Martina Anderson: The days of the British State granting impunity to its own are coming to an end

Following on from a conference organised by the University of Ulster on victims and dealing with the past, Sinn Fein’s MEP, Martina Anderson writes for Slugger arguing for a new focus on the British states involvement in the Troubles and how it deals with victims.

On the 27th and 28th Feb 2014 I invited a delegation of victims of state violence to Brussels to discuss with MEPs the impact of state collusion under the heading ‘Britain’s Dirty War in Ireland’.

The deep impact of their collective pain led me to commit to do whatever I could as Sinn Fein’s MEP to get them the justice they desire and deserve.

In their pursuit of justice some of the families wanted inquests. Some had been waiting over 32 years for an inquest and had already gone to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

Twelve days later on the 11th March 2014 I knocked on the door of Human Rights commissioner Nils Muiznieks. I had been working closely with Relatives for Justice and others human rights organisations in the North. I brought Human Rights Lawyer Niall Murphy and Paul O’Connor from the Pat Finucane Centre with me to his office in Strasbourg.  

I also arranged a separate meeting with representatives from the Directorate of Human Rights from ECtHR including an official from the Execution of Judgements.  Nils Muiznieks agreed that if invited to the North he would take two days to inform himself of the outstanding inquests before he would make a country visit post the general elections May 2015.

Following that meeting work began to organise the conference hosted by the University of Ulster in the Ulster Hall last Thursday, 6 November.

At that conference, the families of state violence heard the Commission say that Britain cannot simply wash its hands of state killings and must fulfill its obligation to fund all investigations of killings.

He also said that: “Until now there has been virtual impunity for the state actors involved and … the government has a responsibility to uphold its obligations under the European Convention” — that is, Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, The Right to Life.

He continued, “The issue of impunity is a very, very serious one and the ‘UK’ government has a responsibility to uphold the rule of law. This is not just an issue of dealing with the past; it has to do with upholding the law in general.

 The investigation of state collusion and state sanctioned murder of citizens — took place at a time when the North was under Direct Rule from London; therefore it falls to Britain to fund.

There have only been eleven inquests into legacy deaths despite a “package of measures” put in place in response to the ECtHR finding in 2001 that the British Gov was not Article 2 compliant. 

The “Package of Measures” was three fold: The establishment of HET (the former Chief Constable Orde recently admitted that it was never designed to be Article 2 Compliant!); additional powers to the Police Ombudsman to investigate legacy cases and reform of the Coroner’s office.

 However, in July 2013, 12 years on after the ECtHR ruling re inquests into a number of Shoot-to-Kill murders, a ECtHR judge ruling on the failure to hold inquests into the murders of Martin McCaughey and Desmond Grew concluded that the “states agents are benefiting from virtual impunity as a result of the passage of time”.

The Senior Coroner John Leckey said that his office will not carry the can, will not take the blame if the British Government faces further sanctions from the ECtHR.

The Coroner’s office has met resistance from the PSNI’s Legacy Unit which has persistently refused to comply with deadlines and are only disclosing requests for material piecemeal. 

There is no doubt that the “passage of time” tactic is being used with unnecessary redacting of documents that were in the public domain eg open court transcripts and the unit is using plus abusing the classification rule.  

The 6-person panel charged with redacting documents in the PSNI Legacy Unit consists of former Special Branch Officers and RUC Intelligence officers who between have served with dozens of RUC potential inquest witnesses.

They are among the many former RUC who collectively received £500m of a severance package.  They were subsequently rehired as “civilian” workers and thus are not under the accountability of the policing board.

 All 5 are members of the NIRPOA – the same Association which briefed former RUC not to engage with Police Ombudsman investigations during legacy information events organised by
the PSNI.

The Police Ombudsman is being staved of resources as was clear from the presentation given by Michael Maguire at the UU conference. It would take a mere £1.5m per year to assist the Ombudsman’s office to effectively investigate legacy killings and thus fulfilling its Article 2 obligations.

 In 1982 after six unarmed civilians were killed in Armagh and after international attention focused on the policy of “shoot to kill”, Stalker and Sampson were appointed in 1985 to investigate the cover up. 

 Referring to a force within a force Stalker said that the Special Branch, “targeted subjects, briefed officers and after shooting removed men, cars and guns before carrying out a private briefing”.

 It is believed that Stalker’s office was set on fire by the same intelligence services that he was investigating. That was the calibre of the Special Branch and this group above any other consists of the biggest percentage benefiting from impunity and cover-up.

Yet, there is a myth peddled that the British State’s ‘security forces’ the RUC and British Army were responsible for ‘only’ 10% of the killings in the North: Nonsense.

For those who make such a comparison the fact is that the British State was involved in over 30% of the killings here during the conflict and it was the British State that killed Pat Finucane. 

For all its faults the De Silva report confirmed that “85% of intelligence used by Loyalists came from the Security Forces”:  the Special Branch was up to its necks in collusion and murder.

A few months ago Theresa Villiers said that if a truth process was to be established it should focus on “those who were responsible for most of the violence and that the state would also have to use public interest immunity – gagging orders – concerning its role”.

 For those who want to make another comparison the state policies of murder with impunity are much worse than that of non-state actors.  And if you want to extend that comparison there were 30,000 Republican Prisoners in jail and between us we served over 100,000 years. 

 So – building on my pledge to bring You to Europe and Europe to You, I guarantee to the families of state violence that the British Government will have to deal with more European international pressure and even if it tries to repeal the HR Act as the Tory’s manifesto is pledging – the Commission Nils Muznieks confirmed in Belfast that it would still be legally responsibility for its Article 2 Obligations that were breached when they governed here during Direct Rule.

The days of the British State granting impunity to its own are coming to an end.  

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  • Morpheus

    I’ll disregard the fact that any intelligence at all deliberately going from the state sources to death squads is completely unacceptable and ask how you can possibly be in a position to say “85 per cent of not very much intelligence though” – it sounds very much to me that you are trying to excuse the practise as inconsequential. I recommend viewing the Panorama documentary entitled ‘License to Murder’ which goes into detail about how the supplied intelligence was reorganised, catalogued and distributed 36 times to various death squads. These catalogues included the details of innocent civilians and used as a hit list. It also talks about how members of the security forces selected specific individuals for assassination. So inconsequential it most assuredly ain’t.

    “the Troubles was a dirty, mundane trudge of local slaughter”

    Yes it was and there was more than 1 player involved and it didn’t start in a vacuum. Everything has to be looked at in it’s entirety to gain an understanding of what happened so we can learn from it

  • Morpheus

    And? Does that change the content of his affidavit in any way?

  • Morpheus

    Most detailed in-depth academic study of of the loyalist murder campaigns of it’s day – 1992.

    I think the 2013 ‘Lethal Allies’ book, compiled using the police’s own records, might shade it now.

  • Morpheus

    “In dealing with unsolved murders, if you have a finite resource to do so, logically surely you apply that resource proportionately.”

    Each case should be taken on merit and a decision to prosecution should be taken based on the strength of the evidence available regardless if the case in hand is a republican one, a loyalist one or a state one.

    The ones with the strongest chance of prosecution should be dealt with first, again regardless if they are republican, a loyalist or state.

    The families of those with little chance of prosecution should be informed and any evidence carefully catalogued and stored in case future technologies can be used to help prosecution, again regardless if the case is republican, loyalist or state.

  • Morpheus

    You don’t want a shared understanding of the past – you want a very tailored understanding of the past which supports your pre-determined conclusion that it was all ‘themuns’ fault.

  • barnshee

    occupied by whom?

  • Robin Keogh

    The Smurfs !

  • barnshee

    “I for one believe that the soldiers on Bloody Sunday will see the inside of a courtroom, even if it is just to admit guilt then be home again before dinner.”

    Yes- to see the inside of a court -yes to home for dinner but never in the proverbial month of Sundays will they admit guilt
    I can hear it all.

    “There was a riot we had been attacked all day– I heard shots–There was noise and confusion I thought my life was at risk I saw/thought I saw a gun I fired at what I thought was a gunman” etc etc.

    Trial by jury? Not a chance of a conviction in NI or GB and the real villains -the politicians and senior army officers who rejected the police advice will feature

  • Morpheus

    Two words: “Unjustified” and “unjustifiable”.

    Read this about the victims:

    John (Jackie) Duddy. Shot in the chest in the car park of Rossville flats. Four witnesses stated Duddy was unarmed and running away from the paratroopers when he was killed. Three of them saw a soldier take deliberate aim at the youth as he ran.

    Patrick Joseph Doherty. Shot from behind while attempting to crawl to safety in the forecourt of Rossville flats. Doherty was the subject of a series of photographs, taken before and after he died by French journalist Gilles Peress. Despite testimony from “Soldier F” that he had fired at a man holding and firing a pistol, Widgery acknowledged that the photographs showed Doherty was unarmed, and that forensic tests on his hands for gunshot residue proved negative.

    Bernard McGuigan. Shot in the back of the head when he went to help Patrick Doherty. He had been waving a white handkerchief at the soldiers to indicate his peaceful intentions.

    Hugh Pius Gilmour. Shot through his right elbow, the bullet then entering his chest as he ran from the paratroopers on Rossville Street. Widgery acknowledged that a photograph taken seconds after Gilmour was hit corroborated witness reports that he was unarmed, and that tests for gunshot residue were negative.

    Kevin McElhinney. Shot from behind while attempting to crawl to safety at the front entrance of the Rossville Flats. Two witnesses stated McElhinney was unarmed.

    Michael Gerald Kelly. Shot in the stomach while standing near the rubble barricade in front of Rossville Flats. Widgery accepted that Kelly was unarmed.

    John Pius Young. Shot in the head while standing at the rubble barricade. Two witnesses stated Young was unarmed.

    William Noel Nash. Shot in the chest near the barricade. Witnesses stated Nash was unarmed and going to the aid of another when killed.

    Michael M. McDaid. Shot in the face at the barricade as he was walking away from the paratroopers. The trajectory of the bullet indicated he could have been killed by soldiers positioned on the Derry Walls.

    James Joseph Wray. Wounded then shot again at close range while lying on the ground. Witnesses who were not called to the Widgery Tribunal stated that Wray was calling out that he could not move his legs before he was shot the second time.

    Gerald Donaghey. Shot in the stomach while attempting to run to safety between Glenfada Park and Abbey Park. Donaghey was brought to a nearby house by bystanders where he was examined by a doctor. His pockets were turned out in an effort to identify him. A later police photograph of Donaghey’s corpse showed nail bombs in his pockets. Neither those who searched his pockets in the house nor the British army medical officer (Soldier 138) who pronounced him dead shortly afterwards say they saw any bombs. Donaghey had been a member of Fianna Éireann, an IRA-linked Republican youth movement. Paddy Ward, a police informer who gave evidence at the Saville Inquiry, claimed that he had given two nail bombs to Donaghey several hours before he was shot dead.

    Gerard (James) McKinney. Shot just after Gerald Donaghey. Witnesses stated that McKinney had been running behind Donaghey, and he stopped and held up his arms, shouting “Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!”, when he saw Donaghey fall. He was then shot in the chest.

    William Anthony McKinney. Shot from behind as he attempted to aid Gerald McKinney (no relation). He had left cover to try to help Gerald.

    John Johnston. Shot in the leg and left shoulder on William Street 15 minutes before the rest of the shooting started. Johnston was not on the march, but on his way to visit a friend in Glenfada Park. He died 4½ months later; his death has been attributed to the injuries he received on the day. He was the only one not to die immediately or soon after being shot.

    Oh yeah, one more word: INNOCENT

  • barnshee

    I had the doubtful “privilege” of being in Derry on BS neither a protagonist or a state actor Myself and a colleague were eventually “chased” from Waterloo Place by the army as we hung about watching the confrontation and trying to get a better view.

    The facts are simple The crowd had spent the day attacking the army the army shot some of the crowd in exactly the way you describe

    If you want an absolutely accurate account
    try the writings of Raymond McClean who I knew personally

    I don`t think you fully understand my comment which I emphasise

    Never in the proverbial month of Sundays will they ADMIT guilt

    They will big up the circumstances
    The will add in the murders of their friends in Derry immediately prior to BS


    “There was a riot we had been attacked all day– I heard shots–There was noise and confusion I thought my life was at risk I saw/thought I saw a gun I fired at what I thought was a gunman” etc etc.

    The soldiers IF they give evidence( probably by video link ??) will simply croak the excuses above,


    Trial by jury? Not a chance of a conviction in a NI or GB
    court (Convict our lads doing their best to keep the murdering paddies apart and being shot at I don`t think so)

    The real villains -the politicians and senior army officers who rejected the police advice-they will will feature?”not a chance.

  • Morpheus

    Have you even read the link you provided?

    I find it both incredulous and disgusting in equal measure that in this day and age we still have idiots who vainly attempt to justify what happened that day but regardless, let’s see how the prosecutor could deal with the fictitious account you gave above shall we:

    “So Lance Corporal F, you say there was a riot and had been attacked all day. Is it not true that the Paratroopers, led by Major Ted Loden, were only given permission to go into the Bogside at 4.07pm with the shots you fired that that killed Mr Doherty and Mr McGuigan being fired just 3 minutes later at 4.10pm?

    You say you heard shots. There was noise and confusion, you thought your life was at risk. Did you think you life was at risk from an unarmed civilian waving a white handkerchief as he tried to help another innocent civilian who had been shot crawling to safety. According to a British army officer in an observation post on the city walls you got down on one knee across the street aimed your rifle at Mr McGuigan and shot him in the back of the head, killing him instantly. You took the time to drop to one knee, steady yourself and take aim at the back of Mr McGuigan’s head before firing – does that fit in with the actions with a highly trained soldier who thought his life was at risk? “

    I am pretty sure he/she would then put a human face on Mr McGuigan by telling the jury that he had 6 children who grew up without their father and by referencing witness accounts:

    “Cowering behind a block of flats with others who had been on the civil rights march when the paratroopers began firing, McGuigan heard the cries of Patrick Doherty who had been shot while trying to crawl to safety and now lay out of sight, pleading for someone to help him because he did not want to die alone.Everybody pressed up against the wall of the flats was too scared to move. Doherty’s cries stopped but then started up again: after several minutes of this, McGuigan said he could not bear to listen any more and, ignoring the attempts of his companions to stop him, walked slowly sideways into the open towards where he thought Doherty lay. When he had gone three or four yards, he was hit by a bullet that, in the words of a woman watching, “blew his head up like a tomato exploding”.

    He/she might then go on to quote the conclusions of The Saville Report:

    “Lance Corporal F did not fire in a state of fear or panic. We are sure that he fired either in the belief that no-one in the area into which he fired was posing a threat of causing death or serious injury, or not caring whether or not anyone there was posing such a threat. “

    We’ll see who is home by dinner time after that eh?

    For someone who was there I would maybe sit down and have a wee think about the timeline, the real facts shine a much different light on those ‘simple facts’ you refer to :

  • barnshee

    Oh dear dear -read my post- you are missing my point?

    Where do I dispute your facts -where do I try to justify the army?

    The crowd attacked the army – the army killed in exactly the way you describe (I knew Raymond McC personally and trust his descriptions implicitly)

    I am trying to explain why the soldiers will not plead guilty and why in a jury trial no British court find them guilty.

    1 The soldiers will stick to the mantra I have outlined

    – confusion – fear of life- thought I saw /saw gunmen previous attacks on them etc etc. There is no way their alleged state of mind can be proved or disproved Their answers to barristers challenges will include the ” well I was there you were not”

    2 The official line/claptrap will be “our lads” caught between “mad paddies ” will be full of regret “for all sides in the conflict” “did their best in very difficult circumstances”

    3 Getting a jury that would convict—short of assembling a jury from the relatives of those killed – will be impossible.

    As you note there are divided opinions on BS in NI. There is thus no way of assembling any other Jury in NI which will convict the soldiers. (No soldier will return voluntarily to NI)

    The chances of getting a GB jury to convict “our lads” will be even more remote-with NI the same as Afghanistan as far as GB is concerned

    To repeat– the real villains– the politicians and senior army personnel who ignored police advice will escape

    “We’ll see who is home by dinner time after that eh?”

    I`ll be happy to be proved wrong but I suspect that they won`t even have to leave home never mind return home.

    The only (unlikely) prospect for the truth is for one of the soldiers to man up and admit that they lost their temper/control and shot people.

  • Morpheus

    When it gets to court a jury of…oh what’s the word used so commonly on Slugger, oh right, that’s it…a jury of decent people will see through the lies, rehearsed mantra or not and will be convinced by the evidence presented. It won’t matter if the soldiers ‘man up’ or not.

    Or are you saying that there are insufficient decent people in Northern Ireland who will see the killing of these 2 unarmed civilians, one waving a white handkerchief, 3 minutes after the high-trained Paratroops were released into The Bogside as anything other than murder? I have a bit more faith in the decent people of Northern Ireland.

    But here is another extract from Saville:

    “Colonel Wilford decided to send Support Company into the Bogside because at the time he gave the order he had concluded (without informing Brigadier MacLellan) that there was now no prospect of making any, or any significant, arrests in the area he had originally suggested, as the rioting was dying down and people were moving away.”

    So when the Paras were released into the Bogside at 4.07pm the rioting was dying down and people were moving away. Three minutes later innocent civilians were shot dead in the street. Should you not know this, being there and all?

    Don’t you think it makes a mockery out of the justified calls for the IRA to be brought to justice when the State, those we pay to protect us, is incapable of doing the same and will in fact go to extraordinary lengths to ensure justice is not served?

    Imagine if the Paras were walking down the Shankill, Deansgate in Manchester, Princes Street in Edinburgh or St Mary Street in Cardiff using their advanced training to pick off innocent civilians. How do you think that would go down? They would be in court so fast they wouldn’t know what hit them – this should be no different.

  • barnshee

    ” I have a bit more faith in the decent people of Northern Ireland.”

    I am afraid I don`t share your faith– there is a “deserved all they got” strain out there which will pollute juries

    As For “Paras were walking down the Shankill, Deansgate in Manchester, Princes Street in Edinburgh or St Mary Street in Cardiff using their advanced training to pick off innocent civilian”
    The sad fact is it would NOT have happened because as you say ” They would be in court so fast they wouldn’t know what hit them” double standards or what?

    “Don’t you think it makes a mockery out of the justified calls for the IRA to be brought to justice when the State, those we pay to protect us, is incapable of doing the same and will in fact go to extraordinary lengths to ensure justice is not served?”

    I agree totally-the point being that I don`t believe they will be convicted -we will end up with hung juries and in worse case scenarios- some found not guilty.(the old beyond reasonable doubt)

    I think Perfidious Albion has ensured that it will be impossible to prove who killed whom (and “our lads” will not be held out to dry whilst the big cheeses escape)

    What is required is utopia honesty on all sides ” hands up” all round particularly from the individual soldiers concerned

  • Morpheus

    Let me get this straight, you agree that the Paras killed innocent unarmed civilians but you don’t think there are enough decent people in Northern Ireland who, when faced with the evidence, will be honest enough to call a spade a spade? You have my deepest sympathies if that is your life experience – you’ve had it tough.

    If Perfidious Albion has ensured that it will be ‘impossible to prove who killed whom’ then why go to extraordinary lengths to ensure that justice cannot be served? Increibly strange behavior for someone who thinks they have the cat in the bag…why not allow the day in court if the result is a foregone conclusion?

    Anyway, Soldier F – the man who fired the shots in the above cases – has admitted he killed Michael Kelly, Barney McGuigan and Paddy Doherty and an unidentified man in Glenfada Park. Let’s start there eh?

    I believe that eventually the truth about what went on in Northern Ireland will be brought into the open – using NI as a training ground, Bloody Sunday, Ballymurphy, MRF, Special Branch, Brian Nelson, Glenanne Gang etc will all be in the public arena but even if it doesn’t it will simply reinforce to more and more people that Mr. Albion can’t trusted to work in the interests of everyone in Northern ireland. Who could possible use that to their advantage?

  • barnshee

    ” you don’t think there are enough decent people in Northern Ireland who, when faced with the evidence,”

    Thousands have been killed- if NI were full of “decent people” the jails would be bulging with murderers Sadly evidence will have nothing to do with it– the tribes will vote as tribes

    BS Ballymurphy etc are already in the public domain and
    Mr Albion basically could not give the proverbial- time passes (I may be wrong but I think some of the paras involved are no more ) he has conned the locals into running their own show- he holds the purse strings-a fudge of some kind is inevitable.

    At the same time the Gregory Campbells of this world will reply to BS with to put it crudely “I`ll see you with Omagh and raise you with Bloody Friday”( Forgive the poker analogy)

    “Mr. Albion can’t trusted to work in the interests of everyone in Northern ireland” A brief look at history will show that Mr Albion acts exclusively in Mr Albion`s interest. Mind you if it became in Mr Albion`s interest to do so making a scapegoat of a soldier or two would not be a problem.

    Personally I wish the soldiers concerned would honestly describe THEIR day and admit what they did was murder and was wrong

  • Morpheus

    And Gregwardo would be absolutely right – Omagh and Bloody Friday (Enniskillen, Le Mon, Kingsmill, Greysteel etc) should also be investigated to the hilt and the accused should face the full force of the law.

    People like Gregwardo however seem to get hung up on the £200m of Saville but they should keep in mind that if there was no whitewash and justice was allowed to serve it’s course instead of being perverted in this way then the cost would have been significantly lower.

    I don’t see the downside for Mr Albion of allowing justice to take it course in this matter. I would’ve thought it in their best interests to show the people they represent that the soldiers went rogue, to distance themselves from what they did and prove it was not sanctioned from above. By applying the full force of the law to their own it takes away the duplicitous nature of their calls for terrorists to face justice.

    By preventing justice all they are doing is reinforcing perceptions to a whole new generation of people which will not serve them well in the long run. Instead of pulling of the plaster decades ago they have allowed the wound to fester making it much, much worse.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    not sure how you get that from my posts. I’ve been at pains to emphasise the need for proportionality and to seek same approach in principle to all murders / suspected murders. I’ve even quite specifically included killings by security forces in that. It helps to actually read what I say not respond to what you expect me to say.

    That said, the big picture facts on who killed whom and who planted what bomb are largely already there, through collations such as Malcolm Sutton’s ‘Index of Deaths’ – so in terms of the big picture of relative blame, it’s surely not premature to comment.

    That is not to comment on specific cases that still need to be investigated though – and of course it’s possible facts emerge that affect the big picture. That would require all the researchers thus far to have got a huge amount of basic attributions of responsibility for particular murders spectacularly wrong; but you’re right, happy to go with the best verified facts whatever they are.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    and actually, a better answer to your “you don’t want a shared understanding of the past” point – you hit on something interesting there. I do want that but I also want that shared understanding to be of the TRUTH of the past, not an exercise in finding some version of it that spares blushes.

    People’s views now on the past are irrelevant for the exercise of determining what actually happened – and they should be ignored by those doing the digging.

  • carl marks

    I have no intention of concentrating on any group of murderers please point out were i have done this, i am not the one trying to trivialize the actions of loyalists and security forces,
    you seen to have a wonderful ability (demonstrated many times in previous posts) to minimize the actions of the side you approve of ,the relationship between the special branch, military intel and the various loyalist terror groups not to mention the unionist parties is well documented, that you chose to ignore this shows that you are the one focussing on one group of killers over another,

  • barnshee

    “I don’t see the downside for Mr Albion of allowing justice to take it course in this matter. ”

    And thereby hangs the tale
    The paras had a command structure plus the politicians who stood behind it. The cops (DI McGimpsey) advice was ignored
    The establishment/perfidious Albion will continue to support that structure because at the bottom they cannot admit to accountability. (its what systems do)

  • MainlandUlsterman

    You asked me to point out where you have sought to concentrate on the non-Republican murderers. In response to the overall statistics I posted, you responded (I’ve chopped a bit in the interests of brevity):

    “Your statistics are incomplete, you do not include the Glenanne gang in them,made up of members of the security forces and responsible for 120 murders (that by itself nearly doubles your headcount for security force murders), the mount Vernon UVF also carried out many murders and was led by british agents, indeed as hes been stated on this thread before it is reasonable to consider the loyalist terror groups as a tool of the state and the UDR was a source of weapons, training and intel for loyalists!
    let us not also forget the manner in which the state tried to blame loyalist atrocities on republicans (McGurks Bar is a glaring example.”

    ALL these adjustments you want to the statistics – not my statistics by the way but the best available researched ones on CAIN – are about security force killings. So that’s exactly what I’m talking about.

    I was quoting overall statistics covering all actors, specifically talked about extra-legal killings by members of the security forces as part of that, and yet somehow, you’re seeing me as the one with the “it was themmuns” approach. My narrative of the Troubles is I’m sure different from what you’re used to hearing, but don’t dismiss it as necessarily one-sided just for that. It’s one shared by most historians of the period.

    (And by the way, it’s not correct to attribute to the security forces all murders by a terror group infiltrated by them; on that logic, most IRA killings were carried out by the security forces too, as it was also riddled with operatives. Having informers inside terrorist cells is an essential part of subduing and demoralising those organisations. It is a murky world of course and but that doesn’t make them ‘as bad as the terrorists’. The alternative is to say to governments around the world, don’t ever use espionage against terrorist groups or you take responsibility for those terrorist groups. That is absurd. What it is reasonable to look at is whether there were some cases where embedded operatives lost the plot – which there were. By all means count those in your revised statistics; but fairly small numbers involved there, I suspect.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “denial of the role that the police and army played with the loyalists” – if that’s referring to my posts, that’s not a fair comment. We’ve been exchanging views on the nature of the relationship, you no more proved your case than I proved mine, so you can’t take the high ground on that. I wasn’t denying there was any collusion, just skeptical about some of the wilder claims made about the extent of it. I backed up my arguments with statistical evidence and a quote from a leading academic. Being written off as simply “in denial” doesn’t wash.

    We take different views on the value of addressing what happened in the Troubles. I respect your view really – I think it’s a noble thing to want to move on and start again. However, with respect I think that approach is mistaken. The untruths and half-truths about the Troubles that have been allowed to take hold are a cancer. I think Northern Ireland society can do much better – and be much less vulnerable to trouble in the future – if we all face up to what was done, the whole lot of it. As you know I find the SF air-brushing project a major threat to good community relations in the future. It can’t be allowed to go unchallenged. I don’t think that makes me and others who feel that way ‘stuck in the past’ – but it means we do need to deal with the past as part of moving on. I know you don’t agree, but I think we can have a respectful difference over that.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    agreed – all victims of illegal violence and their families deserve help and understanding, regardless of whether that was state or terrorist violence.

  • Morpheus

    Surely you are not suggesting that what happened on Bloody Sunday came down through the command structure?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Hmm, many of the leading historians of Northern Ireland are less than impressed with that work:

  • barnshee

    “Surely you are not suggesting that what happened on Bloody Sunday came down through the command structure”

    Who put the soldiers on the ground ?
    Who was in charge on the day ?
    Who gave the order to move into William Street ?
    Who authorised use of live ammunition
    Who overruled the police advice -(to avoid confrontation and close Craigavon Bridge etc)?

    Answers to the above might help –will any of those identified above appear in court?

  • Morpheus

    Many of the leading historians eh? Care to name them?

  • Morpheus

    That doesn’t answer my question – you think what happened on Bloody Sunday came down through the chain of command?

    Do you think Major General Robert Ford, Commander of Land Forces, Northern Ireland, at the time gave the order?

    Or does culpability stop at “The Bogside Butcher”, Lt. Col. Derek Wilford?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Yes: Dr Máire Braniff (University of Ulster), Dr Aaron Edwards (Royal Military Academy Sandhurst), Professor Thomas Hennessey (Christ Church Canterbury University), Dr Stephen Hopkins (University of Leicester), Professor Liam Kennedy (Queen’s University, Belfast), Dr Cillian McGrattan (University of Ulster), Professor Henry Patterson (University of Ulster), Professor Arthur Aughey (University of Ulster).

    I can think of a few others who aren’t formally part of Arkiv but I’d expect to take a similar line on the Cadwallader research.

    I’m not dissing it completely, and it seems there is some valuable information there in the HET files, but it seems there’s some fairly eccentric analysis of it in the book, e.g. she seems drawn to conspiracy theories. The Wilson Plot anyone?

    More problematic still for the enterprise is the mission statement of the Pat Finucane Centre:

    “… The PFC asserts that the failure by the State to uphold Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “all are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law”, is the single most important explanation for the initiation and perpetuation of violent conflict.”

    Rather than, say, the belief in and practice of terrorism by the paramilitary groups responsible for over 90 per cent of the deaths in the conflict.

    If you’re going into archive research with the PFC’s premise, putting an extremely dubious cart before the horse, you are going to end up with something rather unconvincing. And that seems to be what happened with this book. Frustrating, because it seems there is important information there that needs proper historical analysis. We’ll need to wait for non-partisan historian to look at the material.

  • carl marks

    when the forces of the state has agents who make up the leadership of a group, when it supplies intel to that group, when it supplies weapons to that group then you may consider that group as part of the state machinery,
    it certainly had agents inside the provos but did not supply the provos with intel or weapons so you are comparing feathers and fins. Cain list the players by groups but does not comment on who sponsored those groups so it statistics are largely irrelevant to our discussion.
    earlier you accused me doing the provos work but in reality your denial of special branch and british intels collaboration is helping out the provos more than i ever could.
    they can point to your argument and say (something which even the most reasonable nationalist would agree with) “look they wont even admit what really happened, shows how much they actally care for victims or truth”
    think about this

  • barnshee

    It came down some chain of command -the soldiers did not jump the barricades of their own accord- answers to my questions should establish exactly which chain and at least help establish if Ford cleared the action -and did he have political clearance/support.

    My big bugbear is (according to my sources at the time ) the allegation that the army over ruled the cops on the day.

  • Morpheus

    That is simply a copy and paste of the founders of Arkiv and not a single one of them is mentioned in that review. Poor show.

    Regardless, are the founder members of Arkiv now described as many of the leading historians of Northern Ireland. I think not. Again, poor show.

    How do comments from the PFC have any impact whatsoever on what is contained in the HET reports out of curiosity?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Cadwallader’s research was done in conjunction with the PFC, as a researcher there. My worry is that given the partisan anti-British-state objectives of that organisation, the objectivity of her approach to the meta-analysis and her analytical approach generally most surely come under serious question. I’m not suggesting she made individual factual errors – I have no idea about that. I’m just saying I’ll be more interested to see what properly trained historians without political agendas make of the same materials.

    On Arkiv, I think you were hoping I was making some vague claim and got caught out a bit by the chapter and verse list?! Maybe not though 😉

    As I understand it, when a piece goes out under the Arkiv name, it carries the weight of the historians who formed it. Presumably they don’t all individually sign off every article, but we can presume too that they more or less agree with what goes out. And I’m sure you’re not disputing it is a formidable list of historians. As I say, I also know others personally who are not on there, but are very much on board with the Arkiv approach.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Carl, if you read my posts I’m not denying anything that happened, including elements of collaboration between people in the security services and loyalists. I was very clear on that. What I was pointing out was a non-sequitur in the way that fact is used to support a very shaky wider thesis about the relationship between the security forces and loyalists. The incidents brought up show there were rogue members of the security forces who colluded with loyalists but Prof Bruce’s statement I quoted before still stands, it seems – that it was on a relatively small scale and was against the overall policy of the security forces towards loyalists. In fact the security forces were rather successful in reducing loyalist killings for much of the Troubles. There also seems to be scant evidence – though no shortage of idle conjecture – that these crimes were in any way approved of by senior people in the security forces. Cadwallader I think claims there is evidence someone middle-ranking in the police might have known about one group of rogue officers and turned a blind eye – which is awful if true. But it’s hardly systematic collusion worthy of condemning the entire security forces.

    What is also clear is a big drop in deaths caused by both loyalists and state forces during the course of the Troubles (up until the long-expected ‘Loyalist backlash’ of the early 90s). During that central phase of the troubles from 77-90, the Republicans were killing 70 per cent. Loyalist activity was down both in absolute and relative terms; and the security forces were only taking about 5 per cent of the lives in that period (and it stayed low till the end). After 1976, the Loyalist murder rate went off a cliff – which sits well with the generally accepted thesis they were infiltrated and subdued by intelligence operatives, as evidenced by the high rate of successful prosecutions against Loyalists. It doesn’t sit well with the idea that the Loyalists were nurtured by security forces.

    One fact very glaringly needs to be explained by people putting forward the ‘tools of state intelligence services’ hypothesis about the loyalist campaign: the fact loyalists only managed to kill 42 Republican paramilitaries in 25 years of terrorism, out of a total of over 800 Loyalist murders. As I said, I’m not in denial about the existence of a number of rogue officers but a bit of perspective on this chapter in the overall picture of the Troubles would be welcome.

    And you can’t simply dismiss CAIN figures wholesale because of this issue, though it would be convenient for Republicans if you did. For example, let’s say we did attribute all the 120 killings of that Loyalist gang that had some rogue Peelers in it to the security forces – which is ridiculous, but anyway – that would mean the percentage of killing would be (Repub / Loyalist / Security Forces) 14 / 25 / 59 as opposed to 10 / 29 / 59. Even that pipe-dream for Republicans would barely alter the overall picture. But of course that’s not the PFC / SF game – the game is to throw up enough dust around a relatively small number of incidents involving rogue members of the security forces to mask the overwhelming Republican responsibility for its 28 year terror campaign. How stupid do they think we all are?