Rising Sun massacre recalled
Rising Sun massacre recalled


Events have been taking place to remember the eight people murdered in the 1993 Greysteel massacre on the 30th anniversary of their deaths.

Karen Thompson, 19, Steven Mullan, 20, Moira Duddy, 59, Joseph McDermott, 60, James Moore, 81, John Moyne, 50, John Burns, 54 and Victor Montgomery, 76, were remembered during a special Mass this week.

Afterwards, a cross-community wreath-laying ceremony and service took place at the memorial to the shooting at the bar.

Many of the victims’ families attended as well as many of the 19 people who were injured.

Three UDA gunmen opened fire on a small rural pub, just off the main Derry to Limavady road on October 3, 1993.

The murders became known as the ‘trick or treat’ massacre after one of the killers, Stephen Irwin, shouted the words as he opened fire. Scores of shots were fired at close range from an assault rifle and a pistol, causing carnage.

Around 70 people were in the Rising Sun Bar on the night of the massacre. Irwin, along with fellow gunman, Geoffrey Deeney opened fire from the door. A third member of the gang, Torrens Knight stood guard with a shotgun. All three were dressed in blue boiler suits.

After emptying his assault rifle, Irwin calmly changed the clip and started shooting again. Deeney opened fire with his handgun but it jammed. The three killers laughed as they fled the scene.

As the gun smoke lifted, a scene of horror emerged. The dead and the dying lay around the bar, tables were overturned and broken glass lay in the pools of blood around the dance floor. The dead and injured came from both Protestant and Catholic communities.

UDA paramilitary Robert Smyth was named last year as the “military commander” who planned the Greysteel massacre, among others, but he has never been charged with any of the crimes.

Torrens Knight served only seven years of eight life sentences for the Greysteel massacre.

The killers, along with Brian McNeill who drove a scout car on the night, were each given eight life sentences but were released as part of the Good Friday Agreement in 2000.

The picture of Knight as he was led from Limavady court house remains a familiar image of the era.

A man, who was one of the first on the scene following the massacre, has recalled the harrowing incident 30 years on and believes the North is in a “much better place”.

Andre Johnston, from Claudy, was working as a part-time taxi man on October 30, 1993, when he arrived at the Rising Sun bar to find a woman he knew had been “shot to pieces”.

“I just held her husband,” he recalled this week.

Ahead of the anniversary, Mr Johnston recalled a night which still haunts him when he went to pock up a fare brom rthe bar.

He said he “saw a sight I would not want anyone to see.

“Firstly, three people dead and one injured. I then noticed a man I left down every Saturday with his wife and as I approached I realised the lady was shot to pieces. I just held her husband.

“At this stage I realised the woman was in my car and headed straight out to her.

“We headed back to Eglinton and got the woman into the house safe. I headed home and checked all the other drivers were safe.”

Mr Johnston also worked with his father-in-law who is a funeral director and he said nothing would happen until the morning.

The next day Mr Johnston received the call to help remove five bodies from the scene.

“We got all the remains home and spent the next few days preparing for the funerals,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.

Thirty years later Mr Johnston said it is something I would think about “quite regularly” and it “still feels like yesterday at times”.

But, referring to the DUP boycott of Stormont, he added that some politicians had still not moved on.

“As far as the political situation is concerned, it’s absolutely disgusting the way some parties are behaving and the way the country is left high and dry,” he said.

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