Arm na Breataine (British Army)

Yahoo News And The Murder Advocates

Can someone explain to me how Yahoo News can permit comments by its readers advocating the murder of a well-known political figure in Ireland? The target of the online trolls is the civil rights activist Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, the former elected representative for the constituency of Mid-Ulster and a life-long socialist republican. In 1981 Bernadette and her husband Michael narrowly escaped death when British terrorists smashed their way into their home and shot both several times, the attack watched by a nearby foot patrol of soldiers from Britain’s infamous Parachute Regiment. The gunmen were members of the UDA, a Unionist terror faction that the British government refused to ban until 1992 as part of the secret negotiations during the Irish-British peace process of the 1990s. One of those involved in the assassination, Ray Smallwoods, was himself later assassinated by the (Provisional) Irish Republican Army, his coffin carried by a number of prominent Unionist politicians including the DUP’s Peter Robinson MP, the present Joint First Minister of the regional administration in the north-east of Ireland.

This is what Yahoo has on its website as of 07.00 this morning:

Proud Scotsman  •  11 hours ago

Is that #$%$ still living ? she should have been killed years ago for prolonging the troubles and I am saying this as I know she was behind a lot of the troubles caused, even the IRA wanted her gone.

Daniel  •  11 hours ago

sloppy work on the UDA`s part, they really should have tapped one in her head, Republican Jezebel, she has the face of purest evil, lets hope she dies very soon somehow from complications of her old wounds.”

While the news media in Britain focuses on reports detailing the alleged threat from the dissemination of militant Islam on the internet it is indeed ironic that the most poisonous forms of British nationalism are given free rein across a host of international websites. Up to and including the most respected of United States’ news organisations.

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Ireland’s British Rebels

Members of the Ulster Volunteer Force, an early 20th century British terrorist organisation in Ireland, jointly parade with soldiers of the British Army in Omagh, Ireland, c.1914

Members of the Ulster Volunteer Force, an early 20th century British terrorist organisation in Ireland, jointly parade with soldiers of the British Army in Omagh, Ireland, c.1914

Once again it takes an Irish journalist working in a foreign newspaper to write what the Irish press would never dare write (because they don’t want their readers to stray outside their strict ideological view of history, falsifications and half-truths to the fore). Melanie McDonagh in the London Independent with a rare, rare glimmer of historical accuracy when it comes to Ireland’s troubled British history while discussing Martin McGuinness, the Sinn Féin Joint First Minister in the north of Ireland. She asks in the article:

“…why the militant republicanism he represents was necessary; why the constitutional options for dealing with the Irish problem took so long; why Sinn Fein trumped the Irish parliamentary party in the first place; why – in short – we got where we are now.

For the answer to that, we need to go back exactly 100 years. Well, a bit more possibly, but a century would do nicely. Because that’s when the last chance for resolving the Irish question peaceably and in a unitary fashion was stymied. It’s when the Third Home Rule bill granting self-government, excluding defence, to Ireland was passed, but leaving out Ulster, first temporarily and then permanently.

It was the last time for resolving the Irish Question by peaceful means and it was vitiated by a terrifying combination of violence and the threat of violence, not from Republicans, but from Ulster Unionists bent on ensuring that Home Rule would not apply to Ulster, or at least to the “plantation counties” – what turned into the six counties of Northern Ireland. Two previous Home Rule bills from Gladstone had already been seen off, the second by being blocked by the House of Lords.

And just when it seemed that Home Rule might finally happen, after the House of Lords lost its power of veto, British politicians gave way to the revolutionary methods adopted by Ulster Unionists – chief of which was the formation of a paramilitary army intended to resist the writ of parliament, equipped with guns and ammunitions run from Germany. In their resistance they were backed to the hilt by the British Tory party as represented by Bonar Law, a Presbyterian minister’s son. It must be said, though, that most of the British players in these events, including Churchill and Lloyd George, were influenced, like him, by an instinctive antipathy to Roman Catholicism. And without that recourse to physical force; to violence (which Britons invariably associate with Irish republicanism), the state of Northern Ireland would never have come into being. At least not the way it was constituted.

In response to the formation of the Ulster Volunteers and their successful shipments of guns and ammunition from Germany, the government decided to undertake a show of military force. But it ran into the flat refusal of British Army officers based in the Curragh to move against the Unionists, with whom they very much identified. The response of ministers was to capitulate. (The Army’s reaction was very different when Irish nationalists began their own gunrunning in response, on a much smaller scale: soldiers sent to deal with it fired on a crowed of Dublin civilians, killing four people.)

The lessons of all this were not lost on Irish nationalists. The inevitable result of the success of Ulster Unionist tactics, and the capitulation of British ministers to the threat of force, was that the position of the constitutional nationalist leader, John Redmond, was terminally undermined. His Irish Parliamentary Party, which had held the balance of power in Westminster, was discredited even before the 1916 Easter Rising.”

Nominally British troops of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) move into Dublin to support the British Occupation Forces during the latter stages of the Easter Rising of 1916. The presence of the despised UVF added to anger in the capital following the actions of the British forces during the week of fighting

Nominally British troops of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) move into Dublin to support the British Occupation Forces during the latter stages of the Easter Rising of 1916. The presence of the despised UVF added to anger in the capital following the actions of the British forces during the week of fighting

Time For Truth, An Fhírinne Anois

With thanks to the Mirror, a powerful video from the Irish victims support organisation “Relatives for Justice” which campaigns for truth and openess in relation to the former conflict in the north-east of Ireland. Though focused on those who suffered at the hands of the British Forces and their terrorist allies the pain and suffering on display here is applicable to all the victims of the Long War regardless of nationality or allegiance. Please watch it in full and share with your family and friends on your social media networks.

Tweet #Time4Truth and #AnFhírinneAnois.

Only A General Amnesty Will Yield The Truth

Jean McConville, a Belfast woman suspected of being a British Army informer, was arrested and executed by the Irish Republican Army in December 1972 and her body hidden as one of the so-called “Disappeared” until August 2003

As the impact of the arrest of the veteran activist Ivor Bell continues to reverberate within Republican circles there is a lot to agree with in this analysis by Kevin Cullen of the Boston Globe:

“Ivor Bell is awaiting trial in Belfast on charges he aided and abetted the murder of Jean McConville, a widowed mother of 10 who in 1972 was abducted, shot, and secretly buried by the IRA after she was accused of being an informer.

Bell’s lawyer said Bell was innocent, but acknowledged that Bell was the man referred to as Mr. Z in a series of tape-recorded interviews made by a researcher hired by BC to compile recollections of republicans and loyalists who fought in Northern Ireland.

That researcher, former Irish Republican Army volunteer and prisoner Anthony McIntyre, told me from Ireland that he expects police to knock on his door any day. If they do, they’ll be wasting their time. “I wouldn’t even tell them hello,” he said.

Neither will Bell, 77, who was a senior IRA commander before his star dimmed…

Bell was among a group of IRA veterans who opposed the compromise accepted by Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams in 1998, effectively ending the Troubles.

Now, police would love Bell to implicate his former comrade turned foe, Adams, who has repeatedly denied involvement in McConville’s murder. Adams says BC naively allowed McIntyre, who openly opposed his leadership, to interview former IRA members who were inclined to implicate him for political reasons.

McConville’s children believe that Adams was behind their mother’s murder and insist he face justice. But this debacle has never been about justice. It’s about politics, specifically about sticking it to Adams and his party…

…the prosecution is so biased and politically motivated as to undermine all credibility.

The police in Northern Ireland have shown no interest in the other half of the oral history project: interviews with loyalists, who presumably could shed light on state-sanctioned murders they carried out with the covert assistance of the police and British military.

Ed Moloney, the journalist who oversaw the Belfast Project paid for and archived by Boston College, called Bell’s arrest “a cheap publicity stunt” by police and prosecutors who know that the oral histories, given to an academic by people who were neither under oath nor given legal warnings about self-incrimination, will not stand up as evidence in court.

As critical as he is of the authorities in Northern Ireland, Moloney said it wouldn’t have gotten this far if the US Department of Justice had rebuffed British authorities who asked their American counterparts to gain custody of the BC tapes, or if BC officials were willing to risk fines and even imprisonment to defy the government.

What a mess. An American university has been unwittingly and unwillingly used by a foreign government, with the acquiescence of the US government, to build a criminal case.

Oral history and academic freedom are dead and gone.”

The author Ed Moloney has suggested on several occasions that the pursuit of the forty-year old McConville case by Britain, and particularly by the PSNI or the British paramilitary police force in the north-east of Ireland, has more to do with the settling of old scores than any concerns over justice delayed. During the Irish-British conflict from the late 1960s to the early 2000s the RUC, the much-feared predecessor to the PSNI, incurred thousands of casualties amongst its officers while combating the (Provisional) Irish Republican Army and others. Though that came to an end with the Peace Process of the late-to-mid 1990s the negotiated settlement also brought an end to the RUC. However despite promised reforms many hardcore RUC men were kept within the ranks of the new PSNI or subsequently rejoined it when the political spotlight moved on to elsewhere. Under their influence, and that of some senior British government officials, retribution upon former opponents has become a primary impulse of law and order in the north-eastern region of Ireland. This post-conflict vendetta is one that anti-Sinn Féin elements of the Irish and British media have proven eager to pursue with little thought for the consequences (which in this case is a not inconceivable eruption of renewed armed conflict). Nor is SF itself blameless. Elected members of the party, notably Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, have been less than honest with their electorates and the Irish people as whole. While there were good reasons for their obfuscation during and in the immediate aftermath of the war those reasons are looking increasingly threadbare now that we have had over a decade of (near) peace. Furthermore Sinn Féin’s willingness to see former, now rival, Republican comrades and colleagues thrown to the PSNI wolves is less than edifying.

All this is not to excuse the Republican movement of any wrongdoing when it comes to the central issue of Jean McConville’s death. It is clear that after a considerable debate McConville was executed/killed/murdered by the (Provisional) Irish Republican Army on the orders of senior officers within the organisation, her body hidden and her relatives left with no (honest) account of what had happened. Repeated claims by the news media in Ireland and elsewhere that McConville was killed because she had lent aid to a British soldier wounded outside her home by a sniper are completely unfounded. It simply never happened, as a 2006 investigation by the Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan made clear. Indeed the belief that such a gesture of simple human decency would elicit the ultimate penalty says much about the wilful ignorance of the conflict by observers both in Dublin and London.

While the O’Loan examination went on to find no evidence of McConville communicating with the British Forces, and specifically denied that she was a known informer, it did reveal that the British Army had initially insisted that her disappearance was a hoax or later that she had willingly deserted her children and was living elsewhere in Ireland. Whether that reflected poor intelligence or something more sinister has never been established (certainly such rumours may have originated with the IRA in an effort to confuse any potential investigation though local people were aware of her execution and the reasons behind it within weeks). Unfortunately Britain has refused access by journalists and members of the McConville family to the regimental records of British Army units deployed in Belfast during this period which is why so much of the case remains in the realms of speculation. However we do know that no serious investigation was carried out by the RUC into her disappearance until some considerable time after her death (and that the subsequent investigation was thrown off track by the misinformation supplied by the British military despite the RUC’s more informed sources). The evident reluctance of the British to address the disappearance of Jean McConville in 1972/3 remains the subject of much discussion, both fair and unfair.

The Irish Republican Army is adamant in its counter-claim that Jean McConville was a known informer who had been warned about her activities until finally discovered in the possession of a concealed military radio transmitter supplied to her by the British Army. Though we cannot be sure it seems likely that she was seized by the IRA’s Belfast Brigade the day before her known disappearance, interrogated (perhaps beaten) and then released. That would match British military reports and statements from some of her family relating to the discovery of a woman likely to be McConville in streets near her home in a state of some distress and confusion the day before she was abducted. With the radio transmitter in its hands the IRA must have discussed what actions to take based upon the evidence gained, no doubt in part spurred on by fears that Jean McConville would be spirited away to safety by the British now that her cover was truly blown or that she had further knowledge to impart to the enemy (her son, Robert McConville, was a member of the Official IRA and detained in the infamous Long Kesh concentration camp at the time of her death. During this period the OIRA and PIRA were bitter rivals, especially in Belfast and McConville remained a committed Republican activist going on to serve with the insurgent INLA). This resulted in her arrest the next day by the Irish Republican Army and transport across the border to the spot where she was shot dead. Or at least we can suppose that is the sequence of events. The truth is, of course, that everything to do with the killing of Jean McConville is supposition. We simply don’t know what happened during that dreadful period some forty years ago. However, as yet, no one has produced a plausible reason for the controversial killing of a mother of ten from an intensely closeknit community beyond that offered by the killers themselves.

The only legitimate way to end yet more years of speculation and anguish for the McConville family is for the governments of Ireland and Britain to agree a general amnesty that will allow all participants to the conflict, willing or otherwise, to give truthful testimonies free of fear or repercussion. Only then will we learn the truth about Jean McConville. Or about Gerry Adams.

Letter Bombs In Britain. A Failure Of Vision

Letter bombs to Britain - turning a noble cause ignoble

Letter bombs to Britain – turning a noble cause ignoble

This is not 1884 nor is it 1974. So what on earth is the military or revolutionary rationale for sending letter-bombs to local recruitment offices of the British Army in towns and cities across Britain? How does that in any way shape or form represent an act of military resistance to the continued British Occupation of the northern-eastern part of our island nation? What strategic goal is achieved by such tactics? What political or media gain is accrued from the use of force that is little different from the wild – and ultimately pointless – acts of would-be anarchist revolutionaries in the 19th and 20th centuries?

The prosecution of a war using the militant methods of long dead radicals reveals minds that are frozen in time, in ideology and in vision. It lowers the public perception of the Irish Republican cause to the same level as the nihilist objectives pursued by the Red Brigades in Italy or the Red Army Faction in Germany during the turbulent 1970s. It makes a mockery of the very real and very genuine justifications for previous actions in previous decades and centuries. Actions born out of desperation, violence born out of the infliction of violence. Colonial occupation and exploitation, sectarianism and racism, famine and exile gave birth to the Fenian movements of the mid-to-late 1800s. The young men (and women) who filled their ranks were the children of serfdom, poverty and hunger. They were the ones who saw their prematurely aged parents buried in mass graves, their siblings dying with bellies swollen and limbs shrunken through malnutrition and disease. They were the off-spring of the “coffin ships”. The children of the Irish holocaust.

What excuse, what justification, can there be in the 21st century for the tactics of the 19th? The British continue to claim colonial sovereignty over part of our nation and our people but the modern British are not the imperialist ogres of yesteryear. Yes, in historical terms they have hands dyed red with the blood of our race both in times near and times past. But at some point we Irish must take responsibility for our own bloodletting. I do not agree with military resistance to the British occupation at this time. I do not believe that the end to Ireland’s British troubles can come about through force given the circumstances that currently pertain. However I can, at least, understand the rationale of those who do believe so and wish to prosecute a war to finish what was begun in 1916 (or 1169). To finish the unfinished business.

Yet even those on the armed revolutionary wing of modern Irish Republicanism must see that the sending of letter bombs to locations in Britain simply reduces their struggle to that of the most base form of terrorism and erodes whatever support they hope to sustain or gain. By all means resist the medieval anachronism of British rule in modern Ireland. Resist it politically, linguistically, culturally and socially. Work day and night to extinguish the Northern Pale, to dispatch into the pages of history the last administrative remnants of the British colony on our island nation. But this ongoing campaign, in this form? That is revolutionary madness.

Update: G Ó Cáthasaigh presents another view on the efficacy of armed struggle in early 21st century Ireland over at the Pensive Quill [with thanks to Mary for the link].

Death Squad Killers In The Land Down Under

Maria McGurk murdered by British state-controlled terrorists at McGurk's Bar

12 year old Maria McGurk, murdered by British state-controlled terrorists in 1971 at McGurk’s Bar, Belfast, Ireland. Another victim of Britain’s dirty war in Ireland

An update on the revelations late last year by a BBC news documentary examining the murderous activities of the British Army’s covert Military Reaction Force (MRF) during the early days of the conflict in the north-east of Ireland. From 1971 to 1973 the unit carried out a series of terrorist attacks against the civilian population and suspected Irish Republican activists, largely confined to Belfast, as well as acting in concert with various British terror factions (notably in the atrocity known as the McGurk’s Bar Bombing which took the lives of fifteen men, women and children). Now reports are coming in from Australia of attempts to bring former gunmen of the MRF living under assumed identities in the country to justice. From an article in WAToday:

“A member of a violent and secretive unit which allegedly hunted IRA members in Northern Ireland in the 1970s is thought to have fled to Queensland.

Former sergeant Clive Williams was a member of the Military Reaction Force, a group of undercover soldiers, who were active mainly in nationalist west Belfast in 1972.

He is understood to now be living in Queensland under another name, and the Australian government is being urged to investigate.

The MRF carried out a series of drive-by shootings in which two civilians were killed and 12 others were injured – even though there was no evidence that any were armed, or IRA members.

They included Patrick McVeigh, a 44-year-old father of six and 18-year-old Daniel Rooney, who was shot on St James Road.

Some members of the unit told a recently broadcast BBC Panorama program they ‘‘were not there to act like an army unit, we were there to act like a terror group”.

The MRF say they sometimes acted as bait, goading the IRA to come out and fight.

In the Panorama program, Mr Williams was confronted by reporter John Ware in Brisbane, but refused to answer questions.

In 1973, Mr Williams was put on trial at Belfast Crown Court accused of attempted murder, for shooting four unarmed men on the Glen Road in west Belfast.

Mr Williams claimed they had fired at him first. No guns were found at the scene and forensic tests on all four proved negative. None were members of the IRA.

Mr Williams told detectives he had fired from a standard army issue gun, but when confronted with evidence of bullet casings he said he had used a Thompson sub machine gun – a weapon frequently used by the IRA at the time.

He was subsequently promoted, left the army with the rank of captain and a military medal for bravery.”

From the late 1960s onwards the former subject territories of the British Empire have served as a convenient bolthole for British soldiers, paramilitary police, spies, informers and civil servants who participated in some manner in Britain’s dirty war in Ireland. At the expense of British taxpayers new lives and new identities, frequently in some splendour, were provided for those who needed to be placed beyond the reach of the law or journalistic endeavour. While members of the British Unionist minority in Ireland invariably choose Canada, South Africa or New Zealand, those from Britain favoured Australia. One wonders how many other former death squad killers, official or unofficial, are living the good life in lands faraway from those they brought such pain and misery to?

Where Have All The Sociopaths Gone?

Iraqi prisoner Baha Mousa, beaten to death by British soldiers. You too could be part of this!

Iraqi prisoner Baha Mousa, beaten to death by British soldiers. You too could be part of this!

It say’s much for the twisted political allegiances of the media establishment in Ireland that the country’s largest national newspaper carries an article expressing concerns that Irish citizens are joining the military forces of a foreign nation in lesser numbers than in previous years. From the Irish Independent:

“THE number of Irish recruits joining the British Army has almost halved in the space of 12 months, as British forces end combat operations, and dissident republicans target recruits.

New UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) figures obtained by the Irish Independent reveal that just 70 Irish citizens joined the British Army in 2012.

That contrasts with 123 Irish citizens opting to join British forces in 2011 and represents a 44pc decline in the space of just 12 months.

The recruitment of Irish citizens into Britain ‘s army, navy and air force reached its highest level since World War II over the past decade.

However, there is concern that the deliberate targeting of Irish recruits to the British Army by dissident republicans may also have been a factor in the decline.

Over the past decade, Irish citizens have joined Britain’s armed forces in increasing numbers, many frustrated at the inability to pursue a military career at home due to Defence Forces recruitment restrictions.”

Or perhaps they are “frustrated” by the lack of opportunities at home to kill and main other human beings that is freely available overseas with the British Armed Forces? And you never know, if the conflict in the north-east of Ireland re-erupts again perhaps they might be able to slaughter some Irish men, women and children too. It can’t be Arabs or Muslims all the time, y’know!

British War Hysteria – The Hibernoban!

British military helicopter brought down by ground-fire from an Active Service Unit of the Irish Republican Army, British Occupied North of Ireland, 1990s

British military helicopter brought down by ground-fire from an Active Service Unit of the Irish Republican Army, British Occupied North of Ireland, 1990s

So to another round of Fantasy Troubles as the news media in Britain, with a nod and a wink from domestic “security sources”, launch a febrile attempt to whip up some old fashioned anti-Irish hysteria in the lead up to Christmas. And how are they doing that, you ask? Why, by claiming that Irish insurgent groups in the north-east of Ireland have allied themselves to the Taliban of course. From the London Independent newspaper:

Republicans in Northern Ireland look to Taliban for weapons

Taliban-inspired technology is boosting the capacity of dissident republicans to wage war against the security services, with the discovery of advanced weaponry never seen before in Northern Ireland, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.”

Oh, so it’s “Taliban-inspired” rather than Taliban-supplied as the headline implies.

“The degree of technical sophistication is “unprecedented”, and experts are warning that it is part of a worsening picture that could include a sustained bombing campaign.

Police managed to foil an attack which had been planned in South Armagh using what the Police Service for Northern Ireland (PSNI) described as two “mortar type” devices. Dissident republicans had planned to bring down a helicopter using the rocket launchers, which took army bomb disposal experts three days to examine.”

Er, would that be the same make of mortar that the (Provisional) Irish Republican Army deployed in the Occupied North of Ireland in the 1990s to bring down British military aircraft including a helicopter landing at a military outpost in Crois Mhic Lionnáin in 1994?

“In the wake of the discovery, security sources approached Democratic Unionist MP Jim Shannon with their concerns. The weaponry, found in August, was unlike anything seen in Northern Ireland before. It is understood that it could be detonated remotely using an infrared laser – a tactic used by the Taliban in Afghanistan.”

Ordnance triggered by infrared lasers? As in a 1992 (P)IRA ambush of a vehicle patrol by paramilitary police from the later disbanded RUC, an event that occurred twenty-one years ago in the Irish town of An Iúraigh?

“He said the “deeply worrying” discovery confirmed that there are links between people in Afghanistan and Pakistan and those that made the bomb and mortar attack weapon in Cullyhanna.”

French TV crew are shown a mortar being prepared for an attack by a Volunteer of the Irish Republican Army, British Occupied North of Ireland, early 1990s

French TV crew are shown a mortar being prepared for an attack by a Volunteer of the Irish Republican Army, British Occupied North of Ireland, early 1990s

Oh yes, Commandant Mahamad Ó Néill, spokesperson for the GHQ Staff and Army Council of Óglaigh na hÉireann! But wait, maybe it is actually those ungrateful Irish peasants in British military khaki who are the real culprits.

“Independent MP Patrick Mercer, a former army officer who has served in Northern Ireland, speculated last night that another possibility was that military personnel who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq may be responsible for passing on details about the technology. “I have heard about this. This is all to do with light-sensitive devices,” he said. “But of course it’s no more or less than the fact that they’ve got people coming back from Afghanistan who have served over there who are able to pass on this expertise. There are many Irishmen serving in all branches of the services. It’s not unknown for loyalties to be split.”

Speaking under condition of anonymity, a senior military figure who commanded troops in Northern Ireland, admitted: “It is almost inevitable that ‘leakage’ of military skills from ‘us’ to ‘them’ happens over time and is disturbing and definitely of concern to the hierarchy.””

So the British admit that during the thirty years of the Long War the Irish Republican Army successfully infiltrated or cultivated agents in the British Armed Forces? And that this is happening again with contemporary Irish Republican insurgents who have less than a tenth of the strength or resources of the (P)IRA?

“But it is possible that “information exchange” between dissidents and the Taliban is taking place, according to Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan. “We did see in the past co-operation between Islamist extremists in the Middle East and the Provisional IRA.”

Earlier this year The IoS revealed how dissidents are using armour-piercing horizontal mortars similar to those used by the Taliban.”

The same horizontal mortars that the Irish Republican Army employed throughout the late 1980s and ’90s? The same weapons which successfully drove British Army vehicle and foot patrols off many rural roads in the north-east of the country and onto helicopter gunships?

So where is this fantastical (and farcical) British warmongering coming from? And why now?

Vae Victis!

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

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

The hostile reaction to the publication of Anne Cadwallader’s book “Lethal Allies”, a history of the British death squads which operated in the so-called “Murder Triangle” of mid-Ulster during the 1970s and early ‘80s, continues to rumble on in British and Unionist circles. A review on a newly launched website supported by several academics, Arkiv, attempts to undermine the journalist’s detailed account of the activities of the media-dubbed Glennane Gang, a terror grouping made up of serving or former British soldiers and paramilitary police officers, by offering a convoluted and repetitious defence of Britain’s military strategy in Ireland and of its state and para-state forces. The Cedar Lounge Revolution carries a detailed reply to the book review by Dr. F. Stuart Ross pointing out its inconsistencies and bias (original here). My own politics are obvious and so my words and views are judged in that light. Far more insidious are those who claim academic neutrality while promulgating partisan ideology.

History is written by the victors and those British apologists who seek to shape the popular memory of the conflict in the north-east of Ireland through its history, feigned or otherwise, are desperately pursuing victory by other means. A victory which is already slipping out of their grasp.

Licensed To Kill

Force Research Unit or FRU Britain's notorious death squad in Ireland

The Force Research Unit (FRU) – Britain’s notorious death squad in Ireland during the Northern War, c.1982

While the revelations about the murderous activities of British Army death squads in Ireland in the early and mid 1970s have shocked some for most seasoned observers it was simply further confirmation of what we already knew. And those soldiers-turned-terrorists never went away. From ten years ago a report in the New York Times:

“Officers from British Army intelligence and the Royal Ulster Constabulary in Northern Ireland actively helped Protestant guerrillas kill Roman Catholics in the late 1980′s, a report by Britain’s senior police official said today.

Sir John Stevens, commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police, said that his 14-year investigation into the explosive allegations of official collusion had found that members of the army’s covert Force Research Unit, which handled informants, and the police Special Branch espionage arm “were allowed to operate without effective control and to participate in terrorist crimes.”

Speaking at a news conference in Belfast, Sir John said, “My inquiries have highlighted collusion, the wilful failure to keep records, the absence of accountability, the withholding of intelligence and evidence and the extreme of agents being involved in murder.”

The report said that officers helped Protestant paramilitary fighters single out Catholics for attack, and that they failed to warn Catholics of intelligence they had which cast them in danger. Sir John said that innocent people had died because of the collusion, and that the Troubles, as the three decades of violence that cost the lives of more than 3,600 people are known, had been prolonged as a result.

He said the inquiry had taken so long in part because it was “wilfully obstructed and misled from day one” by police and military intelligence officers intent on covering up critical evidence.

The Belfast office he set up in 1989 was burned down by arsonists five months later, and in the years since, Sir John said, a pattern of concealment and non-cooperation had emerged in which official papers were destroyed or held back, investigators were spied on, arrests were sabotaged and misrepresentations were planted “deliberately designed to throw us off course.”

“It should not have taken 14 years to get to the point we are now,” he said. “None of us are above the law, and no future inquiry should have to be conducted in the way we have had to conduct ours.”

Only 20 of the 3,000 pages in the report were made public today because of what Sir John said were pending legal actions. More than 20 cases have been sent to the office of public prosecutions for possible criminal charges. Among them is one involving Brig. Gordon Kerr, the man who ran the Force Research Unit and is today the defence attaché at the British Embassy in Beijing.”

Ah, Gordon Kerr, the FRU, British Army Intelligence Corps and their terrorist best friends. The Guardian in 2003:

“The most senior British Army intelligence officer in Northern Ireland in the mid-1990s invited the feared Loyalist killer Johnny ‘Mad Dog’ Adair to dinner and oversaw the leaking of military secrets about Republican suspects.

Adair’s fingerprints have been found on at least a dozen military intelligence dossiers uncovered during investigations by the Stevens Enquiry team into collusion between loyalists and the security services.

The Observer knows the identity of the officer concerned, but he cannot be named for legal reasons.

If the allegations are proved it will show that collusion existed at a higher level of British military intelligence in Northern Ireland than ever previously suspected.

The recently retired officer, who reached Brigadier rank and was honoured by the Queen for his services to the fight against terrorism, is believed to have struck up a working relationship with Adair in the early 1990s. This man was effectively in charge of Army intelligence during a period when loyalists were killing the IRA in Northern Ireland.

The officer even boasted to Royal Ulster Constabulary Special Branch officers that he had had dinner with Adair at the height of the loyalist terror campaign between 1991 and 1994.

Adair, who has been expelled from the Ulster Defence Association and is currently held in protective custody, has sought a deal with British intelligence officers who visited him last month in Maghaberry jail outside Belfast.

Although Adair was only in his mid 20s at the time of the Finucane killing the young loyalist was already starting to make a name for himself inside the UDA. Detectives in Belfast believe he knew all the players in the murder personally.

The retired brigadier was senior to Gordon Kerr, the head of the Force Research Unit, who has been questioned within the last six months about his handling of British Army agent Brian Nelson. The Army spy supplied the UDA with security force intelligence that led to the murders of several republicans and nationalists including Finucane. A report by Stevens found that the FRU and officers within RUC Special Branch knew about the murder plots but did nothing to stop them taking place.”

British state-sponsored terrorism: 1970s, 1980s, 1990s.

Death Squad Britain – The Past That Won’t Stay Hidden

Force Research Unit Britain's notorious death squad in Ireland

Gunmen from the Force Research Unit (FRU), Britain’s notorious death squad in Ireland during the Northern War, pose with their weapons, 1980s

Regular readers of An Sionnach Fionn will know how many times we have examined in detail the activities of Britain’s various official and unofficial forces participating in its thirty year long counter-insurgency war against the Irish Republican Army and others in Ireland. Of the official forces perhaps the most infamous have been the covert units of the Military Reaction Force (MRF) and the Force Research Unit (FRU), collectively forming the heart of Britain’s “death squad culture” that permeated its campaign in the north-east of the country during the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s.

In typically hesitant style the more liberal and open-minded parts of the British news media have finally caught up with everyone else in publicising the uncomfortable aspects of their nation’s Dirty War in this nation. From the Guardian newspaper:

“Claims that members of an undercover army unit shot unarmed civilians in Northern Ireland during the 1970s have been referred to the police, according to the Ministry of Defence.

The allegations against the Military Reaction Force (MRF) are contained in a BBC Panorama programme, Britain’s Secret Terror Force, to be broadcast on Thursday evening.

Seven former members of the plain-clothes detachment – which carried out surveillance and, allegedly, unprovoked attacks – have spoken to the programme. The existence of the MRF is well known but its unorthodox methods and the scope of its activities have been the source of continuing speculation.

Their weaponry was not always standard issue. On one occasion, the programme reports, a Thompson sub-machine gun was used. The men drove Hillmans and Ford Cortinas with microphones built into the sun visors; some were cars that had been stolen and recovered.

All the soldiers, however, denied that they were part of a “death” or “assassination squad”.

After 18 months’ duty, the MRF was dissolved in late 1972 following army concerns about the adequacy of its command and control structures.”

The Irish Times also reports on the revelations albeit in a more blunt fashion than their British counterparts:

“The British army ran an undercover unit that operated a sanctioned shoot-to-kill policy in Belfast during the Troubles, it has been claimed.

Former members of the Military Reaction Force (MRF) said that they killed an unspecified number of IRA members and shot them regardless of whether or not they were armed.

The force killed at least two men in drive-by shootings who had no paramilitary connections and injured more than 10 other civilians…

Panorama reports that there were several drive-by shootings carried out by MRF soldiers in which people were killed and wounded – even though there is no independent evidence that any of them were armed or were members of the IRA.

The force comprised about 40 men hand-picked from across the British army who operated in west Belfast for an 18-month period between 1971 and 1973, including all through 1972.

The MRF was the forerunner to other similar plainclothes undercover British army units that operated in Northern Ireland. Panorama said the overall commander was an army brigadier.”

Maria McGurk murdered by British state-controlled terrorists at McGurk's Bar

12 year old Maria McGurk, murdered by British state-controlled terrorists in 1971 at McGurk’s Bar, Belfast, Ireland. Another victim of Britain’s dirty war in Ireland

The replacement unit for the out-of-control MRF was the soon to be equally uncontrollable FRU, the killers behind the 1989 murder of the Irish civil rights lawyer Pat Finucane, an assassination for which the British prime minister David Cameron publicly apologised in 2012. I described the rise and fall of the MRF last year:

“In the early 1970s this band of out-of-uniform soldiers terrorised Irish Nationalist communities in the north-east of Ireland, in particular the city of Belfast, carrying out or organising random drive-by shootings of civilians, murders, kidnappings and bombings.

In its most infamous operation the MRF arranged for terrorists from the British UVF to attack McGurk’s Bar in Belfast on the 4th of December 1971 with a parcel bomb that demolished the building killing fifteen, including 12 year old Maria McGurk, and wounding seventeen others. In the aftermath of the atrocity the British Forces used the excuse of “follow-up operations” to swamp local neighbourhoods with troops and paramilitary police who carried out destructive house-raids and multiple arrests or detentions.

In other words the MRF was a British military death squad. Its purpose was simply to cause murder and mayhem in the Irish communities of the north-east that continued to live under the British Occupation by killing innocent and “guilty” alike. However the MRF’s reckless nature eventually brought about its own downfall and its operations were uncovered by the Intelligence Unit of the Belfast Brigade of the Irish Republican Army in mid-to-late 1972. After extensive surveillance units of the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the Belfast Brigade attacked soldiers of the MRF at two different locations in the city on the 2nd of October 1972, killing or wounding several and causing panic in the British Army as intelligence operations over the following weeks effectively collapsed.

By early 1973 the now discredited MRF was disbanded but its tactics, techniques and most of its personnel went on to become part of the Special Reconnaissance Unit (or the SRU though it was also known by the cover name of the 14th Intelligence Company) and the Force Research Unit (FRU). All of them contributed to the evolving culture of Death Squad Britain.”

The latest news on the murder squads comes just hours after a senior advisor under the British legal administration in the North of Ireland publicly suggested that all investigations by paramilitary police relating to events before the signing of the Belfast Agreement of 1998 should be stopped. And this a few weeks after revelations that those self-same police were examining the possibility of prosecuting British soldiers for the murders of fourteen Irish citizens in the city of Derry during the Bloody Sunday Massacre of 1972. Not unrelated to this are the detailed accounts of the activities of the British Terror Factions in parts of the north-east of the country publicised in recent days where soldiers and policemen by day acted as gunmen and bombers by night (or as one British ex-police officer / terrorist memorably put it last weekend: “It had nothing to do with the UVF – it was only a bunch of policemen involved!“).

James Cromie murdered by British state-controlled terrorists in the McGurk Bar Bombing

13 year-old Irish child James Cromie murdered by British state-controlled terrorists in the McGurk Bar Bombing, Belfast, Ireland, 1971

From 1969 to 2001 over 51% of all those killed by the British Occupation Forces in Ireland, military and paramilitary, were non-combatant civilians. In the same period over 85% of all those killed by the British Terror Factions in Ireland, the proxy forces of Britain’s counter-insurgency campaign, were non-combatant civilians.

Which begs the question: in the so-called “Troubles” in the north of Ireland who exactly were the “terrorists”?

(With thanks to An Lorcánach and others)

Britain’s Armed Shame

In Afghanistan soldiers of the RIR, a British Army unit, pose as UVF terrorists in front of an extremist flag

In Afghanistan soldiers of the RIR, a British Army unit, pose as UVF terrorists in front of an extremist flag

In Ireland gunmen of the UVF, a British terrorist organisation, pose in front of an extremist flag

In Ireland gunmen of the UVF, a British terrorist organisation, pose in front of an extremist flag

Members of the EDL, a Far Right movement in Britain, display their support for the British terror factions in Ireland

Members of the EDL, a Far Right movement in Britain, display their support for the British terror factions in Ireland

In Ireland the British separatist terrorists of the state-controlled UVF faction pose for the cameras

In Ireland the British separatist terrorists of the state-controlled UVF faction pose for the cameras

Some time ago I published photos on An Sionnach Fionn featuring British soldiers serving in Afghanistan making Nazi salutes while posing in front of a British terrorist flag. Last week it was taken up by the news media in Britain, in particular the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday newspapers. Now I have images from the so-called Royal Irish Regiment or RIR showing further displays of support for the separatist terror factions of the British Unionist minority community in Ireland. In addition there are photographs showing members of the British Army wearing the regalia of the Orange Order, an oath-bound Protestant fundamentalist organisation violently opposed to the Roman Catholic faith in Ireland, Britain and elsewhere.

During Britain’s decades long counter-insurgency war against the Irish Republican Army many observers believe that there was frequently little to distinguish between British soldier and British gunman, British police officer and British car bomber and witnessing members of the British Armed Forces readily associating themselves with terrorist gangs who inflicted untold misery in Ireland simply adds to that belief. Furthermore the visible proof that the British Army and government permits a sectarian and racist movement like the Orange Order, a “British KKK”, to openly recruit and organise in the ranks of the military says much about Britain’s role in the war that disfigured the north-western edge of Europe.

A British soldier in Afghanistan poses as a British terrorist in Ireland, complete with balaclava mask and RPG7 rocket-launcher

A British soldier in Afghanistan poses as a British terrorist in Ireland, complete with balaclava mask and RPG7 rocket-launcher

Masked British terrorists in Ireland stage a propaganda event for the camera, one holds an RPG7 rocket-launcher

Masked British terrorists in Ireland stage a propaganda event for the camera, one holds an RPG7 rocket-launcher

A British soldier in Afghanistan poses in front of several British terrorist and extremist flags celebrating the conflict in the north-east of Ireland

A British soldier in Afghanistan poses in front of several British terrorist and extremist flags celebrating the conflict in the north-east of Ireland
In Afghanistan soldiers of the British Army wear the regalia of the Orange Order, a Protestant fundamentalist organisation, which promotes the hatred of Roman Catholics in Ireland and elsewhere

In Afghanistan soldiers of the British Army wear the regalia of the Orange Order, a Protestant fundamentalist organisation, which promotes the hatred of Roman Catholics in Ireland and elsewhere

British soldiers in Afghanistan display Orange Order emblems and British Unionist flags

British soldiers in Afghanistan display their racist and sectarian Orange Order emblems and British Unionist flags
British terrorists in Ireland, members of the UVF, in a propaganda pose for the cameras

British terrorists in Ireland, members of the UVF, in a propaganda pose for the cameras

From a British Army base in Afghanistan, a sign mocking Bobby Sands, the Irish political prisoner and elected member of the British parliament who died on hunger strike in 1981

From a British Army base in Afghanistan, a sign mocking Bobby Sands, the Irish political prisoner and elected member of the British parliament who died on hunger strike in 1981

British soldiers of the RIR unit with a flag supporting the anti-Catholic and Protestant fundamentalist Orange Order in Drumcree, 2002

British soldiers of the RIR unit with a flag supporting the anti-Catholic and Protestant fundamentalist Orange Order in Drumcree, 2002

British troops pose in front of a wall decorated with British terrorist symbols during the conflict in the British Occupied North of Ireland

British troops pose in front of a wall decorated with British terrorist symbols during the conflict in the British Occupied North of Ireland

All Life Is Not Equal

The Bloody Sunday Massacre. The dead and the wounded lie on the streets of the Irish city of Derry following a British Army attack on a civil rights march, January 30th 1972

The Bloody Sunday Massacre. The dead and the wounded lie on the streets of the Irish city of Derry following a British Army attack on a civil rights march, January 30th 1972

The editorial of today’s Belfast Telegraph, a British Unionist newspaper, issues a cri de coeur in defence of the British Forces in Ireland during the forty odd years of the conflict in the north-east of the country, and in particular the infamous Parachute Regiment. On the 30th of January 1972 soldiers of that British Army unit attacked a civil rights march in the Irish city of Derry murdering 14 civilians, men and teenage boys, some of whom were finished off with gunshots at close range as they lay helpless on the ground.

Now the editorial team of the largest Unionist paper in the country wishes it to be known that:

“A significant factor in Sinn Fein’s acceptance of the Good Friday Agreement was the release from prison of Irish Republican terrorists.

Today, with shameless ease, Sinn Fein calls those who were released, not criminals but ‘soldiers’.

Yet we now have a situation of real soldiers potentially being prosecuted for murder. Bloody Sunday was, without contradiction, a dark day for Her Majesty’s armed forces. David Cameron personally apologised to the nation.

The Irish Republican so-called soldiers were given release on licence from prison as part of the Good Friday Agreement. In the same vein, are not these men from the Parachute Regiment entitled to have promises made to them about no prosecution honoured?

In the Paras’ defence, it has been said that Saville produced no clear evidence of murder but, instead, there was evidence of badly-led soldiers ‘panicking and losing control’. It has also been said that senior army officers in command should face charges.

Can you ever imagine the day when the Provo commanders are brought to trial on evidence of directing terrorism and issuing orders to go out and terrorise and brutalise innocent people? Well, they did, didn’t they, and they haven’t gone away.”

So in defending the actions of the members of the British Army on Bloody Sunday the argument is made that they were badly led and that the stress of operations caused them to panic and lose control? Therefore no blame can be laid at their door for any resulting deaths or injuries incurred by the civilian population?

Perhaps we should apply that same criteria to other operations by other military forces in the northern war? Perhaps in defending the civilian casualties sometimes inflicted by the Irish Republican Army we can argue that its members were sometimes poorly led and that during the stress of operations they too panicked and lost control?

No?

As for imagining the day when “Provo commanders” are brought to trial? Er, I think the good folk at the BelTel might find that they were brought to trial, and often served lengthy periods of captivity as a consequence of that. Along with some 20,000 others.

Now, how many British soldiers or paramilitary police officers have served time in prison for murder in Ireland since the conflict erupted in 1966? Four? Five? Yet over 51% of all those killed by the British Forces between 1966 and 2005 were non-combatant civilians. That is innocent (Irish) men, (Irish) women and (Irish) children.

What was that? A hierarchy of victims, you say?

British Soldiers, Nazi Salutes – The Story We Had First

British soldiers in Afghanistan give the Neo-Nazi-Red-Hand salute of the British terror factions in Ireland

British soldiers in Afghanistan give the Neo-Nazi-Red-Hand salute of the British terror factions in Ireland

The newspapers in Britain are currently debating the significance of images from the conflict in Afghanistan showing serving British soldiers posing in front of the British national flag and the now discarded “Northern Ireland” banner while making stiff-armed Nazi salutes. The Mail on Sunday broke the story which has been taken up by the Guardian and the Express as well as Newsnet Scotland. Of course here at An Sionnach Fionn we posted these photos long ago, including in this article, and we also linked to the source of the images, a right-wing Unionist-supporting fan-club in England called Invicta Loyal, when challenged on the veracity of the photographs.

For more on the tangled relationship between militant British Unionism in Ireland and the Neo-Nazi movement in Britain see my post here.

British soldiers in Afghanistan display Orange Order emblems and British Unionist flags

British soldiers in Afghanistan display their racist and sectarian Orange Order emblems and British Unionist flags

The Truth About Ireland’s British Troubles

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)

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

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

Joint footpatrol of British UDA terrorists and British Army soldiers, British Occupied North of Ireland, 1970s