Saturday, 15 February 2014

The Wallet & Lenny Murphy (Shankill Butcher)

I was in two-mind whether to publish the following to my blog, as I did not want to cause any distress to the families of the victims of Shankill Butcher, Lenny Murphy. The only reason I have printed it, is in the interests of recent history and for the readers to make their own conclusions...

As everyone is aware, my late Dad spent over 18 years behind bars in a variety of prison sentences related to his Republican activities from the Sixties right through until the beginning of 1994. He endured many arrests, brutal interrogations, Internment and lengthy sentences. He spent the majority of these years imprisoned at Long Kesh in both the Cages (Compounds) and the Blocks (Maze). Although, he also spent periods in Mountjoy Gaol in Dublin and Crumlin Road in Belfast.

Dad successfully escaped from the 'Crum' in December, 1971 with two Comrades and spent the next eight months 'On The Run'. Operating for the Provisional IRA along the British-Imposed Border between Counties Louth and Armagh, Derry City and in his native Belfast. He was recaptured in Ardoyne in August, 1972 after British Troops conducted a massive search operation. In spite of, successfully defending himself in Court against the original charges, he was rearrested and was the first person convicted of PIRA Membership. He found himself sentenced to three years imprisonment and was immediately transferred to Long Kesh.

Dad and his imprisoned comrades in Long Kesh (including Belfast Hunger-Striker, Kieran Doherty)


At the time, the Cages resembled a POW Camp complete with dozens of Nissan Huts housing prisoners, countless Watchtowers, endless miles of barbed-wire secured by around 1,000 heavily-armed foreign troops. Hundreds of Irishmen were held against their will either through Internment or prison sentences. Not for the first or last time, Martin Meehan was housed there by the British Penal System in a bid to break his spirit. The attempt failed and Dad became more determined to end the centuries of imperialist occupation in Ireland. 
Ceis Fada/Long Kesh (Cages)
 
It was during his time in the Cages, on his daily walk around the exercise-yard that a Loyalist Prisoner by the name of Lenny always wanted to engage in conversation with him. said hello to him. He was baffled by this,as the UVF man was not a senior figure and one that PIRA Staff Officers met from time to time in the Camp. Anyway, both POWs' exchanged pleasantries over the long months of their shared incarceration. My father soon became aware that the UVF prisoner was from the Shankill area and had a confidence about him. Most of the brief conversations through the wire fencing was about the various Belfast Soccer Teams and the odd piece of banter about the IRA & UVF.

On one occasion, Lenny called my Dad over to the fence and handed him a leather wallet he had made in the Cages. As he passed it over the UVF prisoner commented; 'From one soldier to another'. He was somewhat bemused at the gesture, as he had no love for the UVF as Irish Republicans have long considered Loyalist Groups as unofficial Death Squads, given a free hand to ply their sick hatred by the British Government and her Armed Forces. There is ample evidence that the RUC, British Army and Career Criminals have colluded with Loyalist Paramilitaries in hundreds of sectarian killings. My father kept the wallet as a memento of his imprisonment not realising that Lenny went onto become notorious as one of the most brutal murderers of what is commonly referred to as, 'The Troubles'. The wallet has been in my possession for years, as my Dad gave it to me to look after, photographed below,

 
 
Images of the Wallet
Soon after his release from the Kesh, Lenny assumed command of the West Belfast Brigade of the UVF. His Leadership included some of the most brutal killings of the recent Conflict, known as the Shankill Butcher's. Where innocent Nationalists were badly-beaten, kidnapped, tortured and killed throughout North and West Belfast between 1975 and 1979. The sectarian murder-spree left seventeen Catholics dead with many more severly injured including some from Ardoyne. All of who had their throats cut with butchers tools. The killings terrified Belfast citizens at the time including most of his own community, as the UVF Gang also killed over nine Protestants in personal disputes.

Shankill Butcher, Lenny Murphy

Murphy was recaptured in early 1977 after attempting to kill a Catholic woman for which he was given 12 years behind bars. During visits with his friends, he ordered them to continue the cut-throat killings, partly to distract attention away from himself but also to keep sectarian hatred alive in Belfast while he served his time.  As ordered, his UVF Gang continued it's murder spree with a further fifteen killings. Most of the UVF Gang responsible for the butcher murders were eventually arrested and imprisoned for their murderous campaign. Even though Murphy was mentioned throughout the Diplock Trial, he escaped charges and the 'Master Butcher' was freed in July 1982, returning to his native Shankill.

Within days, Murphy had killed again only this time his next two victims were Protestants. One a local man with learning-disabilities and the second a UDR soldier from Ballymena. That October, the Provisional IRA kidnapped a different UDR man close to the Border and while questioning him, Murphy seized a Catholic resident from the Falls Road. He telephoned a senior SDLP Councillor in Belfast and informed him that the UVF would kill the man, if the IRA did not free the UDR man. It was a typical ruse, as Murphy had already murdered the man inside his former home long before the phone call. The man's desecrated remains were found the following day and Murphy was arrested and questioned by the RUC about the murder but later released. The UDR man was also killed by the PIRA.

 
The Scene shortly after Murphy's killing

On November 16th 1982, the PIRA executed Lenny Murphy in the Loyalist Glencairn estate of West Belfast. Murphy was shot multiple times by masked gunmen outside the home of his girlfriend. In a statement, the Provisionals said; 'Lenny Murphy (master butcher) has been responsible for the horrific murders of over 20 innocent Nationalists in the Belfast area and a number of Protestants. The IRA has been aware for some time that since his release recently from prison, Murphy was attempting to re-establish a similar murder gang to that which he led in the mid-1970s and, in fact, he was responsible for a number of the recent sectarian murders in the Belfast area. The IRA takes this opportunity to restate its policy of non sectarian attacks, while retaining its right to take unequivocal action against those who direct or motivate sectarian slaughter against the Nationalist population'.

8 comments:

  1. Wow! That’s amazing! You have in your possession a rare, solid memento of the infamous Shankil Butchers.
    Prepare to be approached by collectors from around the world who would lust after such an item especially with a providence such as you describe.
    It’s worth quite a lot to a collector and word will soon spread of its existence.
    I trust you have secured this piece of history where it cannot be stolen.
    Have it valued. Have it insured. If necessary have it auctioned, but kept safe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's a film about it now on you tube, a documentary disclosing all the
      police investigations, the british public never knew about, it is something
      that has only come to light through modern technologies and computors,
      It's very intersting from a historic point of view.

      Delete
  2. It is an aazing peice of history, I read in depth about this element of history, these were mainly working people as I recall intercepted and then murdered, the way they died
    was horrific, it made me want vomit to think man could do this to fellow man, secterian attacks on innocent working people are no resolution, they
    create greater injustice in an already unjust situation, these attacks are gross injustice, towards the victims and their familes who remain scared for life by the grief
    and loss inflicted on them, First and most important point should innocent people just going about their daily business not have rights or protection and right to life, I
    think so.

    ReplyDelete
  3. CONGRATULATIONS TO THE REPUBLICAN NETWORK FOR UNITY

    Well done to the new Political Party- the Republican Network for Unity (RNU) for being the first to protest and picket outside the heart of the secret organisation M15 billeted at Holywood Co Down bringing world attention to this shadowy outfit.

    And only now has it emerged we are officially in the clutches of this secret organisation - the same organisation that was involved in covert operations during the worst years of the troubles when some of the most shocking events took place involving life and death.

    It is claimed politicians from the north are responsible for bolstering the role of MI5.

    "It seems that we are now experiencing some of the worst outworking of deals done at St Andrews and Hillsborough between the DUP and Sinn Fein which has now placed M15 in a key security position deciding who should get protection and who should not..

    "Putting MI5 in charge of security decisions is like putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop.”

    Published 17/02/2014 The Irish News Read More here:

    http://www.irishnews.com/news/mi5-responsible-for-deciding-who-gets-home-protection-1336055



    ReplyDelete
  4. "Lenny assumed command of the West Belfast Brigade of the UVF.".
    I believe this in incorrect.
    Do you have any knowledge of 2 Para's visit to the Shankill when they killed two loyalists and battered a few more.
    IIRC, 2 Para then went onto Ballymurphy and Derry.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wonder if any police involvement was ever uncovered.

      Delete
  5. There is a book published about their operations under thatcher, it gives all the details of their inside operations, many peole may not have read it, it gives all their
    secret locations bases disguised as shops, operational proceedures, It's lke something from eastern Europe under the starsi, glad I live in the US, England is
    a scrary place when you get to the depths of what really goes on.

    ReplyDelete
  6. An excellent blog, allowing us never to forget pure, savage and base sectarianism. The brutal, "inhuman" natures of these crimes should never be forgotten. I always wondered why my father (Newington area) would never let us play outside after 6pm. In fact when he caught us sneaking out, he would often kick us in the ass. We did not realise the dangers he knew about. It took me 10 years to realise that my father was simply protecting us from savages.

    ReplyDelete