Founding Provisional IRA member dies

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A founding member of the Provisional IRA has died aged in his late nineties (Paul Faith/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 enjoyed legendary status among republicans at the start of the Troubles when he took 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.

It said: “Republican Sinn Fein send its deepest sympathy to the family and comrades of IRA Volunteer Billy McKee who died this morning.”

McKee led a hunger strike in 1972 in a bid to win recognition for IRA prisoners as political prisoners.

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