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Collusive Cover-Up

This week’s news about one more supposed British agent at work in the ranks of the informer infested IRA (now we can better understand the chant I-I-IRA) is only news in a certain milieu – one where people seemingly restrict themselves to getting news from the papers.

In the mean streets, a real ­­world away from the newsroom, allegations that yet another leader of the Provisional IRA’s North Belfast squad had been at his work for the British were doing the rounds for almost a year, even to the point of his code name, AA, being placed in the public domain. 

Whether Agent AA "planned the Shankill bombing ... was a police informant who had told his handlers of the plan to blow-up Frizzell's fish shop in 1993," is a moot point. PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton insists he was 100% convinced that the RUC, as his force used to be called, "had no knowledge of the Shankill bombing that could have prevented it".

Because the Castlereagh break-in did not happen in 2001, nor was AA a blanket protest prisoner, it doesn’t follow that the rest of the article by Alison Morris is equally wide off the mark. Besides, while these are the type of minor inaccuracies that might cause the attuned eye to twitch or annoy the pedant, they don’t detract from the substance of the narrative. Morris set out a plausible stall. Which account, her own or Hamilton’s, will ultimately prevail, time will tell.

Nevertheless, past form would tend towards the balance of probability favoring the cop rather than the journalist being the more reliable of the two. Which might help explain the weak intensity of wider media focus on the story. Judged against the explosion of interest in the Stakeknife revelations 13 years ago, the AA story, despite much initial promise, is something of a damp squib. 

Yet the Irish News article flags up the existence of a collusive cover-up. The Provisionals have long accused the British state of chronic concealment in relation to the activities of its security services's murderous role in the Northern conflict. If the Irish News charges are true that the Provisional IRA managed to decipher the files its members liberated from Castlereagh PSNI station in 2002, then it too has been up to its neck in covering for the nefarious activity of British operatives in Ireland.

British state activity is inseparable from the behaviour of its agents in the organisations penetrated.

The Provisional IRA would appear to have in its possession documents that demonstrate British state culpability in the fate of Irish citizens, yet is withholding the information to protect its own reputation. Whether collusion or a convergence of interests, the difference is negligible.

One effect of all of this is that iconic books like Lost Lives, a literary headstone to the conflict dead, are coming to acquire the character of the anachronistic. Not because of any shoddiness on the part of the authors but because with new information increasingly coming to light, the once assumedly straightforward task of assigning responsibility to various entities, state or otherwise, now becomes much more complicated. Assigning specific culpability in circumstances of joint enterprise defies neat categorisation.

Decades on from today, with common sense -- as Gramsci understood it to be, embedded, incoherent and spontaneous beliefs and assumptions -- taking root, the Northern conflict might be hazily looked back upon as entirely incomprehensible.  Just like something out of George Orwell’s 1984, where the citizenry could never rest assured whether Oceania was really locked in perpetual war with Eurasia, or in permanent alliance.

Perhaps a new misunderstanding will form the episteme, determining in uncomplicated fashion that many of the North’s killings were carried out by some shadowy body known as the Britishional IRA.

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Anthony McIntyre

Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher

44 comments to ''Collusive Cover-Up"

  1. Can't say I feel there's much to dispute with regards to your conclusions or predictions AM.

    I would add though that only the naive could have dismissed the inevitability of the spooks and securocrats seizing the opportunity, that was presented, to further develop and refine their counter-insurgency tactics. This, as is becoming increasingly apparent, they done with gusto and good effect.

    If the essence of successful counterinsurgency, as summed up by Galula, is to "Build (or rebuild) a political machine from the population upward" then the rise of Sinn Féin is indeed an outworking of that very process.

    Could it have been any other way?
    And if so ... at what cost?

  2. I read your comment that the individual concerned was not on the blanket , I'm more inclined to believe you rather than our Irish news journalist , I looked at the video and who I think it is used to be a journalist himself , am I wrong?

  3. Henry Joy,

    any other way to achieve what? That was unclear.


    I knew him and never understood him to be a blanketman. Former blanketmen in the past week have been asking me who he was because they too never knew him from the era. I knew him well but it was long after the blanket. I'd say were he a blanketman somebody from the protest would know him. Generally, while all blanketmen would not necessarily know everyone else on the protest, they would know who were "Fir Pluid", as the colloquialism went.

    On the video, I don't know.

  4. If the goal of the insurgents was "Brits Out" then they clearly failed.

    If the counter-insurgency intention was to maintain the status quo then they clearly succeeded.

    My open questions are not so much addressed to outcomes but towards the strategies and processes of implementing the original intention of the insurgents. 'Dark ops' are a pretty standard counterinsurgency tactic and were, as such, predictable. Viewed from a certain perspective they are understandable. Alas that is not the perspective of the insurgents nor of those who supported them.

    That the battle for the narrative plays out in a similar fashion as the original conflict is not unpredictable. Neither unfortunately is its result.

    All that said though, doesn't preclude nor diminish the importance of documentation and interpretation of an alternative narrative.

  5. HJ,

    I don't see what clarification that brings to my question.

  6. AM

    if you're so inclined then help me out and frame your question a different way.

  7. HJ,

    you ask could it have been any other way?

    I am uncertain what you mean by "it": whether the "it" is the black ops or the current path SF have gone down given the squeeze by the block ops etc. You seem to veer between the two even in your follow up.

  8. Is it a damp squib because its quite hard to grasp what is going on? This is a story where every participant comes off worse, but given that AA is effectively a recluse its hard to see why leaking this benefits PSF,and these are the leakers?
    I thought Castlereagh break in was judged to have been a ruse? Did the IRA really have a code breaking department? I doubt stolen documents could of been outsourced to academics for breaking.

  9. AM

    thanks for taking time ... yes, I can see the ambiguity created by using 'it'.

    The 'it' I am questioning is the 'campaign' the 'war' or the 'conflict'. The question to the largest degree a self-reflective one, an attempt to disentangle diverse positions I've taken over various phases of my life and synthesise into some cohesive position.

    Of course orchestration and participation of agents of the state in illegal acts of violence is repugnant. That though does not, at least to my mind at this particular point in time, excuse the naivety of not expecting a counter response. The universal law of there being an equal reaction to every action comes to mind. Implicit to that is the need for restraint from all parties to any conflict. Such dynamics regardless of moral outrage need to be acknowledged if we are to avoid repetition of failed actions. Dogma and ideology that encourages such repetition needs to be ditched. Advocates for restraint, patience and tolerance need to be celebrated.

    In this context, and on the day that's in it, I think of Hume, his absence from the Derry march on this Sunday 44 years ago and contemplate a different history.

  10. There wasn't much by way of restraint when the Paratroop Regiment wilfully gunned down those protestors in the Bogside 44 years ago this very day. I was on the march earlier and had an interesting conversation with an English free thinker from Ipswich, who've I gotten to know in recent years but only met for the first time in person this afternoon. We discussed how it was likely the British, at a high political level, deliberately set out on a massacre, to shift the dynamics on the ground away from street politics and towards violent confrontation (the latter being more easily contained and managed than thousands of people on the streets issuing legitimate demands). So if this was the extent of the state's 'restraint', deliberately creating the conditions for war to avoid addressing the political failures wrought by its earlier partitioning of Ireland and backing of a supremacist and reactionary junta in the years to follow, then what hope did anyone in the mould of John Hume have of making a difference? That is the real context we should apply to what happened here and the idea we should somehow have known better and acted accordingly is as abhorrent as it is preposterous. In truth it typifies something of the slave mentality whereby the crimes of Britain are to be brushed under the carpet, for fear they might injure our sensibilities. Rather than agree with such nonsense we must insist instead that the British are held to account for their long list of war crimes perpetrated against the people of this country. We should have no fear or embarrassment or hesitation when it comes to demanding the same...

  11. Sean,

    there is no doubt that the British state conjured an insurrection into being rather than republican tradition being the dynamic and they should never be allowed to have it recorded differently. But it was not the absence of Irish unity per se which caused that conjunctural upsurge but the manner in which it was played out. At the Provisional IRA's "moment of creation" there was a definite view at senior leadership level that had the Brits introduced direct rule the day they sent the troops in, the Provisional IRA would never have formed. It is an interesting perspective because in some ways in reinforces the view that Brit involvement was not the initial problem but the lack of Brit involvement. Because the Brits wanted to keep a distance from the place and opted for non-intervention, the unionists created a cauldron.

    This type of situation creates an impetus for reform within the British union stronger than the impetus to break with it. If the absence of Irish unity was not the primary driver of insurrection, then something other than unity was likely to be the outcome. I think that is the context in which Hume needs to be considered.

    Another problem is how do we hold the Brits to account for their war crimes without being held to account for our own? Or is the hope that we will somehow corner the Brits while managing to evade the net ourselves? And given those who were on the receiving end of war crimes, how just would that actually be?

    Things to think about for sure.

  12. Sean

    you're absolutely right, there was no restraint from the British at the time. Furthermore your friend from Ipswich may not be far of the mark.

    I recently heard an interview between Miriam O'Callaghan and Hume's wife Pat, where Pat recounted John returning from a protest on Magilligan beach the Saturday, a week previous to Bloody Sunday, in a very agitated state.

    According to Pat's account the venom he saw in the paratroopers faces and eyes that day clearly indicated for him that a seismic shift was unfolding. Because of that he attempted to have the Bloody Sunday march cancelled. Having failed in that he reluctantly decided not to participate.

    It could reasonably be argued in this regard and as indeed many other situations he showed greater insight than most others. Restraint is an inherent quality of responsible leadership. Unfortunately the necessary defence of beleaguered nationalists communities coupled with an embedded violent republican mythology would see that off for some time to come.
    Your rebuttal with regards to the lack of restraint by the British is valid. It is though perhaps just the opening side of an equation. As cognitive beings we have choices. We can choose as to how we respond or indeed whether a response is appropriate at all. Balls may be thrown but we still can choose which ones, or if any, to catch. We can choose how we play, at which points we engage and disengage or whether we play at all. Even in passivity we can exercise some control. This is the leverage of responsible action. It is in this context I advocate re-imagining alternate histories. For it is only by doing so, I believe, that we can image alternate responsible and positive futures. Otherwise we end up like the little white mouse in the wheel; busy, busy, busy expending our energies and going nowhere.

  13. It wasn't intended as a rebuttal but was merely a reflection of my exasperation. It's difficult to present with any credibility that people should have shown restraint. What were they supposed to do when they were being violently attacked by the state apparatus, in league with reactionary loyalism headed by that brute Ian Paisley, in their own homes and communities? People have a right to self defence. It's easy looking back now and saying they gave the Brits what they wanted. And even had the march been called off, something else would no doubt have been instigated to effect the same result and dynamic.

    Regardless of that, that anyone unwittingly gave the Brits what they wanted, a war which they could manipulate and control, in no way can be allowed to detract from the actions of the Brits in the first instance, which is where the danger lies in all this. Respect for your own restraint in your response to me HJ, when I seen in my notifications that you'd replied I was thinking, 'here we go again ding ding'.

    Tony, in terms of your comment about war crime there is only one way it can be dealt with: those who are guilty of war crime, no matter from hence they came, must be held accountable for their actions, in whatever appropriate forum can be found to deal with the same - which quite obviously is not the British state justice system, given the Brits themselves are the primary war criminal as regards the Ulster conflict. What is your own view?

  14. One other point here is that I agree with HJ and his notion we should imagine alternative responses to such aggression going forward, thus learning from the horrific past imposed on us by the psycopaths controlling British policy in Ireland. I firmly believe that, while yes the right to self defence is inalienable, we should force the British to confront the democratic will of the people through a political process rather than get sucked into their manipulations again, with all the horror that would bring to a new generation. I've always considered that the ending of the Armed Struggle was the correct action, regardless of the manipulations it took to achieve the same. Where things went wrong in my view was not with the ending of the armed campaign but in the failure to embrace the promised 'new phase of struggle', allowing instead the leadership to implement a reformist constitutional nationalist strategy in its stead, all while duping people it was the 'new phase'. As republicans going forward our task now is to impement the new phase, not to repeat the mistakes of the past

  15. Sean,

    I agree with O'Cuiv - and long have held the position that an amnesty is required for the lot of it. I agree that the war criminals of whatever hue should face the music but where? And because it will not be acknowledged as a war the chances of an international body trying them is zilch. Faced with that we should acknowledge conflict as political, not something to be pored over in as criminal proceedings in courts - if the war is really over then we can't continue to take prisoners.

    I am not sure what forum you want the Brits to be held accountable in. For some time I have been arguing that prosecution are meant to prohibit truth recovery not procure it. The big danger in pursuing prosecutions for Bloody Sunday is that the most the families will get in the courts is a manslaughter verdict. That to me is disastrous and can only suit the Brits at a time when the common assumption is that they were guilty of murder. Why risk attenuating that?


  16. Anthony a chara, my impression of what Kate and others hope can be gained (by a prosecution of the soldiers on the ground) is that it might serve, in the absence of a credible truth recovery process, to draw out the truth about who ordered the killings that day and just how far up the chain of command Bloody Sunday actually went. With Widgery no longer tenable, Saville represented a second and more cunning whitewash, whose intent was to deflect attention away from the planners and towards the notion 'the soldiers ran amok'. They did not 'run amok', even though one particular individual seems to have done so, but carried out a controlled killing spree mandated by the state itself. This has never been recognised by Britain and Cameron's fake 'apology' does not cover any of these happenings at the higher level. The entire episode was a structural event orchestrated by the state to serve a specific agenda, that being to shift the anti-state dynamic away from protest politics towards armed insurgency, the latter being more amenable to the Brits and indeed creating a 'test ground' for their emerging Kitsonian co-Intel theories, themselves now a mainstay of efforts to usurp legitimate governments in the Middle East, having been proven in Ireland in real world conditions. It honestly turns my stomach even writing this, the very thought of it all is appalling to say the very least...

  17. Sean,

    prosecutions are one of the mechanisms which served to thwart a credible truth recovery process. They cause everybody to clam up. John Larkin's suggestion for an amnesty buttressed by access to documentation makes truth recovery more likely. Getting the planners can be difficult even in international courts. I do believe the doctrine of command responsibility has more chance of being successfully applied in an international court than it ever will in a British court - the only place these prosecutions will end up. What prosecution will achieve that Saville didn't I fail to see. What Saville effectively delivered was a murder verdict while not a murder conviction. That achievement will be offset by any prosecution that achieves (as it surely will) anything less than a murder conviction.

  18. You seem to be missing the point. Saville did not return a murder verdict against the real murderers but instead deflected blame onto the trigger men. Primary responsibility lies higher up, as the soldiers themselves were acting under instruction. The hope, I believe, is that the soldiers on the ground, not wanting the ignominy of carrying the can for their superiors, will reveal they were acting under orders when faced with prosecution, thus exposing the real chain of events which continues to be buried from view and which was not revealed at Saville - and thus why we marched yesterday. You say the most the families will get by prosecution is a manslaughter verdict but what I'm trying to say is that there's more to it than that, they're really looking at prosecution as a means to expose the full story of what actually happened (given no other option is available allowing them to do as much). That's not to say they don't want the gunmen convicted by the way and we should acknowledge that none of us, in our perceived academic wisdom, have the right to tell them they're mistaken to want the same. Those killed were the flesh and blood and we should respect that, as no doubt you do of course and I'm not saying different

  19. The would appear to be this: the soldiers on the ground at most will tell who told them: private to corporal to sergeant and probably no higher than Wilford who will not be charged. They won't be able to reveal anything about cabals in Whitehall or wherever. We have a reasonably fair idea of how it is going to play out. The point being missed is that prosecution will not reveal the full story. In fact it will reveal nothing very much other than who did what on the day. What is likely to happen is that if it ever reaches the courtroom, they will plead to manslaughter or unlawful killing and then nothing is revealed because there will be no trial. The Brits in their courts will not allow a murder conviction.

    The problem with the flesh and blood argument is that it cuts both ways: every cop/soldier/loyalist combatant's family can make the same call and if we don't accede to it we are open to the very substantive charge of one eyed justice. I simply can see no situation in which I will be backing demands for IRA people to be put in court. I have long thought they should be amnestied. But if I back the demand for Brits to be prosecuted, I don't have a leg to stand on if I say "only" Brits/cops/loyalists as flesh and blood doesn't matter as much where they are concerned. Demands for prosecutions are something that unavoidably lead to the same standard being applied to IRA activity. The Shinners agreed to this under Haass - prosecution where evidence is available. I wholly recoiled from that position.

    Justice through revelation rather than retribution is not a satisfactory way to proceed but is perhaps the best available.

  20. It's clearly a complex matter but the IRA shooting dead an RUC man or a Brit does not constitute war crime - so IRA Volunteers would not be in court as regards the same (for war crime). Indeed what we are now learning about key events that some would hold as republican war crimes - such as the Shankill and Omagh bombings - is that they were in fact integrated by the state and the state itself in fact holds primary responsibility. Such actions are CLEARLY war crime. Unlike the British, the IRA did not set out to deliberately kill civilians and its modus operandi was to target the state and those in its employ. Its targeting was military personnel whereas the British clearly targeted the civilian population. The IRA war was against the British state and its military apparatus. It was also defensive in nature given that it is Britain which occupies our country - not the other way around - and also that it was Britain who not only opened up the descent into carnage but actively and deliberately encouraged it. There is only one war criminal involved in what happened here and that party needs held to account. Needless to say it should also get out of our country and allow us to establish a meaningful peace. It has done enough harm as is

  21. But it is not just war crimes flesh and blood are affected by. If those killed are flesh and blood then it applies to all, not just the victims of war crimes.

    Bloody Sunday while a war crime is not being pursued as such. It is being pursued outside any war crime tribunal. And your own argument is that people should be tried for war crimes regardless of what side they come from but not in a British court.

    Unlike the British, the IRA did not set out to deliberately kill civilians

    This does not stand up. 1974-76 saw a sustained IRA assault on Protestant civilians. What else was Whitecross but an IRA attack aimed at deliberately killing unarmed citizens.

    There is only one war criminal involved in what happened here

    A wholly unsustainable argument. Disappearances, the deliberate massacring of civilians are war crimes. The legitimacy of a cause does not automatically or necessarily transfer to the methods used in its pursuit.

  22. AM/Sean

    While things you talk about fit the categorizing of what are war crimes they cannot or will not ever be brought to any court as such. To take a case of war crimes to the International Criminal Court that court only opened its doors in 2002. War Crimes are defined under the Rome Statute and only countries that have signed and ratified that law have agreed to be bound by the Rome Statute and ICC decisions. Any war crimes committed by the UK before UK ratification (Oct 2001) means that they cannot be tried for them.

  23. Christy,

    thanks for that - I feel Sean and me both know there is not going to be any war crimes trial in a war crimes tribunal.

  24. Henry Joy,

    the goal of the IRA campaign was an impossibilist demand even though we failed to realise it at the time. Too many moving parts, as they say, for a body as limited as ourselves to keep on top of. We didn't speak for the nation and throughout our campaign we violated the national will which while seeking unity did not seek it through our means and was quite willing to opt for it through other means which we felt were a waste of time. Those means were outlined by Hume and we were brought to heel by it.

    None of this was seen as such at the time and I suppose it is only years later we reflect upon it all and weigh up the pros and cons.

    Hume was not an obligatory nationalist and that is to his credit. But there is always a problem in how dissent from the nation is manifested. What made this particular instance malign is the involvement and role of Britain.

    Nations are not timeless or inviolable entities. They came into being and will as assuredly go out of being. Should Pakistan not have been allowed to break from India and East Pakistan from West Pakistan and later become Bangladesh? Does neither Pakistan nor Bangladesh have the right to self determination?

    I have never been lured by nationalism to the extent that some others have. I don't see why people should not be able to dissent from it in the way they can from religion. Although I understand that in terms of practical application it poses a problem of a different type.

  25. Sean
    The Provo campaign regularly targeted civilians and was not defensive in nature after the initial phase. I imagine you were very young during the Troubles and have swallowed the subsequent propaganda whole.

    HJ talked about restraint in his comment. In hindsight should the Provos/Stickies have left the Brits alone and made the war solely against the RUC/Paisleyites? Would that even have been possible? The war with the Brits was so asymmetrical that the IRA had zero chance of victory no matter how many soldiers died. The British Establishment were never going to let the paddys win, clearly the IRA thought they could. Was there any doubt about taking on the British? Was there any call for restraint from your ranks?

  26. Peter, I think Danny Morrison called for restraint after Kingsmill!

    Non targeting of civilians my arse.

  27. AM

    time, life and circumstances influences and changes how we show up in the world. Thankfully for some of us this has been generally positive. T'is not universally so!

    lots more to say in response to your comment but on the hoof and only have access to the small keyboard. More later.

  28. The IRA did not target civilians by way of policy: the British did. It's as simple as that but those who lean towards the British side, or indeed who participated in its ranks (like Peter), cannot acknowledge this and instead are reduced to claims that, at worst, both sides were as bad as each other. They most certainly were not. There were two wars in Ireland during the Troubles: the IRA war against the British state, much of it admittedly crude and low-tech but ultimately responsive to events as they unfolded and thus defensive in character; and the British war against the civilian population, most of it deliberate and designed to generate escalating conflict controlled from above in pursuit of a 'strategy of tension'.

    Peter, I am old enough to remember what happened here don't worry. Not that it should have any bearing but where I live the searches and the harassment by yourself and your colleagues were an ordinary feature of life. Indeed the largest single act of the British terrorist war was perpetuated against the people of my town and we were fortunate ourselves that my mother and brother and sister all had the wherewithal to leave the street as a hidden hand herded people into the path of the explosion. 29 others, including a woman heavily pregnant with twins, were not so lucky and were blown to pieces.

    But even were it otherwise, and no, I do not myself remember the 1970s and can thus only go with what I've learned along the way, to suggest not being old enough or not having been there should mean an opinion is invalidated is to provide cover going forward (likely your motive) should the extent of Britain's Dirty War be exposed by those who 'weren't there'. 'Sure you don't remember what it was like, you couldn't possibly understand.' Understand this; the British state is murderous to its core and continues to be so, even to this very day. Forgetting about the like of Omagh and the Shankill for a minute here, let's remember the carnage inflicted on the Middle East in recent times, where Britain has helped spill the blood of millions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria over the last 15 years. MILLIONS. And we would even suggest the IRA are on par with these psychopaths? Only in the propaganda YOU have swallowed: hook, line and sinker

  29. " The IRA did not target civilians by way of policy:"

    Unless you were an ordinary working class man trying to keep a roof over his family's head and happens to have a contract doing building work etc at an army barracks....Then they were classed a legit targets........

  30. More lofty rubbish there Sean. The IRA did target civilians by way of policy. Republicans murdered 2152 of the 3720 during the Troubles around 650 were civilians, many deliberately targeted. Edgar Graham, Ann Travers, Joanne Mathers, Kingsmill etc etc all deliberately targeted and murdered, unarmed in cold blood, the list is long. Get the rose tinted goggles off Sean and let the hatred and the anger go. Shouting at me by capitalising you rants only makes you look foolish.

    The Brits killed MILLIONS? Any references for that?

  31. More utter tripe from Sean.

    "The IRA did not target civilians by way of policy:"

    I suggest you read Gerry Bradley's book about the Belfast IRA's inherent sectarianism Sean, though you would probably blame all of that on a Brit ghostwriter!

  32. I expect nothing less from you too - 'utter tripe' is right and from none other than yourselves. The IRA did not attack civilians as a matter of policy and to suggest they did is simply the outworking of bias. The British on the other side of the equation clearly did. As for Peter's statistics, sure how can we award any credence to them at this point given all that is now emerging? As Anthony argued elsewhere, the statistics and tabulations set out by Cain and Sutton are somewhat anachronistic and don't account for the emerging and massive role the state played in many atrocities previously chalked down to paramilitaries - including the IRA. We need to unlearn everything we think we know and only then can we reach the truth, itself found in the realisation the state was operating on a whole other level, a level so obscene it is absolutely terrifying. This is not about Mickeymouse-men as ourselves trying to win a debate or score a hit against the other over the Internet. This is well beyond such petty trite and calls into question the fundamental structure behind the world we think we live in. For me this is about discovering the hideous reality of how society in the western world is structured, growing out of the bestiality that was colonialism and which morphed in turn into the utterly predatory, utterly ghastly, grotesque and genocidal modern imperialist system which is fresh from its slaughter of millions in the Middle East over the last decade. I struggle to comprehend that anyone disputes those numbers, over 1 and a half million in Iraq alone have died as a direct result of the Anglo-American invasion, occupation, looting and destruction of that country. They die there still. For me there is a pattern to what we might describe as 'deep structural events' which the state inflicts on society to shape its expression, be it in Benghazi or on the Shankill, the fear-ridden streets of Sadr City or likewise Omagh town. All of these happenings are generated with the deliberate intent of paralysing society and engendering fear so terrifying the public mind turns to the state for protection, unable to see what is actually going on, too frightened to even wonder. The shorter version of what we are talking about is rule by fear, where we do not even realise what it is that frightens us...

  33. AM

    from hard experience you know only too well that a repressive regime or dictatorship will only allow propaganda and limited versions of reality that fits with the prevailing ideology and beliefs of the tight regime.
    Any outside information that would contradict the belief system of the dictatorship are either dismissed and rejected, or distorted out of all recognition until they fit the prevailing propaganda.

    Obsessional nationalism works on its adherents in much the same way ... its a psychological dictatorship. As with all dictatorships it thrives and survives when emotions are heightened. Its only when we calm down, other less rigid, more realistic and flexible versions of reality can be allowed in. Only then can problems be solved and basic needs properly addressed.

    It seems as if those of us who espouse freedom must of necessity also afford it to 'the other'. Likewise those of us who espouse fraternity and equality must commit to flexible democracy and a democratisation of ideas ... otherwise we remain fixated by ideology and bound by the dictatorship of a dogmatic mind.

    Perhaps the nature of freedom, equality and fraternity is paradoxical; their nature illusive and remaining forever elusive until we first give them away.

  34. Sean
    Your inability to be honest about this is telling. The examples I gave above were all unarmed, innocent civilians who were targeted and executed in cold blood by the Provos. Unfortunately there are plenty more examples. These were not rogue killings but executive decisions taken by Provo commanders. To deny the Provos regular targeted civilians is absurd. Your ranting here shows that you are a bit of an angry head, obviously this has clouded your view.

  35. Again Peter you are mistaken and it's your own view which is not only clouded but fundamentally biased. The obviousness of the truth will continue to pass you by, no matter how many Shankill's or Finucane's or Omagh's are exposed, until you realise those who paid your wages were vicious criminals, that the state in whose armed forces you served was the architect of the terror in Ireland. As a party to the machine which butchered and brutalised your resistance to accept what you's involved yourselves in is perhaps understandable but in no way does it alter reality and well you know it

  36. Sean, how old are you? You don't seem to remember the 70's and 80's very well? Is your anger the result of hot-blooded youth? I can understand that.

    But even AM has stated that PIRA volunteers hit ordinary prods under orders, as 'their community demanded retaliation'. Saying otherwise is incorrect. Insisting you are right makes you look foolish.

    To keep denying it makes you naive or a liar.

    Which is it?

  37. This Steve Ricardos simply cannot contain his agitation when he sees my name appear on this site. It's getting ridiculous. Unable to refute anything I say he resorts to his usual tactic of name-calling. The sad thing is he thinks he knows me but hasn't the first clue of the type of person I am. Little might he think it but I work towards fostering peace and reconciliation between the two traditions in my town and participate fully in such efforts. Indeed I'm just in from a meeting where we brought teenage groups together from across the divide to start breaking down barriers, to help increase understanding of who we all are and why we are apart. My daughter was among their number and I encourage all my kids to be open-minded and to create the type of future this country deserves. What has this asshole ever done I wonder other than talk shite on the Internet? I do not see any reason why we should hide who we are or recoil from confronting and understanding issues that for me are critical to giving a new generation the best hope of not repeating the past. I don't want my kids growing up in the environment I did but I still believe it's important as a society we recognise what happened and why. Otherwise we kid ourselves. And for the record, I have never received a brown penny for anything I've ever been involved in, whether community-based or politically oriented, and do all that I do purely for unselfish reasons, which are the betterment of my community and my country. Take a hike Ricardos, your incessant trolling is becoming clear for all to see and serves only to annoy yourself further

  38. Peter,

    I doubt matters would have presented themselves in such simplified form. In hindsight, it would have been better had the war never been fought but that probably applies to a lot of wars. Republicans analysed the wrong way around, taking the view that the Brits held the unionism in place for their own strategic ends rather than the unionists holding the Brits in place. So they focused on the Brits. Throughout the entire campaign the British soldier was the desired primary target although not the most accessible as time wore on. Attacking the cops alone was never a realistic strategy given that the Brits had to become involved. They were not going to stand idly by to borrow a phrase. Attacking Brits was also seen in the context of seeing the British withdraw from Aden after about 36 deaths of their troops. Also, republicans were tuned into a certain vacillation within the British state where there were some people in favour of withdrawal. That such arguments had not been thought through by the British advocates of withdrawal, this lack of depth never made its way into republican calculations.

    Also, the dynamic on the streets would never have lent itself to a campaign that avoided the Brits. There were very few calls for restraint - those that might have made the call would have been marginalised.

  39. Sean,

    "Unable to refute anything I say"....which is what?

    Good for you if that's what you do, bringing groups together. I must admit, given your rabid 'blame the brits at all costs' attitude I am very surprised you would be involved in something like that.

    But anyway, I can see there is no point in further dialogue with you as it is actually you who avoid difficult questions as others have also pointed out.


  40. AM

    Just a side note, when you refer to 'Brits' you do realize that the unionist population classes themselves as such?

    For them, there is little distinction between the two terms. I only make the point as Republicans seem to ignore this, and to be honest I am not sure what Republicans actually class the Unionist community as if not 'British'?

  41. Steve,

    the "Brits" terms was in keeping with the manner in which Peter had outlined his question. It was not written, either by he or I for conceptual exactitude, but to keep things simple.

  42. Among other things, Steve has proven fully unable to refute that Britain inflicted horrific and deliberate violence on Irish civilians - both Catholic and Protestant and both North and South - to serve what now can be seen as a 'strategy of tension'. It is being unearthed that from Bloody Sunday to Dublin-Monaghan to the Shankill bombing and through to Omagh, the British state wilfully targeted innocent civilians to advance its aims and objectives. For Steve this somehow relates to democracy in practice but the rest of us need not be so blind. Rather than confront what is surely at this stage an obvious truth, he instead steers conversation down personal channels to avoid that truth. 'Cheery-bye' indeed but the idea that I avoid difficult questions is as fanciful as the notion you don't. I have answered every question and every time. Not always in direct response to those who engage in trolling but there is never a point of itself that I'm unwilling to discuss. Your tactics are as obvious as your ignorance, as are your cohorts

  43. does anybody say brits out anymore. just wonderin. brits out.


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