Provisional IRA Derry Brigade

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Derry Brigade
Active December 1969–July 1997
Allegiance Provisional Irish Republican Army
Area of operations Derry, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Martin McGuinness

The Derry Brigade of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) operated in Derry, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, during the Troubles. It was one of the IRA's most active brigades, and an estimated 2% of the city's 50,000 Catholic population was imprisoned for IRA activities between 1971-86.[citation needed] 17% of all British military fatalities in the conflict were caused by the brigade.[citation needed] Its killings of civilians was possibly proportionately the lowest of all IRA brigades in Northern Ireland.[1]

History

A small IRA battalion existed in Derry since the Troubles began, but it never had a steady amount of volunteers until Bloody Sunday, which saw an influx of new recruits. The South Derry Battalion became the Derry Brigade (sometimes referred to as the South Derry Brigade) while also absorbing battalions based in northeastern County Donegal and northern County Londonderry.

Notable events

Notable events involving the Derry Brigade include:

  • 26 June 1970: three members and two young girls (the daughters of one of the volunteers) were killed when an IRA bomb prematurely exploded in a house in Creggan, Derry.[2]
  • 18 December 1975: two British soldiers, Cyril McDonald (aged 43) and Colin McInnes (aged 20), were killed in a bomb attack, Bank Place, near Guildhall Square, Derry. It was later established that the soldiers had been lured out of their sangar by children who offered them sweets. While the soldiers were distracted IRA volunteers lowered a bomb onto the roof of their sangar which exploded a few minutes later.
  • 1 April 1982: two undercover British soldiers (Michael Burbridge and Michael Ward) were killed in an IRA sniper ambush shortly after leaving Rosemount British Army/Royal Ulster Constabulary base, Derry, traveling in a civilian-type British Army van.[3]
  • 28 August 1986: Mervyn Bell, a civilian contractor to the British Army, was shot dead by the IRA while sitting in stationary car outside his father's workplace, council depot, Strand Road, Derry. The IRA rejected claims that the killing was sectarian, stating: "The man's religion is of no interest to us. Despite previous warnings he continued to work for the UDR, and that was the reason he was targeted." [4]
  • 8 March 1989: two British soldiers were killed and six others badly wounded when their vehicle struck a massive IRA landmine on the Buncrana Road in Derry. The second vehicle in the patrol was completely destroyed.[5]
  • 28 January 1990: a civilian (Charles Love) was killed when he was hit by debris when an IRA bomb exploded on Derry's walls during a march to commemorate Bloody Sunday. The security forces described his death as a "freak accident" as he was a quarter of a mile from the bomb, which was targeting security forces. Love was a member of Republican Youth. He is commemorated at a Sinn Féin-organised march in his home town of Strabane each year.[6]
  • 24 October 1990: in a proxy bomb attack, the IRA forced a British Army civilian employee (Patrick Gillespie), by holding his family hostage, to deliver a bomb to a British Army checkpoint at Buncrana Road, Coshquin, County Londonderry (on the County Donegal border). The bomb detonated, killing Gillespie and six British soldiers. As the bomb exploded an IRA unit opened fire from across the border. Over 25 houses in a nearby estate were damaged by the bomb.[7] (See also 1990 proxy bombs)
  • 29 June 1991: High ranking Ulster Defence Association commander Cecil McKnight was shot dead by the brigade in the Waterside area of Derry City. The IRA claimed he had been involved in the assassination of Sinn Féin councillor Eddie Fullerton. The IRA unit were pursued by the RUC after the shooting but escaped after they opened fire on an RUC patrol car.[8]
  • 17 September 1991: a horizontal mortar attack on a British Army/RUC mobile patrol occurred in Swatragh, County Londonderry. RUC Constable and former soldier Erik Clarke was killed by the explosion. Three British soldiers were wounded.[9][10]
  • 6 November 1991: another horizontal mortar attack, this time on a UDR mobile patrol at Bellaghy, County Londonderry, killed Private Michael Boxall. A fellow serviceman lost one eye in the incident.[11]
  • 23 January 1993: an RUC officer was shot and killed while on a foot patrol at Shipquat Sreet, Derry.[12]
  • 20 April 1994: an RUC officer was killed when the IRA fired a horizontal mortar at a British Army/RUC patrol in the Waterside area of Derry City. Several other RUC officers were injured.[13][14]

References

  1. ^ "A Secret History of the IRA". 
  2. ^ http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/cgi-bin/dyndeaths.pl?querytype=date&day=26&month=06&year=1970
  3. ^ http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/cgi-bin/dyndeaths.pl?querytype=date&day=1&month=04&year=1982
  4. ^ http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/cgi-bin/dyndeaths.pl?querytype=date&day=28&month=08&year=1986
  5. ^ http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/cgi-bin/dyndeaths.pl?querytype=date&day=8&month=03&year=1989
  6. ^ http://www.derrysinnfein.ie/news/15660
  7. ^ http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/cgi-bin/dyndeaths.pl?querytype=date&day=24&month=10&year=1990
  8. ^ http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/cgi-bin/dyndeaths.pl?querytype=date&day=29&month=06&year=1991
  9. ^ "Eric CLARKE". MilitaryImages.Net. Retrieved 2017-08-12. 
  10. ^ "IRA launches mortar attack on security patrol". UPI. Retrieved 2017-08-12. 
  11. ^ Potter, John (2008). Testimony to Courage: The History of the Ulster Defence Regiment 1969-1992. Pen and Sword. p. 351. ISBN 0850528194. 
  12. ^ Sutton, Malcolm. "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". cain.ulst.ac.uk. Retrieved 2017-08-12. 
  13. ^ "A Draft Chronology of the Conflict - 1994". CAIN. 
  14. ^ McKittrick, p. 1351
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