Sean Mallory recently viewed a timely film exposing the role of the security forces in Britain's Dirty War in Ireland.

Last night I had the opportunity to watch the latest documentary film to be released about killings in the 1970s called Unquiet Graves. A film by Seán Murray, a republican from West Belfast.

These murders, too numerous to highlight individually in the film were the result of systematic direction by British security forces personnel on British security force personnel.

I use the term directing rather than colluding as ‘colluding’ implies a few bad apples whereas ‘directing’ clearly implies the barrel is rotten.

The killers were made up of security force personnel composed of RUC and UDR and Unionist paramilitaries, namely the UVF.

I don’t normally watch productions about anything to do with the conflict here as I tend to find that the regular infliction of the two most common putrid British generalisations on every viewer is quite nauseous:

➽ Is that the British Security forces were caught in the middle.

➽ If it wasn’t for the men of violence this country of ours would be a great place to live.

But recently what with the Loughinisland film and how the British Establishment reacted to that (a film I haven’t yet seen), the more recent PSNI deliberately holding back vital information into legacy murders and Karen Bradley's Establishment gruntings on such murderers and their actions I felt that curiosity was drawing me to it. Plus the fact that my wife had bought two tickets and it was a freebie.

As stated, it focused on the 120+ murders in the 1970s carried out by a gang composed of mostly security force personnel from the RUC, UDR and who were all connected or members of the UVF – and who came to be referred to as ‘the Glenanne Gang’. The victims were innocent, non-combatants and unconnected to the conflict. This was deliberate.

They operated in an area that became known as the Murder Triangle – a dark and foreboding appellation that gives away its purpose and intent. This triangle ran from Mid-Ulster down to South Armagh.

This was not a popcorn film. It was one of the films that you could hear a pin drop in the theatre or in this case as the film progressed a lot of sobbing and the usual futile attempts at trying to disguise sobbing to ward of embarrassment … real men don’t cry.

Having grown up through this period and witnessed fathers, home from a day’s work, stand guard with their neighbours on the streets, with nothing more than sticks in hand it is only after watching the film that I fully understand now why. People were genuinely scared.

The film itself focuses on the more widely published murders such as that of the Reavey and O’Dowd murders and the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. There are just too many murders to document on the time limitations of film. What the film does is account in detail the role of the British security forces in all of the murders and their lack of investigation in the aftermath and that is quite shocking to say the least.

PC plod is non-existent. Is it any wonder Hamilton et al are hiding information and obstructing investigations … I would too if I belonged to the RUC.

I’m not going to dwell on trying to be a ‘Barry Norman’ and criticise the film from a technical, style or quality point as I wouldn’t know where to start but from an audience informative perspective it leaves the viewer in no doubt as to false narrative of the conflict that has permeated the historical accounts of Britain's role in it – the British Security services were never, ever stuck in the middle. Even the dogs on the street were aware of that. Just how far the chain of command stretched was not able to be established in this documentary but judging by the security forces actions elsewhere with other gangs and murderers such as Brian Nelson we can safely state that it went to Number 10.

I came away from the film quite perturbed. It raised more questions than it provided answers. Some of the most pressing questions I had was that if at that time the nationalist representatives of Hume, Mallon, Currie etc, etc along with the high ranking members of the Catholic church had not spent so much time and energy on trying to defeat the IRA and instead focused their energy on the ruthless activities of the British security forces, may have saved lives. But they didn’t and continued to call on Nationalists to support the security forces.

When even the dogs on the street know who was behind these killings then we have to ask as to why they didn’t?

Those high ranking officers at the time and future RUC Chief Constables, Jack Hermon and Ronnie Flanagan, gallantly awarded for their services to Her Majesty's government must surely also have been aware of these activities. Hermon was later to express his derision for Taigs through the shoot to kill policy and his officers coarse attempts at disrupting the investigation in to it. Flanagan was once head of RUC Special Branch, an arm of the RUC that was the main director in multiple murders committed by the Glenanne Gang.

For Hume and Mallon and the others I suppose the only prick on their consciences is their unwillingness to stick their heads above the parapet. For the families and the survivors, their trauma never leaves.

“Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.”

Unquiet Graves

Sean Mallory recently viewed a timely film exposing the role of the security forces in Britain's Dirty War in Ireland.

Last night I had the opportunity to watch the latest documentary film to be released about killings in the 1970s called Unquiet Graves. A film by Seán Murray, a republican from West Belfast.

These murders, too numerous to highlight individually in the film were the result of systematic direction by British security forces personnel on British security force personnel.

I use the term directing rather than colluding as ‘colluding’ implies a few bad apples whereas ‘directing’ clearly implies the barrel is rotten.

The killers were made up of security force personnel composed of RUC and UDR and Unionist paramilitaries, namely the UVF.

I don’t normally watch productions about anything to do with the conflict here as I tend to find that the regular infliction of the two most common putrid British generalisations on every viewer is quite nauseous:

➽ Is that the British Security forces were caught in the middle.

➽ If it wasn’t for the men of violence this country of ours would be a great place to live.

But recently what with the Loughinisland film and how the British Establishment reacted to that (a film I haven’t yet seen), the more recent PSNI deliberately holding back vital information into legacy murders and Karen Bradley's Establishment gruntings on such murderers and their actions I felt that curiosity was drawing me to it. Plus the fact that my wife had bought two tickets and it was a freebie.

As stated, it focused on the 120+ murders in the 1970s carried out by a gang composed of mostly security force personnel from the RUC, UDR and who were all connected or members of the UVF – and who came to be referred to as ‘the Glenanne Gang’. The victims were innocent, non-combatants and unconnected to the conflict. This was deliberate.

They operated in an area that became known as the Murder Triangle – a dark and foreboding appellation that gives away its purpose and intent. This triangle ran from Mid-Ulster down to South Armagh.

This was not a popcorn film. It was one of the films that you could hear a pin drop in the theatre or in this case as the film progressed a lot of sobbing and the usual futile attempts at trying to disguise sobbing to ward of embarrassment … real men don’t cry.

Having grown up through this period and witnessed fathers, home from a day’s work, stand guard with their neighbours on the streets, with nothing more than sticks in hand it is only after watching the film that I fully understand now why. People were genuinely scared.

The film itself focuses on the more widely published murders such as that of the Reavey and O’Dowd murders and the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. There are just too many murders to document on the time limitations of film. What the film does is account in detail the role of the British security forces in all of the murders and their lack of investigation in the aftermath and that is quite shocking to say the least.

PC plod is non-existent. Is it any wonder Hamilton et al are hiding information and obstructing investigations … I would too if I belonged to the RUC.

I’m not going to dwell on trying to be a ‘Barry Norman’ and criticise the film from a technical, style or quality point as I wouldn’t know where to start but from an audience informative perspective it leaves the viewer in no doubt as to false narrative of the conflict that has permeated the historical accounts of Britain's role in it – the British Security services were never, ever stuck in the middle. Even the dogs on the street were aware of that. Just how far the chain of command stretched was not able to be established in this documentary but judging by the security forces actions elsewhere with other gangs and murderers such as Brian Nelson we can safely state that it went to Number 10.

I came away from the film quite perturbed. It raised more questions than it provided answers. Some of the most pressing questions I had was that if at that time the nationalist representatives of Hume, Mallon, Currie etc, etc along with the high ranking members of the Catholic church had not spent so much time and energy on trying to defeat the IRA and instead focused their energy on the ruthless activities of the British security forces, may have saved lives. But they didn’t and continued to call on Nationalists to support the security forces.

When even the dogs on the street know who was behind these killings then we have to ask as to why they didn’t?

Those high ranking officers at the time and future RUC Chief Constables, Jack Hermon and Ronnie Flanagan, gallantly awarded for their services to Her Majesty's government must surely also have been aware of these activities. Hermon was later to express his derision for Taigs through the shoot to kill policy and his officers coarse attempts at disrupting the investigation in to it. Flanagan was once head of RUC Special Branch, an arm of the RUC that was the main director in multiple murders committed by the Glenanne Gang.

For Hume and Mallon and the others I suppose the only prick on their consciences is their unwillingness to stick their heads above the parapet. For the families and the survivors, their trauma never leaves.

“Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.”

46 comments:

  1. Sean

    These were appalling events and there is no doubt that the fingerprints of the British security services are allover the atrocities committted by the Glennane Gang.

    But it is simply untrue and unfair to claim that SDLP representatives of the time remained silent about security services involvement in the murder and encouraged nationalists to support the security services unconditionally; not least because SDLP office holders were amonmg the victims.

    Seamus Mallon in particular alwyas spoke out vociferously about the shoot-to-kill incidents that led to the Stalker inquiry; D rJoe Hendron won the respect of the hardest Provos for his fearless criticism of the ill-treatment of prisoners Castlereagh; by 1984 it had become SDLP policy to call for the abolition of the UDR and any support for RUC was conditional on the impartial discharge of their duties; impariality often more honoured in the breach rather than the observance as we all know. For this, the SDLP would get particular flak from Unionist politicians.

    Say what you like about the SDLP (and I found their stance on abortion rights repellent); but what is undeniable is that they are/were the only political party in NI to condemn all killings by the armed groups and state forces and, apart from the Alliance Party, the only party with no historical and contemporary links to people of violence be they of the state or of private armies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sean Mallory says


      Actions speak louder than words especially when words become vacuous.
      If they had simply withdrew their support and called on Nationalists to do the same then may be the British would have paid heed and lives saved but they didn't.

      What good did their condemnation do Barry? The British simply excused it away and continued on as before. Hermon treated their criticism with contempt especially since his officers were behind the shoot to kill policy as was he and his abysmal attempts to undermine the enquiry showed just how much contempt he had...Flanagan was described by Alex Attwood as a someone who was a decent person...ffs!

      Their faith in British justice was disgraceful as can be borne out if all the enquiries that resulted from the Conflict most recent being Bloody Sunday......why?

      The time for words were over, action was needed but they couldn't bring themselves and still don't to condemn outright the barrel and all its apples....it was and still is rotten. History should judge them accordingly.

      Delete
    2. Sean

      It wasn't the SDLP who attempted through sordid side deals with the British government to conjure up a general amnesty which would have let the Bloody Sunday and Ballymiurphy killers off the hook as well as the OTRs.

      What you have said about the SDLP's attitude towards the state forces is an utter travesty speaking as some one who grew up in the era of the Glennane Gan g and even tnough I have long departed both the SDLP and Northern Ireland, I stand over everything i have said in my first reply to you. SDLP members, reps and supporters never needed lectures about state forces' brutality from supporters of an organisation whose entire modus operandi was murder, repression of dissidents, limb breaking and knee capping and exiling and who eventually betfrayed their ideas and followers (I am not saying you fall into that category).

      Delete
  2. A 30 second look at the wiki page shows that not only were members of the so called 'Glenanne Gang' arrested, they were also convicted and put in Long Kesh. Bit odd if they were 'directed' dontcha' think?

    It's also a bit of a stretch to think that people who are targets themselves are not going to proactively try to ensure that they remain breathing. I doubt the targets in and of themselves were the termination of the point, more likely designed to put pressure on the Provo support base. Tit-For-Tat is something I'm absolutely sure you 'Sean' are 100 percent aware of..

    Wish I was a Tyrone Republican, not a sectarian bone in my body and able to kill with moral certainty on my side(!)

    Or maybe just blow stuff up.

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  3. The Glenanne gangs top operative spent a short period on remand in The Crum but was never convicted of any of the murders he was involved with in , one Robin Jackson , a couple were killed when planting an explosive device on the Miami Showband mini bus , Boyle and Sommervile , two were shot dead by the I.R.A , Fulton from Portadown A.K.A the window cleaner and father of swinger , I don't believe he ever done time but I could be wrong , B.T.W , Fulton was a close friend of one Harry Breen.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Steve R

    Yes members of the Glennane Gang were arrested but that does not alter the fact that gunmen with dual memberships of a regular army regiment (UDR) and an illegal terrorist group (UVF) and an RUC officer, William McCaughey, charged with upholding and enforcing the law were allowed to murder with impunity. It is well known that police patrols were removed before intended attacks such as the bombing of a Keady pub in which two men died. That is just one example

    Since to my knowledge none of the 120 victims of this death squad had any comnnections to or involvemewnt with nationalist armed groups, I find your attempt to try to rationalise these atrocities by saying that the perpetrators acted "to proactively try to ensure that they remain breathing" as unacceptable as the shameful justification by some "Republicans" that the Kingsmill massacre stopped the killings of Catholics in South Armagh which it did not.

    I am really disappopinted by your comments, Steve.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Barry,

      Your sensitivites aside, if you don't rationalize you miss the bigger picture.

      That's not the same as saying I endorse an action, but if you look at groups action in isolation you will not see the circumstances which allowed them to become born.

      I never said any of the victims were involved, what I did say was that it was the Loyalist strategy of 'hitting the taigs so hard they squeal til they get the Provo's to stop'. This is not an attempt at apologetics, merely an observation.

      The old hands on TPQ know I would never endorse violence save in the face of Islamofascism-as those people cannot be reasoned with.

      Delete
    2. Steve R

      I do understand and I am sorry for any misinterpretation of your earlier post

      Btw targetting and removing from the face of the planet the likes of Jihadi John from the face of this planet is not violence but acts of legitimate force. As Jacinda Arden, New Zealand, has stated today similar resolution is needed to defeat Islamofaciosm's white nationalist counterpafrts.

      Delete
  5. Great article Anthony. I don't normally comment but what has always struck me is why Jackson was allowed to live until his death in 1998 from lung cancer. I have read numerous books on the 'Glenane Gang' and Robin Jackson's personal involvement in almost all of the 120+ murders. I remember reading an earlier article on your website with a former prisoner in the Crum who managed to corner jackson in a cell after he had threatened a screw. I recall him saying it disturbed him that he did not finish the animal off before he went on to murder over 120 people. What I cannot get is how Jackson was allowed to live up until 1998 despite being personally involved in so many callous murders. I appreciate that he was no doubt protected but surely there must have been a time when the inner sanctum of the IRA thought he needed to be targeted (especially after he stood down as Mid Ulster UVF Leader in early 90s) as they did with Lenny Murphy- although I appreciate the latter was not protected. I know that there would have been no strategic purpose but surely they knew what he had been complicit in.

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  6. Sean - it is a good piece. Sean Mallory is a Tyrone man and would have a better local knowledge than most of us. Remember the other piece you referred to.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Sean , it's my understanding the Provos and the I.N.L.A tried to whack him a few times , the Provos came close on the shores of Lough Neagh back in the 80s but no shots were fired as Jackson was accompanied by members of the security forces who by all accounts outnumbered the I.R.A volunteers.

    If the Ra and the Irps were as infiltrated by the British as we believe they were then any op to take out Jackson would have been compromised from the beginning.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I understand he lived in Donaghcloney from the 80s until his death in 1998. A loyalist hole granted but not a fortress like the Shankill. A dedicated two man team could have taken him out without it being spread through the organisation. From all the loyalists he should have been No 1 on the target list.


      I know he smoked heavily and died relatively young but does anyone believe the lung cancer that eventually took him was by natural causes? The same lung cancer that allegedly took Nelson. Seems very convenient particularly given that both would have been the most 'informative' sources when it came to the level of collusion which the Brits did not want around.

      I grew up in the Bogside and Bloody Sunday is still a very emotive subject for me and many of my neighbours. However, how the Glenane gang and particularly Jackson were allowed to murder with impunity still baffles me 30 years after those events. I think it is a dark stain on the movement that greater efforts were not made to eliminate this psychopath.

      I have a very close friend who hails from Newry where Jackson originally came from. He knew him as a teenager. What angered Jackson was not Republicans or those of a staunchly catholic background. It was those nationalists/Republicans who attempted to better themselves or fight against the apartheid regime to improve the lives of ordinary Catholics that he particularly hated//targeted. You can see that from many of his victims- not Republicans but catholic trade union officials, chemists, business men. He did not want Catholics rising above their stations which makes him even more pathological than many people appreciate.

      Delete
    2. Sean Mallory says


      Sean, not sure if this has any relevance on why the Provos or INLA didn't take Jackson out but I once read and which also was collaborated to some extent by a Newtownards Road loyalist (ex-UVF) that Jackson unknowingly to his Handlers and his co-operators, had begun to covertly record both audio and where possible visual, all his meetings and also kept a written account of these and all who were present and involved in each operation.

      The loyalist went on to say that Jackson may have been psychotic but he wasn't stupid and realised that everyone including himself were expendable so he made this decision solely for the personal reason of staying alive. When his Handlers found out due to him letting it slip when after one drink too many...egos are a big thing with these type of people...they were furious and threatened to hand him over to the Provos but he laughed at them and dared them to go ahead....they reluctantly looked after him after that and what with their infiltration of the Provos and the INLA they kept him safe.

      The demise of Lenny Murphy only re-inforced his belief. On his death bed he apparently cried out that the bastards had done for him for they had found his files which gives some credence to the lung cancer theory. Who knows why he was never ever taken out but he's gone now......as for the files, according to the Newtownards Road source they were never found and no-one knows where Jackson kept them or if in fact they ever existed at all.

      What we can say is that of all the active Loyalist leaders he does seem to have enjoyed unusual longevity!

      Delete
  8. Off with you again on your motorbike Mr. Mallory.

    The function of history is to inform the present.

    In affirming past successes and red-flagging past short-comings or failings, reasonable and thoughtful people adapt their ideas and adapt their behaviours. Intelligent adults ultilise the past. They make use of past experiences to make more useful choices, or at least less disastrous ones. Sensible folk do so in the hope of a more orderly, or less chaotic, future.

    Viewing history through such a prism and assessing it in the round one cannot but conclude greater veracity or success for the strategies and actions of constitutional nationalists over and above those of republicans. As much as he was ridiculed by the Provo's, it was Hume's vision and pragmatism which triumphed. So much so, that to survive the Provo's had to steal the SDLP clothes.

    Though electorally the Shinners have outpaced the SDLP I hope they can take some comfort in the old adage that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

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    1. Sean Mallory says

      We do learn from history and there are many interpretations of historical facts each down to the holder of the pen and their beliefs. Historians once taught the world was flat until some began to question their interpretation.
      I once visited Monserrat in Spain and the Black Madonna was part of the tour as well as Monserrat's monks and their role in the Spanish civil war and especially afterwards when they began to question Franco's policies and methods from which some were banished for questioning such. The interesting aspect of the tour for me was that the Black Madonna was carved, I believe around the 9th or 10th century holding a sphere that represented the world in one hand and a pineapple in the other. The tour guide pointed out that the pineapple was a symbol of fertility among Latin American tribes but that it was unknown in Europe until around the 15th century....mysterious to say the least. More surprising to myself was the sphere considering the earth was flat until the 15th, 16th century....I pointed this out to her and she was quite perplexed about that as no one had mentioned it before..
      Another mystery no doubt
      The prism of history can give many views depending on the angle it is looked through. Nothing is ever what it seems!

      Delete
    2. Mr Mallory,

      You're a clod. Nothing remarkable in representing the earth as a sphere. This has been well understood for over two and a half thousand years!
      Check Wikipedia " The earliest reliably documented mention of the spherical Earth concept dates from around the 6th century BC when it appeared in ancient Greek philosophy,[1][2] but remained a matter of speculation until the 3rd century BC, when Hellenistic astronomy established the spherical shape of the Earth as a physical given and calculated Earth's circumference."

      None the less, thanks for the vignette from your travels in Catalonia ... yet your attempt at misdirection won't sway me in the slightest from my original observations and evaluations.

      Most decent and thoughtful people will readily acknowledge that Hume was a conscientious, responsible and honest human being. They will also recognise Adams for what he was: a liar, who as well as denying his involvement in the IRA also covered for his pedophile brother. And he'll also remembered as a devious manipulator who allowed prisoners to needlessly suffer and die on hunger-strike, all for electoral gain . Republicans and republicanism are forever tainted by his actions and his long-term, unquestioned and unchallenged grip on the movement.

      The SDLP, on the other hand, carry no such baggage nor bear no such shame.

      Generally, it may be well argued that history is open to subjective interpretation and that divergences in understanding will not be uncommon. However in addressing the matters at hand, I'd contend that with time and with a greater capacity for objectivity, most less partisan observers will deem those who followed the archaic republican tradition as flat-earthers.

      More and more, only the ideologically possessed will challenge any of that.

      Delete
    3. "The function of history is to inform the present"

      I see Henry joy is still promoting 'The Murder Machine'. Same old same old.

      Delete
    4. wolfe tone,

      I can't know what costs the conflict brought to you personally, perhaps to your family or to your immediate community ... and I won't try to negate deeply held hurts if they exist.

      I also know only too well that people can't be forced to let go of outworn ideas and ideologies and yet, as AM has oft-times said previously, it is Irish Republicanism that has failed and it is the 'Northern State' that has endured.

      The accusation of 'same old, same old' which you defensively project onto me will be readily recognised by discerning readers as more so a reflection of your own limitations and stuckness, rather than as any valid critique of my contributions on these matters.

      Without doubt, this must be the bitterest of bitter pills for republicans to swallow, but the partitionist solution has come to be roundly accepted [accepted rather than celebrated] by Nationalist Ireland.
      As well this qualified acceptance there also now further exists a recognition and commitment to alter current arrangements only with the widespread agreement and consensus of Unionism.

      As I've said before, only the ideologically possessed remain blind to these realities. For them it seems it's either too painful to face-up to these hard truths or else there must be other pay-offs, whatever they might be, for holding on so trenchantly. Regardless of the motives of those so possessed a broad majority won't be held to ransom any longer by an ever decreasing minority, nor will they, I'd hold, afford them much more patience.

      Delete
  9. Barry what is your problem in believing that the RUC and British Army tasked to "with upholding and enforcing the law were allowed to murder with impunity."

    Here a refresher for you Barry.

    Sean " know he smoked heavily and died relatively young but does anyone believe the lung cancer that eventually took him was by natural causes? The same lung cancer that allegedly took Nelson."

    (Barry keep in the back of your head that the UDA were only proscribed in August 1992)

    Brian Nelson's obituary from The Gaurdian An army agent in the UDA, he was implicated in sectarian murders . The complete A License To Murder how Nelson was allowed to murder innocent people.


    The Telegraph by Ed Moloney Panorama missed the real story of collusion in Ulster

    "Had it been the case that the FRU and Special Branch were routinely suggesting IRA targets and facilitating missions carried out by UDA gunmen, the results would be there for all to see, in a pile of dead IRA bodies. But there is no pile. The UDA targeted and killed, predominantly, the people it had always targeted and killed, that is, innocent but easily available Catholic non-combatants."

    Douglas Hogg, the then agricultural minister in the Conservative government in Britain, stated that "some solicitors in Northern Ireland were sympathetic to the IRA."

    Barry, when Hogg said those words, that was the 'nod' for FRU/Special Branch' to murder Pat Finucane.

    In Moloney's piece he points out..


    "Whatever Brian Nelson did - and he was involved in some dastardly acts - Steaknife was involved in far worse situations," Ingram once told me. "In effect, Steaknife used the IRA as an FRU tool to carry out its dirty tricks."



    Brigadier Kerr's
    knew all about Nelson and how the UDA shot dead Francisco Notarantonio to prevent Gen. Sir John Wisley's jewel in the crown Stakeknife from being murdered.

    Barry the people who decided on murdering Francisco Notarantonio and Pat Finucane, they were meant to be "enforcing the law" and they "were allowed to murder with impunity."..

    Sean makes this point about Robert Jackson..

    Sean What angered Jackson was not Republicans or those of a staunchly catholic background...which makes him even more pathological than many people appreciate. "

    Brenton Harrison Tarrant was exactly like Jackson and Scappaticci was as sadistic as Lenny Murphy and the Butchers.

    What does that say about both Kerr's and Wisley's mindset. Both knowing Jackson and Scap are enjoying torturing and killing innocent people while they are deciding why Francisco Notarantonio should be murdered in his bed, Pat Finucane to be shot dead in front of his family while Gerry Adams was allowed to enjoy his twilight years.

    "Thanks to Brian Nelson, Army intelligence learnt that the UDA planned to kill Mr Adams by placing a limpet mine on the roof of his armoured car as he was being driven in Belfast. FRU arranged for the limpet mine to be discovered in a routine security search and Mr Adams lived to deliver the IRA ceasefires."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Frankie

      I have no problem whatsoever in believing that elements in RUC and the British Army failed to uphold the law and were allowed to murder with impuniuty as per the examples.

      As so often before, you either twist or willfully misinterpfret what I say. O was merely defending the stance that the SDLP took towards the administration of law and justice throughout the Troubles. Understanding that basic statemsnt hardly taxes the brain and intellect.

      Delete
  10. Sean , The expectation that someone would have at least tried to take out Jackson is understandable however if we cast our minds back to the huge loyalist arms shipment which was intercepted by the R.U.C in Portadown back in the late 80s , when Davy Payne got arrested.

    I don't know what the I.R.A were thinking but I know what I was thinking , the loyalists were rearming for an all out onslaught on the Nationalist community , to say forewarned is forarmed is an understatement , the I.R.A were presented with an opportunity to use whatever intelligence it had to wipe out the Loyalist paramilitary leadership and it's lieutenants , but it didn't , it sat on its arse , for the next 6 years the loyalists layed siege to the Nationalist community with impunity , makes you think Sean , it certainly makes me think.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Staffenberg- yes the IRA de-escalating in mid 80s whilst loyalists ramped up their killing machine in a big blot on the movement's legacy.

      They got Bingham, Murphy and a few other mid level loyalists but Jackson who was culpable for over 120 murders was not taken out does make you think. To what level of the IRA was infiltrated is unlikely to be known but I would certainly wager a bet that any plans to wipe out Jackson were brushed under the carpet by those who were on the brit's books. They nearly got adair and his Shankill lieutenants in 1992. Why target him in the stronghold of the shankill when u had Jackson sitting in his house in the village of donaghcloney for over 20 years running the mid Ulster uvf. It seems to me he was untouchable even to the IRA. They would probably not have authorised a hit even if he was sitting in his car on his own unarmed on the falls rd.

      Delete
  11. Whatever you do don't try to re-write history.

    John Stalker tried to investigate Shoot to Kill allegations but found himself suspended from duty and removed from the inquiry based on false claims of criminality including allegations of drug dealing and fraud. He name was eventually cleared.

    John Stevens tried to investigate collusion and during his second inquiry the Incident Room in the RUC building Sea Park in Carrickfergus burned down. Heat sensors, sprinkers, no water available to fight the fire etc. It was reported that when Stevens went to the officer's bar that night they welcomed him with a rendition of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire". All circumstantial of course.

    Nothing to see here, move along.

    “A body of men, holding themselves accountable to nobody, ought not to be trusted by any body.”

    Thomas Paine, ‘Rights of Man’, 1791.

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    Replies
    1. Simon - great use of Paine

      Delete
    2. Simon,

      “A body of men, holding themselves accountable to nobody, ought not to be trusted by any body.”

      as it was/is with the various IRA's army councils.

      Delete
    3. Henry joy

      "A body of men, holding themselves accountable to nobody, ought not to be trusted by any body."

      as it was /is with various branches of military intelligence.

      Delete
  12. Henry Joy, This is the state police force we're talking about. All parties give the police support, albeit qualified in one sense or other.

    The general population have nowhere else to go for forensic research and trained detective work.

    Do you think the IRA have access to advanced science and leading investigative methodology?

    Everybody is being asked by every elected party to support the police. The PSNI have consistently delayed releasing documents regarding historic inquiries, particularly those involving state sanctioned murder.

    This bias is preventing justice and the rule of law. Justice not only has to be done but it has to be seen to be done.

    I guess the IRA just like the state forces had their own role. The IRA was accountable to the civilian population where they drew their support and membership. Just like the police. Without public support the IRA wouldn't have had freedom to operate.

    I guess we could argue ad infinitum about mandates and accountability. Organisations build trust with the community they represent whether they are the IRA, the UVF or whoever. The point being that since day one, the British state forces in Ireland have never built trust with too large a section of the community and that is leaving a vacuum where justice should be.

    The IRA ostensibly acted on behalf of Nationalist Ireland and before that Republicans on behalf of Ireland as a whole, since 1798. They all wanted Protestant support but unionist support would be an oxymoron, an impossibility. Just like Nationalist support for the UVF or UDA or Black and Tans is an impossibility.

    The point I am making is the PSNI are determined to play a role which isn't conducive to gaining Nationalist support. The result can be seen in recent polls gauging support for the police.

    The IRA are not seeking support from loyalism but the police ostensibily are seeking support from Nationalists. They are failing due to unaccountability, lack of transparency and what looks like ongoing collusion with lack of disclosure.

    With Karen Bradley's recent comments about the impossibility of British soldiers commiting crimes and the behaviour of the police can we ask "is this state just, fair and representative" without getting whataboutery about the IRA?

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    1. Simon,

      if the police don't retain broad public support that obviously becomes a problem. I don't think mainstream Nationalism is as alienated though as much as some might suggest. Sure the families of victims of collusion are hurting, as are all relatives of victims, but how much further does it go?

      Legacy issues have been fudged and I believe will remain so. Prosecutions will be difficult and rare. Even in the event of successful prosecutions those convicted will serve no more than two years. That will be a substantial inconvenience to those 60 & 70 year olds who might find themselves in such positions but I can't see these fudges causing any greater disaffection for the PSNI from the public at large than that which may or may not already exist. Within the mainstream I'd contend there's a pervasive apathy when it comes to prosecuting the past. As many people as not would certainly have sympathy with Barra McGrory's position on this. They may go even further and cede to a line being drawn in the sand on prosecuting further. Few will be dedicated to what they will perceive as raking up the embers of a hugely painful past. The average man and woman in the street value the peace too much. They'll have their opinions all right but they ain't going to rock the boat too hard, never mind risk a capsize over any of this.

      It's an imperfect world and nobody said it'd be fair.

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  13. Henry Joy. "It's an imperfect world and nobody said it'd be fair." This comment could be said about anything from bullying in the schoolyard, domestic violence, murder, torture. It doesn't mean these things are acceptable, shouldn't be challenged or mitigated against.

    When the police wholeheartedly thwart investigations relating to state crime and enthusiastically pursue non-state actors this is akin to state impunity which is against the principles of international law.

    Whether it can be enforced is another thing but when justice is no longer blind and discriminates this should be challenged and not shrugged off as being part of life.

    Perpetrators should be treated the same across the board. Yes, Henry Joy, even if they were employees of the state.

    What should happen with legacy issues is important and a solution is sorely needed. Until then, people should be treated as the law dictates. Particularly if its their own law.

    I am in favour of an amnesty as victims and their relatives generally are unlikely to get closure from the courts. Particularly if they are victims of state violence. But until then, they're the state's own rules for prosecution so they should follow them.

    Any legacy agreement needs to be just that and have a general acceptance.

    People are going along with the status quo out of exhaustion, despondency and with no other choice before them.

    There are many international models to learn from and mould to our needs. It needs to be thought about at least.

    Your statement about life not being fair is sometimes acceptable regarding things life throws at us and which no-one can control but we shouldn't shrug off that which people have a say in and which can be changed.

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    1. Simon,

      in an ideal world all of what you aspire to is valid. Unfortunately it's not an ideal world. It's much more messy than that with a constant ebb and flow between chaos and order.
      Having descended into chaos for thirty odd years the tilt towards order was re-established through the negotiations which culminated in the GFA. Much of that required fudges [also known as creative ambiguities].

      Those negotiators achieved an imperfect peace in a historically deeply fractured society. Many of the consequences of the compromises necessitated in achieving that are still being played out. Its imperfect and messy but the peace such as is ... still prevails. Old patterns of attempted domination still require careful management. Visceral responses need to be regulated; patience and forbearance encouraged.

      People have every right to complain and agitate over the injustices of the past and yet very, very few will want to revisit the slaughter and violence that reigned for so long. Hence I don't see these thorny issues being resolved to everyone's satisfaction in the short term and propose that a large section of the general population's reticence is understandable.

      None of that is to make anyone wrong who holds strong opposing stances, for in moving towards any potential working democracy a vibrant opposition is essential.

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  14. Henry Joy, Not much to disagree with in your last post. Although, I maintain that shrugging off unfairness rather than trying to mitigate it will only exacerbate the problems you describe.

    Should we all meekly accept injustice in society? If so we shouldn't demand equal marriage, anti-corruption laws, etc. We should shrug it off and say "life is imperfect and unfair". With that mindset the suffragettes wouldn't have won the vote and slavery would still be legal.

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    1. Simon,

      as ever, your points are well made.

      I am not so much suggesting that "we all meekly accept injustice in society". Rather, what I am proposing is that we take a cautious, thoughtful and more considered position which allows also for potential positives in continued obfuscations and delays in dealing with the past.

      In my opinion, we remain as yet in the juvenile stages of a post-conflict process. Though the numbers are increasing steadily there are not large enough percentages of the population who have moved into a mature phase where these challenges can be dealt with safely and more effectively over the long-term.

      These matters pertaining to the past are complex and there's still a lot at stake. When and how they are to be addressed requires wisdom. Reducing them to moral or legal dichotomous judgments will not suffice; will not suffice if we are to collectively transcend our shared and painful history.


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  15. Henry Joy, What are the "potential positives" with the law, as it currently is, not being applied equally to everyone. That is arbitrary justice which isn't justice at all.

    We may say life isn't fair but it can and should be fairer. A first step would be applying the current law as it is written and intended. No arbitrary prosecutions or cover-ups by the state.

    I don't see how applying the law and prosecuting state perpetrators is any more likely to cause violence or disaffection than not prosecuting them or your idea of waiting an indeterminate amount of time.

    The issue isn't with the mechanism per se but with how it is applied to some, but not to others in an arbitrary fashion which is unjust.

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  16. Simon/Henry - who should have the power to decide what we know and when we should know it? Henry Joy's view, no matter how pragmatic sounding, might lead to society choosing to know less rather than more. It would lead to an intellectually tutored and managed society with the concomitant downsides that brings.

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  17. AM, Truth or information recovery is undoubtedly important and a universal model may help public understanding and awareness. It is an integral part of many conflict resolution programmes.

    I would however emphasise that the PSNI are not following even current legislation for disclosure, including disclosure to other state bodies such as the Ombudsman.

    What certainty would we have in a future, with a new mechanism for dealing with the past, that arbitrary application of justice and ignoring their own state's laws will cease?

    That is why we should, as a society demand justice to be fair, just and follow the rule of law. Transparency is certainly part of that, along with accountability. If they can't follow their own laws what respect do they expect to be given to those laws?0

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  18. Simon & AM,

    most people have a reasonable enough sense of what went on in the North; a sizable cohort would acknowledge that the securities forces were partisan and that by the end of the conflict their spooks were running agents all over the place, had colluded with Loyalist murder gangs and were effectively controlling the whole thing.

    The chances of all this ever being willingly owned by the British state are rather unlikely. Investigative journalists and campaigners will continue to chip away at these cover-ups and injustices. In time their endeavors may bare fruit and lead to louder demands for changes in law or to some truth recovery process. But that's all a maybe!

    The state is likely to continue playing cat and mouse with any efforts at uncovering the truth and that will most likely continue unless society demands something different.

    The justice warriors can campaign away but mainstream middle ground folk seem content enough just let these issues drag on. I don't expect much change anytime soon.

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  19. Henry Joy - one difficulty is what justice means to people. If they want it through retribution, it is not going to happen. If they want it through revelation, their chances increase. This is the point I tried to make

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    1. AM,

      theoretically I've no great argument with your analysis.

      "Legacy might best be tackled not via a beyond reasonable doubt criterion but by a balance of probability threshold. Not because it is the most accurate, just that it is the most accurate that society is going to get."

      I think you're overly optimistic though in believing even that will ever come about. The urgency for such a process doesn't seem to exist nor is there much evidence that the mainstream politico's have much intention in creating such. [The rich and powerful continue to betray the poorer and more vulnerable].

      For a long time to come, I think it's more of a situation where sleeping dogs will be left to lie. And as I've been unsuccessfully attempting to persuade Simon, I believe that's not a totally unreasonable position to take.

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    2. Henry Joy - your view of my optimism is misplaced. I am not optimistic that an official process will happen.The primary objective of the powerful is not to avoid prosecutions but to avoid the truth. They use prosecutions for achieving that end and are assisted in it by those who call for prosecutions. So why would the powerful faciliatate the type of process I have outlined when they have expended huge amounts of energy in preventing it? The extent to which truth is recovered it will be in spite of the powerful, not because of them. It will be piecemeal and fragmented. Much like you, I think the issue will trundle on, protesting at the dying of the light until the darkness consumes it all.

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  20. Simon - the rule of law usually means the rule of law enforcement. There should be a truth recovery process that excludes prosecutors. It can include the police given their powers of retrieval but what they retrieve should be used for revelation and not retribution.

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  21. AM,

    I agree that at this stage it should be about revelation. People may want to know what happened and why.

    I have said the same thing over the years on the Quill because during the conflict Republicans were more likely to be arrested, more likely to be charged, more likely to be sentenced and more likely to get a longer sentence than loyalists. The state forces were unlikely to find themselves at the first hurdle. Now even if they did wish to prosecute, the crimes of the state are no longer fresh so gathering evidence to satisfy a court beyond reasonable doubt is unlikely to the point that a new process is needed.

    With the Secretary of State's statement about British soldier actions never being a crime we know nothimg has changed. David Cameron didn't even have the stomach to call what happened on Bloody Sunday murder.

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  22. Simon - you might be right about Cameron not having the stomach. That will be demonstrated down the line when he gives his out of office view which is not going to come this side of a court verdict. My own feeling is that if he had called it murder it would have been used as another excuse not to prosecute on the grounds that such a powerful statement from a sitting PM would have prejudiced the outcome and ruled out a fair trial. In my view the mechanism should have been in place where no trial would take place and that would have closed off any exit strategy for him when confronted with a demand for a clear statement that it was murder.

    I think the campaigners lost the initiative by pressing for prosecutions because since Saville the Brits have been clawing back ground. While Cameron did not use the term murder he left no one in any doubt that it was. He did not go further up the chain of command in making his assertions. That was his real offence.

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  23. Henry Joy, I don't think your possition of letting sleeping dogs lie is an unreasonable one to take. The central issue I have is that the law as it stands is not applied evenly. Either pursue everyone or no-one. It is a fundamental part of justice that she is blind to who is on trial. Another fundanental part of jurisprudence is the safeguard against arbitrary justice. Impunity breaks international law and breaking rules on disclosure perverts the course of justice.

    These tenets of the legal system have evolved over centuries to protect people's right to justice, right to a fair trial. Justice has been ostensibly blind for over 400 years. Don't tell me, Henry Joy, that you are still in the sixteenth cemtury when it comes to choosing who gets prosecuted and who gets off scott free. Your views on disclosure are behind even those of the British judicial system.

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    1. Simon,

      in the early days of the relationship with the woman I live with, she would remind me often that "every adult is a broken-hearted idealist". With repetition and the passage of time I've eventually come to a better understanding and acceptance of imperfection. There won't always be perfect solutions to life's vicissitudes.

      Sometimes with hindsight circumstances and situations, which initially seemed unfair or unjust, do in fact work out for the best. In the matters we're addressing, it's every much as possible that the greatest good for the greatest numbers can be achieved with a fudge as that which might be brought about in facing past events full-on. My contention still remains that running down the clock is as equally good and on balance the safer option in a society where deeply fractious cohorts still remain.

      All that said I agree with your comment, as in your reply to AM, that these matters could have been addressed better and with greater potential had they been prepared for in earlier negotiations.




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  24. AM, your comment brought me back to my comments on this site over six years ago on 'Eriu is our Queen' post (at the end)

    Henry Joy is likely correct in saying the past will be fudged but it shouldn't equate to turning a blind eye to abuse of process, the imbalance in prosecutions, impunity, etc. and shrugging it off because life is unfair generally.

    "Personally I think Sinn Fein and the SDLP should've accepted the general amnesty idea which came along after Weston Park and would've included all offences including those by state actors as lets face it they've got an effective amnesty anyway."

    "I suppose that vacuum leaves a truth process or a proper reconciliation forum in the dust. The recent flag protests are apparently due, to some extent, to the HET's focus on loyalists over the past while. Without a proper method of closure the discontent on all sides will fester. Surely something like an amnesty or a less encompassing nolle prosequi towards pre-Good Friday Agreement offenders coupled with a truth process is essential to peace?"

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  25. Henry Joy, Women often have a different perspective on life than men and more often than not, that is where we find words of wisdom.

    Thank you for your gracious reply.

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