Northern Ireland news

Former UVF man Garfield Beattie reveals how he nearly shot Catholic uncle

The Eagle Bar in Charlemont, near the Moy
Connla Young

A former UVF man convicted of killing three people has revealed how he almost shot his own Catholic uncle dead in a sectarian gun attack.

Garfield Beattie served 16 years in jail for three sectarian murders carried out in the 1970s.

The 64-year-old was convicted of killing Frederick McLoughlin (48) near Moy in 1976, Pat McNeice (50) near Loughgall in the same year and Denis Mullen (36) close to the Moy the previous year.

Mr McLoughlin died in May 1976 from injuries received during a gun attack at the Eagle Bar in Charlemont, Co Armagh, weeks earlier.

Beattie, who this week was convicted of sending a letter to Mr Mullen's daughter in a bid to have her drop legal proceedings, has revealed that his own uncle James McKeown was in the Eagle Bar when a three-man UVF team launched the attack.

Mr McKeown, from Blackwatertown in Co Armagh, was a brother of Beattie's mother Mary.

The former UVF man, who later admitted to being one of two gunmen who opened fire on the bar, said he only found out the following day that his close relative had been present at the time of the deadly attack.

"James was in the Eagle Bar, that's true," he said.

"I didn't know he was in there.

"My mother was there the next day and came back and said to me 'your uncle James was in the Eagle Bar last night."

It was later established that the front of the Eagle Bar had been hit 30 times with rounds fired from two weapons.

Former UVF man Garfield Beattie

A simultaneous UVF bomb attack at nearby Clancy's Bar resulted in the deaths of three people, Felix Clancy (54), Sean O'Hagan (22) and Robert McCullough (41).

The former loyalist prisoner said that he told police at the time he has no knowledge of the Clancy Bar attack.

Denis Mullen

Beattie, a former member of the Territorial Army Volunteer Reserve, also revealed that his uncle escaped possible death or serious injury months later when a planned UVF bomb in Clontibret, Co Monaghan, was diverted to another target.

The planned Glenanne Gang attack was halted when gardai sealed off the border town after a tip off.

The target of the device is understood to have been a bar where members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) would have been celebrating the Catholic Feast of the Assumption on August 15.

Despite the gang, which included members of the RUC, UDR and UVF, having been under surveillance a new target was chosen and on August 16 1976 two people, Betty McDonald (32) and Gerald McGleenan (22) were killed when a bomb exploded outside the Step Inn at Keady in Co Armagh.

Beattie reveals that his uncle James was a member of the AOH and was in the Co Monaghan town on the day of the abandoned attack.

He said he had no knowledge of the episode as he had been arrested and was being questioned by the RUC at the time.

In an interview with the Irish News last year Beattie claimed that his grandfather, James McKeown, was a member of the IRA in the Loughgall area in the 1920s and that his mother was also republican minded.

Frederick McLoughlin was shot dead by the Glenanne Gang in 1976

Earlier this week Beattie was convicted at Dungannon Magistrates Court of writing a letter to Mr Mullen's daughter, Aontú councillor Denise Mullen last year, telling her to withdraw the civil legal action launched against him in respect of her father’s murder.

The letter was signed 'East Tyrone Ulster Volunteer Force'.

He was released pending reports to the judge before sentencing takes place next month.

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