Milltown Cemetery Killings
The pointless and horrific violence that summarised so much about the long-running Troubles in Northern Ireland perhaps reached its zenith on March 16 1988. On that day, as three IRA terrorists killed in Gibraltar by British forces were being buried at Milltown Cemetery in West Belfast, a shocking attack took place, captured by cameras. Whatever the rights and wrongs of their actions and those of the British forces, in a civilised world surely a burial service would be sacrosanct?
But it wasn’t, just as the Enniskillen Remembrance Ceremony targeted by the IRA which he supposedly sought to avenge had not been. The loyalist killer Michael Stone shot at mourners and threw grenades, killing three and injuring more than 50 attending the service. He was then chased by others, cornered and beaten, eventually rescued by the police who arrived to arrest him. He has since alleged that he was given help by elements within the police in setting up his attack, but what help would be needed is unclear.
Stone was sentenced to life imprisonment for the three killings, and three earlier murders to which he confessed. He was released in 2000 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement , but was returned to prison in 2006 after his attempted attack on Stormont , where he had planned to kill Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams .
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