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Sunday 10 December 2023 Dublin: 6°C
PA Wire/PA Images File photo of the Crumlin ROad Gaol.

Billy McKee - a founding member of the Provisional IRA - has died aged 97

McKee always defended the worst atrocities of the IRA.

BILLY MCKEE – ONE of the of the founding members of the Provisional IRA – has died at the age of 97.

The well-known Belfast Republican was born in 1921 and is believed to have joined the IRA in the 1930s. 

He was imprisoned many times over the years for his activity in the IRA and is believed to have been a former commanding officer of the group and a member of the army council. 

He was one of the founders of the Provisional IRA in the late 60s and was arrested and imprisoned in the Crumlin Road Gaol 1971 for being possession of a firearm. 

While in prison, McKee led a hunger strike in a struggle to secure political prisoner status for republicans convicted of crimes. 

He split from the IRA in the late-70s and joined Republican Sinn Féin. 

In a 2011 interview with the Irish News, McKee defended the worst atrocities committed by the IRA during the Troubles, including the murder of mother-of-10 Jean McConville, and the Bloody Friday bombings in Belfast in 1972 in which nine people were killed and 130 injured.

He said he had “no regrets” about his past and disagreed with the IRA’s decision to enter politics.

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