Current Affairs History Military Politics

Promises Broken Are Votes Negated

British-state militias in Ireland the UDR or RIR and the RUC


British-state militias in Ireland the UDR or RIR and the RUC
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)

Sixteen years after the signing of the Belfast Agreement, thirteen years after the “reform” of policing, seven years after Sinn Féin took the office of deputy first minister and here we are in 2014 with the revelation that former members of the infamous Royal Ulster Constabulary are being employed by the British state to “vet” information demanded by the northern courts in relation to the RUC’s counter-insurgency operations during the Long War. From the Belfast Telegraph:

“Three former RUC Special Branch officers have been recruited to vet top secret files on deaths linked to an alleged security force shoot-to-kill policy, the Coroner’s Court has heard.

After the revelations at Belfast’s Royal Courts, PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris denied there had been a cover-up.

He had been summoned there to explain why it has taken the force so long to hand over State files linked to nine deaths in the early 1980s.

Redaction of material – blacking it out – is usually carried out if there is a risk to a someone’s life or a threat of harm should their identity be made public. It usually applies to people such as police informants or soldiers.

The court heard the ex-Special Branch officers had been recruited to carry out the complex vetting process because they had the necessary expertise.

The classified investigations involved in the inquests were carried out by Greater Manchester Police Deputy Chief Constable John Stalker and Sir Colin Sampson, of West Yorkshire Police, in the 1980s but never published. More than 80 boxes of classified information is being held at a PSNI facility in Seapark, Carrickfergus, Co Antrim, where access to the documents is fiercely restricted.”

Despite nearly two decades of peace what passes for policing and justice in the British-administered north-east of Ireland still bears little resemblance to what is seen as the norm elsewhere in western Europe. The dirty secrets of the dirty war must be kept just that – secret.

Go In peace, but for peace’s sake go…!

Meanwhile we have news that several hundred British troops will be participating in the largest military exercises seen by Britain’s forces in Ireland since the 1990s. The people of eastern Derry will witness armed British soldiers playing out “war games” in and around the uplands of Binn Fhoibhne, a protected region officially designated as an area of Special Scientific Interest and Outstanding Natural Beauty. It seems that “demilitarisation” has quite different meanings when it comes to the Irish Republican Army versus the British Army. The fortified border-posts and checkpoints, pill-boxes and watch-towers may be gone but the Occupation Forces that manned them have not. This is not what the people of Ireland voted for in the referendum of May 1998. This is not what we were promised in return for amending our constitution. British soldiers on Irish soil will always be a casus belli and provocations like that planned for Derry merely serve to give that truism greater force.

5 comments on “Promises Broken Are Votes Negated

  1. At the risk of being hugely unpopular, Northern Ireland should get out of the hands of the British altogether. when someone shows you who they are, believe them. Promises, it seems to me, were broken at the moment of british occupation. Secrecy, bullying, and learned helplessness come, no pun intended, with the territory when one nation takes over another. There can be treaties, but rarely if ever trust. i understand the situation is infinitely complicated… but so are abusive relationships. Is your loved one beating you and giving you emotional blackmail? i don’t care how ‘complicated” that is, you need to leave. what makes Northern Ireland any different with respect to this analogy/ i’d love to see them say no to British occupation once and for all. i know there would be those who would support them.


    • There is a considerable British Unionist ethno-political minority who support continued British rule and some from a non-Unionist background who favour it for economic and other reasons (though that rule is now filtered through limited regional autonomy). Under the Belfast Agreement of 1998 the only two options are London rule or Dublin rule (as it were). The hope is that within the next 20 years a voting majority for a reunited Ireland will be achieved in the north-east.

      The sooner the better if we are to have long-term peace, as you indicate. All else is simply “cold war”.


      • It’s weird – you’re constantly bashing Ireland in your blog but at the same time you’re expecting that NI would want to sometime join this “GUBU republic” as you once called it


        • Ha, yes indeed. The great paradox. Can I get away with saying it’s an Irish thing? 😉


          • Well Sionnach , it is unless it isn’t. 🙂

            Also, to Janis, here’s an apt analogy I think. The United States is a pretty backward country in a lot of ways, the government makes decisions that I can’t stand, our public school system sucks, and we’re an empire that doesn’t want to admit it… oh yeah and then there is Texas, enough said. 🙂 But, if Canada for some odd reason were to take over New England, against its will, I’d argue for it to become part of the U.S. again despite our many many problems. Arguing that it is inconsistent to hold two views on separate nonopposing issues is logically unsound/inaccurate. The fact that a country has problems is a completely different issue from the fact that a territory that used to belong to that country is under occupation, and ought to be reunited with its original country. It’s a matter of a view on in-state politics versus a view on international politics. It would be hypocritical to hold A and not A. But I think the claims under consideration here are more like A and C. Alternative example with a similar logic structure: you cannot be pro choice and also think abortion is problematic. Pro choice is a political position and does not entail being pro abortion, which is a philosophical/spiritual/religious/personal position. If you need more persuasion take the reverse of your statement which I think is something like “If you seriously take issue with your own country, then you cannot also hold that an occupied territory that used to belong to it ought to rejoin.” The reverse would be, “If you love your country and find nothing wrong with it, then you should hold that an occupied territory should rejoin it.” Does the belief in/abouta unified Ireland really rest on the belief in the Republic of Ireland’s exemplary or dysfunctional actions and policies as a country? Would reunification really only make sense if the Republic of Ireland had its stuff together, and is a person really inconsistent if he or she thinks yes on reunification and no on having its stuff together? I do not see how the conclusion follows from its premise. This is from a logical point of view.


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