Belfast Brigade - 2nd Bn D Company Badge
The Belfast Brigade of the Provisional IRA was the largest of the organisation's command areas, based in the city of Belfast. Founded in 1969, along with the formation of the Provisional IRA, it was historically organised into three battalions; the First Battalion based in the Andersonstown/Lenadoon/Twinbrook area of Southwest Belfast; the Second Battalion based in the Falls Road/Clonard/Ballymurphy district of West Belfast; and the Third Battalion organised in nationalist enclaves in the north (Ardoyne, New Lodge, Ligoniel), south (the Markets, Lower Ormeau) and east (Short Strand) of the cityThe Belfast Brigade was one of the first active units of the Provisional IRA, after the split in the IRA in late 1969. In the aftermath of the 1969 riots, many republicans in Belfast felt that the IRA had let down the city's Catholic and nationalist community by failing to prevent the assault and burning of Catholic streets by loyalists. Kee accused Billy McMillen, the IRA's Belfast commander, and the Dublin-based IRA leadership, of having failed to provide arms, planning or manpower to defend Catholic streets.
On 22 September, McKee and a number of other IRA men, arrived armed at a meeting called by McMillen and tried to oust him as head of the Belfast IRA. They did not succeed, but announced that they would no longer be taking orders from the IRA leadership in Dublin. In December of that year, the IRA split into the Provisional IRA, which was composed of traditional militarists like McKee—and the Official IRA, which was composed of the pre-split Marxist leadership and their followers. McKee sided with the Provisionals and sat on the first Provisional Army Council in September 1970. Nine out of thirteen IRA units in Belfast sided with the Provisionals in 1969, roughly 120 activists and 500 supporters.