You will never have heard of Alan Raymond and Thomas Irvine, two young Protestant friends from Westland Way and Westland Road, Belfast.
They earned a few headlines toward the end of June in 1975 when they were both repeatedly shot in the back as they chatted on the street near their homes.
The two unmarried 22 year olds were dead before they reached hospital.
Their hobby was fishing and they were known in angling circles.
Their names and stories faded faster than their newsprint photographs.
But their sectarian murders – carried out by the Belfast Brigade of the IRA – uncovered a web of deceit spun by IRA leaders in Belfast and Dublin that has continued down the years.
Some of the IRA leaders from that period – including Gerry Adams – are still alive today and fit to enlighten victims and historians about the IRA’s sectarian murder campaign in which many entirely innocent Protestant civilians were shot dead for their religion.
Robert Crawford – or Robert John Martin Crawford as newspapers described him – was an 18 year old IRA volunteer from Glenview Street, The Bone, North Belfast.
Robert Crawford was an apprentice bricklayer who rode the bus to work every morning at 7.30am – this fact led to his identification and conviction.
A young girl rode the same bus every morning and knew him by sight over many months.
Crawford usually wore long shorts, Doc Martens boots and a Bay City Roller tank top – he looked much younger than his 18 years when he was arrested and remanded to prison.
Crawford stepped out of a gold-coloured Cortina car on Westland Road with another gunman.
They walked behind Thomas and Alan who were chatting and suddenly opened fire.
Thomas Irvine was hit by three bullets.
Alan Raymond was hit by four bullets.
Both fell to the ground dying.
Crawford fired a few more rounds – one of which richocheted and hit the face of a teenager among a group of others sitting on a nearby wall.
One of the teenagers was the girl who rode the same bus as Robert Crawford every morning and she recognised him immediately, but did not know his name.
The police later watched the morning bus and arrested Robert Crawford for double murder.
Crawford ‘broke in interrogation’ and made a full statement to the Royal Ulster Constabulary.
In his statement, Crawford claimed that he was a “freelancer” – a non-aligned gunman not associated with any known paramiltary organisation.
The IRA Debriefing in Crumlin Road Gaol
When newly arrested IRA volunteers were remanded to prison in the early 1970s they had to declare to the prison authorities the paramilitary faction to which they belonged so that they could be allocated to the correct wing of the prison largely controlled by their paramilitary group.
Robert Crawford declared that he was Provisional IRA and came on to ‘A’ Wing where I was – at that time for a short time – the IRA’s Intelligence Officer whose duty it was to interview newly arrived prisoners about their police interrogation.
My duty was to write a report on cigarette papers and have it smuggled out to the volunteer’s IRA unit so that it could try to limit the damage caused by anything the captured individual might have said to the police.
My role was obvious to the prison warders – they would even say to newly arrived prisoners as they opened gates to let them into A Wing that they should report to me for debriefing…
Everyone watched the television news and read the papers about the violence taking place on the streets of Belfast outside Crumlin Road prison – everyone was aware that two Protestants had been shot dead a few evenings before – the question was:
Were they Loyalist Paramilitaries?
I had been arrested the previous month in Derry/Londonderry.
I had been the Derry Brigade IRA Explosives Officer, alongside Martin McGuinness and other well-known IRA members.
At previous meetings of the Derry Brigade, questions had sometimes been asked about the number of shootings in Belfast in particular – the question had been:
Who are the victims?
The answer given by Tommy Mellon (Brigade O.C.) and Martin McGuinness (Brigade Adjutant, but also GHQ Staff) was that they were Loyalist paramilitaries only.
This answer had served to kill off the questions – I had believed the answer.
When I began to question Robert Crawford, I asked him:
Me: Did you shoot the two Loyalist paramilitaries the other evening on Westland Road?
Crawford answered with some bravado:
Crawford: I STIFFED THE FIRST TWO ORANGIES I SAW…
Me: You mean Loyalist paramilitaries?
Crawford: NO, THE FIRST TWO PROTESTANTS I SAW.
Crawford: I WAS ORDERED TO CLAIM I WAS A ‘FREELANCER’ IF I WAS ARRESTED AND CHARGED.
I was in a kind of shock – and as the conversation continued with Crawford, it was abundantly clear that the Belfast Brigade was running a sectarian murder campaign while telling other IRA Brigade areas that it was actually killing Loyalist paramilitaries – and this was a total lie…
The IRA volunteers being sent out to murder innocent Protestant civilians were being told to claim to police that they were ‘freelancers‘ – non-aligned paramilitaries who magically came up with guns, ammunition, cars and helpers…
The ‘freelancer‘ claim only counted for the police interrogation period and any signed statements – as soon as the shooters arrived in prison, they could then claim IRA membership and be allocated to the IRA wing of the prison.
At age 20, I was headstrong and had the shreds of some idealism.
I wrote up Robert Crawford’s debriefing statement on cigarette papers and had it smuggled out to the Belfast Brigade of the IRA.
Along with his statement, I asked the Belfast Brigade if it was true that it was murdering innocent Protestant civilians…
I also sent a note to the Derry Brigade of the IRA informing it that the Belfast Brigade appeared to be full scale murdering innocent Protestants.
The Belfast Brigade IRA response was swift.
Chief of Staff of Cumann na mBan and then member of the IRA’s Army Council [the women’s wing of the IRA] Maura Drumm arrived in the prison on a “special visit” – these visits were allowed to prominent republicans by the prison authorities.
She informed me:
“You are stood down – you are no longer the Intelligence Officer of the prison.”
In a moment, I was not only fired from my IRA position, I was also declared to be in some sense not trustworthy before my IRA comrades.
The O.C. of the prison at that time was a big ignorant Tyrone IRA volunteer, Stan Corrigan – he paid no attention to the matter of innocent Protestants being murdered by the IRA and carried on as if it and my being ‘stood down’ never happened.
The Derry Brigade of the IRA never replied to my ‘comm’.
Fortunately for me, in early September of 1975 I was released at Townhall Street Magistrates Court, re-arrested outside and flown to London to answer for London bombing charges.
This removed me from the clutches of the Belfast Brigade of the IRA that was unwilling to have a dissident questioner about the place…
Two years later, I finally resigned publicly from the IRA and penned letters of apology to my victims – a matter that caused the IRA prisoners in the English prisons to “blank” me for the next 8 years before I was transferred back to Northern Ireland.
Robert Crawford POW?
Robert Crawford was released ‘on licence’ in 1990 after 15 years in prison.
He immediately returned to IRA active service.
Four years later, Crawford was arrested along with Gerry Adams’ cousin, Davy Adams, Paul Stitt, Gerard Bradley and Patrick Donaghy.
Captured in a stolen van with two loaded rifles, a loaded pistol and a ‘coffee jar bomb’, Crawford at first claimed to be a Loyalist paramilitary called Billy Wilson from the Shankill Road.
In 1995 he was convicted along with others and sentenced to 25 more years in prison.
The deceitful Belfast Agreement earned Crawford and pals an early release a short few years later.
In 2014, Sinn Féin IRA presented Robert Crawford at an IRA commemoration in The Bone, Belfast, as a ‘former Irish Republican POW‘ to read a statement – the video is on YouTube.
How is it possible that Robert Crawford – murderer of two innocent Protestant civilians – is presented as a Prisoner of War by Sinn Féin IRA?
It is only possible because of the secret amnesty deals granted to the IRA by the Irish, British and American governments which have led to the cover up of the IRA’s many Human Rights atrocities – the murders of children, women and men over three decades.
The three governments have made these Human Rights atrocities entirely disappear by the secret grant of amnesty to the IRA behind the facade of The Belfast Agreement and out of the sight of innocent victims of the IRA.
In the past week, you may have read that a Nazi prison guard aged 101 was sentenced to 5 years in prison for his crimes of 75 years past.
There will never be any justice for victims of the IRA’s many Human Rights atrocities thanks to the Irish, British and American governments’ secret deals with the IRA Army Council.
Robert Crawford Prisoner of War?
Robert Crawford and the IRA Army Council Cowardly Murderers of Innocent Protestant Civilians more like…
But what of those IRA commanders who sent Robert Crawford out on his mission of murder and who directed acts of terrorism and mass murder for decades – what of them?
The next time you hear the Irish government lecture about the breaking of international law, you are permitted to laugh…