The shooting

At around 13:15, somebody pressed the security buzzer on the Orange Cross Social Club's door to seek admission to the Club and a female employee at the club went to open the door. As the door opened, three gunmen from the IPLO entered and ordered the men in the room to stand at the bar. The lead gunman was carrying an UZI sub-machine gun, the second a Scorpion machine pistol & the third a 9mm pistol, they were wearing white boiler suits.[2] They pretended it was a robbery at first to better ensure compliance, then one of the IPLO gunmen started firing indiscriminately at the customers with the Uzi sub-machine gun. Stephen McCrea, a Red Hand Commando member, was fatally wounded. The IPLO claimed McCrea was an informer working for the British security forces.[3] One of his work-mates described the scene.

"I stood in line whenever the first shot was fired and all of a sudden Stevie McCrea dived in front of me. The shots rang out and we all hit the floor. By this time the gunmen had run out of the room and we all stood up again. That is, except for two other men and Stevie McCrea. He had saved my life alright but lost his own in doing so’.[4]

But according to Jack Holland and Henry McDonald's book I.N.L.A - Deadly Divisions the IPLO missed an extraordinary chance to wipe out the whole Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) Belfast leadership (or most of it) which would have made the IPLO heroes with hardline Republicans and would have given them a respectable standing in the Nationalist community who turned a blind eye to Republican operations. While the shooting was going on downstairs in the bar The UVF Brigade Staff was holding a meeting upstairs when the IPLO unit burst in.[5]


The IPLO quickly claimed responsibility for the attack. The security forces had been fearing a republican backlash for the number of Catholic civilians killed in the previous weeks. The IPLO claimed it was a retaliation attack for two Catholic civilians and a Sinn Féin councillor killed during the same week.[6][7][citation needed]

External links

  • ITN news report of the Orange Cross Social Club shooting.

See Also


  • Jack Holland, Henry McDonald, INLA – Deadly Divisions'
  • CAIN project


  1. ^ "CAIN: Victims: Memorials: Search Results Page". 
  2. ^ Aaron Edwards - UVF: Behind The Mask p.189
  3. ^
  4. ^ "New Stevie McCrea-John Hanna-Sammy Mehaffy Mural". 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
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