Joe O’Connor – Ten Years On

The O’Connor family, like every other family affected by the conflict deserves answers concerning the killing of Joe – Mark Thompson, Relatives For Justice.

Ten years ago today the Provisional IRA in full public view shot dead the Real IRA volunteer Joe O’Connor as he sat unarmed in a car in West Belfast’s Ballymurphy Estate. Despite numerous eye witnesses the Sinn Fein sponsored militia denied the killing and moved to intimidate anyone prepared to say anything to the contrary. Few people believed the Provisional denial although a small number of journalists abandoned what - if there was ever any to begin with - integrity they may have had, traded in their reputations and ran with the line anyway. Ten out of every nine people declined to believe the grovelling hacks.

The killing of Joe O’Connor was clinical and ruthless. He stood no chance, trapped in a car as the state shoot to kill squad closed in on him. Whether there was collusion leading to the death is a moot point. There most certainly was after it, the inference easy to draw from the comments by the coroner at Joe O’Connor’s inquest.

As well as being a brutal killing it was ultimately a futile one. Ten years on and the Real IRA is on its feet and very much in business whereas the organisation that gunned Joe O’Connor down is on its knees sucking the PSNI truncheon. The killers thought he would be long forgotten by the time his tenth anniversary came about. They were frustrated in that as well. Today his mother backed by Relatives For Justice called for the truth behind his death to be brought forth. Last weekend a commemoration took place at his burial site attended by his family, friends, comrades and republicans of different hues.

It has been said of the logic of capital punishment that it is in essence contradictory because it is premised on the absurd concept that killing people is a proper way to demonstrate that killing people is wrong. The same reasoning can be brought to bear on the Ballymurphy killing ten years ago. How the killers ever imagined that one way to influence the Real IRA to take the gun out of Irish politics was to use the gun against one of their volunteers defies reason. The Real IRA could only have had their militaristic orientation reinforced as a result of the killing; that guns were indeed an appropriate way to deal with opponents. The legacy is on the streets of the North today.

In today’s Irish News the mother of the murdered man, Margaret O’Connor, spoke about his death. She asked for closure:

there is all this talk about truth commissions and people owning up to what they did but no one has ever admitted killing my son … his children deserve to know who killed their daddy and why … I just want the PIRA to admit they killed my son. I need them to admit that they did it so that my family can have some kind of closure.

Margaret O’Connor is unlikely to get the acknowledgement she needs. The organisation which killed her son has long called a spade a shovel and is unlikely to concern itself with justice. Nevertheless, some people who were members of the Provisionals at the time of the killing have since spoken out against their organisation’s action ten years ago today. One who spoke at Saturday’s commemoration for the dead man apologised.

On behalf of grassroots Provisional IRA Volunteers and Sinn Fein Activists, I apologise to the O’Connor & Notarantonio families for Joe’s political assassination. I make the apology as a former Provisional IRA Volunteer, former Sinn Fein member and Ex- Political Prisoner.

There is not now the slightest doubt about the culpability of the Provisional IRA. Those who in the immediate days after the killing may have been manipulated into a confused state by Provisional lying can no longer be shielded from the truth of what happened on Friday the 13th October 2000.

In plain simple language that the peace process has difficulty understanding, Joe O’Connor was butchered by the Provisional IRA. .


  1. Mackers, they literally go away with murder, just like the did with Andy Kearney.
    It was people like yourself, Carrie, Tommy and Anne who paid a heavy price for what happened that day.
    It still defies belief that they had the audacity to picket outside your homes, all that yourself and Tommy had come through, it must have been horrendous.
    It must have seemed surreal for Carrie and Anne.
    A few weeks ago we were actually speaking about it here at home and to be honest I think we all carry a bit of guilt for that one.

  2. They got away with the political murder of Joe O,Connor, and Bobby Tohill would most probably have ended up on a border road,had it not been for the timely intervention of the cops, Raymond Mc Cartney and Paul Quinn paid the price for crossing them,the term rafia certainly fits those who claim to be the republican movement, I see in todays Irish News the pira stole a consignment of Easter eggs worth £9, Jan 2002,Kenneth Gaffney who previously served a 3 year jail term for possesion of a firearm in 1993 was given a suspended 4 year prison sentence.detective sergeant Walter O,Connell said Gaffney had no involvement with any dissident organisations,a bit like the old days here in the sick counties when the RUC would charge loyalists with all sorts some times and the courts dismissing or handing out a suspended sentence while republicans went down for a long time usually on none or the flimiest of evidence,because Gaffney is connected to a state sponsered organisation it does seem that the state is more than willing to turn a blind eye to the activities of the pira, I bet the writers of the Sopranos wished they could have written about these goodfellas

  3. Marty,

    I think you mean Robert McCartney

  4. state death squade certainly fits the bill here.

  5. if so called hard ones get the odd hurly over the head or get shot by there own community it hardly makes them hardline
    how can anyone become oc of the real in belfast whilst the real have never killed a brit or cop in belfast from jo-jos day to to-day
    and never will,
    if the hardliners know who is responsible why do they not retaliate- fear
    they are supposed to be hardline after all- hard at the talk
    some just do not like all the truth.

  6. I found you last post typical obnoxious thick psf crap Mickeyboy,who give pira the authority to act as judge jury and executioneer,in the murder of Vol J O,Connor, the new UVF/UDA would you say, your comments goading people to take lives for the cause is sick my son it didnt work for pira and it aint gonna work now,your mates in psf are in the position they are in today through the intervention of s/b and mi5/6 it used to be said one in three in psf was a tout so I suppose its easy for the likes of yourself to talk like a hard man,met your kind to many times over the years Mickeyboy if you were a woman I,d describe you as fur coat and no knickers

  7. michaelhenry you talk such shite, I would dearly love to know how many Brits or Peelers you shot!
    You are like so many others in PSF, you talk the talk but thats as far as it goes.

  8. A tragic murder in the name of peace demonstrates a party out of control clearly they did not consider either the short term or long term consequences politically.
    It highlights the paradoxical PSF agenda using murder and intimidation within the republican community and flying the blood soaked white flag as a trophy showing how committed they are to peace?

  9. Anthony,

    "He stood no chance, trapped in a car as the state shoot to kill squad closed in on him."

    As I recall the terminology at the time was 'policing the peace'. I would have no doubt that you were proposed for the same type of 'policing operation'. Given your ability to clinically analyse and critique the PRM in such a devastating manner, I am surprised that someone has not had reason to pen an article, "Anthony McIntyre - Ten years On".

  10. Robert,

    I hope they write it about 50 years from now!!


    the picket acheived nothing for them and everything for their critics. Their bullying and intimidation was seen for what it was. Carrie was six months pregnant the second time the mob arrived and she went out and faced them. I was in Cookstown at a political conference when word came through. She and Anne paid a price. It left Carrie commenting that the Shinners were no different from a Los Angeles gang.

    Michaelhenry, whose own community killed someone?

  11. Marty,

    "..a bit like the old days here in the sick counties when the RUC would charge loyalists with all sorts some times and the courts dismissing or handing out a suspended sentence while republicans went down for a long time usually on none or the flimiest of evidence,.."

    I don't question the sincerity of your opinion on this but I think the stats on sentencing suggest that their was a general parity in this area.

  12. Michael

    It is extremely disconcerting your callous disregard for human life (beyond your castle in the sky world) your excessive militant comments contradict the very party lines you so ungraciously grovel for.
    The only redeemable attribute I can give your character is you are consistently incoherent which maybe a result of a malfunctioning brain.
    I understand you may view the murder as a necessary evil and you are entitled to hold that conviction in a warped political sense your ne’er do well unrelenting tough-nut act is not impressive.
    Try showing some respect for a fellow Irishman or if your psychosis does not allow you that at least consider the loss to his family.
    Without question you are more disturbed than disturbing.

  13. Anthony,

    "I hope they write it about 50 years from now!!

    By that stage old father time rather than assassins directed from the office of the deputy first minister may be the cause of your demise. You may of course succumb to the musings of Michael Henry and give up the ghost long before your appointed hour?

  14. To All,

    I have made this comment before as it pertains to my belief that any republican who would assassinate another republican because of political differences has got to be working for the Brits. The vicious rivalry between the dissidents and PSF is only playing right into the hands of the British gov’t and the Loyalists who support them. The RUC/PSNI and MI5 are sitting back watching this whole “republican against republican scenario” unfold…and they love it. What is truly alarming to me is that any republican who speaks out against PSF and the status-quo now, wind up dead or before a Diplock court on charges dating back prior to the GFA. Labeled a “lunatic”, “on the edge” or whatever verbiage they use in trying to discredit that person. Republicans who loyally served under the current PSF leadership, but who no longer agree with the direction they are taking republicanism, are now being compromised, marginalized, ostracized and incarcerated all on PSF’s watch. If PSF is not orchestrating these events, than why do they sit back, in silence, and allow it to happen? Sad to say, but it appears to me PSF are now resorting to the same tactics their oppressors resorted to when dealing with them as a “non-entity” prior to the GFA.

  15. Anthony no need to worry about succumbing to Mickeyboys rantings I hear that they are measuring him up for one of those jacket thingies what ya callem ah yes thats it a donkey jacket! their giving him a job sweeping up all his mates psf crap.Robert yes a hell of a lot of loyalist paramilitaries did go down and for big stretches, but if you trawl through the court cases through those years you,ll find loads of examples where UDR members and others walked free from possesion charges on grouds like I was forced to keep these weapons, this happened more that once or twice Robert, and youll find that there was a hell of a difference in the way the courts dealt with republicans as opposed to loyalists.Andre Shoukri for example was given bail when caught and charged with possesion of a firearm, and I think he got a very lenient sentence,and this is a man who has already been convicted of causing a death.loads more in the archives Robert but I reckon you know how the system worked.

  16. michaelhenry is just livingon another mans wound...alice in wonderland. Put your rubber doll away michaelhenry and step out into the real world.

  17. Something worth watching RTE1 will broadcast Voices From the Grave on Tuesday October26th,Mickeyboy can watch postman Pat on cbbc

  18. Mackers, the first I heard of it was when someone told me that a republican mob had went to Tommy Gorman's house. I remember thinking, what sort of republicans would picket outside Tommy Gorman's house.
    Then all the lie machine kicked it in and all the spin and dirt flew out.
    I think the fact that it was able to happen, that people like you could be subjected to that. made a lot of us feel totally disempowered.
    They may not have accomplished their objective, however, the very fact that they could organise and muster their troops around a string of lies only serves to highlight how precarious a person relationship was with them.

  19. Nuala, they failed. A few idiots chanting all our lies are true made them look silly

  20. Oh wow..celtic v rangers on sunday 24th then voices from the grave on rte/vatican 1 on tuesday 26th...
    lets hope a documentary with the same title isn't aired in the years to come about both clubs..
    How's the cold sweat receding Mackers after the Liverpool takeover???

  21. Robert

    Salutations, as always I benefit from your contributions I believe you are correct in stating that Anthony was more than likely to receive the proverbial Mass card and to be buried like so many secrets in the Para-military bone-yard as the old axiom would have us believe “dead men tale no tales.”
    Ironically it may well be his critique of the RM could be the very thing caused reservations killing the messenger presumably would not have killed the well documented message.

  22. Mackers, for a considerably long time what they done went virtually unchallenged. In fairness though, not too many people realised the full extent of their intimidation against you.
    When the truth did eventually seep out, I thought you were all either incredibly brave or just absolute bonkers.
    My son said you lot were 'trailblazers' and I think that just about sums it up

  23. Nuala,

    I recall wondering how Stick volunteers could take the crap their leadership fed to them. I later spoke at an ex-prisoners conference they organised in Newry and they were very enlightening on why they bought into it. I had years earlier said to many people that if our leadership ever started telling us the nonsense the Stick leadership told their people I would query it. And that is what I did. Jimmy Steel had set the example. He was the trail blazer in that respect.

  24. heard yer man [man] from the real
    liam campbell who was found liable by a civil court for omagh as been
    removed to a secure wing after death threats from the real [ the media said this ]
    i have heard 5 differend yarns
    worse than a sewing school here.

  25. Joe O’Connor – Ten Years On


    Marty is right. Your comment here was obnoxious and gratuitous. There is also the element of goading people into taking life. Has there not been enough life lost? Perhaps because you have never taken it – which is to your credit – you view it in the fashion of the cinema, treat it as unreal and devalue it – which is not to your credit. If you quietly read Tain Bo’s comment which begins with the line

    ‘It is extremely disconcerting your callous disregard for human life’

    You might find that there is much to be learned from it.


    One problem with the arguments made by Michaelhenry is that they tend to reinforce the view of armed republicans that SF has no case to make and as such need not be listened to in any circumstance, even when they argue against the use of arms.

    What you said in another post, in jocular fashion when exchanging with Michaelhenry:

    ‘ imagine being starkers and all the protesting dissidents looking at your funny bits … I think that essentially captures your position here’

    That is the danger for him. I know he and his adversaries all enjoy the craic but his position invites so much ridicule which is different from a position inviting critique.


    Just trace the path the Sticks took. Many good people who lost their way and became what they previously hated. And to mask it they sought to demonise those who would not take the plunge with them.

  26. Marty,

    "Andre Shoukri for example was given bail when caught and charged with possesion of a firearm, and I think he got a very lenient sentence."
    Andre Previn probaly possessed more political motivation than the aforementioned. I suspect the legal latitude and leniency was afforded on the basis of 'support' for the 'peace process' and of course in facilitating the expulsion of Johnny Adair.

  27. Anthony,

    "That is the danger for him. I know he and his adversaries all enjoy the craic but his position invites so much ridicule which is different from a position inviting critique."

    I suppose where there is no consciousness danger and ridicule are irrelevant. Equally even the most intelligent and articulate argument if premised on demonstrable untruths can attract the same measure of ridicule and incredulity. I think that explains the reticence of those within the Sinn Fein intelligentsia and those without who may otherwise hold to their position to present here.