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1991 Craigavon killings
Part of the Troubles
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Location Carbet Road-Carn Road junction near Craigavon,
County Armagh,
Northern Ireland
Date 14 November 1991
Attack type
Weapons Ak-47 rifle
Deaths 3 civilians (2 Catholics & 1 Protestant)
Perpetrator Ulster Volunteer Force
UVF Mid-Ulster Brigade
Billy Wright (ordered attack)

The 1991 Craigavon killings took place on the 14 November 1991 when the Mid-Ulster Brigade of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) shot dead three civilians at the Carbet Road-Carn Road junction near Craigavon, County Armagh, Northern Ireland, on their way home from work at a forklift factory just outside Lurgan.[1]

The UVF set up an illegal checkpoint which looked like a regular UDR or British Army checkpoint. The UVF members manning the checkpoint used a red torch to signal to people to pull over. Fergus Magee (28) was getting a lift home with Desmond Rogers (54) when they were pulled over by the illegal checkpoint. After stopping a masked man wearing army fatigues and carrying an AK-47 assault rife walked along the row of parked cars until he reached Desmond Rogers' car and fired a number bursts into the vehicle killing Mr Rogers instantly and fatally wounding Fergus Magee. John Lavery (27) who was in the car behind Rogers & Magee tried to reverse out of the way but the UVF gunman ran over to him and fired several shots into his car and he died a few hours later in hospital.[2] The two men in the front car (Desmond Rogers & Fergus Magee) were both Catholic civilians, John Lavery in the back car was a Protestant civilian. The UVF later issued an apology for killing John Lavery because he was a Protstant, because the UVF's primary target throughout their 24 year armed campaign (1966 - 1994) were Irish Catholic civilians.[3] As Billy Wright was the commander of the UVF at this period it's believed he was involved in at least authorizing the attack and perhaps even planning it or being directly involved. The day before the attack on the 13 November the Provisional IRA Belfast Brigade killed four Protestants in separate incidents around Belfast, first they killed a UFF member William Kingsberry and his stepson Samuel Mehaffey who was a member of the Red Hand Commando at a house in Lecale street, then brothers Stephen & Kenneth Lynn were shot & killed while they were renovating a house, the previous owner who was a Loyalist paramilitary was the intended target.[4][5] It's possible the Craigavon killings were in retaliation for the four IRA killings the previous day. A UVF member Vicky Ahitty from Portadown was sentenced to life in October 1992 for the killings along with the murders of Kevin and John McKearney at their butcher's shop in Moy, County Tyrone, on 3 January 1992. Kevin McKearney was the brother of three former Provisional IRA Volunteers Hunger Striker Tommy McKearney, Pádraig McKearney a high ranking Volunteer killed at the Loughgall Ambush by the SAS in 1987 and another brother Sean died when a bomb he was transporting blew up prematurely in 1974. Kevin was the only brother not in the IRA.[6] Two other serious attacks like this were carried out earlier in the year by Billy Wrights UVF Mid-Ulster Brigade. On the 3 March 1991 the 1991 Cappagh killings three Provisional IRA members & a Catholic civilian were shot dead, then later on in the same month three Catholic civilians were killed including two young teenage girls in the 1991 Drumbeg killings.

The attack was similar to the Miami Showband killings in July 1975 when the UVF also used an illegal checkpoint to stop their victims in that attack as well.[7] The same sort of tactic was used again by the UVF in August 1975 when they stopped two Catholic civilians at an illegal checkpoint and shot them both dead near Newtownhamilton.[8][9]

Aftermath[edit | edit source]

This was the UVF's third attack of the year that ended in mass murder along with the Cappagh & Drumbeg killings. It was around this time the Irish Republicans started taking the Loyalist threat more seriously. Ten days after the Craigavon attack the Provisional IRA killed a UFF & UVF member in Crumlin Road jail with a booby-trap bomb placed in behind a radiator in the Loyalist break room.[10] On the 21 December the Irish People's Liberation Organization killed two Protestant civilians in a Loyalist owned bar, on the same the Irish National Liberation Army killed a Protestant civilian, his father who was the intended target was a RUC officer, later on that night the UFF killed a Catholic civilian in Fortuna street Belfast.[11] The UVF's worst attack of this period was the 1994 Loughinisland massacre when they shot dead six civilians who were watching Ireland play in the World Cup, five other people were seriously wounded.[12]

Several years later during a period of sectarian tension Nationalists workers from "Workers at Wilson Double Deck Trailers Ltd" in Craigavon were met with graffiti from loyalists exclaiming “Fenians Remember Hyster” painted across the walls of the factory, a reference to the killings in Craigavon in 1991.[13]

See also[edit | edit source]

Sources[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]


  1. http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/cgi-bin/dyndeaths.pl?querytype=date&day=14&month=11&year=1991 CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths - 1991
  2. http://irishistory.blogspot.com/2014/03/some-of-victims-relatives-for-justice.html
  3. http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/othelem/chron/ch91.htm#141191
  4. http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/cgi-bin/dyndeaths.pl?querytype=date&day=13&month=11&year=1991
  5. http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/othelem/chron/ch91.htm#131191 CAIN: Wednesday 13 November 1991 The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a series of attacks in Belfast and killed four Protestant civilians.
  6. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-19741103 McKearney murders - RUC 'did not do enough to stop shootings'
  7. http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/othelem/chron/ch75.htm#31775 CAIN: Thursday 31 July 1975 Miami Showband Killings / 'Miami Massacre'
  8. http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/cgi-bin/dyndeaths.pl?querytype=date&day=24&month=08&year=1975
  9. http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/othelem/chron/ch75.htm#24875 CAIN:Sunday 24 August 1975 Two Catholic civilians were abducted and shot dead by the Protestant Action Force (PAF), a covername used by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). The shootings happened near Newtownhamilton, County Armagh.
  10. http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/othelem/chron/ch91.htm#241191 CAIN:Sunday 24 November 1991 Explosion Inside Crumlin Prison
  11. http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/othelem/chron/ch91.htm#211291
  12. http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/othelem/chron/ch94.htm#180694 CAIN: Saturday 18 June 1994 Loughlinisland Killings
  13. http://homepage.tinet.ie/~eirenua/dec98/saoirse2.htm

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