Billy Reid (Irish republican)

Billy Reid (Irish republican)

William "Billy" Reid (1 January 1939 – 15 May 1971cite book | last = | first = | authorlink = | title = Tírghrá | publisher = National Commemoration Centre | date = 2002 | pages = p. 14 | doi = | isbn = 0-9542946-0-2] ) was a volunteer and Staff Officer in C Company, Third Battalion of the Belfast Brigade of the Provisional Irish Republican Army.cite book | last = | first = | authorlink = | title = Lost Lives | publisher = Mainstream Publishing | date = 2007 | pages = p. 72 | doi = | isbn = 1-84018-504-X] On 15 May, 1971 a foot patrol of the British army was ambushed in Academy Street in the centre of Belfast by the Third Battalion Belfast Brigade. Billy Reid, aged 32, was killed in the ensuing gunfight. [cite book | last = English | first = Robert | authorlink = | title = Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA | publisher = Pan Books | date = 2004 | pages = p. 137 | doi = | isbn = 0-330-49388-4 ]


Reid was from Sheridan Street near to Duncairn Gardens, in the New Lodge area of Belfast. He grew up in Regent Street in the Carrickhill area of North Belfast. Reid attended schools in the North Belfast area and then became a joiner by trade. Reid enjoyed cycling, art and music and played the trumpet as well as writing his own songs. Reid also boxed at an amateur level for the Holy Family Club in Belfast.

hooting of Gunner Curtis

Reid is reported to have shot dead Gunner Robert Curtis of the British Army in Belfast on 6 February 1971; Curtis was the first British soldier to be killed in Ireland since the 1920s.cite book
last = Taylor
first = Peter
authorlink =
title = Provos The IRA & Sinn Féin
publisher = Bloomsbury Publishing
date = 1997
pages = pp. 89-91
doi =
isbn = 0-7475-3818-2
] [ [ Soldiers, sashes and shamrocks: Football and social identity in Scotland and Northern Ireland] ]

Gunner Curtis' shooting is seen as the beginning of the all-out war between the Provisional Irish Republican Army and British forces. The day after the shooting of Curtis, the Unionist Prime Minister, Major James Chichester-Clark stated that "Northern Ireland was at war with the Irish Republican Army Provisionals". The following week, following clashes at an IRA funeral in north Belfast, the Stormont government, which at that time was responsible for security in Northern Ireland banned the wearing of military style uniforms by "subversive organisations". [ Eamon Phoenix. [ “35 Years Since First British Soldier Shot Dead In Troubles”] Irish News. Retrieved on 2007-02-11.]


Reid is the subject of a well known song called "The Ballad of Billy Reid" which tells the story of Reid's death. This song has been recorded by a number of bands including Shebeen, Terry O'Neill, Spirit of 67 and The Wolfe Tones. [ [ The Ballad of Billy Reid] ] The song was also included in the songbook "Songs of Resistance 1968-1982". [ [ CAIN Web Service - Extracts from 'Songs of Resistance 1969-1982] ]

A mural depicting Reid and other Irish Republicans Sean McIlvenna, Rosemary Bleakley and Michael Kane is painted on the New Lodge Road in Belfast. [ [ CAIN Mural Directory] ]

A Republican flute band from Glasgow, Scotland named itself the "Volunteer Billy Reid Republican Flute Band" in memory of Reid. [ [ Billy Reid band anniversary] ]


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