Donegall Arms shooting

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Donegall Arms' shooting
Part of the Troubles
Donegall Arms shooting is located in Northern Ireland
Donegall Arms shooting
LocationDonegall Arms, Roden Street, Village, Belfast
Coordinates54°35′07.8″N 5°55′22.7″W / 54.585500°N 5.922972°W / 54.585500; -5.922972Coordinates: 54°35′07.8″N 5°55′22.7″W / 54.585500°N 5.922972°W / 54.585500; -5.922972
Date21 December 1991
18:30 (GMT)
TargetUlster Loyalists
Protestant civilians
Attack type
Mass shooting
Deaths2 civilians
Injured5 civilians
PerpetratorIrish People's Liberation Organisation

The Donegall Arms shooting took place on 21 December 1991, when gunmen from the small Irish Republican paramilitary group the Irish People's Liberation Organisation (IPLO) burst into the Donegall Arms public house and sprayed it with gunfire, killing two Protestant civilians and injuring several others in the bar. The attack happened at a time when Republican and Loyalist paramilitaries (like the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)) were engaged in many tit-for-tat killings.[1]


The IPLO was formed by former members of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) in 1986. Unlike other Republican groups, the IPLO was more willing to engage in sectarian killings of Protestant civilians than the Provisional IRA or INLA were. Two months before the attack on the Donegall Arms on 11 October an IPLO unit carried out a gun attack on the Protestant owned "Diamond Jublee" bar killing Protestant civilian Harry Ward in the attack.[2] On the same night they injured another Protestant civilian in a shooting in Newry.[3]

During the late 1980s/early 1990s, the Loyalist paramilitaries, in particular the UVF and the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), stepped up their sectarian campaign of attacks against Catholic civilians and known Republican activists. For example, in 1985, the UVF carried out just four attacks, but by 1990, this number had soared to around 20 per year, and continued to rise steadily.[4] The UDA was following a similar pattern to the UVF.[5][6] [7]

The shootings[edit]

On the night of 21 December, the IPLO Volunteers carried out their attack. The attackers knew the pub would be packed with customers on a Saturday night. Three IPLO Volunteers seemed to be involved in the attack, 2 gunmen and a getaway driver. According to witnesses two gunmen entered the bar, one with an automatic rifle and the other with a hand gun. The gunman with the rifle shot at anything that moved in the bar, while terrified patrons scrambled for cover. The gunfire lasted less than a minute, but it left two Protestant civilians dead: Thomas Gorman, 55, and Barry Watson, 25, who both died almost instantly. Three other people, also civilians, were injured in the shooting. People in the pub said they heard the gunmen shout "Orange Bastards, Orange Bastards!" as they fired into the pub.[8] The stolen car used in the attack was found at Devonshire Place in the Lower Falls area of west Belfast.[9] A few hours after the attack, the UDA shot dead a Catholic civilian less than 2 miles from the Donegall Arms.[10][11] Earlier on in the day the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) shot dead a Protestant civilian near Moy, County Tyrone.[12]


The IPLO continued their attacks on Protestant owned business. Two months after the Donegall Arms attack on 17 February 1992 they shot dead a Protestant civilian Andrew Johnson (17) in a video store where the teenager worked. Johnson belonged to the same Pentecostal sect as the men who were killed by the INLA in Darkley in 1983.[13] On 5 May 1992 they attacked another Protestant owned bar, this time in North Belfast called the "Mount Inn" killing Protestant civilian pensioner William Sergeant (66) and injuring two others in the attack.[14][15]

See also[edit]


  • Jack Holland, Henry McDonald, INLA – Deadly Divisions'
  • "IPLO - Donegal Arms pub shooting - 21 December 1991 - YouTube". Retrieved 12 November 2017.


  1. ^ "Gunmen open fire in Irish bar". UPI. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  2. ^ "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  3. ^ Jack Holland & Henry McDonald - INLA: Deadly Divisions p.320,368
  4. ^ Aaron Edwards - UVF: Behind the Mask p.181
  5. ^ Sutton, Malcolm. "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths".
  6. ^ Sutton, Malcolm. "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths".
  7. ^ Aaron Edwards - UVF: Behind the Mask p.208-209
  8. ^ Jack Holland & Henry McDonald - INLA: Deadly Divisions p.320
  9. ^ McKittrick, David (2001). Lost Lives: The Stories of the Men, Women and Children who Died as a Result of the Northern Ireland Troubles. Random House.
  10. ^ Sutton, Malcolm. "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths".
  11. ^ "Irish Pub Murders - Northern Ireland seven - Episode Thirty One". Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  12. ^ "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  13. ^ Jack Holland & Henry McDonald - INLA: Deadly Divisions p.321
  14. ^ Jack Holland & Henry McDonald - INLA: Deadly Divisions p.368
  15. ^ Jack Holland & Henry McDonald - INLA: Deadly Divisions p.339

External links[edit]