In the early 1970s the Military Reaction Force or MRF was a covert unit of the British Army which operated as death squad in and around the city of Belfast, its members orchestrating scores of gun and bomb attacks on the Irish civilian population in co-operation with local British terror factions. Last year former soldiers of the MRF appeared on a British television documentary to boast of their actions, confirming their role in a series of assassinations, random drive-by shootings, kidnappings and “false-flag” operations designed to deepen the crisis in the north-east of Ireland. Now the PSNI, the British paramilitary police force, has announced that none of the unit’s members will face arrest or prosecution despite their on-air confessions. This news follows the recent arrest and prolonged detention of Gerry Adams TD, the leader of Sinn Féin, in relation to activities by the (Provisional) Irish Republican Army in the early 1970s and sustained attempts by the PSNI to secure a criminal case against him.
“A decision by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) not to conduct a full investigation into a British Army unit, the Military Reaction Force, which was implicated in the murders of unarmed civilians has been labelled a “travesty of justice” by a leading human rights group.
“The PSNI decision reinforces our long held view that the PSNI cannot under any circumstances be trusted to carry out impartial, independent investigations into so-called ‘legacy or historic’ cases”, Paul O’Connor of the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC) told RIA Novosti.
A BBC special investigations documentary broadcast in November 2013 detailed how a unit of the British Army was established and ordered to carry out random attacks on civilians.
The film linked the Military Reaction Force (MRF) to the murders of at least ten unarmed civilians over an 18 month period in West Belfast, a community perceived to be sympathetic to the republican IRA. The film included interviews with former British Army soldiers who were members of the unit and detailed how captured IRA weapons were used to carry out the shootings with the aim of discrediting the republican paramilitary organisation.
In a short statement the PSNI confirmed detectives from the Serious Crime Branch had “studied” the film but concluded there was no specific “admission of criminality” by individual soldiers. RIA Novosti understands none of the former soldiers who appeared in the film were interviewed by detectives.
Although the MRF was disbanded in 1973 another similar force was established by the British army in the early 1980s and known as the Force Research Unit and linked to British military intelligence. It has been implicated in the murders and disappearance of dozens of people in Northern Ireland and accused of collusion with loyalist terror groups.”
The infamous Force Research Unit (FRU) was the covert British military grouping behind the terrorist assassination of the Irish civil rights lawyer Pat Finucane in 1989. The BBC carries a brief report on the PSNI refusal to investigate the British Army’s previously denied actions:
“Families of people allegedly killed by an Army undercover unit have been told former members of the unit who appeared on TV admitted no crimes.
The Military Reaction Force was the subject of a BBC Panorama programme last November.
Former members said the unit had shot people who may have been unarmed.
The PSNI investigation has found none of the men featured “admitted any criminal act or being involved in any of the incidents portrayed”.
The unit was disbanded in 1973, after 18 months.
The plain-clothes soldiers carried out round-the-clock patrols in Belfast in unmarked cars.
One of the soldiers said they were “not there to act like an army unit, we were there to act like a terror group”.”
In April the PSNI and British government announced a similar refusal to investigate the Ballymuphy Massacre of 1971 when dozens of civilians were killed or wounded in a three-day shooting spree by British soldiers in an isolated Irish Nationalist enclave of west Belfast. Yet again the urgent need for a general amnesty and truth commission is overwhelming.
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