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'no choice' UVF cash in on memory of dead members by selling badge tributes for £3

The badges show the UVF logo along with the names Freeman, Swanson, Reid and Dodds, who died in the UVF’s single biggest loss during the Troubles

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Medals and pins for sale of UVF bombers who died when their own bomb explodes prematurely in coleraine 1975

Medals and pins for sale of UVF bombers who died when their own bomb explodes prematurely in coleraine 1975

Medals and pins for sale of UVF bombers who died when their own bomb explodes prematurely in coleraine 1975

The UVF are cashing in on the deaths of their own members.

The paramilitary gang are selling badges around loyalist strongholds in Derry and Coleraine with the names of four UVF men who blew themselves up 46 years ago.

The badges, priced at £3 each, show the UVF logo along with the names Freeman, Swanson, Reid and Dodds.

Geoffrey Andrew Freeman, Aubrey Reid, Samuel Swanson and Mark Dodds were killed on October 2 1975 in what remains the UVF’s single biggest loss during the Troubles.

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A plaque dedicated to Geoffrey Freeman, David Swanson, Aubrey Ried and  Mark Dodds, all UVF members who blew themselves up with their own bomb outside Coleraine in 1975.

A plaque dedicated to Geoffrey Freeman, David Swanson, Aubrey Ried and Mark Dodds, all UVF members who blew themselves up with their own bomb outside Coleraine in 1975.

A plaque dedicated to Geoffrey Freeman, David Swanson, Aubrey Ried and Mark Dodds, all UVF members who blew themselves up with their own bomb outside Coleraine in 1975.

The UVF were responsible for 12 deaths that day including the four of their own.

Freeman and Dodds were just 17 years old when they died while the other two UVF men killed were both 28.

The quartet were killed instantly when a bomb they were transporting exploded prematurely on the Farrenlester Road on the outskirts of Coleraine.

The gang were in the process of priming the bomb in the front seat when it exploded unexpectedly and eyewitnesses said they saw a flashing light followed by parts of the car falling from the sky.

Police said at the time they also found three loaded guns among the wreckage. The inquest found that the bomb contained between 3-5lbs of commercial explosives.

It’s understood the gang had been planning to leave the deadly car bomb outside a Catholic-owned business.

It was said countless innocent Catholic and Protestant civilians could have been killed had their deadly plan been enacted as intended.

Mark Dodds was already a child of the Troubles before he died, having had to mourn the death of his father Ronald, who was an RUC officer murdered by the IRA four years earlier.

An annual memorial parade to the men is held every October in the Windyhall estate and throughout the years there have been murals and memorials erected in Coleraine and in Londonderry’s Sperrin Park.

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A permanent memorial to the shocking loss of life sits on the side of the road where the bomb exploded.

Tributes including poppies and flowers in UVF colours adorn the bomb site including one from the “officers and volunteers B Company No3 Platoon”.

Now the gang have seen an opportunity to make money from the misery of the families left behind with no clue what the profits are going towards.

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A cross and wreaths on the Farrenlester Road marks the spot were  Four Loyalist terrorists belonging to the UVF, Mark Dodd, Samuel Swanson, Robert Freeman and Aubrey Reid were killed in a premature bomb explosion.
It’s believed the bomb was destined for a catholic owned bar in the centre of Coleraine  when the device they had been transporting blew up on the 2nd of Oct 1975

A cross and wreaths on the Farrenlester Road marks the spot were Four Loyalist terrorists belonging to the UVF, Mark Dodd, Samuel Swanson, Robert Freeman and Aubrey Reid were killed in a premature bomb explosion. It’s believed the bomb was destined for a catholic owned bar in the centre of Coleraine when the device they had been transporting blew up on the 2nd of Oct 1975

A cross and wreaths on the Farrenlester Road marks the spot were Four Loyalist terrorists belonging to the UVF, Mark Dodd, Samuel Swanson, Robert Freeman and Aubrey Reid were killed in a premature bomb explosion. It’s believed the bomb was destined for a catholic owned bar in the centre of Coleraine when the device they had been transporting blew up on the 2nd of Oct 1975

“They are actually going round the doors selling them,” one woman who did not wish to be identified told us.

“What do you do? I felt I’d no choice but to buy one. If you say no to them then you don’t know what way they’ll take it.

“This happened over 40 years ago and they’re trying to make money from it. It’s a tragedy because two of those boys were only 17, just kids really and the UVF should never have sent them out to cause mayhem.

“I’d like to know where the money is going to but I doubt too many will ask that question.”

UVF killer Aubrey Reid, originally from Belfast but living in Derry, was named in court after he died as being involved in the murder of Catholic man Brendan Doherty in February 1975.

The UVF caused death and mayhem on day the four men died when 12 people were killed in total as part of a concerted campaign of slaughter.

The terror group waged an unprecedented campaign of shootings and bomb attacks all over Northern Ireland killing six Catholic civilians and two Protestant civilians.

Four Catholics were killed in a UVF gun attack at Casey’s Bottling Plant, Millfield, Belfast.

Two other Catholics were killed in separate bomb attacks in Belfast and Co Antrim while two Protestant civilians were also killed in UVF attacks.

Previously on the anniversary of the Coleraine bomb UVF hierarchy have gathered at the spot to lay a wreath and crosses.

Wreaths have been left by various UVF battalions from across loyalist Ulster including ‘B’ Company’s 1st Battalion.

They then joined their colleagues to march through the Windyhall estate in behind the Freeman Memorial band – formed in honour of Geoffrey Freeman.

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