Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 12 July 2014

Historical items of former UVF chief Gusty Spence sold off at Dublin auction

Historical documents belonging to late UVF leader Gusty Spence have been sold at an auction in the city his terror group wreaked havoc in almost 40 years ago.

Among the items which went under the hammer were paintings of Spence, a signed copy of a statement of the 1994 loyalist ceasefire and a prisoner's permit issued to Secretary of State Mervyn Rees for his meeting with the paramilitary godfather on July 12, 1975.

Spence — who died in September 2011 at the age of 78 — left behind an array of documents, photographs, paintings and books.

A large crowd took part in Sunday’s bidding in Dublin, which was hosted by Whyte’s Auctioneers.

The ceasefire statement was bought for £596 while a collection of pictures of Spence — including snaps of him in prison — raised £119, the same total a number of books belonging to him went for.

A Maze Prison visitors card issued to Merlyn Rees while serving as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland at his address at Stormont sold for £102. The card allowed Rees, Stanley Orme, Minister of State for Northern Ireland, and Donald Concannon, Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, to visit loyalist leader Spence in the jail.

Rees had lifted the UVF’s status as a proscribed organisation in April 1974, the month before the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

The explosions which ripped through the Republic’s capital killed 26 people and an unborn child, while the Monaghan bomb killed another seven.

Spence would later spearhead efforts to bring about peace, having joined the PUP, and announced that the UVF would put its weapons beyond reach in 2007.

Documents relating to Spence’s visit to America in 1994, just after the announcement of the initial loyalist ceasefire, sold for £323.

His visa directed him not to engage in direct or indirect fundraising while in the States.

Among the other lots sold was a memorandum from the final Good Friday Agreement signed by the participants. It fetched £7,669 and features the signatures of Tony Blair, John Hume, Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness, Marjorie ‘Mo’ Mowlam and Bertie Ahern. It was sold to a Belfast Art Gallery.

A prison art handkerchief, made by Martin McGuinness in Portlaoise jail in 1974, sold for £374.

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