British State Not To Be Trusted

How much should Unionists trust the London Establishment when it says there will never be joint authority between Westminster and the Dail over Northern Ireland? Political commentator, Dr John Coulter, uses his Fearless Flying Column to express his fears that Unionism has had its fingers badly burned politically before when it put its trust in a London Establishment.

It was with a shiver of fear up my spine rather than a warm glow of comfort when the heard the London Establishment had supposedly poured cold water over Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney’s plea for joint rule should Stormont collapse.

As a life-long Unionist, you would think I’d be dancing in the streets at London giving the ‘two fingers’ to Minister Coveney’s Dail General Election spin stunt.

But then I’m off a vintage to recall the late British Prime Minister Maggie Thatcher’s notorious ‘out, out, out’ speech in which joint rule was condemned to the political dustbin. And then what happened? The November 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement.

That specific Belfast accord spawned the Maryfield Secretariat near Belfast, which gave Southern Ireland its first major say in the running of Northern Ireland since partition in the 1920s.

Unionism was caught with its pants well and truly round its ankles. For months, Unionists tramped the cold streets of the state with their Ulster Says No and Ulster Still Says No campaigns. But still the Anglo-Irish Agreement held sway. There would be no caving in to Unionist demands as happened in 1974 when the Sunningdale institutions were collapsed.

The London Establishment had learned its bitter political lesson from the fallout from the 1974 Ulster Workers Council strike. The message was simple in 1985 – beat the Unionists on the streets, and you can bully them into anything.

Given Thatcher’s U-turn when she penned the November ’85 agreement, why is joint rule not on the agenda? Simple, the London Establishment doesn’t want to pick up the bill because the Celtic Tiger has gone bust.

Coveney’s sabre rattling over joint rule is clever electioneering for Fine Gael, which wants to avoid a coalition with Sinn Fein at all costs after the next Dail General Election. But it makes me wonder, how could the London Establishment con Unionism into thinking there is no joint rule, yet implement joint authority via a political back door?

It makes me also wonder what else has been implemented on the ‘QT’ without it being openly noticed?

For example, could Provo priest Father James Chesney have been murdered by British spooks who made his death, at only 46 in 1980, look like a sudden bout of cancer?

Yes, I know it’s still a few weeks until the nursery rhyme ‘Gunpowder, treason and plot’ is uttered for 5 November to mark the failed coup by Catholic militant Guy Fawkes to bomb the Protestant dominated Houses of Parliament in London.

And before you start yelling ‘conspiracy theory nutter’ at me, the Police Ombudsman’s reports in the past unmasked evidence of collusion, firstly between police and loyalist death squads, and then between the RUC and the Catholic Church leadership.

Dissident republicans have in the past been branded as ‘traitors’ and ‘faceless people from faceless organisations’ who are clearly out of step with modern nationalist thinking.

But one senior source within the dissident group, Oglaigh na hEireann ONH), once suggested to me that Father Chesney may have been the victim of a British intelligence hit team.

Equally, Unionist sources have maintained Father Chesney continued with his IRA activities in spite of being conveniently shifted out of his South Derry command and into the Donegal backwoods.

This, along with the fact that loyalist death squads became deeply suspicious in the late 1970s of Father Chesney’s role in the Claudy massacre a few years earlier prompted British spooks to act before Protestant hardliners publicly claimed his scalp.

My ONH source said:

It was clear Claudy was used to take the heat away from Derry. But the target should have been Coleraine. County Derry had to co-operate with Derry to do something. Claudy was a silly thing to start with. Father Chesney was sacrificed as he was one of 20 people involved.

The ONH source said he could not rule out that the priest had been murdered by British intelligence when he supposedly died very suddenly of cancer in 1980.

The ONH source claimed another priest had been secretly murdered by British intelligence because he was suspected of being an IRA member, and an innocent person was murdered in a hospital bed by British intelligence who mistook the person for an IRA operative lying in another bed.

During the course of the Troubles, a number of prominent people were murdered in what are now very mysterious circumstances.

They include Unionist MP Robert Bradford, loyalist terror bosses John McKeague, Robin ‘The Jackal’ Jackson and Billy ‘King Rat’ Wright, as well as INLA chief Ronnie Bunting.

Perhaps the biggest question hangs over the Loughgall massacre in Co Armagh in 1987 in which eight leading members of the Provos’ feared East Tyrone Brigade were shot dead by the SAS.

It was believed the ambush was based either on high level surveillance of the IRA team, or a Tyrone tout.

But former top Belfast Provo and 1980 hunger striker, the late Brendan Hughes, had a more sinister solution for Loughgall.

Asked if the East Tyrone Brigade was allowed to be ‘taken out’ by the SAS because its members could pose a threat to both a future IRA ceasefire and Sinn Fein peace process, Hughes gave a rather telling answer.

I suspect that to be the case now; I didn’t then. I thought then it was a mistake, that we had thrown caution to the wind. Now looking at the way things have developed, I suspect that there may well have been a great deal of collusion there, a great deal of conspiring.

I just wonder who else had to die to ensure peace is maintained in Ireland?

  • Follow John Coulter on Twitter @JohnAHCoulter

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

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