Falls Road Belfast Troubles
Northern Ireland

Billy McKee: Provisional IRA Founder Dies

At one stage he led the organisation in Belfast.

Falls Road Belfast Troubles

A road in Belfast during the Troubles (Picture: PA).

One of the founding members of the Provisional IRA has died aged in his late nineties.

Billy McKee led the organisation in Belfast at one stage.

He split from Sinn Fein decades ago and condemned the signing of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons.

McKee was known for taking to the streets of west Belfast after loyalist attacks in 1969.

He joined the Provisionals after the IRA's move towards Marxism in the 1960s.

The veteran republican was also involved in a gun battle with loyalists attacking the Catholic Short Strand in east Belfast.

Following his split with Sinn Fein he joined the Republican Sinn Fein party.

In a statement, it said: "Republican Sinn Fein send its deepest sympathy to the family and comrades of IRA Volunteer Billy McKee who died this morning."

At the height of the Troubles in the 1970s, around 28,000 British troops were deployed to Northern Ireland.

Operation Banner was the longest continuous deployment in British military history.

Between August 1969 and July 2007, 1,441 personnel died as a result of operations in Northern Ireland.

During the Troubles, more than 3,500 people lost their lives - the majority of those being civilians.