#Panorama to show absence of very good tools to critique the state

Tonight’s BBC Panorama programme will detail allegations about the operation of the Military Reaction Force, or MRF, and how it killed unarmed civilians as part of its work up until 1973. The programme has identified ten unarmed civilians it believes were shot by MRF members operating undercover. It also will include a claim that a Ministry of Defence review concluded that the MRF had “no provision for detailed command and control”.

As with so much reportage about ‘the past’, they aren’t particularly new claims. For instance, one of the unarmed civilians shot by the unit and named in the programme is Daniel Rooney,  a 19 year old shot dead by an undercover soldier from a passing car on 27th September 1972 (another man was wounded). The very next day the Irish Times could report that the:

“…shooting of two men in the Donegall Road area of Belfast early yesterday has brought about renewed allegations from the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association that an “Army plain clothes murder squad” is operating in the district.” [Irish Times, 28/09/1972]

Just as the recent publication of Lethal Allies has shown, there is a significant lack of symmetry in the experience of those killed by forces acting as part of, or with the active assistance of the security forces, and those killed by groups who challenged the legitimacy of the state, such as republicans. In that light, the Attorney General’s fanciful claim that:

we have very good tools, subject to the point I’ve made about the passage of time, for critiquing the state, but we don’t have them for bringing to account those who have committed offences against the state

appears absurd to the point of being completely misleading. Even if we disregard the draconian provisions of the Civil Authorities (Special Powers) Act that were operated by the northern government prior to direct rule from London in 1972, many of the same instruments passed over into use as part of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1973, with internment without trial, extended detention periods (which effectively operated as administrative detention), reduced evidential threshholds, non-jury courts and the use of torture and other illegal methods to produce evidence that was then used in the same non-jury trials. These were the methods used over a sustained period of time against those perceived to have committed offences against the state (some, indeed, haven’t gone away).

These provisions were not used against members of the security forces. In contrast, as Lethal Allies illustrates using the case study of an area focussing on north Armagh, there is little evidence that investigations were undertaken of killings carried out by the security forces, off-duty members of the security forces operating alongside loyalist paramilitaries or even loyalist paramilitaries whose objectives were shared by members of the security forces. And significantly, practically none of those killed were active republicans, which is perhaps something Michael Fabricant (Tory Vice-Chairman and MP for Lichfield) needs to read up on:

In another current case, that of McGurks Bar, the relatives are still struggling to get any meaningful co-operation from the PSNI. In that regard, the Attorney General seems poorly informed as to the background to the use of the ‘very good tools’. So this is by no means a ‘historical’ issue.

Similarly, the still unexplained decision to give indemnification against prosecution to the Army in July 1972, can be seen to have had been implemented in the absence of any level of investigation, let along successful prosecution, of soldiers who killed unarmed and innocent civilians (never mind the more nuanced issues around shooting of combatants). Again, for one set of examples, see here. The full weight and financial resources of the UK were used to merely avoid acknowledging the truth about Bloody Sunday for decades despite it being known on the day it happened. Similarly, the truth about Daniel Rooney’s killers was reported the next day.

In that light, the tools for ‘critiquing the state’ appear to have not been in any way fit for purpose (making much of the discussion of what he said simply ludicrous). In that regard, the motivation behind the Attorney Generals comments isn’t really clear, unless, like Sinn Féin’s launch of it’s submissions to Haass, its some of the real substance of the Haass discussions surfacing in places just to let people know there is something going on.

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  • Count Eric Bisto von Granules

    “So we fought terror with terror in Northern Ireland to defend British troops and civilians and the height of the Troubles…..by killing British civilians.’

    The Troubles ‘ended’ 25 years later and the main voice of nationalism is a republican party’

    This is genius.

  • streetlegal

    This was in the early years of the troubles, when the British Army commanders on the ground pretty much had a free hand, but little direction. As the 1970s progressed, command and control passed to British Intelligence and the pattern of British collusion with loyalists and republicans took shape. The strategy of unlawful state violence continued, but through collusion with amenable natives.

  • Sp12

    bad eggs…. big boy rules… republican propaganda etc etc ad naseum

    Interesting to see some definitions reworked though, heroes are apparently men who shoot you in the back during a drive by.
    Now where’s my poppy?

  • One of the cases featured tonight is of a person known to me. I wont watch it.
    Nothing that I dont know. Nothing that isn’t known. And I dont have much time for the British Media finding the information forty years too late.
    It was generally known that this kinda thing happened. The IRA (I think it was the unlovable Seamus Twomey) who once claimed in relation to IRA “mistakes” that this kinda thing happened in war.
    The British always denied they did this kinda thing (though this kinda thing was generally known in Aden,Cyprus, Malaya! Kenya) so I suppose its progress of a sort that Michael Fabricant does the whole “stuff happens” tweet.

    But its a throwback to the old days. Early 1970s.
    No Military would ever admit to such a thing. Or Unionist. Or Alliance. Or Belfast Telegraph. Or News Letter.
    Or BBC in Ormeau Ave. Or UTV in Havelock House.
    Just parroting whatever came out of Thiepval barracks.
    No Bloggers then. No Tweets. No camera phones.
    Just a time when the people in West Belfast, the Bogside! etc could be lied about with impunity.
    Unreliable witnesses (to say the least) in Sinn Fein and Republican Clubs.
    Kudos to those who tried to do something….unpopular as it is to say so. Reliable voices….SDLP, Irish News, the Church and some civil Rights organisations.
    They will get precious little thanks.

  • Greenflag

    Same old . Who policed the police ? Nobody from the look of it . Despite that the B Specials were disbanded and the RUC reformed to the PSNI and the UDR stoof down .

    The Provos were disarmed and accepted ‘democracy ‘ of a sort within NI and mandatory power sharing is the future .

    Could any other result have been possible ?

    None better I can’t imagine .Quite a few worse though I suspect . Be grateful for what NI got -just about what it deserved all things considered imo.

  • socaire

    When did the other paramilitary gang – the RUC – get in on the act? There must have been some nodding and winking otherwise these BA killers could have been ‘accidentally’ killed by our own ‘boys and girls just out doing their day’s work’. As one of Fatboy’s tears and teddybears interviewees said ‘we didn’t go about killing IRA men but the killed us’.

  • BluesJazz

    The MRF boys on Newsline were pretty cool about it. They targeted ‘hardcore baby killers’. So this line about ‘innocent’ civilians is naïve to put it mildly. Ultimately the FRU and 14th Int did an even better job and won the peace. Unsung heroes.

  • ThomasPaine

    But but but we’ve been told for years that this was all just Republican paranoia and/or propaganda……

    The hypocrisy we hear, like that from Fabricant, on such behaviour is never ending.

    Either the state is legitimate and as a result morally superior to a bunch of terrorists committing crimes, meaning the actions described above are inexcusable, or there was a war on and the terrorists were actually a legitimate freedom fighting enemy irregular army practicing guerrilla warfare, meaning the actions described above are excusable.

    You can’t have it both ways.

    If the targets of the MRF were nothing more than criminal terrorist scum, investigate them, find evidence against them, arrest them, charge them and lock them up.

  • tacapall

    “Unsung heroes”

    Dead men dont tell tales and they made sure those who could tell tales stayed quiet at the Mull of Kintyre Bluesjazz. Bad apples getting rid of bad apples. You must be pulling your hair out trying to figure out which ones were or are your hero’s.

  • socaire

    Yeah, it worked here. How come it hasn’t worked in Afghanistan or Iraq …….. yet? It makes me even prouder to wear the poppy now. And Blues Jazz, you are -as usual – trolling and not very well.

  • Count Eric Bisto von Granules

    The title of this article is strange to say the least. Would a blog about the Disappeared be led with a title like

    ‘Sinn Fein governance structures unable to ensure accurate records kept within 30 year compliance rule’

    Soldiers have just said they were given carte blanche to act like terrorists.

  • Sp12

    “Unsung heroes”

    As the young folk on the internet say
    ‘Obvious troll is obvious’.

    Or is ‘oblivious troll is oblivious’?
    either’s grand

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Looking forward to tonight’s programme to find out more – starting now …

    I’ll be interested to see how widespread this was. Looking at the Belfast Telegraph just now, it says “Tonight’s programme links MRF soldiers to five incidents in Belfast in 1972 where two civilians died and 12 others were injured.” The context is worth noting. 290 members of the security forces were murdered in 1971-3, out of a total Republican murder toll of 497 in those 3 years; and Loyalist terrorists murdered 219. The security forces themselves killed 163 people in this period, which is a huge number. The security forces though looked at this and made a huge drive to reduce the use of lethal force thereafter. After 1973, the security force killings hovered around the 10 a year mark or so at time when Republicans were killing more than 50 a year on a regular basis and often more.

  • SK

    A fairly longwinded version of “whatabout the IRA”, there, MU.

    You could at least wait for the programme to finish before chiming in with the usual equivocation.

  • Sp12

    In fairness to MU, he’s saying nothing different from the succession of apologists trotted out in the media today have been saying.

  • gendjinn

    British state engaged in terrorism (nothing we didn’t know already 40 years ago).

    So far every unionist commenting is fine with it.

    Until unionists are out clamouring for the prosecution of these murderers, for the prosecution of the paratrooper murders on Bloody Sunday with the same level of commitment, passion they don’t have any moral authority to criticse the IRA for anything.

    That’s where nationalists are superior to unionists, we condemn the disappeared, Claudy, Enniskillen, Bloody Sunday and all the rest equally. Unionism only condemns when their own died.

  • BluesJazz

    No different to the killing of Bin Laden. Fair play to the RMP Sergeant and the guy at the end for doing a thankless job. But got the end result.
    Enjoyable programme showing the genesis of how we got to where we are now.

  • Mc Slaggart

    BluesJazz

    “No different to the killing of Bin Laden.”

    What crime had the others in his house committed that justified murder?

  • Barney

    MU wrote
    The context is worth noting.

    Well that would be a novel defence if there were a snowballs chance in hell that these terrorists would see the inside of a court room.

  • qwerty12345

    Machine gunning unarmed teenage boys in the back is on a par with taking out Bin Laden?

    So what did we learn that we didn’t already know? not much, but its interesting to restate a few things.

    The British Army murdered unarmed civilians in criminal operations.

    They brought a colonial mentality to how they dealt with “Ireland” (thats what they called it in the show folks)

    They literally got away with murder, even in court. ANd could get away with “pretty much anything”

    They were liars, and in the case of some, clearly psychopaths.

    They doctored reports of incidents and engaged in cover up as a matter of routine.

    Even after all these years they are unapologetic.

    Even with a willing media eager to give them the last word they come across looking like the murderers they are / were.

    So tell me again, these people are supposed to be superior to the IRA and the UVF and the rest?

    Got a good laugh out of that Geordie at the end talking about “the homeland”

    Sickening.

  • Morpheus

    “The security forces though looked at this and made a huge drive to reduce the use of lethal force thereafter.”

    You are right MU, it was easier to pass the files on Loyalist murder squads and let them do the work

  • BluesJazz

    Mike Jackson spoke well. You can see how he got to the top,
    It was 1972 and all hell let loose. That’s the context.

    We’re going to need guys like this (MRF/FRU) in the future against Islamic terrorism.

    John Ware admitted near the end that these operations ‘crippled’ the IRA to the point of eventual surrender (or whatever the PC term is-resolution?)

    Them’s the facts. No the people interviewed were not nice people, at least 1 was psychopathic. But we *need* people like that. Blair ‘Paddy’ Mayne was of the same ilk.

  • Morpheus

    Very easy and cowardly to say when you are in the demographic which is not on the receiving end BJ. I wonder if you would feel that we ‘need guys like this’ if you were part of the target community.

  • looneygas

    Thomas Paine,

    “You can’t have it both ways.”

    This, to me, is Loyalism defined. The desire to have it both ways. To have an extra-legal paramilitary force operating with the assistance of the armed forces of the state, which massively outgun the guerillas on their own.

    To claim that their side started it and are criminal murderers with no legitimate call to arms and that any response by those in or out of uniform is legitimate and justified. Although the clever among the Unionists like to throw their paramilitaries under the bus, making it easier to demonise the IRA.

    They were terrorists.

    We were fighting a war on terror.

    Lovely.

  • Barney

    Bluejizz wrote
    Unsung heroes

    You do realise that glorifying terrorism is illegal….

  • BluesJazz

    And counterinsurgency is legal.

    John Ware clarified that none of the soldiers involved incriminated themselves.

    Mike Jackson praised them.

    Like Blair Mayne, they were ‘counterterrorists’.
    They were not nice dinner guests, especially the Geordie who looked like Tony Iommi.

    But they did a (necessary) job few others would undertake.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    gendjinn,
    I don’t think either community is innately morally superior, as you seem to. I think people have to take responsibility for the actions and judgments they themselves make. I’m not sure what too make of your rather childish assertion of nationalist moral superiority, but it does explain why you might be in denial about what happened in the Troubles, which I’m afraid doesn’t fit with any idea of nationalist moral superiority.

    As for unionists, Dr Kirk Simpson’s work on unionist responses to the Troubles shows a different, more thoroughly researched and more convincing picture than your account. As he shows, the widespread condemnation of ALL terrorism including Loyalist terror is the norm among unionists. That’s not to deny tribal thinking is there too – but don’t make the mistake of imagining that’s all there is. We are people too.

    Most nationalists rejected the Republicans during the Troubles and deserve praise for that. Where your comment goes awry is that in reality, as we see in these pages, nationalist sentiment is generally stronger when it’s nationalists being killed, especially if the security forces are involved. That’s only human, but to portray nationalists as somehow above tribal sympathies doesn’t wash.

    But anyway, let’s not descend into the ‘you lot are worse than our lot’ nonsense. Focus should be on the actual wrong-doers. Where there were security forces personnel who acted criminally I would condemn it. Where there is a murder, there should be prosecutions.

    What’s different though with state forces is a paradox: (1) they should be held to a higher moral standard, because they represent the people; but (2) unlike other parties, they had a duty to put themselves in the line of danger – we the public expected them to do grim anti-terrorist work on our behalf.

    What I reject though is any Republican or indeed Loyalist attempt to use the inevitable numerous mistakes and misdemeanours within a 30 year anti-terrorist policing operation to create the impression of some kind of moral equivalence between terrorists and those charged with stopping them. If you accept ALL murder is wrong, then point the finger at the people responsible – ALL the people responsible for murder, not just the minority of murders you’d prefer to talk about.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Morpheus,
    Is that why the combined percentage of killings attributable to British security force and Loyalists combined fell from 44.8 per cent in 71-76 to 26.7 per cent 1977-90?

  • socaire

    Or as one of Blue Jazz’s ‘necessary’ heroes says “Some people might call it murder but I don’t”. Some things never change.

  • aquifer

    Whatever you say say nothing is working well for the Provos.

    You can see why it was part of induction training.

    “Around 11% of the 3,260 deaths being reviewed were the responsibility of the state.” BBC

    Actually they all were, if the Brits had surrendered instead and frog marched the loyalists into a United Ireland none of this terrible bloodshed need have happened.

  • SK

    “What I reject though is any Republican or indeed Loyalist attempt to use the inevitable numerous mistakes and misdemeanours within a 30 year anti-terrorist policing operation to create the impression of some kind of moral equivalence between terrorists and those charged with stopping them.”
    ____

    MU’s particular brand of whataboutery seems to revolve around quoting respective bodycounts as if they were the Sunday afternoon football scores. Disturbing.

    The British Army directed a unit to maraud the streets of Belfast, taking pot-shots at the natives, in an excerise that Michael Fabricant today characterised as “fighting terror with terror”.

    “Terror with terror”

    In other words, the establishment itself is now suggesting a moral equivalence between the IRA and the crown forces. Take it up with them.

  • Zig70

    The greater good has to be the most evil thing known to man. The refuge of armchair generals. What did JA say this week? Murder is murder, will he repeat it in relation to the MRF? Larkin is a political numpty but most would agree, draw a line and keep your own truths. Nothing will change them anyway.

  • Johnny Boy

    I wonder what the selection process was for the MRF, it certainly seemed to contain more than a few psychos.

  • BluesJazz

    So what was the point of the programme?

    Maverick unit following the Kitson procedure (didn’t he look well), a few mistakes, MoD renames new unit and errr follows Kitson procedure (amended version). Big deal.

    1972 will not be on the GCSE History syllabus apart from Faulkner and Direct Rule. That’s the way it is, that’s the way it outta be.

    The Panorama show will now fade into the sunset (I’m guessing most mainland viewers turned over to Come Dine with me) but the Cortina’s shown were 1974 Mark 3’s. just for the record.

  • gendjinn

    Mainland Ulsterman,

    wriggle, wriggle, wriggle. It was you & not I that just endorsed murder & terrorism.

    My condemnations of murder are consistent & on record.

    When you are faced with the fact that the British state is a terrorist state no better or different than the alphabet soup of paramilitaries, you don’t condem, you excuse and support. You are on record, in this very thread, of condoning & supporting the murder of civilians. You are a supporter of terrorism.

    Time to climb down off your moral high ground.

  • GEF

    “Them’s the facts. No the people interviewed were not nice people, at least 1 was psychopathic. But we *need* people like that. Blair ‘Paddy’ Mayne was of the same ilk.”

    Be interesting to see if these “people interviewed” Soldiers A B and C are lifted for questioning by the police in England for shooting 2 civilian Catholics back in 1972.

    Didn’t know “Paddy Blair Mayne” drove around behind enemy lines dressed in civilian clothes in the Aftican desert in a beat up Cortina. The SAS groups Mayne was in charge of all drove reinforced army jeeps, wore British uniforms and their no 1 object was to shoot up and destroy grounded Nazi aircraft than kill German civilians. The SAS left that job to RAF bomber command who bombed and killed 305,000–600,000 civilians in Germany during WW2.

  • aquifer

    “the fact that the British state is a terrorist state no better or different than the alphabet soup of paramilitaries”

    Try asking paramilitaries for compensation for injustices suffered. How many people’s life chances would have been much better without all the shooting and bombing done despite democratic routes to change being open?

    States should have a monopoly of force, legally sanctioned. Paramilitaries don’t tend to bother with the legal or even legitimate thing when the purpose is to terrorise into compliance with whatever religious or ideological notion they have this week. The terrorist method is also useful in dissuading those who would ask or sue for compensation, and in keeping former perpetrators quiet about how the murderous political blackmail plot operated.

  • carl marks

    The reaction from Blue Jazz is what we are going to get from Unionists (with a few Honourable exceptions) after all if we look at the history of unionist reaction to dead nationalists it has been one of “our lads don’t make mistakes” the loyalist terrorist and his bully boy mates are only the stick it is the middle class who shake it.
    You don’t have to go far into nearly any post on slugger to see the hypocrisy of the unionist middle class, in a different I have challenged one of our regular posters to explain glaring contradictions in his attitude, the righteous indignation vented on those he disapproves of seems to be absent when those he approves of do exactly as his perceived opponents do.
    When challenged he disappears from the thread only to appear on another claiming total innocence for the whispering class’s failing to admit even to himself that those who preach bigotry and intolerance share guilt with those who listen to them and go out and kill people.
    The murderous actions of the Army, B specials, UDR, will be praised behind doors and not even a tut-tut in public. Then they will express shock at IRA activity.
    the Soldiers claim that they were trying to take out IRA men and if any civilians got killed, well that’s war (this is also by in large the unionist line except a lot of unionists don’t believe in innocent Catholics) which is exactly the same line that is peddled by some Republicans to justify the shankill bombing,
    also notice it’s a war when their side kills someone and criminal activity when the other side does it, and all this without even a blush.

  • Morpheus

    If it was a war CM then they need to take it up with the DUP:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/7249681.stm

  • carl marks

    aquifer
    “States should have a monopoly of force, legally sanctioned. Paramilitaries don’t tend to bother with the legal or even legitimate thing when the purpose is to terrorise into compliance with whatever religious or ideological notion they have this week”

    And this after a program showing that the Aemy murdered innocent people then didnt bother with the legal niceties.
    for a explanation see my above post!

  • Gopher

    Get three Walter Mitty’s some man bites dog journalism and we have a TV show it seems. Walking round West Belfast with a Sterling in a dust cart. “Excuse me can this complete stranger wheel his dust cart past your barricade”. I know every German tank in WWII was a Tiger tank but being opened up with by an Armalite from a moving IRA patrol in 1972 had me convinced me 😀

  • Barney

    Bluejazz wrote
    And counterinsurgency is legal.

    Shooting unarmed civilians in the back is not counterinsurgency its murder and places crown forces in exactly the same box as those who also thought it was a good idea to shoot unarmed civilians.

  • Morpheus

    The programme last night said that these guys were ‘hand-picked’ for this assignment from across The British Army. Who did the picking? Why were these 40 soldiers picked? What skill-set did these 40 have that the rest didn’t?

    It also said that the MRF was wound up because they had “no provision for detailed command and control”. Who was supposed to be in charge? Why were they given free-reign? Who was in charge of the guy who was supposed to be in charge? Why was he not doing his job?

    Like I keep saying, I have no problem with the State going after terrorists, they deserved everything they got, but I take great exception to paid agents of the State effectively living out the Loyalist mantra of ‘Yabba Daaba do, any Taig will do” knowing full well that in the ‘tit-for-tat’ culture that existed an innocent Protestant would be killed shortly after. Followed by a Catholic. Then a Protestant. And so on…

    The army is there to protect all of us, Catholics included, because we all pay their wages, we pay for their training, we pay for their weapons, their bases, their bullets, their helicopters and everything else which makes them ‘The Best’. The BA should be investigating what went on in Northern Ireland to the hilt, holding their hands up to wrong-doing, prosecuting those who colluded and prosecuting those who went ‘off reservation’ to prove to the public that this sort of behavior is not policy, it is not acceptable and offenders will be met with the harshest of penalties.

    I want confidence that sort of crap cannot ever happen again. Ever. To any demographic. But the fact that the Bloody Sunday soldiers still have not been in the dock and, to a lesser extent, the soldiers from Ibrox with their loyalist chanting a few weeks ago have not received their dishonorable discharges, screams to me, and people like me, that this isn’t the case yet. If it kicks of here those guys from Ibrox will be given a machine gun and told to patrol the streets of Northern Ireland, that does not give me confidence.

  • Son of Strongbow

    Panorama told us that the Army ran a covert unit, the MRF, for a year and a half in the early seventies before disbanding it because of poor command and control.

    No doubt the fact that one soldier had been tried for attempted murder played a part in this decision.

    At this time Belfast, the unit’s TAOR (tactical area of responsibility), was experiencing so-called ‘No-Go’ areas in both loyalist and nationalist districts. I expect that these terrorist fiefdoms could have been largely ignored if it weren’t for the fact that nationalist terrorists, in particular, sallied forth from their ‘Liberated Zones’ to bomb and shoot in the city centre and Protestant areas.

    Many civilian and security force casualties resulted from this bombing and shooting campaign. Indeed Bloody Friday was noted during the programme.

    It seems impossible for some to acknowledge that due to its widespread indiscriminate bombing campaign the IRA presented by far the largest threat (although the present body count totals underscore this).

    The Army was under pressure to halt this carnage. It is worthy to remember that the Army was at that time in charge of security operations. In policy MACP (military aid to the civil power) the Army works for the local government structures. However because of Westminster’s concerns about Stormont governance (driven by nationalist lobbying) they did not wish to cede the Army’s control to NI. The MOD held sway (one outworking if this was this was the RMP retaining investigatory control of crimes allegedly committed by soldiers). This situation changed in the later seventies with the so-called ‘Ulsterisation’ policy.

    I am unsurprised that some take the braggadocio performance of the ex soldiers during the programme as an exercise in (full) truth telling. However I expect that whereas the soldiers suggestions’ that they shot unarmed civilians (and here I include terrorist ‘players’ in the civilian category) their assertion that they were not a “death squad” or that they played a significant part in the defeat of terrorism will not be believed (doesn’t fit the collusion script I suppose).

    The programme concentrated on an individual. A RMP sergeant who was alleged to have shot civilians who posed no threat whatsoever.

    That is a crime.

    We learned that this soldier had been investigated, charged with attempted murder and placed before a court (all by the Royal Ulster Collusionists no less). The Belfast jury acquitted him (yes that’s right a Belfast civilian jury). That, unpalatable as it may be to me and others, makes him innocent in the eyes of the law.

    It was unfortunate at this time that Panorama descended into ‘News of the World’ style journalism with door-stepping, covert audio and video filming etc. (to say nothing of potentially putting the programme’s targets in harm’s way by largely identifying where they now lived).

    The MRF was a cack-handed attempt to deal with a terrible situation. It seems it was compromised very early on with one ex soldier telling of being fired on by IRA terrorists on his first outing. The strategy of the unit, to draw out terrorist ‘players’ and then “take them out”, was wrong headed in the urban environment that the terrorists choose to operate in. There was too much potential for innocents to be killed or injured.

    I am reassured that the ex soldiers’ allegations have now been referred to the police (I hope the BBC will fully cooperate with the PSNI and provide all notebooks/information and footage they have collected).

    Should evidence warranting a prosecution be found I expect to see individuals changed. At the very least the Army will pay compensation to the victims or their families. That is as it should be.

    That however will not satisfy those who continue, for political and partisan reasons, to shout collusion at every turn. Their project to promote equivalence between all “armed groups” (save in Justice, prosecution and recompense) will continue.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    gendjinn,
    It’s a bit boring to get into personal spats but for the record I haven’t supported terrorism at any time and you need to withdraw that remark. There is no basis whatsoever for your comment, which is btw libellous.

    I assume you’re referring to me asking for understanding for those who had to do the anti-terrorist policing while the IRA and friends frolicked around with explosives in shopping centres. Which is difficult to see as support for terrorism. I also expressly stated that where they acted illegally I would support prosecutions. If you read more carefully what I said, rather than what you wished I’d said, you might not get yourself so confused. I think you’ve let yourself down there.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    CM,
    And yet as a middle class unionist, if you read my admittedly long post from last night, I did call for prosecutions. And I’m far from alone in that. That we also call for this to be done fairly across the board should be unproblematic to all.

  • carl marks

    SOS
    A very interesting post, some points in it I would agree with.
    Shows what you are capable of when you try. Keep up the good work.
    Now I’m off to work but I will be back to question you about the bits I didn’t agree with.

  • carl marks

    Mainland Ulsterman
    Well I’m glad to hear that, but I sorry but I don’t think I have ever heard a elected member of the DUP/UUP/TUV call for the prosecution of any police officer, or soldier for killing Catholics (I would be delighted if I was proved wrong) instead I have heard them denying it ever happened or more likely trying to justify it. .
    So if voting patterns are anything to go by then sir you are in the minority.

  • gendjinn

    Mainland Ulsterman,

    mistakes and misdemeanours

    Purposefully murdering civilians is neither a mistake nor a misdemeanor.

    That you fail to recognise and condemn it demonstrates your hypocrisy and your support for British state terrorism. You have no problem with a state sanctioned army murder squad. In fact you endorse it.

    You are condemned by your own words.

    From what we see, that is the unionist norm.

  • Barnshee

    The British Army directed a unit to maraud the streets of Belfast, taking pot-shots at the natives, in an excerise that Michael Fabricant today characterised as “fighting terror with terror”.

    “Terror with terror”

    And your point is?

    It was a war?
    It was a terror campaign? Conducted with the direct and tacit support of a community -conducted from within that community? Some people shot at the army the army shot back -some people got killed,

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Gendjinn,
    You’re not reading what I wrote – I specifically recognised and condemned the instances where the Army committed murder. It was not a war, so they had no right to take lives in that way, though they did have a right to take out terrorists in some limited circumstances.

  • carl marks

    Barnshee
    It was a war?
    It was a terror campaign? Conducted with the direct and tacit support of a community -conducted from within that community? Some people shot at the army the army shot back -some people got killed,

    Yea the only problem with that little theory is as the program showed the Army wasn’t firing back, since they weren’t being shot at because the people shot were unarmed civilians whose only crime was being in the wrong place at the wrong time, that makes it murder.
    Not really a difficult concept you should be able to get your head around it but ill make it easier,
    Unarmed man with no terrorist connections, killed by man with gun for no reason than where he was walking = murder got that now!
    Ps, Being a Catholic is not a crime. Neither is living in Nationalist area no matter how much you would like it to be.

    And since the IRA was trying to kill Unionist terrorists at the Shankill bombing how would you react if a republican used the old collateral damage excuse for that one? and before you go of in faux rage I not trying to excuse the slaughter on the shankill im just trying to show you how offensive your argument is!

  • carl marks

    SOS
    “We learned that this soldier had been investigated, charged with attempted murder and placed before a court (all by the Royal Ulster Collusionists no less). The Belfast jury acquitted him (yes that’s right a Belfast civilian jury). That, unpalatable as it may be to me and others, makes him innocent in the eyes of the law

    .The problem with that is that important evidence was withheld from the Jury, Namely the soldier claimed that the rear window of the car was shattered by M16 rounds(a important part of his defence) and that the police believed that the window was shattered from the inside not by outside fire, If the RUC were correct then his self-defence claim was nothing more than a lie.

  • antamadan

    The programme narrator said that the IRA and loyalists were going into each other’s areas and shooting civilians on the basis of religion. (The stats don’t seem to bear out the same level of sectarian shootings from the IRA at all, but leaving that aside).

    So, how come the BBC narrator didn’t ask if there was any attacks on loyalist suspects?

  • carl marks

    Excellent point.

    Would seem to point to early collusion,
    When I was growing up in Ardoyne the loyalist death squads always seemed to strike when there were no army patrols in the area.
    Now Ardoyne was under constant surveillance and it was nearly impossible to walk through the area without bumping into an army patrol and all exits were covered by Observation posts but loyalists always seemed to be able to murder at will to my knowledge Robinson was the only loyalist ever tackled by the Army.
    Incidentally if unionists are so convinced of the righteousness of shooting terrorists why is the Band named after that thug so welcome at OO Parades.

  • carl marks

    to my knowledge Robinson was the only loyalist ever tackled by the Army.
    should read
    to my knowledge Robinson was the only loyalist ever tackled by the Army after commiting a murder in Ardoyne.

  • Not having seen the Panorama program its hard for me to judge accurately what was said. What I have seen in the press is the author of a newly-published account of his life in the MRF claiming that they were given the photos of specific members of the IRA leadership to kill. This is a military assassination policy similar to the deliberate targeting of the Japanese admiral who was the architect of the Pearl Harbor attack by the USAAF in 1943. In such instances it makes little difference whether or not the person is armed. This is quite different from going and shooting random males in nationalist areas.

  • GEF

    Having watched the BBC Panorama programme I
    could not make head nor tail what the rambo Army sergeant was doing in the back of the car with a Thompson sub machine gun. Why did the army not court martial him for use of a non army issue (1921 model drum magazine) gun? Just like they charged and sentenced SAS sniper Danny Nightingale here recently?

    “Soldier N was sentenced to two years’ military detention last year after admitting possessing a Glock 9mm pistol,”
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/10171927/Sgt-Danny-Nightingale-told-SAS-housemate-he-had-a-pistol.html

  • carl marks

    tmitch57

    This is quite different from going and shooting random males in nationalist areas.

    Since you didn’t see the program you will be unaware that the people murdered by the MRF were not “players” but random males in catholic areas. Im sure you can find it easy on the BBC player watch it.
    No one at any point claims that the victims were in any way involved in any terror group.
    One and only one was a possible mistaken identity.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    CM,
    Just for accuracy, I think the programme highlighted the non-players they killed by mistake – but it did also allege they targeted and killed actual terrorists also. But it was pretty unclear on the numbers – I guess they didn’t have that information.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    btw a mate of mine who reads more military biographies than I do reckons the MRF unit has been in the public domain for years, after at least one former soldier talked about it in his memoirs.

  • qwerty12345

    When one considers the degree to which the British Army got internment wrong in the same period – any reasonable person should really take the identification of “players” with a massive pinch of salt.

    In fact most of the main players survived that time and indeed many are in politics now.

    So it seems that not only were completely innocent people being interned but they were also being murdered.

    This of course holds little sway with our resident wrigglers.
    One might be forgiven for thinking that The Brits at the time cared as little for which Taig they were murdering as their apologists do now. Sure they are all guilty one way or another.

    Funny how the attitude changes when similar mindsets are expressed in reverse.

  • carl marks

    Mainland Ulsterman
    That’s is an assumption, I would like to see evidence one source would be IRA funerals (they do have a track record of giving dead vol’s military funerals) and of course I could be mistaken but it seems to me with most people believing that they operated the a random shoot to kill policy against the Nationalist community (no loyalists killed and they were murdering any catholic they could find) you would think in a damage limitation exercise they would leak names of “players” after all they did mention names of “players” they were after.
    Incidentally assassination is illegal, and I put a point to you!
    The Nationalist community knew that death squads were operating who if they were not army had close links with the Army (both turned out to be true) now how many young Nationalists seeing the innocent being murdered by these groups and with a police force seemly doing nothing decided that joining the IRA was the best way to protect their community, Like Bloody Sunday not only the Killings but the response to them by both the British Government and unionists were recruitment Sergeants for the IRA.
    The Killings were criminal and wrong in every way and made the situation worse.
    I am disappointed but not surprised that many unionists still in the face of such evidence of which Panorama was just the latest in a long coherent line still clutch at straws to defend or justify the crimes done by the state.

  • Barnshee

    “So it seems that not only were completely innocent people being interned but they were also being murdered.
    Funny how the attitude changes when similar mindsets are expressed in reverse.”

    It is totally undeniable that the innocent people were interned and innocent people murdered
    This is what happens when a war/insurrection/terrorist campaign is conducted from within the “shelter” of a particular community (try Syria for an up to date example)

    Add in the the inevitable “counteractions” by individuals and state and the deaths of innocents are inevitable, It is a particularly strange “mind set” that cannot recognise cause and effect

  • Neil

    That’s progress. Unionists have moved from ‘it never happened’, to ‘it hardly ever happened’ then ‘it’s understandable that it happened’.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Carl Marks,
    Except that the ‘recruiting sergeant’ point is ahistorical. Yes, nationalists joined the IRA more after calamities like Bloody Sunday, but they were joining an organisation that was already leading the way both in violence and in decision-making over the direction of the violence. The argument that joining the IRA seemed like a reasonable reaction to what was done to their community only makes sense if you ignore what the IRA had already done.

    It was in January 1970, we now know, that the “army council” met and decided to launch an offensive insurgency against the state, as soon as conditions allowed.

    In 1970, so before internment and Bloody Sunday, Republicans carried out 65 per cent of the killings – which is actually worse than the average for the Troubles overall. In 1971 it was 55 per cent. There were also over 1,000 bomb explosions in 1971, the vast majority of them IRA bombs.

    By the end of 1971, so before Bloody Sunday, Republicans had already killed 118 people; the Loyalists 26; and the security forces 60. So why was it somehow understandable for Republicans to go on further rampages as a response to Internment and Bloody Sunday, apparently in a state of moral outrage? It’s as if their own previous, frankly even worse violence had not happened. Even Seamus Mallon seemed to be peddling the line of “you can understand why someone would join the IRA in those circumstances” last week. Only if you allow them to feel no guilt whatsoever for their own crimes. There was never any justification for anyone joining a terrorist group – end of.

  • Comrade Stalin

    MU,

    When JFK said “those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable” do you think he was justifying violent revolution; or pointing out the obvious, that pushing people into a corner where they may calculate that there is no way out is naturally likely to lead to violence ?

    It cuts both ways; I can see why loyalists joined the UVF and UDA in the 70s. I can also see why police officers felt it appropriate to pass information about potential targets to loyalists. Doesn’t mean I agree with their decision but I can trace the logic.

  • Barnshee

    “That’s progress. Unionists have moved from ‘it never happened’, to ‘it hardly ever happened’ then ‘it’s understandable that it happened’.

    Some “unionists” have moved from ‘it never happened’, to ‘it hardly ever happened’ Most if not all were (and are) in the ” ‘it is/was it’s inevitable that it happened’. camp

    The sun rises in the East and sets in the West and violence will produce a violent response

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    CS,
    I agree with you – it’s not hard to see the logic, I’m just saying it was logic born of a self-servingly partial view of events, which left out most of what was actually happening at the time. To say we understand it is fine in the sense of intellectually understanding it – but too often, as with Seamus Mallon’s words, you hear a kid of empathy creeping in. The old ‘inevitability’ point. And that I don’t get. People made their own choices – there was nothing inevitable about any of it. As Edwards and McGrattan put it in ‘The Northern Ireland Conflict’ (One World, 2010):
    “By ignoring the importance of specific choices and omissions, the ethno-nationalist approach tends to gloss over historical nuance and completely ignores questions to do with culpability or responsibility – that is, who did what and why.”

    The authors are complaining here about the tendency to see what happened in the Troubles as the inevitable result of community tensions. But they ask, if so, why then? Why did things explode at that particular time, in that way and to that extent and why did it go on for so long? These are the real questions – and this is where the people who got involved in terrorism or aided and abetted them get uncomfortable. Because the truth is, no, they didn’t have to do any of it.

    The truth is that the Troubles were mainly driven by a small cadre of people with extremist anti-British views, wedded to the idea of ‘blood sacrifice’ (other people’s mainly). If we buy into their “I had to do it” excuses for one minute, we let them off the hook. There was little the rest of us could do to stop people who wanted to do these appalling things – but we can now at least make sure we don’t give the time of day to their pathetic excuses in which they apparently, alone of everyone in the human race, lack agency.

    It’s not some amazing hindsight that has shown terror was futile: most people were clamouring for an end to it at the time, right from the start of it, pleading with them to just stop – but they wouldn’t listen.

  • carl marks

    Why 1970 as the starting point, nicely ignores the orange volunteer bombings, the Malvern St Murders, the house burnings on the Falls and Ardoyne, the Attacks on the civil rights marches or the fact that Northern Ireland was rife with serious and institutional discrimination against Catholics, perhaps loyalist and unionist activity before 1970 may go towards explaining events in 1970 .
    I really don’t want to get into a who started it argument, young men and women on both sides of the community in community under attack for whatever historical reasons you or I think important are subject to debate the relevant point is they were in a very bad time and place and many made bad decisions for what they believed were the right reasons.
    Now I believed I asked you for your evidence that the MRF took out many (if any) players, I noticed you avoided answering.
    Finally I don’t believe I made any excuse of justification for anybody joining a terror group (that includes the MRF) I merely pointed out the various (MU any reasonable explanation why the MRF never attacked loyalist “players”) murder gangs killing innocent Catholics and the way both the state and unionist attitude to these murder meant young nationalists in the face of (very least) a state ignored sectarian slaughter picked Che over Ghandi!

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    CS,
    I think Kennedy got that badly wrong btw. It’s clearly not morally justified to lash out violently just because you feel yourself to be boxed in. Every shopping mall shooter has that excuse. Peaceful evolution to a better state of affairs in NI was possible and there were many scenarios in which that could have happened. Indeed, a lot of grievances were addressed in 1969-70. Violence made it harder for that progress to continue.

    There was also the mistake of allowing reasonable civil rights demands to get mixed up with unreasonable 32 county nationalist demands. It made it very hard for more progressive voices within unionism to carry the day, as civil rights became (despite the good intentions of many initially in NICRA) a stalking horse for an aggressive form of 32-county Irish-Irelandism. As such it invited opposition. Indeed it may have been the intention of some of those seeking change to provoke conflict rather than seek reform. I do think that was a grave error – frustrating though it must have been dealing with the Ulster Unionist politicians (many of them total numpties) at the time.

  • Barney

    MU Wrote

    There was also the mistake of allowing reasonable civil rights demands to get mixed up with unreasonable 32 county nationalist demands.

    So the myth rolls on, Civil rights protesters were asking for equality within the UK.

  • carl marks

    MU
    “Peaceful evolution to a better state of affairs in NI was possible and there were many scenarios in which that could have happened”
    Yes I’m sure there where, of course unionists would not even admit that there was a need for change, the myth that the civil rights movement was a republican plot was born (and seemingly still totters along) and the UVF was happy to murder Catholics, the OV planted bombs and crudely tried to blame it on a IRA that largely didn’t exist, Paisley was rabble rousing and unionists politicians where shouting down O’Neill and the moderates inside the UUP that was part of the unionist contribution to what happened here.
    Yes you are right Peaceful evolution would have been possible but was not going to happen, Unionists then (and many now) had no surrender and not an inch as their approach to “peaceful evolution”

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Barney and CM,
    Leading historian Dr Richard English of Queens in “Armed Struggle” found:
    “There was a direct, causal, practical and ideological connection between the 1960s IRA and the civil rights initiative; and it was from the IRA’s Wolfe Tone Societies that the Northern Ireland civil rights movement emerged.”
    It came to be something better than that but I do think unionist mistrust was absolutely fair enough.

  • Barney

    MU wrote
    “I do think unionist mistrust was absolutely fair enough.”

    How can treating people as equal be something to be wary of?

  • carl marks

    MU
    Now let me get this straight,
    Despite the fact that Northern Ireland was riddled with anti-Catholic discrimination in Jobs, housing and infrastructure, the elections were rigged through gerrymandering, both the UVF and THE OV were active, and whole streets of Belfast had been attacked and burnt out by loyalists and up to then (1970) unionists showed themselves not to be interested in compromise (a stand which was destined to continue up till today) to explain our past you chose to run out the old civil rights =IRA argument.
    The Civil Rights was formed from a wide range of people from Communists to Churchman, trade unionists to businessmen, students to labourers, catholic protestant and those of no religion.
    Yes there were republicans (by the way republicans are entitled to want civil rights like anybody else) involved as there were Unionists as well in it and members of protestant churches in other words it was broad based.
    At no time did any document, speech or rally demand a united Ireland. However you seem willing to attempt to rewrite history, ignoring what happened pre 1970 to argue that all was wrong with NI was a few Unionist politicians “many of them total numpties” and through that might have been frustrating there were no real problems.
    Go back and read some history, look at who opposed “peaceful Evolution” at every point we moved forward unionism has opposed change (often with violence) which flags were being waved at Armagh when Paisley blocked the CR march the same one waved when Sunningdale was brought down, Drumcree, Ulster Says NO, now tell me how do you peacefully evolve with a political belief which holds as its core beliefs the mantras of NO SURRENDER and NOT A INCH.
    It takes two to tango and it two to tango with the murderous violence and it would have needed two to tango for peaceful evolution.
    However if you look at the response that unionists are giving to the proof that the Army was murdering innocent Catholics either pretending it didn’t happen or coming out with excuses for it, then we can see that little has changed.
    With such poor and easily disproven arguments it’s easy to see how Unionism lost the PR struggle both in NI, Britain and the rest of the world.

  • GEF

    “With such poor and easily disproven arguments it’s easy to see how Unionism lost the PR struggle both in NI, Britain and the rest of the world.”

    CM, If you mean Unionism (protestants) lost by their numbers being killed during the troubles the records would agree, the IRA & killed the most. See below. But Unionism as a whole did not lose. Northern Ireland is still in the UK and there were 283 Unionist local council seats elected compared to 223 SF/SDLP seats. On the Stormont assembly there are 56 Unionist MLAs compared to 43 SF/SDLP MLAs.

    Total Killings Protestant Catholic Not from NI

    IRA 1696 (49%) 790 338 568
    UVF 396 (11%) 89 265 42
    British Army299 9% 32 258 9
    (unknown
    loyalist)212 (6%) 50 212 7
    UFF 149 (4%) 17 132 0
    INLA 110 (3%) 55 33 22
    UDA 102 (3%) 41 58 3
    (unknown) 77 27 42 8
    RUC 56 9 44 3
    Official IRA51 7 24 20
    PAF (loyalist 37 0 37 0
    ‘Real’ IRA 29 11 13 5
    (others117 27 87 3

  • carl marks

    I was talking about NI before 1970 and MU’s strange assumption that suddenly out of the blue, without any real reason the nationalist community decided to go to war.
    His revised narrative of the history of NI leaves out a lot that he would prefer not to think off.
    Interestedly while castigating the nationalist community for resorting to violence in response to violence he seems to give approval (he most certainly has not condemned the MRU instead excusing them with the line that violence begets violence) to state and unionist violence indeed he trivialises their bigoted and violent activities as just a few “numpty Dumpty” politicians.
    That sort of feeble argument is how unionism lost the PR battle.
    On the point of unionism losing, how many times have we heard unionists claim that they have given everything and have no more to give! Doesn’t sound like someone who is winning?
    Chipping away at our Britishness ! Losing bit by bit?
    Never Never Never to the Good Friday agreement! How’s that one going?
    We will never go into government with SF! Who’s the DFM?
    We will march where we want and no one will stop us! Do you think so?
    And of course “the Flag will never come down in the City Hall” .
    How many more not going to happen events do you want me to go through, the B,men gone, the UDR gone, the RUC changed Honestly if you think that’s winning, then do me a favour don’t ever win anything for me!

  • “Since you didn’t see the program you will be unaware that the people murdered by the MRF were not “players” but random males in catholic areas. Im sure you can find it easy on the BBC player watch it.”

    @carl marks,

    I’ve managed to watch the program online. In it they discussed in detail three incidents. The first involved a clear case of mistaken identity. This is similar to what happened that same year in Norway to a Mossad hit team that shot a Moroccan waiter who bore a resemblance to Ali Hassan Salameh, one of the leaders of Black September, the organization behind the Munich Olympic Games kidnapping and killings.

    The second involved shooting at people at a barrier on the assumption that they were IRA, and the third firing on another vehicle after they claimed that they had claimed that they had been shot at. What wasn’t discussed in the program was how many IRA personnel were shot by the MRF. This is because everyone except for those interviewed seemed to be very reluctant to discuss it. Well what they did was clearly in violation of the yellow card policy and hence illegal under British law, it is not clear that it would be illegal under international law regarding warfare. Under the law of land warfare collatoral damage is permissible if it is proportionate to the military value of the target and reasonable precautions are taken to avoid unnecessary i.e. gratuitous civilian casualties.

    On those grounds the most worrying incident was the last one where the RUC suspected the MRF of faking the gunfire damage to the car. If the care had actually been fired upon than firing back and hitting the wrong car by mistake is understandable. If they hadn’t been fired upon then it was attempted murder.

  • gendjinn

    tmitch57,

    Under the law of land warfare…

    Why is it a war when the British are shooting and terrorism when the British are being shot at?

  • Morpheus

    tmitch57, I suggest you watch it again because if you don’t get the ‘Yabba dabba do, any taig will do” theme then you are simply unwilling to let it in.

    As for ‘the war’ you might want to take that up with the DUP:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/7249681.stm

    I don’t think anyone has a problem with the MRF taking on the terrorists – why only the republican ones is a different story – but I take a great exception to paid agents of the state targeting people for death for no other reason than their religion. The security forces were supposed to protect us all.

    It’s very easy to look for excuses for their behaviour when you are not in their target demographic and not in their crosshairs

  • Barney

    Tmitch wrote
    “Under the law of land warfare collatoral damage is permissible if it is proportionate to the military value of the target and reasonable precautions are taken to avoid unnecessary i.e. gratuitous civilian casualties.”

    It was not a war
    If the purported defenders of law and order are to be held to the same standards as the terrorists then it means that there was no moral offence in killing soldiers, police officers, prison officers or judges. Is that what you intended to say, for it is a clear implication from what you write.

    If soldiers are to be excused the murder of innocents because that is what the IRA did then that completely undermines the moral authority of British law and makes the rule of law a cynical and hypocritical farce.

  • carl marks

    Under the law of land warfare collateral damage is permissible
    So it was a war was it, that clears up a lot, I’m sure the Shinners will be delighted that you give their volunteers soldier status.
    Now this rule of land warfare got a link for that, as far as I’m aware the Geneva Convention (the rules of war Britain signed up to) does not permit Assassination I’m also pretty sure that soldiers operating out of uniform is illegal under its provisions it’s also illegal under British law!
    Of course Assassination is illegal under international law as well, so if you could just give us a link to these rule of land warfare.
    Of course if it wasn’t a war then it was illegal as well.
    But perhaps you could explain (can’t help noticing that unionists avoid answering this question wonder why) if it wasn’t “Yabba Dabba doo any taig will do “you have got to ask why a “counter terrorism operation” was only directed at one side of the community at a time when terrorists were operating from both sides.
    The MRF murdered innocent people for no other reason than were they lived, the attempts of unionism to excuse this with frankly immoral claims to legality and necessity is sad but as I have sais before not surprising.
    Another question(and I asked this before and surprise, surprise no answer) if unionists think it is right and proper for the Army to shoot terrorists dead because that what the scum deserve, could somebody explain the Brain Robinson Loyalist band and could somebody explain why making a martyr of that murderer is ok (certainly don’t see them treating parades with the band in it the same way they treat SF parades) Just Asking?

  • “Now this rule of land warfare got a link for that, as far as I’m aware the Geneva Convention (the rules of war Britain signed up to) does not permit Assassination I’m also pretty sure that soldiers operating out of uniform is illegal under its provisions it’s also illegal under British law!
    Of course Assassination is illegal under international law as well, so if you could just give us a link to these rule of land warfare.”

    The rules of land warfare are the Hague Conventions (1897 (?), 1907) and the Geneva Conventions (1949). Your problem with assassination may be that the term has several meanings. I refer to it as meaning the deliberate targeting of enemy commanders, which is legal. And I previously gave the example of the deliberate targeting of Admiral Yamamoto in 1943 after a radio intercept revealed that he would be flying through a particular area. It is also similar to what snipers do.

    The problem was that Britain pretended that it wasn’t fighting a military conflict but only had a problem with a few terrorists and so decided to deal with it as a criminal problem. But an army is trained to think and act in terms of fighting conventional wars or counter-insurgency campaigns not engaging in policing. The IRA had a different problem in that it pretended that its operatives were soldiers but it did not consider itself bound by the rules of warfare. Hence its bombing of restaurants or emptying people off a minivan and then shooting them depending on their religion.

    ” if it wasn’t “Yabba Dabba doo any taig will do “you have got to ask why a “counter terrorism operation” was only directed at one side of the community at a time when terrorists were operating from both sides.”

    I never heard anyone use this expression or anything near it, so it must just have been your imagination. Security forces are allowed to–and expected to–prioritize threats. The IRA was regarded as the primary threat for two reasons. First, it was killing more people overall in 1972-73 than the loyalists. The UDA was just getting formed from various neighborhood defense organizations. The UVF was way behind the IRA in terms of overall numbers of bombs set off and people killed. Second, the loyalists weren’t targeting British soldiers–although they did occasionally kill RUC constables. One rule of military organizations is force protection–protect one’s own members.

    The British army probably should have issued a general warning telling people to stay away from barricades.

  • Barney

    Tmitch wrote
    “The problem was that Britain pretended that it wasn’t fighting a military conflict but only had a problem with a few terrorists and so decided to deal with it as a criminal problem.”

    This is just ridiculous the British state never behaved as though it were fighting a war, it never stated they were fighting a war.

    Are you aware of the implications of what you write? You are clearly supporting state sponsored terrorism.

  • carl marks

    Yes of course your right, a Japanese general is exactly the same as an unarmed youth walking back from a disco.
    And how silly of me as you pointed out before it was all a numbers game you could not expect the government to do anything about loyalists because the IRA was killing more!
    Of course I forget that dead nationalists are not as important as dead unionists and you are going to try every sad line you can peddle to try and make the murders carried out by the MRF justified.
    For your information the Hague convention and the Geneva convention both state that murdering civilians is illegal despite some claiming here without any evidence that the MRF took out players (as I said if they had of taken out players why not say so, some sort of proof of competence would be some sort of defence), I love the claim that the decision was taken not to attack loyalists because they just weren’t killing enough! An admission that both you and the state don’t regard dead Nationalists as important!
    I am getting a bit bored with apologists for sectarian murderers quoting international conventions to attempt to give legal cover to thugs also someone who thinks that when two sets of terrorists are killing and the government only sends death squads into the territory of one side is the sign of a government prioritising and not an early sign of widespread collusion between government and a terror group!

    Second, the loyalists weren’t targeting British soldiers–although they did occasionally kill RUC constables. One rule of military organizations is force protection–protect one’s own members.

    So the British army was not here to protect the people and care to ex[plain how murdering innocent people who are not shooting at you can be possibly defined as force protection.
    Listen mate you better stop digging I think the whole is deep enough.
    Every point you bring up can be demolished with two simple facts,
    1/ nobody were shooting at the soldiers when they opened fire. (Force protection my Hairy Ass)
    2/ the people murdered were not members of any terror group and were unarmed when they were murdered. (targeting known IRA members, see Hairy Ass statement above.

  • “For your information the Hague convention and the Geneva convention both state that murdering civilians is illegal despite some claiming here without any evidence that the MRF took out players”

    @Carl Marks,

    Terrorists are not civilians. What is illegal is deliberately targeting civilians or recklessly killing civilians out of proportion to the military target–terrorists–being killed. Like I said, as the program didn’t present any evidence on how many IRA were actually killed by the MRF, I cannot judge whether or not this was the case.

    “also someone who thinks that when two sets of terrorists are killing and the government only sends death squads into the territory of one side is the sign of a government prioritising and not an early sign of widespread collusion between government and a terror group!”

    Then you must have a problem with journalist Martin Dillon as this was the argument that he made in his book “The Dirty War” in the late 1980s.

    “1/ nobody were shooting at the soldiers when they opened fire. (Force protection my Hairy Ass)”

    I don’t know which one of the three cases you are referring to. One was clearly a case of mistaken identity. In the final case I said that if the MRF patrol wasn’t fired on as they claimed then it was attempted murder on their part.

  • Alias

    “Terrorists are not civilians.”

    They are civilians. Combatant status in the applicable international law only applies to internationnal armed conflicts between states and then only to a state’s armed forces – not to civilians taking part in hostilities in non-international conflicts (such as in NI).

  • gendjinn

    carl marks & Barney,

    the big takeaway from this thread is that the bare handful of unionists that have the courage to comment here have no problem with the MRF. The MRF are a terrorist death squad and therefore by the laws of commutativity they support terrorism. Arguing in circles with them is not going to change their minds that government murdering nationalists is fine.

    The corollary is all the other unionists on this site who have stayed away from this thread. Despite the opportunity, they have refused to condemn state sponsored murder of nationalists. Not even the pitiful and pathetic “..if wrongs were committed they should be prosecuted…”

    Unionists only condemn selectively, nationalists condemn Claudy, Enniskillen just as harshly as we do murders by the MRF, RUC, BA. It’s time to start throwing their hypocrisy & selective condemnations in their faces from here on out.

  • gendjinn

    Alias,

    There are times I violently disagree with & there are times I violently agree with you. Your 4:45pm comment is definitely one of the latter.

  • carl marks

    “Terrorists are not civilians. What is illegal is deliberately targeting civilians or recklessly killing civilians out of proportion to the military target–terrorists–being killed. Like I said, as the program didn’t present any evidence on how many IRA were actually killed by the MRF, I cannot judge whether or not this was the case.”

    Don’t know if you actually seem the program but at no time did anybody claim anybody killed was a terrorist, you keep coming back to this bit of misinformation to back your argument.
    As you say there is no evidence that the MRF killed any IRA men, and only a fool would believe that they would pass up a opportunity to show the things they got right now that they have been shown to be random sectarian killers
    “I don’t know which one of the three cases you are referring to. One was clearly a case of mistaken identity. In the final case I said that if the MRF patrol wasn’t fired on as they claimed then it was attempted murder on their part.”
    Ah a case of mistaken identity, ach no problem a illegal armed unit was out to murder and terrorise a community and its ok it was a case of mistaken identity, oh well that’s all right then excuses the whole illegal death squad thing im sure his family are very comforted with even with the fact that he was about half the size of the man they claimed to have shot and although there was no resemblance to the photo shown sure thay will be ok then.
    Oh a minor point killing someone illegally is not attempted murder its MURDER (even if they are catholic) you seem to have a bit of trouble with that one.
    Then you must have a problem with journalist Martin Dillon as this was the argument that he made in his book “The Dirty War” in the late 1980s.
    Sorry didn’t realise Martin Dillon was infallible, but I maintain that a government death squad only targeting only Nationalists when both loyalists and Nationalists were on a rampage is sectarian and describing it as force protection is very sectarian.
    GLenjinn is right the bigotry displayed on this thread is breath-taking.

  • “They are civilians. Combatant status in the applicable international law only applies to internationnal armed conflicts between states and then only to a state’s armed forces – not to civilians taking part in hostilities in non-international conflicts (such as in NI).”

    @Alias,

    You are right in that civil conflicts are covered by relevant national laws. But in interstate conflicts in which irregulars take part as adjuncts or auxiliaries they are not considered to be civilians. There was a 1977 Geneva Convention of guerrilla warfare that ruled that to be legal under international law guerrillas had to wear recognizable uniforms and openly display arms when operating. Something which the IRA usually did. As I said before the MRF was acting in violation of the yellow card regulations.

  • gendjinn

    carl marks,

    unionists are teaching us how unionist violence resulting from losing the referendum on the border should be resolved.

  • Barnshee

    ” Despite the opportunity, they have refused to condemn state sponsored murder of nationalists. Not even the pitiful and pathetic “..if wrongs were committed they should be prosecuted…”

    The reason “state sponsored murder” is not condemned is because the rules laid down by the executive unit of the state-Parliament— preclude state murder. Check the facts

    State servants where they have conspired to commit murder or directly murdered – ALL be prosecuted with all the rigour the law allows.

  • Barney

    Barnshe wrote

    “The reason “state sponsored murder” is not condemned is because the rules laid down by the executive unit of the state-Parliament— preclude state murder. Check the facts”

    Why is it that everyone on the internet is either a war hero or a legal genius?

    surprisingly murder is unlawful and though condemnation is not compulsory it is advisable especially if one has made a point of condemning other illegal acts.

    The problem with your point is that it has been repeatedly demonstrated that the full rigour of the law has not been applied in many cases.

  • gendjinn

    Barnshee,

    you are already on record as an apologist for genocide, so it comes as no surprise that you are also an apologist for British state sponsored murder and terrorism.

  • paulG

    Article in The Phoenix magazine attributes the McGurks Bar bombing to the MRF rather than loyalists.

    Fewer Nationalists would be surprised by that. Perhaps further explains the RUC desire to muddy the waters by pretending it was an IRA bomb prematurely exploding.

    Did Panorama link the MRF to McGurks?

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Carl Marks,
    “With such poor and easily disproven arguments it’s easy to see how Unionism lost the PR struggle both in NI, Britain and the rest of the world.”
    Hardly – you’re on the ropes on this and you know it; so you mis-state my argument. That was not that unionists were whiter than white before 1969, but that the “Armed Struggle” was a completely disproportionate reaction – if it was truly a “reaction” at all, which is a moot point – to (1) the failures of government in NI before 1969 and/or (2) the anti-Catholic violence. You just can’t explain the IRA campaign as some kind of reasonable response to provocation. To see why, you just have to look at the scale and violence of their actions. And that’s being generous to them.

    And on Dr English’s point about the role of Republicanism in civil rights, I was careful not to diss the whole civil rights movement, which I basically agree with. The point if you read more carefully was that Republican involvement caused unionists to mistrust it. It’s quite consistent to say both that the civil rights agenda was a good one and that unionists were reasonable to be suspicious of the people putting it forward. You say there were no united Ireland statements emanating from the civil rights campaign – that is simply untrue. And as Dr English showed the campaign was bound in closely with Republican manoeuvrings at that time, albeit that it was also bound in with legit causes and reasonable people too. Given the history of IRA terror against us since its formation, I think it’s fair for us to be sceptical about any campaign, no matter how innocent-sounding, that has those people involved in it. I wish more unionists had looked past that, but I don’t think it’s silly for those that focussed on that element to do so. If I was advocating a rights campaign jointly with the Red Hand Commando, I would expect Catholics to be asking a few questions about it. And it might be an idea for me to jettison the RHC element if I wanted to have any chance of cross-community consensus.

  • paulG

    MU,

    After the mid 20’s, the IRA activities were pretty low level. Not something the Unionist population should have been too worried about. Neither should the Republic have seemed threatening, particularly after the O’Neill – Lemass rapprochement.

    One of the things about having civil rights is being able to express a desire for political change, even the end of the statelet, without being killed in the street by the Police.

    If your being denied your Civil Rights and forces of the state are murdering protesting pensioners and kids in their beds (Divis) then it’s time to fight back and not stop until you’ve changed things.

    As for the scale of the violence, I think that was always determined by the other side.

    Of the first 10 killed, 8 were C’s killed by the RUC, 1 C by loyalists. The first Policeman kiled by Loyalists, the first major pub bomb massacre (McGurks) by Army & Loyalists.

    C interface streets burned to the ground.
    The army’s MRF gunning down C youths out of hand. The RUC/UDR/UVF Glennane Gang murdering scores of prospering C’s to keep them in their place.

    After enduring all that, it’s not really surprising that republicans weren’t keen to dump arms and go back to servitude when there was still a chance to end the mis-rule.