Gusty Spence (1933-2011)

Gusty Spence - photo from BBCGusty Spence died in hospital this weekend aged 78.

He served in the British army for five years and was stationed in Cyprus. He was approached to join the UVF in 1965, and soon became its leader in the Shankill. Under his watch, terror raids by local UVF men resulted in the death of civilian Protestants and Catholics. Spence was arrested shortly after the UVF was declared illegal in June 1966.

His daughter Liz describes his arrest in the book Children of the Revolution.

We were all in the house when he was arrested. It was a wee tiny kitchen-house we lived in. I remember the police coming in and us having to get up out of our beds and just searching all of the house. It’s funny now; my mummy laughed at it years later. My mummy hadn’t a clue what was going on. She says, ‘What are you looking for?’

And they said, ‘Guns.’

And my mummy said, ‘Well, hold on a minute,’ and she went and got this wee bucket; it was my brother’s toy guns. And she actually brought them out to them and said, ‘There you are.’ And she was genuinely serious, because she hadn’t a clue what was going on. They took my daddy away and my mummy and my aunt tried to keep everything quiet from us. But I could read the papers, so I saw what was going on.

Spence went on hunger strikes to get the loyalist prisoners political status.

In the summer of 1972, Spence was granted two days home leave from prison to attend his daughter Liz’s wedding to Winston Churchill ‘Winkie’ Rea (former leader of the Red Hand Commando). After the wedding we absconded and went ‘on the run’ as his daughter recalls:

… he didn’t get arrested again until October or November … They searched the whole of Northern Ireland for him and where was he most of the tie? Either in my mummy’s house or my house … We dyed his hair every other week, changed it all different colours. It was a lot of ducking and diving, but we did it. He was caught coming out of Glencairn. It was the two tattoos on his hands gave him away: my name and our Sandra’s name. It was a wee eighteen-year-old soldier.

Having been ‘kidnapped’ while being driven back to prison, Spence spent the next four months reorganising the UVF and giving a television interview. At that stage while calling for increased action against the Provisional IRA, Spence wanted to stop the UVF’s pattern of random murders of Catholics.

Back in prison, Spence became the UVF commander in the Maze. Military discipline and training was part of his regime. Inmates were exposed to his increasingly political thinking and his disillusionment with the use of violence to bring about political change. Figures like David Ervine and Billy Hutchinson were among his ‘disciples’.

In the summer of 2000, during the loyalist feud, Spence was exiled from his Shankill home by Johnny Adair’s C Company (UDA). Spence’s hose was ‘wrecked’; his daughter’s house was ‘set on fire’. He linked his wife’s death – only a few years later – with the these events.

Aside from the atrocities he led while a paramilitary, Spence is probably best remembered as the figure who read out the 13 October 1994 statement announcing the loyalist ceasefire, and then on 3 May 2007 read out the statement about UVF decommissioning, which included the sentences:

In all sincerity, we offer to the loved ones of all innocent victims over the past twenty years, abject and true remorse. No words of ours will compensate for the intolerable suffering they have undergone during the conflict.

Seemingly unafraid of examining (and redefining?) his identity, he learnt Irish, was happy to be an ‘Ulster Irishman’ as well as British, and developed a friendship with Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich.

A husband, a father, a killer, a peace-maker.

Gusty Spence was another complex figure who contributed much bloodshed and evil to Northern Ireland society. Yet through prison and release, and working through the Progressive Unionist Party, he later helped bring new thinking into loyalism, and helped open the door for the relative peace of today.

Who will be the inside voices who will now help finish the journey that loyalism has yet to complete?

Update – Henry McDonald’s obituary in the Guardian, and two clips from UTV:

, , ,

  • Mark McGregor

    David Ervine on Spence taken from Voices from the Grave:

    ‘What is this stupid auld bastard talking about?’ you’re saying to yourself…and he went on to talk about the politics of the goldfish bowl in a society where not only would one be fair but one would have to be seen to be fair, how this was the only way that you could ever have power-sharing. ‘Power-sharing! Power-sharing! You mean let the fifth column inside the house? Sure you wouldn’t want the fifth column inside the house!’ And I think Spence’s theory was probably well enough summed up when he would say, ‘Well I’d rather have them pishing out from inside as pishing in from the outside’.

  • sdelaneys

    Alan In Belfast
    “…“abject and true remorse” to the relatives of victims of the Troubles….”

    As I remember it he offered this regarding ‘all our innocent victims’ which totally depends on the UVF’s definition of innocent which might only mean those killed by mistake rather than for their religion or politics.

  • andnowwhat

    Sdelaneys

    Indeed. Just this afternoon, Finnula O’ Connor made that very point. She also mentioned how they would assert that an innocent, catholic victim had some unsubstantiated republican link

  • sdelaneys – I’ve found and added in the full quote.

  • Mark McGregor

    Alan another one ‘mentored’ by Spence:

    Dawn Purvis:

    My friend and mentor Gusty Spence sadly passed away this morning. His contribution to the peace process was immense.

  • And so the nitpicking begins. Some people just cannot accept the possibility of reform. The man seemed genuine to me when he made that statement. A cousin of mine was one of his gang’s victims.

  • Turgon

    There is a saying that one should not speak ill of the dead. I do not wholly subscribe to that view but now may not be the time for some of us to give our opinions on Spence. Equally, however as both sdelanys and andnowwhat have pointed out respect for the recently deceased’s family and friends should not prevent people from correcting factual inaccuracies.

  • JAH

    Gusty’s life mirrors the gradual change of perception by working class Unionism. From blind hatred in his first phase then recognition that people had to live together and accept the differences.

    I had forgotten about his ‘kidnapping’ by the UVF when on a few days release for his daughter’s wedding. It was well known were he was living in Glencairn but it was effectively a nogo area at the time. There was also talk he was glad to be caught. Gusty’s views were already out of sync with the pyschos’ rampant at the time.

    It always appals me that in a supposedly Christian country the concept of redemption is denied to anyone who changes direction. So Gusty can never be allowed to be forgiven because of his past? The fact that hundreds of people are alive today because his strength of character won the argument and loyalist paramiltaries effectively stopped (and the IRA) is his legacy.

    Turgon can no doubt attack his legacy. No wonder. The total collapse of the TUV vote, with its appeal to the lowest common denominator of loyalist instincts, has its roots in men like Gusty challenging the stereotype thinking they had once embraced. Loyalism has moved on.

  • JAH – Be careful not to put words into Turgon’s mouth.

  • Turgon is absolutely right. If we cant speak well of the deceased we at least owe some sense of respect to a family.
    It would be inappropriate for this thread to be other than respectful but I am sure that in a few days there would be room for a thread (Turgon seems the ideal person) for discussion of how “former” paramilitaries of both sides are demonised or lionised to suit agendas.

  • Mark McGregor

    Turgon,

    You may have missed it but Mick runs a rigorously enforced rule on RIP entries. While not wanting to put words in Mick’s mouth, it usually works as – treat an obituary thread with a bit of respect or suffer the consequences.

    There will be many opportunities to make the critical, partisan points etc. on the deceased at other times.

  • Turgon

    I have actually spoken to Mick about this issue. I think a critical analysis of Mr. Spence’s life and contribution would be appropriate if only to ensure that there is more than one early draft of his legacy. I intend to do one. However, today is not the day. Whatever my or anyone else’s views of Mr. Spence, he had a family and friends who will today be mourning his death. As such for the meantime I intend to speak no ill of the dead.

  • Joe Bloggs

    Whilst I unreservedly condemn the killing of Peter Ward some of our Nationalist contributors are quick to portray it as a random, sectarian killing motivated by nothing but hatred. Many forget the tension which existed in Northern Ireland in 1966.

    The IRA were still killing protestant policemen up until five years before and had made numerous statements threatening an assault over the border from the Republic to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Mutiny. This resulted in the cancellation of the Belfast-Dublin train for a time, protestant families living near the border being asked to leave their homes for their own safety and the IRA had embarked on a large recruitment drive (Martin Meehan being on such Nationalist who joined the ranks in 1966).

    While shooting a random catholic is certainly not the way to counter a growing threat from the IRA it must be recognised that the threat was there and it had raised tensions across Northern Ireland to levels not seen since the 1920s.

    Others might try and rewrite history by saying the killing of Peter Ward actually started the Troubles. If so, why did it take the IRA three years to respond?

  • lamhdearg

    Mr spence, (this is how i refered to him when we met) only lost out as a result of his involvement in the troubles, he died not unlike as he lived his life, as a down to earth working class man, i type this in the knowledge that some of the familys of the victims will not regret his passing, and i fully respect them in that. To the Spence family i offer my deepest condolences.

  • The family are indeed entitled to our respect and sympathy.
    But there are some people who condemn the family, or at least the wife, of convicted criminals saying that they must have known what was going on. The daughter Liz’s wry recollection regarding the toy guns gives the lie to that for Mrs. Spence.

  • Gusty Spence was something you see far to few of these days, a working class unionist with confidence in his own ability and political ideas. If he had born in England or the USA, I have little doubt he would have worked alongside his catholic neighbours to help build a better life for them all. Instead he was born into a place in which sectarianism was rife.

    I am not a christian but as JAH wrote, it does seem a little sad that in a country which claims to be Christian the concept of redemption is denied to anyone who changes direction.

    What ever his faults, Mr Spence’s change of direction did appear to be sincere.

    Condolences to his family and friends.

  • Mark McGregor

    lamhdearg,

    “Mr spence, (this is how i refered to him when we met)”

    I was just rereading David Ervine saying he, along with the rest, naturally called him ‘Sir’ in the Kesh and Brendan Hughes commenting on how Spence wore welly boots and a distinctive hat to emphasise his rank in the cages.

  • Nordie Northsider

    I know an Irish language journalist who heard of Spence’s mythical ability in Irish and asked him for an interview. It turned out that Spence knew not a single word, an inconvenient fact he introduced with the words: ‘My knowledge of Gaelic has been greatly exaggerated.’ Interesting, though, that he didn’t mind it being ascribed to him.

  • Mark McGregor

    In 94 he was decribing himself as a ‘moderate socialist’ whatever that means.

  • Firstly, I’m sorry to hear about the passing of Gusty and sympathy to his Clann.

    Despite the large number of killings of innocent Catholics/Nationalists by the UVF during the Conflict. I feel Gusty was much more than a Leader, he helped others outside Loyalism better understand working-class Unionists and was a great spokesman for that neglected community. He also articulated a large amount of common sense towards his enemies.

    When he was told my Great-Grandfather, a Catholic from the Oldpark area had died in the Battle of the Somme. He researched his record and sent all the facts and details to my family. He knew we were a strong Republican family and still sent them on.There is no doubt in my mind, that he was indeed a soldier.

    Oiche Mhaith.

  • “he helped others outside Loyalism better understand working-class Unionists”

    ArdEoin Republican

    I think that is a very good point, many of us saw working class unionists as a monolithic slab of unthinking beings who were the willing and ignorant tools of Orangism, and in doing so we little realised we were behaving in the bigoted way we claimed to appal.

    In his own way, Gusty helped us not only look at his community in a somewhat different light but also ourselves. This does not make him a saint nor do I agree with his somewhat mixed up politics, but I feel he deserves our thanks for this.

  • Davy McFaul

    I’m glad to see that Slugger is following the tradition of not speaking ill of the dead. There’ll be time enough to examine his character in detail. In terms of Spence’s public image he seemed to be a complex, and maybe a bit of a contradictory, character. As MMcG states I have read the stories of his distinctive hat to emphasize his rank and other UVF prisoner calling him sir. This may have been done to maintain discipline or create an atmosphere of cohesion but, IMO, this kind of pseudo military formality grates with the working class / socialist loyalist image in latter years. Perhaps it was just another phase of his transmission.

    JAH states that there was talk of him being glad to have been arrested while he was on the trot. This is interesting in terms that I don’t think that it would have been conducive to his developing political thought if his evolving politics had come head to head with the kind of mindset which would eventually produce the Shankill Butchers. I’m also surprised at Nordie’s Irish language reporter. Even I knew that Spence’s Irish language level was perfunctory and ni raibh ach cúpla focal air.

    As a citizen of west Belfast I’ll probably remember Spence as both synonymous with the worst excesses of loyalist sectarianism and the more progressive strain of unionist politics although when I look at contributions like Joe Bloggs, who seems to attempt to apportion blame for the death of Peter Ward on Republicans, I wonder how far this progression has come.

    It’s also not widely known that Spence had a nephew who did time for the INLA.

  • The reaction to his death is interesting….
    the tributes from other paramilitaries of a republican nature refer to him as a soldier……..and indeed he was among those to recognise the “soldier” in them.
    Of course it was all a bit self-serving as both these kinds of “soldiers” need to recognise the “soldiery” in the other side to validate their self image (fantasy) as soldiers.

    Paramilitaries are I suppose the underbelly of two honourabe philosophies so a particular venom is reserved for them by those who are “constitutional”. Obviously this is dependent on how valid a constitution is deemed to be and to some extent constitutional nationalists have validated republican paramiliarism in a way that constitutional unionism has not done.

    And yet the Golden Rule for getting a “tribute” is not to be successful. David Ervine led a one ma party and in the eyes of the Great and the Good is safe to laud because he was marginalised and safe. This ensures that a paramilitary can be praised and lauded.
    Had Mr Spence or Mr Ervine led a bloc of say ten twenty or thirty MLAs the reaction would have been better.
    Men of War becoming Men of Peace and becoming marginalised and ineffective where real power resides.

    The alternative to be lionised is to be demonised……A Man of War….becomes Man of Peace……and oops has real power.

  • Rory Carr

    Condolences to Mr Spence’s family.

    Fitzjameshorse has already expressed views similar to my own on all this “soldier” nonsense; as if having been a soldier, even if true, or even if as a protector rather than as a destroyer, were somehow more admirable or more valuable to society than having been a bricklayer or an obstetrician or a check-out cashier at Tesco, a dubious proposition at best in general and even more so in this particular application.

    I have nothing further to add that leading obituarist, E.J. Thribb, may not be already composing at this very moment for placement elsewhere.

  • I think its interesting to contextualise Mr Spence as four years after “Operation Harvest” (the risible IRA Border Campaign) and three years before The Troubles.
    A Prequel rather than a Sequel.
    And in the context of 1966 Easter Commemoration or more likely unionist disquiet in The O’Neill Years.

  • At lunchtime, someone in Preston (England) listed a piece of prison art by Gusty Spence on eBay … no bids as yet.

    I bought this item from the son of a former prison guard from longkesh. It was confiscated from an inmate who was trying to smuggle it out of the jail.

  • foyle observer

    Nothing from ‘Limerick’, ‘Between the Bridges’ et al? Strange that.

    RIP Mr Spence.

  • BluesJazz

    Google the lyrics of SLF song ‘wasted life’ if you want the legacy of all of these people.

  • Stephen Blacker

    I would like to express my condolences to Gusty Spence’s family and friends and let them know my thoughts and prayers are with them at this sad time. I met Mr. Spence a number of times and he was a larger than life man who spoke few words but when he did speak his words were wise and he could stand by what he said.

    A superb speech Gusty made while in Long Kesh shows the depth of his thinking and the changes that he had made during his own personal journey of self discovery and education to the realities of Northern Ireland away from the hate filled rants of people he believed were genuine.

    The full text of this speech is kept in the Linenhall Library in Belfast. I think this is a fitting time to use this speech as a tribute to Gusty.

    Long Kesh 12th July 1977.

    “We never tire of celebrating the advent in history when William of Orange achieved for us in 1690 Civil and Religious freedom. We, the Protestants of Ireland, were the persecuted in those days and now things are somewhat reversed. But is persecution necessary for the establishment of the inherent freedoms of mankind? Has persecution ever changed a person’s views? Do we really want freedom and the pursuit of happiness at the expense of some other unfortunate soul?…I submit that it is fear which makes one people oppress another…We are living in the most socially and legalistically oppressive society in the Western Hemisphere…Polarisation complete with one section of the community cut off from the other except for some middle-class contacts which appear to be more concerned about their class than community…WE are a police state with the accompanying allegations of torture and degrading treatment to suspects undergoing interrogation…Even yet we still have men nonsensically counselling that victory is just around the corner. Victory over whom – the IRA? Or do they mean victory over the Roman Catholic community?…The fears of Roman Catholics will not go away because bigoted Unionist politicians say so.

    We in Northern Ireland are plagued with super-loyalists…If one does not agree with their bigoted and fascist views then one is a ‘taig-lover’, or a ‘communist’…Unfortunately, we have too many of these people in our own ranks. No fascist or bigot can expect sympathy or understanding in the UVF compounds…The sooner we realise that our trust has been abused, and the so-called political leadership we followed was simply a figment the sooner we will attempt to fend for ourselves politically and to commence articulation in that direction…ours was a sick society long before the fighting men came on the scene. Life in Ulster before the troubles was artificial…We want employment and decent homes like all human beings, and Loyalists will no longer suffer their deprivation stoically lest their outcries be interpreted as disloyalty…The politicians seemingly cannot or will not give us the peace we so earnestly desire, so I therefore call upon all the paramilitaries to call a universal ceasefire. To open up dialogue with each other in order to pursue ways and means of making such a ceasefire permanent. Eventually Loyalist and Republican must sit down together for the good of our country. Dialogue will have to come about sometime, so why not now? There is no victory in Ulster, not for the IRA, or the UVF, the police or the army. There is only victory for humanity and common sense.”

    Gusty Spence

    This speech was delivered in 1977, 21 years before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, an agreement that would not have been possible without the help of people that were educated and challenged by Gusty in Long Kesh years before. The main points in this speech are the fundamental conditions for the Good Friday Agreement and a fitting tribute to the vision Gusty had 21 years previous.

    R.I.P. Gusty Spence

  • Nordie Northsider

    Davy McFaul wrote: I’m also surprised at Nordie’s Irish language reporter. Even I knew that Spence’s Irish language level was perfunctory and ni raibh ach cúpla focal air.

    My points are (1) He didn’t even have a perfunctory cúpla focal’. (2) His supposed ability in Irish was part of his myth, as expressed in the post above: ‘Seemingly unafraid of examining (and redefining?) his identity, he learnt Irish…’

    Interestingly I have heard Dubliners make similar claims for David Ervine. It seems to be something that Nationalists project onto Unionists who they like.

  • Greenflag

    @ stephen blacker ,

    Thanks for posting that piece -I’ve never seen it .

    There are some insights in that speech which are worth commenting on at a later date but for now condolences to the family and friends of Gusty Spence .

  • Stephen Blacker

    Greenflag,

    You are welcome. There are some good points and they are a bit uncomfortable for a unionist / prod like myself to read – sometimes the truth hurts.

    I do not believe Mr. Spence was a revisionist or sycophant he told it as it is and some people just can not deal with self analysing comments.

  • padraigpearse

    I’d say Gusty wasn’t the worst of ’em. He learned as he went along that people like Paisley and the Secial Brach and MI5 were just using them and that middle class Unionists regarded them rather like toilet paper to be used and loosed.

    Its a pity all Unionist terrorists didn’t have the same steep learning curve, or Unionists generally.

  • Greenflag

    @ stephen blacker ,

    ‘There are some good points and they are a bit uncomfortable for a unionist / prod like myself to read ‘

    In truth they should be uncomfortable for anybody and everybody who is involved in or thinks about political or economic or nationality issues generally not just in NI but in the Republic and elsewhere as well.

    I hope that later somebody will post a thread for discussion on some of those points I refer to

    e.g

    ‘Do we really want freedom and the pursuit of happiness at the expense of some other unfortunate soul?’

    The answer to which appears to be ‘we do ‘ and I’m not referring to Northern Ireland but to the current world economic, monetary and fiscal chaos .

  • between the bridges

    @foyle observer, strange that i don’t (usually) comment on obituaries? or strange that it,makes you think, you know, what ever you think it is, that you think, you know?

    my condolences to Gusty Spence’s family.

  • dennis the menace

    there will be few tears shed in the Unionist community..a terrorist is a terrorist is a terrorist

  • Kevsterino

    May the deceased rest in peace, and his family find the strength to bear their loss in dignity.

  • lamhdearg

    Are we aloud to attribute killings to people, that have not being found guilty of said killings?.

  • lamhdearg

    “I think it’s good to remember the victims of people like Spence when reflecting on their lives”
    I agree.

  • galloglaigh

    Are we aloud to attribute killings to people, that have not being found guilty of said killings?

    Here’s a comment from a previous thread. It is a clear statement of conviction, levelled at Martin McGuinness, even though he hasn’t been in a court since the early 70’s.

    My view,Martins role should rule him out…

    Why would you have one rule for one, and another rule for another? Is it because Gusty Spence was a loyalist? A Protestant?

    RIP Gusty Spence; a true loyalist, who took up arms to defend his views. Unlike the cowards who led him and his men to battle, by sabre rattling on hillsides, and injecting sectarian venom into any issue that they spoke of.

  • lamhdearg

    “Why would you have one rule for one, and another rule for another? Is it because Gusty Spence was a loyalist? A Protestant?”
    I do not, i also believe the Mr Spence’s role, would rule him out also.

  • galloglaigh

    But sure what about, for example Tony Blair or George Bush’s roles in illegal occupations, which led to the deaths of millions? Did their actions rule them out of leadership roles?

    What about Thatcher, who bankrolled and supported people like Pinochet?

    What about George Washington?

  • lamhdearg

    galloglaigh,

    But surely those people where leaders before they did those things,and i did not vote for them anyway. At this point please excuse me, as i will not digress further, this thread is about Mr Spence.

  • BluesJazz

    Some day , soon, there’s going to be an obituary thread(s) on the religious madman who led Spence , and many others, on their bloodthirsty spiral.
    We all know the person involved, although journalists are not allowed to invoke the persons name.
    I hope Mr Spence has written of him. We can only hope.

  • Good decision, lamhdearg. I hope others follow your example.

  • galloglaigh

    and i did not vote for them anyway

    Ach, sure that makes it OK?

    Typical!

  • dwatch

    I read in the news Mr Spence’s coffin will be draped with the Royal Ulster Rifles flag instead of the UVF flag. Does anyone know if the Royal Ulster Rifles Association, their standard, members and their President will be present at the funeral, and what date and time this will take place?

  • Neil

    and i did not vote for them anyway

    Nor, presumably, will you be voting for Martin not living in The Republic I assume.

    It’s interesting seeing people, rightly, recognise Gusty’s journey to ‘peacemaker’ (or as said about Martin McG on another thread, ceasing to make war), whilst obviously recognising that he has the blood of many innocents on his hands.

    I wonder can those people extend the same simple recognition to the likes of Martin McG? After all, unlike Spence Martin remains unconvicted of any murders, he has also made a similar journey (having done so in advance of Spence).

    Or is there a double standard at play – Martin is guilty of everything without actually being afforded the right to face his accusor in a court, while Gusty is a saint despite the fact that he has been convicted of murder? Is it simply a case of ex Loyalist terrorist good, ex Republican terrorist bad? Certainly seems that way.

    I shall now await my red card, having been awarded a couple before for speaking truthfully of the recently deceased in similar terms to this post, though that was a Turgon post and I’m around about a million percent more likely to get a red on one of those for some reason.

  • galloglaigh

    Is it simply a case of ex Loyalist terrorist good, ex Republican terrorist bad?

    It would appear, that that is the case for some Sluggerites!

  • andnowwhat

    I heard the son of one of Gusty’s victims on the radio yesterday and it turns out that the victim’s father served in the same regiment as Gusty but during WWII. I think the man died at Normandy.

  • cypher176

    Those who forget the past are condemmed to repeat it

  • I dont think its as simple as “republican terrorists bad… loyalist terrorists good”
    the key thing about “old soldiers” is that they are supposed to “fade away”……so that the rest of us can simply get on with our lives.

    The cardinal sin of republican terrorists or old soldiers is that they have mainfestly failed to just fade away. They are ………the very cheek of it………getting elected….by people voting for them.

    The saving grace for loyalist terrorists is that they couldnt get arrested never mind elected..so they must be praised and patronised.
    But it would be a lot different if people had ever voted for them in large numbers.

  • Alan N/Ards

    I never met Gusty Spence and I have no idea what he did or didn’t do during the 60’s but I do believe that he was genuinely remorseful for whatever part he played during that period. He has been compared to McGuinness and Adams as someone who was a man of war and then a man of peace, yet these people have never shown remorse for their part in the madness we call the troubles. The same can be said of many loyalist terrorists who are also proud of their part in the troubles. They may regret certain incidents but that’s as far as it goes. You can add to that list a number of unionist politicians who will never admit that they got things wrong in the past. I hope that Gusty has finally found peace.

  • lamhdearg

    28 sept 2011, 99 years to the day.

    Fjh, i agree with the main of your comment (even though i see a hint the sarcasm) as to the “could’nt get arrested” quip, please check the records,Loyalist (rightly) had their share of arrests and convictions, Mr Spence was arrested within hours of peter wards murder and jailed within 4 months, and served almost 20 years, on what i believe will be proved to be ropey evidence.
    As to the charge some are making on here, “one rule for”, where are the some getting this from, i have read the comments on this thread over and over, and i do not see anyone ask for Mr Spence to be made prez of anything, i certainly do not ask for old or recent Loyalistist to be given posts above there station on account of them stopping killing or facilitating the killing of people.

  • slappymcgroundout

    “JAH – Be careful not to put words into Turgon’s mouth.”

    He doesn’t have to, as Turgon has done so already, and as related here in this thread, Turgon intends to wash, rinse, repeat.

    “There is no doubt in my mind, that he was indeed a soldier.”

    In Gusty’s mind, there was no doubt that Joe McCann was a soldier:

    http://www.tnovosel.org/1124/coursedocuments/Gusty%27sLetter.pdf

  • Rory Carr

    “Mr Spence was arrested within hours of peter wards murder and jailed within 4 months, and served almost 20 years, on what i believe will be proved to be ropey evidence.” (My emphasis)

    Can you explain please, Lamhdearg?

    Is there to be an appeal against conviction albeit posthumously?

    Are you suggesting that the late Mr Spence may have been innocent in the matter of the murder of Peter Ward and others?

    Would you care to elaborate?

  • galloglaigh

    I find it amusing, if not sickening, that people talk of ‘ropey evidence’ in terms of loyalists, yet, in the case of Charlie McMenamin for example, or other republicans jailed on the word of, or fabricated evidence of the RUC, they were given nothing more than they deserve. The double standards from some Sluggerites, is actually unbelievable. It is an attitude that goes back 200 years, and needs to change.

  • tomthumbuk

    Neil,
    Unfortuately justice doesn’t necessarily mean that all murderers are brought to justice, oh that it were so.

    McGuinness is a self confessed leader of the IRA.
    It’s primary purpose was to murder people and bomb the British Government into withdrawing from Ireland.
    It was successful in the first part, but not in the second.

    Why McGuinness was not prosecuted on various charges arising from his role in conducting the IRA campaign is a matter of some debate.

    He’s just lucky, I guess, but then you never know, so was O.J.Simpson and he got caught in the long grass!

  • Ruarai

    Question: Does anyone know much about Gusty Spence’s time in Cyprus with the British Army?

    I would be interested because one aspect of the Spence Loyalist narrative has never added up for me, namely the explanations for the initial hatred of Catholics that lead, for example, to the Peter Ward murder.

    If a Loyalist, like anyone in any divided society, grew up with little exposure to “the other” then it would make at least some sense, particularly as Paisleyism was on the rise, for a raw hatred of “Taigs” to manifest in some in murderous actions.

    But Spence served with and under Catholics, including Irish Catholics, in Cyprus. The sheltered life narrative doesn’t fit here. So where did the initial hatred come from?

    And what does it say about assumptions that hatred is tackled simply by integration and contact?