Michael Praetorius ✒ with the eleventh act in his satirical series.

Bulgaria: my part in its liberation

Actually, I've been to Bulgaria a couple of times. As I may have mentioned before, my appearance there caused a mini sensation. All the men are black haired, and wear black Adidas track suits, with little Adidas shoulder bags to carry their fegs and cheap lighters in.

So, nobody had ever seen a blonde haired man in person before. Where'er I walked cool gales didn’t fan the glade, but young punks would shout, Hello, Mr Englishman ... !

When I pointed out to one that I'm Irish, he bellowed, Ok, Mr Guinness man ... !!

I was interested in all things Soviet there. They had marvellously dilapidated Soviet buses, real boneshakers, with awful plastic, sweaty seats. And wonderful Soviet trains on which you could still open the windows and doors when moving. Mobile signal strength varied, so it was quite common en route to see people hanging out of either to get better reception. The carriages were all corridor type, you were in an Alfred Hitchcock film.

Other than in the biggest towns, there were no platforms. You bought your ticket, walked across two or three railway tracks to get to the one on which your train was coming in, and stood there waiting - between tracks - while trains flew past on the neighbouring lines. On its arrival you climbed aboard your train via steps on the carriage. This was a seriously brilliant way to travel, and health and safety looked after themselves because people there were expected to take responsibility for their actions.

And the 'Khrushchev flats' (Khrushchyovka) were everywhere. Uncle Joe wasn't much bothered where you lived. But when Joe bought the collective farm, it occurred to new Red Czar, Nikita Khrushchev, that people might like to have a place of their own to live in, rather than the dire communal apartments most of them shared at that time.

So he pushed ahead with a programme to throw up thousands of luxury ... er ... low-cost, concrete-panelled or brick three-to-five-storied apartment buildings all across the Soviet Union during the early -1960s. Various improved, and taller, offspring came later, and many still stand. Each flat is still a tight, claustrophobic little box, with not an inch of wasted space. Paper thick walls, smelly stairwells, dodgy sewerage.

And don't even start me about the 'Trabi' (Trabant). Possibly the worst car ever made it was manufactured in the old GDR. Perhaps it’s no surprise that the 1957 Trabant had no tachometer, no turn signal, no seat belts or fuel gauge, no trunk liner, and used an oil/gas mix. The fact that these basic amenities were still missing when Taylor Swift was born is a bit more surprising. Indeed, when the last Trabant was produced in 1989 it still topped out at about 60 mph, which it took 21 seconds to reach from a stop. A highlight of my stays was to rattle down the road in one of these clunky, draughty, minimalist limos.

I was able to wear my hammer and sickle T-shirts without harassment. Not because the Bulgarians loved Uncle Joe etc., but because Russia and Bulgaria go back a long way, and there isn't the same fierce antipathy between them, as there is between, say, Russians and Poles. This was reflected, for instance, in the behaviour of the Red Army as it advanced westwards in World War II. There was very little raping, pillaging and looting as the Soviets swept through Bulgaria, compared to the savagery meted out in other front line countries.

But, of course, it all depends where you're standing. Some years ago I was having a meal in a wee place in Killylea. I was wearing a CCCP T-shirt. One of the waitresses was Lithuanian. When she saw the hammer and sickle she said rather grimly, In my country you go to gaol if you wear that awful thing ...

And she walked off without taking our order, and ignored us for the rest of the night. My son, who was at that difficult kind of age, threatened to reveal to her that I was currently deep into a biography of Khrushchev, one of my top three favourite tyrants, if we didn't let him have two puddings ...

Don’t forget: they won the Sam Maguire once

Jean detests Armagh. She lived in Saintfield for a while and it's gone to her head; she seems to think that Armagh is like Carryduff, without even the roundabout.

As I have often remarked, there's a sober, no-nonsense approach about Ardmachians that makes them all the more beguiling. If, for instance, a man is seen wearing a hat outside the narrow confines of the John Hewitt Summer School, or on any other dates besides 12/13 July, then he is quite sensibly deemed to be in need of a good kicking.

This unique communal magnanimity is only tempered, but never compromised, by the native Ardmachian's innate, justified and unerring urge, to denounce the affectation and pretension constantly exhibited by swellheads and smart arses and the like who ridicule puffer jackets and so on.

Jean just doesn't get the soul of this place. Take Armagh's recent blowout: the Georgian Christmas weekend. This year it even featured a Hot Food Village, with 'an abundance of street foods, artisan food and drink specialities' ... 17 different stalls, all selling hamburgers.

Napoleon IV

It strains credulity, but Jean had me sectioned once. I was allowed to bring Miss Lotte Lenya with me. The only rabbit she could find there was a big lad who thought he was a rabbit.

She quickly became a favourite of the head shrink, and he allowed her to accompany him on his morning rounds. To be honest, she looked at most of them as if they were daft, which they were.

He interviewed me, too. I told him I had terrible forebodings of personal disaster. He said I have pre traumatic stress disorder.

Has that got upper case initial letters? I asked.

Not yet, he replied.

Tight-arsed BBC NI news presenters

Long awaited return to busking duty in Belfast yesterday. And a remarkable thing happened as we passed the Continental Christmas Market at City Hall. Some of the crowd there noticed me, the word got around I was back, and, almost to a man, the whole lot left the Market and followed me the short step round to my pitch to hear some blues ... !

Next thing I knew, I was jolted awake as the train pulled into Gt Victoria Street Station.

You'll never guess who passed by later on. Tara Mills ... !! She was fiddling with her purse.

Only paper money, please, I said.

She walked on without even looking at me. That's what Donna Traynor was up against. And anyway, Catherine Morrison is far better looking.

But God has a plan for me. Down the street, trailing all his paraphernalia, came one of the famed street preachers who've taken over Belfast's open-air spaces. Boom box, mic, leaflets, portable stand on which a headline, The Wicked Shall be Turned Into Hell.

Surely you're not going to start here ... ? I asked.

Why? he replied, are you saved?

Yes, I said, for I am an existential nihilist.

He told me he was going to the Cornmarket. They've managed to turf out the Opera Guy, apparently. I'm impressed, for the Opera Guy is loud, and was the long time gang lord busker of that pitch. He's been chased round to outside Primark.

I changed tack. Go easy on the homosexualists, I said, it's bad PR, to say the least ...

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them, he quoted.

Ephesians, I said.

You know your Bible, he said approvingly.

Well, there's good and bad in all of us, I Homer-like opined, I mean, take Hitler, for instance: ok, he was responsible for millions of horrific deaths, but on the other hand he really loved his dog ... maybe we need to re-evaluate ...

Are you serious ... ?!? he interrupted.

Of course, I am, I said and pointed to Miss Lotte Lenya, sure I have a dog myself, and when I get to the Pearly Gates, I expect to have my atheism overlooked because I've loved and cared for this beautiful girl all her life. Just like God does for us.

The scorner seeks wisdom but finds none, he said, but understanding is easy for a discerning person.

Proverbs, I said.

Later on, I could hear the Opera Guy round at the front of Primark.


I’ve been a member of Armagh County Club and Union for nigh on 40 years. This is in no way meant to be offensive, rather a statement of fact, but it is not a club of equals. There are many members who do not bring to it the quality, heritage, tradition, justifiable pride, and sense of culture that I do.

Nevertheless, I have remained a member, and there are some good things about the club: for instance, drink is very cheap, and Miss Lotte Lenya is welcome most of the time, and it's a quiet retreat when you need forty winks, and they now admit women, so Jean gets an occasional night out. Increasingly however, I have had misgivings about belonging.

One is expected, for example, to treat the lesser quality members (whose default condition is poverty) with a consideration they plainly don't deserve; there is even a fund, to which we are forced to contribute, for alleviating the circumstances of those who are enduring (usually self inflicted) hard times. At some events one is expected to wear a tie; I loathe ties. And when an occasion requires catering Miss Lotte Lenya is banned from the kitchen, thus preventing her from rigorously stalking chef during his preparations so that she may hoover up every accidentally dropped morsel of food, something she does with astonishing focus at home every time Jean so much as picks up a knife.

Furthermore, each year I have to pay a subscription of a hundred pounds or so to some or other nameless club bureaucrat who probably pockets at least half of it to run an affair with his secretarial floozie, and swan about enjoying Armagh's raucous night life.

For some time now I have been disenchanted with these and other, what I can only refer to as, infringements of my personal freedom and sovereignty. So much so that, a couple of years ago, I wrote to the president to inform him I was resigning. I pointed out that because the club had basked for so long in the reflected glow of my gracious and historic presence, and the prestige and wisdom it brought, that I thought it only fair I be allowed, after my exit, to continue to pop in any time I fancied a cheap drink or two, and a nap, with no further expense to myself.

You will be as shocked as I was when I tell you I received a terse reply in which he stated, outrageously, that not only had I to pay a further year's subscription as notice of quitting and to cover my 'existing commitments', but also that I would not be welcome ever to take a drink or a kip there again - something which he ludicrously referred to as 'cherry picking' - unless and until I come up with a mutually agreeable alternative scheme of association whereby I would somehow be entitled to enjoy all the benefits of club membership yet give back absolutely nothing in return.

This blunt refusal to see and embrace my perfectly reasonable and correct point of view is, of course, a predictable, purely spiteful attempt to administer a punishment beating. It will not cower me. I have a noble history of facing little Hitlers, and defeating them, singlehandedly. True, others, like Lotte and Jean, may suffer after I leave with no deal, but I am in the happy position of being well enough off to fill my drinks cabinet regularly, regardless of the club's tyranny...

Friends again

It's rather annoying, but Jean has friends. Off she was going to see some mates, while I, as usual, sat on the sofa, talking to Miss Lotte Lenya.

Jean, a bit of an expert in having friends, said, It's your own fault. You never make an effort ... You have to put down that guitar, get off the sofa, and go outside ...

So far, so good, I thought, I can do that today.

But, and most importantly, she continued, you then have to take an interest in other people's lives, their ups and downs, their concerns; show a little understanding and tolerance ... empathise ...

Oh dear ...

When she came back I was still sitting on the sofa, practising guitar, and talking to Lotte ...

The Dishonesty of Honesty

He gave me a booklet. The Dishonesty of Atheism.

So, no sense of irony there ... He put his name and number on the back.

In case you need to talk sometime, he said.

If you engage with them, even briefly, they always seem to assume that you are, therefore, 'searching'. You might, in fact, just be passing the time of day - which is a truer, simpler, and more elegant description of our exchange - but Stan (his name) religiously multiplied the entities to find a tortured soul.

He asked me what an existential nihilist is.

Someone who, as The Damned put it, just can't be happy these days, I replied.

They choose their own salvation or lack of, he said.

You're misrepresenting The Damned there, I told him.

But, even though he couldn't have been much younger than me, he'd never heard of Captain Sensible, Rat Scabies, etc.

It's in our nature to search for God, he assured me.

Not if existence precedes essence, I countered.

But he'd never heard of Sartre. This is what happens when you find all the answers in one, and therefore know everything. You never seem to know anything else, to paraphrase Philip Roth.

He hadn't heard of Roth either.

It'll end in tears, I said.

And I was right. When I got home, the moon was rising, and a neighbour told me that Ivy's beautiful filly has been sold and will be moving away very soon ...

When I paint my masterpiece

You know, said Jean to me, sometimes I think everyone has a book in them, except you ...

This is high level hate speech, of course, fuelled in part, no doubt, by the irrational Proddy loathing for Taigs.

I mean, she went on, all you've ever actually done in 70 years is fiddle around with that guitar and scribble away at stuff no-one ever looks at ...

This is a complete misrepresentation of course. I've done plenty, even if no particular instance of me ever doing anything springs to mind.

Like the majority of people at my age, I would be appalled to look in the mirror and see an insufferable, washed-up, obnoxious, repetitive, old bore who had achieved nothing, made a hames of everything, contributed sweet FA, fiddled away like Nero at stuff he had no talent for, and thus squandered an entire life.

Has it ever occurred to you, asked Jean, that this existential nihilism of yours - the denial of any meaning, or shape, or purpose to life, and the assertion of the universe's indifference and randomness, and the uselessness of striving for anything - is the precise context of the life lived by a man who's decided to sit on his lazy arse for 70 years and do absolutely nothing ... ? What a happy coincidence for you, eh ... ?

You have to smile. Jean never went to university so, of course, is out of her depth here. Plus, being a Prod, her grades at school were never going to be as good as mine, either. But bless her, she tries her best anyway, in between cooking and cleaning.

Trust her to conflate my languor with the principle of least action. She's blissfully unaware that for every system you want to describe (in this case, me), there's a function called the action, which takes on the smallest possible value for the behaviour of that system (me) in nature. Even if you consider all the things a system (me) could do and you calculate the action for each of them, the case you actually observe is the one with the Minimal action.


My M&S lifestyle

Last night, as I used my new M&S pizza cutter, I thought, This may not quite equate with the discovery and harnessing of electricity, but it's definitely up there, near enough. I could have sliced all night.

Yet ... the tragic fact is that a 70 year old man was dining on a Sainsbury's ham and pineapple pizza (reduced), because Jean can't be bothered to leave pre-cooked meals in the freezer when she goes off to enjoy herself in Strangford.

How did it come to this ... ? It's all part of today's society-wide malaise i.e. the abdication of responsibility. Unfortunately, Jean is a prime example of this new religion: look after no. 1, and to Hell with the rest.

Further proof (if it were needed) came this morning. Beans on toast tonight, I thought. But on inspection, no bread in the breadbin, no tins of beans in the cupboard.

Michael Praetorius spent his working life in education and libraries. Now retired, he does a little busking in Belfast . . . when he can get a pitch. He is TPQ's fortnightly Wednesday columnist.

Joy And Fun Are Fucking Killing Me ✑ Act XI

Anthony McIntyre 🔖 A Swedish housewife vanishes in 1993. 

She seemed to live a predictable existence with her focus on her husband and family. It is out of character for her to go on a solo run and there was no history of her playing away from the matrimonial home.

Within days her body is retrieved and even more shocking to those who knew and loved her, she was the victim of murder.  Lacking the wayward forensic feature of a ricochet or crossfire, a shot to the forehead bore the hallmarks of a clinical execution that suggested gangland. To police minds, whoever took the shot had taken it carefully. But why? Her error seems to have been nothing more than to have lost her way on a journey through woodland.

The investigation develops with Kurt Wallander assuming the lead. While the victim had no interest in extra marital activity someone outside the marriage had an interest in her. A stalker figured and lent itself to the cops concluding they have their man. He too has gone missing which makes the cops even more suspicious and certain that their suspect has a story to tell. Turns out he was only on holiday and his alibi is watertight. Suddenly, their man is not their man after all and so the hunt for the killer widens. 

What at first seems an unrelated incident acquires a different complexion linking Sweden's yawning Ystad to South Africa's Pretoria and political intrigue 1993 and the narrative opens up like a flower to reveal at its heart a racist hatred and desire to kill. In some of the Scandinavian crime fiction covered in these reviews, the storyline does not always restrict itself to the host country. When it crosses borders it tends to separate the noir from scandi. This dilution runs against the grain of the Scandinoir purist, particularly as Wallander does not actually travel to South Africa as part of the investigation. 

Yet Mankell knows his territory well, having spent much time in Africa where he worked as a theatre director. Particularly endearing is the ongoing dialogue between the dead and the living, providing as it does considerable insight into native African cultural traditions. The irreligious mind might resile from such constructs but they are so real to those who have culturally imbibed them alongside milk from their mothers' breasts, that while their presence can be regarded as myth, the power of myth should never be understated. 

Wallander's journey takes him abroad but not geographically. He crisscrosses the terrain of his own mind which is not the terra firma he might have hoped for. He ventures off the radar during the manhunt. The flaws in a truly mercurial investigator are breaking through. In most Western police forces the path he took would have led to the exit door.

The character development is top notch: Menkell has the reader feeling the malevolence of Wallander's foreign adversaries, who are not all from the same nation. The Ystad detective finds himself pitched against a hybrid force formed from dying but competing ideologies: their death rattle no less dangerous than their lives' work in the dark arts.

Wallander shares with Harry Hole and Harry Bosch, that obsessive devotion to catching killers. Such characters hardly exist in real life if for no other reason than their phenomenal success rates. How many murders can there be for these guys to solve?

Of the three Wallander novels read so far Faceless Killers remains the best. White Lioness comes with a great plot, political intrigues, merciless operatives who worship at the altar of dictatorship, while drilling down into the methodical intricacies of police procedure when working a murder case. Its drawback is that it stretched on beyond what was necessary to make it brilliant. 

Henning Mankell, 2003, The White Lioness. Published @ Vintage. ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0099464693

Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre.

White Lioness

Lynx By Ten To The Power Of Three Hundred And Ninety Five


A Morning Thought @ 1632

Brandon Sullivan ✒ ✍ delves into the activities of John White, Davy Payne, Kenny McClinton: C Company in the early 1970s.Ⅱ

John White, along with Davy Payne, and Kenny McClinton were founding members of the UDA’s Shankill Road C Company, according to Johnny Adair’s autobiography. When White was asked how he could have stabbed Irene Andrews (murdered along with SDLP Stormont Senator Paddy Wilson in 1973) to death he replied “we thought she was a Catholic.” Like Adair, Kenny McClinton enjoys publicity, and like White, spoke of using a knife in their loyalist terrorism. McClinton described loyalist violence like this:

People in loyalist circles are driven by ideals and the defence of their country. The only reason for them to exist is to defend the loyalist community. It is cause and effect. The IRA rebellion was the cause. The effect is armed loyalism.

McClinton was jailed for two murders; a politically uninvolved Catholic civilian, and a Protestant bus driver. Neither killing had any effect on “the IRA rebellion.” Why would they?

Davy Payne is suspected of being involved in murders, some involving the use of knives and torture. Kevin Myers wrote a memorable eulogy about Payne, on another occasion describing him as “one of the most ferocious savages in the history of Irish terror.” The sadly now defunct blog “Vixens With Convictions” also wrote of a sordid double murder Payne was alleged to have been involved in, that of Patrick O’Neill and the singer Rosemary McCartan.

Whilst White is typically exaggerating when he says C Company were responsible for “90%” of sectarian murder from 1972 – 1976, it is true that the west Belfast UDA had within its ranks pitiless murderers and sadists with the drive and capacity to murder any nationalist civilians that they could get access to, often after barbaric abduction and torture. From teenage boys, to middle aged mothers, the 1970s Belfast UDA murdered on scale, and at pace. They killed far more people than the Adair era UDA did.

What effect did this have on the IRA? Well, it didn’t affect their capacity to kill large numbers of RUC members, British Army soldiers, UDR members, and Protestant civilians, and neither did it put them off a wild campaign of bombing “economic targets” that reduced much of Northern Ireland to rubble. Recruitment never seemed to suffer, and in fact some IRA figures openly admitted that loyalist murder kept the volunteers coming:

IRA reaction to the double murder (Patrick O’Neill and Rosemary McCartan) was callous indifference. Former IRA Chief of Staff Daithi O’Connell coolly explained in an interview that Catholic victims of loyalist death squads served to increase recruitment to the IRA’s ranks and kept sectarian hatred perennially on the boil.

John White himself, acknowledged that he and his organisation's campaign of violence against the nationalist population had zero effect on the IRA, though he did say that it curtailed the social lives of Catholics. It also inflicted desperate suffering and grief on nationalists, as well as subjecting once proud loyalist areas of the North to gangster rule. Payne was known for his brutality to his own men, and as we have seen, McClinton murdered a Protestant bus driver.

“Davy Payne Does the Military Reaction Force (MRF) a Big Favour”

Much has been written about collusion. It is undoubtedly true that it took place, and did so from the chaotic early days of the conflict. How successfully loyalists parlayed that collusion into effective action against the IRA is debatable.

Ed Moloney (with James Kinchin-White) on his excellent blog TheBrokenElbow wrote that:

official papers from 1971 show the Heath cabinet agreed a potential intelligence relationship with ‘Protestant vigilantes’ – ‘civil defence’ groups could be ‘tolerated’ – dealings would be ‘unofficial & local.’

This agreement was made at a “Gen 47” meeting held in October 1971. As Moloney writes:

… the UDA was soon wading in blood and that … when the GEN 47 committee convened in London, the UDA had been responsible for just 4 deaths (including two UDA men killed by their own bomb). And because of a policy never to claim killings, unlike the IRA which invariably admitted its violence, it was never clear when the UDA had murdered people. The following year the UDA killed 72 people – one every five days and the reality that lay behind this particular ‘civil defence’ group was bloodily apparent.

Central to the Belfast UDA’s killing campaign was Davy Payne. Despite, or possibly because of this, Payne had good working relationships with some factions of the British security services. When a three man MRF unit was apprehended by an angry loyalist crowd (the British army estimated 150), who thought they’d captured an IRA cell, local loyalists made off with valuable materiel from the MRF car. The military log recorded that during the incident:

The MRF men were then kicked and punched by the Prot crowd. Mil ptl then arrived and managed to get the 3 MRF men out. They were taken to Flax St (one badly beaten up, two slightly injured) One wpn lost (Sgt Williams’ 9mm pistol) in the crowd and the RUC took possession of Lcpl Kinlock’s 9 mm pistol. By the time the car was recovered the red folder (which contains nominal role, codes, c/s, RV’s in city registered initials etc) was missing.

The MRF got their valuable materiel back courtesy of Davy Payne – who was recorded as a “contact” of the army. The full story is fascinating, and it’s worth reading the MRF files on TheBrokenElbow. Interestingly, the “Sgt Williams” is “Taffy” Williams, charged by the RUC with the attempted murder of Nationalists, but found not guilty.

Moloney’s note about 72 murders committed by the UDA is relevant to this article. Adair’s UDA never carried out anything like that many killings in such a condensed period of time. And his unit perhaps did not have anyone like Payne in it.

A Short History of Davy Payne

The Sunday World has reported that Davy Payne was related by marriage to John White. Kevin Myers wrote that what separated Payne from most other UDA members was his “astonishing readiness to kill.” In October 1972, Payne was charged with possession of a large cache of weapons which were kept in a lock-up garage owned by him. He was found not-guilty, but interned shortly afterwards. The Irish Sunday Independent (27/10/74) interviewed him, and noted that he had just spent ten months interned without trial. Payne, bizarrely, said at an internment hearing he had 15 security force witnesses appear against him, accusing him of the murder of Paddy Wilson, and being commander of the UFF. Payne had two Catholics support his release: “One is a builder here on the Shankill who gave me a character reference, and the other is a Catholic woman from Andersonstown whom I had helped.

When asked about sectarian murder, Payne said “I can understand how some people on our side could justify this type of murder. Personally, I would not engage in a sectarian battle." Payne also claimed, probably with good cause, that the Official IRA had him “under sentence of death.” It is unclear if the OIRA, or the PIRA, ever did try to kill him. His “own side” certainly did, as we shall see, in 1978.

The Belfast Telegraph (12/05/75) reported that:

The UDA's brigade commander in North Belfast, Mr. David Payne, saved the Jolly Roger Club in Alliance Avenue from serious damage on Saturday night when he carried a bomb clear.

Payne had nipped the fuse of the bomb, and then carried it (the bomb was contained in a satchel) to a piece of waste ground using a bamboo pole. The reported noted that the UVF had denied that they planted the bomb. In 1976, the IRA opened up on the Jolly Roger, killing two politically uninvolved Protestants, and a UDA member, William Archer, was shot dead outside it on another occasion. At some point after 1976, Payne was relieved of his command of the North Belfast UDA over allegations of the misappropriation of funds.

Payne then shocked militant loyalism when he openly supported the “Peace People” movement, giving speeches rejecting violence, and being involved in the administration of a £10,000 grant in 1978 (Magill 01/03/78). Given that Payne was ejected from role as a UDA leader it would be easy to view his conversion to peace as cynical and opportunistic, but the UDA nonetheless attempted to kill him over it. One week after he gave a speech at a Peace People rally in Ballymena, gunmen arrived at Payne home and opened fire, wounding him in the leg. The gunmen were presumably unmasked, and their fates are unknown, as is the effect the attempted murder had on Payne’s commitment to peace.

By 1980, Payne was running Crumlin Road Opportunities, a cross-community project aimed at training with vocational skills young people who would contemporaneously be described as NEET – Not in Education, Employment, or Training. Trainees included Johnny Adair (who discusses the project in his autobiography) and Skelly McCrory. McCrory was at an event hosted by the Lord Mayor of Belfast in 1982. The Lord Mayor, Tommy Patton, “paid particular tribute” to Payne (Belfast Telegraph, 18/06/82).

The project Payne managed was situated in Ewart’s Mill. In 1972 a nightwatchman employed at Ewart’s Mill, Thomas Madden, was sadistically murdered. Payne has been linked to the shockingly brutal murder of Mr Madden by a number of historians. Tom Madden’s employment at the Mill would have been known to his assailants. One wonders if Davy Payne ever spared a moment for Tom Madden as he held court in Ewart’s Mill, whilst drawing a government salary and administering £120k of UK and European Social Fund money (over £550k nowadays adjusting for inflation).

Perhaps predictably, Payne was sacked from Crumlin Road Opportunities for the same reason he was relieved of his command of the North Belfast UDA (having his fingers in the till). He was later allowed back in, with disastrous results for the post Anglo-Irish Agreement era UDA. Also worth reading the Balaclava Street article which covers Payne's final hurrah for the UDA. Ed Moloney noted that it was one Brian Nelson who was meant to take delivery of a massive shipment of loyalist weaponry, but he ducked out at the last minute, leaving the hapless Davy Payne to pick up the slack.

The UDA in Belfast towards the end of 1970s

Whilst 14 year old Samuel McCrory was getting hammered literally for anti-social behaviour in 1979, the UDA/UFF (according to the imperfect CAIN resource) in Belfast killed two republicans: an OIRA activist named Joseph McKee, and a Provo, Billy Carson. The UDA/UFF also killed at least six politically uninvolved nationalists, and were involved in feud killings.

One of the men convicted of killing Carson was named David Milton Dodds, the other was a man named Mullan. Another man named Dodds, “Winkie” became a senior C Company figure in the 80s and 90s, ultimately falling foul of Adair as did his brother, Milton Dodds. A source indicated that David Milton Dodds is Winkie Dodds brother, though I cannot say for sure if he is or not. There are two years between them in age.

The murder of Carson was unusual for the UDA at that time. It involved a high level of planning, and up-to-date intelligence. Dodds and Mullan called at Carson’s home, but he wasn’t in. They returned later that day, and sat with his family until Carson finally arrived home, at which point they shot him dead. This was a killing which wouldn’t have been out of place in John McMichael’s “shopping list” of killings in 1980 and 1981 (more of which in part 3). It was arguably more sophisticated a killing, with a more consequential impact on the IRA, than anything Adair’s C Company did.

The ratio of republican to nationalist victims of UDA violence in 1979 was unusually high, and the number of victims significantly lower than previous years, but otherwise 1979 was very much business as usual for the UDA in Belfast.

In 1980, members of the UDA’s C Company committed a murder which was as brutal as anything committed in the 1970s, and as futile as any carried out by Adair’s outfit a decade later. A juvenile delinquent, Alex “Oso” Calderwood beat an unarmed and defenceless nationalist, Alexander “Speedy” Reid to death with a concrete breeze block. As Calderwood put it:

“I grew up hating Roman Catholics and that’s the honesty about it because I don’t think I was politically aware. It was basically sectarianism at its heaviest. I joined the UDA when I was 16 years of age, in C Company with people like Bucky McCullough, Tucker Lyttle and Jimmy Craig.

The INLA killed Bucky McCullough, Adair’s rise to prominence would be occasioned by Lyttle’s fall from UDA grace, and Jim Craig was allegedly killed by individuals linked to Adair. And, of course, former associates of Adair’s would murder and secretly bury the son of UDA legend Bucky McCullough.

UDA killings had decreased dramatically, but attacks on actual militant republicans were about to increase, and reach a tempo which Adair’s unit failed to match.

More in part three…

⏩ Brandon Sullivan is a middle aged, middle management, centre-left Belfast man. Would prefer people focused on the actual bad guys. 

Another Look At The Belfast UDA – Part Ⅱ

Merrion Press 🔖is launching a new book by Trevor Birnie.

Join us this week to celebrate the launch of




Wednesday 7 December 2022, 6pm
The Dark Horse
Cathedral Quarter, Belfast
Hosted by William Crawley 




Friday 9 December 2022, 6.30pm
Erneside Shopping Centre
Special guest: Denzel McDaniel



This is the gripping inside story of Ireland’s bankrupt billionaire, Sean Quinn, who went from rags to riches before gambling it all on Anglo-Irish Bank shares and becoming the world’s biggest personal loser of the economic collapse of 2008.

A millionaire by thirty, Quinn took on the Irish cement business in the 1980s and won. He became an almost mythical character, creating thousands of jobs at a time when the dark shadows of mass unemployment and the Troubles loomed over the Irish borderlands. Then he gambled it all on the stock market, and this time he lost.

Quinn’s senior team was hand-picked, with loyalty prized above all else. When that loyalty was betrayed, they became the sole focus of his obsession and the atmosphere in ‘Quinn Country’ turned dark and ominous, culminating with the horrific abduction and attack on Kevin Lunney in 2019.

Ten years after losing it all, Quinn is a brooding figure in an enormous house, refusing to accept any blame for his downfall. This is the truly remarkable story of the man everyone said was too big to fail.

Paperback • €19.99 | £17.99 •  336 pages •  234 mm x 153 mm • 9781785373992


On Sale 1 December 2022
€19.99 | £17.99





About the Author

Trevor Birney is an Emmy-nominated film producer, director and journalist. In 2017 he produced the ground-breaking documentary No Stone Unturned, about the 1994 murder by UVF gunmen of six Catholics in Loughinisland, County Down. Birney’s work resulted in their wrongful arrests by the PSNI, who later paid the producers significant damages.


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Book Launch 📚 Trevor Birnie

Peter Anderson ⚽️ As the World Cup heads towards the pointy end one thing is clear: World Cup 2022 is high on entertainment but low on quality. 

It has been for a few years, but now the gap is widening to a noticeable level. Most of the big names at this World Cup are in their mid-thirties. Think Ronaldo, Messi, Lewandoski, Bale, Modric, Suarez, Cavani and Giroud; all yesterday's men. With the exceptions of Mbappe and Vinicius, there has been a severe lack of new, exciting talent. 

Germany have gone home, a pale imitation of previous dominant sides. Belgium too, their "golden generation" wasted on a clueless manager in Martinez, promoted above his talent. Much like Sven and the English golden generation of 20 years ago. Brazil, who used to arrive at World Cups packed with superstars, now fields Man U sub, Fred and Spurs sub, Richarlison, with Vinicius and Neymar the only superstars available. Argentina also tells a similar story. With Messi and Di Maria well past their prime, they take to the field with Brighton's Macallister and Man City youngster, Alvarez. Gone are the days of South American mystic.

This lack of squad quality or depth has thrown up some interesting points. Firstly, with France missing their established spine of Pogba, Benzema, Lucas and N'Golo Kante, England have arguably the strongest squad, certainly the deepest. I still think that their Pickford-Maguire-Stones central partnership and Southgate's lack of nous will cost them dear. They destroyed Senegal on Sunday night but now face France in a potential thriller next weekend. I can't wait for that one!

And secondly, and perhaps most importantly, is that the World Cup is wide open. Never before has every FIFA federation been represented in the last 16. We have seen a brave few upsets and more seem on the cards. I work for a Madrid company and know full well that the Spanish are bricking it over facing Morocco.

I still think that France-Brazil is the most likely final, but I would not be surprised to see a "new" team make the final, certainly the semi-final. The "smaller" teams are making this a very entertaining competition, despite the negative press, but if you want real quality footy then you'll need to wait until the Champions League kicks off again in the New Year.

Peter Anderson is a Unionist with a keen interest in sports.

High Entertainment ⚽️ Low Quality

Lynx By Ten To The Power Of Three Hundred And Ninety Four