Prosecution of soldiers gives the lie to the idea that anyone has immunity for Troubles era killings…

So two soldiers now face prosecution for the killing of then unarmed IRA man Joe McCann near his home near the edge of the Markets on 15 April 1972….

The defendants, known as Soldier A and Soldier C, are the surviving members of the Army patrol which shot Joe McCann. They are aged 65 and 67, and were in the Parachute Regiment.

They are from England, but are expected to appear in court in Northern Ireland in the next few months.

Interestingly, the prosecutions are on foot of the work of the ill-fated Historical Enquiries Team, a group now consigned to history by the Stormont House Agreement, and yet to be replaced by the proposed Historical Investigations Unit.

It somewhat gives the lie to the idea that there is any kind of amnesty for what’s often referred to as ex-combatants. That may have been a general corollary of the post-Troubles era, but in practice anyone can be subject to prosecution if the DPP thinks there’s enough reason.

This is a test case for other victims of the security forces. However, the state is not likely to let this go easily, or by default.

The UK may work hard to put forward a public interest case that McCann (suspected of several murders and attempted murders before his death) was killed in a legitimate state process of bringing civil order in the worst year of the Troubles.

However, a successful prosecution could open the flood gates for cases against other soldiers. And with the polite fiction of a de facto amnesty dispensed with, who knows where it’s likely to stop.

  • North Down

    Yes, have you answered the question 8 different people on hear keep skipping it , if you support sinn fein did you support what the ira did it’s not hard,

  • john millar

    ” suggest we all reference Lost Lives briefly before proceeding down a route that may seem bleedin obvious in 2016, that may not have been available in 1972.”

    Sadly its price -(my copy cost me £49 ) puts in in the high cost bracket sadly because its a brilliant detailed description of the circumstances of each death and highlights how many poor bloody innocents were murdered in the name of patriotism

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lost-Lives-Children-Northern-Troubles/dp/184018504X

    advertises it for £25 but is currently unavailable

    The Mckeown database

    http://www.cain.ulst.ac.uk/victims/mckeown/index.html
    uses “lost lives” in its construction I have detected the odd error when comparing the two but ” McKeown” allows a lot of information to be searched.

  • john millar

    I feel its all charade
    Can these soldiers opt for trial by jury – in NI?
    If so they are home safe– no NI jury will ever agree to convict them

  • eireanne3

    the HET process was a mess – Her Majesty‟s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) had scrambled to investigate the strange behaviour of the PSNI Historical Enquiries Team (HET), finding plenty that was puzzling as well as evidence of significant shortcomings in the way the HET operates.
    https://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/the-het-report/

  • Declan Doyle

    But the DUP are linked to violent loyalism and people still vote for them. Explain that?

  • file

    It felt like a war to me as a teenager in Belfast.

  • Thomas Girvan

    I think that this photo was taken whilst on a trip to Israel.
    We would not wish to mislead people into believing that it was an illegal firearm in Northern Ireland, would we?

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Yes if he is holding an illegal gun !

  • Croiteir

    There you go with them garrison games at every chance, the one consolation is that ye are keek at them.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d50c61127fdf52163ef57424f6d62db7846bedfa7d46f9893efe600f1847465b.jpg

    Now Now Croiteir your just not playing cricket ! Ball Please not Man !

  • T.E.Lawrence
  • Croiteir

    Silly point

  • grumpy oul man

    Really. Dont be two sure of that.

  • grumpy oul man

    War. Then the geneva convention applys. Compensation for anybody convicted in a criminal court.the commanders of the IRA , UVF. BRITISH ARMY arrested for war crimes. British PM arrested for war crimes.sure you want to go there .
    it means all the ” terrorists” stop being terrorists in law. But im sure you know best.

  • grumpy oul man

    Will peter robinson also count. Setting up a terror group has to count.
    Always wondered why the goverment never arrested him or Ian for that one. Plenty of proof done it on telly in front of everybody.

  • North Down

    Is that what you tell yourself, does that make it easier for you too support senna fein

  • grumpy oul man

    As i asked mick ill ask you.
    The unionist polticisns who set up Ulster resistance also be in court.

  • grumpy oul man

    But he did form a terror group that smuggled guns and murdered people.
    ( and tried to sell military secrets to a foriegn power)
    That is a crime is it not.

  • grumpy oul man

    Votind DUP. Or UUP and your voting for parties rhat supported terrorists and worked losely with them. Whats the difference?

  • john millar

    Jury selection will produce a panel 50/50ish Pro/ Mick
    No Jury with that mix will convict a soldier

  • Jollyraj

    I thought those letters were no longer worth the paper they were written on. Is that not so?

  • Declan Doyle

    You’re the one with the issue fella not me

  • North Down

    Democracy, are you a sinner

  • North Down

    They never agreed with murder, sinn feint and they’re supporters do

  • grumpy oul man

    Peter and Ian where a lot of things, but they where not fools.
    Only a fool would believe that forming a group. Dressing them in red berets, making speechs about fighting and sacrifice would not end up with that group murdering people.
    Sorry mate they formed a terror group that went out and killed people. Claiming surprise and washing hands when the killing starts is to say the least dishonest.
    But sure run your theory past the victims of UR , see what they think of it.

  • grumpy oul man

    ??

  • grumpy oul man

    Are you saying that shooting a unarmed man will meet with approval from unionists.
    That lets the provos off then or is one rule for the killers you approve off and another for those you disaprove off.

  • john millar

    “Are you saying that shooting a unarmed man will meet with approval from unionists.
    That lets the provos off then or is one rule for the killers you approve off and another for those you disaprove off.”

    Repeats
    “Jury selection will produce a panel 50/50ish Pro/ Mick
    No Jury with that mix will convict a soldier”

    McCanns` reputation will be shredded

    The press war has already started

    “The daughter of a British soldier alleged shot dead by IRA commander Joe McCann claims he ‘got what he deserved’ when he was gunned down.”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/index.html

    Try for a trial in GB?

  • North Down

    Democracy was my answer, then a question found u

  • North Down

    No they didn’t former a terror group, I can understand your post if u support the sdlp, but your a sf supporter, u must b worse than Peter than Ian supporting murder

  • Madra Uisce

    You are right they are not get out of Jail free cards and never were. The so called OTR letters are being introduced as a distraction by posters who do not believe that the rule of law should apply to all.

  • Madra Uisce

    The DUP has a long history with Loyalists terrorists stretching from the present [see Dee Stitt] and going back to its formation. Indeed some of its elected members were convicted terrorists, others were party members. None of this is news to anyone other that perhaps your self.

  • grumpy oul man

    Im a SF supporter. Were did you get that from? You will jave to learn that everybody who disagrees with you is not a shinner. But tell you what show me where i have supported SF in any way.
    So UR wasnt a terrorist group . so those innocent people they murdered wernt killed by terrorists?

  • grumpy oul man

    Again sir you make no sense!

  • grumpy oul man

    So the same old uhiomist two tier system of rights.

  • john millar

    “So the same old uhiomist two tier system of rights.”

    Just facing reality (Jury trials had to be abandoned in NI)

  • Thomas Girvan

    He was never charged with anything of the sort.
    I would have no doubt that Mr Robinson would strongly refute your allegations.
    If you have evidence you should refer it to the PSNI.

  • North Down

    Sorry , uup and dup don’t support terrorists

  • North Down

    When someone says something about sf, r the ira, your always on what about the unionists what about this what about that, that’s a seinner , sdlp supporterror would b biased but still say ira were wrong , terrorists etc, yes unionists were terrorists if that makes you more comfortable supportin sinn fein ira,

  • North Down

    Can’t believe me and thousands of unionists were supporting terrorists all along, now it’s OK for the Catholic community to support sf in there thousands

  • Madra Uisce

    Every day is a school day. You should read more

  • AntrimGael

    So Republicans in Belfast, Lurgan, East Tyrone, South Derry etc actually ALL lived in the South and operated from there?? Groan………..

  • AntrimGael

    David Ervine said that Loyalists knew the colour of wallpaper in ALL the top Unionist politician’s front rooms. I think that says it all.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    OK ! lets rephrase it then. The PPS has not had the balls or guts to bring forward a prosecution with any known person carrying such a monopoly card ! “Rule of Law” you say ? More like Un-Rule of Law to me !

  • Madra Uisce

    How do you know this for sure. PPS will act to bring charges only if it believes that there is a reasonable chance of a conviction based on the evidence. Now could you please answer me this just so i can be clear. Do you believe that these two soldiers should not face the courts and if so why? Secondly, are you of the opinion that soldiers should not have to face the courts no matter what the circumstances were to their killing someone.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    I believe all persons who have committed a crime and there is evidence to convict should face the courts. Everybody in society right as far as to the Queen. I disagree with political decisions and interference in the DPP and the issue of OTR Letters which stops justice being pursued by victims !

  • grumpy oul man

    Oh dear .i see so when i point out that unionists have double standards im a provo!
    When unionist rants on about nationlist terrorists from 20 years ago but says nothing about activeUDA leaders getting paychecks from the goverment i should keep my mouth shut.
    Funnily enough Jollyraj who you called a SF supporter just last week is a wild eyed loyalist. So i wont be too upset when you call me a provo since you seem a bit unsure what a provo is.

  • grumpy oul man

    No off course they don’t.
    Has dear old Dee Stitt got his contract yet from Arlene.
    Remind me which terror group leader was running Twaddle and which parties supported him.
    And we never see unionist politicians at loyalist events (organized by terror groups)
    Yep those things would never happen.

  • grumpy oul man

    No he was never charged with these things and that is a question for the government and my point i believe.
    Are you denying paisley and Robinson set up Ulster Resistance and that it was a terror group which killed people, tried to sell state secrets to a foreign power and imported weapons which it handed over to the UDA/UVF.
    And are you also claiming that Ian and Peter didn’t have the wit to realize that uniforms colourparties ,
    Wild speeches and oaths would not lead to terror.
    How did they believe that UR would work out any different than any other such group in the history of Ireland.
    By the way GA was never charged with IRA membership does that let him off the hook?

  • grumpy oul man

    Because of the threat of intimidation of juries not bias of the jury.

  • Thomas Girvan

    Ulster Resistance was not an illegal organisation.
    If members of that organisation broke the law they should be made accountable
    The IRA is an illegal organisation, membership of which is an offence liable to a maximum of five yeas in goal.
    If Gerry Adams was a member, then he should be charged, if enough evidence is available.
    I won’t hold my breath.

  • mickfealty

    If there’s any case against him, yes. Of course. [More on this later].

  • grumpy oul man

    Well nobody can deny that he was heavily involved in setting up UR which was a terrorist organization.
    Are claims of surprise and shock when it started killing believable.
    And Clontribet it is unbelievable that the planing (conspricy to commit a offence) with the UVFtook place somewhere under the jurisdiction of PSNI or the DPP.

  • grumpy oul man

    UR was not illegal, sorry care to prove that,
    A armed force outside the authority of the Crown, which organized the importing of weapons into the country (via a foreign power in exchange for militarily secrets) both used those weapons in sectarian attacks and supplied weapons to other terrorist groups was not illegal! not only is it criminal it is treasonable and dare i say it very disloyal.

    You do realize that killing innocent people or supplying the weapons to kill innocent people is against the law even if they are Catholics.

  • grumpy oul man

    DID you support the UVF/UDA campaign?

  • John Collins

    I do not suport SF or the IRA.

  • Thomas Girvan

    The Ulster Resistance was not a proscribed organisation.
    Here’s a link which lists those that are.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Proscribed_paramilitary_organisations_in_Northern_Ireland

    That’s not to say that their members haven’t been involved in illegal activities,
    For that, as I said previously, they should he held to account.
    Ironically the organisation responsible for killing most Catholics was the IRA.

  • grumpy oul man

    Certainly the British goverment has to answer why it chose to let loyalist terror groups go un prescribed,
    Love the ” some bad apples bit” pity it was the leadership that done it using UR members and resources, hard to bad apple that.
    Sorry a organisation that brings in guns and kills peeople as a planed tactic is illegal.
    But you try and split hairs about organised murder.
    Even if your claim about the IRA killing the most catholics was true how would that change the facts about UR in any way?

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    “McCann . . . was killed in a legitimate state process ”

    But that’s just the problem – he was NOT killed in a legitimate state process.

    Fair enough, if the state is faced with insurgency, it should be able to react, but it must do so legally, even if that has to be under a new definition of what is a legal reaction. It is not OK just to react to illegality with counter illegality, otherwise we are all adrift on a sea of lawlessness.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Just to clarify: “Anyone who seeks to kill” – how do you feel about the state organising killing? Do you mean that it is ok for e.g. the UK government to authorise killing in war or insurgency, but not for those insurgents to kill in return as resistance?

    If not, why not? If you were an insurgent against a foreign government, would you stop at killing those who were trying to kill you?

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Agreed. But good luck with getting the British Army High Command and the UK Government of the time into the dock. As well as all the rest on both sides, who might be somewhat easier.

  • john millar

    “Fair enough, if the state is faced with insurgency, it should be able to react, but it must do so legally, even if that has to be under a new definition of what is a legal reaction. It is not OK just to react to illegality with counter illegality, otherwise we are all adrift on a sea of lawlessness.”

    Are you suggesting that membership of the RA in its various forms was a 9 to 5 ish occupation with weekends free? It seems he was a “volunteer” who was killed by the opposition or as the victims daughter puts it

    ‘IRA chief who killed my father got what he deserved’: Daughter of British soldier gunned down by Joe McCann in the Troubles blasts the ‘diabolical’ decision to charge two retired soldiers with his murder

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4045442/IRA-chief-killed-father-got-deserved-Daughter-British-soldier-gunned-Joe-McCann-Troubles-blasts-diabolical-decision-charge-two-retired-soldiers-murder.html

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    I don’t see what the number of hours you put in has to do with it. (And quotes from the Daily Mail do little to enhance anyone’s credibility – rather the opposite). Democracy is built on the rule of law and the existence of free speech. If you dispense with that you are in no better a state than Germany in the late thirties.

  • john millar

    “When unionist rants on about nationlist terrorists from 20 years ago but says nothing about activeUDA leaders getting paychecks from the goverment”

    Stormont and the various” friends of” and “charities” and “relatives for” are coming down with ” terrorists from 20 years ago” (and not so long ago) where would you start/end?

  • john millar

    ” don’t see what the number of hours you put in has to do with it.”
    I fear you are dodging the issue
    Are /were the RA etc entitled to “part timer membership?
    “I am currently not on active service” so you can`t touch me ?

    PS Maligning the report publisher- won`t work the lady said what she said

  • grumpy oul man

    Well relative of (note not for) are mostly family of those innocents murdered by one of the factions.
    EG. Omagh (dissident republicians)
    Ballymurphy ( British army)
    Mc Gurks ( UVF covered up by RUC) to confuse them with a leader of a active terrorist group is pretty strange.
    So John since you are making a comparsion between a terrorist and the victims of terrorism can i assume that you approve of Dee getting public money or at least willing to put up with it because because those pesky victims keep wanting the truth.
    And after all having a daddy or son murdered and wanting the truth makes you the same sort of person who runs a criminsl group.

  • grumpy oul man

    It is wrong to shoot a unarmed man.
    Mc Canns guilt was a matter for the courts not a man with a rifle.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Who cares whether anyone was ‘part-time’ or not?

    Illegality must be met by legality. That’s the long and the short of it.

  • john millar

    “And after all having a daddy or son murdered and wanting the truth makes you the same sort of person who runs a criminsl group”

    Simply underlining the sectarian separation of the various groups where they focus exclusively on their individual community.

    Perhaps you could identify those groups which are
    1 Politically neutral
    2 Operate on behalf of ALL victims

  • john millar

    What was illegal about shooting a member of the opposing forces? Was he a member of those forces? or is off duty status a right ? and If so why did it not apply to other groupings (Police/Army)

  • john millar

    What courts decided the guilt of those murdered by ther various RAs?

  • john millar

    It will be a crowded dock

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    The more the better. The ‘ruling classes’ have got away with far too much for far too long.

  • grumpy oul man

    Sorry i dont understand that.
    Care to explain it!

  • grumpy oul man

    So no investigations into IRA murders unless everybody agrees. And still shocked that you compare investigating the murders of innocent victims to active terrorists (leading groups who committed many murder) getting goverment money.