The Long Kesh Fire: 40 Years On

Beano Niblock with his memories of the Long Kesh fire which occurred 40 years ago this month. Beano Niblock is a former UVF prisoner who is currently a writer. The piece appeared on the Long Kesh Inside Out website.

Fire aftermath

Not long before lock up — 9:00pm — on the fifteenth October 1974, we in Compound 11 became aware of a bit of a ruckus in Compound 13. Less than two hundred yards away, we were able to see what looked like a number of Republican prisoners attacking a small number of screws. The screws ran for their lives and managed to get out through the double gates to safety.

It transpired that there had been a minor misdemeanour and the screws were there to take an IRA prisoner out to the punishment cells. The screws who had been attacked passed 11 — along with their fellow guards — en route to the Silver City, a purpose built prefabricated headquarters. One of the screws, who hailed form Killyleagh, was bleeding from a head wound. He told some of the guys in 11 he had been brutally attacked and that they - the screws - were getting offside and allowing the Army to take over their duties. Rumours abounded about what might happen next. What in fact did happen was that the estimated 1500 Republican prisoners ran amok — carrying through on a pre planned determination to burn Long Kesh to the ground.

Hut entrance

As usual we were locked up just before nine and by then it was obvious that something “big” was going to happen. As soon as the last padlock was fastened the screws on our compound made themselves scarce. We in the middle hut - all UVF/RHC - convened immediately and under the tutelage and command of John McKeague made hasty plans. We were thinking worst case scenario. An attack from the Republican hordes where - throughout the jail-Loyalists at best numbered something short of 300 -the outcome didn’t bear thinking about. There were perhaps twenty odd of us in the middle hut at that time and we armed ourselves as best we could, bed ends, weight lifting bars — table legs and went as far as making sure the Burco was filled with boiling water. The position of our hut in 11 meant we had a very limited view of anywhere so didn’t see the first glow of fires from the bottom phase.

However, it wasn’t long before the smell of burning reached us. Almost at the same time we had a visitor to one of our hut windows. Fergie Robb was a Red Hand Commando serving an 8 year sentence. He was a resident of Compound 19 Gusty’s compound, in effect-Headquarters. Fergie was one of those who had been tasked with relaying the news to us Loyalists in Phase 5. Apart from us in 11 there were remands in 9, other sentenced men in 12 and of course the internees/detainees in 14. To reach Phase 5 from Phase 6 was a commendable feat on its own and required Fergie to scale many fences to reach us. He appeared at the window and told us..”They’re burning the camp”.

Lay out of a cage/compound

Fergie disappeared again-back to Headquarters no doubt. Almost immediately we made our own plans to break out of the hut. Some of the bigger guys utilised a sit up bench and set to work on the inner doors. No sooner had they started when we heard noises outside. On looking out the window we discovered that a horde of republican prisoners had already broken into our compound by busting the locks on the gates and were now outside our hut. I estimate there was around thirty to forty of them - all armed with weapons of some description. To say that we were fearful of our lives at this stage is something of an understatement.

Amidst a commentary from one of the gang leaders about how the camp was about to be destroyed, they were also breaking open the outer sets of doors to our huts. McKeague went to the window. It transpired that the leader of the mob was the well known IRA man, Cleeky Clarke. In an exchange McKeague informed Cleeky that if they tried to enter our hut we were waiting for them and would fight. Cleeky replied that they intended us no harm but it was in our best interests to vacate the compound as the Army wouldn’t be asking question when they inevitably arrived. He also gave assurances, presumably on behalf of the IRA, that no Loyalist compounds would be touched. They were only burning their own compounds he said.

At that the mob disappeared. We came out of the hut to find absolute pandemonium. The rest of the UVF/RHC personnel from the other huts grouped together out front. Facing 11 was the visits and beside that was a section that housed welfare huts and the Tuck Shop. We could clearly see that the shop had been broken into and was in the process of being looted but at that stage it wasn’t alight. It was later to be burned but it later transpired that the looters were the Ordinary Prisoners who had broken out of Compound 15. On McKeague’s orders we left the cage and moved to a spot in between there and the next compound - 12. Our colleagues who were still there were in the process of coming to join us. So too were the remand prisoners who had made their way to us from 9, two compounds away.

As if by some form of telepathy the UDA prisoners all merged together, as did we. McKeague assumed overall command of our grouping and the first orders were that we must all stick together ... at this stage we were unsure of how things were going to pan out and as each moment passed more and more IRA men were arriving from the bottom phase. Most carried weapons and a lot of them had blankets draped across their shoulders-poncho like. Some were also masked up. The tension was high.

Within our own ranks we had guys voicing the opinion that perhaps we should go on the attack against the Republicans before the inevitable happened to us. The decision was taken for us all to move en bloc to the internee’s cage - 14. We gave no thoughts of trying to take belongings with us as we were under the apprehension that no Loyalist compounds would be ransacked or burned. How naive would that turn out to be?

As we moved towards 14 - only a couple of hundred yards away across one of the football pitches I was very aware of the groups of Republicans, huddled together, staring at us and looking menacing. Whilst not in military formation we at least were grouped closely together and moved as one. We negotiated our way to 14. The gates were open and the cage was teeming with activity. Already there were people on hand offering cups of tea and seats for the older volunteers. In our ranks was one old gentleman - Mr. Thompson who had just been sentenced a couple of weeks previously. He had received 8 years for manufacturing machine guns and was a “non-aligned prisoner”. He was around 70 years old and quite frail. In fact he transferred a short time after the fire and completed his sentence in Crumlin Road. We were left to mingle with the internees and everyone else who turned up to 14-including YP’s.

I think the theory foremost in everyone’s mind was that safety in numbers was the best option. Many of the Nationalist YP’s of course joined the ranks of IRA men. An interesting note here is that quite a few of the YP’s were Loyalists — many in the organisations but who were serving short sentences for riotous or disorderly behaviour charges. It was they who had ransacked the Tuck Shop and here they handed over their ill gotten gains—tobacco-papers-confectionery-and drinks etc.

Rumours abounded and changed every few moments. The atmosphere was electric and the general feeling was that it would all end in tears ... for some. It was obvious that the Republicans were intent on burning as much of the jail as possible. We could see stores and outbuildings and by now unmanned watch towers leap into flames. A memory I will always recall from that evening is of a number of the watch towers glowing red - the corrugated iron sides - before explosions ripped through them blowing them apart. This was the Kosangas cylinders igniting — they were used in winter for Supersers.

After an hour or so a number of us ... mostly RHC prisoners were instructed to form a party to go back to Compound 11 with the instruction to salvage as much stuff as possible. We aimed to put it into blankets and between us carry it back to 14. By the time we got out on to the pitch which gave us access to the next phase we could already see smoke and some flames coming from 11. We traversed the compound and entered through the broken front gates. As soon as we entered it was obvious that there would be very little to salvage. The huts had been totally vandalised: lockers and beds strewn all over the huts, piles of belongings in the middle of the floors — and they had also been set alight. So the promises made by senior Republicans to spare the Loyalist compounds had been reneged on within an hour.

Fergie Robb

We trooped back to 14 to report. There were a number of prisoners from 19 who had turned up. There were senior staff officers who were there for a pow-wow but there was also a couple of “runners”—who flew about the jail most of the night relaying information back and forward. The two I remember were Fergie Robb and Stevie McCrea. Myself and three others were called to the side by a senior internee and John McKeague. A Loyalist internee was a patient in the prison hospital – recuperating after experiencing a heart attack and the four of us had been tasked to go and bring him safely back to 14.

My memories of the night are, I suppose fuelled by the adrenaline and excitement. Despite only having a checked shirt, Wrangler jacket, jeans and DM boots, I cannot recall feeling the cold. The other 3 volunteers were dressed similarly. Lenny Murphy, Basher Bates, Michael Hegan and myself made it to the hospital compound ... about half a mile away. Again the place was deserted — eerily so and once more we gained easy access as the padlocks on the gates had been smashed. Once in the hospital itself we quickly found the ward. There crouched on a bed with a pair of striped pyjamas and a house coat was Buster Wade - a UVF detainee. We told him who we were although he neither knew us or us him.

He indicated to us that there was another prisoner — he was hiding down the side of an adjacent bed. He was an Official IRA man and was frightened that the Provies might harm him. I remember his first name — Jimmy — but cannot recall his second although my belief is that he had been in for quite a while after being arrested for a cache of guns found during the Falls curfew of 1970. After assuring him he would be okay we escorted both prisoners back to 14. Both had carrier bags with some personal belongings and we gathered as much stuff up as possible in pillow slips and carried those. Tablets—bandages—plasters—methylated spirits –really anything we thought could be of use in case there were casualties later. Once back in 14 both men were found a spare bed. They had a cup of tea and a guard was placed on the cubicle Jimmy was assigned.

I don’t recall the reasoning but sometime after this a decision was made for all of the UVF/RHC prisoners who had arrived in 14 should now decamp and make their way to 19. We made an attempt to form up in three’s and in a haphazard fashion we made our way to “Headquarters”.   No fuss was made of us when we arrived—what I do remember on that walk from 14 to 19 was again more watch towers exploding—being completely surrounded by armed republicans and the constant noise. As best we could a head count for our organisation was conducted and we were able to ascertain our strength in numbers. This was done in the canteen and Gusty gave out whatever instructions were needed.

First and foremost we were to be alert - both from Republicans and latterly from the Army. By this stage it was accepted that there was only going to be one outcome. That, in time the Army would retake the jail. And the thinking was that they weren’t going to be polite about things and ask if we were republicans or Loyalists. Other than be on standby there wasn’t a hell of a lot more we could have done. In a year - 1974 - when “Get Your Boots On “ became a catchphrase, we were well and truly “Laced up” this time.

As time ticked by the tension increased. We stood about in groups. All that year we had had many practice drills and we each knew what was expected off us. As in the compound switch between 11 and 12 in July we knew who would be in the front ranks, who would have special duties to perform around the flanks — but in all honesty we always hoped that they were precautions only and hoped they were never realised.

Every so often the officers convened — usually to the canteen or half hut for another briefing. And after each meeting we searched for answers, for clues. But the reality was the officers and NCO’s knew little more than we did. In a compound that was custom made to hold a maximum of 80 prisoners there must have been more than 200 in 19 at that stage. We stood about in small groups ...we circled the wire — in pairs — in groups.  The boilers worked overtime giving an endless supply of tea and coffee. Cigarettes glowed like fireflies around the compound. There was an apocalyptic feel to it all. No one was certain what was to transpire which made it all the more worrying.

I suppose if we had thought about it seriously we could have worked out that the Army always attack at a time just approaching dawn ... Isn’t that the way it was in all those old TV movies we knew so well? And so ... sometime in the very early morning the attack began. Is it my imagination or did it go eerily quiet for a while before the first assault? And then …………. a tumultuous roar …. battle cries ... the warnings ... the fear ... the adrenaline let loose. They knew it was coming and to a certain extent were prepared ...  but actuality is a different ball game.

The Republicans tactics seemed to be: we will fight them on the wide open expanses of the 2 football pitches. The scene — if you picture it would look like some latter day battlefield. Opposing forces at each end ... advancing to a bloody skirmish on the half way line. But no. As we stood ... our own divorced masses, hoping the battle kept its distance, we could hear all, but see nothing. Like an outdoor cinema with plenty of sound but missing the picture. The noise was frightening … roars of encouragement, cries of despair, warnings shouted, defiance ... and of pain. Another noise. That of helicopters ... whump-whump-whump—flying low, barely above the wire.

And this was before the anti-copter wires were installed. We at last, from our disadvantaged viewpoint,we could see something. Cluster bombs being fired from the helicopters on to the hordes below. CS gas we told one another. Seemingly not we would find out later. The Republicans had no answer. They were dispersed to the four corners. They choked on fumes ... they spluttered and they could not see. They fought but in the end they were easy pickings for the ground forces who picked them off.

A number of UDA men from 19 had been given the freedom to leave the compound-by jimmy Craig. A few of them ... dressed similarly in ponchos and with faces blackened arrived back on a number of occasions carrying wounded Provisionals - some in worse shape than others. Many had what looked like rubber bullet wounds and I seen a couple who were in very poor condition. They were taken to the back end of the half hut and given whatever treatment was available. The battle continued — for how long I don’t know. But at sometime in the morning — it was daylight anyway on a grey and grim mid morning - activity ceased. 

By this stage most of the Provisional prisoners had returned to their compounds -which of course by now had been razed to the ground. The game was up. The fight was knocked out of them. If burning the jail was seen as some sort of victory for them towards the end of a year of endless protests, then this night’s bout was indisputably a rout of the highest order. In many ways it was pitiful to see the stragglers trudge back to their cages, beaten and bowed. But the overwhelming feelings amongst most of the Loyalist prisoners were definitely lacking in sympathy. The deceitfulness of the Republican leadership to get us to vacate our compounds wouldn’t be forgotten … and rightly so.

During the day that followed we were subjected to countless head counts. To establish who we were — where we had came from. If the Army knew by now that were non aggressors in the previous night’s actions, at times they didn’t show it. They came in with the attitude that everyone was the same and we would be treated as such. In the days and weeks to come we would suffer many hardships — in overcrowded, under heated, filthy and damp and dirty conditions. That story is for another day. The Fire was a turning point in Long Kesh history ... but it was far from a glorious chapter in the Provisionals' book of historical fables.


  1. Beano,

    that is a great story. It is very useful to read how loyalists experienced a key event in the jail history. I was not there for the fire but was in a remand cage earlier in the year when the loyalists in 9 robbed the tuck shop and split the grub three ways - with republicans in 10 and loyalists in 11. I think a guy called Rose was in charge of 11 at the time.

  2. Beano,
    I'm surprised at you! This is fabrication, but then you know that.

    The fire did not start over a medicore skirmish that ended up with a screw hurt.
    That incident which was provoked full on by the screws, came at the end of months and months of abuse, horrendous abuse, which at times involved prisoners having to run the gauntlet of abusive screws and dogs. Baby being searched on visits, non stop army raids and beatings.

    Months before the fire all factions in the Kesh including the UVF had decided the situation was dire and had to be dealt with.
    That analysis was reiterated by the Red Cross on three occasions, and even the English Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

    The prison and the government had given guarantees that they would, back off in order to diffuse a seriously deteriorating situation.
    Of course they reneged, food remained disgusting, bedding was gross and unsatisfactory, searches with dogs were stepped up, and during those searchers prisoners belongings were wrecked.

    On the night of the fire, the screws followed a prisoner into Compound 13, 'to deal with him'
    Davey Morley refused to hand the prisoner over.
    His actions were in keeping with the 'agreement' that had been reached.
    A heavy handed response from the screws orchestrated a fight and the subsequent fire.

    In truth Beano, when the going got tough, your crowd got going in the opposite direction.
    All reports on the burning are at odds with your account.
    Rose tinting the facts out of embarrassment are one thing, however downright lies are quite something else.

  3. From Beano Niblock

    Firstly Fionnuala let me clear up something I said. The actual incident I speak about where the screw was attacked in 13 did happen and happened the way I said it did. What I have tried to do in the account is to tell it how I seen it on that particular night. I KNOW about the months of protest—the stinking food—the Red Cross visits—the duplicity of the prison regime—the missed visits—13 weeks in a row for me—and everything else that went on leading up to the fire. I know because I was there and was very much a part of it. The short account I have written here ONLY deals with that night. But here, why am I explaining myself to you. You are well versed in your own side of the story and seem unwilling to accept another. “Your crowd” got going in the opposite direction? My crowd had participated in all forms of protest for the preceding nine months—protests that were agreed by the Camp Council. The Camp Council did not agree to burn Long Kesh..the decision was taken by senior IRA men. We were told that our cages wouldn’t be touched or our belongings affected. How wrong were we? One thing I don’t do is look at events through rose tinted glasses—I believe I am open and honest and tell things how they are----And to suggest that I am telling lies? Doesn’t deserve an answer. Suffice to say that on this particular occasion there was quite clearly two sides to the story—not just the usual one that trips off the end of the conveyer belt.

  4. Beano,
    The incident in cage 13 most definitely did not happen the way you told it.

    In fact, your account that the, burning of Long Kesh was nothing more than 'fifteen hundred Republicans running amok' is an absolute disgrace.

    I shall tell you the account given by Fr R Murray, Fr Faul, the men housed in Cage 13 and the Red Cross inspectors who came in at a later stage.

    'On October the 15th, in the evening a crisis developed in Compound 13. A prisoner officer over stepped the accepted procedures and forced the hand of the O.C. into implementing a long standing and agreed procedure, whereby an 'undesirable prison officer.' can be asked to leave a compound.'

    Rather than leaving and adhering to an implemented agreement, the screw who was injured at this stage, insisted the prisoner be brought to the punishment cells.
    David Morley the camp O.C. tried to intervene to diffuse the situation, however his intervention was blocked by the assistant Governor.

    The arrival of the British Army and even more screws with batons, escalated a seriously volatile situation.

    The British Army had arrived back in the Camp on the 14th of October, this arrival was in direct contravention to an agreement that had recently been implemented to diffuse tensions.

    In 1972, 73, 74, the Red Cross had raised concerns about the 'cheek to jowl existence' other concerns were the non ceasing presence of the British Army and dogs.

    A meeting between the camp commanders from all factions, had heard concerns raised about the rigid stance implemented by the prisoner authorities, and this implementation was particularly harsh in relation to compassionate parole.
    Hunger strikes by the Provos had gained the prisoners many concessions, however at all times it was felt by the men, that these hard won concessions were deeply resented by prison staff and the government.

    Prior to the fire conditions were deplorable.
    Prisoners woken from their sleep by the British Army with dogs.
    Stripped beaten and many times bitten (all recorded).
    Forced to run a gauntlet while their personal property was destroyed.

    The UVF did leave the protection of their confines at one stage on the night of the fire, to venture amongst the Republicans they were allegedly so threatened by.

    Gusty Spence and a delegation of Loyalists arrived amidst the intensity of the battle to request to speak with the British Army commander.
    Spence arrived back with all sorts of guarantees that would be delivered if the men agreed to a temporary halt.

    According to Kevin Hannaway who was also there, as was my brother and a personal friend who kept a note of the events, the bold Gusty got it surprisingly wrong?
    Because, as Spence sailed off with his delegation.
    The men who fought the battle of Long Kesh, were beaten half to death, bitten by dogs, shot in the face with rubber bullets, forced to stand by their finger tips for up to eleven hours.

    We won't mention the CR gas, as that might really infringe on your 'open honesty'

    I don't know why your explaining yourself either, personally if I were you, I would have sat quietly and hung my head in shame?

  5. Sadly people like Fionnuala have rose-tinted eyes, never mind glasses [which, after all, can be taken off]

  6. Fionnuala all beano has done is recall his memories of that night. What you are giving is the 'official' version of events after all the facts had become clear.. Not the same all park..You said (one example)....

    "We won't mention the CR gas, as that might really infringe on your 'open honesty"

    What beano said was...

    "We at last, from our disadvantaged viewpoint,we could see something. Cluster bombs being fired from the helicopters on to the hordes below. CS gas we told one another. Seemingly not we would find out later."

    At the time he thought (probably like most) CS gas was being fired that night but as it transpired CR gas was used...

    I seriously doubt if beano (being housed in a loyalist compound) would have been privy to what was happening in Republican cages on Oct 15th...

    On October the 15th, in the evening a crisis developed in Compound 13. A prisoner officer over stepped the accepted procedures and forced the hand of the O.C. into implementing a long standing and agreed procedure, whereby an 'undesirable prison officer.' can be asked to leave a compound.' Rather than leaving and adhering to an implemented agreement, the screw who was injured at this stage, insisted the prisoner be brought to the punishment cells. David Morley the camp O.C. tried to intervene to diffuse the situation, however his intervention was blocked by the assistant Governor

    I'd hazard a guess and say if you asked most Loyalist prisoners in longkesh that night they's say all what they seen first was 'hordes of Republicans running amok'.. They wouldn't have been aware of what the straw that broke the camels back was...

    I think he said before that the OIRA vol. taken from the prison hospital was guarded by lenny Murphy and or Basher bates (deffo a Shankill Butcher)..

    @beano now I have your attention what is the real reason why I can no longer post on LongKeshinsideout?

  7. Gtm,
    If you have something to say, at least make a case for what your saying!

  8. Frankie,

    The UVF and other Loyalist faction that were housed within the compounds knew only too well about the ongoing abuse and how the over all situation was deteriorating.

    I stated that in the 'Official' version. Thirty didn't just happen across the situation as it unfolded on the night of the 15th, they were in dialogue with Republicans in relation to a situation that was spiralling out of control.

    He states himself, he was on protest against the conditions, so why is he now presenting a skewed version of events in relation to what triggered the burning.

    Anyone should of imagined, that on that night of all nights prisoners who had been involved in negotiations with each other would have taken on the common enemies their gaolers, sadly not!

    I don't understand what you are saying in relation to Murphy and Bates?

  9. Fionnuala ,
    The Murphy/Bates thingy... Either one or both of them were put on 'guard duty' that night and they were under orders from thier OC not to let anything happen to the OIRA prisoner they found in the hospital... (beano can clear that up) he has mentioned it before both here and elsewhere..

    I have no idea why/if beano is giving a 'skewed' version. My reading of his piece is he was giving his version of events of what happeneded that night from his compound.. As I said I doubt if he knew what was the last straw that broke the camels back that night..Thats what I'm taking from it..

    The first time I read about CR gas being used and not CS was on Ardoyne Republicans blog a few years ago..I've since read about it elsewhere...

  10. Frankie,

    Apologies! I posted that last piece from my phone and it doesn't read right. I meant to say they (The Loyalists)
    didn't just happen upon those events, they knew perfectly well what was taking place.

    As for Murphy and Bates: who could think up a scenario like that, it's like assuring animals they're safe in an abattoir ?

    No chance of that crew being involved in hand to hand combat against their oppressors.
    Well out of their comfort zone, having to face men on their feet and without the tools of their trade, a total alien concept to cowards.

  11. From Beano

    To Frankie.......I didn’t know you couldn’t post on longkeshinsideout!!...have you tried to and been turned down? I monitor the site and I haven’t seen anything. If there is a problem in sending stuff you can get me email address of Anthony and send me stuff direct. There’s certainly nothing sinister about it.....

  12. From Beano

    Fionnuala..Hang my head in shame?..For what? Sorry...but regarding the night of the fire I have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. As I have said before you don’t need to lecture me on what went on before the event—regarding Red Cross or other delegations—the conditions—and the worsening situation throughout the year.

    The reason UVF prisoners left their huts was because the plan was for everyone to get together—as they did in 14 and 19. The theory being that we would be safer in numbers—although those numbers were way short of the amount of republicans. I wasn’t privy to any of Gusty’s negotiations and being a volunteer we were told not to leave the compound-19-whilst the fighting was taken place—which we didn’t. No matter what the propaganda machine says happened on that night—and I take into account that it was after many months of protests—the incident that led to the burning of the camp was when a screw got bashed and the jail authorities with back up from the Army tried to remove the offending prisoner/s...Simple. Would the camp have been burned that night if that incident hadn’t of occurred? You, Fionnuala would have no room for rose tinted wouldn’t get them on beneath those blinkers.

  13. Nuala,

    while I think the detail you bring is valuable is there any need for the sharp tone towards Beano? His take might not be ours but it is hardly a matter for him to drop his head in shame. It is a difference of emphasis. Both of you have made great exchanges in the past. I think it is a great piece even if there are things about it that I don't rest easy with. But that's life.

  14. "No chance of that crew being involved in hand to hand combat against their oppressors.
    Well out of their comfort zone, having to face men on their feet and without the tools of their trade, a total alien concept to cowards."

    I'm no expert on the events that took place on that night, but I'm fairly sure that loyalists regarded the Provos as being their aggressors, and the British army as being on the same side as them. (a simplistic view I know given that the British army were also jailing them and killing them)

    I'm also slightly amused by you calling them cowards. The Provos were not exactly renowned for their heroics and I certainly haven't read any accounts of any of them fighting to the death that night. Rather it sounds like they got a very sound lootering from the dastardly Brits.

    The Provo propaganda version of events has been challenged by someone who was actually there on the night. A primary source. Have you ever considered the possibility that the Provos might have embellished their version of events just a tad? To take the bad look off the kicking they obviously received.

  15. Mackers,
    The tone wasn't sharp it was honest.

    I still believe he is presenting a well revised view, but as you say that's life!

  16. Cue Bono,

    I could decorate this page with primary sources and none of them agree with Beano Niblock.

    The Provos fought the battle of Long Kesh and also brought about every concession ever granted.

    As I stated from the start, when the going got tough, the tough stood their ground and the rest scurried down to shack up with uncle Gusty.

    But then as you state yourself! Your no ones expert.

  17. Beano,
    I had my blinkers removed at a very young age and they have remained off.

    I'm glad to see you have a few fans though. No point in revisionism, primary or other if no one is applauding.

  18. Nuala,

    that you hold the view honestly is not the point. I think it is a trait of yours to give an honest take whether others agree or not. But honesty can be expressed in an assertive way or an aggressive way.

    I didn't see Beano's take as any less honestly held. Our opponents by definition tend not to see us as we see ourselves.

  19. Finnoula,

    That still makes you a secondary source though. Beano was there. You were not. You are relying on the honesty of the Provos and if we have learned anything in the last few days it is surely that their honesty is highly suspect.

    The loyalists (and I am not a loyalist)were in prison for defending the status quo. Republicans were in prison for trying to destroy the state. It is hardly surprising that the loyalists did their time and accepted the benefits gained from republican protests.

    The thing that most surprised me about this article was the way the loyalists (Lenny Murphy ffs) protected a member of OIRA and gave first aid to Provos.

  20. "Our opponents by definition tend not to see us as we see ourselves."

    This is a huge point. I don't think that republicans have any inkling of how they are viewed by others. It is as if they live in some sort of cocoon.

  21. From Beano

    My intent was to write my memories of that I recalled them... Nothing I have written..would I change because that's how I remember them.. If people's opinions differ that's fine.. I can listen to different version.. I don't think there is a definitive version... Even though some people maintain there is an Official account... Official according to who?... No matter who differs from me I still wouldn't call them a liar or a coward. It was never the UVF intention to fight the Army that night and Gusty being an ex soldier would only have done so as a very last resort. He was well known to use brinkmanship at various times and dud so on many occasions during 1974. In July of 74 in an attempt to gain their own cages the UVF and UDA switched cages..11 and 12. This was done by force. The screws vacated the cages concerned and brought the Army in who attacked us...UVF.. In 11. We put up a fight.. besting back the first attack but succumbed to more troops. There was violent hand to hand fighting with many injuries...on both sides. We of course got tanked in the end..if you know anyone Fionnuala who was in Cage 10 that day... Ask them if there was much cowardice on show. Again... Like my original post.. I can stand over this version. Why?... Because unlike you who has to rely on second hand information and boys own tales of derring do.... I was there. I don't have any axe to grind nor do I have an agenda... just telling it as I seen it 40 years ago... mo chara.

  22. Cue Bono,
    Another piece of trivia about Lenny Murphy.. While he was in the cages/compounds he made a wallet and he passed it to Martin Meehan snr. I was reading about it on Ardoyne Republicans blog a while back and I was surprised. They weren't friends or anything close.. . it's just one of those things that happened during the conflict...

    I understand you sometimes post from your iphone/droid and I understood what you said... All beano done was recall his version of events that night from his perspective. I know what history books tell me what happened that night and I have read Fr Faul's & Murrays accounts.

    I tried to post after the 'Charlie Freel' episode a few times and for what ever reason they didn't get posted. I even posted something along the lines of..

    So on the PUL side of the oxymorons free speech isn't allowed

    I'll take your word that there was a glitch or something got lost in cyberspace. If Charlie or other give me the line.. " You (me) are a taig, Irish republican catholic etc, etc, etc I'll let it go out my left ear quicker than it entered my right...

  23. Beano,
    How am I relying on second hand information. If you claim your a primary source, well then so are the people I have spoken to.

    I certainly don't have an axe to grind or an agenda, but I have heard accounts that differ greatly from yours and I have heard them from trustworthy and reliable sources.

    Cue Bono,
    Get real! What has the events of the last few days got to do with the burning of Long Kesh?

    I have a friend who kept a log of the events as they unfolded. I will be speaking to him and will feed back as to his first hand account.

    A wallet from Lenny Murphy? Yes I seen that on FB I wouldn't have it in a fifty mile radius.

  24. From Beano

    .....I monitor the back site Frankie and have checked again for old comments or articles and there is nothing that I have missed. Feel free whenever suits you to post and I assure you it will go up. Don’t be put off by Charlie or anyone else....all forums are about this sort of thing and you have to expect that if you put something out there not everyone will agree with it. As I have said in the past to AM so long as it doesn’t get too personal or nasty.

  25. Cue Bono said;

    "This is a huge point. I don't think that republicans have any inkling of how they are viewed by others. It is as if they live in some sort of cocoon."

    Well spotted Cue.
    They do live in a cocoon. Like the 'fleggers' they've wrapped themselves up so tightly in their shibboleths, bound themselves with their narrow and exclusive version of history ... and become so inured to hostility (now largely of their own making) ... that they opt to remain in their tiny isolated little insular world for their perceived safety ... safety from threats that are now largely illusionary.

    All bound up in their construct cocoon ... sustained only by their dream that one day they will emerge into the mythical 'Irish Republic'!

    Mad, sad or both?

  26. Finnoula,

    The point about the past few weeks is that they remind us that the Provo narrative of events cannot be taken as the truth. They are proven serial liars. Therefore their version of events on the night in question should be closely examined for any whiffs of bs.

  27. Henry,

    That sums it up very well indeed. I suppose that looking at it from their perspective there is a certain logic. The old IRA of 1919 - 1921 was also largely reviled, at the time, because of the atrocities it carried out, but with victory they got to write the history and all was forgotten.

    The Provos must have assumed that they would do the same. The flaw in the logic of course being that they didn't win. They are also badly hampered by the fact that they kept up the horror for so long, and engaged in atrocities (Enniskillen) that even drew comdemnation from Soviet Russia. Post 9/11 that sort of stuff even went out of fashion amongst Irish Americans.

    There are no romantic films portraying the Provos blowing innocent people to bits, or shooting widowed mothers of ten in the back of head. The only diddley dee music being played in relation to them is being played inside their own heads.

  28. Fionnuala you are missing the point of the story , it is an account of what happened the night Long Kesh was burned. Beano was there and it appears that he was not an officer so therefor was maybe not privvie to the information his commanders had.I thought it was an excellent read. I have met a few republicans who tell a similar story to Beano
    You can only give us the Provo propaganda version were as Beano tells it as it was

  29. From Beano

    ....the fact that Murphy presented Martin Meehan with a piece of leatherwork is only unusual because both had a profile. Meehan at that time—but Murphy wasn’t really known until later. It was a common thing then for handicrafts to be exchanged-normally Irish harps for purses or wallets. But Meehan carried on many conversations with loyalists through the wire separating 12 and 13. Murphy was only one of them. There were many “friendships” through the wire and I suppose the best example is spoken about by Plum Smith in his recent book “Inside Man”. This was when he took part in Gaelic lessons—being taught by a Republican from 18-I think-and his examination was conducted by Frankie Card. He passed and was awarded his silver fainne. This was in 1974—pre-fire.

    I think that the summing up by Henry JoY in relation to cocooned republicans and modern day fleggers couldn’t be more to the point.

  30. They are also badly hampered by the fact that they kept up the horror for so long, and engaged in atrocities (Enniskillen)

    Think the evil is in the intent. Loyalists went out to murder and butcher the innocent. No one intended to kill those that died in the Enniskillen mistake or others of a similar nature. Unlike the wee girls in mobile shops or pregnant women in chemists.

    I think Gusty Spence got his Gold fainne if I'm correct. Had two relatives interned back in the day.

  31. im way worse than any flegger anto. some of these comments are like eoghan harris and kevin my-arse. fionnuala this guy beano seems sound are u breakin his balls. whats mythical about sovereignty. i dont think republicanism is dead or a failure. i just think the general public are mental slaves now. the scientific technocratic elite have us all dumbed down. emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. support marxist-lennonist sinn fein.

  32. Grouch

    'support marxist-lennonist sinn fein'

    can ye go to university at 50 yrs old and get heaps of money for not workin in saerdonia?

    I think upn reflection I've been 'interned' all my adult life!!

  33. Beano,

    I thoroughly enjoyed your account from a loyalist position of the event. Naturally on republican and loyalist issues there will always be differing accounts or opinions however I would find them more honest than the all important official sate account.

    As a republican I make the effort to step back and read loyalist accounts if possible with a neutral mind.
    I can see being outnumbered 5 to 1 would cause trepidation though would question the almost heroic light you shine on loyalist prisoners.
    The republicans achieved their objective and were facing off with the Brit Military with guns and live rounds and not the make-shift any bit of wood or iron will do weapons of the Provos.

    The brutality and injustice dished out in the camp should have been enough for the Loyalist to stage their own burning down of their huts. I would assume the higher ups were sending runners to the wire and passing on information about republicans making deals with the authorities would insure at least the loyalist leadership would come out of it on the right side of compliance and obedience to those who were inflicting the brutality on the prisoners.

    I think if republicans had any intention of attacking the loyalists it would have been done but as evidence suggests their fight was against the system and not those on the receiving end.

    Regrettably Murphy and Bates lived but you are right Murphy was nobody then but as we all know that was soon to change as he would go on to force his way up the murderous ladder and no prod or taig was safe whilst he and his band of criminals run free.

  34. Larry as best as i can remember Gutsy wasn't awarded his gold fainne in the proper way.. There was some dispute or other that prevented it... i'll go back into the vortex and check it out..

    Grouch what is Marxist-Lennonist, Straight up Q.. Is it a 50/50 split ....60/40???

    Beano I read that about William Smith last week and there were a lot of strange friendship struck up in the Hblocks none other than Basher Bates and Brendan Hughes.. And now we've cleared up the non post thingy.. Means I can ask 'Primo' a few questions about not learning Irish History until he went to prison.. And his (Primo's) school of thought about victims of the troubles is still the most logical explanation I've read anywhere..

  35. larry,theres no university here but there is a hedge school. its to de (not re)educate people. believe me larry, everyone is interned now. omnipresent cctv and internet monitoring. they spy thru the fuc*ing built in camera thingummyjig and listen thru the microphone. chemtrails and mass medication thru the water has weakened us mentally and spiritually. fluoride causes calcification of the pineal gland which is our higher consciousness/spiritual processor. to be a revolutionary now is to grow carrots and cabbage and drink clean clear water (no wonder the gaels honoured the scared wells) and try to avoid the aluminium and barium in the chemtrails thru detoxification and fasting. its not easy being a saordonian. up the republic. support marxist-lennonist sinn fein.

  36. Grouch

    FFS what a paranoid fiefdom you lord it over!!

    Have to say, truly enjoy Beano's writing. Loved the one about the soccer player. (book review). Relative of mine got a rubber bullet in the gob during that fire in the cages. See what happens when ye play with matches!!!

  37. Frankie me aul flower, Marxist-lennonism has been around since the 60's. The organisation i represent has only been around a couple of years. Initially we were called The Irish Marxist Front (aka the real IMF - an organisation calling for the mass internment of the money manipulators, medical manipulators and media manipulators) followed swiftly by the Marxist-Lennonists of Saordonia and for the moment we are known as Marxist-Lennonist Sinn Fein. We are an anti-Marxist outfit primarily and we view him (Karl not Groucho) and the entire communist thing as a total fraud and massive crime against humanity. He was not a genuine person/philosopher/ to say the least. So we are anti-Marxist Marxists if you like. We are against the doublespeak of modern Orwellian society and consider dying for the truth as the only thing worth dying for. That's for the martyrs in the organisation. I on the other hand havent a notion of dying for anything because i enjoy the music and comedy of Gaelic Marxist-Lennonism too much. Marxist-Lennonist Sinn Fein is an unpopular front as opposed to a popular front as we havent a notion of being popular in a country of me fein sleeveens who have multiplied exponentially in this once great land over the last generation or two.. We are a unique revolutionary organisation in the sense that we have no members because the one thing we all agree on is that, to paraphrase Groucho, 'Never join an organisation that would have you as a member'. On a more serious note, we are sad at the sorry state of the so called modern day Republican Movement and are here to wean people away from that dangerous cult using humorous and at the same time serious propaganda, so we are a jocoserious outfit if you like, sometimes more joco than serious, at other times more serious than joco, but always in a jocoserious way. we are against all ideologies and instead go with the marvelous flow of Creation. We are opposed to the Orwellian modern slave state being rolled out all around us (which is Marxist in nature) and will fight to the death for our right to grow our own food, harvest our own water and defend life from conception to natural death. We will defend ireland from the Irish. Victory to the Saordonians.

  38. "No one intended to kill those that died in the Enniskillen mistake or others of a similar nature."


    If you leave a large bomb at the exact spot where a bunch of old age pensioners are going to gather up then it is an absolute certainty that they are going to be killed and maimed. The primary target on the day may have been the parading soldiers, but the Provos knew that the watching spectators would also be killed and they didn't care.

    Incidentally they also came close to massacring a load of children from the Boys and Girls Brigade on the same day at Tullyhommon, but thankfully their bomb didn't go off.

  39. Larry, Marxist dictatorships have been using fluoride for nearly a hundred years now, Russian gulags to irish ones. I am a bit paranoid true but maybe that's not a bad thing. Google dr. Andrew Wakefield on vaccines if you have the time . Not for the faint hearted.

  40. Cue Bono


    But what I am trying to highlight is that those killed at Enniskillen or the Shankill etc did not lose their lives at the hands of evil minded scheming wee fenians who planned that exact outcome in advance.

    Quite the contrary. Unlike Churchill and Bomber Harris (Churchill later pretending he had no knowledge of Harris' tactics the subject became so sensitive post WW2), or indeed the blanket acceptance of 'collateral damage' in the UK/USA global menace of today and its never ending drone strikes.

    The provos were primarily targeting military/police personnel, such as those monitoring the Enniskillen event.

    However, it is perhaps best not to detract from Beano's article, it is an interesting read.

  41. Grouch

    Loved your political manifesto there. BRILLIANT.

    I will be in Galway Monday 7th Nov if yer about for a Guinness in an Ayre Sq hotel lobby let me know.

  42. Will Ronaldo tame Louis the vampire Suarez.....

    El Clasico today at 5pm....

    The El Clasico, one of the biggest games in Football between the rivals of Madrid and Barcelona. Don't miss it and make sure to tune in early!

    As it's a big match it could be some links get too busy, like Flash which could start to lag or Sopcast which could be not connecting. We therefore advise you to tune in as early as possible, like 30 minutes before kickoff.

    SkySports 5 will be JIP by 15 minutes, due to the UK broadcasting rules. Sky Sports are unable to screen the first quarter of an hour of Barça's eagerly awaited clash away to Real Madrid because no British broadcaster is allowed to show live football between 2.45pm and 5.15pm. The rule is designed to protect attendances at British games with a 3pm kick-off.

    Sorry, streams will only appear 1 hour before the start of the match.

    There are 68 stations announced to broadcast this match.


  43. I meant to post my last comment here!!!

    Chalk it up to a blonde moment

  44. Sound larry , I'm on the tae but I stil luv the company of drinkers.

  45. Boyne Rover,

    How am I missing the point? I know what the point is Beano Niblock's account of the Burning?

    His introductory passage was intentionally misleading as to how and why the fire started.

    In relation to Provo propaganda! How would you know?
    The people who told the story to me, one of them my brother are all credible people and that's good enough for me.

  46. Beano,

    Us people from Clonard knew who and what Murphy was pre fire.

    I remember seeing him out on a visit in 71-72 in the Crum and we knew then he was a butcher.

    Murphy, at the time refused to walk out with the person I was visiting because he was afraid of him.

    As I said, once separated from the tools of their trade, they were cowards.

  47. Cue Bono,

    Come off it! Are seriously suggesting that those who have been named in this story have a shred of credibility.
    John Mc Keague, Gusty Spence, Murphy, Bates.

  48. From Beano

    Tain Bo... certainly didn't intend to shine an almost heroic light in the UVF prisoners on that night. Thing is which I'm not sure a lot of people get... Not everyone wanted to remain passive.... There were those who wanted to fight... There were those who would not fight even if ordered too... But in all honesty my belief is that the majority were glad when decision was made to stay put. As I say Gusty preferred the threat if violence over the actual thing. Plum explains another incident in his book when the UDA attempted to shoot a UVF man but attacked the wrong van when there could have been a confrontation... Similarly on another occasion when screws wanted a prisoner removed for some indiscretion and the Army became involved. I was in Magilligan when both occurred but have been told that fighting was close on both occasions. In the incident that Tookplace when 11 and 12 switched cages and we did engage with the Army gusty wasn't there... He was in 19..the decision to fight back was taken by McKeague.

    Frankie... Look forward to you engaging again and I know Primo will look forward to questions. I had a long term sort of friendship with Jock Hohan that stretched back to Magilligan...

  49. Tain Bo,

    I too try to read stuff in neutral gear. I believe everyone has a story and an account to give of the happenings in war torn Ireland and they have a right to be heard!

    From Beano Niblock's introduction I knew how the entire tale was going to go.

    Beano must have been aware of the camp talks and that the whole place was standing on borrowed time.

    He might not have been privy to the order to burn.
    But he must have been aware that an agreement had been reached whereby a disorderly screw could be asked to vacate a compound.
    He must also have been aware that an agreement had been reached, whereby the army was not allowed to enter the camp.

    The fact that the army had returned on the 14th, had already heightened tensions, add this to the fact that the Republican O/C was refused permission to diffuse the situation through dialogue and you have a recipe for disaster!

    Did Beano Niblock know this? I should imagine he did.
    There is a book called the 'Burning of Long Kesh and the Murder of Hugh Coney'
    Written By Fr Murray and Faul. The entire episode is documented and is written in conjunction with medics and inspectors. Maybe it's all a Provo conspiracy written to cover up the fact that Republicans had nothing better to do than raze the place.

    I did find the mention of Murphy and Bates as volunteers gross, but I could have even sickeningly digested that, if I had of believed this was written with credence.
    Instead I felt it was similar to Gusty's excuse for getting himself out of the British Army, dodgy!

  50. Come off it! Are seriously suggesting that those who have been named in this story have a shred of credibility.
    John Mc Keague, Gusty Spence, Murphy, Bates.

    Gerry Adams scap Donaldson .... Halloween horror story in there somewhere

  51. So like your namesake you are against it (what ever it is...) I know the password was swordfish.. Whats it now?

  52. This comment has been removed by the author.

  53. I deleted my last comment which was a response to Larry's post.

    I mistakenly thought he was suggesting I was defending Adams and Co.
    So I apologise!

  54. Beano,

    I factored in the human aspect reading your memories the same would apply to a street riot there would be those at the front and those slightly to the rear and many more would be further back if not offside altogether.

    It would be logical that camp talks took place at the high level and reasonable to assume that loyalist leaders were well aware of republican intent.
    It would also be safe to say that loyalist leaders were aware of the manpower of republicans and forged a deal that would at least get a guarantee from republicans that loyalists would not end up on the receiving end.

    An agreement of sorts makes sense otherwise republicans would have without doubt attacked the nearest enemy which would be the loyalist prisoners.
    It could have been a mutual interest deal as a war between prisoners would have meant not only would the Kesh go up but it also would have escalated to the streets.

    When it blew up the loyalist leaders probably pulled a flanker knowing the republicans were busy as even your own account suggests there was plenty of loyalists freely moving about the camp. I am not disputing those that did leave the sanctuary of the safety in numbers in a hut didn’t assume some risk or that certain individuals had to assert some semblance of control amidst the chaos.
    At some point someone should have twigged on that the republicans were on the offensive against the system I believe they viewed the way all prisoner were being treated as unnecessary brutality and inhuman.

    In a sense your leaders let your side down and basically were saying let the system get away with inflicting any punishment or brutality they want too I am sure there were more than a few loyalist prisoners who wanted to get wired into the system and at least gain a sense of satisfaction if not some justice by not being punching bags for the sadistic screws.

    On the opposite end the provos had more to fear and had no expectations of being able to stand their ground when the heavy squads weighed in, no shame in that as their objective was complete and for one night they held the camp with sticks and bars but the more important psychological victory was achieved an utter embarrassment to the security forces and the Brit cabinet.

    This was a more important victory even though they understood they would be foolish to take makeshift weapons to a gunfight never mind the fact that by time the Brits came the republicans would have been both mentally and physically drained and running on empty.
    The Brit injustice system had both its eyes blackened and those that delivered the punches deserve praise for standing up to the brutal jail regime.

    Beano, as with all your articles and accounts they always get my attention mainly the way they are vividly crafted and they are part of our history and that value alone deserves a fair reading.
    I may not be in agreement with all but always come out a wee bit wiser reading or talking with the ordinary folk on the other side of the fence.

  55. Nuala,

    it is no easy task to read an account from the other-side especially as many years have rolled past.
    I don’t think Beano was intentionally setting a theme but merely recounting how he remembered the event from a loyalist perspective.

    For example I would find Beano more honest in his recollections pitted against Gerry Adams and his accounts of anything.

    It is debatable what the foot-soldiers knew in either camp tension and fear would fuel speculation the fuse was already lit but who knew for sure when it would go off.
    The dynamics alone would raise the tension in this case the primary enemy would be the screws and then we have not just sworn enemies’ but proven enemies in close quarters.

    I would assume the provos made a deal with the loyalists and the loyalist benefited from it. How that assumed deal was relayed to the loyalists is debatable but the outcome may provide us with a clue.
    We can safely say if the provos guaranteed the loyalists would come to no harm from them, then the evidence would say the provos held to their word.

    If the loyalists agreed to burn the dump down that may well have been a good bluff on their part as the evidence would suggest they reneged looking further ahead they would have understood their involvement would bring more trouble their way both inside and outside the camp.

    When it ignited naturally the loyalists holed up out of fear as their enemies were now basically in control.
    The issue for the loyalists would be fear and trust but that trust may have been misplaced in their own leaders who undoubtedly would have been in self-preservation-mode and looking as usual for the easy way out.

    I am sure there would have been many a young loyalist who would have got wired in if allowed as revenge would have been sweet and putting the boot into the system would have give them some sort of dignity and satisfaction, instead their leaders had them holed up as it was better for them to suffer at the hands of the screws than to prove they were soldiers willing to fight the common enemy and the brutal system.

    Yes, it is odd to think of Lenny as not being malevolent I would think him and Basher would have been as far back in a hole they could find his yellow streak was no secret.

    As for Gusty I think he preferred to play soldier rather than be one.

    As well written as the account is I wouldn’t view it as the gospel it is for the time that has past an extremely detailed account of one man’s firsthand recollection.
    If nothing else it validates and justifies the provos and their actions. It is akin to asking who started the pogroms of 69 they will always say it was us and at that time I can relate to Beano’s night of fear as I lived in a large loyalist area so had more than a few nights of feeling the fear of the mob.

    I can understand your position on the issue though the provos won the war and lost the battle not even the dummy tits could deny the courage displayed by the men behind the wire, well at least the ones who would not hole up in the face of adversity.

    All the best

  56. Grouch

    Contact Mackers for my email address. send him a message 'not' for publication and he will email you my details. See you in Galway for tae and scones in Eyre Square Tuesday 18th 'high-noon' ?

  57. Reading some of the comments on this site over the last week has been a bit over the top. Anti Sinn Fein sentiment has given way to people blindsiding and ridiculing the whole republican movement post 69. The emergence of the provos was inevitable and necessary. The problem lies in that all military organisations are open and appealing to sociopaths. Trying to maintain control in such circumstances is impossible. How Sinn Fein has reacted to these scenarios has been depressingly predictable, but, while S.F are what they are. I will have no part in tarnishing the whole R.M or the Belfast brigade for that matter on the actions of a few individuals no matter how disgusting the actions of these individuals are. Anthony on another matter I tried to write something on the proclamation but it just seemed like gibberish to me, it is a hard subject to do justice to.

  58. Tain Bo,
    I never regarded those people as the 'other side'
    I often wonder did the Black people in Mississippi regard the Klu Klux Klan as the other side, or just a warped arm of a sick deep rooted hatred?

    Listening to sectarian monsters being woven into a story with a degree of credibility, I find chilling.
    I might be out of step with popular opinion on this, but that's how I feel.

    Spence spent years fuelling what eventually ignited here.
    Too sick to fight in the army. Not too sick to roam the streets murdering totally innocent and vulnerable people.

    That's what gets me the vulnerability factor. Yet, it didn't give me any satisfaction to think, they too felt vulnerable at the time of the burning , although I imagined it should have.

    Of course Beano is entitled to tell his memory and there is no argument in relation as to how well it was told.
    But then, the Charge of the Light Brigade was told well,until scientific and historical scrutiny blew the Brits version out of the water.

    As for believing Beano or Gerry?
    That's an interesting one. Because, I honestly believe Beano is engaged in quite a bit of cover up throughout this story.

    The man is a play write and while he should be commended, as it's no mean fête, his ability to conjure up the artificial would not entirely be amiss.

    In my opinion, that cover up, was in part to deflect from the bravery of those who fought, and also in part to provide an interesting scenario for those who did not.

    On a final note! I have to acknowledge, that you put your points across a lot more tempered and fair than I did and I can't fault your over all take on this.

  59. David Higgins,

    Very well said!

    It would say you wrote a great piece on the Proclamation, because anything you have ever posted has been very well written.

  60. David,

    with a freedom to write site over the top comments are going to feature. We allow them without endorsing them. We prefer that people conduct debate robustly but civilly and that they do so in their own name. We might need to change our position to cut out some of the less useful contributions. Although in the above debate there is nothing we would cut out. I am talking about other material that comes through. Often we remind the commenter tat it is not the way to go but we try to block nothing. Where it is sheer bollix we throw it into the Bates & Wilkes section.

    Feel under no pressure about the Proclamation but like Nuala, I think you would have done us a great piece.

  61. "I often wonder did the Black people in Mississippi regard the Klu Klux Klan as the other side, or just a warped arm of a sick deep rooted hatred?

    Listening to sectarian monsters being woven into a story with a degree of credibility, I find chilling.
    I might be out of step with popular opinion on this, but that's how I feel."


    You feel that people from working class loyalist areas are comparable to the KKK and that people from an working class republican background are comparable to the black people of the deep south of the USA? That is how your post reads and if true it portrays a deeply sectarian hatred on your part.

    Certainly Bates, Murphy etc were sectarian monsters, but then so were the Provos. People like Bic Mcfarlane had absolutely no problem with gunning down Protestant men and women in the Bayardo Bar. Today he is held up as a hero in the republican community.

    How do you get your head around that?

  62. "The emergence of the provos was inevitable and necessary."

    It was neither. It was though completely counterproductive. Without it the arument for a united Ireland would be extremely difficult to resist. Because of it the possibility has all but gone.

    And for what? So that monsters like Adams could parade around the word as 'peace makers'?

  63. Cue Bono,

    I wasn't speaking about the ordinary people and I think anyone with a shred of sense would have gathered that.

    Bayardo Bar! Didn't the bold Lenny joke with the people who carried it out he had just left the pub?

    There is a mile of difference between retaliating to the mass murder of your own community and cutting up innocent people.

    Uncle Gusty was murdering in this area isince 1966,

    As I said, too sick for soldering but not too sick for sectarian murdering.

    Then the butcher boys Cue Bono! Do you really want to go there?

    Yes I do view our people as being at the mercy of the merciless.

    The first person I ever heard describe them as the KKK was an English Chief Constable ??

  64. So you are happy enough to justify sectarian slaughter when republicans do it. Fair enough. Perhaps you are closer to the KKK way of thinking than you would like to believe.

    The method of murdering people is irrelevant btw. The people who were shoveled into plastic bags on Bloody Friday had just as much right to life as those who had their throats cut by Murphy and co. I'll hazard a guess though that you don't view Brendan Hughes as being a sectarian monster.

  65. 'Cue' don't be too hard on David (Higgins) for there is indeed some truth to what he says.

    (My sense is that David is a much younger man than I and perhaps you ... a younger man, like many others, trying to make sense out a difficult and complex history).

    Just in case you're even already tempted to go to a defensive position I'd ask you to bare with me and remain as open as you can!

    We all arrive into this existence at a location and time that's pretty much not of our own making. If you and I Cue had been switched at birth our lives in all likelihood would have been significantly different to the ones we've lived. We all, or at least so it seems, have to play the hand that fate and faith have dealt us.

    And to that extent life has a predetermined quality to it ... all the world a stage and all the men and women merely players. Thus we find ourselves acting out roles scripted by others.

    In fairness such 'predetermined-ness' must be applied across the entire cast of players in our recent hostilities. Viewed from an existential frame (existence before essence rather than essence before existence) invocations of blame are ultimately absurd.

    Viewed from such a perspective I hope that you might come to see that the actions of both republicans and loyalists were unavoidable. And even though it took some time for many to recognise and accept, both were also essentially unjustifiable too.

    So I hope we can agree that David is partially right. And hopefully he can, or will come to a place, where he can acknowledge the unjustifiably of what followed on to the 'unavoidability' of predetermined circumstances.

    The past is past, it was both unavoidable and unjustifiable.
    Those of us who can integrate such conundrums have a duty to practise tolerance and forbearance and to make sure history does not repeat itself.

  66. Cue Bono
    Without being offensive it has to be case of Whatever?

    The days of us being slaughtered without an answer died with the RIC.

    Probably best summed up in Mr Ervine's grisly analysis 'a return serve'

    Basically what he's saying is , the measure you give is returned, and just maybe those who poured into Catholic areas in 1969 to murder wholesale should have thought about that!

    As for anything else, I'll leave you to hazardly guess it.

    Maidin Mhaith .

  67. @Cue Bono
    You will notice on this site that many republicans view their violence as somehow morally superior to loyalist violence. I suppose it is to be expected. There is very little reference to the futility of it all because, as you said in an earlier post, there probable would have been a united Ireland by now if there had been no IRA violence. Hume recognised this; Adams didn't until it was too late.

  68. From Beano

    Just a couple of points in answer to the latter comments. The point I was making Tain Bo --- does indeed cover riot situations and it was common to find some at the front-some in the middle and some very definitely bringing up the rear. I don’t doubt much of your supposition in that the loyalist leadership at the time of the fire may have been in receipt of information the rest of us didn’t. My memory tells me that in those days we had quite a few briefings when things were happening to fill us in on what was going on. However we may have been told just what we needed to know. On the theory that through the Camp Council that at least Gusty would have been aware of an imminent burning I disagree. Again it is only my thoughts based on what I remember of the time but I can tell you that it came as a surprise to the vast majority of rank and file when the camp started burning that night. Everyone including myself knew that there was a real potential that it could happen..but we didn’t see it coming that night. In fact up until the incident in 13 the protests and stuff were less than they had been for a while. On the safety side of things I also don’t feel that safe passage was “sought” by the Loyalists during the burning-specifically. Since the campaign for segregation going back to 72 there was an unwritten agreement that there was a no-strike policy from both sides and by and large this was adhered to. So I believe that this was enough to suggest that we would be safe enough. Although in the situation that arose on the night of the 15th October it was difficult not to be fearful.
    As I said quite early in this thread I have no hidden agenda in writing my recollection. If Nuala think I am a flowery writer that’s fine. It’s the way I write. But it’s not to dicky up or disguise some underhand message. My account is how I seen things at the time—how I remembered them then and how I recall them now. It’s interesting to note that she knew of Murphys butchering intentions way back in 71/72. How? Murphy first went into the Crum in September 72 on a murder charge which he subsequently was acquitted for around April/May 73. He was re-arrested and interned. What did Nuala know in 1971 that the rest of us didn’t? I also wouldn’t get drawn into the notion that only the loyalist side nurtured psychos. Nor would I get drawn into naming people. Can I finish by saying that no matter how lively the debate is still only a debate....and I certainly won’t be falling out with anyone over it.

  69. cue bono,
    The emergence of the provos was never about a united Ireland or creating political monsters like Adams it was about defense plain and simple. While people were philosophising and pontificating about a utopian united Ireland what were the people under a sustained attack in Belfast supposed to do? It is easy years after the event to apply a moral compass and offer the simplistic ideal that all violence is wrong and counter productive. It flies in the face of human nature. It is a basic human trait to defend ourselves without it we wouldn't survive. It is also a right. So i ask again what were people supposed to do?
    Peter, For me it's not about justifying some violence while condemning another, although it's ingrained to be more defensive about your own side, and lets face it, easier to be critical of your enemies than yourself, so in a way your right. However if you had the situation you had in the six counties in 69 anywhere on the globe violence would be inevitable. I think that is an undeniable part of the human psyche.

  70. David Higgins
    My Da in law was brought up as a catholic (now atheist) in the Lower Falls and he refutes all republican claims. He says that he never had a problem getting a job and that Paisley and Adams got exactly what they wanted. Both stirred the pot and reaped the whirlwind. After reading Maloney's Secret History I challenged him again saying that he must be wrong (The Dark's testimony is compelling), his reply was that Adam's da and his mob were no good wasters and that the majority of catholics didn't back them. He asserts that there would have been a UI except that IRA violence made it impossible. I am not saying that the conditions for armed struggle didn't exist in West Belfast circa 69 nor doubting your personal history, I'm just saying that (like Beano's piece) there are other versions of perceived truth. My Da in law blames the IRA for shaming Ireland and blocking unification, I suspect most nationalists would agree with him.

  71. Peter,
    Your father in law's entitled to his perception of history but for me only a madman would argue against the six counties being an apartheid, sectarian state. In current affairs there is a fixation with Adams and the provos but if it wasn't him somebody else would have took the mantle. Where there is injustice sooner or later you'll get resistance. When you get resistance, carnage isn't far behind. For what it is worth I don't think a united Ireland after the partition treaty was ever feasible the Brits got what they set out for in 21, they divided republicanism and the rest is history.

  72. Nuala,

    I didn’t view them as the other-side but that is how it was an is to an extent today the sides were/are still defined that way as in a tribal war between taigs and prods courtesy of the brit black propaganda and media.

    I can understand how you feel about the butchers but Murphy had yet to hatch from that egg and giving his cowardice when he did it would be safe to assume on the night of the burning he would have displayed no bravery a pattern that would follow him until he was put to sleep.

    On the scales of sectarianism the loyalists would outweigh republicans but republicans did engage in sectarianism so the loyalists would have their own version of republican monsters.
    Beano would have no way to predict that Murphy would go on to become the leader of the most ruthless sectarian gang the north would know. His reign of terror was not isolated both communities lived in fear of them.

    I don’t view Gusty as anything but another tin soldier who not unlike Murphy didn’t think much further than the end of his nose. Murdering the innocent would become their modus operandi incapable of taken their fight to the provos they happily settled for any taig will do.

    I would view it as the loyalist being holed up in a modern day Alamo heavily outnumbered and in a sense waiting for the brits whose justice system sent them to jail to arrive and save them not that there is anything to suggest they were in danger but I am sure in their night of fear seeing their captors arrive brought a sense of relief.

    I don’t see a cover-up his account is well detailed from the eyes of a loyalist prisoner and I assume if we did not live under the watchful eye of the security forces accounts would probably be more detailed.
    Certain freedoms are not afforded as those who may wish to record our history are up against those who prefer that history be silenced.

    I would think there is more quiet admiration for the republicans who put the boot into the system his recollections are from a loyalist view his enemies were burning the dump down it would be plausible for them to believe that once the provos had nothing left to burn they might attack the loyalists and as Beano points out not every loyalist would be up for a fight.

    Being a play write is not a factor Beano would not be privy to republican intent it becomes clear that he is concerned for the loyalist prisoners and fearfully worried about what the provos were doing and rightfully so more fearful of what they might do.

    I would be surprised if debates on these issues didn’t get a bit heated and in my opinion on this one there hasn’t been anything out of the ordinary said.

  73. Beano,

    I have no intention of falling out with you to the contrary looking forward to your next article. That is all it is a lively debate that naturally will have flare ups and questions.

    I agree with you that Gusty would not have known the exact time but would have knowledge that something was going to give the same would apply to the UDA leaders what the foot-soldiers in both camps knew is a different matter. It would be safe to assume that not all provo prisoners knew much else than something might kick off.
    On the night of the burning I would say fear was commonplace amongst all prisoners the provos could only guess at what the brit reaction would be.

    I believe you highlighted the fear on that night quite well and if anyone said they had no fear that night then chances are they were not there even the brits entering the camp would have been running on fear and adrenaline.

    I didn’t come away thinking you have an agenda nor do I think you were pulling a Van Gough as I said it is vividly crafted and if read in the context of the time and not through the eyes of 2014 then we all know there is nothing rosy either inside or out and the whole place was fearful of what is next.

    Anything relating to the butchers will always stir bad feelings within republican circles but on the night of the burning he was still half a taig Lenny there would be no way to predict what he would become.
    Agreed the extreme violent environment nurtured many to do things they ordinarily would not contemplate.
    Your account of (A View from the Boards) would suggest some psychopaths cruelly murdered Paddy Joe Crawford and a comment from Dixie would suggest others turned a blind eye.

    At face value Beano your accounts are important as they are part of the history unfortunately we might not get full accounts for understandable reasons but none the less any account from either-side should not be dismissed unless there is something more substantial to provide reason to dismiss it.

  74. "The emergence of the provos was never about a united Ireland or creating political monsters like Adams it was about defense plain and simple."

    David Higgins,

    That is an interesting interpretation of the creation of the Provos, but it flies in the face of a few basic facts.

    The Provos were created as a Hiberno/Nationalist counter balance to the Marxist Officials. Their declared reason for existing was to drive the 'Brits' out of Ireland.

    The British army were on the streets of Belfast to prevent 'pogroms'. They came in at the express request of nationalist politicians and their presence rendered any requirement for defence as unneccesary. The Provos of course went on to attack them creating a cycle of violence which brought the army into conflict with the people living in the areas which harboured the Provisional IRA.

    The Provos strategy of defence led directly to the deaths of hundreds of Catholics. The very people they were supposed to be defending.

    In short they achieved absolutely none of their aims whether stated at the time or since invented.

  75. "The emergence of the provos was never about a united Ireland or creating political monsters like Adams it was about defense plain and simple."

    David Higgins,

    That is an interesting interpretation of the creation of the Provos, but it flies in the face of a few basic facts.

    The Provos were created as a Hiberno/Nationalist counter balance to the Marxist Officials. Their declared reason for existing was to drive the 'Brits' out of Ireland.

    The British army were on the streets of Belfast to prevent 'pogroms'. They came in at the express request of nationalist politicians and their presence rendered any requirement for defence as unneccesary. The Provos of course went on to attack them creating a cycle of violence which brought the army into conflict with the people living in the areas which harboured the Provisional IRA.

    The Provos strategy of defence led directly to the deaths of hundreds of Catholics. The very people they were supposed to be defending.

    In short they achieved absolutely none of their aims whether stated at the time or since invented.

  76. David Higgins

    Further to our earlier exchange and Cue Bono's observations, in today's Tele Malachi O'Docherty refers to republican "pogrom myth". My Da-in-law is not the only west Belfast catholic to disagree with the Provo take on the early Troubles it seems.

  77. cue bono,
    I've got to disagree here. The provos weren't created as a counter balance to the sticks, they were created because the sticks were posted missing. I don't know where you get your basic facts but to highlight the word pogroms as if they didn't happen is massively disrespectful. As for the provos killing Catholics that's a fact of history but I am not talking about that, i am talking about the circumstances that were in place at the time that lead to the creation of the provos in the first place. People talking about the creation of the provos as some preordained masterplan have lost the plot. Popular uprisings have no fertility without the egg of injustice to nurture them. One final thought for all free staters, unionists and anybody else pointing out the horrors of the provos and shaking their heads at people who participated in the struggle, maybe show some compassion to the beleaguered nationalists of the six counties from 21 through to 69 and you wouldn't have had to deal with the provos, It's very easy to be critical when your not under threat.
    I don't mind people being critical of the provos it's become an easy target but I must admit i get irate when all these latter day pacifists telling people how it should have been done after the event. I have a special contempt for the free state politicians who i've heard spouting stuff along the same lines as you about the provos being detriment to a united Ireland, this from the pro treaty division who completely abandoned their comrades in the six counties, who stayed quiet about the injustices up till the explosion of 69, who stumbled and stammered after bloody Sunday offered fuck all during the blanket or hunger strike and then condemn violence of republicans. Shower of Redmondites.

  78. Peter,
    This is what happened, we all got together decided right we need a war. So what well do is burn our own homes. get thousands of actors to play r.u.c/loyalists mobs, create poverty and pretend to the globe that we have no basic civil rights in the biggest propaganda stunt ever, because let's face it we are all mad war hungry fenian bastards! Grow up.

  79. ”The provos weren't created as a counter balance to the sticks, they were created because the sticks were posted missing.”
    The split was due to abstentionism.

  80. David Higgins,

    A couple of points. You really need to look up the definition of what a pogrom is.

    As to the Sticks being posted missing. Well that was a year before and the British army had been brought in to keep the two communities apart. Charlie Haughey and holy Catholic Ireland didn't give a shit about that, their concern was that a bunch of Marxists were in charge of the IRA.

    The people who set up the Provos wanted a war. They have been very open about that. They wanted to create the circumstances where the communities tore each other apart and made Northern Ireland completely untenable, so that the Brits would leave tales betwixt legs.

    That is why McKee and Denis Donaldson and co's first action was opening fire on an orange parade killing three Protestants. Guaranteed to invite retaliation. The last thing in the world they wanted was peace. They wanted to create mayhem.

    I wasn't just referring to the IRA killing Catholics btw. I was referring to the fact that their actions led to Catholics being killed by the security forces and by loyalists. If their raison d'etre was the defence of nationalist lives then they achieved the exact opposite of that.

  81. Daithi,
    I have no interest in debating the split in any detail. My original point was to cue bono was given the political and social environment at the time an armed republican force was inevitable. He argued otherwise but the fact is the republican community were looking for a defence force, the provos took that position in earnest after the curfew, internment, bloody Sunday etc. Now that armed republicans have become pariahs everybody has their own version of history and armed republicans are always the bad guys. The fact is the provos, atrocities and all had massive support all over the nationalist six counties, their political wing unfortunatley still has. Over the last few weeks after the outing of the depraved bastards within the provos it has become fashionable by some to almost rubbish the whole movement but personally as a whole i was immensely proud of the volunteers and will always be so. There are rapists among every military organisation on earth, the fact there was some among the ra is no basis to slander men who risked their lives for their people and communities. We are always quick to highlight when Sinn Fein distort history. A few on here like the two above implying the pogroms never happened for example are just as bad, as are the ones tarnish the whole Belfast brigade by the actions of perverts. The cover ups are a disgrace but the decisions of the elites in all organisations are hidden from the rank and file. So how can the actions of Finucane etc tarnish the volunteers of an army that doesn't even exist anymore? I don't like agreeing with the peado protector but he's right when he says that free state politicians are using this to tarnish the reputation of the r.m. I will not allow my disgust for sinn fein to close my ears to the unjustified slandering of a movement.

  82. David Higgins

    With respect, I am not doubting your version of history. How can I when I wasn't there? I am pointing out that there are catholics who lived in West Belfast in 69-70 who say the pogroms didn't happen the way the RM say they did. Malachi O'Docherty called it the republican "pogrom myth" not me.

  83. when is a pogrom not a pogrom and when is a myth not a myth.

  84. "He argued otherwise but the fact is the republican community were looking for a defence force, the provos took that position in earnest after the curfew, internment, bloody Sunday etc."

    David Higgins,

    None of those things would have happened if the Provos hadn't started killing people. They are perfect examples of the counterproductive nature of Provo violence.

  85. Cue bono,
    I am pretty sure pogrom means organized persecution. If that didn't happen it the six counties then i am living in a parallel universe. In your world does a thousand have to be murdered before we can use the word? Of course the provo leadership hit back against loyalists who else were the defending the community from? I don't get your point here. I said that the creation of the provos or any armed group was necessary to which you disagreed. All you've said since then is the provos killed people and it ended disastrously. Everybody knows that. I'll finish by asking again what were ordinary people supposed to do faced with such a threat?

  86. David Higgins,

    I think that the Jewish people who suffered pogroms during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries would be fairly dismissive of what you call a Pogrom. To put it into perspective the Protestants living along the border certainly suffered more than Belfast Catholics did prior to the creation of the Provos.

    The point I am making is that the Provos did not protect the nationalist population. They did the exact opposite in fact by their actions which led to the Falls Curfew, Bloody Sunday and the loyalist murder campaign.

  87. Cue,

    I think you might find it useful to reconsider the timeline of the genesis of this phase of conflict.

    In the mid '60's, despite some heightened fervour around the 50th Anniversary of The Easter Rising, The IRA in reality, was on the verge of collapse after the failure of 'Operation Harvest'. The border campaign had never achieved any significant measure of popular support and was terminated after internment was introduced North and South (Significant co-operation emerging between both States).

    An uneducated section of of unionism was roused into action by the hateful 'Dr.' Paisley who resented that co-operation and efforts of Terence O'Neill (and Sean Lemass?) to facilitate a respectful integration of non-unionists into the Northern State.

    The rest as they say is history.

    In the interest of accuracy, accuracy and clarity rather than that of apportioning blame I attach the following links for your consideration;

  88. if orangies had that done to them they wouldnt be using the word pogrom theyd be calling it genocide.

  89. Henry Joy,

    I don't dispute your timeline at all and I agree that Paisley bears a huge portion of the blame for what was to come. He massively helped to stoke the flames.

    It is though a fact that there were within the IRA people such as McKee, Cahill, O'Connell etc who saw the opportunity to exploit the heightened feelings that surrounded the street protests, riots etc.

    There were also elements within the Irish Govt who saw the opportunity to split the IRA and replace the Marxists with the more traditional Hiberno/Nationalist Provos.

    All of that combined to make the perfect storm. The things which most excite republican outrage, the Falls Curfew, Internment, Bloody Sunday etc all came about as a direct result of the actions of the Provos.

    They created situations which led to nationalists believing they needed defence, and then magically popped up purporting to be that defence. In reality their actions led only to the deaths and impoverishment of more nationalists.

    In their minds that didn't matter though as their aim was to drive out the Brits. Something they never stood the remotest chance of doing. They had no Casus Belli.

  90. Cue,
    We are miles apart and never going to reach a middle ground, so I am disengaging. I will say laying the blame for the violence at the door of the provos is one dimensional nonsense bordering on indoctrination. Anyway even though we are diametrically opposed on this issue, I thank you for the replies. All the best.

  91. This comment has been removed by the author.

  92. grouch..It's fashionable for revisionist historians to try and rewrite the Irish history.
    Little do the Orangeys know that it is a two way street.
    I have often wondered what the Brits would think of the Orange tribe if they ever learned the truth about what the "loyal" tribe did during World War two..aka brits darkest hour.
    The truth is they did feck all to be Loyal about.
    Absenteeism was rife. strikes were common and not many rushed to sign up for the "crown forces"
    With "loyality" like that. Who needs enemies?
    The Orange sphincther muscle must be twitching in case it ever became common knowledge of the Brits.
    The Brit media must in their pocket.
    Coz I have never read one article about it.

  93. David,

    Thank you for the well mannered discourse. It is a tribute to this website that views like mine are allowed to go uncensored. If this was a SF run site they wouldn't see the light of day.

  94. Cue.

    you seem more than happy to point out the speck in your neighbours eye.

    I may be misunderstanding you but it seems to me that you wish to avoid the recorded sequence of events.

    Yes, defeated and subdued IRA veterans were there to exploit any instability.
    Yet you avoid acknowledging that the UVF were already feeding into that ... beginning with sectarian attacks and murders in 1966 ... and following up with clandestine black operations in 1969, operations designed to create an impression that the IRA were much more of a threat than they were in reality.

    Maybe I'm missing something Cue but to me your reasoning doesn't fit the historical narrative.

    Surely it could be legitimately argued that if Gusty and his comrades hadn't risen to take Paisley's bait events would have in all likelihood evolved much differently?

    Their provocateur scheming in April '69 turned the heat up considerably.
    And probably the meltdown which began in earnest the following August would not have happened without that input?

  95. Henry,

    There is a reason why the antics of Spence and co circa 1966 are not regarded as the start of the conflict, and it is that the RUC had arrested him and put him in prison for 40 years. The Provos did not begin their campaign because of the UVF. They began it because the civil disturbances gave them the opportunity. Civil disturbances which they helped to forment.

  96. From Beano

    Henry Joy

    Hindsight is undoubtedly the best weapon we will ever have ... and in the context of the conflict here it is so easy to apply it to suit whatever suits really. I understand your reasoning behind the notion that the UVF emergence in the mid sixties can be seen as the spark that started it all off. Fuelled by the sabre rattling and scaremongering by many mainstream unionists—not JUST Paisley. The theory that the UVF involvement in the pipeline explosions of 69 was to create the impression that the IRA were not a spent force is also one that holds a lot of water. Loyalist thinking though could be that even if the IRA were in the doldrums in the mid sixties they were still recruiting and the fact is that they were prepared to take on a new campaign every decade or so. This being the case do you believe that they would pass up an opportunity to get stuck in again behind the facade of the Civil Rights or PD stuff of 68/69? There is a widely held belief that they were quick to hijack both of these campaigns almost as soon as they had kicked off. We will never know what MIGHT have happened-or not-if—as you say Gusty and his comrades hadn’t risen to the bait. And since then it has been open to much conjecture. It’s—as always—a case of what narrative suits each of far do we go back etc: The further away from those days we get the less clear things become—in my opinion..and more importantly less and less people have the interest to care.

  97. Unfortunately Beano we can't rewind time nor history ... we can with hindsight learn from it though.
    If its coming across that I'm using hindsight as a 'weapon' I regret that ... for that wasn't my intention.
    I wouldn't rule out the possibility though that that's as much to do with partisan filters on yours and Cue's behalf as it is about as to how I express myself!

    Cue says "The things which most excite republican outrage, the Falls Curfew, Internment, Bloody Sunday etc all came about as a direct result of the actions of the Provos."
    That's patently not the whole story, nor anything close to the whole story and needs to be addressed and corrected.

    Anyone familiar with my stance on things and as expressed on threads here will know that of late I have come to the realisation that indeed Irish Republicanism had no 'Casus Belli.'
    That I choose to point out that Loyalism had none either is not just my prerogative ... it is closer to the truth too.

  98. Henry Joy,

    I'm not a loyalist and I am not here to justify the actions of loyalists which I find repugnant. It is a simple fact though that if the Provos had not launched their 'war' in the summer of 1970 there would have been no Falls curfew, internment and no Bloody Sunday.

    They claimed to be defending republican areas, but in fact their actions were directly responsible for bringing death and misery to them.

    Without them the British army could have gone home after the summer of 1970.

  99. OK Cue, lets say your interpretation is flawless (sigh) why then did so many fall in behind the Provo's ?

    None of the paramilitary groups, the Provisional IRA, the INLA nor any of the Loyalist gangs were immaculate conceptions; none were conceived without sin.

    Interrupting the timeline, as you do, we can create any narrative that suits a particular stance.
    We can, as you seem determined to do, justify our own biases.

    The whole sorry mess was both unavoidable and unjustifiable.
    If we are to avoid further hostilities, causes and motivation of all the players must be placed under scrutiny and addressed.
    Selective condemnations merely hinders such a process.

  100. Getting away from the thrust of the main piece at this point but had a few observations based on others’ comments.

    Just to lay my cards on the table I am not Irish and am also removed from the conflict generationally and geographically (well not anymore, ironically, as I live here now but until recently) and I am only giving my 2 cents based on my own readings:

    Cue Bono
    ‘It is though a fact that there were within the IRA people such as McKee, Cahill, O'Connell etc who saw the opportunity to exploit the heightened feelings that surrounded the street protests, riots etc’
    – Richard O’Rawe makes a similar point in the recent ‘Once Upon A Time’ documentary i.e. the enemy is right here on our doorstep, let’s take them on.

    Tain Bo
    ‘Anything relating to the butchers will always stir bad feelings within republican circles but on the night of the burning he was still half a taig Lenny there would be no way to predict what he would become’.
    – was there not sufficient rumour flying around that he was involved in more than one or two of the awful romperings that took place in North/West Belfast anytime from 1970-1972? It is surely conceivable that rumours and names could and would have got out to the local community, and by that logic Nuala stating that she and others knew who/what he was is hardly fanciful.

    Tain Bo
    ‘I don’t view Gusty as anything but another tin soldier who not unlike Murphy didn’t think much further than the end of his nose. Murdering the innocent would become their modus operandi incapable of taken their fight to the provos they happily settled for any taig will do’
    – Not that I am any expert but surely that is a slight mischaracterisation. Spence is indeed on the record with that statement but I think there is still some unexplored history there that we may now never know. It would seem his analysis underwent quite the shift some time between his imprisonment and the early 70s, for did the PUP not draft a document titled ‘Sharing Responsibility’ which outlined the principle of consent as early as 1972?