The alphabet soup of British-state militias in Ireland in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s – the UDR (now the RIR) and the RUC (now the PSNI)
Over the last two years I have highlighted on this website a number of key facts from the mountain of evidence pointing to the centrality of the British terror factions in the north-east of Ireland to Britain’s counter-insurgency war against the Irish Republican Army. Simply put it is now beyond any reasonable form of doubt that terrorist organisations like the UDA-UFF (which for most of its history was a legal terror group under British law), the UVF and others operated as de facto adjuncts to the British Forces in Ireland, both military and paramilitary. These extreme British and Protestant separatists, driven by a colonial legacy of anti-Irish racism and anti-Catholic sectarianism, rampaged in pulsating waves of violence across the north-eastern part of our island-nation whenever their masters in Britain saw that it was politically or militarily necessary for them to do so.
Not only were the British terror gangs in Ireland substantially directed, funded and armed by the British Forces, in many cases they were the British Forces: that is serving or former members of the British Army or the Royal Ulster Constabulary.
British soldiers and British policemen by day; British gunmen and British bombers by night.
Now more evidence has been collated and presented to a wider audience by the journalist Anne Cadwallader in a new book called “Lethal Allies“. It deals with just one small area in Ireland, the mid-Ulster region of Armagh, Tyrone, Fermanagh and Monaghan, one small British terrorist formation – the amorphous Glenanne Gang – and one small period from 1972 to 1976. Yet in that place and during that time this grouping of serving and former British soldiers and paramilitary police officers took part in attacks that left over 120 Irish men, women and children dead and hundreds more wounded. And all with the tacit authority of the nation-state of Great Britain behind them.
From the Irish Times:
“More than 120 people were killed by loyalist paramilitary gangs operating out of mid-Ulster, many of them working in collusion with RUC officers and Ulster Defence Regiment soldiers, it is claimed in a book published today.
The volume, Lethal Allies, tells the story of the Glennane gang and other loyalist groups who in various permutations – but frequently with the sectarian figure of Robin Jackson at its centre – killed more than 120 people on both sides of the Border between 1972 and 1976.
Most of the victims were Catholics. Many of these killings directly or indirectly involved members of the RUC and the UDR, it is claimed in the book written by Anne Cadwallader.
The work is based largely on declassified papers and official reports and on investigations carried out by the Historical Enquiries Team, which is a division of the PSNI.
The gang’s victims included the 33 people killed in the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings, those killed in the 1975 gun and bomb attack on the Miami Showband, the 1976 killings of six members of the Reavey and O’Dowd families in south Armagh – killings that the IRA used to justify the shooting dead of 10 Protestant workmen at Kingsmills – and the killings in August 1975 of Seán Farmer and 22-year- old Colm McCartney, a cousin of the late Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney.
Mr Farmer and Mr McCartney were shot dead at a bogus British army checkpoint near Newtownhamilton in Co Armagh by UVF members wearing UDR uniforms. They were stopped as they returned from the All-Ireland football championship semi-final matches between Tyrone and Kerry minors, and Derry and Dublin seniors.
Central to Cadwallader’s book are the relentless accounts of the murders that took place in, or emanated from, what was called the Murder Triangle of mid-Ulster, but also the high level of RUC and UDR collusion with the mainly UVF killers.
It asks the question: how could the authorities at the highest levels in the RUC, British army and political establishment not know what was happening and not properly act to stop it?
Cadwallader names more than 20 RUC or UDR members from the time, former or serving, who were implicated in many of the murders. Probably the most notorious are Jackson, a sectarian UVF killer both as a serving and former UDR member, and James Mitchell, a godfather figure and RUC reserve member who owned the Glennane farm in Co Armagh where loyalists and security force members met, marched and drilled, conspired and plotted the killings of scores of Catholics.”
Margaret Thatcher touring the British Occupied North of Ireland in 1981 wearing a beret of the UDR, an infamous British Army militia responsible for scores of terrorist attacks during the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s
From the Guardian:
“A specialist police unit has accused senior commanders in the old Royal Ulster Constabulary of covering up a series of sectarian killings and attempted murders…
Lethal Allies, by Anne Cadwallader, contains documents from the Historical Enquiries Team – a cold case unit tasked with investigating unsolved crimes from Northern Ireland’s Troubles – that raise the possibility that for political reasons and to protect the force, senior RUC officers turned a blind eye to subordinates involved in a sectarian terror campaign in rural Ulster.
According to the book, the HET believes ministers should have been told about the involvement of serving police officers in a loyalist terror group in one of the most dangerous parts of Northern Ireland.
It quotes HET documents as stating that only one serving police officer was found guilty of a gun and bomb attack on the Catholic-run Rock Bar in Co Armagh in 1976, something the HET argues “beggars belief and cannot be explained”.
…According to the book, those involved in the attack were serving members of the RUC and were wearing their police uniforms underneath boilersuits.
In the 1970s, the Catholic priest and human rights campaigner Denis Faul dubbed the area where the attack took place as the “Murder Triangle”. Between 1972 and 1978 around 120 people, mainly politically uninvolved Catholics, were murdered in Armagh and nearby Tyrone. Allegations were rife that off-duty police officers and part-time soldiers were behind the killings.”
Joint footpatrol of British UDA terrorists and British Army soldiers, British Occupied North of Ireland, 1970s