The killing of Ritchie McKinnie


Personal circumstances

Mr. McKinnie was a married man with four children. He lived in North Belfast and worked  in Mackie’s engineering works. On the evening of 7th September 1972 he was driving in the Shankill Road area of Belfast. His passenger was his brother, Thomas, who had just arrived home from Canada, after an absence of  31 years. They were visiting old haunts and had stopped by the Melville Arms public house, where they had a couple of drinks. 

Movements prior to the shooting

Having been advised of crowd trouble close by, they decided to leave the public house and pick up Ritchie’s wife, who was visiting her sister’s shop at the corner of Wimbledon Street and Matchett Street, close by. At approximately 9.30pm he turned into Matchett Street and turned his headlights on. He has earlier turned them off as a security precaution.  Members of the First Battalion , the Parachute regiment were in the vicinity. Ritchie  drove slowly up the centre of the street, avoiding debris. Thomas describes a blinding flash and a loud bang. Ritchie fell on to his lap, saying;  “Tom, I’ve been hit”. Tom got him out on to the road. An ambulance was called. Mr George Cree, a resident of Matchett Street, said that he  saw a car come up the street from the direction of  Snugville Street. An English voice  twice called for it to extinguish its lights. Mr Cree then heard four to five shots.  The car lurched to a stop and a passenger got out and said ; “somebody help me , my brother has been shot”. This incident was also witnessed by Evelyn McIntyre , Joseph Thompson , David Beck, Mr A Armstrong and Joyce Cummins. No witness said that they heard firing before the army opened fire. The number of shots fired by the army is put between two and five.

Injuries to Mr McKinnie

He was placed on the road way and was seen to be bleeding profusely from a wound to the right hand side of his chest. He was taken to hospital where he died , shortly afterwards.

Police investigation

The shooting happened a short distance from Tennent Street RUC station. It is not known what steps the police took to cordon off the scene or  take forensic samples.

A detective sergeant made a police report concerning death. He simply recorded “Rioting was taking place in the area between Military and UDA. The windscreen of the car was shattered and the subject received wounds to his right shoulder.”

The same sergeant or another, from Tennent Street , attended the mortuary and identified the body to the pathologist , Dr Marshall. He opined that death was due to perforation of the chest and right armpit by fragments of a bullet. “These indicate that fragments of a copper cased, lead cored bullet were responsible for the fatal injuries.” Mr McKinnie’s injuries were photographed. His car was photographed.

The scene was photographed and mapped. A scenes of crime officer gathered evidence re the deceased, which was examined by a forensic scientist. He opined that the lead deposits on Mr McKinnie’s clothing and hands originated from the bullet fragments. He identified the fragments as coming from a 7.62 NATO bullet discharged from a British Army SL rifle. Interestingly, he had been provided with test bullets from a number of rifles but he was unable to say which had fired the round.

As was the practice, the Royal Military Police took witness statements from the soldiers present. Soldier A,B,E and J’s statements were presented to the inquest. It is not known what other witness statements were taken by police, except that they appear to have enquired of the deceased’s employer as to whether he could have come into contact with lead.

A file was sent to the DPP. A decision of no prosecution was made in December 1973.

There may have been some sort of investigation by the HET.

State reaction

An army officer claimed on television on 8th September that Mr McKinnie’s hands tested positive for traces of lead.

On 20th November 1972 , Stratton Mills, MP asked the Secretary of State for a statement re Mr McKinnie’s death. Whitelaw said that “troops came under armed attack and gunfire was returned. Shortly after this exchange of fire…..Mr McKinnie was admitted to the RVH.”

West Belfast Orange Hall Enquiry

The UDA held an enquiry, to which many of the persons named above gave testimony. They produced a pamphlet entitled “The Shankill Disturbances”. A call for a judicial enquiry went unheeded.


An inquest was held on 24th  October 1972. An open verdict was returned.

Soldier A’s statement to the Royal Military Police [“RMP”] said that he saw soldier L fire at a gunman and he saw that man fall. Soldier A then told the RMP that two gunmen opened fire with what may have been Stirling SMGs. He fired at one of these men and saw him fall. Neither fallen man was detailed or identified.

Soldier E made a more dramatic statement. He said that a man appeared ‘wearing a bush hat’. The man fired two rounds from a revolver. These rounds struck a wall above soldier E, then stood up from a crouching position. Soldier E fired two rounds from his SLR rifle. “I saw him leap into the air, spin around and fall on his face. A group of about 5 men were around him and a large crowd were [sic] on the corner of Jersey Street. This crowd moved around the injured man and I last saw him being dragged away, face down, by his legs.”

Soldier J told the RMP that he saw a light blue BMC 1100 car “moving slowly in a westerly direction , along Matchet St [sic] , it had its headlights on full beam. Soldier B , who was standing on the opposite corner, shouted to switch his lights off, to no avail. I also shouted to him along with soldier E who was also at my position. I then saw a muzzle flash to the left of the vehicle. At the same moment I heard the report of the weapon. I fired one aimed shot at the direction from where I had seen the flash. I then saw a man move from the car. He was carrying a rifle pointed in my direction..I then saw another muzzle flash from this weapon. I ran forward into the road and took aim in the standing position and fired two rapid shots at the person. I saw the man fall, I think I hit him in the chest. I returned to my position on the corner and when I looked around again his body had gone.” Soldier J makes no further mention of the car nor its occupants . This car , which , according to soldier J, contained a gunman, was not stopped by him or his colleagues, nor the occupant(s) detained.

Soldier B was the commander of a twelve man mobile patrol. His initial statement , made at 03.00 on 8th September, made no mention of seeing the BMC 1100 , shouting at it or of  seeing a gunman or gunmen. He was re-interviewed on 23rd September. He said that he saw a car travelling along Silvio street with its lights on. He approached the car and smashed the lights with his baton. This was not the car containing Mr McKinnie.

Despite soldiers J , A and B, their commander, being, according to J, being together at the time when the blue BMC 1100 drove down matchet Street, only soldier J gives a detailed account.

All statements were taken by corporals in the RMP.

Thomas, Ritchie’s brother made a statement about the events. Neither he nor anyone at the scene mentions the presence of any soldier, after the shot was fired.

A helpful neighbour in Matchett Street agreed to drive the BMC 1100 car to Mr McKinnie’s home. The driver noticed that there was a bullet hole in the windscreen, immediately above the rubber sealing ring and under the wiper blade, directly in front of the driver’s position. 


It is clear that there was unrest in that area of the Shankill on that evening, involving Loyalist paramilitaries and the Parachute Regiment. Several witnesses told of abusive and threatening behaviour by soldiers towards local householders.

The army did not stop to search for any weapons or arrest Thomas. They left the scene, despite stating that they fired at a man with a rifle or rifles and a hand gun.

Thomas was never arrested or tested for gunshot residue.

The residue on Ritchie’s hands could be explained by the bullet striking his hand, severing his thumb and disintegrating.

Soldier J, who admits firing at the muzzle flash which was approximately three feet to the left of the BMC 1100 was either a bad shot or a good liar, given that the bullet that killed Mr McKinnie entered the car at the driver’s position, in the opposite direction.

No loyalist weapons were recovered by police or the army. No dead or wounded civilians were detected save for Mr McKinnie and Robert Johnston, a “harmless drunk” who was shot dead by the same regiment at much the same time, a few streets away.

The soldiers on duty that evening were from 1 Para mortar platoon.

The same platoon had been prominent in the events of Bloody Sunday.

To the Widgery Inquiry, the army made the case that they had been fired on first and that they were returning fire at known gunmen. The same case as made at Matchett Street.

On 30th January 1972 13 unarmed civilians were killed by the Parachute Regiment in Londonderry.

Lord Widgery was appointed to enquire into the circumstances and reported in April 1972.

1 Para were the soldiers who opened fire. Present were Support Company, A and C Companies.

The soldiers of Support Company were the only ones to open fire.

Widgery described how mortar platoon were cutting wire when a single high velocity shot was fired at them from somewhere near Rossville flats and struck a drainpipe nearby. [paragraph 35]

Support Company, when it was giving cover to Mortar Platoon , opened fire on nail bombers shortly thereafter.

At paragraph 46 Widgery says that Mortar platoon moved into the courtyard of Rossville flats. There they fired 42 rounds and killed John Duddy.

Widgery, at paragraph 51 records a series of soldiers from Mortar platoon , who gave evidence of being under fire, identifying gunmen and then firing at them.

This , of course , was the same type of evidence that they were to give at the inquest into Mr McKinnie’s death.

Some commentators reason that , having got away with it in front of Widgery, they repeated the performance. The author used to note the presence of Army Legal Branch at trials and often wondered what their role was and what advice they gave to soldiers who were witnesses. 

“Bag a Paddy” was a phrase not unfamiliar in connection with the British Army.


Unionist politicians have signally failed to point out the behaviour of the Parachute Regiment on the Shankill. To do so would have lent credence to the families of Bloody Sunday.

As ever , the working class suffer at the hands of the Unionist Big House.

Moussa Koussa, an odd man out

MK, as I shall call him, born in 1947, was one of the most powerful figures in Gadafy’s regime. Educated in the USA, he was head of the Libyan Intelligence Agency from 1994 to 2009. He then became foreign minister. He defected in March 2011 as the Arab Spring engulfed Libya. Arriving into  Farnborough by private jet , he was guarded by British Intelligence until he was permitted by the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, to leave for Qatar.

There has been much press speculation that he was a MI6 agent.Papers released by the CIA in relation to the Senate Inquiry into Mrs Clinton point to him  being  their asset.

Despite calls for him to be questioned about the killing of WPC Fletcher and the supply of Semtex to Sinn Fein/IRA he was spoken to only by the Scottish police, presumably in relation to the Lockerbie massacre.

The then Foreign Secretary , William Hague,  told the House of Commons that officials would encourage MK to cooperate fully with all requests for interviews with investigating authorities. This was said with a straight face.

Both the USA and the EC lifted both monetary and travel sanctions against him.

Well done thy good and faithful servant!

So, there it is then. MK saw the light, defected, recanted and now lives in comfortable retirement.

Enter Andrew MacKinlay at the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee.He said in evidence that MK was a known terrorist , named to him by Leyden , the British Ambassador as having been “up to his neck in Lockerbie”. MacKinley went on ” There were far too many people and agencies who would have been embarrassed in either a British or an International court… it is a reasonable assumption that his fingerprints would have been all over the supply of Semtex and other weaponry to the IRA.”  He went on to say that MK probably authorised supply to the IRA.

The really embarrassing thing for the “Peace Process” would be that MK knows precisely what Sinn Fein/IRA got. Comparing it to what was “decommissioned” would not be in the interests of the Peaceniks.

You might wonder Dear Reader , when the Director of Public Prosecutions is so exercised about the alleged murders by British forces  in Belfast and Derry , that he might be a little concerned about Andrew MacKinlay’s allegations. Unless I have missed something , he has been utterly silent.

So too, the silence of Chief Constable George, the man who invariably follows where the evidential trail leads.

The answer may lie in what MacKinlay says. Neither Barra nor George fancies facing up to the opening of Pandora’s Box. Or they have been told to do nothing by their political masters.

Happy Christmas Moussa!


Dear Reader,

Did you watch this interview on Irish TV?

The lighting was dramatic and the scene was set.

Just Mallie and McGuinness. Mano a Mano.

McGuinness upright at the table, in charge, Mallie, crouching, a supplicant, bowed over, looking for titbits from the Master.

Mallie: tell me about your Roman Catholic upbringing and your pious mother. Tell me about your Roman Catholic name. Dilate for as long as you like on the subject of the wrongs suffered by the Bogside [as if the same was not endured by working class Protestants].

Mallie: did you wield a Thompson sub machine gun on Bloody Sunday?

Marty: waffle , then a denial, even that he might have had one on the Saturday.

Mallie: In for the kill. Isn’t ‘repelling’ a euphemism for ‘killing’?

Mallie: most bold of all…How did you feel when you killed your first policeman or soldier? I expected the trap to be sprung. Mallie would quote chapter and verse. Mallie would refer to the works of Clarke and Johnston and Ed Moloney. Mallie the cross-examiner would slowly turn his witness on the spit of acclaimed journalists, not one of whom Marty had ever sued. Mallie would mention Frank Hegarty and his sorrowing mother…..

Mallie would put it to Marty that he had ordered the murders of my parents….

I was tense. My breath was still….

Cue Marty’s  statesmanlike/hard man stare. Narrowing of eyes, looking into the middle distance. He said that he was not going to cause a sensation, like make an admission. He went off on his friendship with many Prods.

Mallie had one last trick up his sleeve. What about Adams saying he was never in the ‘Ra?

I believe him, said McGuinness.

The jury sat back and reflected on twenty minutes of exquisite lying, none of which was uncovered by the inquisitor.

Mallie is no Frost.

Mike Jackson

General Mike Jackson, the narcissistic  former Para, [ plastic surgery; eye bags, teeth and who knows what else?] “salutes Charles’ ‘bravery'”

I can’t see the B word in the Belfast Telegraph Article but fact  has never stopped a good BT headline.

Jackson is , of course an establishment figure , busy on the after dinner circuit , defending the indefensible British Army cock ups of the last twenty years. Pretending that we are a big player on the world stage when the US Marine Corps is larger  than all the UK armed forces, put together.

The problem is that someone in the NIO thinks that if enough of these chinless wonders are put up to bolster a failing state, the masses will be impressed.

Jackson thinks that there has been a “transformation” in the region. Shows you how much he knows.

Two hundred years ago he would have led the Dragoons which rode down the peasants. Come to think of it, he was a Para Captain at Bloody Sunday……