The author is a QUB Political Science honours graduate, a political analyst and has written on a variety of related issues
One of the saddest and most despicable murders by Loyalist death squads was that of the young mother of two, Anne Marie Smyth, in 1992. Anne Marie was from County Armagh, and she was unfamiliar with Belfast's sectarian geography, which can be deadly even now, years after the supposed cure-all panacea of the Good Friday Agreement.
Certainly, no-one from the city's Catholic community would ever have been foolhardy enough to set foot in the overtly Loyalist Hillfoot Glentoran Supporter's Club. However, this was Anne Marie's first trip to Belfast, and on the spur of the moment, she accepted an invitation to a function, possibly thinking that the patrons shared her own admirable non-sectarian world view.
When it became known that Anne Marie was a Catholic, her fate was sealed and other patrons in the club would have known that the men plying her with drink were UVF death-squad members. Not one person, male or female, warned her that she was facing certain death. Eventually, she was lured to a nearby house party where both men and woman were in on the fact that another 'Taig' (derogatory slang for a Catholic) was about to meet an unspeakable death.
What happened next is well documented in court depositions. It resulted in Anne Marie being overpowered by several men with onlookers encouraging them. She was first strangled by the local UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) commander as others looked on. Eventually, the lifeless body of Anne Marie, her throat cut to the spine by a knife, was dumped in the nearby wasteland at Ballarat Street, off East Belfast's Ravenhill Road. As far as the ethno-supremacist element within the Unionist community was concerned, it was just the end of another 'Taig', a member of the Untermenschen.
Quite some time after the ghastly sectarian murder of Anne Marie Smyth, some of the protagonists in the murder were charged, some were convicted, yet some were freed on appeal or earlier acquitted. Anne Marie's father, who attended every court date, was sickeningly insulted on a daily basis with jeers from the defendants in the dock such as 'where's your daughter now' and much worse. A quiet but determined man, he put up with serious taunting during the trial about his daughter's horrific murder by the UVF defendants. Needless to say, the Hillfoot Glentoran Club did not shut for even one minute as a mark of respect to the victim's family.
Loyalism's Long History of Violence Against Women and Children
The link between Loyalism and the vilest sectarian murders during the Irish Troubles is a phenomenon that deserves serious study, not least because such bestial crimes were never replicated by Irish Republicans. Ulster Loyalism's most infamous sectarian criminals were welcomed onto the Loyalist paramilitary wings at Long Kesh prison, these included:
- The Shankill Butchers
- William McGrath, the notorious Kincora Boys Home housemaster and alleged facilitator of a pedophile ring to the English upper classes, that included the likes of Lord Mountbatten, Sir Knox Cunningham, Westminster politicians and an assortment of House of Lords peers, both spiritual and temporal.
- Prisoners who had raped Catholic women gained automatic entry to Loyalist wings at Long Kesh who they described sickeningly as being convicted of 'Political Rape'.
- Garfield Gilmore, the murderer of the three Quinn children, burnt to death following a UVF petrol-bomb attack on their home in the staunch loyalist Carnany estate near Ballymoney during the height of the annual so-called 11th night 'celebrations'. Gilmore served only a few years of his life sentence.
It is worth mentioning the phenomena of the infamous 'Romper Room' murders, a near-nightly practice in the 1970s in loyalist drinking clubs. The term 'Romper Room' was taken from the name of a popular local children's TV program. The modus operandi would invariably involve the abduction of a suspected Catholic, who would then be taken to a loyalist shebeen or drinking club where the poor victim would be bound, horrifically tortured and used as sick entertainment, with patrons, including females, encouraged to take part. The infamous Shankill Butchers made this their signature MO, sadistically torturing and often decapitating their victims with slaughterhouse knives. For many victims, they must have prayed for death eventually.
John White: Former Loyalist Supremo and Serial Sex Killer
In many cases where women were victims of so-called Romper Rooms, they were first gang-raped, then murdered. In the 1990s, during the era of UDA godfather Johnny Adair's reign, John White held a prominent role within Ulster loyalism, pre- and post-ceasefire. Sectarian sex killer White was invited on various political junkets and delegations including meeting the British Prime Minister for confidential talks in 10 Downing Street on the then-nascent peace process.
Originally imprisoned for the murder of Catholic Senator Paddy Wilson and his friend, Irene Andrews, White served a life sentence in Long Kesh prison. Both victims were stabbed repeatedly by White and his accomplice, Davey Payne. Payne was another senior figure within Ulster Loyalism, now deceased. They hacked off Mrs. Andrew's breasts, as well as visiting other dreadful indignities on the poor woman's body. Payne is reliably reported to have regularly boasted to other Loyalists in prison that stabbing a woman in the breast was 'like stabbing a pillow'. In fairness, some loyalist prisoners were appalled by Payne's psychopathic sexual sadism and spoke of it on release.
Empire's Intrinsic Barbarism
Barbarism has always been a key facet of the British government's counter-insurgency policy in Ireland and has been used against those who have threatened the hegemony of imperialism. We have seen such barbarism on behalf of the empire carried out by their counter-gangs against national liberation movements in Malaya, Kenya, Aden, the Indian subcontinent, Ireland and other theatres of conflict. During the ongoing imperialist regime-change war on Syria, the Takfiri proxies of the Gulf States, the US, UK, and Turkey engaged in the same tactics of terroristic sectarian barbarism that were employed on behalf of the empire in Malaya and India.
The British Army's key counter-insurgency doctrine is heavily influenced by the various theses of Brigadier Frank Kitson, which were then refined and added to, following their application during the onset of the recent conflict in Ireland. The sadistic sectarian tactics of British imperialism's loyalist proxies in the north of Ireland conform to that doctrine's praxis when compared to Empire's antecedents further afield. It would be impossible to distinguish any moral high ground between the cut-throat sectarian sadism of the Shankill Butchers and the Takfiri head-choppers of Daesh. However, it is certain that both bestial entities had very similar 'teachers', possibly alumni of the former School of the Americas, Academi or Sandhurst, when selected to carry out imperialism's dirty wars.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2019 Liam A Ryan