Count All British State Victims

Martin Galvin, a New York Attorney-At-Law, with a letter that featured in today's Irish News. in response to:

Patrick Murphy - Reality is we will never know the truth about most troubles killings - Feb.4th

A chara,

Who should be counted victims of British state killings? Criminal responsibility for unlawful killings does not stop at the one who pulled the trigger. Must we stop at British claims their state was only responsible for 10 percent of Troubles killings?

Patrick Murphy's (February 4th) insights on James Brokenshire's blinkered view of British crown killings, makes such questions inevitable. We may indeed never know the whole truth. However, decades of campaigns, legal fights, inquests, investigations by newspaper and television journalists, have unearthed hard-won truths about British collusion that were buried when British state victims were first counted at 10 percent. 

Surely it is time to count all British state victims, including those murdered jointly with loyalists before questioning how many crown force members would face prosecutions absent deliberate British impunity. 

The list begins with those hundreds of killings by British state forces admitted by crown officials. They may deny that shooting down unarmed victims at Ballymurphy and Bloody Sunday, or children with plastic bullets were crimes, but even Villiers and Brokenshire admit British state responsibility for this 10 percent.

The Military Reaction Force (MRF),as Patrick Murphy described, used British troopers wearing "civilian clothes to kill IRA members and civilians in no-warning shootings, mainly to inflame sectarian conflict". They are suspected of organizing the McGurk's Bar bombing. Why not add victims of undercover British troopers to state victims?

The British Army's Field Reconnaissance Unit(FRU) and other crown forces, hired agents who carried out their murders. How can the state avoid responsibility for murders by its hirelings? How many hundreds of loyalist murders were carried out by British agents and informers? Include victims the Steaknife probe will add to Britain's 10 percent.

These murders were carried out with weapons the British wholesaled to loyalists through Brian Nelson, sieved through UDR barracks, and even made special deliveries through agents like William Stobie to kill Pat Finucane. The Dublin-Monaghan bombs took crown expertise. Add Glenanne Gang or East Tyrone murders by off-duty UDR. Add intelligence, targeting, supervision, plus restrictive notices removing patrols that might block planned murder routes.

British law counts those who pay for, direct, plan, provide weapons, identify targets, conspire, cover-up, solicit, or otherwise collude in murders as jointly criminally responsible for murder. How many of more than a thousand loyalist murder victims should, legally, be counted jointly as British state collusion victims?

It is time to rewrite the British fairy tale narrative of the past, where state killings amounted to only 10 percent. Give hard-won truth to their victims' families!                       


Martin Galvin


  1. Martin Galvin is every bit as selective and blinkered as Brokenshire. He has left out the reality of known instances of IRA/British collusion (Stakeknife's immunity was not an isolated instance) because to address that would require him to consider an uncomfortable reality that violent dissidents are sufficiently controlled by the Brits. Brit informer/agent handlers did not suddenly become redundant -the Brits invested heavily in undercover work and in many ways probably perfected it. On basis that Dissident attacks show a level of incompetence and ineffectiveness it would be stupidly naive to think that they know what they are doing to insulate themselves from being infiltrated and controlled by the Brits. Dissidents themselves have realised the possibility that Adams, McGuinnees, Maskey and more have been long time British agents but they can't vouch for the make up of their own members.

    I would like to see a true count of all British State Victims but that means those killed through republican collusion with the Brits or Loyalists are not left out of the finally tally.

  2. I struggle with the idea that Republicans colluded with the state or it's other actors as there was no common pursuit or shared interests.Vols in the IRA ranks were agents who advanced the states goals but these were not republican goals.They actually worked against republican goals. But indeed from the point of view of British soldiers they should want to know the nature of these links as their bosses had a number in mind for an acceptable number for them to be killed in order for people like MMG to maintain his leadership role (I'm thinking of the revelations in the Oatey letter).

  3. I'm with David on this, infiltratration and manipulation are not the same as collusion - which involves joint enterprise.

  4. DD

    There is that angle but I doubt British Military leaders were alone in sacrificing an acceptable number under their command to die. When one considers how the Brits used informers and agents to move people into or out of key positions in the IRA then you cannot separate out that such moves were beneficial for key republicans. I recall how a Tyrone IRA OC volunteered to work for the Brits -the Brits (or Derek Martindale specifically) turned him down... they obviously had enough that they could afford to turn down someone at that level who was volunteering to work for them. If you believe that Adams and McGuinness and other SF leaders were agents then it would be difficult to dismiss the idea that they likely would have had people killed who stood in their path to power -one need only consider how Ivor Bell escaped Adams' plan to have him executed back in the early 70s. I doubt Adams ever became a pacifist after that and so some would not have been as lucky as Bell.

  5. Christy, It reads like im saying I think they were agents, but the asset classfication is best with all the information we have on them. Have you got your Adams/Bell date right there, are you refering to 1985 (not the early 70's) or something I havent heard of?
    Another way of looking at this concept is Officer A who was passing information from Special Branch to Martin Meehan (they met at Waterworks first off), are we to think SB/IRA were colluding in this instance, or was it a rogue employee?

  6. Daithi D


    'I struggle with the idea that Republicans colluded with the state or it's other actors as there was no common pursuit or shared interests'.

    Give up that struggle Daithi immediately. Dispense with the romantic historical narrative of modern Irish history or any connection with it. The British with the arrival of Thatcher adopted the idea of combating the struggle/conflict in the north as a criminal enterprise, akin to LA gangs or the London under-world. Whilst prisoners removed from the reality of the outside word held steady in large part to the principle of political revolutionary struggle, scoundrels in sufficient number on the outside did not. They took to the Queens shilling like ducks to water.

    Unlike the much lauded SF tactic, Thatcher's policy / tactic was one that was very real and worked. It went hand in glove with the manipulation of self-interest and survival instinct amongst the ranks of the Provos. But this also facilitated the many malevolent scumbags and personal begrudgers and malcontents within the ranks to take revenge upon or simply cause ruination for supposed comrades as in the case of scap and many many others. It also facilitated sociopaths and egos. I tend to agree with Christy Walsh, the majority if not all of the so-called leadership were turned, long term agents and not merely agents of influence. Better than that, the lack of desire from those immediately below them in middle management positions to step in at various decisive points in the run up to 1998 also stinks to the high heaven. These people all bear a much greater responsibility for events than those alleged nutting squad victims. History will hold nothing but pity for those victims and contempt for the 'leadership' who now go to graveyards after breakfast to honour the IRA dead and the same day after an MLA Stormont expenses paid lunch, stand with the RUC and call for informers. There is no sense of contradiction in all of this. 


    One of the most profound statements I ever heard was from a woman totally unconnected politically who observed of her own community, 'better men went in than stayed out'. When young men were being told they would face jail or death and active service duration was at best expected to be 6 months, well they were being put on a conveyor belt for certain. A Provo tout fest conveyor belt making a pack of agents a fortune while railroading their own into jail. Angry but well meaning and intentioned for the most part, but never the less deluded young people, straight to jail or the grave yard. It was this IRA/British collusion that did that on an industrial scale. Our own mini version of 'war for profit' the minuscule 6 county version of the military industrial complex. There was little in the way of a republican family, much lauded by Adams. A number of republican families for certain, yes, which enjoyed an untouchable and unquestionable status, and we all know what his (Adams) own 'family' was like at this stage, don't we? But volunteers feared their own comrades far more than they did the Brits. That tells a story in itself. The RUC letting IRA informers go to certain death by the dozen but never a loyalist seemingly faced the same fate, that we know of that is. Just like with the shoot to kill operations. Thatcher was correct, it was a criminal issue, not on the part of the prisoners, but on the part of the leadership. The criminals are mostly in Armani drawing political salary and expenses today. Why do we need a re-run of any of that crap? The 26 counties carry on since 1921 and the DUP/SF mess in recent times should put that notion to bed. 

    I have time for so called dissidents for no other reason than the fact they don't speak with forked tongue. I see no mileage in their notion of armed struggle as it is a road to a Unionist gravy train on a fake security agenda and a waste of time for nationalist youth. It actually seems to me that people are wising up though, even ordinary unionists seem to be frustrated with the Orange card, or so it seems. This next election will tell a tale. Fingers crossed. It would be sweet irony and karma if Mike Nesbitt did well and the SDLP finally pegged the scoundrels in SF back. If the DUP/SF mob gets back in again then the electorate have surely only themselves to blame.

    I like Martin Galvin and the American connection. But it is likely best to let sleeping dogs alone here. Draw a line under it and let people move on. Scap, Adams, Morrison, Donaldson, McGuinness and all the rest not to mention Stormont and the DUP/SF pantomime, were never worth tuppence. Keep national historical heroes close to your hearts and enjoy history for what it is, history. But try not to confuse that with the present day shower who are self serving professional chancers.  

    Besides Martin, surely there's enough to be getting on with Stateside?

    Blending In – A groovy sad look at American Loss From Train

    Blending In – A groovy sad look at American Loss From Train Blending In – A groovy sad look at Americ...

  8. Larry, I appreciate your view here. Im not pursuing some purist notion of republicanism, more a mundane classification issue. I dont think Scap was wearing his republican hat when he was torturing vols he knew not be informants, so its a technical defination issue.I know the dictionary defination of collusion, but what wasnt a secret conspiracy in the North? I seem to be arguing about words alot on here, all i can say is from studying a degree in theoretical physics, if the variables change halfway through a proof, you cant solve anything, so im not being a troll on this (im worried im coming across as one).

  9. DD

    You are right about 85 and not 70s.

    You make the 'bad apple' analogy that was made to put distance between security force leaders and those under their command who colluded with loyalists -the higher ranks knew about it and facilitated it and there is no reason not to believe that the same sort of endorsements or tolerances resided in the republican leadership as it did with the security forces and their overlords in Whitehall. The question of 'who really ran the IRA' tends to channel one to immediately consider the Brits but the republican leadership exercised their own free will just like the foot soldiers who put their lives on the line.

    But regardless of the fine print on interpretation of what constitutes as collusion the fact is republicans killed or facilitated killings on behalf of the brits and those killing are part of any overall tally.

  10. Larry/Christy, In terms of speaking with forked tongues, I often wonder what would of happened if people like O Bradaigh and The Dark were more Machievalian or politcal in the dealings with the Adams faction. They were so principled they chose to walk away or start their own rather than pay lip service to a lie to remain and perhaps prise greater control. I think this about the agent/asset terminology. The fact is MMG remains beloved within the republican movement, and people will switch off if you class him an agent. I think the political move is to go with asset because it initially appears more sympathetic to him.The enthusiasm he has shown since 1997 in shedding republican sensibilities in his transition to banquetman, and over such a prolongued period (right up to his near death) indicate he wasnt acting under coercion, just really flawed thinking.
    I dont think the bad apple analogy holds here, Im asking where the republican counter party was in this conspiracy. At least in the examples we have seen to date, the word informer/agent/collaborater would easily suffice.

  11. Daithi D

    Don't be silly, tossing the odd turd into the mix and troll imitation is my forte occasionally. What I am trying to point out is that sociopaths at high levels in the IRA were facilitated by the security forces and maneuvered into positions over long periods of time. Scap was definitely wearing his republican hat while torturing people and executing them. Not to mention blocking recruits from joining. McGuinness standing on the steps of Stormont with the RUC Chief Constable was also wearing his republican hat chastising others for being traitors to Ireland. That encapsulated for me exactly how the SF/IRA leadership worked with the British behind the scenes, they are just confident enough now to have removed any threat to themselves doing so openly. McGuinness on the steps of Stormont and Scap interrogating lambs to the slaughter in secret. BOTH wearing their republican hats for their masters benefit. It is what they were/are paid for. Only Scap was forced out of the country for some crazy reason by their own logic.

    At another level, Derry got an inquiry into Bloody Sunday which McGiunness was credited with. The Ballymurphy people and Malaysian people of Batang Khali did not. In this respect I also think people getting sentences quashed and large compensation payouts all these years later smells extremely putrid. Many people were sentenced without evidence even being produced in court and no hope of rectification exists for them. When the Brits can ignore dozens of people for decades seeking justice, why overturn convictions and sentences served in the North? Are they all 'Danny Morrison's' who ended up in jail as a result of their handler's incompetence?

    Collusion is not an illusion, and it was across the board.

  12. Daithi D

    You are ignoring the existence of willing agents. Why do you hold that agents required blackmail or coercion to work for the British? I am sure there are varied and wide ranging reasons why people opted for that course of action. Your reference to Machiavelli I expect would go a long way in itself as an explanation for SF leadership motivation.

  13. What does it take for a Republican to turn at work for the British? Is it only financial gain?

    Surely those who turned could not have held Republican Ideology in the highest regard in the first place? Was this turn of events, the widespread infiltration of Agents always going to happen from say, the early 1970's?

  14. DD

    I am not caught up on what term is used agent/asset -the activities of either amount to collusion.

  15. Larry, it such a loaded term it worth getting beyond reasonable doubt proof. If you were condemned in court on such flimsy evidence, you would say it was an injustice. You might be right all the same, and I used to think it too. In terms of collusion, I find the narrower defination helps bring focus to other events. US talking head often 'concede' disbanding the Iraqi army was a mistake that lead to civil war in the occupation. Infact disbanding the army was a neccessary first step to install the structure that had served the British so well in the North : a sectarian police force with dual death squad membership being feed military grade intelligence for targets but neither strand overtly connnected to eachother. Same with the US in Columbias drug wars. They are following some template, its presence revealed not by paper trails but the absence of security checks etc. This gets obscured if everything is some form of collusion.

  16. Steve R,
    Denis Donaldson would put that theory to the test!

  17. Niall,

    I take your point, though he was coerced I would offer. Not him I am thinking of though.

    Did Scap really turn because of a simple fight? The others?

  18. Steve R,
    Agree that they all turn for various reasons and that they all hold varying degrees of commitment to their original ideology beforehand but mostly, if not the vast majority, they turn to save their own skins which in a round about way raises questions as to the degree of their initial commitment.
    Once they cross that line everything else, the effect on family and friends etc are an after thought. Informing is a selfish and solitary decision. Whether the informer was the greatest republican alive before hand or becomes the perceived greatest republican afterwards is irrelevant....they're an informer.

  19. Whatever the reason anyone becomes an informer, agent or asset at some point they must embrace their role as a career choice.

  20. Well in keeping with the present political climate and SF position of calling for informers I wonder would anyone offering to turn supergrass today be hailed as a prophet of peace? They could go into the witness box each day and state they wished to honour all the IRA or UVF dead and pay tribute to their sacrifice and then with the full support, appreciation and admiration of all MLAs they could proceed to sink every fucker they ever knew and a considerable number they didn't. I mean, just what is the position on informing for peace and why have the RUC/PSNI not advertised for prospective supergrasses to apply for the dosh? Hardly likely to be any stigma to worry about now and it would be more fun and entertaining than the lotto.

  21. Niall/Christy

    I agree with both of you, the fear of death would be a powerful motivator against the career choice though?

  22. Larry, the name escapes me now, but a Derry republican whom some (unidentified) arm of the security services tried to turn actually recorded the encounter secretly, and this was played at a presser with McGuinness chairing the event. Some of the concepts he used were along the lines of agreeing there would be a united Ireland, but the IRA's violence was the main obstacle to this, they were criminals pretending to have political objectives, therefore by helping bring them down the prospective informer would be doing something more effective in achieving a united State. Maybe McGuinness learned something that day as this methodology was employed at the scale of the general nationalist population by SF.

  23. Steve

    Driving a taxi during the Troubles was perhaps among the most dangerous jobs to do but people still did it. Without knowing how many touts, agents or assets there were it might have been far safer than driving a taxi.

  24. Daithi D

    How ironic/funny that McGuinness could sit in on a press conference presenting that info. But sure, it has always been and remains 'do what we say, not what we do' from that gang lol