Collusion

PIRA/Sinn Fein: A Movement Without Morals (Part 8)

Slaughter at Enniskillen

On Sunday, the 8th of November, 1987, the people of Enniskillen gathered at the town’s cenotaph to remember the dead of two World Wars. For people all over the UK, Remembrance Sunday is a solemn and quiet day. A day of reflection. It should have been like that for the people of Enniskillen too, but PIRA/Sinn Fein were to make that impossible in the most horrific and violent way possible. Enniskillen, the largest town in County Fermanagh, is a picturesque and rather sedate place with a long military tradition, the area having sent many soldiers to the battlefields of the First and Second World Wars. It’s proximity to the border with the Irish Republic, a ready escape route, meant it was an easy target for the Provisional IRA.

A Provo bomb exploded during the Remembrance Day service, killing 11 people. It was the highest death toll in a terrorist attack in Northern Ireland for five years. At least 63 people were injured in the blast, nine of them seriously. The device went off without warning at 10:45 am at the town’s cenotaph where people had gathered to pay their respects to the war dead. The bomb was hidden in a nearby hall. It blew out one of the building’s walls, showering the area with debris and burying people in several feet of rubble. The dead included three married couples, a retired policeman and a young nurse. Thirteen children were among the injured. One of the wounded, Ronnie Hill, 68, lapsed into a coma two days after being injured and never regained consciousness. H.M. The Queen sent her “heartfelt sympathy” to the people of Enniskillen. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said the bombing was “utterly barbaric“.

Some of the victims of the Provo's 'Poppy Day bomb'. Innocent civilians who went out to remember the dead of two World Wars

Some of the victims of the Provo’s ‘Poppy Day bomb’. Innocent civilians who went out to remember the dead of two World Wars

Even for the Provo death squads, the ‘Poppy Day Bombing’ was a low. Not satisfied with massacring innocent civilians, PIRA/SF were now massacring innocent civilians as they gathered to remember their honoured dead. Wherever in the world conflict has raged, and whatever the brutality inflicted by man on his fellow man, there has been a time-honoured tradition that the burial and commemoration of the fallen should be respected as sacrosanct. As terrible as the Enniskillen bombing was though, the 8th of November could have been a lot worse, for on the same day, PIRA/SF had placed a much larger device in the vicinity of a Remembrance parade by almost 200 young members of the Boys’ Brigade and Girls’ Brigade, 15 miles away in Tullyhommon. Had it exploded, the carnage would almost certainly have surpassed that of the Enniskillen tragedy. The victims would have been predominantly children. PIRA/Sinn Fein had deliberately set out to murder children, only good fortune and poor engineering on the part of the Provo bomb-maker prevented an almost unimaginable atrocity.

The ‘Fun Run Bombing’

On Wednesday, the 15th of June, 1988 at 8.50 pm, Irish nationalists once again shocked and sickened the world with a cowardly and unbelievably callous attack. The Provo cowards murdered six soldiers as the men made their way home after a charity fun-run. 4,500 people had taken part in the run, organised by Lisburn Borough Council (as it was then) and the YMCA to raise money for disabled children. Around 200 Army personnel had been among the charity runners. While the soldiers had been running the 13-mile (21 km) half marathon, a Provo murder gang had placed a 7lb bomb under their blue Ford Transit minibus. The soldiers, unaware of the deadly device under their vehicle, drove off. Nine minutes later, the van stopped at traffic lights at Market Place, in Lisburn’s town centre. As the van moved off, the booby-trap bomb detonated.

The Semtex device had been designed in a cone shape to channel the blast upwards (a so-called ‘up and under’ device), thereby causing maximum damage to the vehicle and killing as many people as possible, both soldiers and onlookers. The area around Market Place was crowded with people, including many teenagers and families with young children. In all, about 10,000 onlookers had attended the charity run. There was pandemonium as frightened parents searched for their children, whilst others rushed to give aid to the dead and dying soldiers before the Emergency Services arrived. Eleven civilians were injured in the attack, including a two-year-old toddler and an 80-year-old man. As well as the four men who had been killed instantly another soldier died on the way to hospital, whilst a sixth soldier died later that night after undergoing surgery for severe head injuries. The dead soldiers were stationed at Ebrington Barracks, Londonderry, and were returning to base when the bomb went off.

The aftermath of the Lisburn 'fun-run bombing' in which six soldiers died

The aftermath of the Lisburn ‘fun-run bombing’ in which six soldiers died

On the 16th of June, the Provisional IRA’s so-called ‘Belfast Brigade’ claimed responsibility for the bombing, promising to wage “unceasing war” against the Security Forces.  Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said that the Provo’s killing of the six soldiers was “vastly preferable” to killing members of the Ulster Defence Regiment or Royal Ulster Constabulary. In the wake of the bombing, the leisure centre where the soldier’s van had been parked was forced to remain shut for a time after the UVF (using their PAF cover-name) issued a warning that they regarded four members of staff working there as “legitimate targets“, inferring that the threatened men had provided information to PIRA/SF and had a hand in the bombing. Indeed, it would seem that someone had passed information to the PIRA bombers. Questions were raised as to how the Provos knew the soldiers were attending the charity run in Lisburn and how they recognised their unmarked van. Although no doubt, had the UVF/PAF or Ulster Freedom Fighters killed any of the threatened men, Irish republicans and the compliant media would have proclaimed their innocence in the usual, stomach turning way. The usual method employed by republicans and their pet ‘journalists’ is to almost canonise dead Irish nationalists, portraying them as ‘an innocent man’ or even as a ‘community worker’ or ‘human rights activist’, rather than admit that they were, in reality, political activists, terrorist collaborators and/or sympathisers, whilst at the same time labeling any Protestant (other than members of the Security Forces) killed by republicans as a ‘loyalist activist’ even if they were only a member of a flute band or an Orange Lodge.

The Murder of the Hanna Family

I would be the first to admit that I am hard to shock. Like many in Ulster (above a certain age) I am somewhat desensitised to violence. There is one incident though that sickens me to the very core. An incident that does shock me. I’am referring to the utterly disgusting, dreadful, cold blooded, sickening and cowardly murder of a family returning from a holiday. On the 23rd of July, 1988, the Hanna family from Hillsborough, Co.Down, (Robin Hanna, his wife Maureen, both 44, and their young son David, who was just 6) were returning home from a dream holiday in Disney World, Florida, when they were murdered by PIRA/Sinn Fein psychopaths, almost certainly acting in collusion with members of An Garda Síochána.

There can be no excuse, no justification, to murder six year old boys

There can be no excuse, no justification, to murder six year old boys

The Provo’s alleged target was Eoin Higgins, a Catholic Judge, who had flown from New York to Dublin with his wife and daughter , on the same day as the Hanna family returned from America.  The Provo scumbags said that Judge Higgins ”was unexpectedly delayed” near the Border, while the Hanna’s vehicle, traveling on the Dublin-Belfast road, was “mistakenly sighted as the judge’s car”. Mr. Hanna, a plumbing and heating contractor, his wife and their youngest child, died instantly, when a 1,000-pound mine was detonated by remote control. How did PIRA/SF know of Judge Higgins’ exact travel plans? How did they even know which flight he and his family had been on?  If they were not acting in concert with the Garda (and possibly the Irish Army), how could they have known that Judge Higgins had been “unexpectedly delayed”? At the funeral of the 3 innocents the officiating minister said-

“The spokesmen who represent the killers have made their excuses and expressed their regrets. But the fact is that Robin, Maureen and little David are dead because some people set out with lawless intent and deliberate planning to inflict injury and death on other human beings. If it had not been these members of the Hanna family, it would have been the members of some other family. The plotters planned death and death is what ensued.” – Rev. Gordon McMullan

There are no words for the horror the Provos inflicted on the Hanna family that day. The PIRA/Sinn Fein leadership issued a snivelling, disgusting ‘apology’ for the mass murder of the Hannas. They spun a web of lies, admonishing themselves of any responsibility. All that statement did was to add insult to injury. Once again the Provos had demonstrated their inhumanity. Once again they had revealed themselves to be amoral, hateful, child killers. Ironically, on the same day as the Hanna family’s funerals, there was another funeral, a few miles away in Belfast. This however, was not the funeral of an innocent victim. It was the funeral of a despicable, low life bastard. PIRA member Brendan ‘Ruby’ Davison, a republican terrorist, sectarian thug and career criminal. An Irish nationalist fanatic. He was cut down by a UVF active service unit at his home in the Markets area of Belfast. Unbelievably, the Priest conducting Davison’s funeral tried to compare the Provo gunman with the wholly innocent Hanna family. I would like to say that I am surprised by the Priest’s sick comments, but I’m not. The hateful, repugnant slurs of that Priest have been repeated over and over again. Irish nationalists, and their apologists, have attempted to equate dead murder gang members with innocent victims like the Hannas. Anyone with a shred of human decency should be sickened by that. Anyone with a shred of human decency should recognise that there is a world of difference between an innocent child, murdered on his way home from Disney World, and a wretched, gutless PIRA gangster who was motivated by pure sectarian hatred. Sadly however, there seems to be thousands of people in Ulster who cannot see the difference. I would describe such people as being little better than Brendan Davison.

NEXT WEEK- PART 9

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PIRA/Sinn Fein: A Movement Without Morals (Part 7)

The Early 80s

The early 80s were a turbulent time in Ulster. PIRA/SF continued to target civilian and security force targets alike. The no-warning bombings and sectarian gun attacks continued. Meanwhile, a rejuvenated UDA/UFF was tracking down and killing leading Irish nationalists and republicans. The INLA/IRSP had been hit especially hard by the UFF Active Service Units, losing three of their ‘leading lights’- Miriam Daly, Ronnie Bunting and Noel Lyttle- in the space of just four months in 1980. But it was not only the largest of the Loyalist paramilitary groups that was inflicting serious damage on the Irish republican war machine. The Security Forces too were enjoying some success. Leading republicans had been convicted and imprisoned. PIRA/Sinn Fein, OIRA and INLA/IRSP had been infiltrated by double agents and were riddled with informers. By 1982/83 the number of violent attacks was decreasing and, at least for a short while, it looked as if the RUC and UDR, with the support of the Army, were winning. Some dared to hope that ‘The Troubles’ were drawing to a close. Sadly, such hopes were short lived.

INLA terror gang leaders Ronnie Bunting and Noel Lyttle, killed by the Ulster Freedom Fighters.

INLA terror gang leaders Ronnie Bunting and Noel Lyttle, killed by the Ulster Freedom Fighters.

Despite the fact that the volume of attacks had dropped sharply, PIRA/SF still managed to carry out some truly shocking and wicked atrocities. On Monday, the 15th of March, 1982, Alan McCrum, aged just 11, was killed and 35 other civilians wounded when a Provo bomb gang detonated a large device, without warning, in the centre of Banbridge, County Down. A little over a month later the Provos attempted to emulate the awful carnage of ‘Bloody Friday’, though this time on a countrywide scale, when they set off no-warning bombs in towns across Northern Ireland. Wilbert Kennedy (36) and Noel McCulloch (32), were killed by a no-warning bomb in the quiet market town of Magherafelt, Co. Londonderry. Five other civilians were wounded. Meanwhile bombs were detonated in five other towns and cities- Armagh, Ballymena, Belfast, Bessbrook and Londonderry- causing widespread damage to property and injuring a further 8 people.

On Wednesday , the 7th of December, 1983, Edgar Graham, an Ulster Unionist Party Assembly member, was shot dead by a PIRA gang at the Queen’s University of Belfast. Graham was also a lecturer in the Faculty of Law at the university. As the earlier murder of the Rev.Roy Bradford had shown, PIRA/Sinn Fein were uninterested in democracy, they couldn’t have cared less about Roy Bradford or Edgar Graham’s constituents, or the electoral mandate those constituents had given the two murdered politicians. For Irish nationalists/republicans it would seem that a democratic mandate only matters when it is given by nationalist/republican voters! Just 10 days after the sectarian murder of Edgar Graham, PIRA/SF once again decided to visit their hatred on the people of England. Three members of the police and three innocent civilians (including a journalist and an American tourist) were killed in a Provo bomb attack on Harrod’s department store, Brompton Road, London. Approximately 90 people were also injured as a result of the blast. Incredibly, PIRA/Sinn Fein later issued a statement claiming that the attack had not been “authorised by the Army Council” and that it “regretted the deaths”. I’m sure the weasel words of the mad bombers were scant comfort to the wounded and the bereaved.

The UUP's Edgar Graham, murdered by PIRA/SF.

The UUP’s Edgar Graham, murdered by PIRA/SF.

Nothing is Sacred to the Provo Psychopaths

Nothing is Sacred to the Provo Psychopaths, not even the Catholic Church. On Sunday, the 8th of April, 1984, the Travers family had just left St Brigid’s Catholic Church in Derryvolgie Avenue, South Belfast. Tom Travers, a local Magistrate, his wife and daughter, were making their way home after Sunday Mass when they were approached by two PIRA/SF gunmen who opened fire on them without warning. Mary Travers was shot once through the back and her father was shot six times. One gunman brought his gun to point-blank range at her mother’s face and attempted to fire twice, but the gun jammed. Tom Travers survived the merciless attack, his young daughter did not. Mary Travers, a teacher by profession, was just 22 years old. A young woman with her whole life ahead of her, cruelly cut down by unfeeling, inhuman terrorists. Many years later Tom Travers said:

“Mary’s murder was carried out by member of an evil and brutal criminal organisation. Some of her killers were members of the murder machine, self-named Provisional IRA. At least one was a member of political Sinn Fein… May I say that on the day my lovely daughter was murdered her killer tried to murder my darling wife also. At that time Mary lay dying on her mum’s breast, her gentle heart pouring its pure blood on to a dusty street in Belfast. The murderer’s gun, which was pointed at my wife’s head, misfired twice. Another gunman shot me six times. As he prepared to fire the first shot I saw the look of hatred on his face, a face I will never forget.”

After the attack the Provos claimed Tom Travers had been “a legitimate target because of his role in the British judicial system”. They also tried to claim that the bullet which killed the young schoolteacher, Mary Travers, had passed through her father’s body first. A post mortem found she was shot directly in the spine. PIRA/Sinn Fein are not only cowardly, amoral, sneak killers but also liars who would not know the truth if it came up and slapped them in the face. Their pathetic attempts to justify their repugnant actions only added insult to injury for the Travers family, and indeed, for all right-thinking people in Northern Ireland.

The Brighton Bombing

Brighton is a picturesque and somewhat bohemian town on England’s south coast. It features some unique architecture and has a laid back, cosmopolitan atmosphere, possibly because it is the (unofficial) LGBT capital of the United Kingdom. The bustling coastal town is very far removed from the divided, conflict scarred towns and cities of Ulster. Yet not even Brighton could escape the horrors of the Provisional IRA’s blood-drenched terror campaign. On Friday, the 12th of October, 1984, just before 3 o’clock in the morning, a Provo bomb containing around 20lb of Frangex (gelignite), exploded in the bathroom of room 629 of the ‘Grand Hotel’, Brighton. At the time, the hotel was the venue of the Conservative Party’s annual conference. The explosion tore through the building, leaving a gaping hole in the hotel’s façade. Had the building not been a solidly built Victorian structure, it is almost certain that part of the building would have collapsed, killing scores of people.

The aftermath of the Brighton bombing.

The aftermath of the Brighton bombing.

Five people were killed in the explosion, three of them women. 34 people were injured, with many of them left permanently disabled and/or disfigured. The dead were- Anthony Berry MP (59), Eric Taylor (54), Roberta Wakeham (45), Jeanne Shattock (52) and Muriel McClean (54). The Provo’s intention, so they claimed, was to kill Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her government. One can understand why PIRA/SF would regard the UK government as so-called ‘legitimate targets’, one can even understand the motivation for killing the PM and her Cabinet, after all, for Irish nationalists it is natural to wish to destroy the government of the country that , at least in theory, stands in the way of their aspirations. Why though did PIRA/Sinn Fein decide to target Thatcher and her Cabinet in such a haphazard way? The ‘Grand Hotel ‘ was packed with people that weekend, only a tiny fraction of whom were government ministers. Aside from the ordinary delegates and members of the Tory party, their wives/husbands and children, there were also scores of journalists, TV news crews, dozens of hotel employees and others. Clearly, given their ‘blunderbuss’ tactics, the Provos didn’t care how many innocent people had to die, just as long as they were able to murder a few members of the government and a few Tory grandees.

Today many republicans claim that the Brighton bombing was a “spectacular”. A hammer blow to the British government. A strike at the very heart of the Establishment. It was nothing of the sort. On the 12th of October, 1984, the Provisional IRA tried, and failed, to strike at the UK government in the easiest way possible. Rather than go after individuals, targeting one Cabinet member or another with, for example, an under-car booby-trap bomb or a well placed sniper, they instead chose to strike at the government in the one place, and at the one time of year, when they would all be gathered together (alongside hundreds of others), in a public, non-governmental, and unsecured setting, ie. the Party conference. Disregarding the amount of ‘collateral damage’ such a strike was undoubtedly going to cause, the Provos had no way of knowing which rooms the Prime Minister or government ministers (and their spouses) would be occupying, no way of knowing if they’d even be in their rooms at the time selected for the bomb to go off, no way to avoid causing huge damage to the building, and thus, no way to minimise civilian casualties. Of course, technically, all of those people targeted by the Brighton bombers were civilians, since regardless of the attitude taken by Irish nationalists, Margret Thatcher and her Cabinet colleagues were the democratically elected government of the United Kingdom. They were not Police or Army personnel, they were not volunteer soldiers of the UVF or Ulster Freedom Fighters, they were elected politicians. Like Edgar Graham and the Reverend Roy Bradford, they were democratically elected representatives of the people.  No, dear reader, this was no terrorist “spectacular”, plainly speaking, this was PIRA/SF using a large net to catch a lot of fish, in the hope that at least a few would be the fish they wanted! It was the only way the Provo murder gangs were ever going to stand a chance of killing Thatcher or any members of her government.

Collusion: The Murder of Maurice and Cecily Gibson

On the 25th of April, 1987, High Court judge, Lord Justice Maurice Gibson and his wife Cecily were murdered by a PIRA/Sinn Fein roadside bomb as they crossed the border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland. Murdered as they drove the short stretch of road between leaving their Garda escort and rendezvousing with the RUC officers assigned to accompany them on the rest of their journey home, the incident remains one of the more controversial of ‘The Troubles’, with evidence of Garda collusion prompting a deeply flawed independent review by retired Canadian judge Peter Cory. Lord and Lady Gibson had spent the night of April the 24th/25 th onboard the Liverpool to Dublin ferry. They had been in England on holiday to visit friends and family. Tired but looking forward to getting back to their Co. Down home, the Gibsons drove their blue Ford Escort onto the ferry late that evening and settled down to spend what would be, unbeknownst to them, the last night of their 42-year marriage together.

At 7 o’clock the next morning, the couple were met at Dublin port by two officers from An Garda Síochána , whose job it was to escort the Gibsons up to the Border in an unmarked car. As Lady Gibson, who was driving, was unfamiliar with the streets of Dublin, the two detectives took the lead for the first part of the journey, allowing the Gibsons to pass them as they reached the open road. An hour-and-a-half later, as the two cars reached the Customs post at Dromad, Co.Louth, Lady Gibson pulled over to allow her husband to get out, as he always did after receiving an escort, to thank the officers for their assistance. After shaking hands, the gardai followed the Gibsons right up to the Border before parting company. They watched as the judge and his wife drove across the frontier, seconds later there was an almighty explosion. The detectives spun round to see a column of thick black smoke rising into the sky. Lord and Lady Gibson (aged 74 and 67 respectively) were already dead: killed instantly by a bomb left in a stolen car and detonated by radio control as they drove by. The RUC officers assigned to escort the Gibsons on the Ulster side of the Border, were just outside Newry, minutes from the designated rendezvous point, when the bomb went off.

Maurice and Cecily Gibson: Murdered by PIRA/SF acting in collusion with An Garda Síochána.

Maurice and Cecily Gibson: Murdered by PIRA/SF acting in collusion with An Garda Síochána.

Eyewitness reports indicated that the stolen blue Ford Cortina that carried the bomb had been left in it’s final destination only 20 minutes before the Gibsons passed by. Lord and Lady Gibson’s travel plans were a closely guarded secret, though somehow the Provo death squad had managed to track them almost by the mile and the minute. Moreover, they had struck at the only point in the couple’s 100-mile journey where they were without a police escort to check the route ahead. In his 1999 work entitled ‘Bandit Country’, author Toby Harden alleged that elements within An Garda Síochána  in Dundalk had tipped off the Provisional IRA as to the Gibsons’ precise movements. This assertion was repeated in an article in the Irish News a year later. Both sources also claimed elements within the Dundalk Garda had fed other information to the PIRA/Sinn Fein enabling them to perpetrate a large number of killings in the Border area. It was these allegations, proven to be factual by the Irish government’s ‘Smithwick Tribunal’, that prompted the review by Judge Cory, who was tasked to re-examine all evidence relating to the case and surmise whether there was any basis for a public inquiry into collusion. Cory found “insufficient evidence” to warrant a public inquiry into the incident. But the later ‘Smithwick Tribunal’ found that Cory had been mistaken in questioning the reliability of intelligence that a member of the Garda had helped the Provos in the Gibsons’ murders, and in May this year former Northern Ireland First Minister, Lord Trimble, called for an inquiry into whether there was collusion. If such an inquiry was to take place, if it were to be truly independent, and if the conclusions of such an inquiry were to be arrived at without regard to the “political sensitivities of the nationalist/republican community”, (to quote the NIO), then undoubtedly the murder of this elderly couple would be revealed as yet another case of Garda/PIRA collusion.

Irish nationalists and republicans used to bring up alleged cases of collusion ad nauseam, in recent times though they have been strangely silent about incidents of collusion. Is it coincidence that they have become more reticent about discussing such matters now that collusion between PIRA/SF murder gangs and the organs of the Irish state is a proven, documented, undeniable fact? Did nationalists/republicans really believe that Loyalists were not capable of calling for inquiries into incidents of collusion? Maybe they have started to believe their own vile “all Prods is stupid” propaganda? Or, more plausibly, they did not believe that the British and Irish governments would ever accede to Loyalist/Unionist demands for inquiries. Whatever their thinking was, they must now surely regret propagandising the issue of collusion quite so vociferously. The amusingly simplistic slogan, “collusion is no illusion”, seems to have backfired on Irish nationalism rather spectacularly.

NEXT WEEK: (PART 8) ENNISKILLEN, THE ‘FUN RUN’ BOMBING & THE MURDER OF THE HANNA FAMILY

COLLUSION: PART 1

PROLOGUE

If one were to believe the historical revisionism of Irish nationalists, one would come to the conclusion that Loyalist paramilitary groups were armed, trained, financed, directed & controlled by the British state. That is patently untrue. It is a spurious myth that is easily disproven. The Irish nationalist myth makers do not stop there however, because they would also have the world believe that despite such external aid, that Loyalism was incapable of taking the war to their enemies & that republican groups, such as the Provisional IRA, received no outside aid from any source, nor at any time colluded with any third party. The motivation for such irresolute lies is not difficult to understand. Irish nationalism, especially the more extreme varieties, likes to portray the Northern Ireland conflict in a very simple, black & white, way. In the Irish nationalist/republican narrative it is always simply a matter of ‘native Irish gael’ versus the ‘evil Brit occupier’. Loyalists & Unionists do not figure in this fable because republicanism has always insisted that Loyalism & Unionism doesn’t count. Indeed, many Irish nationalists still cling to the ludicrous notion that in the event of a ‘united Ireland’, NI’s pro-Union population will simply throw up their arms, realise the error of their ways & somehow become enthusiastic little Irish men & women, virtually overnight! To concede the fact that Loyalist groups were effective & sophisticated, to concede the fact that they were not controlled, nor armed, trained or funded, by the British state, means by default, conceding that Loyalism was/is a major player within Northern Ireland, undermines some fairly basic republican ideological tenets & complicates the simplistic ‘native vs occupier’ narrative so oft repeated by organisations like INLA/IRSP, PSF & now the multitudinous ‘dissident’ groups which seem to be popping up like mushrooms. Don’t just take my word for it though. Let’s examine the facts, then you can decide for yourself

 

“TIS WELL THAT WAR IS SO TERRIBLE…”

Those Irish nationalists & republicans that uncritically digest the propaganda spoon-fed to them by their socio-political leaders, often demonstrate their pitiful knowledge of ‘The Troubles’ by alleging that the UVF & Ulster Freedom Fighters killed only a mere handful of active republicans during the long years of conflict. It’s a claim so imbecilic that I usually deem it unworthy of reply. In the interests of historical accuracy however, I will quickly expose this pernicious lie (whilst trying not to laugh)

It is claimed that Loyalist groups only ever managed to kill “a handful” of republicans, others claim they killed only 40 republicans throughout the entire conflict (& often cite the deeply flawed CAIN website to back this up) So let’s look at the facts-

Off the top of my head I can name, err, probably ten or twelve very senior republicans killed by the UVF or UFF. But let’s go back to the beginning, to the start of the erroneously titled ‘Troubles’. In August, 1969, Gerard McCauley, an IRA gunman (this of course is prior to the Official/Provisional split, hence McCauley is classified simply as ‘IRA’) was shot dead by a Loyalist sniper during a gunbattle in the Bombay Street area, off the Falls Road in west Belfast. During 1971 & 72 Loyalists killed another five republican terrorists/paramilitaries. Four members of the Provisional IRA & one member of the paramilitary Catholic Ex-Servicemen’s Association, which is now almost completely forgotten. The CEA was an Irish nationalist organisation set up in 1971, with the stated aim of “protecting Catholic areas”. It’s founding member was Phil Curran who, in common with other members, had previous military training. The CEA was paramilitary in nature. At its most active, in 1972, it had a claimed membership of 8,000. There is a wealth of evidence to suggest that the CEA was also extensively involved in training both major factions of the IRA (Official & Provisional) at that time, & that some CEA members actively engaged in ‘offensive actions’ against the Loyalist/Unionist community (despite their claim to be merely ‘defending’ Catholic neighbourhoods) with the CEA accused of carrying out bomb & gun attacks which were later claimed to be the work of either the OIRA or PIRA. In 1973 Loyalists killed another four Irish nationalist/republican ‘footsoldiers’, 2 members of PIRA/SF, one Official IRA man & one senior CEA member. In 1974 another four, 2 PIRA/SF, 1 OIRA & 1 CEA. In 1975 & 1976 ten more republicans, of all ranks, were killed by the UFF, UVF & RHC, including senior PSF activist Colm Mulgrew & PSF Vice-President Máire Drummshot dead in a joint UFF/UVF operation as she recovered from a minor operation in the Mater Hospital in Belfast. Six more republicans, including OIRA ‘Chief of Staff’, Joe McKee, were killed by Loyalist groups in the last years of the 1970s, bringing to 30 the total number killed between 1969 & 1979. There are of course other dubious or contested instances, where it cannot be proven conclusively that deceased individual was, as claimed, a member of OIRA, PIRA, CEA, INLA etc, but where there is some evidence to support such claims. Of course it was republican policy not to ‘claim’ members who had meet a violent death at the hands of the UVF or Ulster Freedom Fighters, in instances where the dead individual could not be positively tied to the republican movement (an example of ‘plausible deniability). This was done for three reasons. Firstly, groups such as PIRA, INLA etc did not wish to appear vulnerable to Loyalist attack. Secondly, there was the issue of compensation to the victim’s family (NIO compensation would not be paid out to the families of proven terrorists) Thirdly, it is much easier to illicit public & political sympathy for an ‘innocent man’ coldly executed by Loyalist gunmen, rather than a dedicated terrorist, who ‘lived by the gun’ & consequently died by that same instrument.

During the 1980s, the level of Loyalist paramilitary activity decreased, due in part to the fact that the Security Forces seemed to finally be making inroads against Irish nationalist terror gangs, but Irish nationalist/republican activists were still being targeted & killed with some regularity. In the opening years of that decade, there were the UFF ‘shopping list’ killings, were the Ulster Freedom Fighters targeted & eliminated the leadership of the INLA/IRSP & the ‘Anti H-Blocks/Armagh Committee’. In 1980 & 81 Loyalists killed six republican activists, including the INLA terrorist godfathers ( & godmother?), Bunting, Lyttle & Daly. In 1981 the UVF executed James ‘Skipper’ Burns, the most senior member of the Provos to be killed during the conflict. The so-called quartermaster of PIRA’s ‘Northern Command’ was killed as he lay sleeping. His killer, armed with a 9mm pistol & silencer, shot Burns dead & escaped without waking Burns’ girlfriend, who lay sleeping beside him & did not realise he was dead until she woke in the morning. The rest of the decade saw a further 13 Irish nationalist/republican activists, including senior Provos such as Brendan ‘Ruby’ Davidson & Lawrence Marley, killed by the UVF, UFF, PAF & RHC.

INLA/IRSP leader Ronnie Bunting, shot dead along with his fellow terrorist, Noel Lyttle, by the UFF, 1981

INLA/IRSP leader Ronnie Bunting, shot dead along with his fellow terrorist, Noel Lyttle, by the UFF, 1981

A TIME TO KILL

The 1990s (up until the CLMC ceasefire in October ’94) saw an escalation of Loyalist violence. The UFF & UVF began to strike at the very heart of violent republicanism, again & again. In 1990, five members of PIRA/SF were killed, three of whom were convicted terrorists. In 1991, nine members of PIRA/SF & the IPLO were killed, including such ‘luminaries’ as Pádraig ‘Paddy’ O’Seanacháin, a senior member of PIRA/SF in West Tyrone, Tommy Donaghy, a senior ‘officer’ in the Provos ‘South Derry Brigade’ & IPLO ‘Chief of Staff’ Martin ‘Rook’ O’Prey, both of whom were shot on the same day, the 16th of August, in separate UFF & UVF operations in South Londonderry & West Belfast. On the 3rd of March that year, half of a local PIRA Active Service Unit, 3 men (Quinn, O’Donnell & Nugent), were shot & killed by Mid-Ulster UVF outside Boyle’s Bar in the republican stronghold of Cappagh, Co Tyrone.The UVF later released a statement claiming responsibility & stating: “This was not a sectarian attack on the Catholic community, but was an operation directed at the very roots of the Provisional IRA command structure in the Armagh–Tyrone area”. The statement concluded that “if the Provisional IRA were to cease its campaign of terror, the Ulster Volunteer Force would no longer deem it necessary to continue with such military operations”. 1992 saw another six republicans killed by Loyalists, with 4 more killed in 1993, including senior ‘South Derry’ Provo, James Kelly, whose death lead one UFF spokesman to quip- “For the Provos in South Londonderry to lose one CO could be seen as unfortunate, but to lose two in the space of 18 months just smacks of carelessness”. In the ten months of 1994 prior to the Loyalist ceasefire, three more republicans lost their lives at the hands of Loyalist paramilitary units, bringing the total number killed to 27, in less than five years. Again there are those whom Loyalists would consider to have been legitimate targets that republicans would maintain were ‘innocent men’. Indeed, this category may well run to at least 40 or 50 names, if not more. Men like James Kerr, shot dead by the Red Hand Commando in 1972. Kerr is listed by CAIN as a “Catholic civilian” but the republican National Graves Association maintains his final resting place & in one of their publications, ‘Republican Belfast Graves’, Kerr is named as a member of the Provisional IRA. Such muddying of the waters reminds me of an incident in 1991. A notorious republican & self confessed Provo had just been killed by the UFF, the media was on the scene & the family was being interviewed. The dead man’s widow was asked why he was killed, between sobs she stated “They shot him because he was a Catholic. Our ___ wasn’t involved in nothing political, he was an innocent man”. A few hours later, that “innocent man” was ‘claimed’ by the local PIRA as being one of their ‘volunteers’ (something they probably felt they couldn’t avoid, given the man’s notoriety). Someone was clearly out of the loop on that one! Either the dead man’s wife did not know he was a republican terrorist, or more probably, had been told that, in the event of anything happening to him, she was to deny everything, & being a good little republican, she did as she was told, not realising that it would backfire rather spectacularly & make all concerned look both dishonest & incompetent. There is also the issue of those categorised as ‘innocent civilians’ who were, nonetheless, regarded as legitimate targets by Loyalist paramilitary groups. Members of the GAA for instance, which provided financial & moral support to Irish nationalism & republicanism throughout the conflict, were often targeted & killed. Members of the West Belfast Taxi Association too were regarded as legitimate targets, since that organisation was widely perceived as being a front for the Provisional IRA.  The SDLP & Workers Party have also lost members to Loyalist actions. Though it is interesting to note that only one such organisation, PIRA/SF, complains about alleged collusion & seems unable to accept the conflict related deaths of their comrades.

The aftermath of the assassination of a PIRA member by South Londonderry UFF. Kilrea, 1991.

The aftermath of the assassination of a PIRA member by South Londonderry UFF. Kilrea, 1991.

WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE, WHO NEEDS ENEMIES?

Of course, when confronted with the facts, most Irish nationalists & republicans will simply shrug their shoulders & dismiss anything which does not fit with their skewed version of events, but some will no doubt concede that, yes, Loyalists could & did strike at the very heart of the republican war machine, but of course they will tell anyone fool enough to listen, that was only because the UFF, UVF & RHC were acting as proxies for the British state. That claim would be a hell of a lot more plausible if were not for a few inconvenient facts. Like why did the ‘Brits’ spend so much time & energy trying to prevent Loyalist groups obtaining arms? For instance, the massive UVF arms shipment intercepted by the Security Services (MI5) at Teesport, England, in November of 1993. Surely the British state, if they were the benefactors & backers of organisations like the UVF, would welcome their purchase of 300 assault rifles, dozens of handguns & well over two tonnes of plastic explosive? Why, if republican claims have any veracity, would the security apparatus of the UK move to prevent such a restocking of the UVF’s arsenal? A few years earlier, in 1988, the Security Forces had also moved against the UFF in similar fashion, seizing part of a Lebanese arms shipment consisting of 30 handguns, 61 AK-47 assault rifles, 150 grenades & more than 11,000 rounds of ammunition.

Part of a UDA/UFF arms shipment. Imported from Lebanon, seized by the Security Forces, near Portadown, Jan.1988.

Part of a UDA/UFF arms shipment. Imported from Lebanon, seized by the Security Forces, near Portadown, Jan.1988.

And what of the Loyalists killed by the Security Forces within Northern Ireland? Or the thousands who were locked away for years in the nissen huts, & then the H-blocks, of Long Kesh? Were the female UVF & UFF volunteers incarcerated in Armagh gaol, ‘proxies of the British state’? Was Billy Wright a puppet of the ‘Brits’ when they colluded with the INLA/IRSP to facilitate his murder? What of the homes of suspected Loyalist activists, trashed as thoroughly by the RUC & Army, as any home in the Bogside or South Armagh? Do Irish nationalists really believe that UVF & UFF volunteers held at Castlereagh Holding Centre, were treated any less inhumanely or threatened any less frequently than INLA, IPLO or PIRA men? If Loyalists were in cahoots with the Security Forces, the RUC & Army seem to have been very dubious friends indeed! The inconvenient truth is, the state would have, given the opportunity, smashed Loyalism into the ground, then concentrated on Irish nationalism. Indeed, the fact that a new offence of “Directing Terrorism” was put on the statute books, just to take Johnny Adair off the streets of West Belfast, speaks volumes about the relationship between Loyalism & the Establishment. The state could have armed, organised & trained their own proxy force, recruited from ex-Army personnel within the Loyalist/Unionist community, had they so wished, & turned them loose on republicans. They could have ‘adopted’ one of the Loyalist paramilitary groups as their own. Removed senior people & put their own stooges in their place, then directed & controlled that group as they saw fit. They didn’t & that leaves one asking- why didn’t they? The only logical answer is, they preferred not to take sides & wiping Irish nationalism off the face of the Earth would not have been advantageous to them. Better to simply give a ‘nudge’ or two when required & keep both sides more or less equal in capacity. Successive UK governments did not want a Loyalist victory in Northern Ireland, they wanted a long-term political solution and/or a Security Force victory. The government & Security Service had equal disdain for both sides in the Ulster conflict, although to quote one former agent of the state “I always preferred the Orangies, because unlike the Provos, they recognised that if they wanted to play with the big boys, then it was big boys rules!”

AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH

The truth is always more complex than propaganda. There is no black & white in history, especially very recent history. There are only shades of grey. Did individual members of the Security Forces pass information to Loyalists? Yes, they did. Sometimes. UDR & (less frequently) RUC personnel became so disillusioned, so disgusted at the nihilistic violence & indiscriminate bombing of republican gangs, that yes they gave snippets of information to known UFF, UVF & RHC members. UDR & RUC personnel also engaged in careless talk, in bars, in clubs, at football matches etc. Loyalists have ears (they’re just below our horns!) & loose talk is almost always overheard by someone (hence the name ‘loose talk’) There were also times when information came from higher up. There were times when it suited the Security Services to get certain people ‘out of the way’ (permanently). MI5 have a way of getting what they want (RUC Special Branch too) But that went for both sides. Did the Security Services also sometimes steer republican groups towards a certain target? Yes, undoubtedly. The truth is that ‘The Troubles’ was a dirty, grubby war. Both sides, Loyalist & republican, were sometimes played off each other. Republicans took information they were given about Loyalists, despite their professed hatred of the ‘Brits’. Loyalists took information given to them about republicans, despite the fact that all such information should have been treated as deeply suspect. Were the UFF, UVF, RHC & other Loyalist organisations mere puppets of MI5, the UK government, RUC SB or a combination of all three? No, they were not. Were Loyalist groups funded, armed, directed, trained and/or controlled by the British state? No, they were not. Had they been, to put it crudely, there would not have been enough Irish nationalists/republicans left to complain about it!

TO BE CONTINUED…

The history of collusion is not just about alleged collusion between the state & Loyalist forces. Nor about collusion between ‘dark forces’ within the security apparatus & players on both sides of the divide. There was some institutional collusion between state & armed groups, but the state in question was not the British state, it was the Irish state. In the next part we will look at how the Dublin government of the time, funded, armed & helped to organise the Provisional IRA & how organs of that state (most notably elements within An Garda Síochána) colluded with PIRA/SF in the murder of British citizens. To be continued…