January 5, 1976: IRA massacre in Northern Ireland

On January 5, 1976 Irish terrorists stopped a minibus carrying Protestant and Catholic textile workers home and shot all 11 Protestants, killing 10.

WHITECROSS, NORTHERN IRELAND – What gives anyone, including a terrorist group, the right to massacre people heading home from work?

Terrorist groups give all kinds of reasons – and excuses – for what they do. Some say that their actions are justified for historicalinjustices (the Armenians are good at that: they blame modern Turkey for what the Ottomans did to their forebears during WWI). Others say they are trying to usher in a new world (Al Qaeda and most Islamist groups claim this).

And still others are using violence to force a state to kowtow to their demands for independence or some form of national sovereignty. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka were all about land for the Tamils.

If we don’t get our country we are going to get nasty (Photo: By Qz10 –, CC BY-SA 3.0)

And then there is the IRA (Irish Republican Army).

Various manifestations of organisations that targeted the UK over centuries wanted the Brits out of Ireland. The creation of the Irish Free State in 1922 – later simply called ‘Ireland‘ – took care of that dispute for the south of the island. But the northernmost six counties remained part of the UK, no matter what Irish extremists did.

And some of their deeds were bloody affairs.

On this day in 1976

The IRA, or rather the likeminded South Armagh Republican Action Force, stopped a minibus carrying Protestant and Catholic textile workers home and shot all 11 Protestants. All died, save for one who miraculously survived despite 18 bullet wounds. The lone Catholic was set free.

 They were just lying there like dogs, blood everywhere.

Johnston Chapman, who had to identify the bodies of his two nephews

The terrorists said the shootings were in retaliation for a string of attacks on Catholic civilians by so-called ‘Loyalists‘. Whatever. Terrorists will say all kinds of things to put their massacres in a good light.

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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