Sean Graham Massacre & Troubles death toll: By the early ‘90s loyalists began to out-murder republicans for the first time

The infamous Sean Graham massacre, which lies at the heart of the new ombudsman report, took place at something of an unusual time in the Troubles.

By Adam Kula
Wednesday, 9th February 2022, 1:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th February 2022, 9:33 am
A graph (republicans in green, loyalists in blue) showing their respective murder rates from 1969 to 2001
A graph (republicans in green, loyalists in blue) showing their respective murder rates from 1969 to 2001

Up ‘til the early 1990s, republicans outstripped loyalists in terms of how many murders they were committing annually.

But by 1992, a combination of falling republican killings and rising loyalist ones meant the number of murders by each camp had more or less equalised.

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With the IRA considering suing for peace as the security services infiltrated its ranks, in 1992 the number of republican murders stood at 40 for the year with loyalists claiming 38 lives.

In 1993, loyalists murdered 49 to republicans’ 38 victims, and in 1994 loyalists murdered 37 people compared with 25 killings by republicans.

After that, the tentative ceasefires which began in 1994 began suppressing the murder rate (although the IRA would break theirs in 1996, causing the death toll to shoot up once again).

All these statistics come from CAIN, the Ulster University Troubles project.

Looking at the whole Troubles from 1969 to 2001, CAIN records a total of 2,058 republican killings, 1,027 loyalist ones, and 365 by members of the security forces (with scores more unknown).

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