The Birmingham story is also about the IRA record. It’s time to reveal it, Gerry

“One person killed in England is worth 10 ( or is it 20 or 30?) in Ireland.”  This was the notorious IRA judgement of propaganda value. And with 50 IRA attacks in England in 1974 that felt true at the time. The calculation was still valid in November that year when everything went horribly wrong for all sides over the Birmingham bombs. Reaction in Northern Ireland to the prominent coverage today will probably be rueful. We are more case hardened. Unless a Troubles story provokes a resonance of something else happening in England, purely “Irish” stories don’t get the prominence.

The Birmingham story has moved on from the appalling wrongful convictions. To make a lead story the news of the reopening of the Birmingham inquest is probably influenced by the recent  record of historic police brutality, incompetence and coverup in south Yorkshire from Orgreave  to Hillsborough ( and I have to say, also by the desire for  a lead, any lead that isn’t about Brexit).  And then there’s the question Newsnight reporter John Sweeney ended his report with tonight but wasn’t followed up; if they got it so wrong in Birmingham even in recent years, are they doing any better with Islamist extremism?

But might the passion, even the naivety of Julie Hambleton reignite passions here for a fresh drive to deal with the past? Perhaps. But the chances of getting either justice or truth don’t look good, except for more details of police cover up and incompetence. Which is one reason why the authorities  drag their feet.

In the Guardian the great Birmingham 6 investigator Chris Mullin now a recently retired MP updated his assessment of the case headlined. “I fear the Birmingham bombings inquest will only bring heartache.”

Making her announcement, the coroner referred to a “wealth of evidence that has still not been heard”. It remains to be seen precisely what she was referring to, but at the earlier hearings Ashley Underwood QC, who acted for the relatives, asserted that “there is reason to believe that the murder gang had an informant in their ranks and that the police knew in advance” that the explosions were planned and could, therefore, perhaps have been averted.

I find this unlikely. Prior to the bombings the only informer of whom I am aware was an IRA man who was detained as part of an earlier round of arrests. His usefulness would have come to an end with his arrest some months before the pub bombings, although he might have been able to provide the police with the names of some of those who remained at liberty, which would have at least given them an idea of who to keep tabs on.

There is also intriguing evidence that an IRA man, arrested after the pub bombings, co-operated with the police. In 1987 the Granada Televisionprogramme World in Action obtained a document from the special branch archive which was a precis of interviews with a man who names several of the pub bombers. Remarkably, the police chose to take no action. To do so, of course, would have meant admitting that they had just put away the wrong people. The Criminal Records Office reference on the file is 10368/74. It would be interesting to hear more about this.

In his submission to the coroner, Underwood also alleged that “there is reason to believe that the police had sufficient time between the telephone warnings and the first bomb going off, to evacuate … but that the record was falsified”. There may be something in this. The man who made the warning call was Michael Murray. When I interviewed him in 1986 he conceded that the warning call was botched, but insisted that he gave more notice than the six minutes later alleged. At the time I was sceptical, but if there is evidence that the record was falsified – and I wouldn’t put anything past those in charge of the initial investigation – then it may well be that lives could have been saved.

So  maybe there’s some new news in it after all. On Newsnight, it was left to former IRA informer and thorn in the flesh  Sean O’Callaghan to bring the focus home.

Answering Ms Hambletons’  cry “ Where else could you say you planted bombs and walk away free? O’Callaghan replied: “There are people still alive who carried out Provisional IRA inquiries and know precisely what happened. Some of them are in public office”

And like the perpetrators alive and dead, we know who they are.  Usually  they have been adroit  at deflecting attention to the security forces. But even the horror of the Birmingham 6 wrongful convictions and other  flaws in  police handling are not diverting attention this time. If they’re serious about reconciliation, the time for voluntary revelations has come.

, , , ,

  • MainlandUlsterman

    oh and the man-playing thing isn’t my invention, it’s a basic rule of Slugger that we’re not supposed to do it, for obvious reasons. It’s not great for the quality of debate – and it’s just unpleasant and boring. Having survived 30 years of an IRA campaign, do you really think the average Ulster Prod is going to be deterred or, God help us, persuaded by sectarian-motivated personal abuse on an online discussion forum? Republicans do have a track record of badly under-estimating their prey and failing to meaningfully engage with the views of non-nationalists; and it seems you’re not breaking the mould there.

  • Ciaran O’Connor

    “I think you pretty much undo all your own arguments within that piece :-)”

    Obviously if you preface YOUR response with that it must be true. Most people who read this stuff have a reading age of over 13 and 3/4trs. Therefore please try to rise above the laughable “I claim the victory, so I do” guff that we so successfully take the hand out of in Northern Ireland. If you knew the locals you’ll realise they’re laughing right now and not with you.

    “They killed way, way more British (both from Ulster and mainland UK) than Irish and were clearly a deeply sectarian organisation”.
    I am led to understand that Britain has many faiths, creeds, races, colours and are ‘well accommodated’ for under the butchers apron. To which sect do you refer when you say this was sectarian killing? I think one at least of the IRA’s stated aims was removing British rule in Ireland, which failed on those terms. However when you declare a country as your enemy and fight them its probably understandable I guess that their enemies died, in large numbers, at their hands. I think that’s the way war works, I’m open to correction.

    “but they frequently targeted people for being Protestant and/or British”

    We’ll overlook the conflation of British=Protestant, Protestant=British you have stated there. The IRA had at war somewhere between 3,000-5,000 members on active service. In the 80s, post the Libya shipments, they’d access to nearly 3,000 AK-47s, plus maybe 500-1000 in pistols and lots more in odds and sods. If killing “a protestant” or killing a “person who holds a British passport” was their raison d’etre they could have done that, en-masse, every single day. That didn’t happen.

    “a very, very Catholic organisation indeed treating human life generally with contempt but Protestant British life with particular contempt.”

    I’m just going to leave that comment there. It’s a despicable comment that doesn’t really need me to outline just how disgusting it is.
    Now where are the answers to questions 2,3,4 and 5?
    Don’t you have the answers mate?

  • Gingray

    If you repeatedly use living away from Northern Ireland as a means to claim a superior perspective, how is it playing the man to point out you are severely out of touch?

    You cannot have it both ways.

    Tho I am happy you changed your mind and keep commenting, putting words into action is vastly overrated 😉

    I’ve no doubt that very few people commenting on Slugger are likely to be persuaded one way or the other, particularly not with extreme one sided views like your own.

    Yes yes, I get it, in summary IRA bad, English good (but if state mentioned bring up loyalist to divert from English). Repeat.

  • Mac Red

    Its quite a confusing piece isn’t it? For me the obsession with trying to tarnish Gerry with anything misses the whole point of this story (I’m no shinner, in case that’s needed) . We should see this as a Birmingham story of a coroner standing up to the Police and the fact that a local unit took revenge for the ‘disrespect’ of the state not letting a RA man get a proper send off in his home town (colour party on the mainland) . I agree that we don’t need an inquest as it will not achieve anything apart from getting more police resignations and confirming who the bombing team were, most are dead and with the GFA the surviving planter would only get 2 years if he turned up . We’re a long way from an African solution as Arlene has demonstrated and instead perhaps, though not ideal, look to the Spanish model – there’s too much pain and we need to move on for the next generation to have a chance – Gerry’s going to retire soon and he isn’t going to give you the closure that you want, much like this inquest.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I’m completely consistent – murder is murder. Where’s the inconsistency?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “If you repeatedly use living away from Northern Ireland as a means to claim a superior perspective …”
    I wasn’t aware of ever having done that – can you quote?

    What’s with all the English stuff? Did I say something about English people? Again, if you can quote, that might help me see what you’re talking about here. Otherwise it just seems a bit random.

  • Gingray

    Not random at all, search your profile if you want.

    I note you remain unable to justify why you only ever bring up loyalists when the state is mentioned.

    Why do you forget to mention their crimes when there is only mention of the IRA?

    Fits into an inconsistent hierarchy of murders and murderers, with IRA at one end and the English at the other.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I didn’t think it was worth responding to, but since you insist, as briefly as I can:
    “2. How is it that 85% of the intelligence that loyalist murder gangs came from state force personnel?” Obviously security force information was likely to be the main source of info for Loyalists as there were few other possible sources. A fairly meaningless stat.
    “3. Why is it Tony Blairs aide said in court documents that the aspects involving security force/ british government involvement in the murky details of the Finucane case was “worse than anything that happened in Iraq?” I have no idea but it sounds an absurd claim given what happened in Iraq. But read Da Silva on Finucane, that’s the report. If you differ from that, explain what you know that he didn’t.
    “4. Why is it that if 14 unarmed British citizens were shot dead on what you would call British streets, pretty much live on national television, that none of the trigger-pullers have seen the inside of a court yet?” They should have, I would like to see convictions. There was an understandable protection by the forces of their personnel for a long time, especially during the Troubles when so many soldiers were murdered by terrorists. But it was wrong and those responsible should have faced criminal charges much earlier. We as a nation made mistakes in the Troubles but it is worth pointing out that nearly all were made in the process of genuine attempts to prevent terrorism and protect the public. The terrorists operated in a completely different moral universe, one of ethnic aggression and offensive attacks on the people and the country as a whole. The people of Ireland stand with us in our resistance to all paramilitarism.
    “5. In wars generally 90%+ of those killed are civilians. If the IRA were such non-discerning blood-thirsty sectarian killers, why is it that I believe something approaching 60% of their victims were security force or associated personnel?”
    Your stat seems a bit vague and ungrounded to start with, but going with it, Catholic sectarians of course had easily identifiable targets to hit, as anyone in uniform could be assumed to be either a Brit, Protestant, or if Catholic a “collaborator” so deserving to die. And the IRA of course loves to think of itself as a kind of wee pretend army, so going for soldiers as well as being easy meant they could spin their nasty Brit-hating as some kind of sanitised “French Resistance” style legitimate “war” actions. I’m sure they honesty believed they weren’t sectarian – they were *that* un-self-aware.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    so you can’t quote then, in short

  • MainlandUlsterman

    yeah, you’re clearly the reasonable one …
    try reading some of your stuff back some time, really – you might be surprised.

  • Gingray

    You are fun! I am glad you made a liar out of yourself again and kept posting 🙂

  • Gingray

    I’m not the one coming off with the old one sided bigotry that puts all the blame on a single side.

    I leave that to the extremists.

    Plenty of you out there, but thankfully this place is moving on, and those of you trapped in the past will be forgotten.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    yes, Gingray, you are the future. Because anyone suggesting the IRA was mainly to blame for the Troubles would have to be a bigot.

    I’ve never sought to solely blame Republican terror for the Troubles. But I think just about everyone accepts it was mainly them. The problem for you is, they tended to phone up afterwards and claim responsibility. Bit of a give-away that. This really isn’t a mystery, it is a matter of historical record.

    Republican murders accounted for about 60 per cent of Troubles deaths overall. So, not all them (as I rarely fail to point out, despite your deafness to that) but mainly them. Indeed in the middle section of the Troubles in the late 70s and 80s, Republicans were doing 70 per cent of the killings. So for about half of the Troubles, that was the proportion.

    Sorry, but the “Armed Struggle” can’t be palmed off as some 50/50 conflict where everyone was as bad as each other, it’s just not true. Most people didn’t support terrorists at all – only Shinners did. The “Armed Struggle” was an IRA idea and they carried the vast majority of it out themselves. If either the security forces or indeed loyalists had reacted in kind, on the same scale as Republicans, many more hundreds of people would have died.

    I understand why you are so reluctant to acknowledge the scale of Republican violence and its obvious leading role in the Troubles. But it is a wrong position. And things have moved on, as you say. People don’t like paramilitaries, they don’t want them. They are happy to have the police and the security forces. That’s how society is moving on. And parties like Alliance and Labour whom I support are, I would suggest, more part of the shared future and the Zeitgeist than dead-end zombie republicanism, rattling with so many skeletons. You assume anyone critical of republicanism must be some extreme unionist, but what you have to realise is that republican antics offend those of us in the progressive centre every bit as much as traditional unionists.

  • mickfealty

    Over to Gerry…

  • Ciaran O’Connor

    So to paraphrase then. The British security forces supplied sectarian killers with 85% of their intelligence to perform acts of sectarian murder and you say… this is a “meaningless stat”. Well let me give it some meaning for you. It means that rather than being some kind of benign referee, standing in the middle of two warring tribes, that the British security forces were an active participant combatant in the war. The British establishment used loyalist paramilitaries as their proxy killers to terrorise the Irish population in Northern Ireland.

    “sounds an absurd claim given what happened in Iraq”
    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-21283169
    I think a private cabinet secretary might have access to higher level information than you to make that statement. He describes the Finucane murder as “a dark moment in the country’s history – far worse than anything that was alleged in Iraq/Afghanistan.” You seem incredibly indifferent to murder when its one of themmuns?

    “but it is worth pointing out that nearly all were made in the process of genuine attempts to prevent terrorism and protect the public.”

    But Bloody Sunday was terrorism. The Ballymurphy massacre was terrorism. How exactly in those two examples did the good-ole Britisher stiff-upper-lipped stringently-adherent-to-British-values-of-decency make a genuine attempt to a)” prevent terrorism” b) “protect the publlc” when your soldiers are shooting unarmed civilians dead in the street? All you have pointed out is that you believe that terrorism is something that ‘happens’ to British people. When the British are doing it, you turn a blind eye.

    5. “Catholic sectarians”. What even is that?

    “anyone in a uniform”. If you are fighting in-a-war the guy on the other side in a uniform is the lad you are supposed to shoot. If you do that really well, they hang medals on your chest as “a good lad”. I believe that’s what happens in wars. I’m open to contradiction on that, I might be way off the mark there.

  • Gingray

    Sorry, I couldn’t bring myself to read your “mad rant” in full without laughing.

    I am glad I did not take you at your word that you would be leaving it!

    MU – people like me are the future of Northern Ireland. We live here. We work here. We raise our families here. We have friends on both sides of the community here. We don’t run away or hide. We have differing opinions but we are working to make a better place inspite of them. We realise that compromise is the only way to achieve anything in a divided society.

    All you contribute is the same old republican bashing lines, which has proven to be a recipe for failure in making Northern Ireland a better place to live.

    You are living in an time which most of us have moved on from. Its patronising and which ignores every reality on the ground, something a tourist would maybe not see.

    Seeking to promote the views of one community (get the IRA!) while ignoring the legitimate concerns of t’other (the State was responsible for more than it is letting on) is foolish.

    So, run along back to your superior life in England, you reflect Northern Irelands past.

    Even the parties you support – Alliance and Labour – reflect failure in Northern Ireland. Neither can get much support, particularly outside middle class Protestant, east of the Bann areas.

  • Declan Doyle

    Gerry should collect evidence? Blimey, that would sure get tongues wagging.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    but isn’t the point of the story that 20 people got killed while going out for a drink in Birmingham one night by the organisation Gerry led?

  • The Irishman

    What terrorist crimes has Gerry committed?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “Seeking to promote the views of one community (get the IRA!) while ignoring the legitimate concerns of t’other (the State was responsible for more than it is letting on) is foolish.”
    If you read what I actually write rather than what you’d like me to have written, you’d see I’m consistently against terrorism and against crimes committed by public servants too, across the board – while obviously sympathising with the police and army more than the terrorists. If you think that is an extreme view, you’re not arguing only against me, you’re arguing against most Northern Irish people.

    Getting at the IRA is not controversial or sectarian – it’s everyone’s duty. The IRA has been almost as damaging (you could argue more so) for the nationalist community as for my own and getting at them is not just for the benefit of my own community but the whole of society.

    They are my main target because (1) they were responsible for most of the Troubles, in terms of deaths, violent incidents overall, bombings, any measure you use; (2) they have powerful advocates in the government of NI, who now disgracefully get most of the nationalist vote, (3) their apologists have been influential in shaping media portrayals of the Troubles in a republican-friendly way. An entire body of senior academics working on N Ireland from both backgrounds got together to flag up the problem (https://arkivni.wordpress.com). Loyalist terrorism was obviously equally wrong, as all terrorism is. It is not the focus of debate, because no one really questions that. But some people like yourself question the level of moral opprobrium attached to Republican terrorism, as if it is somehow better – and those pernicious, morally vacant analyses have to be rebutted. Slugger attracts more nationalists than unionists and so debate on here, if you’re a unionist, is always likely to focus on the attempts by some nationalists to cover for the IRA.

    It’s sad that we even have to have this conversation and I can say no one I know in unionism makes a serious argument for Loyalist terrorism. This big terror apologism problem we have now is overwhelmingly a nationalist one and one they have got themselves into through a long history of trying to be a bit cute over attitudes to political violence – allowing themselves to believe there is room for ambivalence over it, when there just isn’t. Their moral reasoning over the IRA campaign is generally dunce’s corner stuff, when you start arguing it out. There is no excuse for terrorism in Northern Ireland and never was – end of.

    There are lots of other interesting questions and moral grey areas, particularly in what is justified in the anti-terrorist work the authorities have to do and what is not – but the immorality of the terrorist campaigns themselves is a lot more straightforward than some seem to want to admit.

    Some like to pretend the question of the morality of the IRA campaign is somehow a brain-teaser. You can see why they do: if it’s “morally grey” then they don’t look so bad for being ambivalent about it. But having been through the Republican campaign in the 70s, 80s and 90s, frankly I’m not surprised that the moral vacuousness of those who watched Republican (and indeed Loyalist) killing after killing without objecting hasn’t entirely dissipated.

    You can try all you want to make out state forces were every bit as bad, but they patently weren’t, on any scale, be it (1) overall aims, (2) scale of work in saving lives and protecting the public, (3) number of lives taken overall, (4) number of lives wrongly taken through criminal activity by members. It is simply ridiculous to treat the police or army as if they were terrorist groups. Is that your view of the PSNI now? If there were an onslaught by the New IRA, or the UFF now, would you support the police, or still say oh well, that’s complicated, it depends, y’know you have to see both sides on that? Seeing both sides sounds reasonable – it’s just that when you’re talking about terrorism, it really isn’t. Terrorism thrives on the credibility afforded to it by those attitudes.

    Your “tourist” jibes are petty, man-playing (again) and another way of avoiding the point. I lived in Northern Ireland for all but the last few years of the Troubles, I am an Ulsterman. I even actually sat down around the table with senior, serious people from the other tradition, in the mid-90s – much more accomplished and high-powered people than me, but they listened and we interacted to good effect – I wonder what you have contributed to cross-community understanding? And it may have missed your attention that this very site we are writing on is run in part from outside Northern Ireland.

    So really enough of this nonsense, I have a language class to prepare for.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Directing terrorism, as a member of the PIRA Army Council for a number of years.

  • Gingray

    No MU, you consistently, across several blogs, only ever mention Loyalist terrorism when someone brings up state actions. The rest of the time you focus purely on the IRA. As is your right, but lets not pretend you are viewing things equally here, you have established your own heirarchy of what was and was not acceptable.

    It is surely time you stopped blaming everyone else for your own failings here, and move on from a mindset still stuck in the troubles.

    While some who left may not have changed, Northern Ireland has moved on in a lot of ways, and there is a lot more recognition that things just had not been as one sided as some like to pretend.

    As I said above, I am part of the future of this place. You are not. You are not even part of its present. So, while you may have a superior perspective, it simply has little resonance here any longer.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I’ll let others be the judge of that. And I’m still very involved with the place. I may be getting a vote yet.

  • Gingray

    Define very involved? Do you work here? Live here? Raise a family here? Spend more than 30 days a year here?

    Do all the things that make a place home? Blabbing nonsense on a blog site does not really count.

    Somehow I am not surprised you are trying to find a way to get a vote here, despite not living here. How undemocratic.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    It would be wrong though surely to suggest any equivalency between our country and these terrorist groups. States are not obliged to share all their anti-terrorist intelligence work with the world – and none do. The terrorists (and their apologists) here are just using that fact of life as an excuse to continue to hide what they did. We shouldn’t fall into that trap.

  • Skibo

    I see when you condemn Republicans, I see when you condemn Loyalists. I do not see when you condemn British Army or Security forces.
    Seems to me and numerous other Republicans that when a Soldier or police man pulls on his uniform, he is above questioning.
    If the security forces have a mole in a terrorist organisation and knows of operations that will take lives, should they stop it or is the position secured by the mole more important than the lives taken?

  • Joe Jitsu

    Which is like saying Kim Philby would have got a knighthood if he wasn’t working for the USSR.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “I do not see when you condemn British Army or Security forces.”
    You could try actually reading what I write before commenting.
    On the mole question, that is sort of the point – those are the difficult calls, not the question of whether to have moles at all. But it’s not actually a decision about protecting the mole’s life as if it is in itself more valuable than anyone else’s – it’s about whether more lives could be saved in the longer term by keeping the mole in place. For all the issues with Brian Nelson, for example, the killing rate of his cell was much lower when he was there than before or after. It doesn’t make him any kind of hero, far from it – but those were the judgment calls facing the security forces. They couldn’t hope to actually stop the violence through security measures – but there were ways to use moles and informers to reduce the numbers killed. That being the case, it seems to me they had a duty to do that. It was never going to look good or get them into heaven, but actually it might just have been the best they could realistically achieve.

    In casting around for blame, it seems wrong to pour too much blame onto security forces forced into that situation through the persistence of the terrorist campaigns, when surely the situation only arose because some people chose to use terrorism in the first place. Without that, none of the hard moral calls over moles and agents would have arisen. But then we now have people apparently blaming the police for the Birmingham Pub Bombings. Such is the Down The Rabbit-hole logic of the Republican narrative on the Troubles.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I might be wrong but didn’t they go beyond breathing into, well, more the ‘killing large numbers of people’ side of things?

  • Skibo

    So what you are saying no more words than necessary is there is an acceptable level of murders when dealing with intelligence of terrorist organisations. Wonder what level of intelligence makes the decision as to who can live and who can die to protect the identity of a mole?
    I do not ever remember you condemning security violence.
    I have seen relatives of the victims demanding to know about previous warnings that the police gave on the bombing. I didn’t mention them.
    Are they not allowed to question the actions of the police.
    See this is the kind of issue I have tried to raise with you before and you deflect such questions by saying “but it was the Terrorist who murdered”. It is given that the terrorist placed the bomb but the actions of the police need to be scrutinised also. Were you as critical of the Liverpool supporters wanting answers on the deaths of the 96?

  • Skibo

    Yes Ted the same old shite with everything being Republicans fault. When can we get way from the blame game?
    I only keep it going when people ask when Republicans are going to apologise and when are they going to plead guilty to murders.
    I posted the apology by the IRA for the deaths of non-combatants. That is more than anyone did in WW2.
    Either we have a peace agreement and we are going to move forward or we can keep this banter going.
    I will not accept preaching from people who represent a country who has taken more than their fare share of innocent victims lives round the world and continue to.
    Every war results in deaths of innocent civilians.

  • The Irishman

    And your proof?

  • Skibo

    And what about you give over about MOPEry.
    Since the setting up of this sectarian state the Unionist side has seen themselves under siege. They believed much like Israel that “anything goes” if it means it protects their way of life.
    What happened in the North was not mass murder. I do not belittle the victims or the extent of the deaths that happened here but put it in context. It was not mass murder.
    Numerous people in the North were not touched by the troubles directly unless you talk about the level of security that was based here but you will find more guns on any street in the USA. More murders happened every year in major cities in the UK and USA than happened here.
    To condemn Nationalists for mopery is to say that they had no right to complain about what happened in this one party state for too long.
    The post deals with the Birmingham Bombing. The fact that the IRA carried out the bombing is clear. There does not need to be an inquiry to confirm that fact.
    The actions of the police before, during and after is at question.
    Was there intelligence on the IRA unit?
    Were there warnings of the bombing?
    Could they have prevented the deaths if they had listened to them?
    Why were six innocent men charged?
    How were they found guilty?
    When the IRA unit was arrested in Balcombe Street who later admitted to the bombing, why were the previous six charged not released?

  • Skibo

    Since when did MU need proof?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “I do not ever remember you condemning security violence.”
    The beauty of this site is that you can go back and read, so please do that. You’ll find many, many examples over many years.

    Of course the police like any public body have to be scrutinised. But I’m just saying, in doing so, we can lose sight of the big picture. My observation is that there seems to be an agenda-owning process around terrorist crimes where people sympathetic to the terrorists seek to get as many column inches as possible on the policing operation, whatever the terrorist crime, and as few as possible on dissecting the terrorism itself. They do that by a relentless focus on policing while maintaining a relative silence on the terrorism. The most recent Birmingham Pub Bombings coverage is a case in point.

    Sometimes the policing is the bigger story, or as big a story – Stephen Lawrence, Hillsborough etc. Police forces are far from perfect. But when it comes to how Republicans and it must be said Irish nationalists more generally have placed the focus during the terrorist years in NI, there is a very clear pattern and it’s to try and make the story as much about policing as possible and as little about terrorism as possible. Do you think no one notices this? Every unionist I know sees it and I’m sure many other people too.

    In some cases, as with the Danny Morrisons of this world, this is a deliberate media strategy; but in many other cases it just reflects the biases and worldview of Irish nationalism, it’s a kind of knee-jerk ‘look for a Prod or a Brit to blame’ response. So yes the police need to be looked into, but let’s be careful when doing so not to let that become the main story – because that lets the terrorists off the hook.

    The “collusion” agenda is course a bigger scale version of the same. Of course there is stuff to look at there, but if we do so without applying the same level of scrutiny to the terrorism, we skew the overall picture – which is exactly the Republican Movement’s reason for pushing this approach. What is needed, therefore, is a lot of counter-weight to the relentless anti-British machine, and I feel duty-bound to contribute to that on this site. It’s not enough to create an overall balance of commentary on Slugger, but it’s better than not having it. And it is quite possible to do that and allow fair scrutiny of the police too, it isn’t either/or.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I’m saying it here without the slightest fear of him suing me, for starters. I have read countless academic works that deal on the basis that the many intelligence reports on that are true. Remember British intelligence had informers very near the top of the Republican tree, Scapaticci for one. He was the leader of the IRA in prison. And he was flown in for the IRA’s meeting with Whitelaw et al – it was a precondition of the meeting that Adams was there. And of course we have the direct testimony of people like Sean O’Callaghan who attended Army Council meetings with him.

    To be clear: are you telling me now Gerry Adams was *not* a member of the PIRA Army Council? Really?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    so, you’re also convinced Adams was never a senior member of the IRA then? And you think that makes you sound like a credible contributor on here? Fine, go for it 🙂

  • MainlandUlsterman

    no I’d like Loyalists to come forward too – in fact just for you, let’s say they should do it first.

  • ted hagan

    I don’t think the murder strike rate on British soldiers is really anything to boast of. A bit sick really. The callousness comes in the fact that for every soldier, or in many cases civilian, the Provos killed, they were fully aware beforehand that an innocent Catholic civilian would die in revenge. As with bombings.

  • The Irishman

    So you have none.
    Also, was Gerry Adams ever in prison? Are ya sure he wasn’t interned?

  • ted hagan

    The British army may have had good intentions but once their members become victims it was obvious they were going to see loyalist paramilitaries as some sort of allies and that setting up a regiment like the UDR was utter folly. It demonstrated a total ignorance of the Northern Ireland situation by the British authorities.

  • The Irishman

    Again, proof and links please

  • Skibo

    Did I say that? I merely stated that you don’t need proof to raise accusations against Republicans but are quite content to write off similar accusations against British inteligence for running terrorist organisations.
    Irishman asked you for your proof. If there is proof why is he not in court.
    I don’t run in the kinds of circles that can confirm who was and was not in the IRA army council and I believe that you do not either so you have to take second and third hand information as evidence and I’m sorry that does not stand up in court.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Just so I get this straight: your conclusion is that Gerry Adams was not in the IRA?
    Tell you what: when he’s dead and everything (we’d hope) comes out, I’ll give you £1,000 of my own money if it turns out he was never in the IRA. Now, you don’t get offers like that every day. If I’m right, you only have to give me £50. Deal?

  • Skibo

    The big issue will be if British intelligence will. Get it all out in the open. Not sure what it will achieve as people on both sides are not convinced any side will release all information.
    We could be tied up for the next forty years demanding apologies and time served. I for one think it is time to draw a line and move on.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    see my bet offer above – there’s a grand in it for you if you’re right

  • Skibo

    There lies the problem. See you want to look at the troubles as a stand-alone issue. Republicans should not have resorted to violence full stop. You believe the state of Northern Ireland to be a democratic and equality based state.
    Republicans believe first of all that Ireland as a nation should be governed by the Irish and British Imperialism has been in Ireland with the use of violence, white washing the Irish culture and replacing with a British culture for the last eight hundred years. That the state of Northern Ireland was born out of the threat of violence from Unionists wanting that culture to continue. They believe that Unionism used and abused their self created majority to control the nationalist community within this state and actually created the conditions for rebellion.
    Had the conditions been resolved in time I believe that we would not have went through the troubles.
    That is my belief and I have a right to mine just as much as you have a right to yours.
    I believe there were a number of important occasions that allowed the troubles to go on for as long as they did. Ballymurphy, Bloody Sunday and internment. All showed that the powers that be considered the Nationalist community to be the problem and not the underlying conditions that had created the civil rights movement.
    Northern Ireland is a political problem that was trying to be resolved with a security answer.
    Had Sunningdale been allowed to bed in we would probably have saved thousands of deaths and injuries. Who stopped it? Unionism!
    The IRA opposed it but it was Unionism that brought it down. The Unionist people did not support sharing power. Why?
    Did they see us as not worthy? Were we second class citizens as we had always assumed.
    I try not to make excuses for death and murder but I will not stand idly by and let people like you say all was rosy in the garden till those pesky republicans started murdering people.
    I don’t know for sure if GA was the head of anything but I will say that without him, I don’t think there would be a peace process. There were enough hard liners that would have been prepared to continue on. He was prepared to look for an option. He should be given credit for that.
    It pains me that David Trimble received any awards for the peace process at all. He was dragged kicking and screaming the whole way.

  • Skibo

    Tell me what is achieved if Adams said he was in the IRA? Would he just be leaving himself open to arrest and prosecution of a proscribed organisation?
    Why are you fixated on it? Will you hunt down Unionist politicians with as much fervour to prove their links with shadowy Loyalist groups?

  • The Irishman

    So again no proof. I have made no claims, I have only asked you to show the facts and evidence to back up what you claim. Proof and links please.

  • The Irishman

    see above comment

  • Skibo

    Ok lets say they do it first and when they do, you can stand up and I will stand beside you and demand that the IRA and the British security forces do the same. No money need change hands like you have promised to The Irishman but I won’t hold my breath waiting.
    When are we going to put the past behind us and move on?
    Sinn Fein, in accepting the GFA has put behind them the process of setting up the state. Can we now accept them as politicians and get on with it.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I’m with Cillian McGrattan on that, I think drawing a line only creates an illusion of moving on. We need to face up to the past and be straight and honest about it, it is the only way to really move on. If we draw a line and stop reminding ourselves of what happened, we privilege the myths put about by perpetrators of the Troubles. They thrive on our ignorance, lack of clarity and lack of rigorous thinking. We didn’t come through the Troubles only to have the pathetic excuses of the w***ers that did most of it accepted as somehow OK. It’s not.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    not keen on the bet then? How come?

  • Ciaran O’Connor

    “would die in revenge”

    What a deeply, deeply stupid thing to write.

  • The Irishman

    Excellent post

  • Mac Red

    That’s a fair point that we can forget the victims, although that’s not what I see the above is aiming at (not your comment but the piece) . If we’re going back to who was the OC back then it was Thumper, Gerry didn’t take over till ’77 – its like trying to blame Cameron for Maggie’s work – although to be fair Dave is good at apologies

  • eamoncorbett

    No great fan of Adams but he was in prison for IRA membership .

  • mickfealty

    Just to stop pretending.

  • Declan Doyle

    Must be great to be soothsayer

  • Skibo

    MU you have drawn a line under the setting up of the state. Was everything that went before acceptable?
    You say it was the best solution dividing those who wanted independence and those who wanted to remain part of the UK. All it did was to move the problem to a smaller area and form a majority wanting unity and a minority that wanted reunification. the problem is still the same.
    Was the actions of the one party state, controlled by Big House Unionism ok or have you drawn a line under it? Drawn a line or just happy to say it wasn’t as bad as what those troublesome Catholics say it was?
    It is easy from a position of domination to look at the oppressed and say well you were only oppressed a bit! Is it not better to ask them how they felt about the whole thing. The only thing that decides whether an organisation is a terrorist organisation or a freedom fighting organisation is if they are on your side or not.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Al Capone got done for tax evasion …
    Jack The Ripper was never caught …

  • eamoncorbett

    Al Capone was put on trial.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    … for tax evasion, was the point. He was never convicted of being head of a criminal gang and ordering murders. You know, all the stuff he’s famous for having done.
    Now, Gerry Adams …

Join us for the Slugger End of Year Review Show, Wed 14th Dec 2016
Get your tickets