Five Killed in Sectarian Violence
As our dynamic President visits Northern Ireland to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday Accords, we recall the dark days of The Troubles. The Catholic and Protestant factions battled for decades before a cautious peace settled over the weary land.
One of the worst days of violence came on April 12, 1975. There had been a back and forth of bombings that year in which the Provisional IRA and UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) had traded jabs at the cost of innocent lives. A week earlier the Provos had bombed the protestant Mountain View Tavern in Belfast, killing 5. It was the Protestant faction’s turn to keep the cycle of violence going.
The attack would come at the Strand Bar in the Short Strand neighborhood of Belfast. A subsect of the UVF, calling itself the Red Hand Commandos would plan and carry out the attack. The Red Hand Commando’s were a faction that could claim independence from the UVF and continue terrorist acts while the UVF ostensibly negotiated a peace.
At 8:15 the Strand Bar was filled with an older crowd. A car pulled up in front of the bar and several men got out. A bomb was produced and thrown into the pub. To keep patrons from escaping while the seconds on the detonator ticked off, one of the terrorists fired shots into the establishment. Another placed a wood beam across the threshold to prevent the door from opening.
The explosion that rocked the bar was devastating. Six patrons were killed, four women and two men. Over fifty people were injured.
The response was immediate. A protestant driving his car was gunned down within 20 minutes of the bombing. The attack appeared to be a random act of revenge. The cycle of violence continued.