Current Affairs History Military Politics

The State-Backed Glenanne Gang, A Very British Death Squad

A former killer with the Glenanne Gang, a pro-British death squad which operated in the UK-administered north-east of Ireland during the first decade of the so-called Troubles, has claimed that its activities in the 1970s were known to the highest echelons of the United Kingdom’s government. This included ministerial officials who turned a blind eye to the grouping’s slaughter of civilians in the press-dubbed “Murder Triangle” of counties Armagh and Tyrone in order to advance Britain’s stalled counterinsurgency war against the Irish Republican Army. John Weir, who served for ten years with the Royal Ulster Constabulary, the now disbanded paramilitary police force in the disputed Six Counties, including time spent as a sergeant in the notorious Special Patrol Group (SPG), made the statement during an interview with the Irish News.

Now living in South Africa, the former policeman last said that senior officials in Downing Street would have been aware of the group’s activities.

“Of course they would,” he said in an interview with the Irish News.

“How would they not be?

“Right, for example, the army commanders……do you mean to say that those men were not actually feeding information.

“Even they were feeding information direct to government.

“Obviously some of it was going through their senior officers but not all.

“Some of those men, they themselves were connected to parliament.

“And I know that and I also know that they know that even the very bottom of army intelligence, which I don’t think in a way were that capable a lot of them, but they knew all about Glenanne.”

Theoretically the Glenanne Gang, an amorphous grouping named after its main base in County Armagh (a farm owned by RUC officer James Mitchell), was under the control of the Ulster Volunteer Force, a significant terror organisation within the unionist community (which dominated the locally-recruited British Forces and judiciary). However, in reality the local faction was largely composed of serving or former policemen and soldiers who conducted their own campaign of indiscriminate violence in the Mid-Ulster region. By the early 1980s this terrorism had left up to 120 Irish men, women and children dead, including the myriad victims of the coordinated Dublin and Monaghan bomb attacks in 1974.

In addition to the links with the UK state mentioned above, many of the Glenanne men were also paid agents of the British Army’s Intelligence Corps (Int Corps) and the RUC’s Special Branch. Indeed the head of the group, an ex-soldier called Robert “the Jackal” Jackson, continued to collude with Britain’s forces in the contested region right up to the early 1990s, long after many of his contemporaries had fallen away. One of his closest associates was the RUC Chief Superintendent Harry Breen, the most senior police officer to die in the conflict, killed in an IRA ambush in 1989.

Robert (Robin) Jackson, credited with the murder of dozens of Irish citizens during his “loyalist” career, was very much seen as the prototypical UK terrorist of the 1966-2005 conflict or Troubles, and representative of Britain’s failed “Dirty War” in the country’s legacy colony on the island of Ireland. In the words of Colin Wallace, a former British Army major and psychological warfare specialist with the Intelligence Corps, who tried to question the Jackal’s activities in the 1970s:

“Everything people have whispered about Robin Jackson for years was perfectly true. He was a hired gun. A professional assassin. He was responsible for more deaths in the North than any other person I knew. The Jackal killed people for a living. The State not only knew that he was doing it. Its servants encouraged him to kill its political opponents and protected him.”

Equally, everything people have whispered for years about the United Kingdom’s former war in the Six Counties, from state-backed terrorism to military death squads, from summary executions to assassinations, has been proven perfectly true. And there is much more to come. No matter how loudly the right-wing press in Brexit Britain screams about it.


8 comments on “The State-Backed Glenanne Gang, A Very British Death Squad

  1. Enlighten me, please: “the 1966-2005 conflict or Troubles”.
    As I recall the balloon went up (at least as far as anyone in Britain knew) in ’69 as a result of civil rights demonstrators being attacked by protestant mobs and having to improvise their own defence with molotovs etc. We were told that the IRA had been stood down some years earlier (after the ‘Border War’ ?? in the ’50s ???) had their weapons in dumps over the border etc. and so in the short term where totally unprepared to defend their communities. The RUC meanwhile joined in the attacks, so the army had to be sent in … and well the rest is history.
    So what exactly was going on in the years before that? Were we, on the ‘mainland’ fed fake news back in the day?


    • As pointed out by Frank, the first deaths in the conflict occurred in 1966 with former British servicemen reviving the old UVF and carrying out attacks which left several casualties. The violence then continued at a lower pace throughout 1966-68 as the Irish civil rights movement burgeoned in the North.


  2. The IRAs border campaign ended, 1962. The IRA became a southern Ireland dominated peaceful Marxist organization.

    The Marxist analysis was that the conflict in Northern Ireland was a “bourgeois nationalist” one between the Ulster Protestant and Irish Catholic working classes, fomented and continued by the ruling class. Its effect was to depress wages, since worker could be set against worker.

    Influenced by the civil rights movement in USA, the N.Ireland Civil Rights Association was created. Since Northern Ireland’s creation in 1922, the Catholic minority had suffered from varying degrees of discrimination from the Protestant and Unionist majority. Many Nationalist historians regard the ethos of Northern Ireland as unambiguously sectarian. Shipbuilding, big industries discriminated against Catholics in recruitment. Unionists used a corrupt voting system of “gerrymandering” where they made sure elections were rigged so that in majority Catholic Nationalist areas, Unionist MPs were elected.

    Unionists saw civil rights protesters s a threat to their dominance. Rather than admit this though, Unionist extremists spooked Protestants with a claim, the whole Civil Rights thing was an IRA ploy. Especially since 1966 was the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising. Unionist paramilitaries, murdered two Catholic men, John Scullion and Peter Ward. Civil rights protesters were attacked by Loyalists, the RUC and B-Specials.

    In the summer of 1969, rioting erupted 1,505 Catholic, families were forced to leave their homes in Belfast, attacked by loyalist mobs, supported at times by the B Specials. Large areas of Ardoyne and lower falls were burned to the ground.

    The British army were deployed.

    The lack of the IRA to protect Nationalist Catholic areas lead to a split into Provisional and Official Wings.


  3. He interestly pointed out that an attack on bingo punters carried out two days after the Miami attack was mistakenly(deliberately) blamed on republicans as “revenge” for Miami even though up to the present day the HET still blame the IRA. He attended the scene of the attack and ‘knew’ immediately that it was unionists that did it.
    With my conspiratorial hat on it made sense for unionists to carry out a black op in order to deflect from the Miami atrocity I.e the narrative would’ve drifted from British state collusion onto a more palatable narrative of “both tribes are as bad as each other”. Jod done. P.s it opens more questions about kingsmill imho. Another black op?


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