Northern Ireland news

Victims of UVF Avenue Bar killings remembered on 30th anniversary

The Avenue Bar in Belfast in 1988

FRIENDS and family of victims of a UVF gun attack on a bar will this week mark the thirtieth anniversary of killings.

Three men were killed in the Avenue Bar on Union Street in Belfast city centre on May 15 1988.

Now the Sunflower, it is the last remaining bar in the city with a security cage at its entrance.

The Avenue Bar was attacked on several occasions during The Troubles.

A car bomb exploded outside the pub in 1973, while three people were killed and 10 injured when loyalists sprayed the bar with gunfire in the 1988 attack.

Three Catholic civilians were killed and six others wounded. The bar was close to the Unity Flats complex and so was frequented mostly by Catholics.

The attack happened at 2:20pm when the bar was crowded with Sunday drinkers.

Loyalist gunmen, who had been buzzed in through a security barrier, opened fire on around 20 customers with an automatic rifle. People threw glasses at the gunmen in an attempt to fight them off.

Those killed were Stephen McGaghan, a father-of-three from New Lodge, Damien Devlin (24), from Ladybrook in Andersonstown, and Paul McBride (26), from Kerrera Street in Ardoyne.

Six other men were wounded. The owner of The Avenue at the time, Margaret Lynch, was having lunch in a snug in the bar when the shooting happened and was uninjured.

The gunmen escaped in a car which had been hijacked 20 minutes earlier on Shankill Road, and which was found abandoned at Carlow Street behind Shankill Leisure Centre shortly after the attack.

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