The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
The Butcher of Derry

Anthony McIntyre • 4 March 2005

Derry knife killer, shaven headed Bart Fisher, filmed walking from a court appearance, could easily have passed for any neo-Nazi skinhead on his way to one of the many gatherings of racist gangs that infest modern Germany. His conviction for stabbing to death a young Derry man, Jimmy 'DeDe' McGinley in October 2003 further reinforces the view that Fisher is a pathological skin head thug who gets his kicks from plunging knives into the hearts of men twenty years his junior. Last week one newspaper report under the emblazoned headline 'Caged Brute had Killed Before' detailed the death of Mark Robinson in April 2001.

22-year-old Mark 'Mousey' Robinson was making his way home to the Shantallow district of Derry when he was set upon by Fisher and his IRA pals. Fisher had previously called at Robinson's home with an IRA punishment squad to administer a beating to Robinson after accusing the young man of being involved in petty crime. Robinson was lucky but he wasn't so lucky two weeks later when he met Fisher and his pals by chance in a dark laneway in Shantallow. The IRA men seized upon Robinson, and Fisher rammed a dagger with a twelve-inch blade into his hip. Fisher also hit Robinson over the head with a scaffolding pole and then stabbed him another nine times before running off into the night.

Like something conjured up from One Million Years BC, Fisher exudes the demeanour of a cretinous Neanderthal thug whose knuckles trail the ground and who derives immense pleasure from grunting, 'me Bart, you dead.'

Whatever mental images are generated by the Derry stabber's likeness to right wing German skinheads, they quickly give way to the realisation that this particularly vile and predatory threat to young men exists in our midst and does not need Jewish victims to vent his hate upon. Bart the Butcher does not spell his name 'Fischer', does not speak in guttural Germanic tones, and does not openly boast of the instinctive fascism that so pervades his personality. No, Bart the Butcher goes as one of our protectors and in recent years has taken to protecting young men from the threat of old age. Worried about penurious pensions, Alzheimer's or any of the other maladies that afflict the aged? Send for Bart. With a few Lenny Murphy-like surgical strikes he'll ensure you never get there.

If not everybody spotted that the killers of Robert McCartney in Belfast had 'comrades' who liked to murder their defenceless nationalist victims with knives, someone posting on the Derry IRSP internet board certainly made the connection. Having attended a vigil for Robert in the Short Strand days after his murder, I penned an article under the title Burdens Unbearable. By way of response came this:

The following article by Anthony McIntyre certainly strikes a chord with those in Derry affected by similar instances. Particularly the RELATED stabbings of Mark Robinson and DeDe McGinley, carried out by PIRA members who were then given full PIRA protection and support.

The post was drawn to my attention by a friend who said something to the effect that the IRA must be like this everywhere. Because the poster was anonymous I paid little attention to it, tending to shun the abusive and irresponsible freedom that comes with anonymity. Although in this case, I could see that people would anticipate fatal consequences if they were to speak openly. Sometime later the Blanket was contacted by people in the North West and asked would it meet with the families of the two men mentioned in the post. They had drawn inspiration from the actions of Robert McCartney's family and now wanted to speak publicly about their ordeal.

Fisher's slaying of DeDe McGinley has shot to prominence in recent days because of his conviction for manslaughter and subsequent disclosures about his disgraceful role as a steward in last month's Bloody Sunday anniversary march, which was also attended by some of those who would later the same evening hack Robert McCartney to death. In Derry the irony has not escaped some that there are quite a few in the Parachute regiment who have not butchered as many Derry nationalists as Bart Fisher. The family of DeDe McGinley are now making some progress in their bid to bring public pressure to bear on the Provisional movement to disown Fisher. The family of Mark Robinson, however, don't even have the satisfaction of knowing that the wider public is aware that a member of the Provisionals murdered their son.

When I arrived in Derry City I was met by a former republican prisoner and then by two relatives of Mark Robinson. The picture the relatives painted of Fisher was one that would have had pride of place in the IPLO gallery. The Irish People's Liberation Organisation was a small republican body that had broken with the INLA and later morphed into a criminal gang. It was finally forced to shut up shop in 1992 by the Provisional IRA who disabled the group in a night of the long knives. Fisher was described as post-ceasefire thug, with a penchant for violence whose sole contribution to the armed struggle was beating local kids. Sheila Holden, an aunt of DeDe McGinley, was very forthright in her view of the man who knifed her nephew: 'Bart Fisher is a ceasefire IRA man; he never fired a shot. He is a man with a baseball bat.'

Since his conviction Fisher has denied being a member of the Provisional IRA. His denial carries as much weight as Paratrooper denials of culpability on Bloody Sunday. Although Mitchel McLaughlin of Sinn Fein stated on Friday's Good Morning Ulster that Fisher was not a member of his party, many Derry denizens openly state that he was an election worker for the party and could often be seen in election count centres.

Fisher has never been charged in relation to the murder of Mark 'Mousey' Robinson, but according to the family of the dead man, the police have questioned him about it. The PSNI have since informed the family that the same type of weapon used to kill DeDe McGinley was also plunged into the thigh of Mark Robinson on the night of his murder. Commenting on the circumstances of Mark's death the family state:

In the early hours of April 27th 2001, a four man PIRA unit, at least one was drunk, travelled on foot from within Galliagh, through the tunnel into Collon Lane and proceeded to College Glen where they burned a car belonging to a criminal. With their mission complete they were making their way back when they met Mark on the pathway near the tunnel. It was an opportunistic meeting and for the killers it gave them the chance to get Mark on the quiet. They then proceeded to attack Mark with an iron bar ramming it into his skull. They then left him to die.

Beaten, battered with an iron bar and stabbed, the twenty two year old man's heart was later used to save the life of his uncle, himself a matter of mere hours from death. Before Mark was even buried, his young friends had been putting it about that his killer was Fisher. An eyewitness with crucial evidence of the moments leading up to the murder later approached the family and identified Fisher as having been one of the people responsible. Yet the terror she expressed being in the grip of prohibited her from going to the police.

Mark Robinson according to his family 'was no angel.' But they strongly refute Sinn Fein and the Provisional IRA, who in a whispering campaign in the wake of the murder disseminated 'disinformation' aimed at creating a posthumous image of Mark Robinson as a drug dealer. Sinn Fein further suggested that a local family with criminal connections had been responsible for the murder. The party alluded to a bar of dope that it said Mark had stolen from this family. But his sister Clare claims that his one crime was not to lie down in front of the thugs who strut the streets meting out punishment to those much less in need of punishment than those who make up the punishment squads. Moreover the family, stung by the drug related allegations, made a point of pursuing the matter and could find nothing that would lend itself to a belief that Mark was in any way involved in the drugs trade. His parents feel hurt enough that members of the Provisional movement would murder their son, but to suffer the added indignity of seeing their child malignly labelled as a part of a smear-assisted cover up campaign intensified their grief immensely.

Some time after the killing, Bart Fisher was taunted by a crowd of Mark Robinson's young friends at his own front door, where he was given verbal abuse about having 'murdered Mousey.' Fisher ran into his house and remerged with a large knife. The following account is provided by an eyewitness, Margaret Devine, wife of the deceased INLA hunger striker Mickey.

I came home from work and Bart Fisher was running around with a dagger and he came as far as my front window and he was shouting to young ones. He waved the knife in the air and then stabbed it into the grass in front of him. He shouted at the young fellas, 'this is what I did to Mousey and I will do the same to you. He was crying for his mammy when I was sticking it into him. You will scream for your ma when I stab you too.' … I saw Bart Fisher with a young fella on the ground so I walked up as far as the corner. He looked as if he was drunk and he had another couple with him. I went over to him and tried to calm him down and get him to return to his own home. They were going to stab the young fella with a knife and I went over and pushed them away. They had no masks. Bart Fisher said he was throwing stones at his window. Then his friends came from the IRA and put a gun to my head and told me to mind my own business. I later found out it was imitation but I didn't know this at the time … I am a republican and I don't want to see the Provos brought down but as far as I am concerned they shouldn't be letting scumbags into the Provos. This isn't what people fought and died for - scumbags. I vote Sinn Fein and I still support the Provos no matter what.

Sinn Fein, when asked about this by the family, stated that Fisher only admitted to having killed Mark Robinson because he was being accused of it so much. That is hardly the prevailing mode within the party where it seems that denying everything is the order of the day regardless of how often accusations are made.

When I spoke to Marian Robinson, Mousey's mother, she told me her family were terrified to speak out publicly and had restricted themselves to raising questions privately where and when they could. Nobody would listen to public protestations and it would all be in vain. Now that the McCartney family have grasped the nettle, the Robinson family feel that their voices will not be drowned out by someone saying 'don't be unhelpful to the peace process.' The McCartneys have shown that pressure to have murderous thugs rejected by the communities they hide in can pay dividends.

This is the first time that we have publicly stated who killed Mark and the reason for this is that we have been inspired by the family of Robert McCartney in their quest for justice. We believed that there would never be justice for our family given the circumstances surrounding Mark's killing and the protection afforded to his killers by their comrades in the Provisional IRA and by the Special Branch. We believe that one of the murderers of Mark has been protected by Special Branch. One of the killers, Bart Fisher, killed another young person with a knife following a confrontation about Mark's killing.

Looking at the parents of Mark Robinson, I knew I was staring at people who had a light switched off. Something dies within parents when they lose their children and that deadness stares out from deep within the eyes. Marian cannot go out, doesn't visit her friends or family. Jim, the father, says that since the murder of his son his life has been a nightmare. What sickens him most, he claims, are the lies. He wants the three men who murdered his son including Fisher brought to justice. He also wants the IRA to acknowledge that three of its members carried out an unauthorised attack and that the organisation should cough them up.

The family feels that there are other people who witnessed the murder but who are too frightened to give their information to the police. They want the Provisional IRA to state clearly that the same conditions apply as in the case of Robert McCartney - there should be no intimidation of witnesses who want to give information.

The family have four questions they seek to put to the republican leadership

  1. Was the murder of our son Mark a crime?
  2. If so have the people involved besmirched the noble struggle of the 1981 hunger strikers in their fight against criminalisation? Have the IRA criminalised themselves without the intervention of securocrats or any other apparatus of the British or Irish states?
  3. Is there a threat against anyone coming forward with evidence?
  4. Is there a threat against this family?

The murder of Mark Robinson raises a number of serious questions. While many people were previously prepared to accept that the Provisional IRA body in the Short Strand and Markets was an unrepresentative rogue element, evidence, previously suppressed, now suggests otherwise. Arguably, the phenomenon of wanton violence and bullying is so widespread, that it is no longer sufficient to explain it as having its roots in the character defects of some individuals within a localised geographic republican area, where an abnormal IRA culture of contempt has taken grip. It is currently being implied by a growing body of people that the character of the Provisional IRA has been so transformed by the peace process that the entire organisation, and not merely its Short Strand contingent, is no longer an army but a militia rapidly heading towards becoming a gang. Not only do IRA volunteers feel free to knife nationalists to death whenever the notion takes them, they do so in the knowledge that the leadership will cover up for them when it can.

In this respect it is significant that after Fisher's conviction for the killing of DeDe McGinley, he was released on bail to await sentence. The following evening at a bar across the border in Donegal, the Derry butcher was given a send off party. A witness stated that the Provisionals who packed the bar stood up and gave him a standing ovation while singing 'there is only one Bart Fisher.' Aren't the young male population of Derry just glad for that - how many more would lie in graves if there were two Bart Fishers? Or a regiment of them with whom even British Paratroopers would find difficulty competing?

On Friday prison authorities placed Bart Fisher on the segregated republican wing in Maghaberry much to the anger of the prisoners already there. They find it demeaning that a 'thug and a criminal' should be permitted to avail of conditions republican prisoners had suffered and protested to achieve. It was precisely types like him republican prisoners wanted separated from.

Earlier the family of DeDe McGinley had been summoned by the Provisional IRA and told bluntly that Fisher was one of their members and would be under their protection. A brother of the dead man, Eugene McGinley recalled: 'They told me that when Bart Fisher gets out for him not to be touched in any way or at any time as they are claiming him as a republican. They told me that he is a member of the IRA.'

The Sinn Fein leadership has a duty to deal with the concerns of the family of Mark Robinson. Yet, if the experience of the relatives of Robert McCartney is instructive, it means that the only way the Robinson family will move forward is by dragging Sinn Fein out from the dark corners and forcing the party to submit itself to democratic scrutiny. There the muttering and mumbling that serve the party so well in the netherworld in which it prefers to conduct its business can be challenged. Under democratic scrutiny if it fails to behave justly it runs the risk of appearing ridiculous. If widespread public ridicule is the price of saving Private Fisher, the butcher of Derry might just be made pay for his own crimes.





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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

7 March 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

The Butcher of Derry
Anthony McIntyre

Republican Anger at Criminals on Political Wing
Martin Mulholland, IRPWA

Brian Mór

The Rally for Justice
Sean Smyth

Green Leadership in North Call for a 'Big Conversation'
on a Unified Nationalist/Republican Strategy for the Endgame

John Barry with Peter Doran, Green Party

Eoin McNamee's two Troubles novels
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Irish Christians and Africa
Dr John Coulter

4 March 2005

Honourary White Man
Marc Kerr

A Blanketman Still Fighting to be Heard
Anthony McIntyre

The Dam Has Burst
Mick Hall

The Peace Process Has Been Saved
David Adams

World's Largest Men's Room
Brian Mór

Green Beer and Bad Singing
Fred A Wilcox

Ireland's Neutrality is Not Threatened
Thomas Lefevre

Sentences of Death: Mary Gordon's Pearl
Seaghán Ó Murchú



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