Short Fuse

Last night was one of the very few occasions that I have watched the Nolan Show. My wife had it on otherwise I would never have bothered. The tabloid press with its gore galore ethic is burdensome enough without the additional weight of tabloid TV being thrown in to top it up.

The part of the discussion I watched dealt with the Shankill bombing of 20 years ago. On the day I was in the Linenhall Library in Belfast, shortly after one o’clock when the sound of the blast, which seconds earlier had destroyed so many lives, reached us. Later in the afternoon when I arrived in Castle Street and bumped into a former republican prisoner he told me there had been a bomb in the Shankill and there were said to be many casualties. It wasn’t long before the graffiti artists, having spotted an opening by dint of the fish shop in which the bomb had detonated, were out, scrawling sectarian slogans to the effect of ‘9 battered 50 well done.’ A former member of the Official Republican Movement daubed over them in one part of West Belfast. He had lost a brother to the conflict and hardly relished the innocent suffering insult piled on top of injury.

Days later I would attend the funeral of the IRA volunteer who died during the operation and helped carry his coffin along the New Lodge Road. Thomas Begley was 22 years of age, and ended his young life ending the lives of others. I don’t regret serving as a pallbearer. He was a comrade who lost his life performing an act both ordered and legitimised by people with more experience than he.

20 years on we can sit back and reflect longer and harder than we did then. We might even be judgemental about Thomas Begley, while offering platitudes that it should never have happened. But it did happen, and when it did we discussed not the morality of the attack but the length of the fuse. When a public figure gave out privately to the Belfast Brigade about the unsuitable timing mechanism he was reminded - lest he conveniently had no recollection - of his attendance at the army council meeting that approved the operation.

When a Sinn Fein figure many years ago was reported to have told a journalist that Thomas Begley ‘might be a piece of shit but he is our piece I shit,’ the one angry conclusion that came to mind was that the Shinner, not Begley, was the piece of shit. Sinn Fein leaders frequently directed the IRA campaign. Sure, Begley did, but they devised. Blaming him almost exclusively for implementing their strategy seemed a total abdication of their responsibility, a devious distancing from their own dark deeds.

Wax ethical and sigh at the terrible loss of life, as we might today, three quarters of we who came through the ranks of the IRA would have been queuing up to plant that bomb: the remainder, waiting to tell their handlers. The pot of gold at the end of the black rainbow - the pernicious figures behind the anti-nationalist killing machine – was a tantalising prospect. I would have been jostling for my place. Misgivings, if any, would have been confined to the suitability of the fuse and runback. And that is how it was. We were part of a guerrilla army primed for something other than social work.

As such, there was every intention to kill on the day. The killing was to be restricted to the UFF leadership believed to be above the premises, not the non-combatants going about their daily business. I suspect the volunteers tasked with entering Frizzells were under instruction to be the last to leave the premises. A dodgy fuse put an end to that. Thomas Begley is dead and Sean Kelly, as far as I know, has yet to tell us what the instructions were. In any event, transferred malice secures little in the way of mitigation.

Many lost lives were to follow the Shankill bombing as armed loyalists with clear intent targeted non combatants, punching holes in the IRA-as-defenders-of-the-nationalist-community narrative. Spared the trouble of agonising over time constrained fuses, no attempt was made to disguise the fact that the limited but lethal logic of Johnny Adair kicked in full throttle: ‘Yabba dabba doo, any Taig will do.’ No pretence at targeting the IRA leadership behind the bombing: just the wilful slaughter of civilians as they relaxed in bars or earned a crust.

Twenty years removed, it seems incredible that political conflict could have induced such destructiveness in us. That even where we did not intend to wipe out a civilian population we chose to risk doing so in pursuit of some short term military objective. I suppose it was something we shared with the RUC and UDR personnel behind many of the 120 Mid Ulster killings between 1972 and 1976.

Today’s phenomenon of victim-hugging played out with such media savvy, while a vast improvement on the victim-crushing of 20 years ago, has done nothing to assuage the unforgiving mindset of the brother of 13 year old Leanne Murray who died in the Shankill bombing or the daughter of Martin Moran, a young Catholic gunned down two days later. There is no reason why it should.

As a deeply divided society continues to play its endless blame game about the past, seeking truth not for reconciliation but recrimination, the victims of our collective war making have been invited not into any meaningful tribunal or truth recovery process. Instead, their lot has been a worthless ticket that secures them admission to the theatre of smoke and mirrors where, from ringside seats, they can watch the daily dance of deceit that pirouettes around the past. Meanwhile, those behind the lot of it seem to be doing just fine, determined not to be unsettled by discomfiting truths.

And this they shall maintain.


  1. AM-

    Hard to know what actually happened
    apart from innocents who were killed and a Volunteer killed in action and more innocents and a Volunteer wounded-and the brave rescue workers who were gallant that day-

    Could be dozens or reasons for ' Why '- from the bomb scrapping on something to the shop owner who had protected the UDA headquarters upstairs firing a shotgun
    and hitting the bomb has the Two Volunteers made for the stairs to the room where Catholic murders were planned-

    The bomb makers of the IRA were some of the best in the world at that time-one only has to think of that little beauty that rested under the bath tub in brighton for 3 months only to explode when the Torys came to town-but accidents still took place to the cost of several Volunteers lives-

    The Irish news ran a 3 page report
    about the RUC/UDR killing of 120 people today but they forgot/ lied that
    the Irish news supported those RUC/UDR members back in those dark days-perhaps they thought/hoped that we had forgot this-but for shames sake they did not admit their awful past-I am sure that there were a few reporters who helped to keep this story Quiet over the years along with the RUC-

  2. 20 years. I remember hearing the explosion and the reaction in the community. It was one of horror and heartbreaking for those families.
    The pain is just as raw now. I was at the memorial on the Shankill for the victims. I hope those days never return though I feel they will.
    We are under threat from these " dissidents " and it has been non stop attacks from these people.
    I wonder how burning out B&M will bring a united Ireland?
    The prison warden last year who was also a member of the Orange Order was shot dead by these people.
    All this together with the unstable tensions in the Unionist community. It is a ticking time bomb.
    Sean Kellys words are empty. I imagine SF / IRA wrote those for him and he sounded very robotic whilst saying it. We are all open to our own interpretive opinion on whether he is sorry or not, I believe it is nothing but crocodile tears.

    I remember a certain level of euphoria from some neighbours and family of friends when news broke of the " trick or trick " shootings by the UFF. They seen it as serving the dish right back to the IRA. I also feel for those families.
    Such dark days they were.

  3. I'd say Sean Kelly was of course sorry for how this operation turned out, it was never his or anyone else's intention for the carnage of that day. At least he'd the decency to apologise, he didn't have to

  4. Sorry I meant to say that was a powerful and thought-provoking piece Anthony, thanks for sharing your feelings on it

  5. Sean,


    Sometimes we don't really know what we think until we sit down to write about it. And then a mass of tensions and contradictions come to the fore and we address them as best we can.

  6. Brilliant piece of of your best.

  7. Great piece Anthony, and , aptly named.

    Yes, Sean kelly did Apologize but it fell on deaf ears from the people of the Shankill Rd who had family Killed/Maimed, and those who suffer
    psychological trauma.

    Maybe Sean Kelly can't remember anything of that fateful day.

    Something went seriously wrong when the fuse was lit, and if Sean was inside the fish shop when it detonated, he had a miraculous escape. Its been 20 years, and still no information on the Short Fuse, What is there to hide.

    You also bring up the deadly glenanne gang, RUC/UDR. The ex head of Special Branch stated that a few bad apples were in it, but not as many which has been stated. Doe's he think he is still in Special Branch, Lying through their teeth. Lets see how many British soldiers are charged for Bloody Sunday Murders.

  8. From Davy Carlin

    I really enjoyed reading this piece Mackers, several times. I like this style of writing, from the heart, but straight to the point

  9. Maitiu-

    " A certain level of euphoria when news broke of the Trick or Trick-
    [ Treat ] shooting-"

    I am sure the shankill jumped for joy because two protestants were also shot dead by the UFF in the rising sun bar-

    " Serving the dish right back to the IRA-"-[ a David Ervine speak-have you none of your own ]-

  10. Anthony,

    a very well worded piece that raises more questions. I have read it several times and there is much to digest and reflect upon.

  11. AM
    Did yourself or anyone else on here see "The View" last night? I, like you, normally avoid programmes like it and "Nolan" as they usually bore me to death! But I caught last nights show when Mark Carruthers asked Danny Kennedy about the 120 people alleged to have been killed by the Brits/RUC/UDR collusion etc. He was almost (if not completely) making excuses for the killings, though that doesn't surprise me! If you haven't seen it it's worth a look, just for that part.

  12. Maitiu Connell
    How do you know Sean Kelly wasn't sincere in his apology? Anyway, I don't care what you think anymore after I saw your last rant on here. I think you should be treated with the same disdain that that half-wit Coulter is treated with on here.

  13. Belfastgit.
    If I have a different opinion to many here, my views become invalid?

  14. itsjustmacker.something went wrong when the fuse was lit.........think lighting fuses was done away with in the 70s. Imo a fish shop equals fridges on each side of the shop magnetic waves.electric happenes.on the other hand who was the LANDLORD that was knowingly renting the upstairs of his property to a murder gang.

  15. Maitiu,

    you have as much right to be here as the next person. It gets rough at times but we stick with it.


    missed it. will try to get a look at it.

    Tain Bo/Colman/Itsjustmacker

    thanks. Right or wrong it was my take.

  16. Maitiu Connell
    As AM said there, "you have as much right to be here as the next person", I agree with that 100%. If you read my post properly, I didn't say your views were invalid, "I" said "I" don't care what you think anymore, especially after your rant about Bobby and so on. "I" said "I" think you should be treated with the same disdain that that lunatic Coulter on here is treated with. And that's exactly what "I" am going to do (or are my views not valid)?

  17. Billy:

    The landlord was , as far as ive heard , a top uvf man himself.

    Re the fuse, Just what ive heard!, no timer involved on this one. It was supposed to be "In and Out"


    IMO, you have changed a lot since you came on to TPQ, you have written a few good pieces, I found it alarming for you to say that Sean Kellys apology was "Crocodile tears" , and having been written by SF/IRA , your whole stance has changed from having Catholic friends , to , moving down south, what changed your mind from moving down south?, was this after your basic training in the USA army? , I'm just trying to get dates in my head as to when you left Belfast for The USA, and when you returned.

    But I will wellcome any piece you post on TPQ and I will respond to it with honestly, If it offends you, just take it like a pinch of salt , Just like Adair's sick comments , I f the people of the shankill, and , yourself can't accept Sean Kelly's genuine apology , then there is nothing else worth talking about, you seem to be towing the UVF line now.

  18. Maitiu
    Some other facts seemed to have slipped your mind when you were providing an analysis of why the peace remains precarious .
    Since their ceasefire Loyalists have murdered twenty nine Protestants and killed and maimed Cathics..
    They have held this town to ransom over God Knows what.
    Many many people perceive them to be the biggest threat here.
    Unbelievably the powers that be don't though because apparently they never broke their ceasefire.
    I wonder when we will get our apology, twelfth of never maybe.

  19. Punters here should avoid trying to see Maitiu as the Unionist equivalent of the Castle Catholic: alright so long as he is deferring to our perspective but a rogue once he does not.

    Nuala raised the sort of issue that needs addressed rather than 'oh Maitiu you are such a disappointment. We genuinely thought you were house trained.'

  20. Mackers,
    I'm just relieved I'm out of trouble for a change lol.

  21. I have always found apologises for events like the Shankill very hard to take seriously like Maitiu I agree that Sean Kelly was reading from a script that probably was written by someone in Sinn Fein who is also brilliant at covering their tracks , it seemed so choreographed , because on the one hand we are constantly reminded by most associated with the Provo’s that “ we make no apologises for being a member of the Provo’s and what they stood for “ and in the other they apologise for atrocities they committed and want us to believe they are sincere ….I believe Sean Kelly’s apology was about as sincere as Gerry Adams apology was about the killing of Garda Gerry McCabe , to me both apologises were made to make Sinn Fein feel respectable.
    Perhaps because the apology came from a former member of the Provo’s we should give it more credit, but because we have heard the same drivel being trotted out by a non combatant who claims to represent the Provo’s Gerry Adams who has no credit in the truth business we will always be wary

  22. Boyne Rover,

    I think this is the problem. Everything is going to be judged agaisnt the long shadwow of dishonesty Adams has cast over the relationship between the Shinners and the truth.


    we all get into trouble here!

  23. When I lived in America is besides any points made on this forum. 8 years since I moved to America and now I am home. That is all that matters. As for living down south. That is an option for after I complete my degree. Career wise anyway it may happen.

    Fionaula asked about when will loyalists say sorry for their conflict. They did in 1994 when Gusty Spence read out the statements.

    I find it very amusing I have been labeled as a sectarian person. Very far removed from the truth. I imagine my catholic wife would disagree and the catholics in my family. It took one comment about not seeing bobby sands as a hero and quickly out comes the sectarian card.

  24. Having read your articles for many years, I think this is, without a doubt, my favourite.

    Uncompromised (ha), powerful and well, it took me back. Given how long I have been away, I have forgotten the...raw immediacy of not only hatred, but blinded emotions too.

    And I remember that it isn't just an intellectual game I play, it is, was, and will be, real.

    We may come from different traditions, although mine is somewhat...tangled, but damn, that touches on so much of what went on without saying it.

    No gentle passage into any dark night...

  25. Billy Brooks,

    plausible but highly unlikely even if you count the naturally generated static electricity from appliances and people coming and going it is unlikely there would be enough electrical power to interfere with a fuse.
    I do believe it was a wick and toss bomb given the task at hand the volunteer would have to run upstairs after igniting toss the bomb and run like the hammers.

    As for the Landlord, they usually are not picky who rents as long as they get the cash but in the case of this landlord well, would you say no to the paramilitaries if you were in his shoes…that and the landlord could also have been sympathetic with the murder room gang.

  26. Maitiu,

    you seem to juxtapose the euphoria felt in the Loyalist community after the cowardly trick or trick murders you distance yourself from said euphoria but at the same time validate it. You say you are hoping those days never return but fear they will are you hinting at what nationalists already expect a resurgence of the UVF? Or is that just a self foreboding prediction given the current climate?
    I have no reason to believe the man’s apology was insincere and only he could tell if it was or was not heartfelt.

    You mention the dissidents and their ongoing activities yet you fail to acknowledge the ongoing very active UVF and from a republican point of view I am just waiting for them to blow a fuse and they will eventually if they don’t get their way.
    There is just as much underlying tension in nationals areas waiting on the UVF to shoot a taig just to show the Brits how serious they are about keeping their traditions free from interfering outside elected bodies.

    Loyalist demonstrations are dealing a blow to the economy there is little difference in dissidents burning down a shop and loyalists closing down the town both being counterproductive
    The shop can be rebuilt but the monies lost to business owners due to closures from demonstrations are their loss and I am sure we will see a few going out of business signs if the demonstrations keep going.

    The idea of a permanent peace has not settled yet as we are still too close to the fires from the past and if the embers flare up again we know one thing for sure the innocent will suffer.

    Maitiu, I agree with Anthony and although our opinions may differ at times I hope you stay the course and keep presenting your view on these issues.


    I will be bending your ear on your comment as always nothing personal.


    I think your critical scrutiny was balanced and honestly accurate in-depth many would turn the blind eye and prefer no mention of IRA atrocities.

  27. Mickey,

    you sound like a rubber bullet bouncing of walls in a concrete room.
    Why look for different reasons when it clearly was a premature explosion.
    Even if things had gone according to plan there still would have been loss of non combatant lives and casualties.
    Apparently the loyalists had not been using the shop for at least a month for their own security reasons which are very believable given they had/have sympathetic members of the security forces who wouldn’t be too shy in passing on vital information to them.
    The RA seemed to lack up to date information and they had at least two to three weeks to scope out their target and confirm it was still being used.
    And by that I don’t mean the scout(s) seen Billy UVF man walk in buy a fish n’ chips and walk out.
    Simply put Mickey even though the loyalists were using the shop it should never have been considered a target as the loss of non-combatant lives would be unavoidable.
    It would appear that part of the equation wasn’t on the blackboard.

    You get a little too creative as to what could have gone wrong a poor case of chopping down the trees so you don’t have to look at the forest.

    You brag about bomb building expertise like a wee child excited to get a present on Christmas day.
    Obviously the young volunteer was carrying a well made bomb the needless death and destruction would attest to that.
    Yet the bomb-makers skill in this case would come into question regarding the fuse.
    Was he ordered to equip the bomb with a short fuse in order to ensure the building would be destroyed? Did he accidently through frayed nerves make a genuine mistake and put a short fuse on the bomb?
    Was the operation put together in such haste that no one considered checking the deadly device?
    There is no dispute Mickey the operation was a disaster and those that ordered the young volunteer to his death can shed crocodile tears as common-sense and a proven history of no warning bombs succeed in only one thing usually the death of civilians.
    Who is to say Mickey some of those that cleared the rubble could have been the intended targets the tragic part being there should have been no need.

    There is no excuse Mickey those that ordered the attack knew there would be civilian casualties deny and excuse all you want but a no warning bomb in a shop there is no other outcome.
    The best thing that could have happened that day would have been no bomb the second best scenario would be failed to detonate.

    The innocents were not killed Mickey on that day they were murdered the young volunteer delivered to his own death with them.
    Those more seasoned volunteers in charge of the operation should never have put their doomed plan into action they are responsible for the deaths and responsible for sending a young man to his grave.

    I am convinced the volunteers were convinced they were targeting a loyalist war room and with diligence carried out the ordered attack.
    I am not so convinced that those given the orders held any concern for the young volunteer. I am not disputing their bravery though their naivety may well have been a factor considered by those in charge to be sent on such a deadly mission.
    My own suspicion is the short fuse was intentional.
    I believe those in charge were overly eager to hit their intended targets the propaganda value alone would have been invaluable regardless of the collateral loss of civilian lives.

  28. Maitiu,
    I never suggested you were sectarian because I don't think you are.

    I don't think Gusty's apology and it was very much his apology, considering he was well out of step with hard line Loyalists for many year went far enough.
    The first to say his statement of apology did not go far enough was a Protestant women whose grandmother had been burnt to death by the UVF for fraternising with Catholics.

    I don't have any idea what you said about Bobby Sands?
    But to claim he was not a hero is just utter nonsense.

  29. Maitiu:

    Please don't think for one moment that I am calling you sectarian.

    But I will tell you this much, If you tried to live on the shankill or East Belfast , or , any other staunch Loyalist estate with your Catholic wife, The word would soon get out , they would not give a toss about you, They just don't want Catholics near them because they despise them, Now we are going back to the old 1969 days, Loyalist bringing towns and cities to a standstill, over what, "A Flag" , they don't even respect , Demanding to be able to tramble past the Ardoyne shops, setting up a HOMEBASE at twaddell , still requesting to get through drumcree. Its not going to happen. And , Don't forget , My Late Mother was a Protestant who turned to the Catholic faith , and , two other women in our street were also protestants all three had sons in IRA/PIRA and they supported them 100%, as did my own late mother. Gusty Spences apology was pathetic to say the least, "A written Statement" No one can stop you posting on the TPQ, actually no one but "Anthony" , and I doubt if he would do such a thing, and if he did, I would be the first to complain, I don't want to see you stop posting, You have that right just like everyone else on TPQ. So , stay around young man and keep posting. and , good luck with your University degree, you are going in the right direction.

  30. @ Tain Bo.

    I personally would not have had any euphoria over the " trick or treat " shooting. I was literally only in primary school at the time and had no conception of the meaning of such attacks at that young age.

    In regards to the " flag protests. It did ruin our economy big time and I do not support ruining the economy at all. People need their wages and we need our local services. I do however feel that they have a democratic right to protest. Yes they went about it the wrong way and as soon as violence started, the message was watered down.
    This past 12 months has been a very turbulent time. Republicans with their constant attacks. Bomb thrown at PSNI yesterday near bawnmore. Letter bombs posted to PSNI. Shop firebombed and list goes on. These ONH / IRA whoever they are, are committed to getting loyalists to break their ceasefire and regardless of opinions, the UVF have held it and our pursuing political means via the PUP now days. Some rogue elements do not speak for the overall position of that organisation.
    Now when we cut the cake. We can clearly see that there are young republicans being recruited into these dissident groups and many young loyalists are being whirled up into a frenzy also to defend what they see as their culture and identity being removed.
    Dangerous times indeed and it seems it may suit some of our politicians to let it slip all the way.

  31. Anthony,

    Thanks for this piece. Similar critical self analysis on many areas should have been the cornerstones reviewed by the myriad of republican groups with or without armed wings that have Provisional RM DNA central to their groupings.

    These groups that will continually criticise SF without ever reviewing, accepting, regretting and possibly apologising for actions and inactions they were party to in the recent past are destined to replicate the failings of thr movement they left.

    An open honest and self critical republicanism is the way forward. At present we have numerous groups replicating the structures organisational principles and methods of those that ultimately abandoned republicanism for British constitutional nationalism.

    Faceless older men are again sending young volunteers out on operations that will lead to their death/imprisonment or the murder of civilians. Some political groups are indifferent to this futility and create a climate of acceptability

    Such ideologies in our current society are morally bankrupt. Remembrance of the fallen needs to be carrued out with the realism that republicanism was defeated and its leaders allowed the deaths of volunteers, combatants and innocents while they negotiated a nest egg for some before surrender.

  32. Kev O'Higgins
    "its leaders allowed the deaths of volunteers, combatants and innocents while they negotiated a nest egg for some before surrender". This last part of your post is so true. I had/have a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes reading it. When I ( no doubt nearly everyone on here is the same) think about people I knew, and what they would have been now, parents and grandparents, happy family people and much more, who can't be, because they were killed in the prime of their life, egged on by heartless bastards who knew what the outcome was going to be, it really tears me up. I'm not just talking about our Republican dead (though that's the primary thought in my head), I'm talking about all the sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives and grandparents that the Great One and his cronies deemed expendable when they knew that the fucking war was coming to an end! I know I shouldn't say this, but I'm going to. I hope it comes back on them (and worse) for what they (needlessly) put people through!

  33. Anthony,

    You have a genius for articulating what others see with such succinct descriptiveness. However, one area where I experience disagreement -
    'As such, there was every intention to kill on the day. The killing was to be restricted to the UFF leadership believed to be above the premises, not the non-combatants going about their daily business. I suspect the volunteers tasked with entering Frizzells were under instruction to be the last to leave the premises. A dodgy fuse put an end to that.'

    Failure analysis that cites mechanical failure misses the deeply sectarian nature of the killings on the Shankill that day. The passage of time makes no less fanciful the idea that the placing of a bomb, in premises on a bustling residential/commercial thoroughfare on a Saturday afternoon, was going to end in a discriminate outcome. That the casualties were almost certainly going to be Protestant makes Leanne Murray and eight others as much the victims of sectarianism as Martin Moran or the other innocent Catholic victims that were killed in the aftermath of the bombing. I don't believe that the collateral nature of their deaths can be used as mitigation where their lives were treated with callous disregard
    on the basis of their religion. It was a lethal logic exercised as much by Eddie as by Johnny.

  34. Robert,

    The difficulty with your view is that from an IRA perspective it is conceivable that the operation could have went right. The shop could have been cleared in time and the targets hit (had they ever been in the place to begin with). The people who went into the shop (unless deliberately set up and sacrificed) obviously felt they would get out with their lives. They would have been told (in my experience and understanding) to clear the shop and bolt out, not leave people in it to be killed. It would probably be better for everybody looking at this to have a better understanding of the debates and discussion that were taking place within republicanism at the time, the responses to this operation, the type of constraints imposed on operations. The notion that the volunteers on the day were told to go in and get out and let the devil take the hindmost doesn’t have a purchase with me because I have some knowledge of how these things work. It didn’t suit the Provisional leadership at that time to have that sort of disaster landed on its lap. There is an attitudinal distinction between the Shankill bombing and say Whitecross, where the deliberate intent in the latter was to slaughter an unarmed civilian population.

    Where the sectarian argument might have a stronger case is in the degree of disregard. Would we have taken the same risk on the Falls? Then again we did manage to kill two Catholics in a bomb attack on the British Army at the Falls baths about 1988. As bad as that was we can hardly describe it as sectarian.

    I think within loyalism there is great awareness and some regret that the loyalist campaign for the greatest part was directed against a civilian population which makes it different from the IRA campaign (without me trying to legitimise one and delegitimise the other in this current exchange). I feel that the loyalists who regret this nevertheless try to attribute to the IRA campaign the same sectarian targeting motives.

    the placing of a bomb, in premises on a bustling residential/commercial thoroughfare on a Saturday afternoon, was going to end in a discriminate outcome.

    Yet this point bothers me because how can we dispute the likelihood of it being true? I think I allowed for it to some extent in my comment on our willingness to risk those lives. We took a terrible risk and the innocent paid for it with their lives. The tunnel vision of the military mind leaves a lot to be desired. I think once again all of it underscores the need to have people talk about why and how these things happened.

    Ultimately,callous disregard and deliberate intent are seperated by a morally negligibile line.

  35. Robert,
    Not one person, unless they are deeply twisted as were those who wrote disgraceful graffiti on walls in the aftermath of that bombing failed to be moved and totally gutted by why happened that day.

    The sight of people dragging through rubble to try and free or collect the remains of men, women and children was absolutely awful.

    However, there is no doubt, no doubt whatsoever who were the targets of that attack.
    The targets were those who were meeting to plan and no doubt carryout more sectarian atrocities.
    Given the fact that the sum total of their war was blatant sectarian carnage anyone assuming they were meeting to plan more carnage was no doubt spot on.

    The UDA or UFF must of known they were placing their own community in a very dangerous situation.

    Does that justify the end result ?absolutely not.
    But it does go someway to clarifying that unlike the Andersonstown depot and Greysteel it was not wanton murder directed at a people because of their religion.

  36. It is very doubtful that any warning would have been given on this IRA operation. To do so would have been to put at risk the objective of the operation. The main objective for Bootsy and Sean would more than likely to have been to get back to there waiting car. Sean was probably armed to ensure Bootsy was not interfered with. The fact that a fuse rather than a time was used would indicate that the bomb was to explode in very quickly after being lit. It is doubtful that anything electrical would have caused a malfunction to the allotted time for detonation. Lighting a fuse is supposed to be as easy as lighting a sparkler. In North Belfast the IRA had been using fuses for a number of years and to my knowledge there was little success when they were employed. That brings me to the problem/? of why places like Ardoyne were using fuse that did not work yet west Belfast used fuse that did work. Around the time of the Shankil bomb the Ardoyne units were being undermind by informants like Paddy Tear, Alexander Lynch and I am sure others. The fuse used on the Shankil bomb was probably tampered with by an agent. Who was looking after the fuse who visited that dump, who replaced the fuse that was supplied to Ardoyne with fuse that was supplied by the brits. Given the number of informants around that time it would be astonishing if the brits were not aware of what was happenning. Somebody said on here that the uff had stopped using that meeting place, Why, who told them that they might have security problems with that location.

    Is Sean Kelly genuine in his apology. I would say so but throwing a leg over each of the horses he is riding negates, to some, the authenticity of his apology. Sean appeared on that day of the plaque unvaling, as a man who is deeply conflicted, a man that will always be a hostage to the nightmares that only that day can bring to him, for it was him and Bootsy that planted the bomb. The only successful part of the whole operation was arriving at the target.

    The 6 counties like any other conflict area has caused a great deal of harm to mostly the innocent. To large sections of this society conflict has numbed the minds of many to the horrors. This place has a collective sickness. Life without all the laden baggage of this place would be a miracle. Imagine that, waking up in the morning without checking the news to see what has happened, so that you may agree with or get hacked of and embittered about it.

  37. Maitiu,

    I presumed you were older as you write very well and seem to be very intelligent and perhaps I let wisdom comes with age direct my comment.
    My apology my friend as you definitely couldn’t have understood the loyalist euphoria in the revenge murders at such a young age.

    I have no objection to any protests by any party/group I believe the unionist community has made its points abundantly clear and don’t see the need they seem to feel to continue with protests.

    In a sense they have the numbers and can bring towns to a standstill and those in charge of promoting demonstrations’ do so willingly with the knowledge that the economic pressure is being applied as a tactic and one thing governments will listen to is the financial loss the same loss affects the mainland economy as well.
    Some would call the economic tactic as peaceful pressure being applied to where it hurts the British the most in their pocket book.

    I would call it economic terrorism/blackmail as we all know if the unionist leaders decide they are done with independent bodies denying them what they view as their cultural heritage they will have no problem in unshackling the militant loyalists.
    Personally I have no objection to the union jack being flown over city hall it doesn’t make the country anymore or any less British.

    That is not what the loyalists are protesting over they are more than incensed that republicanism in their eyes removed the flag and they disregard that it was done democratically. The flag might be seen as the catalyst but in the traditional sense of unionist domination of all things political since partition the rage is more against the idea that republicans should hold any political power.

    I do believe unionist/loyalist should be able to march but definitely disagree on marching at flashpoints.
    I can accept that the PUL community believes it is their tradition and during the war it was the only hindrance then would be from nationalist rioting.


  38. The decision of the parades commission should be respected as in all honesty is it the few hundred yards the OO want or is it the traditional sense of dominance they seek.
    Is the few hundred yards worth all the trouble? Definitely not as it is a small issue(s) like these that give birth to greater conflict.

    The price to police the protests is a burden on the economy but I would think that wouldn’t be an issue for traditional loyal-ism giving the fact that this further infuriates the PUL as they view the cops as defending republican areas.
    In the eyes of the loyalists the cops are supposed to be hunting down dissidents and locking them away not blocking law abiding loyalists from marching where they please.

    The problem with militant dissidents/republicans is they never accepted a ceasefire so in their mindset its business as usual. Ironically the greatest problem they face doesn’t come from the security forces as they continue on in the name of the IRA they bear the brunt of many jokes but are more than capable of causing mayhem.

    The sentiment of the majority of nationalists/republicans have rejected the bullet and bomb and opted for the ballot box.
    Strategically any guerilla army needs a substantial base of support and that is something they do not have along with any workable strategy for a sustained physical force campaign.
    Adding to their problems is the fact they are so splintered which would suggest a major power struggle between the factions as to who is the dominant faction.

    Certainly on both sides of the divide youngsters are drawn to the idealism and the grand romantic notion that they are the defenders of their respective beliefs.
    For some it’s the sense of belonging for the few it is perhaps sociopathic tendencies but for most it is a case of belief influenced by tradition and conditioning.

    I can understand why you and the PUL community feel the threat from militant republicanism it’s the mirrored image for the nationalists as you state the UVF have not officially broke their ceasefire they certainly haven’t held to it completely they haven’t exactly been inactive

  39. In east Belfast when they decided to paint over Geordie Best they were sending a very clear and unmistakable message to militant republicans and the nationalist community and to a lesser extent the security forces.

    I don’t believe ONH/IRA or whatever other factions there are want to engage in sectarian war. If that was the case it would have already been in full motion.
    I believe that would further alienate them and their support base.

    The security forces would clamp down on them and there is also the very distinct possibility that Sinn Fein would not take lightly to it as it would be a threat to their political gain. That would raise the possibility of the dormant provos being reactivated as nutting squads as they would have better intelligence on who the leaders of the factions are and although they haven’t officially broken the ceasefire they have murdered dissidents in the past.

    A sectarian war by militant republican at this stage would probably be their death knell.
    I would view it as a case of who caves first I would see militant republicans hedging their bets on the UVF stiffing a republican if that was the case then nationalists would probably see militant republicans as defenders and they would benefit from gained support and build from there.

    I think one major obstacle is the PUL community has yet to come to terms with the fact that the former bombers and enemies of the state are now part of the political decision making. I can understand the difficulty they have in trusting Gerry & Co as many in republican areas have no faith or trust in Sinn Fein.
    To a degree the same applies to nationalists who cant and don’t trust unionist politicians not to excuse us ordinary punters who have a mutual distrust of one and other.
    In a sense we rely and let our less than trustworthy politicians do the talking for us.

    To be honest I rarely hear a word politicians say as they are masters of manipulation and if things are not going their way they know how to stoke the fires.


  40. They are indeed creative when it comes to photo ops and praising themselves yet both working class communities always get a thin slice of the pie if any at all.
    And we won’t gripe about issues that cripple us unemployment better housing, better healthcare better education and so on and why? Because we would rather keep our traditions and fight over them financially it is cheaper for the British government to keep us at odds as a divided people can’t demand much.

    I think a critical step in the right direction would be if both communities could openly talk about the past and begin to accept the atrocities committed by all sides can be worked through and perhaps educational for the younger generation in a hope it all just fades away.
    As at the end of the day the things that separate us are still going to be intact and we may find that our cultures and identity are so intermingled whether we choose to believe or not both are heavily influenced by both British and Irish cultures.

    I still believe in my Irish Identity and the PUL in their British identity and for the foreseeable future Northern Ireland shall remain a part of the UK.

    I am sure people will disagree with that but look around you even American influence is taking hold mostly amongst the youngsters but all the same it will be woven into the cultural fabric of our wee disputed country.

  41. Robert,

    I don’t believe the plan was naked sectarianism the murder room gang being the intended targets and from what I can understand of it any civilian fatality would have been acceptable by the planners as long as they achieved their primary objective.

    Even if there had been ample warning it would be safe to assume the gatekeeper and the commotion would have alerted the intended targets.
    The logistics fail to add up as most if not all would have escaped the building.
    The plan in my opinion was doomed to fail either way.

    It failed horrendously and innocent people needlessly died but in fairness if that word can be applied on the subject I don’t believe the bombers or the planner’s motivation was sectarian.

  42. Feeltelove,

    great bit of reflection and probing. A very interesting comment with plenty to think about.

    This operation was cleared at the highest level by people with political savvy and planned political careers. I agree that there was to be no warning for those above the shop. Setting aside any moral questions, it made no political or strategic sense to clear off and leave those within to their fate.

    But given that, as Robert suggests, a busy road on a Saturday afternoon, even had all the people inside got out there was a strong chance that carnage would have occured.

    Another thing is the choice of tactic. If the UFF were above the place and the IRA knew it, I don't imagine it was beyond their ability to put together an operation that would have required access to the premises. That would have required firearms, making the attack much more discriminate.

    I think in conflict the onus is on the combatant not to displace the risk to themselves onto non combatants. Here it seems that by use of a bomb the calculation was to minimise the risk to the volunteers which by necessity increased it to shoppers. I doubt if the concept of military necessity would have justified that.

    And of course I am reflecting 20 years after the event. But it is what we must do. Without absolving ourselves, we for too long allowed the greatest crowd of liars to lead us and to strategically think for us and to intellectually define our struggle, issuing edicts as to who and what were legitimate targets.

    Never Again.

  43. Tain Bo,

    I too don't see it as a nakedly sectarian attack but I doubt if we will be able to make the distinction too persuasively to people like Robert. He and I discussed this type of thing before and I think he took the view that there was a willingness to risk Protestant lives that was much lesser when it came to Catholic lives, and that this constituted a sectarianism that can't be disputed. And while he has strong unionist views he is open minded enough to have the case, where there is one, impressed upon him.

  44. Tain Bo,

    it would be great to reach the point suggested by you. But there are too many who want to use the past as a big stick for beating opponents with in the present. I think the choice is stark - we either want more truth or more convictions. We can't have both. The ridiculous suggestion by Mike Nesbitt that people troubled by their own past should go to the PSNI was an act designed to sabotage any movement on the matter. I prefer the honest inarticulate bigot like Willie McCrea to the more suave bigots.

  45. David Ervine could well have described it as a return serve,he did so when he referred to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, lets see how much condemnation about atrocities such as this come from unionist quarters next week on the anniversary of the Greysteel massacre,

  46. Davy/Celtic Bhoy,

    thanks for your comments.

    Stray Taoist,

    thanks as well. I genuinely never think of my writing as good these days. It has long gone off the boil, from around 2007 when my interest waned in the subject matter. It seemed all that needed said had been said. Still, it is is nice to find some still appreciate it. If I was to live off my writing I could get by comfortably until the end of my life. But I would have to die about Tuesday!!

  47. Mackers I agree with all you have said on my comment. The fuse on the bomb most likely would have been supposed to have reached its critical point after 15 to 20 seconds. The UFF were the target and the only warning to be given would more than likely been the sight of to men running away from something. I have absolutely no doubt part of the so called security services would have been aware of what was going to happen but I am perplexed as to why this has not been further explored.

    Ardoyne was full of touts and saboteurs. Bomb makers would have been a target for recritment,fact. Leadership in every area would have been targeted for recruitment, fact. If you look at large homemade bombs that came out of Ardoyne, how many actually exploded?. Was it the mix that was nt right, was it the detonator that was dud, were batteries left out as was the case in a Derry bomb that led to the unmasking of Paddy Flood as an agent. There are lots of possibilities about why the shankil bomb exploded early but only one reason. I assume it was semtex which rules out a bad mix.

  48. I have no doubt that even if the Bomb had have been as was planned and the Murder Gang had have been upstairs, and , Thomas and Sean survived and got back to Ardoyne safely .

    The facts are, Civilians would have still been killed or maimed.

    It was expected and accepted as a risk to be taken to bring those upstairs planning more catholic murders to come tumbling down through the floor of that room , not much left to identify them of course. Alas , they were not there on that fateful day.

  49. Anthony,

    I make the not naked sectarian distinction purely based on what is readable and creditable after the fact.
    If it was to be purely sectarian then the bomb would have been placed directly outside the building are as close as possible to the vicinity of the war room a no warning more powerful car bomb.
    That would have at least given the volunteers a feasible exit from the devastation which would have followed.
    The more I think about it the thoughts darken why send such inexperienced volunteers on what could be viewed as a high priority operation.
    I believe the young volunteers were duped and convinced by the more seasoned operator(s) that it would be as easy as nicking a pint a milk from some ones door step.
    As I said I believe there was great haste in putting such an intangible plan together obviously the intelligence wasn’t there to give it the green light yet the planners went ahead and ordered the delivery of such a devastating attack.

    I can understand why Robert and the PUL community would view it as sectarian as if the same thing happened in a nationalist area under identical circumstances of provos meeting in a war room above a shop which resulted in the loss of innocent catholic lives we to would see it as sectarian.

    I was thinking along the lines of Feeltelove why if the RA were convinced there was a war room meeting that day why did they not send a few armed squads to take over the shop and shoot their intended targets. I am sure there would have been plenty of very willing volunteers who wouldn’t have blinked an eye at that idea.
    The chances of civilian casualties’ would be slim or at least they would have had better odds than the innocent victims.

    Undoubtedly the planners are guilty as I stated earlier even if the war room gang were meeting there the risk to civilian lives should have been the greater consideration and not the ambitious notion of wiping out the war room gang.

    I assume they felt safe and didn’t believe the RA would attack them at the shop so indirectly they too have to be held accountable for hiding behind civilians whilst plotting their next move against the nationalist communities.

    I recall the sickening feeling that day and as we reflect 20 years on under semi-peaceful circumstances the sickening feeling is still with me.

    Perhaps what makes that and other murders seem more senseless than before is the fact that the leadership was engaged in negotiation with the British.
    That should have been made public and all planned operations should have been halted pending the outcome of the dealings.

    I fully believe that the leadership in negotiations at the time were as inexperienced as the young volunteer but instead of suspending attacks they used the promise of continued attacks as their ace in the hole.
    In the long run they walked away with less than they entered with and now only speak of peace but hide the truth in hindsight many lives would have been spared.

    I think that is the nail on the head we are not suppose to acknowledge the long dirty war and we are definitely not allowed to question the leader who delivered us from our wicked ways. Even though they distance themselves from the past there is hardly a street you could walk down without tripping over some unfortunate death.
    The wounds are still too fresh and it is foolish to deny the suffering of both communities and many families on the mainland.

    Perhaps something in this debate might strike a chord with younger readers and instead of hearing Tiocfaidh Ar La they might find a new direction and not end up as a topic.

    I don’t understand the Sinn Fein policy or that load of bollix don’t break the IRA code of silence in war there will be casualties’ so why insult the dead and the walking wounded by masking the truth. If we can’t talk about it how are we meant to come to terms with it?

  50. Tain Bo,
    They can break the code of silence when it suits.
    They don't care who they insult they are engaged in a policy of lies and track covering for themselves, everyone else can sink or swim.
    Imagine if they had of been on the Titanic.
    Gerry would have been playing the spoons while the rest of the party would have been sorting out the lifeboats.
    No prizes for guessing what would have happened to the rest of us.

  51. Another excellent piece from the pen of Mackers.

    Mackers a point which struck me was that you referred to... "a public figure gave out privately to the Belfast Brigade..." And... "he was reminded... of his attendance at the army council meeting that approved the operation..."

    I'm taking it that the 'public figure' was a leading member of SF. I am correct?

    Regardless, I recently referred to comments made by Declan Kearney earlier this month in Scotland during a speech which referenced The Shankill Bombing.

    Kearney said...

    "However, at the same time 20 years ago, engagement was taking place behind the scenes between the Sinn Féin leadership and the British Government.

    Republicans and the British Government knew that the only solution would be found through dialogue. There was no military solution to the political conflict..."

    My questions being, the Army Council approved the operation knowing the risks entailed to civilians and IRA Volunteers, did they do so knowing that - as Kearney said - "There was no military solution." and talks with the Brits about peace were ongoing?

    Or where they being kept in the dark as well as the rest of the IRA?

    Also, why would Kearney refer to the behind the scenes talks occurring at the time of the Shankill Bombing...Was this yet another attempt to distance Adams, McGuinness and company from the actions of the IRA?

  52. @ Tain Bo.

    Your replies have been wonderful and very objective. I am popping off now to watch Love/Hate on RTE but do have some further questions and comments for yourself.

  53. Nuala,

    I ridiculed the code of silence considering Sinn Fein broke the IRA but kept enough arms about to ensure others would pay if they cross the leader.

    Too funny on the bright side at least we would freeze to death before drowning.


    Thanks, I will if I can answer any questions you have.

  54. Kev,


    Again you have distilled things down and made the case crystal clear. The current armed groups in terms of strategy might as well offer a rain dance as armed struggle. Even if we set aside any claims about the moral bankruptcy of their activities they should intuit the strategic bankruptcy themselves without any help from anyone else. There is no war on, just a few activities that can deliver nothing but death, destruction, maiming and jail – and always hovering is the prospect of another Omagh.

  55. Sean Kelly and Thomas Begley sadly misguided and misled like many others.

  56. @ Tain Bo

    In regards to your comments on the loyalist flag protests.

    I attended a few of the protests at the city hall once it had started but had started to stay away once the violence started. To me, the violence was and is counter productive and I do not believe in attacking a British police force. Which from the sheer brutality shown via the PSNI to even elderly persons, is hard for me to even consider them as protectors of the British law and order. PSNI officers and I have heard them, were calling people “ orange bastards “ and they did knock over a few elderly people. One officer grabbed a girl by the hair and one other got so carried away with his dog that other officers had to go grab him and pull him back. The PSNI are not the RUC and certainly are openly hostile to the Unionist people. I was attacked in front of them and they just stood there. That is where this hatred of the PSNI is stemming from.
    I can and do support the flying of designated days. Same here as in the rest of the UK. Far to many flags are flown here in a tribal manner. Driving today I commented to my wife how terrible it was to see flags up lamp posts all torn and shredded. My relatives did not fight in the world wars for that.

    You mentioned dissident groups and how the “ war “ never ended for them. I honestly believe the war has not ended for the PIRA / SF. Castlederg was to me, an IRA show of strength. Gerry Kelly supporting them. You can not be a British politician and support a group like the IRA. His joyful reading of his escape where he murdered a man on UTV. Celebrating an IRA killer last Sunday. The IRA have simply moved into politics. I have no doubt they use that power to spy on people. They are trying to ban every Unionist parade around. I stood at the Ardoyne roundabout last week and I can not understand how that is contentious. There are next to no homes in that section. Or the residents who walk down from carrick hill to be offended. It is all part of SF/IRA's strategy to make no go areas for Unionists. I can understand if the parades went directly past there doors, but they do not.

    You are right with the PUL community coming to terms with SF/IRA in government. I find it disgusting that the likes of Gerry Adams and McGuiness, both men of the IRA Army council are sitting making laws in our government. Gerry Kelly and his sort. I do find it hard to swallow. Of course as said, it is a double edged sword in regards to how Catholics must feel when they see hardliners of the DUP in power and even the PUP.

  57. Maitiu:

    You went on flag protests when they started, I'm sure your Catholic wife was far from pleased with that, also your so called Catholic family and friends, The law was made and it was legal, so what did you go and protest about?, did it hurt your loyalist feelings that the rag was taken down from the city hall, don't worry about it, it would make your blood boil to see the national flag of IRELAND fly over it, You state you were attacked at the protest?, surely it wasn't the British Police who attacked you!, Oh it must have been loyalists then!, You can't stand Gerry Adams , Gerry Kelly?, they are your legal representatives. But I will tell you this for nothing, I can't stand none of the SF carpet beggars, but I also can't stand anyone who pertains to be something different , Yet , shows his true colours!. Nothing has changed except the colour of the uniform. What gives you the right to determine loyalist should glorify themselves by parading past the Ardoyne shops with the union rag wrapped around them, Your British Prime Minister said , they are bringing disgrace upon the Union Flag, they have no respect for law and order, I agree with him, because they are the biggest laughing stock throughout the world. so let me tell you some home truths , and , facts, "The Days of Loyalist Domination are over", and , will continue to be over. Its just hitting them now, and , they don't like it, Well us who are old enough to remember , we didn't like it when they dominated us,, so now the shoe is on the other foot, that's a fact you and the rest of the loyalist will have to accept.
    I would be surprised to hear any PSNI/RUC men/women shouting "ORANGE BASTARDS", now in Ardoyne , and , other Nationalists areas they still say, "Fenian Bastards". Now for someone who has stated he has done basic military training in the American Army, had a University education as well within it, you seem to be lowering your self esteem in Belfast by even going to any protests, especially Twaddell , you would be recognised a mile away from the Ardoyne shops, everything is videoed on both sides!!!.

  58. No we were attacked by republicans. I have every right to attend a protest as I do believe that SF is waging a cultural war against anything Unionist in this country.
    Why would the national flag of Ireland fly here? We live in the UK.

    And yes, a couple of PSNI officers were heard calling a group of girls " orange bastards ". It did happen, regardless if you wish to believe the PSNI only abuse Catholics.

    Why would my wife be against it. She was born and raised Catholic but is an Atheist and also a Unionist. Most Catholics I am friends with in Uni and in my family also wish to remain part of the UK. They see no point in an UI. A small few wish for a UI.

    In regards to Twaddell. I was there for 15 minutes to have a nose'y. I do not support the current protests as the are self defeating and yes any time they break the law which is regular, it does bring shame to the Union flag. As said, I stopped going once the message turned to violence and once it was taking over by idiots like Frazer, Bryson and that Scottish idiot.

    Being recorded on video on both sides. Are you talking about the CCTV the PSNI put there or are your implying the IRA are taking intelligence of people?

    I have to get back to my studies now. Got exam paper to hand in soon.

  59. So according to some here John Frizzell had a shot gun, was a leading UVF man and was renting the room above his shop to the UDA. All I can tell you are false, he was a devout Christian and a true gentleman!! Talk about speaking ill of the dead, absolute shocking ignorance!!

  60. Andy-

    " he was a devout Christian "

    Or he was just a devout protestant
    who hated his Catholic neighbours
    that much that he never rang the cops any time the UFF held a meeting above his shop of horrors-

  61. Maitiu,

    what you and the loyalist protesters are experiencing is something we nationalists took and take as par for the course.
    It certainly must be an eye opener and an extremely difficult issue to come to terms with.
    I believe the GFA was put together in haste and more to do with a quick fix rather than a permanent solution.
    I view it as something Bill Clinton and our own politicians giving themselves a pat on the back and something to add to their curriculum vitas. With the euphoria at the possibility of peace few noticed that peace in this case did not necessarily add up to permanent resolution.
    Since then our politicians and their counterparts in parliament have been winging it.
    I will agree the tentative peace we have is better than what we had.

    I can understand the PUL distain for the PSNI. It must be hard to wrap your minds around the fact that republicans sit on policing boards and when the RUC were reformed I can understand why the loyalists are bitter as they lost an ally in their war against republicanism. As the symbiotic relationship between the RUC and the PUL was a very agreeable one with a mutual understanding against a common enemy.

    It must be a strange feeling to have something in common with dissident republicans a dislike and distrust in the PSNI. Which also is strange as from a dissident republican perspective there is no difference between the PSNI/RUC?

    Some republicans would probably say that the PSNI hold back when confronted by loyalist protesters I should say rioter’s as I don’t believe the majority of the protesters want to physically confront the cops.
    Therein awakens a fear within the nationalist community when the physical force loyalists get beyond the point of being frustrated and hemmed in by the PSNI will they vent their anger at the nationalist community?

    I do believe your recent experiences and I do believe the back and forth taunting went on although I am a little surprised I do believe they called the protesters orange bastards.

    I suppose they may view the loyalist rioters as they view nationalist rioters as dangerous young men willing to inflict injuries on them and given the amount of cop casualties due to the riots some in their ranks may feel hitting back is not out of the question even if it is very undisciplined obviously they have decided they are not going to take it from the loyalists.

    And if the OO get there way and get to march the few hundred yards then they face getting it from nationalist rioters so literally they are the pigs in the middle.

    Saying that it does not give them the right to direct their anger and abuse the elderly or women and children and the firing of plastic bullets should be outlawed there are plenty of other non lethal force options.


  62. The problem being the PSNI are a brass badge that our politicians shine and display to the media to show the world how impartial they are. And to the middle class they are but as always in working class areas the story is different.

    It’s a dangerous situation as the loyalists in a sense now view the PSNI as traitors and enemies of the traditional unionist Ulster.

    On the flag issue it shouldn’t be an issue and it is well past the time it should have been put to bed. If they can maintain a peaceful protest then more power to them. However if that fails and the extremist take control and return to rioting with the cops they run the risk of someone losing their life over it and that would only be fuel to the fire.

    There are too many tribal flags flying and the same applies to tribal graffiti or murals we don’t need them and we definitely are not flying them out of pride in our respective traditions just the standard sectarian taunts which in reality have nothing to with being British or Irish but we all know their meaning.

    Yes the dissidents continue which doesn’t make them dissidents as they are continuing the IRA war so the term doesn’t fit but that is neither here nor there.
    I think Anthony summed up their campaign aptly by suggesting they may as well do a rain dance.
    There was an old provo saying that they only have to get lucky once. As for militant dissidents they only have to get unlucky once meaning another horrifying disaster like the Omagh bombing.
    In my opinion when MI5 are convinced the dissidents are becoming a serious threat to the stability of the country then we shall see British army boots on the ground once more.

    I don’t believe any present British government is willing to gamble on that issue and face worldwide embarrassment like they suffered being caught on the hop in 69.
    Another critical factor they face is the advancement in technology surveillance techniques have improved in leaps and bounds the SAS have boots on the ground and much like they infiltrated the IRA to the core they also would have little trouble infiltrating dissidents.
    Not to mention the five quid informers.
    I can understand the loyalist fear of them but I believe the security forces don’t share that fear.
    And of course Sinn Fein agents have already infiltrated the ranks of most if not all the various dissident groups.

    As for your belief that the provos are still engaging in war I would have to disagree.
    As for a show of strength as much as you distrust the PSNI, I distrust Sinn Fein and their antics I don’t view these gatherings as anything else than hypocrisy and if hypocrisy was a pub in Sinn Fein land it would never go out of business.

  63. ...
    Gerry and Martin the gruesome twosome go to great lengths to distance themselves from the provos certainly they have to spew their lies when speaking at memorials for fallen volunteers are they sincere definitely not if either was sincere then they would be proud to announce they fought the good fight.
    Their physical war with the British is over their political ambitions are to narrow and confined to the party faithful let’s face it they failed as revolutionaries and they would fail as politicians if not for the aid from British advisors who willingly and purposely direct them.
    They failed in negotiations during the hunger strike.

    Yet they entered in to talks with the British arrogantly believing they would out negotiate the intellectual well seasoned brinkmanship of the British negotiators.
    It would be like a grand master chess player playing a game with a novice.

    I am sure they demanded a lot and the stiff upper British lip offered them a deal they couldn’t refuse.
    That is you surrender and we shall make you respectable politicians.

    I take your point about Commandant Kelly but you have to understand and I am sure loyalist prisoners would agree. The prison war was brutal and the screws or most of them took great pleasure in delivering severe beatings and enjoyed degrading republican prisoners in fact I think that was the main reason they became targets for the IRA.
    Who killed the guard is in dispute but as escapes go they pulled it off and inflicted embarrassment on the British government and broke the image that they proudly boasted of that the Maze was the most secure prison in Western Europe.

    You have a valid point and in a sense I agree with you that former combatants on either side should not be able to hold a position in government.
    Though in a sense that is not democratic and is punishing a former prisoner twice then as I stated earlier the rush to implement peace left a number of loopholes.
    Still it would be a subject worth looking into.

    Unfortunately we differ on the disputed parades in a sense the PUL vast majority of parades pass off peacefully and are celebrated respectfully.
    The few disputed parades are a black eye on the rest of them.
    I don’t think there is an SF conspiracy to create no go areas and I am not a supporter of SF.
    I think contentious issues like this grow a life of their own and we search for reason to point blame in one direction are the other.

    In the end game Maitiu the loyalist community like the republican community needs to elect officials who are willing to work together and get rid of the puppets who are only happy posing as friends jaunting around the world posing for cameras and boasting look at us we made peace.

    Like many in the nationalist community feel sold out the same noise is coming from the loyalist community so we have that in common.
    Yet we rely on these imbeciles to do the talking for us we have voices so why not talk to one and other you can still be a loyalist I can still be Irish and Northern Ireland is going to remain part of the UK for the foreseeable future.

    It is important that the republican narrative is written and not the Sinn Fein version it also sounds like the loyalists need to revise their narrative as that is an important part of our history and conflict resolution.

    I just read the back and forth between you and itsjustmacker sounding a little heated.

    Then I read the comment from Andy which I welcomed as it is very relevant to the article that and as I originally told Mickey he was a little to creative in his excuses.

    Mickey Henry true to form returns with a purely sectarian insult displaying what Andy termed correctly even more shocking absolute ignorance.

  64. @ Tain Bo.

    I enjoy these discussions with you. You do not reply with a hostile comment that is labeling the likes of me as just sectarian monsters and with a double message.
    Like I said weeks ago, I consider myself Irish first and British second. Just like Welsh first - British second for example. I had a lot of admiration for David Ervine.

    You mention SF and the shame they bring to true republicans. I really have no idea why people vote for them and I really wonder if this latest outing of truth in regards to Gerry Adams and child abuse will affect SF's vote. To an extent, I doubt it will but I would hope on a moral level that it would.
    Every single piece I have read about Adams is no longer shocking. He is one twisted self obsessed maniac.
    O'Rawe was a very brave man to write those books and I commend him. He took on the brunt of the IRA. Yet he has been vindicated.

    I will add to your comments about the OO. Unionists on the ground are actually very angry at the OO over their lack of support for the protests. It has not given backing of these protests at all.
    I am not to sure how I feel about the OO. To an extent I feel it is outdated and as an Atheist, well it is at odds with my beliefs on religion.
    Of course though, they have every right to worship and parade peacefully. Which for the most part they do. Sadly we endure on both sides these contentious parades. I hope we find a solution. The Drumcree riots were my first taste of street violence. Our area was ruined. Foot paths were smashed up with sledge hammers, lamp posts were cut down and local shops were destroyed. To me, you can not be a loyalist and destroy the area you claim to protect.

    On wards to Gerry and Marty. I think the course that they led the IRA down does perhaps show that Marty may indeed have been an agent of the British. It is mentioned in the Stakeknife book and various other places. Martin Ingram correctly identified others as agents. Claims Marty was known as Box500 and J118.
    The SF leadership sold the militant faction right down the river. Yet at the same time allowed many IRA members to die to get them where they wished to go. How brutal is that?

    I agree with you that our communities do need to work together to help build a decent future. Sites like this are invaluable and I have learned loads from these discussions.

  65. Andy.I think mr frizzel was as devout as mr mitchell who rented the barns out in glenanne.He knew what the vermin were doing in his thy neighbour..not.

  66. Maitiu,

    I am not convinced that every loyalist is sectarian by nature the same would apply to every nationalist. What is evident is that sectarianism is pumped into the veins when leaders decide it is time to get blood boiling.
    And that antic is very much at work today shaping young minds the signs are obvious.
    Life is hostile in general it’s a daily struggle to survive hostility is inert in us and when we feel threatened we usually band together.
    The fact that you consider yourself Irish/British a loyalist and hold admiration for David Irvine does not promote any hostile feelings in me.

    I am not religious but don’t deny people their right to be I do however feel politics and religions are a volatile mixture that is not just from our wee quarter but worldwide and throughout history.

    I never have been a follower of SF that could have changed if the late Maire Drum had not been murdered by loyalists. I believe she would have been a more honest and open leader.
    I have no direct answer as to why people vote for him perhaps much like the disputed few hundred yards it’s a matter of tradition minus the Armalite.

    I am sure things do affect him though he tenacious and bold enough to hang on in his belief that the party would be nothing without his leadership.
    Much like Marty they are self absorbed and self-serving and for the better part aloof to the working class.
    I don’t believe they started out that way but do speculate that they were re-shaped and heavily influenced by non-republican sources.

    I do believe they sold the nationalist people the quick fix we are marching into a United Ireland and then disclosed the fine print that there would be a long detour through Stormont and partition.

    As for the OO it is no surprise the loyalists are angered by them they manipulate the working class loyalist when it suits them in much the same manner Unionist politicians call on working class loyalists when they need dirty work to be done.
    They evoke the old card of sectarianism in private and then when things flare up then condemn the people for doing what they suggested. Which in a sense is worse today as in public they put on the blessed are we the peacemakers act and return to their ivory towers and laugh at us fools fighting for them and not our respective causes?

    We have proven we will fight and die and destroy our country at the whim of our leaders. This is 2013 what is needed is reasonable dialogue between us common folk
    Both working class communities were sold a raw deal if we are to make any substantial headway to actual peace then we need to examine the past and face up to the ugly monster we politely call the troubles.

    It is one thing that I like about the Quill it is open to anyone with a thought I may not necessarily agree with all the views but am still learning.
    I don’t visit other sites they rile people up as that only promotes the usual rubbish.
    I am not opposed to anyone posting here (minus the genuine lunatics) I too am enjoying the friendly banter with you and hopefully you can convince some of your friends to share their views here.
    Just for the record I don’t consider myself a dissident republican just an independent one as there is not much politically for me to believe in.

  67. You don't know anything about the man Mr Brooks, the bitterness is hanging clean out of you.

    The narrow minds of people in this wee neck of the woods is astounding, despicable attempts to demonize a hard working, Christian man who was murdered by cowards.

    "his attic" you sure about that?

  68. Anthony,

    'I feel that the loyalists who regret this nevertheless try to attribute to the IRA campaign the same sectarian targeting motives.'

    While you may have drawn that inference, it is not a personnally held view, being of the opinion that while sectarianism certainly existed within the IRA, it was a motivating factor that was sporadic rather than a constant.

  69. Fionnuala,

    I don't doubt the sentiment you have expressed but I wonder to what degree it is representative of wider opinion given the vitriol directed towards John Frizzell?

  70. Tain Bo,

    '.. on the subject I don’t believe the bombers or the planner’s motivation was sectarian.'

    I wouldn't dispute the motivation of the bombing on the day but the circumstances reflect a sectarian input. Would the IRA have undertaken this in a Catholic area?

  71. Robert,

    given the dynamics the geographical clannish makeup of districts would almost guarantee a degree of indirect sectarianism.
    Whilst I don’t view the bombing as blatant sectarianism I do believe that those who give it the green light probably anticipated the loss of civilian life.

    In this case I don’t believe the bombers set out with the purpose of killing innocent Protestants and even if they had hit their intended target the possibility was there would also be non combatant lives wiped out that day.
    It seemed to be in haste that the plan was put into action considering the enemy were supposed to be above I doubt any regard was given to those unfortunate people coming and going below.
    Under the circumstances it would reflect to a degree sectarian which would sit squarely upon the shoulders of those who give it the green light.
    I am sure they considered the high risk to civilians but their intended target value negated the loss of innocent lives which would demonstrate wanton recklessness of a plan that should never have been considered a target.

    On the subject I have tried to be objective the shop should never have been targeted neither side give consideration to the innocent people as those holding secret meetings above the shop were essentially hiding behind civilians. As I said in an earlier comment I believe they thought they were safe from an IRA/INLA attack as they didn’t believe the IRA would bomb them at the shop.

    Honestly Robert I believe the IRA would undertake an operation in a catholic area if they were hunting down a valued target.
    In fact with the various forms of the IRA now that is a distinct possibility that they run a very high risk on inflicting casualties in catholic districts that remains to be seen.

    Along the same lines would you view the Bloody Sunday slaughter as tainted with racism as it is no secret the anti Irish sentiment is engraved in British cultural domination?

  72. Tain Bo,

    Robert's comments on Bloody Sunday elsewhere have been very frank. He invariably calls it as he sees it.


    I would hope that the comments in relation to the shop owner represent a very small section of opinion.

    I think your point on how sectarianism operated within the Provos is close enough. I do believe there was a lot of sectarian sentiment but I don't think it manifested itself in targeting to the extent that many within the unionist community claim to believe.

  73. Anthony,

    I am sure he has commented elsewhere I just don’t recollect the comments.
    Lost in the shuffle just as I remember scratching on the surface on the disappeared I can’t remember what article it was on probably one of the BC articles.

  74. Tain Bo,

    'Along the same lines would you view the Bloody Sunday slaughter as tainted with racism..'

    My apologies for the belated response to this.

    Anti-Irish sentiment may well have been held by members of 1st Para and other soldiers present on Bloody Sunday. Given the climate of the period I would be surprised if it wasn't widespread. But how do we measure it's influence on events without direct and unfettered testimony from those involved?

    I come at this with bias. I identified with what Cameron said following the publication of Saville,".. I am deeply patriotic. I never want to believe anything bad about our country. I never want to call into question the behaviour of our soldiers and our army, who I believe to be the finest in the world. And I have seen for myself the very difficult and dangerous circumstances in which we ask our soldiers to serve. But the conclusions of this report are absolutely clear. There is no doubt, there is nothing equivocal, there are no ambiguities. What happened on Bloody Sunday was both unjustified and unjustifiable. It was wrong."

  75. Robert,

    great to see you back. While I disagree with your general position given that you are a loyalist, your willingness a long time ago to call Bloody Sunday for what you thought it was, made a deep impression on me. Very few from the unionists community have been as prepared to state things so openly. So when we get a view from you we take it as a given that it is genuinely held and thought through.

    direct and unfettered testimony from those involved

    if ever there was a logic for projects similar to Boston College this is it.

  76. Robert,

    No need for an apology but is appreciated it is always good to see you here.

    Your point/arguments are always well measured and given your own political/ personal view the bias is understandable.

    I believe the feeling or racist view from many within the British Army was present long before they ever reached the streets of Ulster.
    Under the turmoil and climate of the time I would assume it only enhanced their belief that the Irish were lesser and deserving of being gunned down,

    There is no taking back what is lost though there is always room to ensure such atrocities are not allowed to resurface that applies to PIRA atrocities as there is no justification for the loss of innocent lives.