RUC GC

From yesterday’s Belfast Telegraph, an article that will infuriate as many as it pleases.
“The first history of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, the Thin Green Line, by historian Richard Doherty looks back over the 80 years of the RUC’s existence and assesses the role it has played in our turbulent history. In this exclusive extract, Doherty recalls how, despite sustaining terrible casualties itself, the RUC held the line between law and order and anarchy. It was undoubtedly, he maintains, a force for good

  • cg

    Forgive me if I don’t shed a tear for the RUC.

  • Davros

    That’s very …restrained cg 😉

  • cg

    Thanks Davros
    Sometimes it’s hard restraining oneself.
    Clearly not “Prescott” then, eh? 😉

  • Davros

    LOL 🙂

  • chunkyguy

    I would say the article is overlooking one key aspect which has dodged the police force over the period of the troubles- that of collusion !]This has been airbrushed by this journalists account of the ruc

  • Davros

    Chunkyguy- it’s an extract that backs up the central contention that overall they were a force for good. It’ll be interesting to see what the book does say about alleged collusion.

  • Dec

    Interesting that he holds up the Shankill Butcher investigation as a triumph of policing work when, if my memory serves me, they were free to butcher in North Belfast for almost 10 years with the RUC steadfastly refusing to follow up obvious clues and leads and were only caught when one of their victims survived and was then able to identify his attackers.

  • willowfield

    The RUC steadfastly refused to follow up obvious clues and leads?

    Why?

    Because they were evil, sectarian bastards who wanted innocent Catholics to be murdered by the Shankill Butchers?

    They must have been gutted when they put them behind bars.

  • Davros

    Dec – 30 years on and who has been jailed for the murder of Jean McConville ?

  • Dec

    More likely because they were thick. I’m merely highlighting a particular case which is mentioned in the extract. If you want to debate the issues I’m all ears but if you want to be sarky and ignore the context find someone else to play with.

  • Davros

    Was that aimed at WF or me Dec ?

  • Dec

    Whatabout, whatabout…snore. Probably no-one Davros. Same can be said for a lot of victims. Now, I’m going to repeat this for the last time: Doherty lauds the Shankill Butcher investigation, I say it was pure chance they were caught and the actions of the investigating officers showed ineptitude at times. I’m not trying to provoke an ‘RUC loves Loyalists’ debate here.

  • Dec

    Davros

    WF. The second exasperated reply was at you though ;]

  • Davros

    LOL 🙂

    For that you get a blast of Louis Macneice.

    Why do we like being Irish? Partly because
    It gives us a hold on the sentimental English
    As members of a world that never was,
    Baptised with fairy water;
    And partly because Ireland is small enough
    To be still thought of with a family feeling,
    And because the waves are rough
    That split her from a more commercial culture;
    And because one feels that here at least one can
    Do local work which is not at the world’s mercy
    And that on this tiny stage with luck a man
    Might see the end of one particular action.
    It is self-deception of course;
    There is no immunity in this island either;
    A cart that is drawn by somebody else’s horse
    And carrying goods to somebody else’s market.
    The bombs in the turnip sack, the sniper from the roof,
    Griffith, Connolly, Collins, where have they brought us?
    Ourselves alone! Let the round tower stand aloof
    In a world of bursting mortar!
    Let the school-children fumble their sums
    In a half-dead language;
    Let the censor be busy on the books; pull down the Georgian slums;
    Let the games be played in Gaelic.
    Let them grow beet-sugar; let them build
    A factory in every hamlet;
    Let them pigeon-hole the souls of the killed
    Into sheep and goats, patriots and traitors.
    And the North, where I was a boy,
    Is still the North, veneered with the grime of Glasgow,
    Thousands of men whom nobody will employ
    Standing at the corners, coughing.

    From Autumn Journal, by Louis MacNeice,

    Source : A Pocket History of Irish Literature by A. Norman Jeffares

  • The Dog

    The RUC was a key protagonist to the conflict. It did no such thing as hold the thin green/blue line. It was dominated by the political agenda of unionists and in particular along with its cousin the B special created the condition for the escalation of the conflict.

    While i have no dobut that some belive that the RUC did its best – I personally beilve that it it did its best to alienate nationalists and crush resitance to the unionist state that was created through the use and threat of violence from the unionist paramailitaries – unionist establsihment and – unionist paramilitary policing structure (one and the same thing at the end of the day).

    State terror is the most fundamentally objectionable tool. It undermines the very legitimacy of the state. The RUC were a key element in British state terrorism – all members by extension are terrorists. And while there should be ample scope to them to have a future they too must recognise and acknowledge their past.

    To date there has been no formal statement from the RUC, British Army or British state appologising for what it did here in the name of the union. This is a disgrace and is probably one of the greatest obsticles to progress particularly on key isues such as the true and rec debate.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    State terror is the most fundamentally objectionable tool.

    True. So I expect all republicans must have been absolutely disgusted by the actions of those claiming to be the legitimate government of Ireland, better known as the IRA Army Council.

  • willowfield

    Nice one, Gonzo!

    The RUC was a key protagonist to the conflict.

    In the very, very early days.

    I personally beilve that it it did its best to alienate nationalists

    Why on earth would it have done that? If, as you claim, its purpose was to “uphold the unionist state”, it would have been totally counter-productive to “do its best to alienate nationalists”.

    … the unionist state that was created through the use and threat of violence from the unionist paramailitaries – unionist establsihment and – unionist paramilitary policing structure (one and the same thing at the end of the day).

    Name a state that wasn’t created through the use and threat of violence.

    The RUC were a key element in British state terrorism – all members by extension are terrorists.

    Explain.

    To date there has been no formal statement from the RUC, British Army or British state appologising for what it did here in the name of the union.

    Such as?

  • The Dog

    BG

    Very cute. The British government claimed jurisdiction over Irealnd. Fought a violent campaign to keep it so, artificially created division (as in every other colony) and supported both directly and indirectly the policy of state terror. Twist as you might that undermines the legitimacy of the British state in Ireland.

    On the other hand where the IRA claim to be the legitimate government of Ireland – only an idiot would not accept the de facto reality that it wasn’t.

    I can get into the arguments for and against the IRA campaign – which I am not really in a position to judge – but it was clearly a war between a very large state and people who believed that they were freedom fighters who were trying to remove an imperial presence.

  • peteb

    For someone not really in a position to judge, Dog, there seems an awful lot of judgements in your posts.

  • willowfield

    The Dog

    The British government claimed jurisdiction over Irealnd.

    It didn’t “claim” it: it had jurisdiction – hence republicans’ campaign against it!

    Fought a violent campaign to keep it so

    Or, alternatively, resisted a violent campaign to end its jurisdiction.

    artificially created division (as in every other colony) and supported both directly and indirectly the policy of state terror.

    If you refer to partition, there was no artificial division: it was very real! And what is “the policy of state terror” that was supported directly and indirectly.

    I can get into the arguments for and against the IRA campaign – which I am not really in a position to judge

    Why are you not in a position to judge?

    – but it was clearly a war between a very large state and people who believed that they were freedom fighters who were trying to remove an imperial presence.

    It wasn’t a war. And certainly not clearly so.

    BTW, answers to my 1.32 would be much appreciated! Or were the questions too difficult for you?

  • The Dog

    peteb,

    caught red handed – while i am not in any real position to judge – because i’m not that old and i’m not from these here parts – i am but human – inwhich case i will still add my penny’s worth.

    wf,

    I would dispute the assertion that the RUC was a key protagonist only in the early days – there is clear evidence of their involvement in a policy of collusion stretching up to the present day – and also clear evidence of an overty partisan political agenda.

    I never said that i belived that unionism was intelligent. I belive and my experience of senior unionists would tend to bear this out – that it was arrogance that allowed unionist to belive that they could force nationalists into remining as second class citizens within their state or as some latter day arch unionists claim bugger off back over the border.

    However, i concur that no state – particularly one formed through imperialist adventure or through the fight for liberation from oppression – is formed without violence. It is just good to see the recognition that the founding of the state was an act of violence – that has created the cycle of violence.

    Let me get basic on my view of the RUC as a terrorist organisation. It was an arm of the state that operated an active policy towards the nationalist republican community – that included the destabalisation of these communities through the use of agents and criminals – and also the targeting of nats/reps by unionist paramilitaries. This intricate system was developed and maintined through the joint offices of the RUC special branch and Brit military intelligence. MAny of these agents are still in place and many of the control systems remain.

    The objective of state terrorism was to try and defeat republicans – it failed but then state terrorism is rarely a success.

    For a state and its agents and agencies to be invloved in the murder of people it claims as its citizens – then to fail in investigating such murders (for fairly obvios reason – namely it was implicated in them) is a clear breach of human rights – an appology such as that issued by the IRA in 2002 would be a psoitive first step in the BRoitish government acknowldgement that it was wrong to behave in the way that it did.

  • peteb

    All penny’s are welcome, Dog, it was just a gentle reminder that disqualifying yourself from having a valid opinion could be used against your other arguments.

  • willowfield

    The Dog

    I would dispute the assertion that the RUC was a key protagonist only in the early days – there is clear evidence of their involvement in a policy of collusion stretching up to the present day – and also clear evidence of an overty partisan political agenda.

    Maybe my understanding of protagonist is wrong? It indicates to me a proactive, rather than a reactive role. Collusion was a reaction to a terrorist onslaught which would have continued whether or not such collusion took place: collusion was not a cause of the terrorist onslaught. Only in the early days could police actions be viewed as a cause of violence.

    I never said that i belived that unionism was intelligent.

    I belive and my experience of senior unionists would tend to bear this out – that it was arrogance that allowed unionist to belive that they could force nationalists into remining as second class citizens within their state or as some latter day arch unionists claim bugger off back over the border.

    Any evidence that the police was deliberately used to “alienate” nationalists?

    However, i concur that no state – particularly one formed through imperialist adventure or through the fight for liberation from oppression – is formed without violence.

    Your comment was rather pointless, then.

    It is just good to see the recognition that the founding of the state was an act of violence – that has created the cycle of violence.

    I did not say that the founding of the state was an act of violence, nor that it created a cycle of violence.

    Let me get basic on my view of the RUC as a terrorist organisation. It was an arm of the state that operated an active policy towards the nationalist republican community – that included the destabalisation of these communities through the use of agents and criminals – and also the targeting of nats/reps by unionist paramilitaries. This intricate system was developed and maintined through the joint offices of the RUC special branch and Brit military intelligence. MAny of these agents are still in place and many of the control systems remain.

    Your argument seems to be based on allegations of collusion. These allegations relate only to the period of the recent Troubles; more particularly to the 1980s. It does not seem reasonable to characterise an entire police force as “terrorists” on this basis.

    The objective of state terrorism was to try and defeat republicans – it failed but then state terrorism is rarely a success.

    Let’s assume purely for the sake of argument that state terrorism existed and its purpose was as you claim. How did it fail? The state still exists; republicans failed to achieve their goal and have given up their “war”.

    For a state and its agents and agencies to be invloved in the murder of people it claims as its citizens – then to fail in investigating such murders (for fairly obvios reason – namely it was implicated in them) is a clear breach of human rights – an appology such as that issued by the IRA in 2002 would be a psoitive first step in the BRoitish government acknowldgement that it was wrong to behave in the way that it did.

    Of course it was a breach of human rights. Whether it is appropriate for the government to apologise for the actions of relatively minor agents is debatable. I don’t think it’s of much consequence – what matters is that those guilty are brought to justice. Apologies are empty gestures.

  • The Dog

    wf,

    I think that it is appropriate for the state to accept and acknowledge its role in in the conflict. The excuse of only following orders – as used by nazis manning the death camps throughout Europe – has long since been rejected as a defence. The point is that what you describe as minor agents weilded huge power – the power of life and death. They were not a police force in the internationally accepted norm of things – they were a paramilitary force with a political agenda.

    You make the point about being brought to justice – but then thousands of nationalists, republicans and loyalists have faced the courts – while few if any agents of the British state have been held up for ‘due process’ (and that is debatable given the way that the courts were manipulated)in the same manner. This brings us to the impunity isue – The British state and its agents and agencies acted with total impunity – immune to any human rights standards and immune to the rule of law.

    As one ex-British soldier put it recently on Let’s Talk – we tried to kill them and they tried to kill us. There is in reality an absolute equivelance between all of the protagonists. But the fundamental difference is that it is reasonable to expect that a state will act within certain internationally accepted norms in respect of upholding law and order and the protection of human life.

    As for state terrorism and the victory or otherwise of the protagonists – it is my supposition that republicans have won the war – in essense by not being defeated and in further by entrenching their position firmly in the political landscape.

    The policy of collusion we both refer to was developed around the thatcher period and slightly preceeding but the truth is that particularly in the earlier incarnation of the RUC – the RIC and also through the B Specials and UDR there are numerous examples of collussion. We only have to look at a sectarian killer like Nixon (one of Paisley’s heros) to see the thread running through sectarian violence and paramilitary and political unionism that exhibited itself through the police force and public office.

    I find it interesting that you do not respond to the question about – I belive and my experience of senior unionists would tend to bear this out – that it was arrogance that allowed unionist to belive that they could force nationalists into remining as second class citizens within their state or as some latter day arch unionists claim bugger off back over the border – but instead ask for examples of how the RUC alienated nats/reps Burntolet – the belfast pogroms – collusion in the murder of nat/rep elected representatives etc…

  • The Dog

    wf,

    I think that it is appropriate for the state to accept and acknowledge its role in in the conflict. The excuse of only following orders – as used by nazis manning the death camps throughout Europe – has long since been rejected as a defence. The point is that what you describe as minor agents weilded huge power – the power of life and death. They were not a police force in the internationally accepted norm of things – they were a paramilitary force with a political agenda.

    You make the point about being brought to justice – but then thousands of nationalists, republicans and loyalists have faced the courts – while few if any agents of the British state have been held up for ‘due process’ (and that is debatable given the way that the courts were manipulated)in the same manner. This brings us to the impunity isue – The British state and its agents and agencies acted with total impunity – immune to any human rights standards and immune to the rule of law.

    As one ex-British soldier put it recently on Let’s Talk – we tried to kill them and they tried to kill us. There is in reality an absolute equivelance between all of the protagonists. But the fundamental difference is that it is reasonable to expect that a state will act within certain internationally accepted norms in respect of upholding law and order and the protection of human life.

    As for state terrorism and the victory or otherwise of the protagonists – it is my supposition that republicans have won the war – in essense by not being defeated and in further by entrenching their position firmly in the political landscape.

    The policy of collusion we both refer to was developed around the thatcher period and slightly preceeding but the truth is that particularly in the earlier incarnation of the RUC – the RIC and also through the B Specials and UDR there are numerous examples of collussion. We only have to look at a sectarian killer like Nixon (one of Paisley’s heros) to see the thread running through sectarian violence and paramilitary and political unionism that exhibited itself through the police force and public office.

    I find it interesting that you do not respond to the question about – I belive and my experience of senior unionists would tend to bear this out – that it was arrogance that allowed unionist to belive that they could force nationalists into remining as second class citizens within their state or as some latter day arch unionists claim bugger off back over the border – but instead ask for examples of how the RUC alienated nats/reps Burntolet – the belfast pogroms – collusion in the murder of nat/rep elected representatives etc…

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    If the author is holding up the Shankill Butchers investigation about all that is good about the RUC then it must be a very seriously flawed booked and a bit of a snow job.
    I am from the area that these people including a UDR soldier operated. I was well aware of being stopped daily by BA soldiers and RUC men as i travelled between Ardoyne and the New Lodge.

    Their modus operandi was quite clear, they would drive around the area, sometimes drunk, in a black taxi, picking up stragglers on their way home. Despite the proliferation of army and police barracks in that area these people were allowed to operate for a number of years. Yeah brilliant police work.

    Their eventual arrest was down to them being sloppy and being identified by a survivor. RUC success in that operation was down to the victim who lived.

  • willowfield

    The Dog

    I think that it is appropriate for the state to accept and acknowledge its role in in the conflict. The excuse of only following orders – as used by nazis manning the death camps throughout Europe – has long since been rejected as a defence.

    No-one’s offering such an excuse! Stop bringing in red herrings.

    If state agents were guilty of crimes then they should be charged and convicted, regardless of whether they were “following orders”.

    The point is that what you describe as minor agents weilded huge power – the power of life and death. They were not a police force in the internationally accepted norm of things – they were a paramilitary force with a political agenda.

    On the contrary: they were internationally accepted as a police force! You’re making stuff up.

    You make the point about being brought to justice – but then thousands of nationalists, republicans and loyalists have faced the courts – while few if any agents of the British state have been held up for ‘due process’ (and that is debatable given the way that the courts were manipulated)in the same manner.

    Nationalist and loyalist terrorists committed far more crimes than “agents of the British state”, so it is unsurprising that more of them “faced the courts”.

    This brings us to the impunity isue – The British state and its agents and agencies acted with total impunity – immune to any human rights standards and immune to the rule of law.

    That is not true, since the UK was brought before the European Court of Human Rights on several occasions.

    There is in reality an absolute equivelance between all of the protagonists.

    There isn’t.

    But the fundamental difference is that it is reasonable to expect that a state will act within certain internationally accepted norms in respect of upholding law and order and the protection of human life.

    Obviously.

    The policy of collusion we both refer to was developed around the thatcher period and slightly preceeding …

    So you accept that it was a response to the terrorist onslaught and not a cause of it. Thank you.

    … the belfast pogroms …

    ????????

  • Moderate Unionist

    b>The Dog
    Can’t help thinking that your shooting from the hip on this one.
    while i am not in any real position to judge – because i’m not that old and i’m not from these here parts

    Things are never straight forward, try looking at things from different perspectives. This does not mean that you accept them, but it does make for a meaningful debate.

    Your use of emotive language such as
    I never said that i belived that unionism was intelligent. I belive and my experience of senior unionists would tend to bear this out
    does not help your cause. Insults rarely produce converts.

    Anyway as peteb has said you are entitled to your opinions but you must realise that in the big wide world these will be challenged (you will be asked to justify them) and please remember that we too are human. 🙂