Sean Mallory recently viewed a timely film exposing the role of the security forces in Britain's Dirty War in Ireland.
Last night I had the opportunity to watch the latest documentary film to be released about killings in the 1970s called Unquiet Graves. A film by Seán Murray, a republican from West Belfast.
These murders, too numerous to highlight individually in the film were the result of systematic direction by British security forces personnel on British security force personnel.
I use the term directing rather than colluding as ‘colluding’ implies a few bad apples whereas ‘directing’ clearly implies the barrel is rotten.
The killers were made up of security force personnel composed of RUC and UDR and Unionist paramilitaries, namely the UVF.
I don’t normally watch productions about anything to do with the conflict here as I tend to find that the regular infliction of the two most common putrid British generalisations on every viewer is quite nauseous:
➽ Is that the British Security forces were caught in the middle.
➽ If it wasn’t for the men of violence this country of ours would be a great place to live.
But recently what with the Loughinisland film and how the British Establishment reacted to that (a film I haven’t yet seen), the more recent PSNI deliberately holding back vital information into legacy murders and Karen Bradley's Establishment gruntings on such murderers and their actions I felt that curiosity was drawing me to it. Plus the fact that my wife had bought two tickets and it was a freebie.
As stated, it focused on the 120+ murders in the 1970s carried out by a gang composed of mostly security force personnel from the RUC, UDR and who were all connected or members of the UVF – and who came to be referred to as ‘the Glenanne Gang’. The victims were innocent, non-combatants and unconnected to the conflict. This was deliberate.
They operated in an area that became known as the Murder Triangle – a dark and foreboding appellation that gives away its purpose and intent. This triangle ran from Mid-Ulster down to South Armagh.
This was not a popcorn film. It was one of the films that you could hear a pin drop in the theatre or in this case as the film progressed a lot of sobbing and the usual futile attempts at trying to disguise sobbing to ward of embarrassment … real men don’t cry.
Having grown up through this period and witnessed fathers, home from a day’s work, stand guard with their neighbours on the streets, with nothing more than sticks in hand it is only after watching the film that I fully understand now why. People were genuinely scared.
The film itself focuses on the more widely published murders such as that of the Reavey and O’Dowd murders and the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. There are just too many murders to document on the time limitations of film. What the film does is account in detail the role of the British security forces in all of the murders and their lack of investigation in the aftermath and that is quite shocking to say the least.
PC plod is non-existent. Is it any wonder Hamilton et al are hiding information and obstructing investigations … I would too if I belonged to the RUC.
I’m not going to dwell on trying to be a ‘Barry Norman’ and criticise the film from a technical, style or quality point as I wouldn’t know where to start but from an audience informative perspective it leaves the viewer in no doubt as to false narrative of the conflict that has permeated the historical accounts of Britain's role in it – the British Security services were never, ever stuck in the middle. Even the dogs on the street were aware of that. Just how far the chain of command stretched was not able to be established in this documentary but judging by the security forces actions elsewhere with other gangs and murderers such as Brian Nelson we can safely state that it went to Number 10.
I came away from the film quite perturbed. It raised more questions than it provided answers. Some of the most pressing questions I had was that if at that time the nationalist representatives of Hume, Mallon, Currie etc, etc along with the high ranking members of the Catholic church had not spent so much time and energy on trying to defeat the IRA and instead focused their energy on the ruthless activities of the British security forces, may have saved lives. But they didn’t and continued to call on Nationalists to support the security forces.
When even the dogs on the street know who was behind these killings then we have to ask as to why they didn’t?
Those high ranking officers at the time and future RUC Chief Constables, Jack Hermon and Ronnie Flanagan, gallantly awarded for their services to Her Majesty's government must surely also have been aware of these activities. Hermon was later to express his derision for Taigs through the shoot to kill policy and his officers coarse attempts at disrupting the investigation in to it. Flanagan was once head of RUC Special Branch, an arm of the RUC that was the main director in multiple murders committed by the Glenanne Gang.
For Hume and Mallon and the others I suppose the only prick on their consciences is their unwillingness to stick their heads above the parapet. For the families and the survivors, their trauma never leaves.
“Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.”