Tullyvallen massacre: How the News Letter reported it in 1975

The News Letter front page of September 2, 1975. The main headline relates to Tullyvallen, but the UDA headline is a separate, unrelated story
The News Letter front page of September 2, 1975. The main headline relates to Tullyvallen, but the UDA headline is a separate, unrelated story

The day after the Tullyvallen killings, the News Letter carried the story on its front page under the one-word headline: MASSACRE.

It reported that four men had died in the Tullyvallen atrocity (the fifth, William Herron, had yet to lose his fight for life at that stage), while seven more were injured.

The News Letter, September 5, 1975

The News Letter, September 5, 1975

The story’s second paragraph shows the extent of the daily carnage engulfing the Province at that time: “Earlier, two men were murdered, one in Ballyclare and the other in central Belfast, and the bodies of two others were found by police in a shallow grave north of Whitehead, where they had apparently been buried for several months.”

It goes on to add that another man had also been shot dead near Dungannon on September 1 – making a total of nine fatalities.

It notes that these brought the overall tally of deaths since 1969 to 1,304.

A separate panel delving deeper into the Tullyvallen killings notes that the then-Secretary of State Mervyn Rees had pledged police and military reinforcements for south Armagh in the wake of the incident.

By September 3, the News Letter was carrying a demand from Belfast Orange leader Thomas Passmore on its front page, in which he called for the setting up of a “properly-equipped local force similar to the Special Constabulary” if the Government proved unable to handle the security crisis.

On September 5, the paper reported: “Mourning descended on the battered city of Belfast yesterday as once again the people gathered to express their revulsion at the latest killings.”

It said Orangemen had gathered at City Hall in silence and with bowed heads to remember the victims of Tullyvallen, as well as others who had died in the Troubles.