British troop levels return to peace time levels…

At long last the British troop numbers here will drop to the ‘peacetime’ levels they were at before being called onto the streets of Belfast in 1969. Already the battles are beginning over what it means. It clearly means different things to different people:The DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson:

Referring to the 763 members of the forces who were killed, he said: “This is a difficult time for the families of those who were killed. This was an immense sacrifice and we owe a great debt to those who laid down their life in defence of democracy.” Turning to locally recruited and part-time members of the forces, Mr Donaldson said: “Many UDR and latterly RIR soldiers were killed as they sat alongside their family, worked in their local community or while they returned home from duty. Undoubtedly those soldiers who served amongst their community, especially along the Border, faced scenes and hardships which were never printed and we’ll never read of.”

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly:

“I remember around 1972, when I was going about, nearly every working class Catholic’s house was on computer,” he said.

“I was on the run at the time and if I gave a name they would ask me what colour the wallpaper was in that household because they had it on file. They used to walk into houses at night and count everyone there, from babies up, to keep check.” He described such operations as “real Big Brother stuff”. “We have had British troops and other crown forces on the ground now into a second generation, and it was an oppressive presence. . .

“Before they had intelligence, internment was being used as a weapon against nationalists and Catholic people. But when you look back at it now it was the simple repetition of tactics that were used by the British army in every single arena in the world they went into as a colonial power.”

If Mairtin reckons it’s bon voyage, to Richard Walsh of the Derry based Rpublican Prisoners Action Group, the ‘withdrawal’ is meaningless:

“They say it (Operation Banner) is drawing to an end, but there will still be a permanent garrison, and they`re only a helicopter`s flight away.

“They can be brought back at very short notice.”

He added: “The fact is that British policy has effectively succeeded in that the RUC/PSNI are able to police without the support of the British Army.

“It`s by no means a step forward when you have the Provisionals openly collaborating with the British Crown Forces.”

, ,

  • Harry Flashman

    It seems even after 38 years some of the senior officers aren’t quite sure what the whole thing was about.

    Quote: Col. Wayne Harber,54, the Deputy Commander of 39 Infantry Brigade. (Daily Telegraph)

    “We are glad that it has ended and that there is peace and a positive future for this part of the island of Ireland.”

    Er, Colonel, didn’t you get the memo? You were supposed to be working for peace and prosperity for a part of the United Kingdom not Ireland.

  • George Gay

    HM Forces have won. The interesting thing is wtf 20,000 Brits are doing in Germany. Of course, if the Loughall set up had not happened and if Derry Brigade were not toally compromised and if Stakeknife, Adams and Donaldson….

  • mnob

    Harry – its both.

  • mnob

    Much greater confusion on Radio 1 this morning with a wee girl saying :

    “It was a foreign force coming in to tell us what to do” ….

    at this point I was reaching for my phone to complain about persistent and obvious BBC bias towards republicanism when she went on to say

    “I mean we had our own police force and we could have sorted it out ourselves”

  • BogExile

    I agree with Richard Walsh, Operation Banner was a tactical and strategic success.

    Because of the Army, Militant Republicans completely failed in their objective to make the state untenable and bring about its destruction. They supported the RUC to achieve primacy in security and their lasting legacy is that they helped shape the political climate for their no longer being needed outside a normal garrison mode.

    They did kill people. They did kill some innocent people and this cannot be forgotten about in the context of their presence here. But it is quite clear to me that in the balance, the Army prevented a much, much worse scenario from ever evolving despite the best efforts of dedicated and ruthless terrorists and a huge propaganda effort from Sinn Fein.

    I’m glad that the Army presence is no longer required. They did not withdraw from this part of the United Kingdom. They defended it at great personal cost until democracy won out against naked republican fascism. They can depart with dignity and honour.

    Now, here’s your ball, how hard can you hit it back? 🙂

  • Cruimh

    “there will still be a permanent garrison”

    To quote somebody or other who may or may not have been in the IRA –

    “they haven’t gone away, you know ” 😉

  • smcgiff

    There’s now roughly a similar level of soldier to general population ratio in both NI and the ROI – Normality indeed.

  • BogExile

    But where, oh, where are the MOPEs? Time for peace? Time to go? 🙂

  • smcgiff

    ‘But where, oh, where are the MOPEs? Time for peace? Time to go? :)’

    Okay, just for you Bog –

    5,000 British troops on Irish soil is still 5,000 British troops too many!

  • BogExile

    Okay, just for you Bog

    Thank God smgiff, I was thinking I was losing my touch there.

    But I know you’ll agree that 5,000 tucked up in a barracks is a very, very small price to pay for the peace and stability we all now enjoy 🙂

  • smcgiff @ 11:44 AM:
    5,000 British troops too many?
    Nice propaganda rant, but not exactly the view of the locals in Tewksbury over the last week or so.

    And as for George Gay @ 09:46 AM, and his elegantly-phrased wonderment about wtf 20,000 Brits are doing in Germany:
    The 55,000 people associated with British Forces Germany, of which 23,000 are serving personnel, are there very much at the earnest request of the Federal and Länder governments. And that might be because their departure would cost the economy of North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony some 1,5 billion euro a year. Wiser heads might remember that the 1993 Options for Change defence cuts proposed even bigger reductions in the German presence.

    Alas, not everything in the galaxy is quite as simple as is represented in the columns of An Phoblacht.

  • Cruimh

    “5,000 British troops on Irish soil is still 5,000 British troops too many! ”

    Better than one Flatley 😉

  • Cruimh

    “Nice propaganda rant,”

    Malcom – smcgiff was only having a laugh. He or she doesn’t do proaganda rants 🙂

  • joffy donaldson

    did gerry kelly say that every catholic’s house was on computer? in 1972?? what kind of computer was this, did it travel in its own land rover, with big cables trailing across divis street to the squaddies’ backpacks?

  • BogExile

    Malcom – smcgiff was only having a laugh

    Agreed – he is a worthy opponent, young skywalker.

  • Dec

    did gerry kelly say that every catholic’s house was on computer? in 1972?? what kind of computer was this, did it travel in its own land rover, with big cables trailing across divis street to the squaddies’ backpacks?

    I think it was called Crucible and, yes, was probably rather large.

  • Sorry for the RSI: try again, “Tewkesbury”.

    Don’t want to get involved in the sort of geographical confusion put out by today’s Washington Post:

    House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said [Gordon Brown] “burst out laughing, and he indicated, in an inimitable English way, that he agrees with me …”

  • joffy donaldson

    I think it was called Crucible and, yes, was probably rather large.

    Er.. no. Crucible was introduced in 1987. See below. Fifteen years before that, in 1972, there was not a computer in Northern Ireland that had the operating capacity to do this. If there had been it would have required a switching room similar to the ones that used to be in the telephone exchange on Cromac St!

    But never let the truth stand in the way of great news copy.

    See below:

    Irish War: British Disease

    Tony Geraghty 17.09.2000

    Or, how Big Brother overcame liberty at home as well as “across the water”.

    […]

    As early as 1974 the British Army in Northern Ireland had introduced the first computerised means of reading vehicle number plates. The system, named VENGEFUL, enabled checkpoints on the Irish border to identify vehicle ownership within thirty seconds. Soon, the system was swamped by an excess of data and by 1977 it was focused on suspect vehicles only. The process rapidly gathered momentum as the “electronic cage”, replacing the fortified village of Malaya, became the Army’s principal means of controlling civilians. A new computer, named CRUCIBLE, was put into the hands of 125 Intelligence Section in 1987. As the defence journalist Mark Urban noted:

    “Crucible does not only store information on people and incidents but also contains data on the ImovementsI of individuals, fed in from dozens of terminals in the intelligence cells of [military] units around Ulster. The introduction of the new computer brought some complaints from intelligence officers who resented the amount of time which their men had to spend feeding information into it…Computerization ..can compound mistakes and the consequences – being detained at roadlblocks or having homes searched – for people entered erroneously in the computer as terrorist suspects are potentially damaging to the security forces.”

  • Dec @ 12:38 PM:

    Let’s stick to the facts. VENGEFUL (which was the prototype for identifying vehicle registrations, and mainly on the Border, went operational in 1974. It was overwhelmed by information by 1977, and was then concentrated on suspect vehicles only.

    CRUCIBLE was implemented by 125 Intelligence Section as late as in 1987. Mark Urban (BBC Newsnight Diplomatic editor noted: “The introduction of the new computer brought some complaints from intelligence officers who resented the amount of time which their men had to spend feeding information into it…”

  • joffy donaldson @ 12:49 PM:

    Sorry for the synchronicity: great minds thinking alike, but my fingers are slower.

  • Cruimh

    Oh for the 80s days of the Sinclair ZX and the Commodore 64 – Had Al Gore invented the Internet back in ’72 ?

  • Cruimh @ 12:57 PM:

    Even the Commodore Pet didn’t appear until ’77, which a smartarse could burn out by POKE-ing the monitor voltage. It failed in the Francophone market for obvious reasons (in the same way Pschitt lemonade would amuse my daughters). But “Elite” on the BBC Micro: that was something else.

    Err… I think this is “off-topic”.

  • joffy donaldson

    i see we killed this thread stone dead…

    nobody have any thoughts on the new powers then?

  • Shay Begorrah

    I am sure many a brothel owner is shedding a tear.

    Seriously though, the scale of British Army involvement in the Troubles was enormous, to match the level of garrisoning on a per capita basis that NI had at the peak of the Troubles Iraq would need to have five hundred thousand “coalition” forces and Afghanistan would need about fifty thousand more troops again. It shows just how much effort was required to keep the paddies down and correspondingly how little chance the current adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan have of succeeding.

  • I Wonder

    Perhaps attention can now turn to the increasing numbers of genuinely foreign troops on Irish soil – the thousands of US troops who stop over at Shannon on their way to perpetrate an illegal war in Iraq which the Irish government seems content to quietly endorse.

    No *idly standing by* for Bertie, eh? 🙂

  • Northsider

    Does this mean the ‘Brits Out’ objective has been achieved?

  • BogExile

    ‘It shows just how much effort was required to keep the paddies down…’

    Much as you’d like to characterise it otherwise, the majority of people in NI welcomed the Army presence and felt safer for it.

    This rather skews your proportions but does wonders for your MOPEty 🙂

  • BogExile

    ‘Does this mean the ‘Brits Out’ objective has been achieved?’

    Sadly for you, just the ones wearing camouflage. The other 900,000 odd are staying put 🙂

  • Shay Begorrah

    Bog exile said:

    “Much as you’d like to characterise it otherwise, the majority of people in NI welcomed the Army presence and felt safer for it.”

    Properly annotated that line should have read “the artificial majority”, right?

    p.s. No cups of tea in the bogside for the squadies stories please.

  • Northsider

    Sadly for you, just the ones wearing camouflage. The other 900,000 odd are staying put 🙂

    Sadly for you, I’m not the sectarian bigot you’d obviously like to paint me as.

    Look closer to home…

  • BogExile

    ‘Properly annotated that line should have read “the artificial majority’

    To you and the 12 other republican microlights perhaps. The rest of us, mainstream Sinn Fein included have quietly accepted the pragmatic reality of the border. The irony is, quiet acceptance is just the thing that will make the border disappear. Republican wish fullfillment fantasies actually make that wiggly wee line in the weather forecast a bit darker 🙂

  • Malcom if you liked Elite you’d love EVE online. Take the wonderful idea of operating an interstellar trading ship and then play along with upwards ot 15,000 others on the same server. The game is oldish so it’ll run on most computers even my crappy laptop can run it. A little google-fu will let you find a free 2 week trial.

  • Pounder @ 03:04 PM:

    Thanks for the tip and a positive thought. Just when I thought this thread had decayed into ritual abuse.

  • BogExile

    There’s nothing ritualistic about my abuse. it’s much less rational!

  • Butnotforlong

    The “pragmatic reality” of the border (BogExile). Because it’s been such a success for 87 years of course….

  • Ingram

    Facts.

    125 Int section, a small section of 12 Coy. Dealt with not only vengeful but the upgrade and transfer of level one Inteligence onto the FIRST broad Intelligence computer employed in Northern Ireland in the very, very late seventies called 3702, Crucible went onto replace/update 3702 in the late eighties.

    Vengeful was a vehicle intelligence computer system employed at key locations( border crossing/choke points etc) to monitor vehicles and their recorded keepers / users etc.

    Ding Ding

    Martin

  • Not lost, but gone before ….

    Lest we forget, there will be no redundancies in the Military Intelligence (there’s that old oxymoron again) redeployed from Northern Ireland.

    On 5 April 2005, then Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon announced the formation of the Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR).

    The Guardian of 4 August 2005 noted “a new army special forces regiment was involved in the operation” at Stockwell Tube Station that led to the de Menezes killing.

    There may seem only a hypothetical and coincidental link there, but The Guardian‘s same report held that “Special Reconnaissance Regiment, set up in April to help combat international terrorism, was deployed in the surveillance operation”

    The Sunday Telegraph of 25 July 2004 anticipated a new unit which “will at first be formed from members of a highly secret surveillance agency — the Joint Communications Unit Northern Ireland — which has worked in Ulster for more than 20 years. The unit, which worked with the SAS, MI5 and the Special Branch, perfected the art of covert surveillance in urban and rural areas and created a network of double agents who supplied the British security forces with intelligence on terrorist attacks.”

    The Sunday Times on the same day noted “More than 150 members of the 14th Intelligence and Security Company have already left Northern Ireland”.

    On 18 July 2007, we had the leaks that Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has already waived data protection act safeguards to hand over London congestion charge and speed cameras to counter-terrorist police. VENGEFUL lives?

  • Billy

    BogExile

    “The other 900,000 odd are staying put”

    I well remember Unionists and their supporters in the media going on during the 70’s about 1 million Protestants/Unionists in NI.

    In the early 80’s, the real figure was shown to be around 870K. I think that times have changed over the last 25 years and it’s likely to be no more than 850k.

    I am not disputing that the majority at the moment are pro-Union and that’s fine.

    However, the old propaganda trick of over estimating the size of the Unionist population doesn’t fool anyone any more.

    There haven’t been “900,000” odd at any time since the mid 70’s and there certainly aren’t now.

  • curious

    Does anyone know what this means?

    Soldiers granted special powers

    Tuesday, July 31, 2007

    By Chris Thornton

    New legislation is due to take effect tonight giving soldiers in Ulster greater powers than in the rest of the UK.

    The move comes as Operation Banner – the Army’s support role for the police – ends at midnight after almost four decades.

    The new powers will allow soldiers to stop and question anyone about their movements – and hold them indefinitely until they answer.

    Anyone refusing to co-operate could face fines of up to £5,000.
    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/article2820610.ece

  • sven

    It just means fewer of them but more power to abuse.

  • Fuiseog

    “It is possible that I am dreaming right now and that all of my perceptions are false”

    Descartes ‘Meditations on First Philosophy’

    The Sinn Fein pseudo republicans capacity for self delusion has this week reached sensational new lows with the likes of kelly and Meehan claiming the Brits have left and heralding a Republican Victory when in actual fact 5000 British troops are being permanently garrisoned here in the North.

    Disgraceful, shameful megalomania !!

    Fuiseog

  • Harry Flashman

    **’It shows just how much effort was required to keep the paddies down…’

    Much as you’d like to characterise it otherwise, the majority of people in NI welcomed the Army presence and felt safer for it.

    This rather skews your proportions but does wonders for your MOPEty 🙂
    Posted by BogExile on Jul 31, 2007 @ 02:27 PM**

    Actually if anything it rather proves the fighting spirit of the Paddies. Think about it, out of a population of one and a half million, two thirds of whom were fiercely loyal, backed up by thousands of loyal policemen and thousands of local paramilitaries who were also broadly in sympathy it still took almost thirty thousand British troops to hold Irish Nationalists in check in 1972.

    Now I am no Republican but I have to say that is some feat, currently there are a mere eight thousand British troops (only three thousand more than are now garrisoning “peaceful” Northern Ireland) holding down Basra and Southern Iraq, while a similar number are giving quite a drubbing to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

    “Over rated as fighters these Mohammedan chaps you know, Johnny Irishman could give them a run for their money any day. What? Hey!” (/Colonel Blimp mode off).

  • Cruimh

    “it still took almost thirty thousand British troops to hold Irish Nationalists in check in 1972. ”

    LOL Harry – come on, let’s get real – they were being used as a buffer force.

    The short period we had a SOS who actually let the army have some room to manoeuvre – ” Ulster had had enough of initiatives, White Papers and legislation for the time being, and now needed to be governed firmly and fairly” – Roy Mason , Labour party conderence 1976 – they had the Provos on the ropes.

    “as Martin McGuinness said, “Mason beat the shit out of us”.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2004/04/18/do1805.xml&sSheet=/opinion/2004/04/18/ixop.html

  • BogExile

    Billy boy,

    ‘…However, the old propaganda trick of over estimating the size of the Unionist population doesn’t fool anyone any more’

    You are confusing the Protestant and pro-union populations (again). There may well be merely 850,000 of yer actual prods about the place but when you include the very many pro-union Catholics into the equasion 1,000,000 may be a conservative estimate.

    For example it is a well known fact that 453,270* people in the North work in pointless politically correct quangos which would lose their entire raison d’etre were the border to evaporate. This includes many ‘golf-club’ catholics.

    * source: my arse.

  • Gréagóir O’ Franclín

    The point that Billy makes…..
    “I well remember Unionists and their supporters in the media going on during the 70’s about 1 million Protestants/Unionists in NI.

    In the early 80’s, the real figure was shown to be around 870K. I think that times have changed over the last 25 years and it’s likely to be no more than 850k.”

    – I don’t mean it as a sectarian head count of the population of NI, but what exactly is the ratio of Nationalist/Unionist (Catholic/Protestant) within the population. Is the Unionist majority approx. 150,000? (800,000 odd to 700,0000 odd)

    (I remember years ago as what Billy said that the population of NI was always given as one and a half million , 1 million Unionists and about 500,000 Nationalists.)

  • Gréagóir O’ Franclín

    Imagine that there were up to 27,000 troops stationed in NI during ‘The Troubles’ such was the of the society. It is good to see them gone and civil policing restored. Next on the agenda no doubt will be the disarming of the PSNI just as their counterparts, the British Bobby across the water and the Garda Siochána (Civic Guards) in the south.

  • Cruimh

    “Next on the agenda no doubt will be the disarming of the PSNI”

    Unlikely to happen for some time – are you old enough to remember the last time the police tried going unarmed Gréagóir ?

  • Dewi

    Census 2001 says:

    895,000 of a Protestant Background
    737,000 of a Catholic Background.

  • Gréagóir O’ Franclín @ 10:33 AM:

    the disarming of the PSNI just as their counterparts, the British Bobby across the water

    As Bugs Bunny would say “‘E don’t know me very well.”

    The “British Bobby” (how delightfully romantic, for export consumption only!) is now fully tooled up. The goods are always on show at major airports, and increasingly in the vicinity of any diplomatic or sensitive locations.

    I also believe that a fair number of squad cars carry weaponry as a matter of routine (discreetly, in the boot, and with understandable reasons) for use on authorisation by a simple radio call.

  • The World’s Gone Mad

    Dewi – not forgetting 52,000 who said they had no religion or other religion/philosophies other than Christian. This probably includes the 10,000 nerds who said they were Jedi. Who knows whether they were Unionist Jedi or Nationalist Jedi, although they do fight the evil empire and Yoda was green…

  • Gréagóir O’ Franclín

    Aye Cruimh, back in 1970 they were disarmed but rearmed in 1971 due to the escalating troubles. But there is a big difference in those times and today. In due time I mean, have the gun holster removed from those on the community policing beat. The sight of fully armed police can be a bit of a shock when not used to it, as when you arrive across the water and behold Bobby with an armalite on Osama terrorist alert.

    Malcolm, simple day to day community policing is what I’m talking about.
    Of course there should armed backup units as what you get with all modern police forces.

  • Gréagóir O’ Franclín

    ”Census 2001 says:
    895,000 of a Protestant Background
    737,000 of a Catholic Background.”

    Thanks for the figures Dewi!

  • Cruimh

    “Aye Cruimh, back in 1970 they were disarmed but rearmed in 1971 due to the escalating troubles.”

    They were re armed because they were being murdered Gréagóir.

    CAIN :

    11 November 1971 Dermot Hurley (50) Catholic
    Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
    Shot while in shop at rear of Oldpark Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) base, Oldpark Road, Belfast.
    11 November 1971 Walter Moore (37) Protestant
    Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
    Shot while in shop at rear of Oldpark Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) base, Oldpark Road, Belfast.

    Now,according to the IMC it seems likely the provos still have guns and the loyalists and dissidents definitely have them – not to mention commercial criminals.

  • Harry Flashman

    In all the thirty years of the Troubles you can count on the fingers of one hand instances were routine street patrolling coppers drew their weapons and stopped a serious criminal incident, much less saved a life, yet in that time three hundred police officers, on and off duty, armed and unarmed were killed.

    There really is absolutely no need for ordinary street patrolling peelers to be carrying firearms.

  • Cruimh

    Harry – how would you fancy being a sitting duck?

    One of my friends still has lead in him after an ambush that happened in a routine patrol – he’s only alive because he had a weapon to hold the attackers off until help arrived.

  • Gréagóir O’ Franclín

    ….And as with the shooting recently of the PSNI officer in Carrickfergus, dissidents and criminals who have guns will use them. But I did’t mean to propose an immediate and total disarming. Maybe further on down the road, in time I meant, as NI develops a sense of normality and trust.

  • I Wonder

    Part of the problem is now that there is a substantial history of killing (armed) cops on the street. The knowledge that police would be on patrol, unarmed, would probably be TOO much for some dissidents to resist…theres no point in making some 19 y/o a sacrifice for a principle.

  • Cruimh

    I wouldn’t necessarily go as far as they went in the 26 county state ( death penalty) but I’d like to see legislation introduced that seriously punishes those caught with illegally held firearms – say a minimum of 20 years jail time, no exceptions, no parole.

  • BogExile

    ‘There really is absolutely no need for ordinary street patrolling peelers to be carrying firearms.’

    Yes, my baton, cuffs and Captor spray are more than enough defence against a hood with a sub-contracted AKM.

    Take the guns our of paramilitary sanctioned criminal freelancing in both communities and you may have a point.

  • Harry Flashman @ 11:20 AM:

    Nice idea, except:

    1. The history and tradition of the RIC/RUC.

    2. The expectation by serving officers that they should continue as an armed force.

    There really is absolutely no need for ordinary street patrolling peelers to be carrying firearms.

    This sounds uncannily like (and, perhaps, as misguided as) the report of 1902, quoted by Daniel Mulhall [New Day Dawning: A Portrait of Ireland in 1900]: “while political agitation kept the Irish police on their toes, there is practically no criminal class in Ireland.”

  • Am I the only one disturbed by P.O.N.G online gaming centre on the Lisburn Road? i’ve looked in a couple of times and I’m convinced there are dark and depraved acts being carried out in there.

  • Gréagóir O’ Franclín

    Regarding unarmed police look at the south of Ireland for example which emerged from the ‘War of Independance’, ‘The Civil War’ and the threat as what the Free State saw of the IRA to overthrow the government and state. Yet civil and unarmed policing was established and maintained. It is quite remarkable to think that things simmered down in an what was once an ‘unruleable’ Ireland. Different times today with drugs etc….but simple community policing in NI in time may follow the same course.

  • Cruimh

    “Yet civil and unarmed policing was established and maintained.”

    by executing those carrying guns

  • Gréagóir O’ Franclín @ 11:57 AM:

    Ah, An Garda Síochána of the good oul’ Free State! Over 50% ex-farmers or agricultural workers! Over 98% Roman Catholic! And didn’t that nice Commissioner Eoin O’Duffy have a fine taste in shirts!

    Didn’t stop that poor bloke being shot dead, when things had “simmered down” in the Wicklow bank raid of January 1924.

  • Gréagóir O’ Franclín

    Hanging was the done thing in those times for capital offenders Cruimh as it was in the UK!

    Do you think the Free State was wrong then to try to maintain it’s control?

  • Gréagóir O’ Franclín

    Malcolm, I sense your sarcasm and little making!

    I’ll leave it at that then, don’t wanna go down the same road as all these threads do!

  • Cruimh

    Mere possession of a weapon was not a capital offence in the UK Gréagóir.

    Erskine Childers ?

    Don’t get me wrong – it worked – and as I oppose the death penalty I’d go for an automatic 20 years without remission for anybody caught with an illegal firearm – be hey UDA, UVF, Provo or dissident.

  • Cruimh

    p.s. It was deah by firing squad.

  • Gréagóir O’ Franclín @ 12:12 PM:

    Don’t give up so easily! I was hoping you’d go on to justify internment. 700 (was it?) on the Argenta and 13,000 in the South by February 1923.

    It is also factually correct to point out that Cosgrave’s administration executed more Irishmen than under Asquith and Lloyd George between 1916 and 1921.

    Just “sarcasm and little making”, of course. And, no, it’s not relevant to this thread; but (as Billy Joel in the background is making clear) “we didn’t start the fire.”

  • Gréagóir O’ Franclín

    ”It is also factually correct to point out that Cosgrave’s administration executed more Irishmen than under Asquith and Lloyd George between 1916 and 1921.”

    Of these, can ye tell me who was hung and who was shot?

  • Cruimh

    Childers was shot – but do you take my point about how hings were acheived in the Free State ?

  • Gréagóir O’ Franclín @ 12:26 PM:

    Not my cup of java, but I suggest you refer to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executions_during_the_Irish_Civil_War

    This states the Free State formally sanctioned the execution of between 77 and 81 anti-treaty fighters under the Public Safety Act. Presumably all those were after courts-martial, and by firing squad.

    The piece says the figure of 77 was “popularised” (curious choice of word) by Dorothy Macardle, but doesn’t seem to me to explain the odd four. Were these bank robbers, or were they the four (including Liam Mellows) done in as reprisals before the legislation became current?

    Then there is the further section on unofficial attrition, including those killings carried out by Joe McGrath’s CID murder gang.

    How long, O Lord, how long? Certainly I recall the bitterness was still there in the early 1960s, when I was privileged to hear one TD “call out” another.

    On that basis, we have at least a couple more generations to pass before sanity and perspective are fully regained.

  • kensei

    “Yes, my baton, cuffs and Captor spray are more than enough defence against a hood with a sub-contracted AKM.

    Take the guns our of paramilitary sanctioned criminal freelancing in both communities and you may have a point.”

    Nah. You can hang back and call for back up. if you have a weapon, you might feel like a hero and get into a firefight.

    Police are not routinely armed in either the Republic or Britain. Why should you be different in “peacetime”.

  • Gréagóir O’ Franclín

    Yes, I do Cruimh.

    But are you trying to equate the maintaining of law and order of the Free State at that time to that of NI, particularly during ‘The Troubles’?

  • Gréagóir O’ Franclín

    A lecture in early 20th century Irish history by Malcom…..good one!

    Ye sheddin’ a tear too for the dear old Irish rebels?

    Emotions ran very high in light of the very brutal and bloody civil war, such was the effects of the Treaty and the partition of Ireland! And the fierce animosity raged on for years afterwards, hence the mutual hatred between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. This has been put to bed now.

    BTW, if Unionists always maintained that the Free State was forever a haven for the IRA, how does it explain this brutal crackdown and the subsequent crackdowns and internment of IRA men by Free State governments over the years. Conor Cruise O’Brien was a fierce opponent of the IRA, and much hated by Republicans. Hi didn’t have them shot or hung however as times had moved on and it wasn’t the done thing! Interment was the fashion.

  • Cruimh

    Gréagóir – the complaint that I remember was that the ROI of the late 60s onwards allowed the IRA a far freer hand han they were allowed in he past – in part because the IRA were not seen as challenging or being a threat to the state.

  • Cruimh

    “But are you trying to equate the maintaining of law and order of the Free State at that time to that of NI, particularly during ‘The Troubles’? ”

    No – I’m pointing out that it was the stick that allowed an unarmed Garda Siochana, not a carrot.
    And while I wouldn’t want the death peanalty, I’d like to see LONG jail sentances for anybody caught with illegal firearms – hoods, thugs and terrorists.

    Incidentally – talking about the days of the executions in the free state – the Bishops got themselves in a dreadful mess in one of their pastorals

  • Gréagóir O’ Franclín

    ”the complaint that I remember was that the ROI of the late 60s onwards allowed the IRA a far freer hand han they were allowed in he past – in part because the IRA were not seen as challenging or being a threat to the state.”

    True, and as ye know people down south were sympathetic toward the plight of Irish Nationalists in NI when The Troubles kicked off, ie media coverage of RUC baton charges, the burning out of Catholic homes etc…
    However when the bombing campaigns began the Fine Gael government adopted a more stringent attitude then Fianna Fáil toward the IRA. A comparison of attitudes to The Troubles of two TD’s at the time Neil Blaney (FF) and Conor Cruise O’Brien (FG) is considerable; civil war politics was still alive!

  • Gréagóir O’ Franclín @ 02:05 PM:

    Ye sheddin’ a tear too for the dear old Irish rebels?

    Unapologetic as ever, indeed I am. “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.”

    I even find time to wonder whom to blame. I used to heap coals of fire on that Divine Fool, Pearse, for the “blood sacrifice” nonsense, except he and the others caught it from Freud and the Zeitgeist. And then I go away and reconsider Willie Yeats getting it so right in those magnificent final two stanzas: “what if excess of love/ Bewildered them till they died?”

    The problem is that, again with WBY, once Cuchulain had been summoned, “What intellect,/ What calculation, number, measurement, replied?”

    Hence I am hoping that, finally, the old ghost has been exorcised; and our combined intellects can coolly calculate, number and measure where we are and where we’re heading. Not that the average Slugger thread is greatly reassuring therein.

    Sorry about the tear-stains on that one.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Harry F: “There really is absolutely no need for ordinary street patrolling peelers to be carrying firearms. ”

    Better to have and not need than need and not have, Harry.