Tuesday 25 June 2024


25 June 1973: The murders of Paddy Wilson and Irene Andrews took place in Belfast, on the night of 25/26 June 1973. The victims, Catholic Senator Paddy Wilson and his Protestant friend, Irene Andrews, were hacked and repeatedly stabbed to death by members of the "Ulster Freedom Fighters" (UFF). This was a cover name for the Ulster Defence Association(UDA), a then-legal loyalist paramilitary organisation. John White, the UFF's commander, who used the pseudonym "Captain Black", was convicted of the sectarian double murder in 1978 and sentenced to life imprisonment. White, however maintained that the UFF's second-in-command Davy Payne helped him lead the assassination squad and played a major part in the attack. Although questioned by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) after the killings, Payne admitted nothing and was never charged.

 Wilson was the founder and General Secretary of the Social Democratic and Labour Party(SDLP) and Irene Andrews was noted in Belfast as a popular ballroom dancer. The mutilated bodies of Wilson and Andrews were found lying in pools of blood on either side of Wilson's car parked in a quarry off the Hightown Road near Cavehill. Wilson had been hacked and stabbed 30 times and his throat cut from ear-to-ear. Andrews had received 20 knife wounds. The killings were described by the judge at White's trial as "a frenzied attack, a psychotic outburst".

 UFF leader and self-styled "Captain Black", John White confessed to the killings during a police interrogation for other offences at the Castlereagh Holding Centre in 1976. He was convicted of the murders in 1978 and given two life sentences. The trial judge described the killings as "a frenzied attack, a psychotic outburst". He maintained that the UFF's second-in-command (and later North Belfast UDA brigadier) Davy Payne, also known as "the Psychopath", was part of the assassination squad and played a leading role in the killings. Author Ian S. Wood confirmed Payne's central involvement in the double killing. Although Payne had been questioned by the RUC after the killings, he admitted nothing and never faced any charges. It was alleged that whenever Payne wished to frighten or intimidate others he would shout: "Do you know who I am? I'm Davy Payne. They say I killed Paddy Wilson".

 Following White's release from the Maze Prison in 1992, he joined the Ulster Democratic Party. A prominent figure in the Northern Ireland Peace Process, in 1996 he comprised part of a four-man loyalist delegation to 10 Downing Street where he met British Prime Minister John Major and shook his hand, much to the consternation of many in the Nationalist Community.

 Later when asked why he had perpetrated the killings, White claimed that they were carried out to strike fear into the Catholic community after the IRA blew up six Protestant pensioners in Coleraine on 12 June 1973. Regarding Irene Andrews, White replied, "We didn't know [who] she was."

 White had to leave the North in 2003 after a falling out with other Loyalists and fled to Scotland. His current whereabouts is unknown. He was reported to have become a born-again Christian. A 2003 panorama programme stated White was living in the Salford area of Manchester


No comments:

Post a Comment