Fealty on Slugger’s ‘Collusion’ debate…

SLUGGER editor Mick Fealty interprets some of our online debate over recent revelations on security force/ loyalist collusion in today’s Irish News. Non-subscribers can read the whole article below (hope the IN doesn’t mind too much!) and it’s interesting to note Stephen McCaffrey’s point on who carried reports on the Irish News’s excellent coverage – a significant story worthy of follow-up – and who only paid it no more than lip service. On the issue of collusion coverage, Patricia McKenna lamented in Daily Ireland:

“I expected a massive outcry in Dáil Eireann with politicians calling the British government to account. I also expected that our state broadcaster, RTE, would have this as the top story of the day with extensive coverage devoted to the issue on all our national stations.

Astonishingly this story, one of the biggest scandals to hit these islands in recent years, confirming that the British government was aware of large-scale collusion between security forces and loyalist paramilitaries from as early as 1973, did not even merit a mention on our main radio or TV stations. [Ed’s note: RTE’s This Week was reported to have covered the story.]

Furthermore, the silence from the government and main political parties in Dáil Eireann was deafening.

Why has the exposure of this outrageous scandal merited so little attention and why is it being ignored by so many.
Our national media consider items such as the birth of actor Tom Cruise’s baby worthy of primetime news space but almost ignores a real national public security issue touching the lives of so many Irish people. Our politicians and government ministers who are constitutionally obliged to protect our interests and our wellbeing seem to turn a blind eye to the whole affair.

However, a quick search under ‘UDR collusion’ on the Daily Ireland website revealed a grand total of zero other references to the latest revelations on collusion. Did they appear in print?

* * *

From the Irish News:

Evidence ‘final proof’ for nationalists
Collusion – Subversion in the UDR
Reports: Steven McCaffery s.mccaffery@irishnews.com

THE emergence of the first documented evidence of large scale collusion and government knowledge of it, represented “final proof” for nationalists of a long-standing grievance, according to one media observer.

As the story unfolded it sparked a lengthy debate on the north’s leading internet platform for political discussion. Mick Fealty, editor of the Slugger O’Toole site said the publication of the documents saw contributors post more than 250 comments within two days.

The Slugger debate, he said, seemed particularly important to nationalists.

He noted how some sought to use the new information as a “silver bullet” – using it to support a range of nationalist theories over the troubles – but he pointed to one contribution that summed-up the wider nationalist reaction.

“It went along the lines of saying, some nationalists thought they were going insane, because it was never conclusively confirmed that there had been this kind of dual membership going on between the UDR and loyalist paramilitaries,” he said.

“But finally now they had got official confirmation of what they had known, but which was being officially denied.

“There is a sense that for this longterm grievance, finally they have proof, not only that the British government now know about it, but that it knew about it back then. And we are talking about the times of the Miami Showband and so on.”

The Irish News had exclusive access to the documents and carried a series of detailed reports across two days of special coverage.

The publication of the documents sparked a dispute over their contents, with Sinn Fein, the SDLP, the DUP and Ulster Unionist Party clashing over the issue.

Victims’ groups representing those bereaved by loyalists and security forces said that after years of campaigning on individual cases they were shocked at the “revelations”, adding that the arming of loyalists “has now been acknowledged in official documents”.

Among the groups to speak out were the Pat Finucane Centre and Justice for the Forgotten, who discovered the documents buried among public records office files, and who have since passed them to the police Historic Enquiries Team.

After the first day of Irish News coverage the story was taken up by the Press Association (PA) news agency.

Its stories are fed to media outlets throughout Ireland and Britain.

The PA story was carried by The Belfast Telegraph, UTV online, The Examiner, The Daily Mail and The Daily Express. The Guardian, The Irish Times, The News Letter and The Sunday Business Post all wrote their own follow-up stories.

RTE reported on the emergence of the documents in their in-depth news programme, This Week.

BBC Northern Ireland did not carry any news coverage on the emergence of the documents. A BBC spokesman said, however, that The Irish News reports were mentioned in Radio Ulster’s early morning newspaper review.

  • Shore Road Resident

    It was extremely weird that none of this appeared on the BBC.
    However, it was simply wrong to complain that the story wasn’t widely reported.

  • elfinto

    Well the BBC is the British Broadcasting Corporation after all. It’s obviously not very British to inform the citizenry that the state has been up to its neck in murdering the natives in a rather nasty corner of the realm.

  • elfinto

    Collusion will be in the news again whenever the McCord report is published (I assume the fishy character’s on-going trial is delaying publication).

    The findings of the Ombudsmans’s report have been widely leaked and it’s expected to find evidence of widespread RUC Special Branch collusion with the UVF in north Belfast.

    So how does this relate to the Irish News files? Apparrently Merlyn Rees told Thatcher in 1975 that ‘elements of the RUC were close to the UVF’. I don’t think we have heard the last of these files yet, not by a long shot. Sooner or later the stench will grow so great that the media will be forced to sit up and take notice.

  • crataegus

    Unfortunately we are unlikely to get to the bottom of this or similar (on all sides). Truth is one of the first victims of war.

  • Rory

    I fear you have a touching naivetee in the integrity and independence of the British press, Elfinto. ‘Ulster’ stories are only taken up when they are part of a preparation for some new UK/RoI government initiative. Certainly the propensity of loyalists to murder catholics might become news at some point to push Unionism towards acceptance of such an initiative, but the complicity of UK governmwnt agents and the tolerance of that complicity by senior figures in government in order to terrorise catholics is not really yet “respectably ripe for political debate” (as Bernard Levin once wrote in The Times on the issue of withdrawal from Ireland during a move to return the Price sisters to Ireland).

    It is one thing to demand that government lives up to the standards of democracy and right behaviour that it necessarily must espouse and it is right to express one’s horror and disapproval of government’s employment of terrorism and murder as a policy. To believe that the mass media who were only too well aware of this policy in NI(and its earlier application in Palestine, Malaya, Cyprus, Kenya, Aden – shall I go on?)will now distress the gteat British public with such unecessary intelligence is another.

  • ingram

    The honest truth is outside the North there is no interest in this subject, the only place to copper fasten this issue is in the courts.

    The trick is to get it into the court system.

  • elfinto


    As I indicated in post 2 I know how just how cynical the British press can be on this issue. However, I still would have expected The Guardian or The Independent to pick up on this story. The RoI press has not fared much better, which is a damned disgrace.

    It’s almost like the whole thing never happened – which is of course exactly what the British govt and DUP would like people to believe.


    The honest truth is outside the North there is no interest in this subject, the only place to copper fasten this issue is in the courts.

    And that’s the way the governments want to keep it. Their citizenries have been indoctrinated by the media on this issue – ‘they’re all as bad as each other’. If the British state can go around whacking people in Norn Iron then what’s to stop them from doing it in Britain. That’s why the media has a duty to report these stories and are basically not doing their job if they don’t.

    As for the court system, Marty, come on, you cannot be serious. Have you never heard of National Security Immunity Defence?

  • Uatu

    ‘The honest truth is outside the North there is no interest in this subject, the only place to copper fasten this issue is in the courts.

    The trick is to get it into the court system.’

    The current Director of the NI Court Service worked with David Trimble VERY closely before taking up his post.

    Was it a coincidence he parachuted in there as Mr T was taking up his First Minister post?

  • Ingram

    Elfinto, Uato

    Quote”As for the court system, Marty, come on, you cannot be serious. Have you never heard of National Security Immunity Defence

    Did I say it would be easy? No. cast your minds back twenty years would you have believed the IRA would surrender and decommission its Arms and Sinn Fein would advocate a acceptable NI police force and become actively involved in the administration of British rule in the North? No , neither did I but they did and by the end of this year we may see other major developments also.

    Keep the faith Marty is at the wheel.


  • Hey, Marty, thought I would break my self-imposed ordnance not to post on this censored site, or your most one-sided one to tell you that I have reviewed Annie Machon’s book, Spies, Lies & Whistleblowers, on the Irish Republican Bulletin Board, as you repeatedly requested me to do.

    I found the book just up your alley – a most comprehensive work of disinformation which suits the interests of British military intelligence, especially your FRU, in the on-going inquiries about its collusion in sectarian murders in Northern Ireland; MI5 in Britain’s conduct of counterterrorism; and MI6 in carrying out wars to suit Emperor Tony in Downing Street.

    You should give my review a look.

  • Ingram

    Quote”You should give my review a look.


  • Most surprised to see that my above post finally appeared. Was told repeatedly when I attempted to do so that it could not be done. Finally gave up trying.

    Guess the censors decided to do so after a review.

    I did leave out of the message that ‘Martin Ingram’ has apparently been barred from the IRBB because of his reckless behavior towards its posters and the site itself, explaining why I posted my message on this one – to make sure he knew about my review.

    I shall be happy to review his book. All he has to do is send it to the following address:

    Trowbridge H. Ford
    Sporrvägen 9
    18141 Lidingö

    I have already spent about £20 reviewing the disinformation of the Gang of Four, and am not prepared to put up any more.

  • Cnoc na bothar

    I think the issue here is more about who controls BBC current affairs. IMO the IN is frequently marginalised ,especially when they break good stories, as in this case. The DI gets more than a fair wind while any story about the Beeb itself is automatically a matter of national importance.
    Anyway, the IN story is the perfect response to why Patten was right and why Hugh Orde’s successor should be Kathleen O’Toole !