James Pratt Craig

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James Pratt Craig
Jim craig loyalist.jpg
Full Name: James Pratt Craig
Alias: James Craig
Jim Craig
Origin: Belfast
Occupation: Mobster
Loyalist paramilitary
Goals: Profit from extortion
Eliminate all his rivals (succeeded)
Survive the Troubles (failed)
Crimes: Blackmail
Extortion
Murder
Terrorism
Racketeering
Embezzlement


James Pratt Craig (17 November 1941 – 15 October 1988) was an Irish crime boss and Ulster Defence Association commander. Described as "Belfast's foremost paramilitary extortionist", Craig was alleged to have avoided assassination by colluding with the Irish Republican Army and the Irish National Liberation Army when it suited him.

Biography

Craig was imprisoned in the 1950s for an unknown offence. While in prison he met UDA leader Charles Harding Smith, who asked him to join the organization. After he was released in 1976, Craig became a member of the UDA's command circle and was appointed chief fundraiser. Craig set up a protection racket in Belfast to help raise funds, and by 1985 had managed to blackmail and extort money out of a number of construction firms, building sites, pubs, clubs, and shops all over Northern Ireland. Several businessmen attempted to prosecute Craig for extortion but he pushed for their identities to be revealed, they refused and dropped the case to get out of it.

Craig was later kicked out of the West Belfast Brigade after he lead a sectarian attack during which a Protestant man and his Catholic friend were shot, stabbed and burned alive. He went on to join John McMichael's South Belfast Brigade. The Ulster Volunteer Force investigated Craig after it was found that their commanders John Bingham, William Marchant and Lenny Murphy had all argued with him before being killed by the IRA. The UVF concluded that Craig had likely given the IRA information on the three as revenge for getting in his way, but the UDA refused to investigate these claims and the UVF couldn't kill Craig as long as the UDA still protected him so they gave up.

However, in December 1987 McMichael began to investigate Craig, finding that he had embezzled money from his UDA funds in order to go on holiday. He also found evidence that Craig was indeed collaborating with the IRA and had also arranged for another Republican group, the INLA, to kill Loyalist commander William McCullough to prevent his embezzlement from being discovered. Before McMichael could order the shutdown of Craig's protection racket he was killed by an IRA carbomb, leading the UDA to suspect that Craig had helped the IRA to set up his assassination.

Soon after this a second extortion case was set up against Craig. It collapsed in January 1988 after the key witness was killed by the UDA under Craig's orders. Later that year the UDA concluded their investigation into McMichael's death, finding that Craig had indeed provided the IRA with the information used to kill him. On 15 October 1988 he was lured to the Castle Inn, where he was shot to death by UDA gunmen.