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Thirst for fame made Michael Stone a laughing stock - The Irish News
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Thirst for fame made Michael Stone a laughing stock

MICHAEL Stone is a broken figure crippled with arthritis whose thirst for fame made him a laughing stock.

Few former associates were in court five years ago to watch the killer limp from the dock for his last appearance.

His yearning for attention inspired the bizarre 2006 attempt to storm Parliament Buildings.

Stone achieved heroic status among hardline loyalists after murdering three people - Thomas McErlean, John Murray and Kevin Brady - and injuring more than 50 at west Belfast's Milltown Cemetery in 1988.

The targets of his solo gun and grenade attack on mourners at the funerals of three IRA members killed by the SAS in Gibraltar were Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.

Republicans caught him but police arrived in time to save him.

The maniacal figure he cut that day was beamed across the world.

Among his own kind, he became the stuff of legend. Murals celebrating his actions appeared on gable walls in Protestant estates and the bulletproof vest he wore is rumoured to have fetched £10,000 at auction.

He claimed to have killed dozens of others, although his claims

were later questioned and it is believed the admissions protected other killers from justice.

The father-of-nine also claimed to have come close to assassinating former London mayor Ken Livingstone in 1983.

Senior figures within loyalism dismiss him as "a peripheral figure" and "a loner".

While serving his almost 700-year sentence in the Maze he formed a close association with the then UDA boss, Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair.

Freed from prison in 2000 under the terms of the Good Friday agreement, Stone attempted to pursue a career as an artist, 'specialising' in surrealism. He claimed to have sold works for up to £30,000.

He went on a permanent publicity circuit, giving media interviews about his art and his former activities.

However, by the time of his 'performance art' at Stormont, interest in him had paled and he was increasingly desperate to propel himself back into the public eye.

Armed with knives, an axe, garrotte and a flight bag containing explosive fireworks, flammable liquids, a butane gas canister and fuses, he struck on the day Ian Paisley and Mr McGuinness were to be nominated as first minister and deputy first minister.

That apparent act of hubris sealed his future, locking him away from the public whose attention he craves.

 

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