Northern Ireland news

Families to remember New Lodge Six massacre 50 years on

The New Lodge Six, who were shot dead by the British army 50 years ago overnight on Friday
Connla Young

RELATIVES of six Catholic men shot dead in north Belfast 50 years ago by the British army will hold a special commemoration on Friday to remember their loved ones.

The dead, known as the New Lodge Six, were killed during two separate shooting incidents overnight between February 3 and 4, 1973.

Three of the men were members of the IRA but not involved in republican activities when they were killed.

While loyalists were blamed it is suspected by some that the British army's undercover Military Research Force may have been involved in killing two of the IRA men James Sloan and James McCann, both 19.

Another IRA member, Tony Campbell (19) was shot dead a short time later at the junction of New Lodge Road and Edlingham Street along with three other local men John Loughran (35), Brendan Maguire (32), and Ambrose Hardy (26).


IRA member James Sloan


Mr Hardy was shot in the head after he emerged from a nearby bar while waving a white cloth.

Some of those killed were trying to help the injured, including John Loughran, who had earlier left the safety of his home.

The British army later claimed the victims were killed during a gun battle, however, this was later shown to be untrue.

Witness statements provided by local people directly contradicted claims made by British soldiers.

Campaigners say all the victims were unarmed.

The group of four men were shot by British army snipers located in observation posts at the top of local high rise flats and from a position in the direction of Duncairn Gardens.

James Sloan's son, Jim Sloan, has spoken about the death of his father for the first time.

The 49-year-old told how his mother found out she was pregnant after his father's funeral.

He said that he and his mother lived with his grandparents in the years after his father was killed and recounts how growing up he was often taunted and harassed by members of the security forces because his father was a member of the IRA.

On one occasion, as a three-year-old, he claims he was told by a British soldier that his father was a "murdering b*****d".

He said he was always non political and feels he needs to speak out now for the first time.

"I am only now because my granny and granda are dead and there is nobody else to carry it on," he said.

The sense of loss for the father he never met remains.

"I was robbed of my da and he was robbed of fatherhood," he said.

"Because you see with my wee kids, it's brilliant, and to think he was robbed of that for nothing, for something so silly. Because you believe in something and the other person doesn't. To me it was just a waste of life on both sides - for what? Everybody has the right to their own beliefs."

He said there's always "a bit of sadness" on his father's anniversary and that he normally marks the day with his children.

However, this year he will attend a candlelight procession, which starts at the top of New Lodge Road at 6.30pm on Friday.


Mike Ritchie of Relatives for Justice


Relatives for Justice has produced a special book to mark the significant anniversary of the massacre.

Mike Ritchie said the British government's Legacy Bill will be challenged.

"As the 50th anniversary of the New Lodge Six killings is marked it is unclear as to whether the scheduled inquest will now take place though lawyers for the families are hopeful, he said.

"The legislation will be challenged in the courts."


Northern Ireland news