Tuesday, 3 December 2013


Orange Order honours Shankill Butchers

A Shankill Road Orange Lodge annually honours the Shankill Butchers
particularly Bobby `Basher' Bates. The Old Boyne Island Heroes commemorated the killer on a banner with the words `In fond memory of our fallen brethren'.

Bates, a former Orange lodge member was killed in June 1997 in a loyalist revenge attack on the Upper Woodvale Road. He was a ringleader of the Shankill Butchers who used knives and meat cleavers to murder 19 Catholics in the mid 70's.

The Shankill Road Orange lodge has named four other dead UVF men on its banners who were also members of the Orange Lodge. They include a UVF man blown up by his own bomb, and murdered UVF commander John Bingham. The man who murdered 16-year-old Catholic schoolboy James Morgan is still a member of the Orange Order.

Norman Coopey murdered the teenager with a hammer in July 1996 after offering him a lift in his car. Coopey and an accomplice then set fire to the boy's body before dumping it in a pit full of animal carcasses in a field at Clough, Co. Down, near the boy's home in Annesborough, outside Castlewellan.

Basher Bates was born into a Protestant family and grew up in the Shankill Road area of Belfast. He had a criminal record dating back to 1966,[2] and later became a member of the loyalist paramilitary organisation, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). Bates, employed as a barman at the "Long Bar", was recruited into the Shankill Butchers gang in 1975 by its notorious ringleader, Lenny Murphy. The gang used as its headquarters, the "Brown Bear" pub, a Shankill Road drinking haunt frequented by the UVF. Bates, a "sergeant" in the gang's hierarchy, was an avid participant in the brutal torture and savage killings perpetrated against innocent Catholics after they were abducted from nationalist streets and driven away in a black taxi owned by fellow Shankill Butcher, William Moore. The killings typically involved grisly-throat slashings preceded by lengthy beatings and torture. Bates was said to have been personally responsible for beating James Moorhead, a member of the Ulster Defence Association, to death on 30 January 1977 whilst he played a central role in the kidnapping and murder of Catholic Joseph Morrisey three days later.[3] He also killed Thomas Quinn, a derelict, on 8 February 1976 and the following day was involved in shooting dead Archibald Hanna and Raymond Carlisle, two Protestant workmen that Bates and Murphy mistook for Catholics.[4]

Martin Dillon revealed that Bates was also one of the four UVF gunmen who carried out a mass shooting attack on the Chlorane Bar in Belfast city centre on 5 June 1976. Five people (three Catholics and two Protestants) were shot dead. The UVF unit had burst into the pub in Gresham Street and ordered the Catholics and Protestants to line up on opposite ends of the bar before they opened fire. He later recounted his role in the attack to police; however, he had claimed that he never fired any shots due to his revolver having malfunctioned. Forensics evidence contradicted him as it proved that his revolver had been fired inside the Chlorane Bar that night.[5] Lenny Murphy was in police custody at the time the shooting attack against the Chlorane Bar took place.

Bates was arrested in 1977, along with Moore and other "Shankill Butcher" accomplices.[6] His arrest followed a sustained attack by Moore and Sam McAllister on Catholic Gerard McLaverty after which they dumped his body, presuming him dead. However McLaverty survived and identified Moore and McAllister to police who drove him up and down the Shankill during a loyalist parade until he saw his attackers. During questioning both men implicated Bates, and other gang members, leading to their arrests.[7]Following a long period spent on remand, he was convicted in February 1979 of murder related to the Shankill Butcher killings and given ten life sentences, with a recommendation by the trial judge, Mr Justice O'Donnell, that he should never be released.[6]
In prison

Initially in prison Bates was involved in a series of violent incidents involving other inmates. Bates later claimed that he had perpetrated these acts in order to live up to his "Basher" nickname.[4] He served as company commander of the UVF inmates and became noted as stern disciplinarian.[8]

However while in the Maze Prison, he was said to have "found God", and as a result became a born-again Christian.[9] He produced a prison testimony, which was later reprinted in The Burning Bush, and, after publicly advocating an end to violence, was transferred to HMP Maghaberry.[8]

Bates whilst in prison formed a friendship with Provisional IRA member and fellow detainee Brendan Hughes. Bates also foiled a UVF assassination plot on Hughes.[10]
Early release and death

Ex-Prisoners Interpretative Centre, Woodvale Road, where Bates worked after his release and where he was shot

In October 1996, 18 months prior to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, Bates was cleared for early release by the Life Sentence Review Board. He was given the opportunity of participating in a rehabilitation scheme, spending the day on a work placement and returning to prison at night.[11] As he arrived for work at in his native Shankill area of Belfast early on the morning of 11 June 1997,[12] Bates was shot dead by the son of a UDA man he had killed in 1977.[13] The killer identified himself to Bates as the son of his victim before opening fire.[14] Bates had been working at the Ex-Prisoners Interpretative Centre (EPIC), a drop-in centre for former loyalist prisoners.[4]

Bates' killing had not been sanctioned by the UDA leadership but nevertheless they refused to agree to UVF demands that the killer should be handed over to them, instead exiling him from the Shankill. He was rehoused in theTaughmonagh area where he quickly became an important figure in the local UDA as a part of Jackie McDonald's South Belfast Brigade.[15]

Bates' name was subsequently included on the banner of a prominent Orange Lodge on the Shankill Road, called Old Boyne Island Heroes.[16] Relatives of Shankill butchers victims Cornelius Neeson condemned the banner, stating that "it hurts the memory of those the butchers killed".[17] A fellow Lodge member and former friend of Bates defended the inclusion of his name to journalist Peter Taylor: "I knew him very well and he'd been a personal friend for twenty or thirty years and to me he was a gentleman".[18]He went on to describe him as having been "an easy-going, decent fellow, and as far as the Lodge is concerned, a man of good-standing".[19]

He was a buried in a Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster ceremony by Rev Alan Smylie.[20] Bates' funeral was attended by a large representation from local Orange Lodges.[21] Mairead Maguire was also amongst the mourners, arguing that Bates had "repented, asked for forgiveness and showed great remorse for what he had done", whilst a memorial service held at the spot of his killing two days after the funeral was attended by Father Gerry Reynolds of Clonard Monastery.[8]
Cusack, Jim & McDonald, Henry (2008). UVF: Endgame. Dublin: Poolbeg. ISBN 978-184223-326-9
Taylor, Peter (1999). Loyalists. London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. ISBN 0 7475 4519 7

Jump up^ "From killer to victim: Basher's death sums up the futility of the Troubles" The Independent, 12 June 1997, retrieved 26 September 2009
Jump up^ Martin Dillon, The Shankill Butchers: the real story of cold-blooded mass murder, p.10
Jump up^ Cusack & McDonald, p. 181
^ Jump up to:a b c David McKittrick et al, Lost Lives, Mainstream Publishing, 2008, p. 1410
Jump up^ Dillon, pp.125-135
^ Jump up to:a b Taylor, p.154
Jump up^ Cusack & McDonald, p. 181-183
^ Jump up to:a b c McKittirck et al, Lost Lives, p. 1411
Jump up^ An Phoblacht Republican News, 13 June 1997, retrieved on 9 October 2009
Jump up^ Moloney, Ed (2010). Voices From the Grave: Two Men's War in Ireland. Faber & Faber. p.259-260
Jump up^ "Shankill Butcher is Freed", Belfast Telegraph, 26 October 1996
Jump up^ "Conflict Related Deaths 1997" British Irish Rights Watch, retrieved 27 September 2009
Jump up^ "Exposure Sealed Fate of Notorious Activists" David McKittrick, 24 August 2000, The Independent on Sunday, retrieved 9 October 2009
Jump up^ Cusack & McDonald, p. 389
Jump up^ Cusack & McDonald, pp. 389-390
Jump up^ Taylor, pp. 150-52
Jump up^ McKittirck et al, Lost Lives, p. 1412
Jump up^ Taylor, p.152
Jump up^ Taylor, p.152
Jump up^ Steve Bruce, Paisley: Religion and Politics in Northern Ireland, Oxford University Press, 2007, p. 221
Jump up^ Taylor, p.152



Ulster Volunteer Force

during the Troubles

Chiefs of Staff

Gusty Spence (1966)
Samuel McClelland (1966-1973)
Jim Hanna(1973-1974)
Ken Gibson (1974)
Unnamed Chief of Staff (1974-1975)
Tommy West (1975-1976)
John "Bunter" Graham (1976-date)

Belfast Brigade members

Robert Bates
John Bingham
Frankie Curry
David Ervine
Billy Giles
Mark Haddock
Billy Hutchinson
Trevor King
Bobby McKee
Jackie Mahood
William "Frenchie" Marchant
Billy Mitchell
William Moore
John Murphy
Lenny Murphy
Clifford Peeples
Brian Robinson
George Seawright
Robert "Squeak" Seymour
William Smith
Billy Spence
Harry "Harmless" Stockman
James "Tonto" Watt

Mid-Ulster Brigade members

Harris Boyle
Mark "Swinger" Fulton
William James Fulton
Billy Hanna
Robin Jackson
Richard Jameson
Robin King
Billy McCaughey
Robert McConnell
David Alexander Mulholland
Lindsay Robb
Wesley Somerville
John Weir
Billy Wright

Red Hand Commando members

Frankie Curry
Billy Elliot
John McKeague
Winston Churchill Rea
Wiliam Smith
Michael Stone

Units and groups

Glenanne gang
Shankill Butchers
Protestant Action Group
Young Citizen Volunteers


Battle of St Matthew's (1970)
McGurk's Bar bombing (1971)
Battle at Springmartin (1972)
Dublin bombings (1972-3)
Dublin and Monaghan bombings (1974)
Miami Showband killings (1975)
Reavey and O'Dowd killings (1976)
Chlorane Bar attack (1976)
Ramble Inn attack (1976)
Cappagh killings (1991)
Loughinisland massacre (1994)
Quinn brothers' killings (1998)
Andrew Robb and David McIlwaine killings (2000)

Prominent victims

Jim Hanna
John Francis Green
Billy Hanna
The Miami Showband
Maire Drumm
Larry Marley
Martin Doherty
Jackie Coulter
Tommy English

Related articles

Combined Loyalist Military Command
Loyalist feud
Loyalist Volunteer Force
Progressive Unionist Party
Ulster Army Council
Ulster Constitution Defence Committee
Ulster loyalism
Ulster Loyalist Central Co-ordinating Committee
Ulster Volunteers
Ulster Workers' Council strike
Volunteer (Ulster loyalist)
Volunteer Political Party

bold indicates Brigadiers and commanders

1948 births
1997 deaths
Shankill Butchers
Ulster Volunteer Force members
Members of the Orange Order
Deaths by firearm in Northern Ireland
Loyalists imprisoned during the Northern Ireland conflict
Prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment by Northern Ireland
People convicted of murder by Northern Ireland

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