The Troubles was an ethno-nationalist conflict in Northern Ireland during the late 20th century. Known internationally as the Northern Ireland conflict, it is sometimes described as an "irregular war" or "low-level war"; the conflict began in the late 1960s and is deemed to have ended with the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Although the Troubles took place in Northern Ireland, at times the violence spilled over into parts of the Republic of Ireland and mainland Europe; the conflict was political and nationalistic, fuelled by historical events. It had an ethnic or sectarian dimension, although it was not a religious conflict. A key issue was the constitutional status of Northern Ireland. Unionists/loyalists, who were Protestants, wanted Northern Ireland to remain within the United Kingdom. Irish nationalists/republicans, who were Catholics, wanted Northern Ireland to leave the United Kingdom and join a united Ireland; the conflict began during a campaign to end discrimination against the Catholic/nationalist minority by the Protestant/unionist government and police force.
The authorities were accused of police brutality. Increasing inter-communal violence, conflict between nationalist youths and police led to riots in August 1969 and the deployment of British troops, who constructed'peace walls' to keep the opposing communities apart; some Catholics welcomed the army as a more neutral force, but it soon came to be seen as hostile and biased. The emergence of armed paramilitary organisations led to the subsequent warfare over the next three decades; the main participants in the Troubles were republican paramilitaries such as the Provisional Irish Republican Army and the Irish National Liberation Army. The security forces of the Republic played a smaller role. Republican paramilitaries carried out a guerrilla campaign against the British security forces, as well as a bombing campaign against infrastructure and political targets. Loyalists targeted republicans/nationalists, attacked the wider Catholic community in what they claimed was retaliation. At times there were bouts of sectarian tit-for-tat violence.
The British security forces undertook both a policing and a counter-insurgency role against republicans. There were some incidents of collusion between British security loyalists; the Troubles involved numerous riots, mass protests and acts of civil disobedience, led to segregation and the creation of no-go areas. More than 3,500 people were killed in the conflict, of whom 52% were civilians, 32% were members of the British security forces, 16% were members of paramilitary groups. There has been sporadic violence since the Good Friday Agreement was signed, including a campaign by anti-ceasefire republicans. "The Troubles" refers to the three-decade conflict between unionists. The term "Troubles" had been used in conjunction with the 17th century Wars of the Three Kingdoms, as well as to describe the Irish revolutionary period in the early twentieth century, it was subsequently adopted to refer to the escalating violence in Northern Ireland after 1969. The violence was characterised by the armed campaigns of Irish republican and Ulster loyalist paramilitary groups and British state security forces.
It thus became the focus for the longest major campaign in the history of the British Army. The British government's position is that its forces were neutral in the conflict, trying to uphold law and order in Northern Ireland and the right of the people of Northern Ireland to democratic self-determination. Nationalists regard the state forces as partisan combatants in the conflict; the British security forces focused on republican paramilitaries and activists, the "Ballast" investigation by the Police Ombudsman confirmed that British forces colluded on several occasions with loyalist paramilitaries, were involved in murder, furthermore obstructed the course of justice when claims of collusion and murder were investigated. The Troubles were brought to an uneasy end by a peace process that included the declaration of ceasefires by most paramilitary organisations, the complete decommissioning of the IRA's weapons, the reform of the police, the corresponding withdrawal of the British Army from the streets and sensitive Irish border areas such as South Armagh and County Fermanagh, as agreed by the signatories to the Belfast Agreement.
One part of the Agreement is that Northern Ireland will remain within the United Kingdom unless a majority of the Northern Irish electorate vote otherwise. It established the Northern Ireland Executive, a devolved power-sharing government, which must consist of both unionist and nationalist parties. Although the number of active participants was small, the Troubles affected many in Northern Ireland on a daily basis. In 1609, Scottish and English settlers, known as planters, were given land escheated from the native Irish in the Plantation of Ulster. Coupled with Protestant immigration to "unplanted" areas of Ulster Antrim and Dow
Casement Park is the principal Gaelic Athletic Association stadium in Belfast, Northern Ireland, home to the Antrim football and hurling teams. It is located in Andersonstown Road in the west of the city, named after the republican revolutionary Sir Roger Casement; as of 2015 it had an official capacity of 32,282, with safety certification for 31,661, including 6,962 seated. Casement Park, one of the largest stadia in Ulster, opened in June 1953, with Armagh Harps defeating St John’s of Antrim in the final of the inaugural Ulster Senior Club Football Championship; the newly opened Casement Park hosted the Ulster Championship final less than a month which saw Armagh overcome reigning All-Ireland champions Cavan. The ground's location in a republican neighbourhood saw incidents during the Troubles which contributed to unionist perception of the GAA as pro-republican. Rallies against the introduction of internment were held on 12 September 1971 and 19 March 1972, it was occupied by the British Army from Operation Motorman on 31 July 1972 until October 1973.
Provisional IRA members displayed weapons at a rally there in August 1979. In March 1988, two Army corporals who drove into a republican funeral cortège were interrogated in Casement Park before being shot on nearby waste ground. Anniversaries of the 1981 hunger strike were marked by rallies at the stadium in 2001 and 2006, against the wishes of the GAA Central Council. In all, Casement Park has hosted eight Ulster football finals. However, the Antrim ground has not held the provincial showpiece since 1971, with St. Tiernach's Park in Clones hosting the final every year since except between 2004 and 2006 when it was moved to Croke Park such was the demand for tickets. A major facelift of the stadium took place in 2000, a move which saw more championship games played at Casement Park. In 2006, floodlights were added which allowed football to be played in the evening. On 14 November 2016 Casement Park was included as part of Ireland's 2023 Rugby World Cup bid, which in 2017 lost to France. In 2006, proposals were raised to build a new multi-purpose stadium on the site of the old Maze prison near Lisburn, intended to host association football, rugby union and Gaelic games.
However, opposition to the idea led to it being dropped in favour of a new venue in the Sydenham area of East Belfast. This led to Ulster GAA, one of the partners in the Maze project, to pull out in favour of remaining at Casement Park. Plans to redevelop Casement Park were announced in 2009, though it was not until 2011 that the Northern Ireland Executive announced that it had granted £138m for various stadium redevelopment projects throughout Northern Ireland, of which Ulster GAA would receive £61.4m to be used to redevelop Casement Park into a 40,000 all-seated stadium. A further £15 million was proposed from the Central Council of the Gaelic Athletic Association. If the plans had been approved, the venue would become the largest stadium in Ulster. In early 2012 it was announced that the redevelopment work would start at the end of 2013 with a view to having the new stadium open by September 2015, it was expected that, after its completion, Ulster GAA would move its headquarters from St Tiernach's Park in Clones to the redeveloped Casement Park.
Local residents of West Belfast objected to the proposal and in September 2013 the Mooreland and Owenvarragh Residents Association issued a formal petition and letter of objection to the Northern Ireland Department of Environment, describing the new stadium plans "a monstrosity" and too expansive. The residents filed a lawsuit as the date for the commencement of construction continued to be delayed. In December 2014 the High Court ruled a ministerial decision granting planning approval for the redevelopment of the stadium was unlawful, setting the proposal back further. Ulster GAA responded with disappointment to the decision, though vowed to re-submit an improved design, they did so in October 2016, unveiling a smaller scale project with a reduced capacity of 34,500. This design has been unable to achieve planning approval permission, as Northern Ireland's power-sharing government has been dissolved since March 2017; the anticpated total cost of the project has blown out to £110 million. List of Gaelic Athletic Association stadiums List of stadiums in Ireland by capacity Match for Michaela
Operation Banner was the operational name for the British Armed Forces' operation in Northern Ireland from August 1969 to July 2007, as part of the Troubles. It was one of the longest continuous deployments in British military history; the British Army was deployed, at the request of the unionist government of Northern Ireland, in response to the August 1969 riots. Its role was to support the Royal Ulster Constabulary and to assert the authority of the British government in Northern Ireland. At the peak of the operation in the 1970s, about 21,000 British troops were deployed, most of them from Britain; as part of the operation, a new locally-recruited regiment was formed: the Ulster Defence Regiment. After the 1998 Belfast Agreement, the operation was scaled down and the vast majority of British troops were withdrawn. According to the Ministry of Defence, 1,441 serving British military personnel died in Operation Banner; the British military killed 306 people during the operation, about 51% of whom were civilians and 41% of whom were members of republican paramilitaries.
The British Army was deployed, at the request of the unionist government of Northern Ireland, in response to the August 1969 riots. Its role was to support the Royal Ulster Constabulary and to assert the authority of the British government in Northern Ireland; the main opposition to the British military's deployment came from the Provisional Irish Republican Army. It waged a guerrilla campaign against the British military from 1970 to 1997. Catholics welcomed the soldiers when they first arrived in August 1969, but Catholic hostility to the British military's deployment increased after incidents such as the Falls Curfew, Operation Demetrius, the Ballymurphy Massacre and Bloody Sunday. An internal British Army document released in 2007 stated that, whilst it had failed to defeat the IRA, it had made it impossible for the IRA to win through violence, reduced the death toll in the last years of conflict; the operation was scaled down from 1998, after the Good Friday Agreement, when patrols were suspended and several military barracks closed or dismantled before the beginning of IRA's decommissioning.
The process of demilitarisation started after the first IRA ceasefire. From the second IRA ceasefire in 1997 until the first act of decommission of weapons in 2001 50% of the army bases had been vacated or demolished along with surveillance sites and holding centers, while more than 100 cross-border roads were reopened. In August 2005, it was announced that in response to the Provisional IRA declaration that its campaign was over, in accordance with the Good Friday Agreement provisions, Operation Banner would end by 1 August 2007; this involved troops based in Northern Ireland reduced to 5,000, only for training purposes. Security was transferred to the police; the Northern Ireland Resident battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment — which grew out of the Ulster Defence Regiment — were stood down on 1 September 2006. The operation ended at midnight on 31 July 2007, making it the longest continuous deployment in the British Army's history, lasting over 38 years. While the withdrawal of troops was welcomed by the nationalist parties Social Democratic and Labour Party and Sinn Féin, the unionist Democratic Unionist Party and Ulster Unionist Party opposed the decision, which they regarded as'premature'.
The main reasons behind their resistance were the continuing activity of republican dissident groups, the loss of security-related jobs for the protestant community and the perception of the British Army presence as an affirmation of the political union with Great Britain. Adam Ingram, the Minister of State for the Armed Forces, has stated that assuming the maintenance of an enabling environment, British Army support to the PSNI after 31 July 2007 was reduced to a residual level, known as Operation Helvetic, providing specialised ordnance disposal and support to the PSNI in circumstances of extreme public disorder as described in Patten recommendations 59 and 66, should this be needed, thus ending the British Army's emergency operation in Northern Ireland; the support to the police forces was from the British Army, with the Royal Air Force providing helicopter support as required. A maritime component was supplied under the codename of Operation Grenada, by the Royal Navy and Royal Marines in direct support of the Army commitment.
This was tasked with interdicting the supply of weapons and munitions to paramilitaries, acting as a visible deterrence by maintaining a conspicuous maritime presence on and around the coast of Northern Ireland and Lough Neagh. The role of the armed forces in their support role to the police was defined by the Army in the following terms: "Routine support — Includes such tasks as providing protection to the police in carrying out normal policing duties in areas of terrorist threat; the military can provide soldiers to protect and, if necessary, supplement police cordons. The military can provide heavy plant to remove barricades and construct barriers, additional armoured vehicles and helicopters to help in the movement of police and soldiers" "Specialist support — Includes bomb disposal and tracker dogs, divers from the Royal Engineers" At the peak of the operation in the
Hereford is a cathedral city, civil parish and county town of Herefordshire, England. It lies on the River Wye 16 miles east of the border with Wales, 24 miles southwest of Worcester, 23 miles northwest of Gloucester. With a population of 58,896, it is the largest settlement in the county; the name "Hereford" is said to come from the Anglo-Saxon "here", an army or formation of soldiers, the "ford", a place for crossing a river. If this is the origin it suggests that Hereford was a place where a body of armed men forded or crossed the Wye; the Welsh name for Hereford is Henffordd, meaning "old road", refers to the Roman road and Roman settlement at nearby Stretton Sugwas. Much of the county of Herefordshire was Welsh-speaking, as reflected in the Welsh names of many places in the county. An early town charter from 1189 granted by Richard I of England describes it as "Hereford in Wales". Hereford has been recognised as a city since time immemorial, with the status being reconfirmed as as October 2000.
It is now known chiefly as a trading centre for rural area. Products from Hereford include: cider, leather goods, nickel alloys, poultry and cattle, including the famous Hereford breed. Hereford became the seat of Putta, Bishop of Hereford, some time between AD 676 and 688, after which the settlement continued to grow due to its proximity to the border between Mercia and Wales, becoming the Saxon capital of West Mercia by the beginning of the 8th century. Hostilities between the Anglo-Saxons and the Welsh came to a head with the Battle of Hereford in 760, in which the Britons freed themselves from the influence of the English. Hereford was again targeted by the Welsh during their conflict with the Anglo-Saxon King Edward the Confessor in AD 1056 when, supported by Viking allies, Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, King of Gwynedd and Powys, marched on the town and put it to the torch before returning home in triumph. Hereford had the only mint west of the Severn in the reign of Athelstan, it was to Hereford a border town, that Athelstan summoned the leading Welsh princes.
The present Hereford Cathedral dates from the early 12th century, as does the first bridge across the Wye. Former Bishops of Hereford include Saint Thomas de Cantilupe and Lord High Treasurer of England Thomas Charlton; the city gave its name to two suburbs of Paris, France: Maisons-Alfort and Alfortville, due to a manor built there by Peter of Aigueblanche, Bishop of Hereford, in the middle of the 13th century. Hereford, a base for successive holders of the title Earl of Hereford, was once the site of a castle, Hereford Castle, which rivalled that of Windsor in size and scale; this was a base for repelling Welsh attacks and a secure stronghold for English kings such as King Henry IV when on campaign in the Welsh Marches against Owain Glyndŵr. The castle was landscaped into Castle Green. After the Battle of Mortimer's Cross in 1461, during the Wars of the Roses, the defeated Lancastrian leader Owen Tudor was taken to Hereford by Sir Roger Vaughan and executed in High Town. A plaque now marks the spot of the execution.
Vaughan was himself executed, under a flag of truce, by Owen's son Jasper. During the civil war the city changed hands several times. On 30 September 1642 Parliamentarians led by Sir Robert Harley and Henry Grey, 1st Earl of Stamford occupied the city without opposition. In December they withdrew to Gloucester because of the presence in the area of a Royalist army under Lord Herbert; the city was again occupied from 23 April to 18 May 1643 by Parliamentarians commanded by Sir William Waller but it was in 1645 that the city saw most action. On 31 July 1645 a Scottish army of 14,000 under Alexander Leslie, 1st Earl of Leven besieged the city but met stiff resistance from its garrison and inhabitants, they withdrew on 1 September when they received news that a force led by King Charles was approaching. The city was taken for Parliament on 18 December 1645 by Colonel Birch and Colonel Morgan. King Charles showed his gratitude to the city of Hereford on 16 September 1645 by augmenting the city's coat of arms with the three lions of Richard I of England, ten Scottish Saltires signifying the ten defeated Scottish regiments, a rare lion crest on top of the coat of arms signifying "defender of the faith" and the rarer gold-barred peer's helm, found only on the arms of one other municipal authority: those of the City of London.
Nell Gwynne and mistress of King Charles II, is said to have been born in Hereford in 1650. Another famous actor born in Hereford is David Garrick; the Bishop's Palace next to the Cathedral was continually used to the present day. Hereford Cathedral School is one of the oldest schools in England; the Harold Street Barracks were completed in 1856. During World War I, in 1916, a fire at the Garrick Theatre killed eight young girls, performing at a charity concert; the main local government body covering Hereford is Herefordshire Council. Hereford has a "City Council" but this is a parish council with city status, has only limited powers. Hereford has been the county town of Herefordshire. In 1974 Herefordshire was merged with Worcestershire to become part of the county of Hereford and Worcester, Hereford became a district of the new county. Hereford had formed a historic borough and was reformed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835. On 1 April 1998 the County of Hereford and Worcester was abolish
A funeral procession is a procession in motor vehicles or by foot, from a funeral home or place of worship to the cemetery or crematorium. In earlier times the deceased was carried by male family members on a bier or in a coffin to the final resting place; this practice has shifted over time toward transporting the deceased in a hearse, while family and friends follow in their vehicles. The transition from the procession by foot to procession by car can be attributed to two main factors; the Indian city of Banāras is knowns as the Great Cremation Ground because it contains Manikarnikā, the location where Hindu's bring the deceased for cremation. Manikarnikā is located in the center of the city along the Ganges River; the funeral procession takes place from the house of the deceased to the cremation ground and is an all-male affair. The eldest son leads the procession followed by others. Contrary to western traditions, the procession leaves as soon as possible after death and mourners chant the name of god en route to the crematorium.
The body itself is bathed and wrapped in a white sheet, carried to the cremation ground on a bamboo litter. The son leading the procession carries a fire pot when he leaves the house, used to light the funeral pyre; the procession ends at Manikarnikā, where the body is dipped in the Ganges River sprinkled with sandalwood oil and covered with garlands of flowers before being cremated. In more modern times and places outside of India, the domestic traditions of decorating the body and offering rice balls occurs at the family home or funeral home instead of at the cremation site. No large procession takes place, but rather the male family members carry the coffin from the home to the hearse and follow in cars to the crematorium; the coffin is again carried by the men from the hearse into the chapel at the crematorium. The chief mourner and male family members will flip the switch to light the cremator after the funeral ceremony takes place. In some cases, the family will travel farther to spread the ashes of the deceased in a holy river.
However, if they choose not to do so, the ashes will be spread in a river nearby. In the Islam religion, the funeral procession is a virtuous act that involves a large amount of participation from other Muslims. Traditions that were begun by the Prophet are. Muslims believe that by following the funeral procession, praying over the body, attending the burial one may receive quīrāts to put them in good favor with Allah. Funeral processions of prominent figures in the Islamic society would attract large crowds because many people would want to honor the deceased; the number of people attending one's funeral can be considered a mark of social standing being that the more well-known and influential one was, the more people were to attend. In some cases, the governor may insist on leading the funeral procession for men of high prominence if this is against the wishes of the family of the deceased. Muslim funeral processions may attract people of other religions at times if the deceased is well known in society.
However, Muslims will always be the ones carrying the body on a bedstead, while other religions may follow alongside staying in their own groups. Islamic funeral processions have been viewed as similar to those in late antiquity Alexandria, being that the whole city would partake in the procession and lights and incense would be used as well. In the Christian religion, the funeral procession was from the home of the deceased to the church because this was the only procession associated with burial; this is because the burial took place on the church property so there was no procession that occurred after the funeral service. On, as the deceased began to be buried in cemeteries that were not at the church, the main funeral procession was considered to be from the church to the place of burial; this switch was due to the monastic influence over time. When the place of burial was at the church or nearby, the body was carried to the grave/tomb; those carrying the coffin were led by others carrying incense.
The incense signify a sign of honor for the deceased. Psalms and antiphons were sung along the way. One antiphon, used in funeral processions for a long time is called In Paradisum: May the angels lead you into paradise may the martyrs come to welcome you and take you to the holy city, the new and eternal Jerusalem. In the modern day, the funeral procession is no longer practiced in the same way. Now a hearse is used to transport the body to the gravesite; the procession consists of carrying the casket from the church to the hearse and from the hearse to the gravesite once at the cemetery. The male family members and friends are the ones who carry the coffin. After a person has died the first thing to be done is to choose two people to be in charge of making all of the arrangements for the funeral events to come; the main relatives are in charge of encoffining the body and the female relatives make the death clothes that the deceased will wear. Once the body is prepared the wake occurs; this lasts through the night.
Relatives and neighbors attend and food and alcoholic beverages are served. The next morning at 10 A. M. the funeral procession begins. Coolies are divided into two groups.
Belfast is a city in the United Kingdom, the capital city of Northern Ireland, standing on the banks of the River Lagan on the east coast of Ireland. It is second-largest on the island of Ireland, it had a population of 333,871 as of 2015. By the early 19th century, Belfast became a major port, it played a key role in the Industrial Revolution, becoming the biggest linen-producer in the world, earning it the nickname "Linenopolis". By the time it was granted city status in 1888, it was a major centre of Irish linen production, tobacco-processing and rope-making. Shipbuilding was a key industry. Belfast as of 2019 has a major aerospace and missiles industry. Industrialisation and the inward migration it brought made Belfast Ireland's biggest city and it became the capital of Northern Ireland following the Partition of Ireland in 1922, its status as a global industrial centre ended in the decades after the Second World War of 1939–1945. Belfast suffered in the Troubles: in the 1970s and 1980s it was one of the world's most dangerous cities.
However, a survey conducted by a finance company and published in 2016 rated the city as one of the safest within the United Kingdom. Throughout the 21st century, the city has seen a sustained period of calm, free from the intense political violence of former years, has benefitted from substantial economic and commercial growth. Belfast remains a centre for industry, as well as for the arts, higher education and law, is the economic engine of Northern Ireland. Belfast is still a major port, with commercial and industrial docks, including the Harland and Wolff shipyard, dominating the Belfast Lough shoreline, it is served by two airports: George Best Belfast City Airport and Belfast International Airport 15 miles west of the city. The Globalization and World Cities Research Network listed Belfast as a Gamma global city in 2018; the name Belfast is derived from the Irish Béal Feirsde, spelt Béal Feirste. The word béal means "mouth" or "rivermouth" while feirsde/feirste is the genitive singular of fearsaid and refers to a sandbar or tidal ford across a river's mouth.
The name would thus translate as " mouth of the sandbar" or " mouth of the ford". This sandbar was formed at the confluence of two rivers at what is now Donegall Quay: the Lagan, which flows into Belfast Lough, its tributary the Farset; this area was the hub. The Irish name Béal Feirste is shared by a townland in County Mayo, whose name has been anglicised as Belfarsad. An alternative interpretation of the name is "mouth of of the sandbar", an allusion to the River Farset, which flows into the Lagan where the sandbar was located; this interpretation was favoured by John O'Donovan. It seems clear, that the river itself was named after the tidal crossing. In Ulster-Scots, the name of the city has been variously translated as Bilfawst, Bilfaust or Baelfawst, although "Belfast" is used. Although the county borough of Belfast was created when it was granted city status by Queen Victoria in 1888, the city continues to be viewed as straddling County Antrim and County Down; the site of Belfast has been occupied since the Bronze Age.
The Giant's Ring, a 5,000-year-old henge, is located near the city, the remains of Iron Age hill forts can still be seen in the surrounding hills. Belfast remained a small settlement of little importance during the Middle Ages. John de Courcy built a castle on what is now Castle Street in the city centre in the 12th century, but this was on a lesser scale and not as strategically important as Carrickfergus Castle to the north, built by de Courcy in 1177; the O'Neill clan had a presence in the area. In the 14th century, Cloinne Aodha Buidhe, descendants of Aodh Buidhe O'Neill, built Grey Castle at Castlereagh, now in the east of the city. Conn O'Neill of the Clannaboy O'Neills owned vast lands in the area and was the last inhabitant of Grey Castle, one remaining link being the Conn's Water river flowing through east Belfast. Belfast became a substantial settlement in the 17th century after being established as a town by Sir Arthur Chichester, it was settled by Protestant English and Scottish migrants at the time of the Plantation of Ulster.
In 1791, the Society of United Irishmen was founded in Belfast, after Henry Joy McCracken and other prominent Presbyterians from the city invited Theobald Wolfe Tone and Thomas Russell to a meeting, after having read Tone's "Argument on Behalf of the Catholics of Ireland". Evidence of this period of Belfast's growth can still be seen in the oldest areas of the city, known as the Entries. Belfast blossomed as a commercial and industrial centre in the 18th and 19th centuries and became Ireland's pre-eminent industrial city. Industries thrived, including linen, rope-making, heavy engineering and shipbuilding, at the end of the 19th century, Belfast overtook Dublin as the largest city in Ireland; the Harland and Wolff shipyards became one of the largest shipbuilders in the world, employing up to 35,000 workers. In 1886 the city suffered intense riots over the issue of home rule. In 1920–22, Belfast became the capital of the new entity of Northern Ireland as the island of Ireland was partitioned.
The accompanying conflict cost up to 500 lives in Belfast, the bloodiest sectarian strife in the city until the Troubles of the late 1960s onwards. Belfas
Michael Stone (loyalist)
Michael Stone is an ex-member of the Loyalist UDA paramilitary group in Northern Ireland, convicted of three counts of murder committed at an IRA funeral in 1988. In 2000 he was released from prison on licence under the Belfast Agreement. In November 2006, Stone was charged with attempted murder of Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams, having been arrested attempting to enter the parliament buildings at Stormont while armed, he was subsequently sentenced to a further 16 years' imprisonment. Stone was born in Harborne, Birmingham, to English parents Cyril Alfred Stone and his wife Mary Bridget. Mary Bridget walked out on the marriage soon after Stone's birth and Cyril Alfred enlisted in the Merchant Navy, leaving the infant Michael in the care of John Gregg and his wife Margaret who lived in Ballyhalbert. Stone has claimed that he suspects his biological mother may have been a Catholic because of her name but added that he was baptised in the Church of Ireland by the Greggs and as such he has always self-identified as Protestant.
Cyril Stone subsequently remarried and had two children, Michael Stone's half-siblings, by his second wife – Tracey and Terence – the latter of whom converted to Buddhism and became a monk in Southeast Asia. The Greggs had five biological children with whom Stone was raised and whom he identifies as siblings, a son John and four daughters, Colleen and Shirley; the Greggs moved to the Braniel estate on the outskirts of Belfast in 1959 due to John Gregg securing employment with Harland and Wolff shipyard. Stone attended Braniel Primary School and Lisnasharragh Secondary School, where fellow pupils included George Best, in the same class as Stone's sister Rosemary Gregg. Stone enrolled in the Army Cadet Force as a fourteen-year-old where he received basic training in firearm use. Stone was expelled from school at fifteen and a half after a series of playground fights and left Lisnasharragh with no formal qualifications, he would find work as a "hammer boy" in the shipyard only a few weeks later.
However he got into a fight with another worker and, following a suspension, resigned his position. In 1970 Stone helped establish a Braniel street gang, which called itself the Hole in the Wall Gang, which Stone claims included Catholic and Protestant members. Gang members, who adopted a form of uniform consisting of blue jeans and oxblood Dr. Martens and who carried knives, clashed with members of other Braniel gangs as well as those from neighbouring estates in east Belfast. In 1971 Stone joined a "Tartan Gang" that had started up on the Braniel estate and he was soon recognised as "general" of this loyalist group; the gangs were responsible for sectarian violence, which took the form of spending Saturday afternoons in Belfast city centre attacking Catholic youths, vandalising the Catholic repository in Chapel Lane. Stone met Tommy Herron, commander of the Ulster Defence Association's East Belfast Brigade, when Herron moved into the Braniel estate in 1972. According to Stone, Herron took him and three friends to the neighbouring Castlereagh Hills one day and brought a German shepherd dog with them.
After the four had played with the dog for around half-an-hour, Herron produced a gun and told them to kill the dog. After his three friends refused, Stone was praised by Herron for being ruthless, he was sworn in as a member of the UDA at a ceremony the following week. Stone was trained in weapon use by Herron himself for several months. According to Stone, at one point in the training Herron shot him with a blank round from a shotgun. Stone's early UDA activity was confined to stealing. In 1972 he was sent to prison for six months for stealing guns and ammunition from a Comber sports shop, he returned to jail for stealing a car. Tommy Herron was murdered by colleagues, soon afterwards and the Braniel UDA went into abeyance. Following Herron's death, Stone withdrew from the UDA and in January 1974 attached himself to the Red Hand Commando, a loyalist group that operated a Braniel unit under Sammy Cinnamond. According to Stone, one of his earliest duties was acting as a bodyguard to Vanguard Unionist Progressive Party leader Bill Craig.
In 1978 the UDA encouraged Stone to join the Royal Irish Regiment at Ballymena, in order that he could receive training with anti-tank weaponry, although he did not receive this training and left after six months. According to Martin Dillon, Stone held membership of Tara, an anti-Catholic and anti-communist organisation led by William McGrath, a close associate of RHC leader John McKeague. Dillon argues that Stone had joined the RHC at an earlier date and held simultaneous membership of the other groups and the UDA. Cross-membership of more than one loyalist group was not unheard of in the early days of the Troubles. Stone became close to John Bingham, the commander of the Ballysillan Ulster Volunteer Force, the two worked on a fund-raising drive for their groups. According to Stone, this included a meeting with two members of Mossad, who wished to provide funding to the UVF. Stone however was eager to become more involved in killing. Under Cinnamond, not on the agenda, so he drifted from the RHC.
In 1984 Stone decided to reactivate his membership of the UDA and contacted Andy Tyrie to receive permission. After a brief period with the near moribund Mid-Ulster Brigade, who felt he was too well known in east Belfast to rejoin the local brigade, met John McMichael and was soon seconded to his South Belfast Brigade. McMichael soon provided Stone with guns and placed him in a team whose ostensible purpose was to fill McMichael's hit list, a list of high-profile Irish r