The Greysteel Massacre took place on the evening of 30 October 1993 in Greysteel, County Derry,. Three members of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), a loyalist paramilitary group, attacked a crowded pub with firearms, killing eight civilians and wounding thirteen. The group claimed responsibility using the covername "Ulster Freedom Fighters" and said that the pub was targeted because it was in an Irish nationalist and Catholic area. 


On 23 October 1993, a Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb prematurely exploded in a fish shop on Shankill Road, west Belfast. Eight Protestant civilians, a UDA member and an IRA member were killed. The IRA's intended target was a meeting of UDA leaders including brigadier Johnny Adair, which was to take place above the shop. Unbeknownst to the IRA, the meeting had been rescheduled. Shortly after two IRA members, Thomas Begley and Sean Kelly, entered the shop dressed as deliverymen and carrying the time bomb under a tray, it exploded accidentally, killing Begley instantly, along with the nine others inside the shop at the time. This became known as the Shankill Road bombing.

The UDA launched a number of "revenge attacks" for the bombing. Later that day, it shot a Catholic delivery driver after luring him to a bogus call at Vernon Court, Belfast. He died on 25 October. On 26 October, the UDA shot dead another two Catholic civilians and wounded five in an attack on the Council Depot at Kennedy Way, Belfast.

The massacre:

On the evening of 30 October, three UDA members, two of whom were wearing blue boiler suits and balaclavas, entered the "Rising Sun Bar" in Greysteel, County Derry. There were about 70 people inside attending a Halloween party, and so the masked men were not noticed until they produced an AK-47 and a 9mm.semi-automatic pistol, and started shooting into the packed crowd inside the lounge area. The leading gunman, Stephen Irwin (who was carrying the AK-47) yelled "trick or treat" as he opened fire. The scene was chaotic as people inside the lounge began to scream in panic, with women pleading for mercy from the gunmen. Six of those killed were Catholic civilians and two were Protestant civilians. None had any known political role or affiliation within the Troubles. The killers, laughing, then made their escape in their getaway car-an Opel Kadett which was driven by Torrens Knight. Afterwards they were said to have boasted about the killings.

The following day, the UDA claimed responsibility for the attack using the covername "Ulster Freedom Fighters" (UFF). Its statement said that the "Greysteel raid" was "the continuation of our threats against the nationalist electorate that they would pay a heavy price for last Saturday's slaughter of nine Protestants". A West Belfast UDA member said that his organisation "had information that senior IRA men drank in the Rising Sun ... Unfortunately they were not there on Halloween but our boys acted on the briefing they had been given".

The pub is still open in Greysteel. There is a memorial to the victims outside the building that says: May their sacrifice be our path to peace.


Shortly after the massacre, five men were arrested for the attack. The gunmen had been Stephen Geoffrey Irwin and Jeffery Deeney, with Torrens Knight having stood by the pub's door armed with a shotgun. All three were members of the UDA's North Antrim & Derry Brigade. In 1995 they were convicted along with two others for involvement in the attack. The men were later released under the terms of the Belfast Agreement.

Torrens Knight received eight life sentences for the Greysteel massacre, together with four more for the Castlerock killings. He served seven years in prison before paramilitary prisoners were granted a general release under the Belfast Agreement. There remain rumours that he was a paid Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) informer.

Stephen Irwin had his release licence suspended after he was accused of slashing a football supporter with a knife. In 2005, he received a four year prison sentence for that attack. This meant that he also now has to serve the eight life sentences he received for the Greysteel massacre. In 2006 he abandoned an appeal against the sentences.

In 2007, the Ulster Political Research Group responded to what they called a "two-year hate campaign" in the media against Torrens Knight, who drove the gunmen to the Rising Sun, and declared that he had not and never had been in the pay of MI5 or any other branch of the security services.

In October 2007, a Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland investigation concluded that police did not have any prior knowledge that could have helped them prevent the Greysteel attack. The investigators did not find any evidence that Torrens Knight was protected from the law.