What will be the followup to new police move on the Birmingham bombings?

(Kieran) Conway, who is a now a solicitor in Dublin specialising in criminal defence,, voluntarily spoke to detectives in connection with his memoir of life inside the IRA “South Side Provisional”.

In the book, Conway revealed certain details about the Birmingham pub bombings to which the IRA has never officially admitted. No one has ever been convicted in relation to the atrocity in England’s second city…

For decades the IRA never publicly admitted they carried out the atrocity but Conway said not only did the organisation bomb Birmingham but also they knew in Dublin that the six Irishmen arrested over the explosions were innocent “from the get go, from the very start”.

Henry McDonald has a good  ” exclusive ” on the very old story of responsibility for the Birmingham bombing of 1974 that begot one of the worst cases of wrongful convictions in the twentieth century.

Detectives investigating the IRA’s murder of 21 people in the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings have interviewed the Provisionals’ director of intelligence at the time of the atrocity, who admitted he was debriefed after the attack.

Kieran Conway confirmed that he was questioned by officers from West Midland police’s counter-terrorism unit in Dublin on Friday.

The Birmingham Mail  interviewed Conway about his book  last November.

Speaking exclusively to the Birmingham Mail on the eve of the 41st anniversary of the pub bombings, Mr Conway said the bomber had “totally gone to pieces”.

Conway told the Guardian he quit the IRA in 1993  “when he left in protest at the IRA’s acceptance of the Downing Street declaration.” Last August, around the time of the the 41st anniversary of the wrongful convictions, the former MP Chris Mullin who exposed  them in his book Error of Judgment” decades previously  told the Birmingham Mail.

  “People occasionally write to me. The reason I’ve not got involved with that (Justice4the21 campaign) is because it is misleading people to pretend that after 40 years there is going to be convictions from this and I don’t wish to arouse hopes falsely.

“For a start, two of the perpetrators are dead and therefore not available, and there is no evidence that would stand up in court that could be used against the others.

“The only circumstances, of course, would be if they confessed.

“But 40 years have gone by and they haven’t and it is not very likely that they ever will.”

 What more can we learn from the revelations of Kieran Conway?  That the guilty parties were named long ago but were not brought to court and even now  those names are not easily repeated. That he alleges there was collusion amounting to hands-on support for the IRA from members of the Dublin establishment. Will the Gardai investigate?

What else might we consider? How will West Midlands police follow up their interview with Conway?  Is there any sign of mounting pressure to reopen the inquests in line with pressure over major cases in Northern Ireland? A guide to that will be the degree of followup to McDonald’s  report of Conway’s police interview. I wouldn’t count on much in the era of jihadism in spite of the potential parallels between then and now. “Ireland “is a dead story.

Secondly what might be the lessons for “ information retrieval” at home? Patchy I’d say, Conway is not the only ex provisional to opt for limited disclosure, perhaps as a conscience salver, (including the familiar regret at the bombers being unable  to find a working telephone in time to give a warning : how unfortunate  that  their humane instincts were  so often let down by the state of the phones for which of course they were not to blame).

Conway’s account  whets the appetite for wider disclosure by those like him who were further up the scale of command, including state servants. This is the missing big dimension on the past which “information retrieval “ seems  unlikely to supply.  Perhaps intentionally? Concentrating on separate incidents only for the sake of victims will fail to reveal the bigger picture which is so badly needed.



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  • gendjinn

    “they knew in Dublin that the six Irishmen arrested over the explosions were innocent “from the get go, from the very start”.”

    And so did the British government and not just because the IRA told them they were innocent. In the 70s. But because it was obvious to everyone who wanted to look at the evidence and their arrest photographs.

    Everywhere you go in the world “British justice” is the term for injustice. As “British Fair Play” means cheating.

  • Granni Trixie

    As I’m only half way through reading this book ( from Santa!) I am not really in a position to analyse properly in respect of your post.
    What I can say is that Conways book is a fascnating read. It takes real writing talent to translate the flotsam and jetsam of the kind of life he lead into such a page turner. This book definitely puts new knowledge about how the IRA operated behind the scenes into the public domain. A companion piece perhaps to the Gerry Bradley book written by Brian Feeney

    . The POV in the book is cleverly ambiguous in that it is being written with hindsight and therefore by a person changed b their experience yet conveys the motivation and journey of himself as a young man tending to rebel against authority.

    I am always interested in trying to get a handle on the moral processes of someone who bought into the IRA. This is more fascinating to me than say loyalist paramilitarism because of IRA claims to seek “justice” when by their own internal rules they are so unjust eg he seems to accept that an IRA man sleeping with another IRA mans wife expects t be kneecapped! (Yet they criticise unfairness in policing!) . Relatively minor I know but telling nevertheless.
    Then there is what to me is a brain washing re legitimate targets where inhumane acts are justified. Occasionally ofcourse there are ” regrets” when a civilian is killed.

    Meanwhile, back to a book which everyone would benefit from reading.

  • Anglo-Irish

    You seem a thoughtful person interested in the motivation and morals of the the people involved.

    Do you extend your curiosity to state forces?

    For instance, if you compare and contrast the motivation and moral outlook of an IRA man and a British squaddy what would be your conclusion?

    A lot of British soldiers are young and poorly educated. Almost 40% of army recruits have a reading age of 11.


    An IRA recruit is aware of what he is going to come up against, a professionally trained and – relatively – well equipped army.

    He is going to be massively outgunned, out numbered and in contravention of the law.

    Despite which, he apparently believes that his cause, the ridding of part of his country from the interference of a foreign state is worth risking his life for.

    What are the motivations of the army recruit? Does he believe that his country is justified in continuing to involve itself in the affairs of another land?
    Does he give serious thought to the rights and wrongs of any action that he is required to carry out on behalf of his government?
    Does he believe that invading Iraq and turning the entire country into a war zone, culminating in it no longer being a viable state was justified and the correct course of action to have been involved in?

    Or does he give no thought whatsoever to the rights and wrongs of his actions? Does he simply enjoy the uniform the three meals a day and the opportunity to carry a gun and shoot people?

    Obviously the answer is that some do and some don’t, but I fail to see why moral justification should only apply to the IRA.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    In your compare & contrast discourse you omitted the training (instilling of discipline & loyalty if you like) offered by both organisations or by any such body. Furthermore, the chain of command is relevant to your poser and moreso to Brian Walker’s piece. There were and still are cannon fodder in both organisations and in both the powerful protect themselves. It is exploration of the motivations of the latter that should interest us here. Limited disclosure about individual atrocities doesn’t necessarily bring the edifice/s tumbling down.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    All in the public interest of course.

  • murdockp

    If you are a lawyer, journalist, author the troubles industry can be very lucrative.

    Personally the only solution is an amnesty as outlined in the excellent article in the guardian earlier today.

    The Irish papers struggle to debate stuff like this.


  • Anglo-Irish

    I don’t disagree with your points, the fact is that young impressionable people are taken advantage of by older people in some form of authority who use their naivety/sense of adventure/religious fervour to further an agenda.

    There are similarities between ‘King and country’ ‘It is the will of Allah’ and ‘Our cause is just’.

    But it is interesting to consider who is the more culpable, the person who has thought his/her actions through and taken the course of action anyway, or the individual who has subjugated their free will to a state and will carry out the will of that state without question?

    As to the motivations of those who place people in harms way it is usually for power or profit or both.


    The Major General spoke the truth.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Pretty disgraceful from Chris Mullin.

  • Granni Trixie

    Yes, I have considered the class dimension of the army. You could not live and work around the Falls Road without seeing that many soldiers walking Around the road looked like kids whom I supposed were in the army because they couldn’t get work – Cannon fodder. I contrasted those with posh in charge soldiers with whom I had
    Occasion to speak to.
    My interest in IRA recruits arises from them being from ‘my’ own community and knowing that although there was widespread discrimination in NI it did not warrant killing. But doesn’t mean I do not recognise state wrong or loyalist wrong.

  • Anglo-Irish
  • Anglo-Irish

    The class system in Britain is something which I detest and which I believe is detrimental to the ongoing prosperity of the country.

    Whilst I accept that violence should be a last resort I am not a pacifist, somethings are worth fighting for and there is only so much that anyone can take before Newtons third law applies “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction “.

    It isn’t just physics that that law applies to.

    The ‘loyalists’ were the first to use violence in the last Troubles, and as always there were people prepared to respond and escalate the situation.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    He was indefatigable in his crusade for justice when it came to getting the wrongful convictions overturned – good on him for that – but seems supremely uninterested in pursuing justice against the real perpetrators. Perhaps it doesn’t have the requisite anti-Establishment frisson that motivated him first time around? Perhaps it was that he was after and not justice per se …? I really can’t see why he’s not being more supportive to the families now. They suffered even more than the Birmingham Six, so why does their plight move him less?

  • Anglo-Irish

    Perhaps he’s got the strange idea that there are a whole army of police officers, security personnel, intelligence operatives and assorted government personnel who’s job it is to bring the perpetrator’s to justice?

    Perhaps he feels that the unjustly accused who had the whole power of the state against them needed the support of someone in their hour of despair?

    Perhaps he likes to go up against the establishment in support of a hugely unpopular cause which had every chance of damaging his career and making him a possible target?

    What do you reckon?

  • Jack Stone

    There is this funny phrase from the English lawyer Sir William Garrow (there was a tv show about him awhile back), it is that people are innocent until proven guilty. See that word there. Proven. it is the duty of the prosecution to prove person’s guilt, and not that of a journalist. It is a duty of the state to prove guilt. If anyone has faulted the victims, it has been The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

  • aquifer

    Preventing a pogrom against the Irish families in British cities obviously. PIRAs strategy of polarise and provoke has consequences, which we can see through into the present, and non-fascist elected governments were entitled to frustrate it. The SFDUP ruling coalition is the preposterous result of murder mayhem and sectarian posturing. Who needs a truth commission when you can read it on Slugger.

  • Anglo-Irish

    In the West Midlands and Metropolitan Police force areas I believe they amended Sir Williams phrase to ” Unless they’re Irish, in which case, Any Paddy will do. “

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Two of the perpetrators are dead, we are told but (1) what about the others, and (2) how do we know it was them in the first place if criminal justice is not pursued for the families? Mullins attitude to nailing those responsible is night and day with his attitude towards getting the wrongful convictions overturned. If you read what I said and not what you imagined I said, I praised him for the latter. But the former is just as much a part of seeing justice done and it’s very disappointing he won’t do more to support the families trying to push this through to its conclusion.

    I don’t think the British state is any more benevolent than most other liberal Western democratic states. No worse either on the whole. Certainly more benevolent than many countries in the world and I can think of few others I’d rather live in. Your determination to characterise Britain as a state of exceptional viciousness and cruelty doesn’t really stand up and worse, is a toxic attitude to foster in yourself, when you share a province with many British people. You really need to look at my country afresh and not only through the lens of Irish nationalist disappointments and woes, some of which are Britain’s fault but by no means all. I sense an anti-Britishness in your comments – I may be wrong in that but that’s how it comes across – which I hope you’ll correct. It’s wrong to take against a whole country or its people. Those attitudes should have died with Bernard Manning.

    As for your claim I said that “campaigning to get innocent men released from British prisons is “Pretty disgraceful””, I simply didn’t say that. If you read what I’ve written on this thread again, you’ll see I said precisely the opposite. That’s not great, gendjinn. Apologies welcome.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    and what of pursuing the surviving perpetrators of the carnage in Birmingham? Not so keen?

  • Nevin
  • Thomas Barber

    And what about the fact that it is the West Midlands police who have announced they will oppose any inquest into the Birmingham pub bombings. Why do you suppose that is MU ?

    And didn’t those IRA members of the Balcombe street gang admit to carrying out the Birmingham Bombing yet they were never charged.

  • CB

    It takes an especially jaundiced view to see Chris Mullin as the villain of this piece, and the idea that the quest for truth by the Birmingham families isn’t itself opposed by the Establishment is ludicrous.

    That same Establishment has known the identity of the Birmingham bombers for 4 decades and went to extraordinary lengths to ensure that they didn’t face justice. It is this Establishment who are blocking the release of information relating to the case until 2069.

    You’re more comfortable with this than I am which is fine, but branding a retired journalist disgraceful for not doing the state’s job isn’t.

    If Chris Mullin’s motive in not getting involved is worthy of speculation then the motives of the Establishment in suppressing the truth must be questioned. It could be as straightforward as Lord Dennings appalling vista, or it could be worse than that. Either way, as the Birmingham families are finding out, seeking truth and justice in this country is often an anti-Establishment act.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    no “on and off” about it – I’ve been very consistent about the same standards of justice being applied to all. You attack a “unionist” (I’m actually Labour) straw man of your own making, methinks.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I didn’t say he was the villain of the piece – the IRA are – but it must still be OK to criticise where it’s due. My main concern is the needs of the families left behind in this. Mullins isn’t the only one to disappoint and I’d also be critical of West Midlands police in that regard. But obviously both pale into insignificance compared to the role of the Republican Movement in all this.

  • eireanne3

    links to a couple of radio interviews with Kieran Conway here


  • MainlandUlsterman

    be my guest – let’s hear it then …

  • MainlandUlsterman

    equal and opposite reaction? So how does that explain Republicans carrying out 60 per cent of Troubles killings? And the figure ran at 70 per cent on average during the middle years of the Troubles in the later 1970s and 1980s.

    The last Troubles started with two nights of Republican rioting also. No doubt you want to start with the Gusty Spence in 66, but if so then why not go back to 62 or any of the previous years? The Troubles are generally taken to refer to the August 69 onwards period.

  • CB

    You cast aspersions on Chris Mullin’s motives while putting forward the ludicrous idea that the battle for justice of the Birmingham families isn’t an anti-Establishment fight. These families have found their quest for justice blocked by the Establishment at every juncture.

    Also, belatedly isolating the West Midlands police for criticism is a re-hash of the old ‘bad apples’ line and doesn’t wash. The Establishment has collectively defeated the ends of Justice in this case, and continues to do so.

    If your main concern is the needs of the families, you’ll drop your opposition to truth disclosure by the state. The state has blocked the release of the truth about the bombings for 4 decades and has placed a further embargo preventing its release until almost a century after the atrocity. If Chris Mullin’s motives are up for question, then what possible justification does the state have for suppressing the truth about the murder of its citizens?

  • Anglo-Irish

    You really are brainwashed aren’t you?

    I would trace the start of the troubles to UVF violence – in response to civil rights possible concessions – for the simple reason that those are the facts.

    The border campaign of 62 was over, 500 IRA men up against 15,500 NI armed security forces with BA backup couldn’t succeed.


    The first bombs, the first deaths of both civilians police officers and armed forces of the last period of Troubles were the responsibility of ‘loyalists’.

    To suggest otherwise is blatant sophistry.


    As for ‘equal and opposite’ the republicans certainly didn’t equal the number of Catholic civilians killed by the ‘loyalists’.

    87.2% of ‘loyalist’ total kills were civilians. some of whom were Protestants mistaken for Catholics.

    In total there were 1,259 Catholic civilians killed and 727 Protestant civilians killed.

  • Thomas Barber

    How can anyone rely on Lost lives or Cain to give an honest opinion on who carried out what murders during the past conflict considering the recent revelations regarding collusion between state forces and the paramilitaries who done the killing. The former police ombudsman Naula O Loan claims hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of citizens were killed due to the inaction of the RUC or British intelligence in ensuring their agents within the various paramilitary groups acted within the law. Knowing a person or persons are about to be murdered and having the ability to stop it but allowing a person or persons to be murdered in order to attain tactical advantage is immoral and should be considered as a joint enterprise it is no different than giving a terrorist group a weapon or weapons then claiming ignorance when those same weapons are used to murder. Like Threasa May said – Those who supply guns are just as guilty as those who pull the trigger. It has already happened here in this part of Ireland yet we have yet to hear if those still unnamed RUC officers who supplied the UDA with weapons that were later used in 7 murders were even reprimanded, charged, disiplined or dismissed from the RUC, they could even be now members of the PSNI.

  • Jack Stone

    That is the duty of The State and not of The Press.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I’ll let that answer speak for itself. Wise words mate.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Certainly is. Well actually the criminal justice system; “the State” makes it sounds like it’s the executive. Did someone say it was for the Press?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    lack of police resources?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    you haven’t actually quoted anything. Try again, or give up?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Once again you misrepresent what I said completely – I praised him for his support of the Birmingham Six.

  • aquifer

    Provisional Sinn Fein styled themselves as a government in waiting, and now they are in government. But their silence on these matters means they are not accountable for their own actions.

    They proceed regardless of what bombing victims have to say, which is easy enough, as victims of terrorist violence do not tend to have a script prepared in advance, and the dead say nothing at all.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Did I say “the battle for justice of the Birmingham families isn’t an anti-Establishment fight”? Where?

    You also ask me to “drop” something you refer to as “my opposition to truth disclosure by the state.” Again, I’m not opposed to truth disclosure by the state, indeed my demand is that everyone with relevant evidence about Troubles deaths disclose it. There are some obvious exceptions where the identities of police informers need to be protected as part of the deal the state made with them; and obviously people mentioned in state documents who are guilty of nothing have certain rights to anonymity etc – there are a number of circumstances you would have to work through to make sure the exercise didn’t put innocent lives at further risk from active terrorists (as they haven’t all stopped). But subject to that, I’m in favour of as much disclosure as possible. But it does have to be in the context of the main perpetrators of the Troubles, the paramilitaries, making reciprocal moves. Otherwise we have a process which delivers transparency and information for only a fairly small minority of Troubles victims. What about the rest? And what about the message it sends to all of us who had to endure the “armed struggle” that the only people now expected to open up their secrets to the world are the security forces who put their lives on the line trying to stop it? It seems perverse.

    As part of the disclosure process, I’d want to see affidavits from surviving IRA, INLA, UVF and UFF members telling everything they can of their criminality and who else was involved. It has to be across the board and fair.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Did you? Did you really?

    Your first post which mentioned him and to which I responded said ” Pretty disgraceful from Chris Mullin “.

    Your second post with regard to him said ” he seems supremely uninterested in pursuing justice against the real perpetrators “.
    You then accused him of requiring anti-establishment ‘frisson’ before he became interested in a cause.

    Wonder why I got the strange notion that you weren’t exactly a fan of the man?

    As I pointed out to you, when the state is supposedly on your side you aren’t really in need of crusading journalists, but when the state is unjustly crucifying you they are your only hope.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Good, the first link confirmed my contention that the IRA was moribund after 1962.
    Note the last sentence ‘ the IRA would RE-EMERGE in the 1970s ‘.

    And the second link provided a timeline showing no republican organised violence before the ‘loyalist’ violence of 1966.

    Hopefully you now accept the fact that the last bout of Troubles was caused by ‘loyalists’ unable to accept Catholic/nationalists being treat as equals in the squalid little sectarian cesspit known incorrectly as Northern Ireland.

    As you say, it speaks for itself and we are all wiser for it..

  • chrisjones2

    “There is no evidence that would secure conviction of any of the other perpetrators. ”

    and there wont be while noone looks. We need a major judicial enquiry. If its good enough for Derry its good enough for Birmingham

  • MainlandUlsterman

    This is real time-wasting stuff and I wish you’d just read what I wrote in the first place, but to recap, here’s what I just responded to. You said:

    “Perhaps he’s got the strange idea that there are a whole army of police officers, security personnel, intelligence operatives and assorted government personnel who’s job it is to bring the perpetrator’s to justice?
    Perhaps he feels that the unjustly accused who had the whole power of the state against them needed the support of someone in their hour of despair?
    “Perhaps he likes to go up against the establishment in support of a hugely unpopular cause which had every chance of damaging his career and making him a possible target?”
    The first paragraph seems to assume I don’t think it’s the criminal justice system’s job primarily to find the perpetrators and secure convictions of them. But I do. It’s obviously their job. The role of Mullins in the case was as someone external to the justice process, taking a useful interest in it and lobbying the relevant decision-makers in the criminal justice system for appropriate action. That was great. Perhaps we should just be grateful for that – and I am – but I also think when you’ve been so tied to a case you have a continuing responsibility if not to see it through, at least to not turn against those seeking to see it through, as he seems to have done. It annoyed me because it seems a prime example of one-sided justice-seeking from those sympathetic to Irish nationalism. It’s a cause celebre when it’s the little man against the big bad British state but rarely one when the target for truth-seeking needs to be the big bad Republican Movement, as is now the case with Birmingham. I’m not complaining about the seeking of justice against the state, I’m complaining about the non-seeking of justice against the Republican Movement.
    The latter two paragraphs refer to his championing of the Birmingham Six’s case, which I praised him for. Yet you quote his work on that as if I was criticising it. I didn’t at any point – and indeed went out of my way to make it explicit I wasn’t criticising that. Hence my frustration with your comebacks.
    That really is it for this thread though as there is only so much time I’m willing to spend correcting misrepresentations of what I’ve said. It’s not interesting and it doesn’t move the discussion forward. And it seems to frequently come with pretty nasty, sneering ad hominem comments, which isn’t actually allowed on Slugger. You react with self-righteous outrage way too easily – all it seems to take is for someone to write something from a non-Irish nationalist perspective. I would like to debate with you on here if you can keep it civil, but if you can’t then don’t expect too many responses.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    the IRA couldn’t have put it better themselves Thomas

  • Anglo-Irish

    Totally agree with what you say. The only reason that I quote those figures is to refute someone using a different set.

    The Cain statistics have been acquired by the University of Ulster.

    Are they accurate? superficially yes, but as you say there was that much collusion and double dealing going on that we will never know the full truth.

    No doubt there was subterfuge on all sides, I have no doubt that the mayhem that was going on was used as a cover to settle old scores and line pockets on all sides.

    Once that type of uncontrolled savagery is unleashed then all bets are off and only God, if there is such a being knows what’s happening.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “the IRA was moribund after 1962”
    You haven’t read the recent books on that, have you? Richard English put that one to bed in ‘Armed Struggle’ – IRA numbers increased significantly throughout the 60s. See also Cillian McGrattan’s work.
    There was both loyalist and republican blame in the early months of the Troubles, before it moved into being essentially a Republican campaign from 1970 onwards. The PIRA Army Council meeting in January 1970 changed the nature of the conflict and started the “armed struggle” from the PIRA’s point of view.

    I wonder why you bother having an opinion about Northern Ireland when by your own admission you’ve only been there once and you have no affection for the place or its people. I interpret your comments – and with respect, your familiarity with the events I and many other lived through every day in the places we were born and grew up – with that in mind. You’re not the first hostile outsider to take the kind of extreme partisan position few in Northern Ireland would ever take. And you won’t be the last. But if you want to be listened to respectfully, you need to treat people like human beings. Northern Ireland is not a cess-pit. And even SF accepts it is properly called Northern Ireland. Enough already.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    it was intended to start a conversation, which is kind of the thing on Slugger. Usually I write long rambling comments but for a change I wrote something short. It wasn’t an invitation to insert your own meaning. You asked me what I meant, fair enough, and I told you. All fine. What wasn’t fine was the subsequent ignoring of what I wrote in favour of what you wish I’d written. That was a waste of time.

  • barnshee

    Do you extend your curiosity to protestant paramilitary forces?

    For instance, if you compare and contrast the motivation and moral outlook of an UVF man and a IRA voulenteer what would be your conclusion?

    A lot of IRA volunteers are s are young and poorly educated. The Shankill bombers could can hardly read.

    A UVF recruit is aware of what he is going to come up against, an IRA volunteer who will never wear a uniform and deny his/her membership at the first opportunity

    He is going to mirror the IRA volunteer in ambush, back shooting and bombing.

    Despite which, he apparently believes that his cause, the ridding of part of his country from the interference of a foreign state and its fellow travellers in N Ireland is worth risking his life for.

    What are the motivations of the UVF? Does he believe that his country is justified in continuing to resist another country involving itself in the affairs of his land?

    Does he give serious thought to the rights and wrongs of any action that he will carry on behalf of his country

    Does he believe that damaging the Republic of Ireland and turning parts of it into a war zone, damaging its image is justified and the correct course of action to have been involved in?

    Or does he give no thought whatsoever to the rights and wrongs of his actions? Does he simply enjoy the chaos actual and potential, he causes and the opportunity to carry a gun and shoot people?

    Obviously the answer is that some do and some don’t, but I fail to see why moral justification should only apply to the UVF

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Am I the only one who blames the IRA more than the State for the Birmingham pub bombings? A visitor from Mars reading a lot of this thread would think the Birmingham pub bombings must have been carried out by members of the English landed gentry against some Irish nationalists enjoying a quiet pint.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    the link was just to all my comments – you didn’t bother actually selecting a single one to back up your claim. Work ethic?

  • Anglo-Irish

    Tell me, exactly what meaning was I to infer from ” Pretty disgusting of Chris Mullin ” ?

    You appear to be living in a world of your own wherein people are supposed to be able to interpret your actual meaning from some cryptic comment.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Well, lets see, the IRA were responsible for more killings than any other single organisation in the last Troubles.

    Of the deaths they were responsible for 36% were civilians, that is disgraceful.

    On the other hand over 50% of the deaths the British army were responsible for were civilians.

    Over 87% of the deaths ‘loyalists were responsible for were civilians.

    Compare the motivation of a UVF man and an IRA man?

    IRA man wants to rid his country of a foreign country’s interference.

    UVF man wants to retain that interference because he feels an allegiance to that foreign country.

    To help him maintain that situation he has an armed police force of thousands, he has an armed UDR force of thousands, he has the support of the British armed forces of over a hundred thousand. He has the support of British intelligence and the backing of the media portraying the IRA as terrorists.

    Despite which he chooses to take action himself, plant bombs in an effort to blame the IRA and kill innocent Catholics for no reason other than the community they come from.

    87.2% of all their killings were unarmed civilians.

    Take a wild guess as to how I regard them.

    Don’t bother, it would probably strain your brain, I regard them as a bunch of cowardly thugs with no motivation other than a chance to allow their evil nature to run amok.



    All hero’s to you no doubt.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Interesting to see gendjinn has deleted all his comments in this little exchange (or someone has). I wonder why …

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Already answered that, see my post starting “It was intended to start a conversation …” I think it’s the one you’re responding to, in fact.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I agree with what you seem to be saying Thomas – we do need to give the police a *lot* more resources to pursue this and other historic Troubles crimes. Let’s see charges brought, as you suggest.

  • Anglo-Irish

    My my, aren’t we the sensitive soul?

    I will hold whatever opinions that I wish on NI and I will base those opinions upon the facts available to me.

    You will of course continue to believe the myths of one side, I prefer to deal with facts.

    If the IRA was so ready for action in 1966 why were all the initial bombings and killings carried out by ‘loyalists’?

    Why did it take until December 1969 for the Provisionals to be formed?

    NI from partition to the GFA was very much a cesspit, if it wasn’t there would have been no need for a civil rights movement and an armed insurrection would not have attracted enough support to last for over 30 years.

    The fact that it all appeared satisfactory to you speaks volumes.

    As for respect, it is earned not given.

  • Anglo-Irish

    In which case may I suggest that if you wish to start a conversation in future instead of just writing a one sentence contentious statement you include a reason for that comment?

    Otherwise you invite a response such as I gave you, which was ‘Really? Why?’

    That is a poor way to attempt to start a conversation.

  • CB

    You suggested that the campaign for justice of the Birmingham 6 was an anti-Establishment one, while the campaign for justice for the 21 victims wasnt. This is patently ludicrous.

    The Establishment has gone to extraordinary lengths to defeat the ends of justice in both cases. If your primary concern was for the families, you would support their campaign. They want the truth, which the state is actively hiding it from them, and you don’t whenever mildly curious as to why that might be.

    But yeah, Chris Mullin eh? Disgraceful.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I hope I am sensitive, it’s a good thing to be. And again the ad hominem comments.

    Irrelevant stuff and again answering questions I didn’t ask.

  • Thomas Barber

    If you could respond to what I said rather than what you imagine I said everything would be a little clearer MU. Why give the West Midlands Police a lot more resources when they already know who carried out the Birmingham pub bombings. The Balcombe street gang admitted in open court that they carried out the attack. The reality is it is the British Police who are reluctant to reopen the case its the reason why the files are protected by a D notice until 2069, Lack of resources has nothing to do with it.

  • Anglo-Irish

    You didn’t ask them because you knew you wouldn’t like the answers.

    Take issue with any of them on a factual basis?

    As for you being sensitive, not so sensitive that on a thread about the miscarriage of justice which ruined six peoples lives you chose to have a go at the man who helped to bring some eventual small measure of justice to them.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I do of course but I’m done with this one. If you take that as some kind of victory you misread my level of ennui.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Lack of resources has nothing to do with it? Have you any idea how much budget pressure police forces are under? And you think they have no financial management concerns about resourcing a massive investigation into multiple murders from 40 years ago with all that that entails?

    Whatever the Balcombe St gang said in court, you know very well that’s not enough to convict on. If they are being so forthcoming, why don’t the surviving members hand themselves in now? I assume they would have your support in doing that …

    If you spent more time looking for justice against the criminals, I might take your criticisms of the justice system at face value. As it is, it seems like another excuse for a bit of Brit-bashing rather than a genuine interest in seeing justice done in this case. I hope I am wrong. It’s just that all your ire seems directed at British mistakes and wrongs in this and very little directed at the actual (Irish nationalist) bombers.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Can you point to where I did say that? “Suggested” is all very well, but I wasn’t aware of having suggested that, so you might need to quote what you mean – sorry to be pain!

    You seem to think I don;t want the state to do anything to help the families – not sure why, again I never said anything like that …

    I’m left a little in the dark by your comments, in summary. If it does turn out you got the wrong end of the stick, an acknowledgement of that would be good.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Ennui, nice word, although I can’t help but think that weariness was more what you were aiming for.

    And if you think that I was trying to obtain a victory you have totally misread my intentions in posting.

    I am old enough to know that you will never change certain peoples opinions even if you can provide them with facts which contradict their views.

    My only reason in posting is to make it clear what my views are and to perhaps get it through that the prejudices which they learned at their parents knee are not held by everyone.

    Take care, and that is meant genuinely.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    no it’s definitely ennui …

    You ascribe prejudice only to someone disagreeing with you, but had it occurred to you that you might just as well question your own assumptions and shibboleths? It would be odd if you alone were capable of grasping and evaluating factual information.

    Perhaps rather than just accusing your interlocutors of prejudice, apparently without evidence, you might allow the possibility they are thinking people too, equally au fait with the facts, who just come to a different conclusion from you. Indeed, given I grew up in Northern Ireland and lived there for 20 years while you have visited it for a day, a bit of a reality check on your own claim to be better informed might be in order. I’m not claiming superior knowledge or insight but I am claiming a right not to have my view characterised as any more prejudiced than your own. I’d argue it’s a lot less so – but I’ll settle for everyone being treated equally on Slugger.

    Oh and sorry I am done this time. Onto the next thing …

  • Anglo-Irish

    Well in that case ennui doesn’t appear to work as well as it did in the old days, cos here you are again!

    The thing is MU old chum that most of us are influenced by our background and upbringing.

    I am the son of an English Protestant ex British army father and an Irish Catholic mother who’s father hid one of his cousins who was an IRA man ‘on the run’ back in the day.

    Both of my parents meant the world to me and although they have been dead for over a quarter of a century I still miss them.

    That background would tend to give me one advantage over most, although not all, discussing the NI situation.

    You see it matters not to me who is right or wrong or which side comes out on top I do not have a preference based upon background and blood for either point of view.

    I base my opinions upon the facts as I see them, you don’t agree, fine, that is your prerogative but don’t try to accuse me of bias, I have no reason to hold any.

    I can feel that ennui coming on now, take care.

  • CB

    Wind your neck in will you.

    An idiot would be left in the dark by what I posted. Pretending to be one doesn’t suit you.

    The state could have given the Birmingham families the truth and justice they seek at any stage over the last 40 years, but have actively suppressed it.

    You’ve managed to churn out a several hundred words while trying to ignore this, with a lack of curiosity about the motives behind this that contrasts with the aspersions you cast on Chris Mullin’s.

    Your primary concern is for the families. Anyone reading your substantial input here might disagree.

  • Thomas Barber

    “Have you any idea how much budget pressure police forces are under? And you think they have no financial management concerns about resourcing a massive investigation into multiple murders from 40 years ago with all
    that that entails”

    Like Lord justice Weir said its the British government who are ultimately responsible for providing the British police with the resources they need to do the job they are employed to do and they seem to have an unlimited purse when it comes to invading and bombing countries around the world. Money and resources are no object when it comes to pursuing republicans for crimes committed 40 years ago the Jean Mc Conville case being an example.

    You seem to keep avoiding answering just why the British governmet has issued a D notice untill 2069 on the release of files relating to the Birmingham pub bombings just like they refuse to give access to the Irish government to any files they hold in relation to the Dublin Monaghan bombings. Once agin why do you think that is ?

    Regarding your last paragragh, once again, I like the British police and the British government, already know who the Birmingham pub bombers were and rather than convicting the guilty the British police choose to convict innocent Irish citizens.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    why would they disagree, when it’s all about supporting the families’ quest for justice against the bombers?

    I notice you haven’t responded to my request for you to show where I said those things you claim I said, so that speaks for itself.

    Your argument seems to be that the Birmingham pub bombings can only be written about if talking about the criminal justice cock-up that happened afterwards – one I did acknowledge by the way and I do think was very poor, though not exactly typical of British criminal justice overall. I’m not arguing with you on that at all. I’m just talking about where we are now, which is supporting the families who are seeking justice against the bombers. Is that so wrong? My criticism of Mullin was for not being more supportive, given his huge interest in the Birmingham pub bombings, that is all. I was just going on the quote in the article we’re commenting on. Fair comment, no?

  • CB

    No. You cast aspersions on Chris Mullin which weren’t based on what he said but on the projection of your own prejudices. To coin a phrase that was pretty disgraceful.

    You fall over yourself to explain why the state can’t be expected to even seek justice, and that it shouldn’t be expected to provide the necessary resources. Even taking this at face value, which I don’t, this makes your criticism of Chris Mullin even more ludicrous as you’re criticizing him for not pursuing a lost cause that would only raise the hopes of the families with no chance of success.

    The bigger issue is that the state’s action in this case gives us an insight into a pattern that persisted throughout the troubles that apologists want to obscure. Its entirely disingenuous to look at the actions of state actors (West Mids police, say) in isolation, when the full force of the state has actively suppressed justice in this case.

    As each grubby detail emerges of the depths the state sunk to throughout the troubles, apologists explain these away as the the logical, if difficult, steps needed in extraordinary times. They were done for the greater good, and the more egregious examples were the actions of the bad apples the First Minister has just trotted out on the news in relation to the Shankill bomb allegations. Either way, we need to accept the state’s line at face value and ask no questions in advance of that fine day when the alphabet soup of paramilitaries corporately open their records (which mostly don’t exist) and share their version of the truth (which no one will believe). So the state is conveniently off the hook and we all move on.

    It’s becoming increasingly clear that the state was immersed in despicable actions on all sides of this conflict. When apologists who’re so comfortable with what we know already argue so stridently against finding out any more, I wonder just how bad the truth might be.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    some of the families themselves also criticised him, CB – hardly just my projection.

    You’re putting up a very persistent defence but ultimately my comment was a simple one and with respect, stands unanswered: that there is a stark contrast between Mullin’s admirable tenacity in exposing state mistakes and his rather defeatist approach to pursuing the bombers themselves.

    I’m not saying he’s a bad person, he may well be frightened to pursue justice against the IRA – most people are, even now. You can end up dead in a ditch. It’s just that Mullin’s calling off the search looks bad and it also looks like part of a wider pattern of lopsided justice-seeking over Northern Ireland matters: crusades for justice if there’s a sniff of state wrongdoing, but settling back into the armchair when the justice being sought is against Republicans. This grates on a lot of people, not just me. You may not read so many of them on Slugger but this whole perception of one-sided justice over the Troubles problem is huge. Ignore it at your peril.