A touch of state collusion with the Provisionals for the greater good?

Useful insight from Ed Moloney who discloses one of no doubt many secrets of the clandestine peace process. This one concerns the late Father Alec Reid, on the day the two corporals were murdered at Casement Park, and an interesting take on the collusion of the state in the ‘interests of the peace process’:

Knowing that the police would want to question him and that he if told the truth and identified the soldiers’ assailants his usefulness as an intermediary for Gerry Adams and the Provo peace camp would end, Reid approached a senior official in the Northern Ireland Office to explain his problem.

The NIO was well aware of the IRA’s slow journey towards constitutionalism by this point. Fr Reid had already been in touch with Tom King, the then NI Secretary to explain the process and to win his support for it while the most senior officials at the NIO had been assigned to work on it (similar advances had been made to Charles Haughey in Dublin and 1988 also saw Sinn Fein and the SDLP meet followed by the so-called Hume-Adams talks, encounters that were designed to disguise Haughey’s role in the process).

The peace process was actually very well advanced and everyone seemed to know it except the general public – and of course the Provo grassroots.

So, Reid explained his difficulty to the man at the NIO and soon contact was made with the RUC Chief Constable, Sir John Hermon and the order was quietly passed down: on no account should detectives investigating the corporals’ killings bring Fr Alec Reid in for questioning.

People who were involved in those two deaths – murders in the eyes of the State – escaped prosecution thanks to the NIO/RUC decision to put the infant peace process ahead of the needs of criminal justice. [Emphasis added]

Not an amnesty then, so much as a touch of collusion for the greater good?

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  • Mc Slaggart

    Did Ed Moloney not tell this story when Father Alec Reid was alive?

  • redhugh78

    Funny how Ed waits until Fr Reid has passed away before revealing this. Was it Martin Mc Guinness who called him Ed Baloney?

  • Mick Fealty

    Read the original blog lads? And remember it’s the ball that needs whacking, not the man.

  • Dec

    Criminal justice, eh? Tell that to Pat Kane.

  • Harry Flashman

    The amount of collusion between the IRA and the British intelligence is surely now beyond doubt.

    Whether it was the British running agents within the senior membership of the IRA/Sinn Fein or senior members of the IRA/Sinn Fein using the SAS to terminate politically inconvenient ASUs in East Tyrone we can now say with a degree of certainty that you couldn’t get a cigarette paper between the ultimate end goals of the British establishment and the Sinn Fein establishment by the late 1990s.

    I take my hat off to the Brits they played the provies like patsies but then not for nothing is the British Intelligence system regarded as the most brilliant and feared in history. Did the boyos from Cable Street and the Falls even have a clue who they were up against?

    The old saying at a poker table runs true; if you can’t see who the sucker is, it’s you.

  • Harry Flashman

    Sorry “late 1980s” that should of course read.

  • Morpheus

    So what you are saying Harry is that the British Intelligence Services controlled both the Republican and Loyalists terrorists and still over 3000 were killed. Interesting.

  • Harry Flashman

    Yes Morpheus, are you shocked? Are you as naive about the true nature of the British secret state as the provies were?

    You’re not alone mind you, Napoleon, Hitler, the Russians and countless other groups that have been in armed combat with the British over the past two hundred years have equally been shocked at the viciousness and the sheer terror that can be meted out by the suave gentlemen in the fine clubs of Whitehall and Westminster.

    If it’s any consolation Ireland was usually were they got their initial training.

    Nothing changes, nothing under the sun.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Harry

    I’m sure you grasp the distinction: running agents within the enemy camp is not colluding with the enemy.

    Presumably you think that Michael Collins’ ring of spies inside Dublin Castle amounted to IRA collusion with the British?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    ‘… the British Intelligence system regarded as the most brilliant and feared in history…’

    Well, that would be the interpretation of people who read too much George Macdonald Fraser.

    Your moniker suggests you have a deep reverence for bullies. What’s that all about?

  • Harry Flashman

    You’re right Billy the British weren’t colluding with the IRA, by the late 1990’s they had successfully turned the senior leadership of the IRA so that elements of the IRA leadership (not the entire membership and not all of the leadership) were actually colluding with the British, it is an important distinction and I thank you for pointing it out.

    I “revere” nothing or no one Billy but the fact remains that the British secret security state is one of the most vicious, sinister, cold-blooded and ruthless systems in history when it comes to getting what it wants.

    When the Brits first arrived back in the North they were all over the place, running around like headless chickens, by mid-1972 they were getting a handle on things. By the middle 1970s they were almost out of control and posed a serious threat to the rule of law not only in Northern Ireland but the UK itself and had to pull back a bit but by the 1980s they saw the end game and so did the senior leadership of the IRA.

    It took a long time for both sides to get in complete control but undoubtedly the British secret services had gained the upper hand by their successful infiltration and manipulation of the leading players in the Northern conflict. It was only a matter of time by that stage, they didn’t get it all their own way of course no one ever does, but they had got what they wanted by 1994 and the rest is history.

    Anyone who can’t see what is staring them in the faces about what was really going on in Northern Ireland during that period is either willfully naive or frankly stupid.

  • Mc Slaggart

    “I don’t know if he knew the identity of the gunman who pulled the trigger (who was a very senior Belfast IRA figure) .”

    http://thepensivequill.am/2013/11/fr-alec-reid-two-corporals-day-ruc.html

    What crime did Alec Reid commit in trying to save members of the British Army?

    BTW:
    Though the person who did the shooting was “a very senior Belfast IRA figure” I wonder did the IRA ever have anyone in its lower ranks?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Harry

    I’d agree with most of that. But I think it does underestimate slightly the threat the republicans still posed to the British state by the end of hostilities. Your description implies that victory for the British state was imminent, yet that same state chose to show an uncharacteristic generosity in entering a peace process in order to spare the blushes of an enemy is was on the cusp of vanquishing anyway.

    Now who’s being naive?

    By the time things were winding down, the Provos still retained the capacity to launch attacks like the Baltic Exchange and Canary Wharf – attacks which, unlike shooting squaddies in Belfast, really did hurt the British state.

    And while it’s clear the British secret police had infiltrated the IRA in Belfast pretty extensively, their infiltration of far more effective units like those in south Armagh and east Tyrone was near zero. Declassified British army documents from the time show that the British state had long since concluded that there was no security solution, and that low-level conflict could rumble on forever, in the absence of a political solution.

    The ‘peace process’ was basically a negotiation between the IRA and the British state, with the population of NI given a walk-on part for the optics. To believe that the British state entered the process while thinking that victory was at hand, is naive.

  • Alias

    “Your description implies that victory for the British state was imminent, yet that same state chose to show an uncharacteristic generosity in entering a peace process in order to spare the blushes of an enemy is was on the cusp of vanquishing anyway.

    Now who’s being naive?”

    Other than you?

    Harry corrected his mistake when he wrote “you couldn’t get a cigarette paper between the ultimate end goals of the British establishment and the Sinn Fein establishment by the late 1990s.”

    But there isn’t any mistake.

    The role of British Intelligence is to defend the realm’s sovereign territory and to promote its national interests. By the 1990s, the Shinners had led their supporters to downgrade their former right to self-determination to the status of an unobtainable aspiration and to upgrade the Unionist Veto to the status of a principle.

    The Irish state had also agreed to remove its claim to the realm’s sovereign territory and to surrender sovereignty over (a wide range of) its internal affairs to a supranational authority (NSMC) that was to be established in a treaty between the UK and Ireland, and had accepted that “parity of esteem” was to granted to British nationalism in (the unlikely event of) any unified entity but was to be constitutionally promoted by the Irish state irrespective of that event. That’s a huge win for the aims of British Intelligence regarding defence of its sovereign territory and promotion of its national interests (on the island of Ireland) that required a ‘peace’ or political process.

    In addition, the old maxim that you can kill the revolutionary but not the revolution meant that British Intelligence had to redefine the ‘revolution’ so that it promoted its interests rather than challenged them. So now “couldn’t get a cigarette paper” between ‘Republicanism’ as the British state’s agents of influences have redefined it and British policy on Ireland as it had existed since the Government of Ireland Act 1920.

    In regard to Alex Reid, given that he was accompanied by Adams and McGuinness at the funeral, all he had to do to save the two privates was to call either of them. Perhaps he did and that is who the State is protecting? Either way, it shows his own lack of moral integrity that he would try to weasel out of his moral and civic responsibility to enable justice by calling people in high places.

  • Harry Flashman

    “By the time things were winding down, the Provos still retained the capacity to launch attacks like the Baltic Exchange and Canary Wharf – attacks which, unlike shooting squaddies in Belfast, really did hurt the British state.”

    That’s why I said they weren’t getting it all their own way, no one does, the Brits were clever and devious, they weren’t Ming the Magnificent with omnipotent power. But they got what they wanted; a negotiated peace that brought an end to an ongoing conflict and left Northern Ireland within the UK. The Brits achieved exactly what they wanted, did the IRA?

    You’re also right they hadn’t infiltrated East Tyrone, but they had infiltrated the Belfast leadership and that was sufficient so that from 1987 onwards the SAS proceeded to utterly wipe out East Tyrone, which, coincidentally I’m sure, was the unit most opposed to the Belfast leadership. Over the space of four or five years the Brits killed the entire East Tyrone ASU, when they were all gone it was all clear for the Adams’ faction to call a ceasefire.

    The Brits were all but calling the tune by 1994.

  • “secrets of the clandestine peace process”

    Clandestine was just another word for ‘secret’ but it’s been ‘sexed-up’:

    clandestine: kept secret or done secretively, especially because illicit [Oxford Dictionaries Pro]

    Did the peace process involve ‘illicit drugs’ or ‘illicit sex’? 😉 I would have thought it’s chief or agreed intent was to diminish and eventually remove illicit activity.

    “a touch of collusion for the greater good”

    Collusion was just another word for ‘secret deal’ but it too has acquired a negative connotation:

    secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy in order to deceive others [idem]

    Collusion can lead to the good, the bad or the ugly; it also indicates a lack of control by licit means. Double-agents feature in these narratives but, on any given occasion, they may opt for the order of the state, the order of the paramilitary organisation or they might just fly their own kite; propagandists will apply the appropriate spin.

    “the NIO/RUC decision to put the infant peace process ahead of the needs of criminal justice”

    Just another example of political policing and post-1985 – possibly earlier – it may or will also have included Dublin. The four meetings earlier this year uncovered by Reg Empey and reported by Sam McBride indicate that such political policing continues, presumably for the perceived greater good of state institutions and, hopefully, for the greater good of the ordinary decent citizen.

    Back in the 1990s when I got involved in political exploration I picked up the phrase ‘not ruffling paramilitary feathers’; it meant that a police officer could observe paramilitary misdemeanours but couldn’t intervene without political clearance. Some folks also appeared to have had immunity from prosecution but Fr Reid was given immunity from police questioning for sound political reasons.

    Douglas Hurd met ‘Martin and Mitchel’. in secret, in or near Derry on 5 November 1993 but that anniversary has received virtually no attention; he may also have met their loyalist counterparts on the same ‘private’ visit. Presumably he shared the contents/elements of a draft copy of the Downing Street Declaration and the long cessation delay would suggest that it failed to satisfy certain demands.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Harry

    I think you’re right to say that by the early 90s the objectives of the British state and the IRA had coalesced, and that a kind of choreography between the two emerged, culminating in the peace process.

    And yes, this probably included the sacrifice of implacables – I’ll see your Loughgall and raise you a Mull of Kintyre.

    But it’s quite a leap to then state: ‘the Brits were all but calling the tune by 1994.’

    They weren’t calling the tune when the fully-intact South Armagh IRA devastated the Baltic Exchange and Bishopsgate.

  • “to surrender sovereignty over (a wide range of) its internal affairs to a supranational authority (NSMC)”

    Alias, after 15 years presumably you can illustrate the out-working of such a loss of sovereignty with some estimate of its significance?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Basically, by the late 80s / early 90s, both the Provos and the British state came to the same four conclusions:

    1. Outright victory was not possible
    2. Outright defeat could be avoided indefinitely
    3. The other side understood facts 1 & 2 too
    4. Therefore an acceptable compromise (IRA leaves military stage and takes up major role on political stage instead) was achievable.

    Once these facts came to be understood by both sides, the dance could begin.

  • Morpheus

    If the state Northern Ireland is in now is by design then there is something badly, badly wrong.

    Alias: “the Shinners had led their supporters to downgrade their former right to self-determination to the status of an unobtainable aspiration and to upgrade the Unionist Veto to the status of a principle.”

    I’ll stick a pin in the ‘unobtainable’ nonsense for a second and ask again, what is this ‘Unionist Veto’ you keep talking about?

  • Barnshee

    “But it’s quite a leap to then state: ‘the Brits were all but calling the tune by 1994.’”

    1 The brits have finally woken up to the fact that they were/are funding this fiasco

    2 Marty and co are now wholly against and provo style activities just so -They have salaries and pensions to protect

    3 They are shafted –Brit largess will decline over time the costs of “anti state activities” will come out of the NI budget and there will be a form of “payback” as jobs benefits, health and education bear the costs of the “activities”- and proper order too

  • Barnshee

    “Basically, by the late 80s / early 90s, both the Provos and the British state came to the same four conclusions:

    Outright victory was not possible”

    Victory was wholly possible for the Brits had they played all the cards available The were funding the mess

    A Twin strategy

    1 All damage to come out of the NI Budget —in a shortish time with much reduced funds for Health Social security payments and Education the effects of the various campaigns would have impacted across the community

    2 Life sentance for murder -no remission

    NI would have simmered down (or starved to death)

    Recent events might suggest that the Brits may have leaning in the directon of (1) above.

  • Mick Fealty

    Nev, one’s a noun the other adjective. Do keep up?

  • Carrickmoreman

    Someone “involved” in the two corporals incident was kicked out the US a few years ago, and I presumed jailed? He was a bartender in San Diego.

  • AuldFella

    “In regard to Alex Reid, given that he was accompanied by Adams and McGuinness at the funeral, all he had to do to save the two privates was to call either of them.”

    Aye. All he’d have had to do was just nip forward in time a wee bit, pick up a mobile phone, then rip back to the 80s, phone Gerry or Martin, who would of course answer his call right away and agreed to all his demands for leniency, etc. All of this in the blink of an eye. Maybe he could have tried tweeting, or writing on the Belfast IRA’s Facebook wall?

  • “Anyone who can’t see what is staring them in the faces about what was really going on in Northern Ireland during that period is either willfully naive or frankly stupid.”

    @Harry,

    So anyone who doesn’t agree with your over-simplified conclusion is either naive or stupid. Maybe, they are just trained to look for evidence.

    “And yes, this probably included the sacrifice of implacables – I’ll see your Loughgall and raise you a Mull of Kintyre.”

    @Billy,

    The Mull of Kintyre crash involved a helicopter flying into a bluff in a fog. Presumably this never happens outside of Northern Ireland and the pilot was deliberately sacrificing himself to serve state interests.

  • Alias

    “All he’d have had to do was just nip forward in time a wee bit, pick up a mobile phone, then rip back to the 80s, phone Gerry or Martin, who would of course answer his call right away and agreed to all his demands for leniency, etc.”

    Admittedly mobiles were too expensive for the plebs in the late 89s but no doubt the two PIRA bosses, best buddies of Mr Reid and rubbing shoulders with him at the funeral, were able to afford them (one post office robbery would buy 50 of them).

    But that is neither here nor there. What is revealing is that he used his influence with the British state to avoid assisting the police with a double murder of which he obviousy had relevant knowledge. That shows both his and the State’s regard for justice.

  • gendjinn

    barnshee,

    Victory was wholly possible for the Brits had they played all the cards available The were funding the mess

    If so, why didn’t they go for it?

  • “People who were involved in those two deaths – murders in the eyes of the State – escaped prosecution thanks to the NIO/RUC decision to put the infant peace process ahead of the needs of criminal justice.”

    Just to revisit that emphasised comment, surely the police had stopped prosecuting such offences in 1972 and, at the time of the murders, Sir Barry Shaw was DPP. Was the DPP persuaded that prosecution wasn’t in the public interest? Was he asked not to call for an investigation?

    Article 6(3) vests an additional indirect investigatory power to the Director:

    ‘It shall be the duty of the Chief Constable … at the request of the Director, to ascertain and furnish to the Director information regarding any matter which may appear to the Director to require investigation on the grounds that it may involve an offence against the law of Northern Ireland, or information which may appear to the Director to be necessary for the discharge of his functions under this Order.’

  • Harry Flashman

    Billy you make it out that both sides, bloodied but undaunted, realised that the time for negotiation had come and sat down and drafted an amicable settlement that produced a happy compromise that met both sides’ wishes half way.

    The problem with that of course is that a compromise settlement was exactly what the Brits had always wanted from Day One and which the Provos were adamant they weren’t going to get.

    The compromise involved a peaceful Northern Ireland running its own devolved affairs within the United Kingdom, er, pretty much the “compromise” the Brits had already settled for in 1921 and 1974, a “compromise” that led to the Irish Civil War and the 30 years of Troubles because the Republicans had utterly rejected such a “compromise”. The bonus for the Brits was that in 1998 they also got the IRA to give up their weapons and the armed struggle and assist the British in running the statelet. Win, win for the Brits I think.

    Remind me, what did the IRA get?

  • Morpheus

    What you don’t seem to appreciate Harry is that not a single feck is given by the vast majority of people about what the IRA got or didn’t get.

    I am happy in the knowledge that The Orange State is dead and that for the most part we are now equals here in Northern Ireland. As equals we are free to decide the future of NI in a peaceful, democratic way. If we decide that we will remain in the UK then so be it, if we decide to go it alone so they so be it, if we decide that a UI is the way forward then so be it, The British and Irish Governments are bound to implement whatever the people decide.

    Personally I find your assertions that it was all controlled by British Intelligence completely implausible. Surely the body count would have been much lower if they controlled everything but then again maybe that is why there is all this talk of amnesty. The terrorists sure as feck don’t need amnesty, they have gotten away with their cowardly acts (and the forensics have been destroyed along with the guns back in ’98) but State documentation, the money trail, the 30-year rule and that darned Freedom of Information will mean that we will soon enough find out if they did have their fingers in all the pies.

  • Granni Trixie

    I’ve been thinkng about something I witnessed involving Fr Reid and which may be relevant. It took place outside the church following the mass for Mrs Jean McConville in which (I think) Fr Reid was a co celebrant. When he put his arms around one of the (now adult) female children, she shrugged off his embrace, walked from him and appeared not to want to hear whatever (presumably) words of sympathy he offered.
    It was odd syndrome stuck in my mind.

  • Granni Trixie

    Please ignore meaningless syndrome word (was my IPad wot done it). Sorry.

  • Harry Flashman

    “Personally I find your assertions that it was all controlled by British Intelligence completely implausible. ”

    The entire Troubles weren’t all controlled by British Intelligence, that is an absurd assertion that I have not made, but it is now fairly obvious that by the early 1990s the Brits were controlling a majority of the main actors and guiding them to the ultimate goal, it’s unpalatable to realize this but with hindsight so much of what was going on makes a lot of sense when you drop the naivety with which so many of us (including myself) viewed the scene back then.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Harry

    ‘…drafted an amicable settlement that produced a happy compromise that met both sides’ wishes half way.’

    The settlement was hardly amicable, the compromise was hardly happy, and I’ve never heard of any compromise in history that was a dead-on 50/50 split. But by the early 90s it was clear that a deal both sides could live with was achievable, so they started moving towards making it happen.

    The big difference between 1998 and 1921 or 1974 is that this time, the British took responsibility for the obvious wildcard – the unionist population, whom only the British state could coerce into living with the deal. Very different from the previous examples. In 1921 they established and positively empowered tyrannical Orange fascism. Republicanism was criminalised. There wasn’t much talk then of Michael Collins (MP for Armagh) sharing the PM’s office with James Craig’s. In 1974 the British state made a half-hearted attempt to temper Orange fascism, chickened out and fell back to its traditional approach of using violence to achieve its political aims. It called this violence a ‘security solution,’ which meant it was 1921 all over again.

    Except that unlike 1921, this time it didn’t work. But for the Hunger Strikes, maybe it would have. It cost us all fifteen years of misery but eventually the UK state concluded an acceptable outcome couldn’t be achieved through violence alone.

    ‘Remind me, what did the IRA get?’

    The abolition of the unionist militias (UDR, RUC, various secret police groupings), meaning the unionist population no longer poses a decisive security obstacle to national reunification. Irish unity is now a purely political project. Where once, unionist politicians and ‘security’ hard men spoke with chilling credibility about the bloodshed that would accompany any whiff of reunification, now they sound like this guy.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eug%C3%A8ne_Terre'Blanche

    Gone are the glory days of the UDR, the Specials, the RUC, working hand-in-glove with a large-scale UDA (still legal as late as 1992!) with the Ulster Unionist Party as gatekeeper of patronage and, gelling all of the above together, a mass-membership Orange Order that exercised more influence than (in the south) the Catholic Church, GAA and Fianna Fáil put together.

    I imagine that from the IRA’s perspective (I can only surmise), what they think they ‘got’ was, in Collins’ term, ‘the freedom to achieve our freedom.’

    Not the maximal goal, certainly, but the UK wasn’t working towards an endgame that saw this guy

    http://11sixtynine.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/martin2bmcguinness2b252c2b19702527s2b.jpg

    running NI either.

  • Morpheus

    OK, now we know what you are not saying. It seems that you are saying that the intelligence services were ‘controlling the main actors’ but able to control their actions. What’s the point controlling them if you can’t control them?

    When you type ‘drop the naivety’ all I read is ‘open your mind to the conspiracy theory’

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Harry

    ‘…by the early 1990s the Brits were controlling a majority of the main actors and guiding them to the ultimate goal…’

    This implies that you believe either:

    A) Adams and McGuinness were British agents, or

    B) they were naive dupes, being played like fiddles by the vastly intellectually superior spooks.

    I imagine the latter scenario is the one you lean towards. Firstly, you shouldn’t be taken in by the so-called glamour and mysteriousness of Britain’s secret policemen. Forget about James Bond and M. Watch instead M’s real-life equivalent, Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, who has made a few high-profile media appearances lately. She’ll soon disabuse you of any notion that these people are geniuses. In fact, some are dreadnought-class morons.

    Isn’t it much more likely that the two sides had come to realise that a deal was in their own interests, creating a virtuous circle where pursuing their own interests also helped the other side in their journey to the table?

    (Unionists at the time understood this very well – hence Molyneaux’s legendary statement that the IRA ceasefire was the most destablising thing that could have happened to the state of NI.)

    And I’m not trying to be smart here, but neither I nor anyone I grew up with was ever naive about any of this, and we were pretty young back in the late 80s / early 90s.

  • “Nev, one’s a noun the other adjective.”

    Mick, I assume most folks would know that and the difference has nothing to do with the observations I posted.

  • Barnshee

    GG
    “barnshee,

    Victory was wholly possible for the Brits had they played all the cards available The were funding the mess

    If so, why didn’t they go for it?”

    Incompetence?
    Brits lacked the balls ?
    The innocent pay along with the guilty?
    Brits playing for a

  • Barnshee

    GG
    woops

    add
    Brits playing for a draw?

    Take yer pick -or all 4?

    Fact remains all the real levers were and are in Brit hands- particularly the money lever watch it or it will be turned turn or even off

  • “The peace process was actually very well advanced and everyone seemed to know it except the general public – and of course the Provo grassroots.” .. EM

    Not just the grassroots. Ed suggests that the Stepping Stones strategy evolved following the 1982 murders of Thomas Cochrane in south Armagh and Joe Donnegan in Belfast. In the same era, the Provo war-camp faction received a severe blow to its ambitions with the capture of the Eksund in October 1986.

    The Redemptorists had impressive global network connections while back in Belfast their ecumenical activities camouflaged their anti-unionist political strategy. Their actions played a significant role in the reduction of violence but their political ideas were an obstacle to political accommodation much as those of Hume had been previously.

    For those who are focussing on ‘control’, the ‘Derry experiment’ can be viewed as a process of step-by-step mutual de-escalation.

  • Alias

    “Incompetence?
    Brits lacked the balls ?
    The innocent pay along with the guilty?”

    None of the above. They regarded it as a counterinsurgency, not a war. They were after a political defeat, not a military defeat – something that was never possible when the terrorists were civilians living among other civilians and using them as cover.

    Certainly the military could have killed the organisers of the gangs but that would that left a disorganised vacuum that risked being filled by the wider civilian population and civil war – and the murder gangs were designed to contain that risk so it would have defeated their purpose to ‘dis-organise’ the organised (and thereby contained) unrest.

    It is a stunning achievement for the British security apparatus that the violence, which always had the latent potential for a civil war, was contained to the gangs and did not involve non gang members (the broader civilian population).

    And the political defeat is total.

    From the British state’s perspective, the state that formerly made a claim to its sovereign territory has withdrawn that claim – and withdrawn without a military defeat. British citizens who formerly dismissed Northern Ireland’s separate right to self-determination which exists in opposition to Irish national self-determination as the Unionist Veto now accept the legitimacy of that right and have formally renounced their own former right to national self-determination. Citizens who rejected an “internal solution” accepted an internal solution. Citizens who rejected a return to Stormont now sit in Stormont. Citizens who rejected British rule now assist in the administration of British rule. British citizens who dismissed Northern Ireland as a “statelet” and “a failed entity” are now travel the world seeking foreign investment on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government. Citizens who once demanded a nation-state now only seek parity of esteem with British nationalism within a British state. The Irish state which once demanded sovereignty over British territory now accepts British sovereignty within its own jurisdiction via a supranational authority. And as for the Shinners, their guns were all surrendered (the first ‘victors’ in history to surrender guns) and they now preach the evils of opposing British rule by armed force. They’re now busy implementing Tory cuts. And what happened to all that 32-county socialist stuff?

    Incidentally, no senior police (with the exception of one who is the subject of an Irish enquiry) or military were killed and no members of the intelligence services. The Shinners just killed working class plebs. The Shinners also confined their murder campaign to Ireland with 99% of all murders committed there. Why didn’t the Shinners target senior security figures or target non-paddies? Probably because their controllers wouldn’t target themselves.

  • Morpheus

    Here we go again with this mysterious unionist veto? What is this unionist veto???

    I’ll tell you the same thing I told Harry: not a single feck is given by the vast majority of people about what the IRA got or didn’t get, who controlled them or didn’t control them. I, like others, am happy in the knowledge that The Orange State is dead and that for the most part we are now equals here in Northern Ireland. As equals we are free to decide the future of NI in a peaceful, democratic way. If we decide that we will remain in the UK then so be it, if we decide to go it alone so they so be it, if we decide that a UI is the way forward then so be it. Under the GFA the British and Irish Governments are bound to implement whatever the people decide and at the minute NI is under British control because that is what the people decided – but that is not ‘job done’ as that can change over time. The Catholic majority is here and although being a Catholic doesn’t necessarily mean you want a UI Catholics simply don’t vote for Unionist parties in any significant numbers – and can you blame them? I would expect many changes in the years to come.

    Getting back to the conspiracy theory, surely the body count would have been much, much lower if the spooks controlled everything unless you are going down Harry’s route that the intelligence services ‘controlled the main actors’ but at the same time didn’t control the main actors.

    Your final point that “their controllers wouldn’t target themselves” is bizarre – surely you are not saying that the controllers picked the targets? No wonder the amnesty kite is being flown.

  • Alias

    “Here we go again with this mysterious unionist veto? What is this unionist veto???”

    It’s not my job to provide a basic online remedial education for others and nor, I suspect, are you really in need of one. You are probably well aware that the Unionist Veto is a derogative term for Northern Ireland’s separate right to self-determination. It was introduced in response to the codifying of Northern Ireland’s separate right to self-determination in the Ireland Act 1949 to mean that those on the island of Ireland who support unity with the UK have a veto over those who do not.

    So, for example, if a majority in Ireland voted for the GFA (or, rather for the 19th Amendment) and a majority in Northern Ireland voted against it then the minority would have vetoed the will of the majority. Ergo, the Unionist Veto exists post-GFA. And that is why you are pretending it doesn’t.

    As an another example of political defeat and of redefinition/revisionism the Shinners led their supporters to believe that the Unionist Veto actually referred to the absence of power sharing arrangements within Northern Ireland, rather than to the existence of Northern Ireland, and that the Unionist Veto was therefore removed when power-sharing arrangements were put in place.

    “… surely you are not saying that the controllers picked the targets?”

    They made sure that state assets were not picked. I think Mr de Silva had something to say on that to Mr Adams.

  • Harry Flashman

    Billy, the IRA sought a united, 32-county, independent, sovereign, Irish Republic, they got, after 30 years of violence, a devolved power-sharing Stormont administration inside the UK.

    In 1970 the Brits wanted a a devolved power-sharing Stormont administration inside the UK, in 1998 they got a devolved power-sharing Stormont administration inside the UK.

    If that’s what you call meeting half way I wouldn’t like to see you at a horse fair.

    If the Provos hadn’t embarked on their campaign in 1970 there can be no doubt that a devolved, power-sharing administration involving nationalists and unionists would have been achieved long, long before 1998 and three thousand people wouldn’t have died and countless thousands of young nationalists wouldn’t have been criminalized.

    Now I am not saying the Provos were responsible for the Troubles but what I am saying that by rejecting the constitutional path which despite their claims to the contrary was wide open, as evidenced by the reformist nature of Northern Ireland in the late sixties and the possibilities achieved in the face of great violence in 1974, the Provos clearly sought to achieve much, much more than what they eventually got.

    It is absurd to believe that Northern Ireland would simply have remained unchanged and unreformed throughout the 70s and 80s. Of course reform was accessible. Do you think British governments in the face of media and press attention, international campaigns, Irish, US and EU pressure wouldn’t have brought about all the reforms necessary? Are you really saying that, despite all evidence to the contrary, the Unionist Party would have been able to maintain for decades the Orange State which was already dying on its feet by 1970?

    It would have been a slow and tortuous process but it would have happened a lot quicker and a lot less painfully without violence, that much is now perfectly obvious

    In other words the IRA got nothing that wasn’t already achievable long before 1998 through constitutional non-violent methods.

  • Harry Flashman

    Oh, you ask whether the Republican leadership were British agents or naive, the answer is simple and obvious; elements of the Republican leadership were both.

  • Morpheus

    So the citizens of Northern Ireland deciding what the future of Northern Ireland should be is called the ‘unionist veto.’ Who knew?

    Your example is confusing to say the least. If the majority in RoI voted ‘Yes’ and the majority in NI voted ‘No’ then that isn’t any sort of veto, unionist or otherwise, that’s the just plain old ‘democratic will of the people.’ What’s the flip side to that? Say NI voted ‘Yes’ and RoI voted ‘No’ – what is that called? Nationalist Veto?

    Onto the controllers – are you saying that they gave the go ahead for the terrorists they control to bomb/shoot/kill/maim anyone they wanted as long as they didn’t target a state agent?

  • Alias

    “If the majority in RoI voted ‘Yes’ and the majority in NI voted ‘No’ then that isn’t any sort of veto, unionist or otherwise, that’s the just plain old ‘democratic will of the people.’ What’s the flip side to that? Say NI voted ‘Yes’ and RoI voted ‘No’ – what is that called? Nationalist Veto?”

    I wouldn’t say that is the dumbest thing I’ve ever read but it’s pretty damn close.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Harry

    We don’t disagree as much as it might seem, but you overreach with your assertions. Maybe nationalist/republican equality, unionist disarmament and a British commitment to Irish reunification after a referendum, would have happened without the Troubles. I don’t discount the possibility. But you can’t assert that there ‘can be no doubt’ to what is a counterfactual. Neither of us really know.

    I read your assertion as a generalised protest (principled, ideological, humane) against the IRA, dressed up as strategic critique. Fair enough. Personally, I think the IRA campaign was morally wrong, certainly post-Sunningdale.

    Yet I also doubt the defanging of Orange fascism and the (still incomplete) mainstreaming of nationalism would have happened otherwise. I’m glad they happened, they were unadulterated positives, yet they were achieved through both fair means and foul. I’m conscious of the moral conundrum this presents. But it’s a cop-out to say all the good would inevitably, naturally have come anyway.

    You talk about the ‘reformist nature of NI in the late 60s.’ True there were reformers within unionism, but their power was tenuous, even at the top. And even the ‘reformers’ were disgusting bigots, albeit the kind who knew how the wind was blowing. Like Trimble, half-hearted ‘reformer’ O’Neill was no match for opportunists who grasped political advantage by out-Prodding their boss, like of Faulkner, Craig and Taylor – none of whom in turn, were a match for Paisley, the truly honest demagogue who emerged at the worst possible moment.

    By 1974 the Provos could (and did) claim credit not for reform of Stormont but for its destruction. They could also claim credit for re-involving the British government in NI affairs (they didn’t, it would’ve caused an ideological short circuit), leading to its first (abortive) attempt to coerce an utterly intransigent unionism.

    “It is absurd to believe that Northern Ireland would simply have remained unchanged and unreformed throughout the 70s and 80s.”

    It remained unchanged and unreformed throughout the 1920s. And the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s. When change came, it was against a backdrop of republican insurgency. Not an easy thing to acknowledge for many people, and it doesn’t prove these changes wouldn’t have happened anyway. But that ongoing violence was a key driver in bringing change is undeniable.

    ‘Do you think British governments … wouldn’t have brought about all the reforms necessary?’

    We’ll never know.

    But every advance in justice and equality here has featured the British state imposing itself on intransigent unionists. 1921-72 British policy was that NI was devolved, so it never commented, much less intervened, and maintained this policy as late as 1972.

    When they finally delivered the unionist population post-1998, it was because republicans offered something they really wanted – no more bombs in the Square Mile. Unionist politicians at the time understood this was driving British policy and said so frequently.

    (A rarely-discussed consequence of Thatcher’s financialisation of the UK economy is that terrorist attacks on economic targets are disproportionately devastating. Twenty years ago, the attacks themselves took noticeable chunks out of the UK economy, but worse, set back by years the centrepiece to UK financial planning – making London the world’s preeminent financial centre. But any such attack would be far more devastating now, with Thatcher’s financialisation so much more complete. There are people in Ireland capable of carrying out such attacks and the British know it.)

    ‘…that much is now perfectly obvious…’

    It’s not obvious. Maybe it’s true, maybe not, but it’s certainly not a fact. It’s an expression of ideology.

  • Morpheus

    What was that we were saying about it all coming out in the wash?

    “A group known as the Hooded Men have claimed that new evidence has emerged that proves the UK government subjected them to torture in Northern Ireland. Fourteen men, arrested under the policy of internment in 1971, were taken to a secret location and subjected to what was called “deep interrogation”.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-25137411

  • Dixie Elliott

    Whats now beyond doubt is that from the mid 80s, at the very least, Adams and McGuinness were urging the IRA to continue and fight a war they were already undermining behind their backs.

    Over 25 years later the Unionists are still British and the Shinners are still trying to be acceptable.

  • Barnshee

    “A group known as the Hooded Men have claimed that new evidence has emerged that proves the UK government subjected them to torture in Northern Ireland. Fourteen men, arrested under the policy of internment in 1971, were taken to a secret location and subjected to what was called “deep interrogation”.

    How many of them ended up with a hole in their head dumpted at the roadside?

  • Morpheus

    Here we go again…

    Can you not get it into your head that these were 14 innocent civilians – just like you or me – who were not only arrested and interned without charge they were tortured. The State, our State, got off on a technicality because they felt the torturer had to enjoy what he was doing in order for it to deemed torture!

    I wonder if you would follow the “yeah but what about the ‘RA” line if you were scooped up on your way home from work tonight and subjected to what these men endured.

  • Son of Strongbow

    Indeed “here we go again”.

    The “new evidence” so far amounts to a memo that the MOD did not want the location where the men where held made public.

    Notwithstanding this the UK has now been held ‘guilty’ of torture by Morpheus (no need with any if that oul trial nonsense it seems).

    Not that the findings of a court holds much sway either apparently. After all “they”, the European Court of Human Rights that is, would only go and rule on law again, aka a ‘technicality’.

    Oh and btw where did those warriors for (partisan) ‘justice’, the Pat Finucane Centre, find this “new evidence”? In the PUBLIC Records Office no less!

  • looneygas

    One of the first things I can remember reading about the Troubles was that internment was the number one factor in increasing IRA membership, closely followed by Bloody Sunday and the Falls Road Curfew.
    If true,does this give credence to Alias’ grand conspiracy?

    Alias, I believe the goal of the conspiracy was to put in place a mechanism whereby the U.K. could be rid of the six counties, but you seem to say that the Unionist veto is iron-clad. The conspiracy makes sense if the goal is to remove the six counties from the U.K.
    If that isn’t/wasn’t the goal, what was it?
    You may have spelled it out before, sorry.

  • Barnshee

    “I wonder if you would follow the “yeah but what about the ‘RA” line if you were scooped up on your way home from work tonight and subjected to what these men endured.

    I would hope that I would make my allegations in public

    I would hope that I would obtain massive media coverage

    I would hope that those responsible (individuals and/ or organisation) would be made fully accountable under the law– wth formal apology and importantly for me, humiliation for those responsible (add appropriate compensation)

  • Morpheus

    Don’t you think that these guys tick all 3 of your boxes?

  • Barnshee

    “£Don’t you think that these guys tick all 3 of your boxes?”

    Point me to the detail -who are they– where is the media storm ?

  • IrelandNorth

    Why were two armed BA NCOs in mufti doing driving a civilian car erratically around the periphery of a republican funeral? And does John Ware’s excellent BBC Panorama documentary: ‘Britain’s Secret Terror [Military Reaction] Force’ shine any light on the probabilities. Particularly in that questions were asked about the lack of back-up from heilcopter overhead, and that such operatives were told that if caught or killed the Secretary would disavow any knowledge of their action, like a real life ‘Mission Impossible’. If Gerry Adams as an MP for the area was a target, and such action was sanctioned by fellow MPs in the British Government, is plotting to kill of fellow MPs not against Westminister rules? On coming to power, Ted Heath was quoted as saying that any replacement to MRF should act within the law, which years later was still not the case. Who was calling the shots, both literally and metaphorically. A Government withn a Government. And/or an army withn an army?