Mary Lynch in the Impartial: saying things that need to be said

Mary Lynch was mentioned on slugger a couple of months ago when there were complaints about her column in the Impartial Reporter. Ms. Lynch refers to those comments in her latest piece saying: “I may not say things that people want to hear but these things need to be said.”

On this occasion one of the things Ms. Lynch felt the need to say was about her “illegal and inhumane treatment in 1978” (by the RUC). This treatment seems indeed to have been both illegal and inhumane: “…the RUC female officer who held a gun to my head and repeatedly pulled the trigger whilst I silently prayed for the relief that death would bring from the one bullet that she left in its barrel!” If a policewoman was “playing” Russian Roulette to intimidate anyone it is completely unacceptable. Ms. Lynch says she does not want an apology but this is clearly a shocking crime committed against Ms. Lynch and something which should be dealt with by the prosecution of the woman officer concerned.

Unfortunately there are a few minor oddities about Ms. Lynch’s story of inhumane and illegal treatment. Female RUC officers were not armed in 1978 which makes this story of casual intimidation a bit odd. Maybe the female RUC officer borrowed a male officer’s gun. Still a wicked crime.

Then there is another problem with Ms. Lynch’s account. In 1978 the RUC were armed with Walther pistols and a variety of self loading rifles and submachine guns. Indeed in 1979 Margaret Thatcher was most annoyed that Jimmy Carter refused to allow the export of Ruger revolvers for use by the RUC. As such in 1978 there was a dearth of revolvers with which to play Russian Roulette against republicans (or anyone else). Without getting too technical it is physically impossible to use the weapons then available to the RUC in the fashion Ms. Lynch describes. The story of this wicked crime does, however, “Need to be said”….. unless of course it never actually happened.

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  • wild turkey


    I take your,uh, technical reservations on board regarding Ms Lynch’s tale. Tall or otherwise i do not know. but i do know this.

    i am currently prepping my 11 year old son for the funfilled BRA transfer test. For this preparation Ms Lynch’s article is most useful for reading comprehension… and maths.
    the equation goes something like this.

    Total Self Absorption
    Tedious Sanctimony
    A complete lack of any evidence of humility or empathy
    Mary Lynch

    what else to make of?

    “Anne Travers…My heart goes out to this lady as she cannot move on as she needs someone to apologise to her, giving them complete control of her life. Thankfully it never even entered my mind to look for an apology from the RUC for my illegal and inhumane treatment in 1978 so I was free to move on with my healing.

    A gentleman wounded in the Enniskillen bomb was allowed on to speak, and rightly so, but I wasn’t – I wanted to say to the people who are wounded that there is another way – we have to park the blame whilst we heal, putting all the attention back on ourselves is the only way to move forward. “

  • Gael Eoghain

    Can’t comment on the specifics of Ms Lynch’s allegations but I will on the issue of availability of revolvers to RUC members.
    Yes, RUC women on duty did not carry firearms n the same way as male colleagues did.
    However, female RUC members and family members of RUC & UDR were licensed to have personal protection weapons which were obtained from Licensed Gun Dealers.
    Revolvers were easily obtainable and popular because of ease of concealment and were deemed more reliable than ‘automatic pistols’.
    Short barrell (snub nose) revolvers were percieved most suitable for women.
    RUC men & Special Constables (A & B) have since 1922 carried revolvers on duty. Weapons varied in size and calibre, depending on the preference or training of the individual officer.
    This information can be verified by consulting the RUC archives.

  • BluesJazz

    Wasn’t that the year ‘The Deer Hunter’ was released?

    Anyhow, if we accept Ms.Lynch’s (all SF females seem to be ‘Ms’) never before published testimony, how did she ascertain there was a bullet in the barrel? ‘While she “prayed for the relief that death would bring”.

    In next week’s installment, Ms Lynch will no doubt give her account of jumping from a Lynx after an SAS ambush as she was returning from her womens Bridge club.

  • Rory Carr

    whether or not RUC officers were issued with firearms is not at issue. Turgon already accepts that a weapon may well have been made available – he has to do that in order to go on to show how Ms. Lynch’s claims are implausible because, says Turgon, even had the RUC officer had access to a weapon it couldnot have been a revolver. Which is all very well and good except that Ms. Lynch does not claim that it was a revolver.She speaks only of :

    “the RUC female officer who held a gun to my head and repeatedly pulled the trigger whilst I silently prayed for the relief that death would bring from the one bullet that she left in its barrel!”

    A gun may be a revolver but it may equally be.a .Walther pistol. Ms Lynch does not say, indeed it is probable that she did not know any more than that the barrel of a gun was pressed against her head and the trigger pulled repeatedly.

    It is not necessary that it be a revolver for anyone but Turgon who requires it to be so in order to attempt to discredit rhe whole incident as a fabrication. So, in the absence of any claim that it was a revolver, Turgon must then make it so.

    That terrific writer of noir detective fiction, a man with strong Ulster Protestant roots, Raymond Chandler (The Big Sleep;Farewell My Lovely) once wrote of his own stlye of fiction that, when in difficulties with the plot, all the writer had to contrive was to have a man enter the room with a revolver. I should not be in the least surprised to find that Turgon is a fan.

  • Drumlins Rock

    How on earth can “The Impartial” publish this as journalism, it is tripe of the lowest order, if they want a republican viewpoint at least get someone that can write.

  • Turgon

    I was waiting for someone to try that. The point is, had it been a pistol the one bullet Ms. Lynch talks about as being in the gun would have been at the top of the magazine: the spring mechanism would have ensured that. As such the first time the trigger was pulled, the weapon would have fired.

    In order for the account Ms. Lynch gives to be accurate it has to be a revolver. In order for that to be the case one would have had to be brought in as it would not have been a standard RUC weapon. Maybe the RUC had revolvers available especially for intimidating people. All that might be true. On the other hand the whole story might be complete nonsense.

  • ***facepalm***

    Erm… there was obviously no bullets in the gun. You can still pull the trigger of a PPK even if it is empty or doesn’t have a magazine.

  • I have no idea if Ms Lynch is telling the Truth. Or not.
    And I dont much care.
    As I see it, everybody has a story. I have a story. Actually I have several stories. Which one do you want? This could be a very long thread if you actually want all my stories. Usually nobody is much interested in my anecdotes.
    The night we were watching the High Chapparel (Mondays BBC2 at 8pm) and the Brits paid a visit. I cant say much more. It will all be in the book that I have been writing for 30 odd years. Or how about the story about when the Stickies put a gun in my mouth (actually I know they never existed) .
    Or the story about the taxi passenger that ends up “……..someone round here has a very big mouth”.
    Like I say I have a million of them and if you have the time or the inclination then I probably should oblige. But if youll take my advice you wont listen to the likes of me. Because my stories are not much different from those who lived in a West Belfast housing estate in the 1970s.
    The only difference is that my stories are fewer than most people….because I had no dodgy connexions, was either at university or in a “respectable” employment, from a family which had no Belfast cousins and my family was deemed respectable working class SDLP voters.

    Thats not to say that I cant bore you for hours with my anecdotes. I can do Brit anecdotes, Sticky anecdotes and Provo anecdotes in fairly equal measure.
    The only problem with my anecdotes is that …….well…….er….they have been told so often usually to gullible American friends that I kinda forget the actual details.
    For example……that nasty Brit intrusion into our home was certainly on a Monday night at 8pm……but sometimes I say we were watching The Waltons and sometimes I say it was Alias Smith and Jones. A skilled cross examination would find a few holes in my anecdote but my point would be that the basic facts are correct.
    And the Stickies (according to the Police) only put a replica weapon in my mouth. So thats all right then. But in my version it was real enough.
    And the talkative man in the taxi story well sometimes I name names……..and thirty five years later Im unsure if I do that for effect or if it really happened that way.

    Brit stories. Sticky stories. Provo stories.
    It is…….the way I tell ’em.
    Which is why Im inclined to believe Ms Lynch……allowing for a little padding………and my firm belief that Terrorism and Counter Terrorism are extremely inpleasant things. And…….stuff happens.

    Reading one newspaper over the weekend (cant remember which one) there was an article by Ciaran McKeown, the “Peace Person”.
    Comparing Gusty Spence and Martin McGuinness, the author mused that the tragedy of our Troubles was that it had made murderers out of ordinary decent people.
    Fair enough ….but only half true.
    It also made “military commanders” and powerful men from petty criminals and the man who used to chalk up the horse racing prices in the backstreet bookies.

    So Im inclined to believe Ms Lynch…….although Id like to hear another story….or two or three from her. I can talk all night. And most Sluggerites know my form well enough to groan at that thought.
    And possibly Ms Lynch can talk all night too.
    But the acid test I apply to “The Troubles: My Part in Them”which I apply to real and professional victims is does this person have the Brit Story, the Sticky Story, the Provo Story.
    Or indeed the Loyalist Story.
    Or can the storytellers find it in their heart to tell the story committed “by” them as easily as the story done “to” them.
    If they cant have a sense of balance, then dont bother telling me…cos Im not that interested.
    Which reminds me of the story about my Auntie Sheila in Beechmount and the Scottish soldier (the wee bas****) who stole my shoe laces.

  • wild turkey


    Ah, yes the old question. does art imitate life or life imitate art? Anyway you are onto to something. 1978 was also the year “The Dear Haunted” was allegedly produced… but only recently released.


    in the scenario described by Ms Lynch, long arms just don’t make the nut. gun against the head, trigger heard being pulled repeatedly. c’mon, its a short arm. so the inference drawn by Turgon is one most reasonable would infer…. and besides, good fiction engages the reader to make their own inferences
    “when in difficulties with the plot, all the writer had to contrive was to have a man enter the room with a revolver. I should not be in the least surprised to find that Turgon is a fan.”

    I am an east coast boy myself, but I like Chandler and his detective stories. i like them because Marlowe , in spite of his superficial cynicism, thought there was a moral cause to be fought for and, like a good detective, he gets things solved. sorry Rory, but your post deliberately muddies the waters and solves FA.

    that said, in some respects you are probably closer to the the truth than you realise. given her narrative it is not Turgon, but Ms Lynch who is definitely the Chandler fan.

  • Munsterview

    Gael : “….Yes, RUC women on duty did not carry firearms n the same way as male colleagues did. However, female RUC members and family members of RUC & UDR were licensed to have personal protection weapons which were obtained from Licensed Gun Dealers….”

    Gael : you covered the first thing that came into my head on reading the account re personal protection firearms.

    However I do not really blame Turgon, I think that the man is genuinely incapable of believing that the RUC or other ‘security forces’ could do any wrong or resort to such despicable behavior. In fact most ‘normal’ people would find some of the things that go on ‘where the rules do not apply’ or indeed want to know.

    After the Adare Po shooting, one of the suspects was taken into the High Court court on a stretcher in a bad way after his treatment in custody. The courts simply refused to intervene. Connor Cruise O’Brien publicly recounted how Republican prisoners while conveyed between two destinations, were taken from cars to have ” the truth battered out of them”

    I had one of my detentions under the Offenses Against The State Act when my own father was in his home deathbed suffering from terminal cancer. My parents were non political and in fact opposed to some aspects of my Republican involvements, something well known to the Gardai since I had a first cousin in the Branch!

    I had a 3AM cell visit, unrecorded officially of course where the Branch threatened to arrest my father and ‘toss the house’ which could result in a heart attack for him in his weakened State if I did not co-operate with them. The ‘co-operation’ I had spent the evening of my arrest in the company of a Senator and a Senior Counsel, both people well known for their anti-establishment, liberal views.

    Earlier that day I had met a well known Republican from another area where it later transpired a INLA leader was resting off. The branch were trying to force me to go on record and lie that I had discussed the presence of this wanted INLA leader with the two people concerned, both of whom were totally opposed to the Armed Conflict and known for their publicly espressed views in that regard.

    The sad truth is that while Turgon and his kind may consider themselves to be ‘people of honor’ once the State excrement keeps flowing, they are not too concerned as to how the sewage workers do their job. They are far removed from the stink, with clean hands and free to write the tripe above.

  • BluesJazz

    Ms Lynch clearly stated there was:
    ” ..the one bullet that she left in its barrel!”

    Great stuff in the bar with the turf fire roaring for Ms Lynch to tell her grandnieces and grandnephews

  • sonofstrongbow

    I suspect a majority of Irish Republicans live lives of fantasy. It is probably a natural inclination to invent all manner of offence and slights to sustain their bitter little world view.

    It’s probably also necessary to invent spicey little vignettes of past insults by the Big Bad Brits to flavour the MOPE stew that is kept constanly simmering on their mental stoves.

    The fact that on many occasions when the story is transferred from the fevered brain to the page it appears ridiculous is of no matter because it is written for a receptive audience that has, and does, readily swallow all manner of arrant nonsense.

    As an outside observer I can lament that the ‘once upon a time’ protocol for such tales is ignored but can see no value in questioning the storyline in terms of believability. If I were to do so it would only be fair to apply a similar approach to other stories in the same genre. That would have me crying foul at talking animals, comatose princesses and dwarf miners.

  • Drumlins Rock

    “…although Id like to hear another story….or two or three from her. I can talk all night. And most Sluggerites know my form well enough to groan at that thought.”

    Fitzy, to quote another famous northerner, “its the way I tell them” you can, she can’t, could you really listen to 2 or 3 stories from someone so self obcessed? even worse the “Impartial” is paying her for it!

    MV, maybe your right I don’t like criticism of the RUC, but to use her tale as a dig at AnneTravers was just cheap and petty, I am less sceptical than Turgon and will take what people say at face value, but the context she use it in was pathetic to say the least, Denzel should be ashamed to print tripe like this.

  • Rory Carr

    Ulick is of course right. Of course there was no bloody ammunition in the gun ! It stands to reason. Inspired as she may have been by The Deerhunter, the WPC is unlikely to have been so reckless as to actually play with a loaded weapon against the head of a prisoner being interrogated. Indded why should she? The terror depends upon the victim’s imagination and who among us in such circumstances would not but imagine the greatest danger ?.

    Ms Lynch was terrorised by terrorists. Turgon doen’t like her telling her story because the terrorists in this instance happen to be members of the RUC and that does not fit with the image he would want the world to have of that organisation. Hence all the pseudo-technical bumph on the loading and firing mechanisms of this or that small arm in order to lead us away from the glaringly obvious truth.

    Female police officers did not have access to arms. If they did however, they did not have access to revolvers. If the weapon used was a standard-issue Walther then it could not be continuously dry-fired with a bullet remaining in the clip – the bullet would automatically be at the top of the clip awaiting delivery to the firing chamber; If all of this is true, and Turgon insists that it is, then the logical conclusion is that there was no ammunition in the weapon. But Ms.Lynch was not to know thi and her terror was real.

    I suspect that Turgon knows this to be the truth but because it is an uncomfortable truth he prefers the twists and turns of confabulation to the clean swift truthful slice of Occam’s Razor.

  • Munsterview

    sonof…”…I suspect a majority of Irish Republicans live lives of fantasy….”

    Yea right ! One of the people I am in em contact with arising from a Weekend seminar some years back is a ex-MI5 operative that was posted to the Irish Desk for a period. I can at least have a real exchange with her as she at least knew what bloody well went on.

    At best people like you do not know, or as is more usual, at worst you do not want to know !

  • Drumlins Rock

    I guess Ms Lynch might have to clarify a few issues, it is a serious allegation from questionable witness.

  • BluesJazz

    Rory, you’re spoiling the turf fire narrative:
    To repeat,
    Ms Lynch clearly stated there was:
    ” ..the one bullet that she left in its barrel!”
    Ms Lynch would also have known that ‘Russian Roulette’ doesn’t work with a pistol, so she’s padding out the Deerhunter analogy with her own homespun twaddle.
    Occam’s razor means she made the whole bollix up.
    Actually if you read her other ‘articles’ for that newspaper, it would equate to what a South Down paper used to have a column called ‘Sherbet Dip’

  • aquifer

    Little tales of victimhood carried around like sectarian talismans

    I notice people around here do this a lot.

    Why? To justify the next counter-atrocity?

    Sorry, they feel bad and psychologically scarred, but a lot of crap was done by both sides and they all have to dump their own little lumps of toxic waste.

    A quiet private place is usually best, but we could open a well designed public dump, separate out the recyclables, and turn away deliveries of the highly toxic by-product of national industries.

  • Turgon

    Rory Carr,
    Yes Occam’s razor is relevant.
    There are two scenarios. 1). Ms. Lynch was terrorised by someone releatedly pulling the trigger. Except of course there was no bullet in the gun so she was wrong. Oh and a women police officer had brought in her own gun or borrowed one off someone else for the purpose of intimidating / torturing Ms. Lynch

    Secnario 2). Ms. Lynch invented the whole thing.

    Occam’s Razor is indeed a useful concept: just not in the direction you want it.

    Spearately the irony of Munsterview denouncing the suggestion that republicans might live lives of fantasy and then telling yet another story about the security services is priceless. Again Occam’s razor: Munsterview may have had one of the most action packed lives imaginable and may have met all manner of interesting people (but is sadly unable to name them) or alternatively he makes the whole thing up.

    Incidentally MV honour is spelt with a u in British (and Irish) English: the Americans drop the u.

  • Rory Carr

    Of course Ms. Lynch referred to one bullet left in the barrel of the gun. That is what she believed. That was the intent. To terrorise her into believing that the next click of the trigger would impel that bullet into her brain. It was as effective on Ms. Lynch as it would have been on any of us – she was duly terrorised and left in mortal fear.

    If it were a former RUC policewoman recounting such treatment at the hands of Republicans you would have no difficulty whatsoever in accepting it. It is because it damages the whiter-than-white image you would have portrayed of the RUC that you squirm and writhe – anything to avoid the glaringly obvious- that Ms, Lynch is telling the truth – she was terrorised by having a pistol placed against her head by a female RUC officer who then pulled the trigger repeatedly leaving the victim to expect the next click would be the last before her brain was shattered. Torture -pur and simple.

  • Neil

    If Unionists think Mary’s articles are a) crap b) lies c) whatever, why would they object so strongly to her having a platform? I’m not offering any kind of opinion on the veracity of her anecdote, why would anyone when it’s so obviously beyond proving, Could an RUC woman have put her hand to a ‘short’? Yes. Did members of the RUC do worse than this? Why yes again. Could Lynch have invented or embellished the whole story? Certainly. I’ve heard stories recounted by friends of incidents I was present for which bore a passing resemblence to actual events. It’s just unproveable one way or the other.

    However I find it strange that Unionists (who berate Lynch not just for content but quality) would not want this lady to have her platform. Aside from being entitled to her views why would you want the best of Republicans to articulate their views in the media – surely the poorer the Republican journalist the better for Unionism?

    In the end I reckon that many Unionists are simpliy offended by the fact that she has Republican principles. I think any Republican writing in that particular paper would have been attacked from any and all angles, legitimate or otherwise, regardless of whether their journalism was Pulitzer Prize winning stuff or zombie like spundbites which mean nothing. If she’s so crap, let her go for it and enjoy it. If she was good you’d have more to worry about, no?

  • Neil

    If it were a former RUC policewoman recounting such treatment at the hands of Republicans you would have no difficulty whatsoever in accepting it.

    Precisely. Coupled with the fact that the RUC committed much worse crimes it makes it entirely plausible. But she could have said snow was white back in the 70s and the response would have been the same.

  • sonofstrongbow

    Lynch can spin any yarn she feels compelled to. She probably believes the story herself, in some shape or form. The “Impartial Reporter” (does the Trades Description Act apply to newspapers) is also at liberty to print these Tales From The Olden Days to its heart’s content.

    What I, and I suspect others, will find distasteful is that Lynch produces the anecdote to attack Anne Travers. Ms Travers is someone who has expressed her hurt at the elevation of one of Lynch’s fellow travelers with dignity and restraint.

    There again having read Lynch’s article she probably thinks dignity is a small turf shovel.

  • Cynic2

    Did she complain at the time?

    If not, why not? everyone else did.

    Did she sue the RUC?

    If not, why not? Everyone else seemed to

    It all sounds so implausible.

    As for the Impartial Reporter, it should print what it likes. And if the UUP don’t like it why don’t they organise a boycott of the paper or lobby the owners?

    Anyone who feels it has become a propaganda sheet shouldn’t buy it or advertise in it. Three or four weeks should kill it off or persuade a change of editorial direction. That’s all it would take – about three or four weeks effort. But the point is that the UUP is such a shambles and so congenitally lazy that all they ever do is issue press releases. Politically dead men walking

  • Neil

    The “Impartial Reporter” (does the Trades Description Act apply to newspapers)

    LOL define Impartial in your world. Unionist only? Points of view that match exactly your own? How about this one:

    Not partial or biased; unprejudiced

    That one’s from a dictionary though so it’s probably no use to you/

  • between the bridges

    I stopped reading Ms ly nch rambling’s long ago, setting aside the fact my views would be polar opposites of hers. it’s the strangulation of prose and the vain attempt to portray herself as some sort of heroic earth mother hippie irish joan of arc! Now it’s not impossible to marry the past with the present, nor to even interweave a few mundane facts about offspring’s portable TV’s with the heroines illegal entry to the us of a, because all this can be done it’s just in my humble opinion there are much better authors of creative fiction than Ms ly nch…

  • antamadan

    I am -unlike Turgon- and presumably like Ms. Lynch completely ignorant as regards guns.

    Indeed, when a guy pulled a gun on me in the States, and I recounted the story to family, I was about to say that the gun was absolutely huge and sparkling silver, until I thought that that can’t be right….. BUT, a guy really pulled a gun and took my wallet. I’m inclined to go with Fitzjameshorse.

  • foyle observer

    Are the TUV a party? Or a fabrication?