Orange Cross Social Club shooting

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Orange Cross Club shooting
Part of the Troubles
File:Orange cross.jpeg
The scene of the attack
Orange Cross Social Club shooting is located in Northern Ireland
Orange Cross Social Club shooting
Location Craven Street, Shankill Road, Belfast
Date 16 February 1989
13:20 (GMT)
Target Ulster loyalist paramilitaries and civilians
Attack type
Mass shooting
Deaths 1 Red Hand Commando [1]
Non-fatal injuries
1 UDR soldier, unknown number of civilians
Perpetrator Irish People's Liberation Organization

On 16 February 1989, three IPLO volunteers walked into the Orange Cross social club in East Belfast. They ordered the patrons into one room and then shot at them, killing one.


The Irish People's Liberation Organization (IPLO) began as a breakaway faction from the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), who they feuded with for much of 1986-87. The IPLO was a small but very violent Irish republican paramilitary organisation which was formed in 1986 by disaffected and expelled members of the INLA, whose factions coalesced in the aftermath of the supergrass trials. It developed a reputation for intra-republican and sectarian violence, and criminality.

The shooting

At around 13:15, the security buzzer on the Orange Cross Social Club's door to seek admission to the Club was pressed. As the door opened, three gunmen from the IPLO entered and ordered the men in the room to stand at the bar. They pretended it was a robbery at first to better ensure compliance, and then one of the gunmen started blasting indiscriminately at the customers. Stephen McCrea, a Red Hand Commando member, was fatally wounded. One of his work-mates described the scene.

"I stood in line whenever the first shot was fired and all of a sudden Stevie McCrea dived in front of me. The shots rang out and we all hit the floor. By this time the gunmen had run out of the room and we all stood up again. That is, except for two other men and Stevie McCrea. He had saved my life alright but lost his own in doing so’.[2]


The IPLO quickly claimed responsibility for the attack. The security forces had been fearing a republican backlash for the number of Catholic civilians killed in the previous weeks. The IPLO claimed it was a retaliation attack for two Catholic civilians and a Sinn Féin councillor killed during the same week.[citation needed]


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  2. "New Stevie McCrea-John Hanna-Sammy Mehaffy Mural".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>