“when trying to reconstruct history, dip your bucket as close to the source as possible”

Former Sunday Times Insight journalist, Peter Pringle, savoured the publication of the Saville Inquiry report.  And he had some interesting thoughts on Saville’s methodology

But questions about Saville’s report on Bloody Sunday remain to be addressed: how did they sift the evidence? What evidence did they leave in, or out? What did the secret services redact? Why did he take so long? Here’s a suggestion of how to start reading beyond the headlines: look at Saville’s methods for reconstructing history.

Mark Saville, clearly, is a disciple of the 19th-century German historian, Leopold von Ranke. The Rankean dictum is, basically, when trying to reconstruct history, dip your bucket as close to the source as possible (the “primary source”). Or, put another way, a witness’s second thoughts are probably unhelpful. Saville followed Von Ranke, consistently and sometimes ruthlessly.

And he has this to say on Saville’s examination of the evidence relating to the actions of Martin McGuinness on the day

Of course, there are limits to applying Ranke. For instance, in the case involving Martin McGuinness, then the second in command of the Derry Provisionals and now Northern Ireland deputy first minister, Saville was stopped in his search for the truth – by the intelligence services.

During the Troubles, Britain’s intelligence agencies ran covert agents in Northern Ireland, and the question was what sort of co-operation, if any, Saville would get from them. The answer was always expected to be limited.

In 1984, the intelligence service claimed one of its undercover agents, codenamed Infliction – a man apparently with contacts high up in the IRA – produced a story that McGuiness had admitted to him that he fired the first shot from a Thompson sub-machine gun, thereby prompting the fusillade from the army. McGuinness vigorously denied the charge.

Two intelligence service officers, A and B, appeared before Saville to tell this story, and Saville became convinced that Infliction existed and the story had not been made up.

But some things Saville learned from the intelligence services he was unable to pass on because disclosure “might endanger the life of Infliction”. The intelligence services were also unwilling to produce Infliction for cross-examination – or give a written statement, for the same reason.

This left Saville in a bind. He noted that in a criminal trial the Infliction evidence would be regarded as “unfair”. In McGuinness’s case, Saville concluded that it would be “unwise (and, indeed, unfair) to place much weight” on [Infliction’s] account.

What would Von Ranke have made of that? Another caution for historians, perhaps: the total, absolute, historical truth is impossible to come by when secret services are involved.

And a reminder of some of what Saville recorded on ‘Infliction’

147.232 Officer A was, at the time that he gave evidence to the Inquiry, a senior member of the Security Service. For six to seven months in 1984 he was the handler of Infliction. He told us:1 

“… for the most part, Infliction’s reporting was reliable and, in [the Security Service’s] view, honest. However, there were some areas where he was not prepared to provide information and there were a small number of occasions on which, we believe, that he did not tell the truth. ” 1 Day 326/83

147.233 His evidence was that Infliction gave no information relating to Martin McGuinness that the Security Service ever came to regard as dishonest.1 On occasions Infliction, when refusing to give information, provided reasons for his refusal that the Security Service regarded as dishonest. None of those occasions was one on which the information sought related to Martin McGuinness.2 On the occasions on which Infliction did lie, he did so in order to protect his security.3

1 Day 326/84 2 Day 326/95 3 Day 326/94; Day 326/101 

147.234 Officer A also told us:1

“Infliction produced an enormous amount of information on which he had direct knowledge, either by talking directly to people or by seeing an event or whatever. Now, with that information – on those areas he was very rarely, if ever, mistaken and most of that material, we are confident, was truthful and subsequently much of it was corroborated. ” 

1 Day 326/96-97 

147.235 Officer A contrasted this type of information with that provided by Infliction in circumstances in which Infliction was less certain of the origin of the material. In the latter instances, the information could be inaccurate. Although in these cases Infliction might have appeared untruthful, for the most part the inaccuracies were simply mistakes.1

 1 Day 326/97

147.236 Officer A said that there were very few instances in which the Security Service considered that Infliction was embellishing his reporting or seeking to bluff. Officer A could not recall any particular instance in which this had occurred.1

1 Day 326/98-99

147.237 According to Officer A, Infliction was paid between £15,000 and £25,000 a year for his work for the Security Service. These sums were at the top end of amounts paid at the time to agents. He was not given payment in return for specific pieces of information but received bonuses when he had worked particularly hard to obtain information in a difficult subject area and when his information over a period had been extremely good. His payment was at the top end of the scale to reflect his level of access to the IRA, the potential of the information and the risks that he ran to obtain information.1

1 Day 326/85-87 

147.238 Officer A told us that in April 1984 he had been Infliction’s handler for about two months but Infliction had been a Security Service agent for a number of years.1 Officer A said he was confident that he had had more contact with Infliction than any of his other handlers. He also said that he had shown his written statements to this Inquiry to Infliction’s other case officers and that they did not disagree with any of the contents of those statements.2 

1 Day 326/87-88 2 Day 326/89

147.239 According to Officer A, Infliction knew Martin McGuinness quite well and was friendly with him. The Security Service had other information that corroborated Infliction’s account of the relationship between the two.1 1 Day 326/139

 147.240 Officer A said that he could not think of any credible reason for Infliction to lie to him when providing the information about Bloody Sunday. Infliction did not seek and was not given any additional payment for the information. Infliction, as far as Officer A was aware, did not dislike or resent Martin McGuinness. When providing the information, Infliction did not appear uncertain and gave no indication that he might be mistaken about it. Officer A did not know of any reason for which Infliction might bear a grudge against Martin McGuinness.1

 1 Day 326/137-138; Day 326/140

Adds It’s worth noting what Infliction is actually recorded as saying.

147.229 In November 1984 Infliction repeated the allegation to a different Security Service officer, Officer B. The conversation between the two of them was taped. The Security Service provided the Inquiry with a redacted transcript, part of which contained the following:1

“INFLICTION: (Comment: makes noises indicating hesitation). Well (Comment: pause) you know, McGUINNESS found himself in a certain position. Er, (Comment: pause) really didn’t manipulate it. Er, he found himself as (Comment: pause) overseeing Derry and first spokesman […] and, er, I think the one thing that bothers McGUINNESS is, er the Bloody Sunday thing, that he fired the first shot, which no one knows. And then the (Comment: unfinished as Officer B interrupts). [added emphasis]

OFFICER B: You mean that’s on his conscience? (??? find) (Comment: unfinished as INFLICTION interrupts).

INFLICTION: Yeah, because, you know, he talked to me a few times about it, and er (Comment: unfinished as Officer B interrupts).”

And what Saville said about that

147.349 We were unable to obtain a written statement from Infliction, or call him to give oral evidence. Nor was Martin McGuinness able to question him or even be told who he was. The same applies to the account given by the RUC interviewee. Were we conducting a criminal trial there would in our view be substantial grounds for the submission that it would be unfair to admit this material or to place any reliance upon it. However, we are not conducting a trial but a public inquiry and we are not bound by the rules of evidence. We have to consider what weight, if any, we should give to this material, in circumstances where it has not been possible to question Infliction about his account. We also have to consider whether in the circumstances it would be so unfair, in the context of a public inquiry, to make any findings based on it, that we should refrain from doing so.

147.350 We have already expressed the view that Infliction was generally reliable and did give the information in question to the Security Service. Officer A told us that he had no grounds for believing that what Infliction had told him was the result of holding a grudge against Martin McGuinness. Furthermore, it should be noted that he said to Officer B during his debriefing that “the Brits murdered thirteen people ” on Bloody Sunday,1so it would not appear that he was inventing what he told Officer B (or Officer A) about Martin McGuinness in an attempt to provide the soldiers with a reason for opening fire. If Martin McGuinness did tell Infliction that he had fired a Thompson sub-machine gun from the Rossville Flats on Bloody Sunday, it is in our view likely that this is what Martin McGuinness did.

1 KB3.4

147.351 Nevertheless, our inability and that of those representing Martin McGuinness to question Infliction on such matters as his relationship with Martin McGuinness and the circumstances in which Martin McGuinness is said to have made the remarks in question, and otherwise to test the truth of Infliction’s account and the accuracy of his recollection, have led us to conclude that it would be unwise (and indeed unfair) to place much weight on that account. On this basis we consider that this account by itself does no more than raise the possibility that, notwithstanding his denial, Martin McGuinness did fire a Thompson sub-machine gun on “single ” shot from the Rossville Flats on Bloody Sunday.

147.352 We bear in mind two further factors.

147.353 Firstly, there is the evidence, apart from that of Infliction, to the effect that on Bloody Sunday Martin McGuinness was in possession of a Thompson sub-machine gun in the area of Chamberlain Street and William Street. We have concluded that on balance, though far from certainly, this was the case. In reaching this conclusion we have taken into account that Martin McGuinness had no opportunity to question the RUC interviewee who said that he had seen Martin McGuinness with such a weapon. We are, however, unpersuaded that Martin McGuinness was in Duffy’s bookmakers at any stage.

147.354 Secondly, we have concluded that Martin McGuinness probably did see Margaret Deery being carried after she was wounded, which means that he was probably not (as he told us) to the south of the Rossville Flats when the soldiers came in and started firing, but still somewhere from where he could see Margaret Deery being carried, ie somewhere on the car park side of the Rossville Flats.

147.355 We should note at this point that in the course of considering the events of Sector 2, we have concluded that someone probably did fire a number of shots at the soldiers from the south-west end of the lower balcony of Block 3 of the Rossville Flats, close to one of the walkways joining Block 3 to Block 2 of the Rossville Flats, probably at a stage after soldiers had opened fire in that sector. From that position Margaret Deery could have been seen being carried to a house in Chamberlain Street after she had been wounded in the thigh. The evidence that we have on these shots suggests that they were fired from a carbine, but in our view this does not necessarily establish that it could not have been a Thompson sub-machine gun. Unless the weapon can be clearly seen and identified, for reasons given elsewhere in this report1a Thompson sub-machine gun fired on “single ” shot (ie not repeatedly on automatic) could be mistaken for some other type of weapon being fired more than once. After firing there would have been an escape route away from the soldiers and out of their sight by the stairs that led down to ground level in the gap between Blocks 2 and 3 of the Rossville Flats. However, Infliction’s account is to the effect that Martin McGuinness told him that he had fired the first shot, not a number of shots, so that there is little to connect this account with the firing from the south-west end of the lower balcony of Block 3 of the Rossville Flats.

1 Paragraphs 65.182–202

147.356 We have found that Martin McGuinness was more likely than not to have been in possession of a Thompson sub-machine gun in the area of Chamberlain Street and William Street, and that he probably had not reached the area south of the Rossville Flats when the soldiers came into the Bogside and opened fire. We cannot conclude, however, that he fired a Thompson sub-machine gun from the Rossville Flats. The Infliction material raises the possibility that he did. We have set out above our reasons for not giving much weight to this material. Accordingly, we can in this report make no finding on the point.

147.357 On one matter, however, we have no doubt. If Martin McGuinness did fire from the Rossville Flats he could have come to believe, as Infliction reported he had said, that his firing had precipitated what happened on Bloody Sunday, by which we would understand that he believed that what he had done had led to a response from soldiers that resulted in the numerous casualties of Bloody Sunday. In fact, as appears from our consideration of the events of Sector 2, he would have been mistaken in this belief, since none of the soldiers who in our view shot Jackie Duddy, Margaret Deery, Michael Bridge or Michael Bradley in that sector suggested at any stage that they had fired at people in response to fire from the Rossville Flats; they all claimed to have targeted people with bombs at ground level. Nor have we found any evidence to suggest that the casualties in any of the other sectors were targeted by soldiers because of fire from the Rossville Flats. [added emphasis]

And what Martin McGuinness told reporters after the publication of the Saville report. From the Guardian – not available online.

Asked if soldiers should be prosecuted, McGuinness said he would be guided by what the families wanted. Of his personal role that day, he said he was pleased with Saville’s statement that he had played no part in provoking the soldiers. “Saville said … that he was sure I was not involved in any activity that provided justification for the soldiers opening fire.”

, , ,

  • Fearglic

    A + B multiplied by x = the cubed root of the the asparagus plant. To me I never take the word of invisible people. Especially of they are above the law as often spooks are. This discussion is a dead duck. I’m just back from the fantastic Ulster Museum I think the Bloody Sunday display must be updated to include the words State Murder!!!

  • joeCanuck

    – Some squaddies commit unjustifiable killings. They also lie.
    – Some Officers, men of honour, disobey orders.
    – MI5 Officers never tell lies, under any circumstances.

  • redhugh78

    I fail to see the point of this other than another pathetic attempt at deflecting attention from the fact that is the murder of 14 citizens by the state.

  • joan

    all true fearglic but mcguinness is a liar too, and so is his boss, big gerry.

  • Fearglic

    Please give examples of the lies Joan. I personally woulnd trust them as far as I could throw them- they are politicians after all- but I’ve no proof that they have lied. Have you?

  • jim

    mrs hegertey came on tv and told how he lied to her to lure her son home to be murdered

  • Fearglic

    And what did “he” have to say about that?

  • Pete Baker

    Here’s a quote from Saville which directly relates to that last suggestion

    147.231 The representatives of Martin McGuinness at one stage appeared to submit that it was possible that Infliction did not in fact provide the information attributed to him by Officer A.1 It was not suggested by anyone to Officers A or B that either was giving anything other than truthful evidence of the accounts given to them by Infliction. We were later informed that the submission was not intended to make this point; but instead to suggest that Infliction might well have invented the allegation in order to make himself more attractive to his handlers as a high-ranking IRA insider.

  • I strongly suspect that ‘Infliction’ does exist but whether the information he gave to the security services was always entirely accurate, or has since been embellished by his handlers, is something only he could say, which is a pity because if he does exist it would be extremely dangerous for him ‘outside the closet’.

  • Pete Baker

    Here’s that quote from Saville again

    147.231 The representatives of Martin McGuinness at one stage appeared to submit that it was possible that Infliction did not in fact provide the information attributed to him by Officer A.1 It was not suggested by anyone to Officers A or B that either was giving anything other than truthful evidence of the accounts given to them by Infliction. We were later informed that the submission was not intended to make this point; but instead to suggest that Infliction might well have invented the allegation in order to make himself more attractive to his handlers as a high-ranking IRA insider.

  • Pete Baker

    Yes, I saw but it does not invalidate what I said:

    To be fair to the MMcG legal team, how could they possibly be expected to debate the veracity of someone they can neither see, hear or question? Saville was right to disregard it.

    The one truth is: if Infliction were to emerge from the closet, the uproar would be huge. He is still the only person who can prove or disprove the evidence given. I suspect he exists, but was he always telling the truth, even the officers said he lied on occasion. He is no ‘deep throat’.

  • Adams says that he wasn’t a member of the IRA. Some people say that is a lie. I don’t believe Adams myself, but I have no proof that he is lying.
    I wouldn’t trust any politician as far as I could throw him either, but the fact is they are a crafty breed who are not in the habit of leaving incriminating evidence lying around.

  • Alias

    The fact that the identity of ‘Infliction’ is not disclosed presupposes that his testimony is false. If it were true, then there would be no need to conceal his identity since it would already be known to the Bogside Butcher (unless, of course, the he told more than one PIRA member that he fired the first shot on BS).

  • Pete Baker

    That particular issue is addressed in the linked section of the Saville report.

  • Alias

    Okay, I’ll go read it then…

  • Pete Baker

    Indeed.

    It was a point raised by the legal representatives of the families.

  • Munsterview

    In Munster Gaelic there is a folk saying used to comment on unreliability…….” Duirt bean liom go duirt bhean lei “……… a woman told me that another woman told her ………. !

    If ‘infliction’ had a purpose it is for affliction !

    We are back to the ‘ Casement Diaries’ and the ‘ Parnell letters’, so called agent infliction has a history going all the ways back to Geraldis Cambrendis and his account of Ireland to justify the actions of his Norman Paymasters before the Courts of Europe in the 1160’s.

    But credit where credit is due, the following is Kitson’s from as early as the sixties, it is what we should be discussing in the context of the Bloody Sunday Massacre, not an invention by spooks about Martin McGuiness. However instead, once again, the Brits called the tune and paid the piper so it should come as no surprise that they now also control the choreographed dance !

    ‘…………PHASE II. Nonviolent disorder–mass meetings, marches, strikes– requires persuading multitudes to do something. This phase focuses on crowds, usually in cities. Kitson suggests a “…judicious promise of concessions [to split the many from S&I leaders, while] imposing …calm by the use of government forces [then announcing] that most of the concessions can only be implemented once…life…returns to normal” (p 87). Civilians must look upon troops with “…respect and awe…. If an impression can be built that although [they] have used little force so far, they might at any moment use a great deal more, the people will be wary and…fewer men will be needed” (p 90)…….. ‘

    For further information on this document click on

    http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/27/054.html

    As with every account of anything on this Island we have four main narratives.

    The First, and now dominant one on this Island is that of the Native Irish.

    The Second, the type under discussion here, is that of the Imperial power of whatever the latest wheeze of a name they are using currently to cloak their real activities and purpose.

    The Third, is that of the foundation and settlement myths of the Planted and Colonizing stock that agrees in outline but not in all details with the second. The third narrative is fixed for the planter but is constantly re-scripted to suit the needs of the Homeland and how it wants it self perceived in the world and by posterity.

    The fourth narrative is all but unknown outside scholastic circles, it is the true, factual, objective account of events, in as much as these can be recovered and deduced objectively in history seminar and colloquium.

    These are not abstract concepts, they are the prisms through which most view the present and unfortunately see the shape of the future.

  • Pete Baker

    It’s worth noting what Infliction is actually recorded as saying.

    147.229 In November 1984 Infliction repeated the allegation to a different Security Service officer, Officer B. The conversation between the two of them was taped. The Security Service provided the Inquiry with a redacted transcript, part of which contained the following:1

    “INFLICTION: (Comment: makes noises indicating hesitation). Well (Comment: pause) you know, McGUINNESS found himself in a certain position. Er, (Comment: pause) really didn’t manipulate it. Er, he found himself as (Comment: pause) overseeing Derry and first spokesman […] and, er, I think the one thing that bothers McGUINNESS is, er the Bloody Sunday thing, that he fired the first shot, which no one knows. And then the (Comment: unfinished as Officer B interrupts). [added emphasis]

    OFFICER B: You mean that’s on his conscience? (??? find) (Comment: unfinished as INFLICTION interrupts).

    INFLICTION: Yeah, because, you know, he talked to me a few times about it, and er (Comment: unfinished as Officer B interrupts).”

    And what Saville said about that

    147.349 We were unable to obtain a written statement from Infliction, or call him to give oral evidence. Nor was Martin McGuinness able to question him or even be told who he was. The same applies to the account given by the RUC interviewee. Were we conducting a criminal trial there would in our view be substantial grounds for the submission that it would be unfair to admit this material or to place any reliance upon it. However, we are not conducting a trial but a public inquiry and we are not bound by the rules of evidence. We have to consider what weight, if any, we should give to this material, in circumstances where it has not been possible to question Infliction about his account. We also have to consider whether in the circumstances it would be so unfair, in the context of a public inquiry, to make any findings based on it, that we should refrain from doing so.

    147.350 We have already expressed the view that Infliction was generally reliable and did give the information in question to the Security Service. Officer A told us that he had no grounds for believing that what Infliction had told him was the result of holding a grudge against Martin McGuinness. Furthermore, it should be noted that he said to Officer B during his debriefing that “the Brits murdered thirteen people ” on Bloody Sunday,1so it would not appear that he was inventing what he told Officer B (or Officer A) about Martin McGuinness in an attempt to provide the soldiers with a reason for opening fire. If Martin McGuinness did tell Infliction that he had fired a Thompson sub-machine gun from the Rossville Flats on Bloody Sunday, it is in our view likely that this is what Martin McGuinness did.

    1 KB3.4

    147.351 Nevertheless, our inability and that of those representing Martin McGuinness to question Infliction on such matters as his relationship with Martin McGuinness and the circumstances in which Martin McGuinness is said to have made the remarks in question, and otherwise to test the truth of Infliction’s account and the accuracy of his recollection, have led us to conclude that it would be unwise (and indeed unfair) to place much weight on that account. On this basis we consider that this account by itself does no more than raise the possibility that, notwithstanding his denial, Martin McGuinness did fire a Thompson sub-machine gun on “single ” shot from the Rossville Flats on Bloody Sunday.

    147.352 We bear in mind two further factors.

    147.353 Firstly, there is the evidence, apart from that of Infliction, to the effect that on Bloody Sunday Martin McGuinness was in possession of a Thompson sub-machine gun in the area of Chamberlain Street and William Street. We have concluded that on balance, though far from certainly, this was the case. In reaching this conclusion we have taken into account that Martin McGuinness had no opportunity to question the RUC interviewee who said that he had seen Martin McGuinness with such a weapon. We are, however, unpersuaded that Martin McGuinness was in Duffy’s bookmakers at any stage.

    147.354 Secondly, we have concluded that Martin McGuinness probably did see Margaret Deery being carried after she was wounded, which means that he was probably not (as he told us) to the south of the Rossville Flats when the soldiers came in and started firing, but still somewhere from where he could see Margaret Deery being carried, ie somewhere on the car park side of the Rossville Flats.

    147.355 We should note at this point that in the course of considering the events of Sector 2, we have concluded that someone probably did fire a number of shots at the soldiers from the south-west end of the lower balcony of Block 3 of the Rossville Flats, close to one of the walkways joining Block 3 to Block 2 of the Rossville Flats, probably at a stage after soldiers had opened fire in that sector. From that position Margaret Deery could have been seen being carried to a house in Chamberlain Street after she had been wounded in the thigh. The evidence that we have on these shots suggests that they were fired from a carbine, but in our view this does not necessarily establish that it could not have been a Thompson sub-machine gun. Unless the weapon can be clearly seen and identified, for reasons given elsewhere in this report1a Thompson sub-machine gun fired on “single ” shot (ie not repeatedly on automatic) could be mistaken for some other type of weapon being fired more than once. After firing there would have been an escape route away from the soldiers and out of their sight by the stairs that led down to ground level in the gap between Blocks 2 and 3 of the Rossville Flats. However, Infliction’s account is to the effect that Martin McGuinness told him that he had fired the first shot, not a number of shots, so that there is little to connect this account with the firing from the south-west end of the lower balcony of Block 3 of the Rossville Flats.

    1 Paragraphs 65.182–202

    147.356 We have found that Martin McGuinness was more likely than not to have been in possession of a Thompson sub-machine gun in the area of Chamberlain Street and William Street, and that he probably had not reached the area south of the Rossville Flats when the soldiers came into the Bogside and opened fire. We cannot conclude, however, that he fired a Thompson sub-machine gun from the Rossville Flats. The Infliction material raises the possibility that he did. We have set out above our reasons for not giving much weight to this material. Accordingly, we can in this report make no finding on the point.

    147.357 On one matter, however, we have no doubt. If Martin McGuinness did fire from the Rossville Flats he could have come to believe, as Infliction reported he had said, that his firing had precipitated what happened on Bloody Sunday, by which we would understand that he believed that what he had done had led to a response from soldiers that resulted in the numerous casualties of Bloody Sunday. In fact, as appears from our consideration of the events of Sector 2, he would have been mistaken in this belief, since none of the soldiers who in our view shot Jackie Duddy, Margaret Deery, Michael Bridge or Michael Bradley in that sector suggested at any stage that they had fired at people in response to fire from the Rossville Flats; they all claimed to have targeted people with bombs at ground level. Nor have we found any evidence to suggest that the casualties in any of the other sectors were targeted by soldiers because of fire from the Rossville Flats. [added emphasis]

    And what Martin McGuinness told reporters after the publication of the Saville report. From the Guardian – not available online.

    Asked if soldiers should be prosecuted, McGuinness said he would be guided by what the families wanted. Of his personal role that day, he said he was pleased with Saville’s statement that he had played no part in provoking the soldiers. “Saville said … that he was sure I was not involved in any activity that provided justification for the soldiers opening fire.”

  • Alias

    One other reason I find the claim from ‘Infliction’ to be incredulous is that psychopaths are devoid of conscience as a characteristic of their particular condition, so I don’t see McGuinness as being compelled by a troubled conscience (something he lacks in its entirity) to mistake another tout for a priest.

    McGuinness is a very cold fish, so this just doesn’t gell. This is what another tout (Scappaticci) had to say about McGuinness “He’s the type of person you don’t get side-by-side with. He’s a very cold person. He doesn’t have friends within the IRA. He has what he calls comrades. He doesn’t have friends as such.”

  • Munsterview

    Alias

    For whatever it is worth I know Martin more for more years than I care to remember. I have seen him occasionally annoyed, angry even but most of the time I have met him over the years he has been in good form, quick with a laugh and a joke and as easy being at the receiving end of one as giving it. And never too rushed or pressured to find time for a few personal words!

    As we have seen in the South even a poor old inoffensive harmless nice guy like Enda Kenny can make political enemies : I will admit that ex-comrades who have continued with armed struggle have had some harsh words to say about him, but he also has not pulled his punches in exchanges with them.

    As to Martin’s standing inside current Sinn Fein or Republicans circles, he is nothing other than he always has been approachable, friendly and humorous.

    Presenting people in sound bite one dimension cartoon characters is fine in the House of Commons for the consumption of the folks back home but it ads little to the understanding of real people and real politics on this Island. It also do even less in building goodwill.

  • The above by Pete Baker reinforces my belief that Infliction exists. If he does I hope he feels safe tonight.

    Alias

    It is quite possible to be responsible for many deaths and to regret that. I believe Haig started the British Legion. Look him up before you throw rocks at Martin McGuinness.

    Munsterview

    I never forget, and I hope you dont, that by far the majority of people murdered by the, in this instance, IRA were Irish. I see nothing to be proud of in the IRA.

  • Munsterview

    Pip

    a bit of bed time reading for you.

    http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/27/054.html

    You are a clever girl…… plenty more out there where that came from. It is one thing ignore this sort of thing from the knuckle-draggers on the other side but for you and people like you with the intellectual capacity to do so, ignore what is lurking around in the British Post Colonial Undergrowth is another.

    By concentration in the killings that are attributed to the IRA and blaming them for the rest, is your position any less illegitimate or dishonest than the Israeli one of blaming the Palestinians for everything while ignoring their own contribution that caused the situation ?

  • Munsterview

    I am not ignoring the Brits! and that is why my comment said ‘in this instance’. The fact is whilst the Brits and Irish have centuries of warfare between them, the IRA is, by comparison, relatively new.

    The romantic notion of a few hardy republican families struggling to get their ‘message’ to the people is wrong, The ‘families’ seem to me to be strange, unhealthy groups clinging to a war they lost! When Ireland is united, the republican army will not form the government of a united Ireland, most of its activists will not find their way into the Irish armed forces, they will instead be expected to ‘go back to the day jobs’ and therein lies another potential battle.

    I am no admirer of SF but Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness in recognising the inevitable, and by that I mean the utter nonsense of expecting to march victorious into Dublin as a conquering government of republicans, came to the right conclusion and worked for peace. Adams has other and very serious problems to deal with, but the only ‘previous’ McGuinness appears to have seems to be genuinely IRA connected. He should be applauded and encouraged.

    We are, as ever, on opposite sides! but for me its about arithmetic. The IRA have killed far more Irish people (I include all loyalists and protestants as Irish) in the troubles than the Brits. To me that is a terrible indictment and one they should be ashamed of.

    To get back to Infliction. The Brits had, and probably still have, eyes and ears on the streets, some of them will be ‘encouraged’ to move further into IRA/dissident circles, indeed I understand one man in an ongoing trial, has been cleared because of entrapment. Why should anyone be surprised by the existence of Infliction. The only question is: How much of what he told MI5 is true.

  • Pete Baker

    Pip

    I’ve added it to the original post.

  • No matter how many different ways people are straining to try and wear this story – it is being as swiftly disregarded by the international press as the original Widgery version of what happened. The salient fact about BS was that the Paras shot and killed 14 people (plus the injured). None of the shootings were justified (or justifiable).
    The Infliction issue and how it is being desparately clung to by sections of the media/political classes in London and Belfast clearly shows that some people are still aggrieved at having to admit that shooting civil rights marchers who pose no immediate threat (and without a prior warning) might just possibly be wrong.

  • Johnny Boy

    It doesn’t really matter to me whether Marty fired the first\any shots, it still wouldn’t alter the fast that the people who the army shot were unarmed and posed no mortal threat. It is also already clear that our Deputy First Minister killed and ordered killings in his role as second command of the IRA in Derry.

  • joeCanuck

    May be stating the obvious, but make sure there is no hole in the bucket , Henry. Helps to ensure that nothing slips past the scrutiny.

  • joe

    If there were, Henry would just have to, fix it…or so Liza says

  • Munsterview

    joe,

    In recent years post some medical problems and early retirement I studied for a History Masters in a Southern University.

    From the outset I would have to say that while already farmilar with History lectures and History seminars, I quickly found that there was a major difference between being part of a History department and taking part in events organized by such a department.

    One of the biggest surprises for me and indeed one that left me flabbergasted in the beginning during attendance at these seminar and events was the presentation of papers on historical events of the Seventies by PhD students that were factual inaccurate and incomplete, yet these were seldom noticed or picked up on by the seminars as a whole.

    Obviously I was there and participated in many of these events, as Ireland is a small place I would have known the many of the main players and had been there when ‘History was made’ so to speak. That may have made it easier for me to pick up on these things but the fact also remains that a mainstream consensus operated back then, a few such as Vincent Brown and a certain Kevin Myers ( whatever happened to him, he was quite radical back then ) dissented from that cosy consensus and set out alternative, fuller and more correct versions.

    The main pre-ceasefire split in the Republican Movement happened in 1986, there should have been an agreed history among Republicans from the foundation of the Provisionals to this point yet both parties to that split have re-written the history of this shared earlier period to the extent there are now two parallel and often conflicting narratives.

    It is my personal belief that a scenario other than a simple breakdown of discipline or appalling accident happened in Derry on Bloody Sunday on that day, that it was part of a deliberate strategy to produce several political objectives, but that all of these were predicated on the IRA having a significant exchange of firepower with the British Army on that day.

    Because this exchange did not happen the British Government, albeit almost forty years later, had little choice but to take responsibility for the actions of their Armed Forces in accordance with the evidence for the guilt of the killings.

    We now know the cold clinical details of the killings in regard to how they happened.

    As to why that outbreak of shootings occurred : the spooks have that firmly under wraps and it will be for some considerable time yet; all we can do is look to known British Army Practices and see if there were any known strategies that would have led to the use of these tactics on the day.

    I believe that such a some such strategies are set out at …..

    http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/27/054.html

    ……. and that this whole area needs to be objectively explored.

    In doing so we are in ‘Hall Of Mirrors’ territory where nothing is as it seems. However all the indications are that this is the scenario here. In this context the measured ( and Statesmanlike ?) acceptance of responsibility by Prime Minister Cameron and the cameo appearance of the ‘Shadow Of A Gunman’ involving Martin McGuiness for diversion and distraction all points to this well crafted scenario updated for current consumption.

    Far from the British Prime Minister having earned any brownie points, he has, as a good High Tory, bough into the whole continuing deception and and deflection of the Intel services cover up of why the massacre happened.

    It should not come as any surprise that David Cameron should do otherwise : as D.D. Sheehan said in the Anti-Conscription debate in the House of Commons…. ” I know all the English arguments. I have read them in the papers and listened to them here. They only take account of England’s position. It is quite natural in the gravity of the circumstances that they should only take account of England’s position but they are all found on the delusion that Ireland is part of England .”

  • joeCanuck

    Munsterview,

    Interesting thesis and I wouldn’t rule it out entirely. I just cannot believe that a number, quite a few in fact, of soldiers all happened to take a case of head staggers all at the same time.
    We will never know the whole truth from all parties; There is too much to hide and UK Judges have demonstrated the pernicious influence of the old boys clubs going back to ER1, if not earlier.

  • Munsterview

    Pip

    Yes on opposite sides yet again, but as they say down here, I also accept that ‘ your heart is in the right place ‘

    However as the car-clutch has packed in and have left me with a house bound weekend, I will tease out a few of these things rather than dismiss them in the usual exasperated paragraph.

    Your statement……..

    The romantic notion of a few hardy republican families struggling to get their ‘message’ to the people is wrong, The ‘families’ seem to me to be strange, unhealthy groups clinging to a war they lost! most of its activists will not find their way into the Irish armed forces, they will instead be expected to ‘go back to the day jobs’ and therein lies another potential battle………..

    This is probably logical and coherent to you, but once again it is the statement of an observer outside a culture commenting on what is inside with, it without understanding or appreciating what they are presenting a viewpoint on, and consequently to those who do, showing just how uninformed they are.

    “………..The romantic notion of a few hardy republican families struggling to get their ‘message’ to the people ………..

    This Pip could be straight out of a Whitehall press release, which was probably was the unconcious inspiration for it, goodness known they have said it enough times and in enough different ways over the years for the message to have become well embedded beneath the levels of awareness.

    Real situation : All of Sinn Fein, almost all of Fianna Fail, most of Fine Gael, most of Labour, most of the SDLP want National Unity. It is far from a minority viewpoint or that of a few hardy families!

    This is the main common dominator of shared asperation running through all these political parties and as such a United Ireland concept represents the owherwhelming marority political viewpoint on this island, not just that of a few ‘ Hardy Republican Families!

    “…….. The ‘families’ seem to me to be strange, unhealthy groups clinging to a war they lost!……”

    While you have not been clear in what you intended to convey, going on previous postings and old views, I take this to mean the use of Armed Force to implement political objectives ?

    In a previous posting I referred you to…….. http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/27/054.html …… and the works of …. General Sir Frank Kitson OBE, KCB, MC (born 1926) is a retired British Officer and counterinsurgency theorist. He rose to be Commander-in-Chief UK Land Forces from 1982 to 1985 and was Aide-de-Camp General to the Queen from 1983 to 1985……. http://spinprofiles.org/index.php?title=Frank_Kitson …… where this same gentleman is on record of how to use the kind of force used in ‘ Bloody Sunday ’

    So let us be clear in this Pip, it is perfectly acceptable for the British Army to carry out a mass killing in furtherance of a strategy and to kill continually for over a quarter of a century as part of a grand plan while it is also totally wrong in your book for any Armed Republican group to oppose them in any way ? Yes I suppose as a child from the fag end of Empire era raised on tales of Old Glory, and the benevolence of the British Empire, for you that stand has a certain logic!

    “……most of its activists will not find their way into the Irish armed forces…..”

    Yet again such a fundamental misconception and lack of understanding as to the mentality and attitude the average volunteer or what the Irish situation is about as to be laughable.

    Do you not realize that if the average Vol got a choice between joining a conventional army and jail, the vast majority would take their chances with jail any day! Para military activity may parallel aspects of the regular military but to borrow a phase from Star-Trek “ It is soldiering Jim but not as we know it !”

    Pip, you seem a practical person, you have to feed and cloth yourself etc, you know what it costs to live. Who do you think do this for Paramilitaries and their Families ? Where the hell do you think these paramilitary units operate from anyway!

    Again it only goes to show how out of kilter with reality your perceptions are with reality. Do you not realize that it is very much a case of home base and…… “ Mick if you are dropping off the the short to Tommy this morning for the training class, would you ever run into Tesco and bring back bread, milk and a dozen eggs as well”……. sort of thing rather than any great command headquarters.

    Paramilitaries still acting will not have to return home : most have never left it or the day job to begin with, if they did they could not afford to be paramilitaries to the extent they do. The Brit Forces always knew and understood this, a reason why so many thousands of homes were systematically and regularly wrecked over the years and still are in so called ‘arms searches’

    As I have said I do think your heart is in the right place but to return to the Star Trek theme, while the life that you comment on is out there, it is not life as you know it!

  • Munsterview

    Of course the vast majority of us want a united Ireland! I always take that as a given!

    It is as ever my fault I try to keep my comments brief and end up missing crucial bits out! the ‘wars I referred to were the Irish Civil War and the war of independence.

    If there had been a military victory over the British as a result of the recent troubles, what would have happened, would the victorious Republicans have simply ‘gone away’ or might they have expected more? I think they would have been looking for a great deal more!

    The Republican movement has always been staunchly left wing socialist, which is a pity because most of the people of Ireland are not, and as far as I can see the leaders of SF appear to pay no more than lip service to the idea. Mind you nor do any other leaders of staunchly socialist/communist countries! The potential for trouble when those dedicated to a cause discover victory does not mean they have won is obvious.

    You made two mistakes that I do take objection to. I do not and have never supported, and I have to be careful to make a distinction here, the actions of successive Israeli governments.

    I have never suggested it is alright for the Brits or anyone else to carry out mass killings for whatever purpose! I deliberately tried to keep them out of this part of the debate, atrocities committed by them outside of BS do not belong here.

    You, and I hope Im wrong, appear to imply that Iriish deaths by Republicans can be dismissed as, and I really hate this phrase, ‘collateral damage’! No way, that is something I totally reject!

    I dont know, and I doubt if we will ever find out, what the actual cause of BS was. But, I do believe that if the Brits had wanted to ensure a ‘republican’ attack’ on that day, they would have had no trouble making sure it ‘happened’ after all a plain clothed man with a gun could be anyone!

    One more thing, I read your link, thank you, and whilst I believe all governments ‘work’ to maintain their power and influence, especially the British government, I also believe: sometimes things just happen! History usually decides but only when those most closely connected to whichever incident are long gone and the records are open.

    I used to like Star Trek, I even liked the song, thanks for reminding me!

  • Munsterview

    Pip

    here we go again……

    The Republican movement has always been staunchly left wing socialist, which is a pity because most of the people of Ireland are not, and as far as I can see the leaders of SF appear to pay no more than lip service to the idea……..

    In a pigs ear they were!

    We may be in the second decade of the 21 century but the hidden hands that structured Republicanism as we now know it was founded in the U.S.A. before the American Civil War. The Brotherhood Governing Boards and various States prominent members were in the main drawn from prosperous, self made men.

    In Ireland the back bone of the organization from it’s foundation right through to the Rising was the mid size farmer, the small town business man, the established artist etc, people selected for their respectable standing in the community as much as their ‘soundness’ on the National Question.

    Prior to Easter Week Socialism in Dublin was represented by the Irish Citizen Army, James Connoly was kidnapped for some days to persuade him to work out a common agenda and prevent him from carrying out his own Working Class Rebellion and blowing their secret preparations for a full rebellion.

    Labour Must Wait ! Connoly bought into that message and that was a standard maxim of the the IRB /IRA right up to the ceasefire and the Treaty. While individual Republican Leaders and some local Republicans did get involved in the Limerick Soviets etc The Republican Movement as a whole kept such activity at arms length.

    Sovietism was not only held at arms length : with hindsight the failure of not integrating the Social Emancipation with the National Question was one of the reasons why Republicans were so easily outmaneuvered in the Second Defense of the Republic; ordinary people did not see the fight as having any relevance to them.

    Tom Barry and some other leaders did divide big estates among small farmers; the Free State drove off the farmers in each area they took over control of. In the late 1920’s a significant push for socialism build up inside Republicanism; by 1932 Padar O”Donnell and other leaders of this left were pushed out.

    1932 to 1962 were fairly barren years for socialism inside the Republican Movement. Following the failure of the fifty-six border campaign in the early sixties, a new radicalism / socialism did manifest briefly but only because most of the Movement had gone back to business and family leaving control in the hands of what became the Official IRA.

    This Leadership of Cahal Goulding, Thomas McGiolla, De Rossa etc did take the Movement Left and held it there for the latter end of the sixties

    Following the outbreak of disturbances in the Six-Counties where peace full mass marchers were beaten off the street, inactive Republicans came back in droves, became a majority, formed a Provisional Organization and became Majority Mainstream Republicanism.

    We are now into the realms of well documented events and history.

    From this period in the early seventies to the current date can you point me to any Sinn Fein Detailed Document where a Socialist agenda to the Left of the Socialist Workers Party was advocated ? In fact compare any such Document which Labour Party Policy for the same period and show me how much offside Sinn Fein is in the whole left question ?

    As to your original contention, if it is true Pip it is not history as I know it.

  • Munsterview

    If there is one thing I have noticed it is that people at the bottom of the pile are rarely as socialist as those at the top looking down! It may be that this tendency in, for example, the UK, is simply another way of trying to control the masses but it does spread further afield.

    If I have it correctly SF boast their activists earnings go into a central pot and payment is a central decision. Im not sure about the workings of this. It is something I have heard several SF people refer to, the last being Gerry Kelly a few weeks ago.

    The civil war had winners and losers. It was bloody with no quarter asked or given.

    Can I just ask: why would you, or anyone think, being anti republican violence, somehow means I support British, or for that matter any other violence? I most definitely do not! I am anti all violence.

    Im sorry to be a bit dense tonight, but Im not sure what you meant by my ‘original contention’. If it refers to BS and the possibility that the Brits could have had a soldier in plain clothes start the gunfire, that is just me exploring possibilities. I have no reason to think that they did that, but nor would I be too surprised if they had!

  • Munsterview

    Pip

    Please read again

    “……… By concentration in the killings that are attributed to the IRA and blaming them for the rest, is your position any less illegitimate or dishonest than the Israeli one of blaming the Palestinians for everything while ignoring their own contribution that caused the situation ?…….”

    I did not at any time accuse you of supporting Israelis position : I compared the position of anyone blaming Republicans for physical force in Ireland without factoring in England’s contribution is like that of Israel blaming the Palestine People for the war situation there without factoring their own contribution.

    That is an entirely different matter.

    As I am not directly involved in things now I cannot say with certainty what the salary situation is. However in general, and I do not think that it has changed very much, elected public officials donate their salary to the party and draw the equivalent of an average industrial wage.

    As to the Civil War or The Second Defense Of The Republic : as Civil Wars go the casualties were remarkable light. In the seventies I had the privilege of meeting with and spending long hours in discussion with many of the veterans and the one thing that came through is few had a heart for the fight.

    There was another difference; most on the Republican side had been old Vols. who had been active since the 1916 period and that applied equally to Officers and other ranks. On the Free State side many of the ‘movers and shapers’ were far from the battlefield; they had battle hardened soldiers demobilized from the FWW recruited for cannon fodder and used with the same discard for life as their British masters had shown.

    As for what really happened on Bloody Sunday…….. depends where you stand ! Did the British Burn Cork ? Did the British Murder the Lord Mayor of Cork, Limerick etc. Some of us can answer all of these questions without any problem. For others even an admission by Liz the Second would not be enough to convince them that monumental wrong was done.

  • MUnsterview

    No, I do not see the connection. As far as I know the Palestinians are not bombing and shooting their own people. If they were I would object to that. Far from brutalizing their own the record of Hamas is one of helping the poorest, which is why they won a landslide majority in the last full Palestinian GE.

    I consider my self a centre left socialist, but I would have no truck with a party who took wages earned and distributed them as they saw fit, especially when you dont have to look too far to see certain questionable anomalies.

    The reports of the civil war I have read speak of many deaths and casualties. As for the Irish government of the day using Irish soldiers as ‘canon fodder’ that phrase is bad enough when it is applied to sections of foreign armies, absolutely disgraceful, regardless of whichever government is applying it, when it is applied to the Irish army and Irish people, The state will always have a larger army than a grass roots movement, unless of course members of that army support the grass roots! To me it makes little difference: Irish is Irish!

    To get back to Bloody Sunday. it needs no connection to other British atrocities, there will probably always be controversy and debate about who or what started the firing. To me it is almost irrelevant the British soldiers opened fire in an area where they could hardly fail to kill and maim unarmed civilians. It was a disgraceful act and should be punished!