Allison Morris: A month of bloodshed that pressured loyalists to call a ceasefire
IT was a month of bloodshed which shocked many, threatened to derail the ongoing peace talks and ultimately put pressure on loyalist paramilitaries to call a ceasefire.
It started with the shooting of a number of leading loyalists by the INLA on a busy afternoon on Belfast's Shankill Road on June 16, 1994.
Shoppers fled for their lives as an INLA gunman leapt out of a car and blasted four men who were standing on the pavement outside the local Co-op.
The men had reportedly just come from a UVF meeting.
All four were hit in either the head or neck, with the getaway car was later discovered burning in the Divis area of west Belfast.
Colin 'Crazy' Craig, of Conlig, Co Down, died almost instantly, while three others were injured. David Hamilton died the following day and UVF commander Trevor King died three weeks later from his injuries. All three were members of the UVF's 'B Company'. A forth man survived.
The INLA claimed responsibility with the men rumoured to be responsible later died in an internal feud within that organisation.
Craig was given a paramilitary style funeral and journalists covering the funeral were threatened at the scene.
But within five months the 31-year-old was branded an informant by the UVF leadership who removed all trace of him from UVF memorials and smashed up his grave.
In the book 'UVF Behind the Mask' by Dr Aaron Edwards reported that a "short time after his death, someone close to Craig allegedly walked into the UVF's headquarters on the Shankill and presented the Brigade Staff with evidence that showed Craig had £27,000 in his bank account".
Friends denied this, claiming that the terror gang's leadership had used him as a scapegoat to cover for the actions of other double agents, including one man who was the main source of the bank account rumour and a Special Branch informer since 1989.
A Police Ombudsman's probe into the actions of the officers handling the informer, who resurfaced during the loyalist protest at Twaddell, is currently underway.
The Shankill Road attack came two hours after loyalists shot and seriously injured popular butcher Brendan McAuley as he stood in his shop at the junction of Falls Road and Donegall Road.
The SDLP MP for West Belfast, Dr Joe Hendron, said at the time that he was angry because Mr McAuley's request to police for a personal protection weapon had been refused.
His shooting was claimed by the UFF.
But it was the retaliatory attacks in the days afterwards that put added pressure on the loyalist paramilitary groups to call a ceasefire.
Taxi man Gerard Brady, a father of two, was shot dead the following day after picking up two men in Antrim town, the UVF claimed responsibility.
Five workmen were shot at a building site at Rathcoole. Cecil Dougherty died almost instantly and William Corrigan died later from his injuries. The UVF were responsible but didn't claim the attack after it emerged that they had mistaken their victims for Catholics.
And on June 18, six people lost their lives as they watched a World Cup football match in The Heights Bar in Loughinisland.
Adrian Rogan (34), Malcolm Jenkinson (52), Daniel McCreanor (59), Patrick O'Hare (35) and Eamon Byrne (39)and Barney Green (87) were all Catholic civilians. Mr Green was one of the oldest people to be killed during the Troubles.
No one was ever convicted of the UVF attack that was the subject of the award winning documentary No Stone Unturned, by Fine Point Films.
Journalists Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey who helped make the documentary were arrested last August by Durham Constabulary investigating the theft of Police Ombudsman's documents. Earlier this month the pair were told the case against them had been dropped.
Four months after the killings the Combined Loyalist Military Command, an umbrella group for the Ulster Volunteer Force, the Ulster Defence Association and the Red Hand Commando, announced a ceasefire.
In a statement read by Gusty Spence, they said they would ''universally cease all operational hostilities as from 12 midnight on Thursday 13 October 1994".