The Niedermayers and the cascading misery of our dirty little war…

At least, from time to time, someone remembers. Anne Marie Hourihane recalls just one terrible event out of many in the year 1973. Much as it is never far from my finger tips Lost Lives does not recall the interminable damage wrought on families long after their loved ones were taken in the midst of the Troubles.

The news bulletins did not tell us that when the kidnappers came to the Niedermayer house, which, far from being a mansion, was quite an ordinary house in suburban Belfast, in December 1973, Mrs Ingeborg Niedermayer was in hospital. One of the two teenage Niedermayer daughters, Renate (15) and Gabriella (18), opened the door. The kidnappers said that they had run into Thomas Niedermayer’s car outside, and asked the girls to fetch their father. He went outside to look at the car. They never saw him again.

In 1973 it was said that Thomas Niedermayer had been kidnapped to be traded for the repatriation of the Price sisters, among others, who were IRA prisoners in British jails, sentenced in November of that year for their part in the Old Bailey bombing. Within the past fortnight, Dolours Price died here in Dublin.

It was his name that saved Thomas Niedermayer from fading completely from public consciousness: it is foreign, yet easy to say, easy to remember. But over the years we heard it less and less. Other names came and went. Despite the pleas of the Niedermayer family – the girls apparently sounding very Belfast – his body was never returned to them. It was found seven years later by the RUC at a rubbish dump on the Collin river, at the Glen Road in west Belfast. He’d been buried bound and gagged, face down.

Such deception has more recently been ascribed to informers and those in the security forces (lets call them securocrats) who undoubtedly used individual life crises to entrap people into working for state forces and deceiving their comrades in arms.

Yet consider the casual deception here, practised to a particular end, ie the abduction of a wealthy foreigner for purely tactical means. The Niedermayers were to pay a terrible price for such thoughtless deception. Anne Marie again:

Joe Duffy was contacted by those who knew that Thomas Niedermayer’s widow, Ingeborg, had died by suicide in 1990. She drowned herself off Greystones, Co Wicklow.

Joe Duffy and Ciarán Cassidy, of RTÉ’s documentary unit, soon found out that Thomas Niedermayer’s daughter Renate had killed herself the following year, in South Africa, in 1991. Niedermayer’s older daughter, Gabrielle, took her own life in 1993 in the south of England, near Torquay. Gabrielle’s husband, Robert, killed himself three years after that.

It’s kind of shocking, depressing, and then shocking again when you realise this is just one documented trail through one family’s Troubles afterlife. Was it the brutality of the killing, the senselessness of it, or the sheer coldness of the deception that drove all of the primary members of one family to take their lives?

It’s impossible to know. And if there ever is any kind of commission it is already too late to adumbrate what can now be passed off for the truth (to save the killers’ blushes) as any kind of compensation to the survivors. Our only memorial to innocents, as the poet says “to murmur name upon name”. And by another:

Death of one is the death of all.
It is not the dead I pity.

A Knock on the Door, Documentary On One, RTÉ Radio One, Saturday, February 16th, 6pm


  • David Crookes

    The local press and the BBC NI website should make space for this tale of five deaths, instead of meretriciously trying to float the Princess Victoria story yet again.

  • GEF

    Interesting there was only one year separating these two dastardly IRA murders (Dec 1973) and Jean McConville (Dec 1972). One wonders what became of the two kidnappers and murderers Eugene McManus, “Adjutant IRA Belfast Brigade” and 42-year-old John Bradley, “IRA training officer”? Maybe the former MP for West Belfast could tell us what happened, after all he was leader of the Belfast Brigade during that period according to one of the Price sisters now deceased.

  • pauluk

    The long finger of death of Irish Republicanism.

  • Mick Fealty

    It’s not a coincidence. A huge number of innocent people were killed in this period. Please do not ignore the human tragedy at the root of this story just to make hollow one way political points.

    I’m sure we can all remember some pretty dastardly, indefensible happenings that took place over much of the 72-75 period. I can think of one Catholic victim of a loyalist murder gang who had his grave desecrated 25 years after his murder.

  • SDLP supporter

    I think Irish physical force republicanism is a filthy, rotten, evil thing that needs to be extirpated as much as Nazism, which it so closely resembles. Growing up in West Belfast, people like Jimmy Steele, Joe Cahill, Frank Card, Gerry Adams senior were the self-appointed keepers of the ‘sacred flame’. I was lucky in that I had a close relative interned in the fifties. He shared a cell for a while with Cahill and he told me that Cahill was the most damaged person he had ever met. We have some aperçu into what sort of person someone like Adams was, an acknowledged paedophile. But the others were a malevolent mixture of pietism, priggishness, cruelty, self-absorption and murderousness.

  • carl marks

    Another forgotten death another forgotten horror, forgotten by everybody but those who live with it every day, we have about 3600 of these,
    Let’s hope the total doesn’t get any higher.

  • tacapall

    It must be said that the 70s was a truly horrific period of our past and no words could express the callousness of some acts carried out in the name of republicanism and loyalism and indeed democracy, bloody Sunday, bloody Friday, the Shankill butchers, McGurks bar and a host of others including Niedermayer, Jean McConville, none being any less callous than the other. However the after effects that the Niedermayer family suffered is especially tragic, its hard to fathom the destructiveness the murder of a loved one had on a single family. Truly tragic.

  • DC

    What was wrong with poetic justice as a coping mechanism?

    Slugger O’Toole, aka Mick Fealty’s Online Notebook. (Where all passion is removed and comments sterilised.)

    And you complain about the EU being technocratic, take a little look closer to home!

  • Red Lion

    The reverberations from that one kidnapping and murder are truly shocking and harrowing.

    This highlights the quiet but high price paid by the silent victims.

    Those who are still alive are likely to be retraumatised every time they switch on the news.

  • aquifer

    Known murder gangs get a much better deal from the media than their victims.

    They get free publicity as they are known already and have a narrative prepared and polished, even policed at pistolpoint.

    Victims are usually too various, and their hurt too hidden, to fall so easily onto the front page.

  • carl marks

    Red Lion
    Those who are still alive are likely to be retraumatised every time they switch on the news.
    how right you are.

  • forthman

    This does seem a bit strange that a traumatic event could cause this chain of events. In the most brutal of terms, if this man’s body had been dumped in an entry, like the other ‘disappeared’, would they now be ‘news-worthy’? This does however seem to be an extreme case, giving that many people, including close relatives of my own, lost their father during the conflict. Yes there was a military conflict here, and many people suffered, but in comparison to most other conflicts, in terms of numbers dead and in inhumane brutality, ours was by no means the worst. The difference here is our conflict is put under extremely unrealistic moral scrutiny, applied usually to one side only. Despite the protestations Mick, this is your usual form. How about, in the interests of ‘balance’, could you do a post about the murder of a innocent republican and the devastating effect that had on his family? I’ll not hold my breath that Mr.Duffy, struggling to make ends meet in these difficult economic times, on wages of nearly half a million euros per annum, knows that these republican victims even exist. He is not alone there!

  • Mick Fealty

    I do have a thing about people who were crushed between two vicious and ruthless forces like so much cast off delph. The kid lifted outside the Park Avenue tortured for days for having the wrong name, the itinerant lifted and subjected to something similar because of the rosary beads the active service death squad found in his pocket (which he had for prayers at the Star of the Sea opp Divis flats).

    Former combatants are fully honoured and remembered. These people were picked off singly and have largely been forgotten. The balance comes in remembering tem on the few occasions their stories are brought to mind. It is the non remembrance of the innocence indicates where the real lack of balance lies in these matters.

  • Mark

    Former CID officer Alan Simpsom covered this case in great detail in his book Duplicity and Decpetion . I genuinely can’t remember if he mentioned the tragic circumstances that befell the family in their latter years .

    With communication and access to information the ways it is these days , further details of the suffering of victims are bound to surface and as Red Lion says , will retrauamatise them .

  • Granni Trixie

    Can’t agree with you Mick that “former combatants are honoured” …why on earth should they be? It was a minority after all who supported the paramilitaries. I resent the amount of energy that went into putting an end to the killing. Such a waste.

    I also simply hate it when after a story such as the Neidimeirs some people can only respond with whataboutery.

    On another related point. I always found the narrative in which
    Lord Longford’s influence resulted in the Price sisters return to NI incredible not to say,odd. The story above puts a different complexion on that story.

  • Mick Fealty

    You might resent it GT, but the truth is that they are… Is there a case for building some kind of memorial for all of those who died?

  • tacapall

    A great idea Mick, a memorial wall that listed every person who died as a result of the past conflict.

  • DC

    But even if we do remember and think hard and imagine the suffering, the main feeling aroused is pity and just general sadness which can’t be put to any meaningful use. Even for those that are tasked by statute to do everything for victims they have failed to produce to date some sort of coming together and closure, esp given the barriers to truth recovery and being able to go back into the past and find out. So, is evoking pity and feeling sad a useful state to get oneself into if there is no productive end?

    Also, isn’t there something regressive and Irish in character about examining a past that offers nothing productive other than the raw emotion of pity, maybe for those closer to the scene anger, anger whenever you know nothing can be done? And that’s not good either.

    The readers only pity and feel sad but the protagonists and their political cheerleaders should reflect and offer some insights into the past, but how many years have passed and still they don’t.

    Listen, I don’t intend to get all sad and start playing you’ll never walk alone in the background and having a good cry over this because of ‘monday blues’, if we can’t get proper justice you can if you wish draw some sort of comfort from certain situations that have produced if you like soul-satisfying poetic justice.

  • Henry94

    Never again. That’s the only thing that comes to mind reading that dreadful story. I wonder what decision if made differently could have stopped the troubles earlier. It’s hard to think of one. A British politician who advocated “talking to terrorists” would have been ignored. A republican leadership questioning the value of armed struggle was replaced. Moderate Unionists were defeated regularly.

    A day rather than a memorial might be better. One day in the year when we could all say together, never again.

  • forthman

    Again Mick, why is there not a post dealing with those victims you mentioned? Lets hear about the devastation that destroyed their families lives. Will RTE, or any other media outlet tell their story? Of course they will not! Only if there is an anti-IRA angle, will it see the light of day. I know it, and the more discerning posters on slugger know it only to well.

    GT, your accusation of ‘whataboutery’ is lazy. I think you should consider that the prevailing narrative of the past conflict is completely one sided. If you cannot, or choose not to see that, then the fault lies with you.

    Mick, will the names of the fallen IRA volunteers( 350+) be ‘allowed’ on this memorial? Unfortunately not, because they don’t exist, and anyway they are sub-human in the eyes of those who construct the narrative of our recent conflict!

  • Granni Trixie

    Paramilitaries carried out criminal acts. This does not make them subhuman in my eyes but it does put them in the wrong.
    However as in the case of ODCs I I have sympathy with the families who generally have to walk the walk with them.

  • DC

    Is there a case for building some kind of memorial for all of those who died?

    Can I just ask why, is it as much to do with personal guilt around more not being done by the normal middle-class folk to put a stop to it all sooner, as it is about remembrance? The powerlessness of not being able to get more out of those locally elected and implicated politicians and of course other retired former terrorists, more out of them about what they know about the past, their past.

    Are you sure it isn’t more to do with individuals with a social conscience feeling guilty and having pity and looking for a way to make amends, could it end up really just being a tribute to ourselves?

    Perhaps there is a certain unintended justice that together innocent victims have not been given some sort of official memorial unlike those that have been done for terrorists.

    I support the notion of a Good Friday Agreement garden but it should be forward looking, two traditions coming together and overcoming the past working together for the future, as it should be about remembering. Our politicians need to learn to feel positive and have a sense of pride and achievement in being able to move on together peacefully and constructively which is what the GFA should have provided the basis for. Except constructive ambiguity ruined the chance to use clear language that could have sold it like that and implementation problems (understatement) took the buzz out of all of that was good and positive about the compromise.

  • Mick Fealty


    When you have taken power by the armalite and the ballot box you cannot expect people to stop asking searching questions about what you did with the gun when you were using it. In fact, because you have acquired power, and your rivals have not, you have to expect by far the greater amount of heat.

    I’ve mentioned one of those examples several times before, and the case of the Protestant itinerant mistaken for a Catholic is rarely far from my mind since I first heard the story in sixth form at the hostel so named. Nor is the terrible case of Anne Ogilvy. These names and stories were the sound track to our 70s youth.

    There are IRA/UVF/INLA/UDA memorials strewn across NI. The names of those who propounded the idea and the fact of war and paid the full price of it, are remembered in housing estates, opposite churches and in town squares all over Northern Ireland. Their former comrades will see to it that they are not forgotten.

    But that’s why stories like the one of this family make for compelling reading. It is the proverbial “News from Nowhere”, a commonweal of loss some would rather see legislated out of memory. It is news worthy because of what it tells us that we would otherwise not hear. And also because the single victims (by and large they cannot be considered to be any kind of single – never mind reactionary – force) continue to be treated with such distain by those to whom they have become a politically inconvenient historical fact.

    Although I’ve only asked the question forthman, I do think it should be open for discussion. But I see no worth in it if it does not include everyone who died including those who slaughtered dozens of innocents. Are we ready for that?

    In answer to my own question, I doubt it. But I do look forward to the day when we have politicians who might realistically hold such a conversation. The innocent deserve the recognition, and we could all do with recognising the scale of the terrible thing that happened.

  • Pete Baker


    “A republican leadership questioning the value of armed struggle was replaced.”


    Or were they just facilitated

  • anne warren

    A simple, easy and inexpensive way to start would be to start painting the names of all the dead on both sides of the peace walls in Belfast.

    Families and friends of victims on both sides help/supervise the task and the young adults/adolescents actually do the painting/designs/stencilling etc.

    This way some sort of interaction between the divided comunities could take place in respect of the dead, wounded and maimed.

    Hopefully it would to better community relations.
    Young Johnny/Seanie is hardly likely to start throwing stones over the wall if he has just spent the afternoon painting and drawing with his counterpart while the mums and dads shared round tea and sandwiches as they talked over the next day’s bit and how to do it.

    Peace at the price of a few tins of paint and some art students on holiday assignments to keep a hold of the overall design?

  • Alias

    “former combatants are honoured”

    Very true”.

    Alan Simpson, the detective who located the remains of Mr Niedermayer, wrote about why PIRA’s chief of staff chose this particular victim for his ‘war’ crime:

    “He [the informer who told him where the body was buried] also revealed that there had been a degree of personal vindictiveness involved. Keenan had once worked in the Grundig factory and, in his capacity as trade union shop steward, had had a number of confrontations with the German. This was to be his revenge.”

    That shows the level of hate and malice behind these terrorist icons.

  • forthman


    I assume that you are referring to the violent, anti-democratic, British ruling class in 1912, in your first paragraph? Only, they are immune from any ‘heat’.

    Contrary to what you state, the north of Ireland is not strewn with memorials to freedom fighters and their state sponsored, right wing death squad adversaries. They are strewn with memorials to numerous ultra violent, racist, mass murdering, imperialist projects. These colonial, terrorist wars of conquest span every continent of the world. To most non-unionists, the sight and sound of unionist cheerleaders for the spilling of other peoples blood, the hypocrisy towards violence is sickening.

    Like the vast majority of threads on slugger which attack Irish republicanism (trying to think of any which were supportive…….no!), it comes down to legitimacy. You think if you constantly attack Irish republicanism, that you will in some way force their leaders to don sack-clothe and ashes!
    Dream on!!

  • tomthumbuk

    So what is a sub-human?
    There is no such a thing, unless you are referring to the animal kingdom.
    It is a good thing that events such as this are brought back to the fore to inform individuals just how evil and perverted the republican / loyalist terrorists were in their abandonment of any kind of morality.
    No, they were not sub-human, but then again neither was Adolf Hitler, but they were equally as wicked.
    Maybe at some stage in the future there will be a study of the genesis of individuals who decide to become terrorists. Few, I believe, come from normal stable backgrounds..
    Familial paedophilia has been evident in more than one instance, and there is, of course, the malign influence of obsessive, fanatical parenting, such as in the Doloures Price case.
    Their actions certainly were psychopathic, and yet we see so many who are in the public eye presenting themselves as normal people.
    It may help explain why so many former “combatants” are either alcoholic or dependant on tranquilisers, when they have to reconcile themselves to their actions and the perceived price they believe they might eventually have to pay.
    It could be the basis for a future TV documentary.

  • Forthman,

    That republican that you want Mick to memorialize in a column, does he have to be one martyred by loyalists? Or would a republican killed by the Provos or INLA or Stickies also suffice? One killed in an inter-organizational feud over territory or arms? Or maybe one killed by an unstable explosive prepared by an incompetent bombmaker? Or one errouneously fingered as a tout, either out of genuine belief or out of malice?

  • Mick Fealty


    Could you offer an example of whom you feel we ought to be writing about?

  • Reader

    forthman: Like the vast majority of threads on slugger which attack Irish republicanism (trying to think of any which were supportive…….no!), it comes down to legitimacy.
    I suppose the ideal would be for republican and loyalist troubles stories to get the same treatment on Slugger. Is your preference for one to be scaled up or for the other to be scaled back?

  • aquifer


    “is our conflict is put under extremely unrealistic moral scrutiny, applied usually to one side only.”

    Unrealistic for a war that is? Declared by whom and for what realistic end?

    One sided? Yep, it would be horrible to keep paying for more huge public enquiries where witnesses are told not to talk for fear of polluting the pure stream of irish sectarian separatism, when the money would be better spent on hospitals and schools for the living.

    The blood of the innocent dead is getting stickier by the hour.

    Better flood this zone.

  • babyface finlayson

    You talk of innocent republicans and later of freedom fighters who were presumably those actively involved.
    The term innocent can fairly be applied to Mr Niedermayer and to republicans who took no part in the ‘armed struggle’.
    The rights and wrongs of that struggle will continue to be debated, but how can you dispute the importance of remembering those truly innocent, murdered for someone elses beliefs?

  • carl marks

    I’m sorry but what I’m getting here is “my dead are more important than your dead” and before anybody goes off on one I’m talking about both sides but not all of both sides.
    As a Nationalist I could point to dead loyalists and say well they had that coming, or live by the sword die by the sword, unionists could point to dead republicans and say the same.
    However when we do that we forget something (apart from a little bit of our humanity) and that is that EVERY person wither they were our enemy or wither they were a terrorist/soldier/freedom fighter (delete as suits your prejudices) had somebody who cried over the coffin and probably still cries today.
    There is also a good chance that there death made someone go and join a group and maybe killed someone else.
    They should be remembered if for no other reason than to shame us into never going to that dark and evil place again.
    Now here is my suggestion, build a memorial but put no Names on it just two lines, in memory of all our dead and never again.

  • BarneyT

    If you look at war events that are deemed legitimate, WW1, WW2 and other conflicts, there are always acceptable and unacceptable events, both which bring about loss of life and destruction. Collateral damage, friendly fire etc. They are always usually met with regret coupled with a thinly veiled justification from the assailants.

    Sadly some events can be rationalised in terms of the overall aims. We know that the Germans suffered great human loss during WWII however this was seen at the time as necessary to defeat a greater evil. On a smaller scale, desertion both in England and Ireland was met with lethal force and again this was argued and perhaps still is, as necessary. The paramilitaries would and have used the same line to justify the elimination of their internal enemies (informers, traitors, agents etc). They would legitimately extend this thinking to loss of civilian life as a result a directed attack on a legitimate military target. Governments and other forces throughout the world have set this precedent.

    In a genuine armed campaign deemed necessary to further a cause when all else has seemingly failed, (on a war footing) an army can “excuse” the killing of innocents, as long as they are not targeted directly or through overtly indiscriminate attacks. In all conflicts someone somewhere has to weigh up the risk and take decisions based on levels of acceptability. I realise I am in dodgy territory here, but I am making an academic point with respect to armed conflict (state or otherwise).

    The Niedermayers incident and many like it served to cement the modern IRA in history as blood-thirsty terrorists in many minds and this act and many like it has no place at the table of “Irish Freedom and Revolution”. Any justifiable campaign and cause to remove the British from Ireland was immediately discredited and weakened as a consequence, and these barbaric acts served to ensure decades of turmoil and perhaps permanent status within the British Union.

  • tacapall

    ” it would be horrible to keep paying for more huge public enquiries where witnesses are told not to talk for fear of polluting the pure stream of irish sectarian separatism, when the money would be better spent on hospitals and schools for the living.”

    Where are all these public inquiries ? When did this happen ? Have you any proof that witnesses were threatened not to tell the truth ?

    “Whether a terrorist sets out to murder one person or 100 people, they are a terrorist and no difference should be drawn,” Sammy Wilson.

    Can Nationalists point that same finger at all those police officers who aided the various paramilitaries on both sides to murder innocent victims.

  • Mick Fealty

    If we are going off at this tangent, it’s as well to remember than the term ‘public inquiry’ has a certain meaning in the terms of the 2005 Act. It’s not one that enjoys widespread public confidence in relation to the Troubles.

    Other means are open to relatives, such as the re-opening of inquests. Something that does enjoy political support from Gerry Adams for instance:

  • forthman

    Why do several posters stick to the line of making a clear distinction between ‘paramilitaries’ and the forces of the state? The paramilitaries on both sides did this and that etc. I like many others make no distinction between the ‘official’ armed forces of the state, and their close comrades in the right wing gangs, and how they complemented each other in the overall strategy.

    Mick, I’m a bit gobsmacked at you asking me to suggest some people to have their private lives scrutinised on a public forum. I have plenty of family and friends who could testify as to how their world’s imploded after the violent death of a loved one, particularly regarding mental health issues. That would be crass and I am not prepared to do it. If you would like to pursue it, feel free. I would suggest that you get the list of all the victims of the conflict from the Ark project, for instance, pick a name at random from the republican community, and contact them. I am sure you will find stories of complete devastation. Although you might not get the all important anti-IRA angle you crave for.


    All of the above to be included on any memorial.

    Barney T,

    I’m curious as to which Irish rebellions you would invite to sit ‘at the table of Irish freedom and revolution’? All armed rebellions are by definition brutal affairs. They are not re-runs of the battle of Waterloo, were two armies are ranged against one and other. The tan war was brutal. I for one certainly do not look back on it with some romantic notion, unlike, perversely, the southern establishment. Maybe the ANC methods were more civilised? Especially their treatment of informers!


    Could not agree more with your post and its description of former terrorist members of the British armed forces! These squaddie types are indeed psychotic and obviously from dysfunctional family backgrounds. This makes them easy cannon fodder for the their terrorist godfather generals. How many murders are carried out by former army terrorists, when they are unleashed back on to civie street?

    You are also correct on the mis-use of the term ‘sub-human’. Possible better to say ‘people of lesser value’!!

  • GEF

    “A great idea Mick, a memorial wall that listed every person who died as a result of the past conflict.”

    I doubt if we will see such a memorial wall (listing all names) in our lifetime. After all it took a 100 years before City Hall Belfast put all the names of those who drown on the “Titanic” on a memorial wall. At the time they were too busy passing the buck who was to blame, shipowners, Harland & Wolf or Captain & crew. Just like what is being discussed at present, who was to blame for the “Troubles”

  • Mick Fealty

    I made no such suggestion Forth. I merely asked you to clarify what you meant. But don’t worry about it, I have one.

  • tacapall

    You could look at the McMahon murders Mick.

    GEF who needs politicians to build a memorial wall listing everyone who died as a result of the past conflict.

  • Granni Trixie

    A clear distinction between state forces (including the police?) and paramilitaries is that you could join the former and never be in the wrong morally whereas if you joined the latter this is not the case.

    Let me preempt likely aspects of your response to my views by telling you that I totally accept that there were dirty tricks,collusion involving the forces of law and order etc…but most just carried out their duty.

    I do not see joining the IRA,UVF etc as anything but criminal.

  • 6crealist

    “A clear distinction between state forces (including the police?) and paramilitaries is that you could join the former and never be in the wrong…”

    What an interesting moral compass you possess. Glenanne gang?

  • tacapall

    Unfortunately Grannie those who decide who’s proscribed and who’s not are the very same people who pulled the strings for years of those who they decided in their wisdom were not a terrorist organisation, like the UDA for instance, who carried out just as many murders when they were a legal organisation as when they were an illegal organasition.

    Cherry picking the moral position of the state being involved in the murder of its own citizens is simply making excuses for murder.

  • Mick Fealty


    You, me Granni and every other Catholic who ever grew up in Northern Ireland already knows what happened to the MacMahons, and Nixon and the great political wrongs done to the wider nationalist community in the 1920s and onwards.

    But did you know what consequences the abduction and murder of Thomas Niedermayer had for his family before yesterday? I certainly didn’t; which is why I wrote about it. It’s a story worth lingering on before we heed the admonitions to ‘move along’.

    Compare what people in Northern Ireland took in comparison with the death tolls of the Easter Rising and the War of Independence in the south, and there is NO comparison to the scale , nor even the intensity of it for some communities.

    If you don’t care about the Niedermayers, then you are also signalling that you don’t care about the long long trail of death and lonely misery induced by our long war. 50 cops committed suicide. Women like the Price sisters have suffered long term ill health, and in the case of Dolours, premature death.

    The shock in this story lies in the fact that this is just a single long trial of misery in only one family. Anyone who knows anyone who has been in or near a mass killing knows just how that misery, helplessness cascades down the years. Even if they survive without a scratch.

    Soldiers and their families have their own ways of justifying or ameliorating the pain of loss, espirit d’corps Robert Graves called it. The much larger numbers of civilians they took with them do not. For the most part the families of civilian victims take heart in the longevity of the peace and the end of the conflict.

    Yet for their sins when an odd one does pop up they are rudely told, ‘who are you to share your pain in public? Do you think you are the only one?’

    Yet it is important that from time to time we do remember. And that we do not expect such victims to apologise for it.

    There might be some utility in having a public memorial. But it should not be rushed. And perhaps it ought to be bold and intimidating, rather than meek and conciliatory.

    It would not guarantee that we’d not make the same mistakes again (the weight of history in this regard tells us otherwise).

    But it might give some of us a place to go along with others who understand the meaning of loss.

  • Granni Trixie


    You may intend your last sentence as a criticism but to me you are describing that I have an understanding of the complexities. You on the other hand imply a simplistic analysis in which “the state” is all wrong. I do not subscribe to the line that some peddle “that we are all guilty”.
    And before you say it yes I do believe that physical force in the circs of NI is morally wrong ie not justified. Infact I believe that the IRAs tactics held up Change in NI. But that’s an argument for another day.

  • tacapall

    “But did you know what consequences the abduction and murder of Thomas Niedermayer had for his family before yesterday? I certainly didn’t; which is why I wrote about it. It’s a story worth lingering on before we heed the admonitions to ‘move along”

    I did not Mick and like I said in my first post

    “its hard to fathom the destructiveness the murder of a loved one had on a single family. Truly tragic”

    Its unfair to suggest I dont care or have no pity for the suffering the Niedermayer family endured over the murder of their loved one. Im not immune from grief Mick my own family has suffered as a result of murder committed by both loyalists and the RUC.

    I remember reading about how much effort and time and indeed money was involved in eventually finding Thomas Niedermayer, how RUC undercover officers, acting on information, worked for months trawling through the remains of an old rubbish dump until they found his body. In my own head then I thought a debt was paid, disappearing people was an especially callous and inhumane thing to do, punishing the family further when you knew the victim was dead.

    We do need a memorial wall, a simple structure that has just names and dates, no one side could claim ownership just a reminder of what happened in our past that should never happen again.

  • sonofstrongbow

    The Niedermayers’ story is shocking and it deserves to be told. The telling does not diminish the stories of pain, loss and ongoing suffering that exists across society here and elsewhere in the world.

    A recourse to whataboutery in response is reprehensible, as are the tired old cliches about ‘state forces’.

    It is of course important for nationalists to peddle the two sides as bad as each other rhetoric as it serves their ‘war’ characterisation of local terrorism.

    That is not to say of course that some in the security forces did indeed cross the line into criminality.

    I employed a retired police officer as a driver. He had spent two thirds of his career in Traffic Branch before becoming an in-house police driving instructor before retiring. Sadly, for nationalists, not the dead-eyed killer of their fevered imaginations.

  • tacapall

    Grannie whats complex about being opposed to using violence for any cause, be that the state, others or whatever, crossing the boundaries of law in a civilised society and using murder to stop murder is wrong, there is no complexities about it.

  • tacapall

    I dont doubt you SOS however im sure efforts are in motion or will be, to force the British government to reveal the identities of those police officers who colluded with paramilitaries in the murder of citizens of this state. After all in the interests of justice, im sure many people were convicted based entirely on evidence supplied by those police officers.

  • Mick Fealty


    I was not aiming that whole post at you, just making a general point. I’ve always assumed that we all come with our experiences to this discussion.

  • carl marks

    Indeed Grannie murder is murder, as I pointed out in my earlier post, when a loyalist terrorist was murdered someone cried over his coffin and when a Republican terrorist was killed someone cried over his coffin.
    British soldiers killed many innocent people however in the area i was brought up in however i did not rejoice in their deaths, if people regard them as victims of circumstance to excuse there actions then you must also regard those facing them as victims of circumstance also.
    The line they were only doing their duty only applies when there life or someone’s else was in danger, but as happened many times to shoot a unarmed person was murder (I expect the usual suspects to go all self righteous on this) beating were handed out with causal regularity by the British Army (the UDR was the greatest offender) to nationalist youth for no reason other than they were nationalist, unless you believe the soldiers were ordered to do this then you have no choice but to blame the soldiers themselves, when these beatings happened there was no point in going to the police nothing happened so many young men joined the terror groups.
    So we had a vicious circle, Soldiers made the lives of people in the nationalist areas hell because the terrorists operated from there, young people joined terror groups because soldiers made their life hell and they could see no legal way to do anything about it, you can start that circle anywhere you want in the sequence and we can argue all day about who started the whole thing but that is what we had.
    Now by my reckoning many young men and women both loyalist and republican joined terror groups because they thought that was all they could do, young soldiers out of their depth used the baton, fist and boot and sometimes the gun because that was what they thought they needed to do.
    I sympathise with them all and while i believe in personal responsibility I also believe that the conditions in Northern Ireland made many people do things they would never have done in a normal society,

  • Tapacall[4.03pm]
    The niedermayer case is one I didn’t pick up on, but the victim’s profession reminds of the Herrema case in late 1975, and although not as serious as Dr Herrema survived, but I heard little of the fate of his family afterwards. I was a captive audience in hospital on the day of his release [21st October] from a village in Kildare i’d never heard of. [Monasterevin] but the name never left me.

  • Alias

    “But did you know what consequences the abduction and murder of Thomas Niedermayer had for his family before yesterday? I certainly didn’t; which is why I wrote about it.”

    It was posted on Slugger before, with yours truly doing the honours back in July:

    “Incidentally, it wasn’t just Thomas Niedermayer’s wife who committed suicide after Keenan had his ‘revenge’ on her husband – her two daughters also committed suicide after their mother.

    Just more of the Shinners hidden victims…”

  • tacapall

    I remember that case Daniel as well as that of John O’Grady who will keep to his dying day the reasons why people pleaded guilty in return for a 40 year sentence.

  • tapacall. I remembered the date wrongly as Dr Herrema’s release but I see it’s the date Garai found him which led to the siege. Not many parents of those in the flag protest even live during the worst of it which all in the seventies.

  • David Crookes

    “I sympathise with them all and while I believe in personal responsibility I also believe that the conditions in Northern Ireland made many people do things they would never have done in a normal society.”

    Thanks, carl marks. That truly humane sentence is worth more than fifty voluminous reports from fifty different truth commissions.

  • DC

    This is worth a viewing in the context of this thread: