The Dead Weight of History & the Hypocrisy of Sinn Fein

How do the ‘New IRA’ justify their actions?

In the wake of the senseless murder of Lyra McKee some reevaluation of entrenched positions is necessary, and urgent. We must ask ourselves how we have arrived at the situation, where 21 years after the signing of the Belfast Agreement, young women are being murdered on the streets of our second city by Irish republican extremists.

From where do these gangs draw support? From where do they take their inspiration? Unfortunately those are extremely easy questions to answer.

The ‘New IRA’, like the Real IRA, Continuity IRA, Provisional IRA and the Official IRA before them, see themselves as the legitimate heirs of the insurrectionists of Easter, 1916.

The ‘New IRA’ on parade in Dublin. This could however be any republican grouping from the last 50 years.

Furthermore, groups like the so-called New IRA, also look to the actions of their predecessors for moral justification. The statement released by them today, apologising for the death of Ms McKee but attempting to deflect blame away from themselves, is almost a carbon copy of many such statements released over the years by the Provisional IRA, INLA, IPLO etc etc.

A significant number of the older ‘volunteers’ of the New IRA will have grown up hearing such statements. ALL of the members of that group, and it’s political wing Soaradh, will have grown up hearing dead PIRA/Sinn Fein, OIRA, IPLO and INLA/IRSP members being eulogised and lionised.

Hero Worship

Dead republican activists are held up as exemplary people. Made into larger than life figures, heroes to be worshipped and emulated by the younger generation. Such veneration of the republican dead continues to this day, indeed, it has become even more bombastic, unrealistic and quasi religious.

Bobby Sands, former burglar, now portrayed by republicans as a modern day Saint.

This Easter, Provisional Sinn Fein have been busily engaged in myth making. Remembering the so-called “patriot dead“, not as having been living, breathing, fallible human beings, but as symbols of their cause. Comic book versions of real people.

House breakers, gunmen, alcoholic thugs and child murderers are lauded as being almost saintly.

Lofty quotes are attributed to men who, in life, struggled with basic literacy. Morbid graveside orations take on the character of something akin to a church service, mixed with an NSDAP party rally.

Loyalism does not indulge in such outlandish commemoration. Partly because militant Loyalism remembers its fallen on Remembrance Sunday, a day on which any outlandish or overtly militaristic displays would be roundly condemned (rightly so), by the wider Unionist community and by society at large.

Partly because Loyalism does not have at its core a foundational myth like that of Irish republicanism, which has turned the events of Easter week, 1916, into an almost miraculous sequence of events, culminating in the “blood sacrifice” of the Easter rebels.

A Loyalist commemoration in Belfast.

Our critics will, without doubt, highlight our previous articles in remembrance of fallen Loyalist volunteers and accuse ISOT of hypocrisy. Any meaningful reading of those articles will, however, reveal that my co-author was not attempting to present the dead as paragons of virtue, nor as cartoonish, uber-heroic archetypes, but was attempting merely to humanise those who, in the opinion of both myself and my co-author, paid the supreme sacrifice in defence of their community and their country.

A re-reading of those articles will reveal no ‘call-to-arms‘ from beyond the grave. No quotes attributed posthumously in order to inspire the impressionable youth.

Rank Hypocrisy

There is, however, incredible hypocrisy in the words of PSF, who apparently see no contradiction in, on the one hand, condemning the violent actions of the New IRA, whilst on the other hand eulogising the dead of the Provisional IRA and presenting their actions, not only as justifiable, but as having been necessary in the context of the times.

“Our IRA = good, New IRA = bad” the hypocritical message of PIRA/Sinn Fein

Thus Sinn Fein glamourise and romanticise violence. Young, and not-so-young, men within the nationalist/republican community are left with the impression that in order to earn high status within their community, and to earn fame within Irish republican circles, they must engage in violence (of one sort or another).

It is not only hypocritical and disingenuous, it is also dangerous. Young Irish republicans in places like the Creggan will see Sinn Fein’s condemnation of the actions of the New IRA as being either- A) hollow words issued in order to assuage popular opinion, or B) the words of traitors who have abandoned the ‘true faith’, either for economic gain, or for the sake of their own personal safety. Weasel words spoken out of one side of their mouths, whilst PSF continually to harken back to the ‘righteous‘ violence of the Provo’s armed campaign out of the other side of their mouths.

A recent social media post by PSF in North Down. What message does this send to so-called ‘dissident’ republican gangs?

Who is to blame?

No political party or organisation can “ride two horses”. Either Provisional Sinn Fein take responsibility for the radicalisation of thousands of impressionable people within their community, and consequently tone down their martyr worship and constant justification of past violence, or they must face the fact that they will be guilty of giving further aid and succour to the so-called ‘dissident’ terror gangs.

Provisional Sinn Fein: rewriting history to suit their own agenda

Nor can the Provisional republican movement continue to openly and continually justify 30 years of sectarian violence, murder and mayhem, whilst at the same time condemning contemporary republican violence.

Every community has an inalienable right to remember their dead, a right which I would defend absolutely, however, however, for the sake of future generations, such remembrance must be solemn and dignified, absent any triumphalism and without the lionising of the dead which has done so much to indoctrinate successive generations. We must remind the youth that ALL such deaths were tragic.

Only by doing so can we move forward without glamourising violence. There is no “blood sacrifice”, no ‘martyrdom‘, there is only the personal tragedy of violent and premature deaths.

Sinn Fein have turned the republican hunger strikers into heroic archetypes

Let every community remember it’s dead, but in a way that does not jeopardise the future.

Conclusion

The dead do not speak to us from beyond the grave, as Provisional Sinn Fein would have us believe. They do not spur us on towards our perceived goals. This is the lesson that Irish republicanism MUST learn.

To dehumanise the dead by turning them into caricatures, semi-religious figures, absent of any human frailty, is to do them a grave disservice and to insult their memory in the eyes of those who knew them as living, breathing human beings with human failings and foibles.

It is also, as previously stated, a dangerous path. One which leads younger people into believing in violence for violence’s sake. Graveside orations and calls to action from beyond the grave are destructive, inciting and deeply damaging. They do nothing but add fuel to the fires, a fire already well stoked by the so-called ‘dissidents’.

Spot the difference- New IRA or Provisional IRA?

We must ALL learn that acts of remembrance are not calls to arms, nor appeals for fresh tragedy. Irish republicans need to learn this most of all. For if that lesson is not learned, our society will face more tragedy, and more senseless murder.

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Ordinary Voices: Interview 2

Interview 2

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As with all the other interviews for the Ordinary Voices project, this interview was conducted via email.

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Respondent is Peter, (48), who lives in Newtownabbey with his partner and two boys. Has no connection to any political party or organisation, but takes a “keen interest in events that happen and have happened in the Province”. Peter describes himself as a keen follower of sports and a “TV junkie“.

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Q1. How would you describe yourself politically?

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Currently, I would describe myself as extreme Unionist. My politics have changed greatly, since my father was shot dead by the Provisional IRA in 1993.

I had been an Alliance voter, but since the ongoing and ever increasing capitulation to Sinn Fein and their never ending demands, I have moved through most shades of Unionism, each in turn letting its Voters down when it counts and being more interested in their own egos and self gain, rather than how Unionism is continually on the back foot.

2. Do you believe that legacy issues are undermining the peace process?

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100%. The Legacy debate is totally controlled by Sinn Fein and Republicanism. Unionist politicians appear to be doing sweet F.A. for IRA Victims, again interested in their own furtherance and what back handers and positions they can receive.

The ‘Peace Process’ has been a continual one way traffic event. I would like a list of at least 10 things that the Unionist Community have gained from the ‘Peace Process.’

I can name only two Unionist Politicians who have given me any help and support in progressing my father’s case. Most others, not just Unionist, have promised that they would move mountains, but have done very little.

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3. Do you think there is a bias when it comes to legacy issues and how they are dealt with?

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A blind man can see that there is a total and utter bias when it comes to Legacy. Nearly every demand that Republicans seek, re enquiries, prosecutions, etc, is unendingly granted. If something doesn’t go their way, they kick up a stink with a compliant media and Police Ombudsman and lo and behold, sooner or later their demands are met.

When was the last Sinn Fein/IRA upheld conviction? What enquiries into the actions of the IRA have ever found against them? The perception in the Unionist Community is that the ‘Peace Process’ means that no matter what happens, nothing will be done to derail having ‘murderers in Government,’

4. Do you believe that Republicans have a genuine and sincere interest in reconciliation?

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Only on their terms. Whilst many, many mistakes were made in the past, the Republican movement want and demand ‘payback‘ and then some. Who can forget King Gerry’s “We’ll break the bastards…..” Has that ever been fully and unequivocally retracted?

Sinn Fein claim to hold out the hand of ‘friendship,’ but at the same time celebrate and glorify mass-murderers and seek a one-way justice, with no call for enquiries into IRA actions or Court cases, or recompense, and then oppose any show of Unionism, but then demand Irish language street signs, Easter lillies to be freely available, etc etc, whilst at the same time demonising anything associated with Unionism.

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5. Do you think that more could be done by Loyalists to foster reconciliation?

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What more are Loyalists expected to give? Politicians in Government involved in heinous events in Northern Ireland’s history, killers walking about freely (My father’s killer ‘allegedly‘ murdered again and is currently serving a sentence for Attempted Murder in the Republic of Ireland. The likelihood of him being returned to jail to serve out the remainder of his sentence for my father’s killing, is slim- next to zero!!).

Every part of Loyalism is under attack and what investment has taken place in Working Class Loyalist areas? Investment in terms of Social Housing, State of the Art Sports facilities? Again, Big House Unionism has a lot to answer for, but where is Sinn Fein’s ‘Equality,’ mantra here?

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6. Do you accept the Republican narrative that ‘collusion’ was very widespread and institutional?

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Collusion did not just happen on the Loyalist side and was not systemic! No light has been shone into current high ranking Provisionals turned Community Workers and politicians who have worked/work as ‘State Agents’.

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7. Do you believe that enough is being done to bring the two communities together, especially in interface areas?

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Millions of pounds have been poured into interface areas and Community Workers, so we are told. If this has been the case, where is there published a full and complete breakdown of what each of these ‘Community Workers,’ is paid and what scheme in each area has actually taken place in to ‘bring Communities together,‘ or is it just jobs and money for the boys?

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8. Finally, what are your hopes and aspirations for NI in the medium to long term?

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With unworkable local government and a British government too scared, or too unwilling, to take any sort of decisive action, any immediate change is unlikely. Sinn Fein and the Republican Movement’s sole aim is the destruction of Northern Ireland and to drive the British out of Ireland.

How any one in their right mind believes that Sinn Fein want Northern Ireland to ‘work‘ as an entity is on another planet.

Ideally, my father and I would have been of a similar mindset, in that we both would want nothing more than a peaceful and prosperous Northern Ireland, but that is far from what we have here now. Northern Ireland is a Mafia-like state with political and paramilitary fiefdoms in each Community,

I hope that when my two boys grow up, that they have the wisdom to leave here and seek better opportunity elsewhere. When people talked to me after my father’s killing and asked if I ever believed there would be true peace here, I stated then and still firmly believe that we are probably at least two Generations away from that being possible, or at all likely.

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Our sincere thanks to Peter for agreeing to this interview & his participation in the Ordinary Voices project

ISOT.

Rebalancing Legacy- the Irish republican perspective

The “Legacy Battle”

Recently the Loyalist and wider Unionist community have been campaigning to bring some semblance of balance to the issue of the legacy of ‘The Troubles’. Loyalists and Unionists assert that Irish republicans/Irish supremacists have been busily engaged in a coordinated and concentrated effort to rewrite the history of the Ulster conflict- whitewashing Irish republican war-crimes, airbrushing out any reference to collusion between republican murder gangs and outside agencies, and generally trying to minimise the brutality and cruelty of Irish republican criminal gangs, especially PIRA/Sinn Fein.

Irish republicans strenuously deny any kind of historical revisionism or rewriting of history. That is a blatant and bare-faced lie, which this blog post and several more will prove, beyond any shadow of a doubt.

We will be using tweets, sent by Irish supremacists, to illustrate how these individuals a) are indeed attempting to rewrite the history of ‘The Troubles’, and b) that for reasons which will become clear at a later date, all of these individuals seem to be “singing from the same hymn sheet”. We had considered redacting the Twitter usernames of those whose tweets we will publish, however, these tweets were posted on a public forum and those responsible for authoring them should have no problem with them being seen on another public forum.

The ‘Examples’

The following are but a tiny fraction of some of the screenshots that we have taken over the past 5 weeks or so. They will prove ample illustration of the sort of attitudes held by Irish republicans and their peculiar, warped view of the history of Northern Ireland and, more specifically, the internecine conflict which ravaged our country between 1969 and the mid 1990’s.

You will no doubt notice the similarities in these tweets and in the type of Twitter user (or “bot”) that posted them. Enjoy and try not injure yourself laughing!

This is just a small snapshot, more will be posted soon. We believe that this is ample evidence, not only of the sheer bigotry, sectarianism and anti-British racism of Irish republican extremists, but also of their pathetic attempts to rewrite the history of Northern Ireland.

Who Armed the Provos? Dublin, Monaghan & the ‘Civil Rights’ Connection

Ulster- 1969

On the 16th of August, while parts of Belfast burned, Paddy Kennedy, then a protégé of Gerry Fitt, travelled to Dublin accompanied by fellow Stormont MP’s Paddy Devlin and Paddy O’Hanlon. They crossed the border looking for guns: making an impassioned appeal at a public meeting outside the GPO on O’Connell Street, and in private to officials in the Department of External Affairs. The crowd outside the GPO was sympathetic but largely unable to help. Later, the three were roundly rebuffed at Iveagh House. If these official channels proved uncooperative, however, other ‘official channels’ were more forthcoming.

It was through conversations with Paddy Kennedy that a certain John Devine first became aware of the importation and distribution of arms and ammunition to Irish nationalists and the role being played by certain Irish government minsters in facilitating this. Using information gleaned from Kennedy and others, including Paddy Devlin, Gerry Fitt and sources in the press, Devine began to piece together a remarkably detailed picture of covert operations that were ongoing across Ulster. Clearly a great deal of work went into compiling the document and checking the veracity of its claims. Devine stated:

Much of the information which follows has been checked out by me, and found to be fairly accurate. What is contained, unchecked, is passed on because it comes from what are described as “usually reliable” sources.”

The information that emerged subsequently- through the so-called “arms trials”, the investigation by the public accounts committee, Peter Berry’s diaries (published in ‘Magill’ magazine in 1980) and the numerous other exposés on the subject- have clearly demonstrated that the information contained in the memorandum were indeed remarkably accurate in every respect.

An early PIRA recruitment poster; Note how well armed the Provo gang in the above image is, just months after the formation of that organisation. How many of the Provo’s guns were gifted to them by the Irish state?

John Devine’s Investigation

Devine began by noting that since the publication of the Cameron report on the 12th of September, 1969, a great deal of media attention had been given to- “The influence of Left-Wing elements in the Civil Rights agitation in the North. While our attention has been diverted in that direction, certain other forces have been at work, and are working

He continued- “Since the recent major outbreaks of trouble an “agent” of Messrs. Haughey, Blaney and Boland, has been conducting military intelligence gathering on trips behind the barricades. Contacts are being built up and ammunition, arms and money have already been distributed…..the contacts are among the republican element in the North, who have more or less broken with the Dublin HQ of the IRA [those who would soon become known as the Provisional IRA], principally because this “agent” can deliver what the IRA cannot. The IRA is highly worried and indignant at the influence which these Fianna Fáil people are having among Northern republicans, the possibility of retaliation is likely from the Dublin end. Fianna Fáil have now established a chain of links from Belfast to Derry, including places like Dungannon, Newry, Armagh, Coalisland, Omagh and in other places where their sphere of contacts up to now has been negligible. Their aid is being accepted

The ‘Civil Rights’ Connection

Devine’s report went on to note that an office had been set up in Monaghan town, with the approval of the named ministers, from which the ‘Monaghan Civil Rights office‘ of NICRA (the so-called ‘Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association’) operated. Among those activities was the production of Irish republican propaganda, including the pamphlet ‘Terror in Northern Ireland‘ (written by the journalist and arch-republican Séamus Brady, who was close to Blaney), which Paddy Devlin had distributed in London. The ‘Monaghan Office‘ also organised public demonstrations such as the meeting outside the GPO in Dublin on the 27th of September, 1969.

Paddy Kennedy MP, Republican-Labour

At that meeting, speakers called for donations to be made to the ‘Monaghan Civil Rights Group‘, and Paddy Kennedy (‘Republican Labour’ MP for Belfast Central) had told the crowd that “I think you will know what I mean if I say that never again do we want an August 14th in my city“. Other speakers were much more explicit- one called for guns and explosives, with all donations to go to the ‘Civil Rights Group‘ in Monaghan, while another appealed for actual recruits, unequivocally stating that the “machine-guns and revolvers” bought with public donations would require able bodied men to fire them. John Devine’s report continued-

The activities directly attributable to the ‘Monaghan Office’ continue to expand. It is now clear that a large number of meetings have been organised, especially in the western counties [of Northern Ireland)], and are aimed purely at rising the spirit of republicanism”. On Friday next the first of a series of weekly propaganda newspapers [‘Voice of the North’] will be circulated and distributed in the North. The paper will be bitterly anti-Unionist. The committee of management involves some of those named on the ‘Monaghan Committee’; Blaney, Boland and Haughey’s agent, and others, also known to me. The paper will be printed in the ‘Anglo-Celt’, Cavan. Five or six vans, necessary for transporting the newspaper, have already been acquired. As well, plans are in hand for the setting up of a powerful mobile pirate radio . . . This also has cabinet backing“.

A Strange Conclusion

Having gathered and verified his information, which clearly implicated government ministers and agents of the state in the illegal importation of arms and the founding, organising and funding of a vicious terrorist grouping (the Provisional IRA) Devine was left in a terrible predicament. The Gardaí were aware of what was happening but there was no visible evidence that anything was being done to interfere, nor was it likely that anything would be done.

Knowing that the information was good but not legally publishable, Devine decided to pass the information to the one person he believed had the sophistication to deal with it in the appropriate manner: The Irish Labour Party’s Northern Ireland spokesman- Conor Cruise O’Brien. O’Brien held the appropriate portfolio, he was also sharp enough to appreciate what exactly was in the document and how to deal with it, introducing it into Dáil Éireann through supplementary questions or by other means. It would appear however that somebody had ‘gotten at’ O’Brien. A couple of weeks before he had been given the Devine’s report O’Brien’s play ‘King Herod‘ had opened at the Dublin Theatre Festival.
Later that month, O’Brien travelled to New York to meet a Broadway producer for discussions on the possibility of staging his latest theatrical effort. Before boarding his flight, he rang John Devine from a payphone in Dublin airport to tell him he was “going away“, and promptly boarded his flight and left. Devine believed that O’Brien would take action arising from his dossier when he returned, but strangely nothing ever happened.

Conor Cruise O’Brien
It is very difficult to comprehend how or why he failed to act on the intelligence provided to him, especially when it concerned his nemesis, Charles Haughey. We cannot know what, or who, stopped O’Brien from using the information given to him, neither can we be certain what would have happened had he used Devine’s information appropriately. What seems likely, however, is that, in the face of the accusations becoming public, Lynch would have been compelled to act sooner rather than later, and at the very least the “Arms Crisis” of the following year would have been averted. Perhaps some of the substantial aid given to the Provo murder gangs by the Irish government in 1970-71 would not have been given. How many deaths are directly attributable to the Irish government of that period who, in the final analysis, were responsible for organising, financing, arming and training the nascent Provisional IRA? Would the Ulster conflict have escalated to the nightmarish internecine war it became in 1972, ’73, ’74 and later?

Collusion is not an Illusion

Devine’s dossier is further evidence of the extent of collusion between the nascent Provisional IRA and the Irish government during the formative early years of the Provo’s existence. Without the money, banking facilities, arms, ammunition, safe houses and organisation provided to the PIRA murder gangs (and their immediate predecessors) by the Irish state in the years 1969-1972 (and almost certainly later), it is highly unlikely that the Provos could have sustained an effective campaign for more than 7 or 8 years. Of course, the unjustifiable slaughter of ‘Bloody Sunday’ gave the Provos not only an influx of new recruits but also an increase in support, both passive and active, within the community from which they first emerged. However, had the government of Éire not sponsored republican terrorism in Northern Ireland, ‘Bloody Sunday’ might never have happened. The outbreak of inter-ethnic violence which had erupted in the Summer of 1969 might well have petered out by the following Spring. Especially since most, if not all, of NICRA’s demands had been met by the NI government by early 1970.

Belfast, September 1969

At the time, and for many years since, a section of Loyalism and Unionism has maintained that, at least from 1968 onwards, the ‘Civil Rights’ movement had become a front for violent Irish nationalism. At one time I would have dismissed such claims, as most people did. Now however I am reasonably convinced that NICRA did indeed become a vehicle for Irish republican terrorists, acting in collusion with the Irish state. From early 1969, at the latest, NICRA, or a significant element thereof, had been thoroughly infiltrated by people who would go on to involve themselves in some of the most heinous, reprehensible, inhuman acts of violence ever committed.

Whilst researching this article I was put in touch with two gentlemen, now elderly, from the South L’derry area. Both are from a Unionist background and both had been involved in the ‘Civil Rights’movement, albeit briefly, in 1969. Their take on the events of that era was quite illuminating, as was the fact that both had turned their backs on Leftist protest politics by the beginning of 1970, so much so in fact that when I asked how they would describe themselves now, one man said- “I suppose I’d maybe call myself a TUV man now“. The other man declared unequivocally that since 1998 he would describe himself as a “Dissident Loyalist”. That is quite a turn around, even in 49 years, but it is perhaps unsurprising given the events, and the horrors, witnessed by the two men since 1969.

I will end this piece now with the words of one of those men (both of whom wish to remain anonymous) when I asked about his involvement in the ‘Civil Rights’ movement-

I saw injustice, not only among the Roman Catholic people but among Protestants too. Catholics in Derry lived in slum housing and there was gerrymandering as they called it as well. Protestants in Derry didn’t have it much better but there were things the government could have done and should have done. ‘One man one vote’ should have been brought in here [NI] when it was in England after the [Second World] War. Stormont did not listen, never did, and didn’t seem to care. Many more Protestants and Unionists would have come to support the Civil Rights Association but they [Irish republicans] couldn’t keep the gun out of it. They didn’t really want decent houses and a fair vote, they wanted to overthrow the very state and a lot of them just wanted to kill Protestants. They couldn’t keep the gun out of it. I soon saw what was happening, even though they [republicans] were wary of talking freely in ‘mixed company’, so to speak, it was blatantly obvious what was going to happen. I walked away from it. Four or five months was more than enough to see what way the wind was blowing.

PIRA/Sinn Fein: A Movement Without Morals (Part 9)

The 90s: Another Decade of Death

As the 1980s ended and the 90s began the situation in Ulster was more or less the same as it had been at the start of the previous decade. PIRA/Sinn Fein continued its murderous campaign whilst Loyalist paramilitaries attempted to force them to stop. Killings were followed by retaliatory killings. Violence was met with counter-violence. But whilst the UDA/UFF and UVF continued to target and kill men, and increasingly turned their sights on active republican terrorists, PIRA/SF continued to target men, women and children, often without regard to age or gender. Few could’ve foreseen in the first days of the 1990s that this would be the decade that would finally see an end to ‘The Troubles’. Indeed, many times in the 90s it seemed that the Conflict was, almost inevitably, going to escalate into a full-blown civil war. Indeed, all out war seemed more likely than peace. Yet before peace would arrive, before the final days of ‘The Troubles’, Ulster would witness some of the most awful and bloody atrocities in the whole sorry history of the Conflict.

Provo Godfather Gerry Adams. Still wedded to violence in the early 90s

Provo Godfather Gerry Adams. Still wedded to violence in the early 90s

The Provisional IRA were limited in their activities during this period because of the increasing effectiveness of Loyalist paramilitaries. Between 1989 and 1994 (when the CLMC ceasefire was called) the UVF and Ulster Freedom Fighters killed dozens of PIRA/SF, INLA/IRSP and IPLO activists as well as a large number of others who were providing Irish nationalist terror groups with information, financial and/or logistical support. This effectively neutered the Provo murder gangs in many parts of Northern Ireland. Despite this however, PIRA/Sinn Fein still did their utmost to cause havoc and commit murder. The Provos, becoming ever more desperate, sunk lower and lower, carrying out some of the most heinous crimes the ‘Western World‘ has ever seen.

Human Bombs

On Wednesday, the 24th of October, 1990, eleven members of the Provo’s ‘Derry City Brigade’ kidnapped 42 year old Patsy Gillespie from his home in the Shantallow area of Londonderry. While his wife and children were being held at gunpoint, Patsy was forced to drive his Vauxhall Nova car to a rural spot on the Co. Donegal side of the Border. Patsy Gillespie was then forced into a van loaded with 1,000lbs (450kg) of explosives and told to drive to the Coshquin permanent Border checkpoint on the Buncrana Road. Armed PIRA gunmen followed him in a stolen car to ensure he obeyed their commands, the Provo terrorists having already told Gillespie that his wife and children would be murdered if he did not follow their orders.  Four minutes from the checkpoint, the PIRA hoods armed the bomb remotely. When Patsy Gillespie reached the checkpoint, at 3:55 AM, he desperately tried to get out and warn the soldiers, but the bomb detonated when he attempted to open the door. The callous Provo bomb makers had installed a detonation device linked to the van’s interior light, which came on whenever the van door opened. As a ‘safeguard’, the bombers also used a timing device to ensure the bomb detonated at the right moment (ie. when the bombers were safely out of the way). Patsy Gillespie and five soldiers were killed instantly when the device exploded. Witnesses reported hearing “shouting, screaming and then shots” right before the explosion. The bomb devastated the base, destroying the operations room. The death toll would have been much higher if most of the soldiers hadn’t been sleeping in a recently built mortar-proof bunker. The blast also damaged 28 nearby houses, with many of the occupants of those homes requiring treatment for shock and minor injuries. At Patsy Gillespie’s funeral, Roman Catholic Bishop Edward Daly said that PIRA/Sinn Fein and its supporters were:

“the complete contradiction of Christianity. They may say they are followers of Christ. Some of them may even still engage in the hypocrisy of coming to church, but their lives and their works proclaim clearly that they follow Satan.”

Meanwhile in Newry, at the other end of Northern Ireland, members of PIRA/SF took over the home of James McAvoy (65). He was allegedly targeted because he served RUC officers at his filling station(!), which was beside the house. He was driven away in a Toyota HiAce van while his terrified family was held at gunpoint. At Flagstaff Hill, near the Border, members of the Provo’s ‘South Armagh Brigade’ loaded the van with a ton of explosives. James McAvoy was strapped into the driver’s seat and told to drive the van to Cloghoge permanent vehicle checkpoint. Before he drove off, one of the terrorists seemed to have a pang of conscience and told James McAvoy not to open the van’s door, but to exit the vehicle through the window. The cowardly Provo gang followed the van in a stolen car and turned into a side-road well before it reached its intended target. When James McAvoy stopped the van and climbed out the window, a soldier came over and began shouting at him to move the vehicle. Seconds later the device exploded. The soldier was killed outright and 13 others were injured. James McAvoy survived with just a broken leg. 21 year old Ranger Cyril J. Smith, from No.4 Platoon, B. Coy., 2nd Battalion RIR, was posthumously awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal, for leading James McAvoy to safety and trying to warn his comrades about the bomb rather than running for cover. Ranger Smith was a Catholic from Carrickfergus. He had recently gotten engaged. At about the same time, there was a third attempted “proxy bombing” in Co. Tyrone. A third innocent man was strapped into a car and forced to drive it to Lisanelly Army base in Omagh while his young wife and seven year old child were held at gunpoint. This third bomb weighed 1,500lbs (680kg) but, due to a faulty detonator, failed to explode.

A memorial to 'Proxy Bomb' victim Patsy Gillespie.

A memorial to ‘Proxy Bomb’ victim Patsy Gillespie.

These ‘proxy bomb’ attacks, or to describe them more accurately, involuntary suicide attacks, marked a new low, even for PIRA/Sinn Fein. A tactic so despicable, so disgusting, that it has not been copied by any other terrorist group anywhere in the world. Not even al-Qaeda, Hamas or Boko Haram. That alone is ample demonstration of PIRA/SF’s absolute lack of morality. To hold a civilian’s wife and children at gunpoint and force them to drive a van, laden with high explosive, to a target where the bomb will explode, killing the kidnapped man and anyone who happens to be in the vicinity, is a vile and cruel tactic. The work of individuals too cowardly to confront their so-called “enemy” face to face. Individuals too wretched and pathetic to wage war by the accepted standards of warfare.

The aftermath of a Provo "Proxy bomb" attack.

The aftermath of a Provo “Proxy bomb” attack.

Teebane: An Attack on the Entire Protestant Community

On Friday, the 17th of January, 1992, at a place known as Teebane crossroads in Co. Tyrone, the Provos carried out the single biggest planned mass killing of Protestant workmen since the Kingsmills massacre of 1976. Eight Protestant men, travelling home from work, were murdered and another six badly injured when a PIRA/SF roadside bomb exploded, destroying the Ford Transit mini-bus they were travelling in. The Provos later added insult to injury by declaring that the dead men were “eight collaborators engaged in rebuilding Lisanelly barracks”. It is very probable that the sick minded bigot that concocted that vile statement is now a Sinn Fein elected representative!

Teebane: The mass-murder of Protestant civilians coming home from a days work.

Teebane: The mass-murder of Protestant civilians coming home from a days work.

The victims of the Teebane bombing came from a wide area of Northern Ireland, from Doagh, Magherafelt, Ballymena, Cookstown. Many Protestant communities were deeply affected by the atrocity. One of the dead was Gary Bleeks (25) who had returned from England to his native Cookstown, taking up a job with Karl Construction Ltd., from Antrim. He lived with his elderly Grandmother, Elma. She later described how she and the rest of the young man’s family had learned of his death:

We waited in suspense from six o’clock. Didn’t know until ten. We rang the hospitals. He wasn’t admitted and we knew if he wasn’t admitted [to hospital] he must be dead. And a woman came yesterday and told us that her daughter had held his hand till he died. She asked him where he was from and he told her Cookstown. He was quick to tell her that. A lorry driver came and helped him till he died. And so it was a comfort, to know there was somebody with him, that he wasn’t dying on his own”

In a way the Teebane massacre was another case of “mistaken identity” by the Provo death squads. In the immediate aftermath of the atrocity the bungling terrorists had insisted that their innocent victims were employees of Henry Brothers, based in Magherafelt, a company that had been targeted repeatedly by the sectarian killers of PIRA/Sinn Fein. Needless to say that the Provos really didn’t care who the men worked for, just as long as they had been working at an Army base or police station, thus giving the hate-filled bombers an excuse to mask their deep-seated sectarianism, for Teebane was a sectarian attack. A deliberate act of savagery, directed squarely at the Protestant community as a whole.

More Dead Children: More Wrecked Lives

On Friday, the 10th of April, 1992, at about 9:20pm, Irish nationalist terrorism returned to London. A Provo bomb, containing one ton of explosives packed into a large white Volvo lorry, with a detonation cord made from 100lbs (45kg) of semtex, exploded at the Baltic Exchange, London. It killed three people: Paul Butt (29), a Baltic Exchange employee, Thomas Casey (49), and 15 year old Danielle Carter, a schoolgirl from Essex. Another 91 people were injured. Almost half of the wounded were women and children. The façade of the Exchange’s offices at 30 St. Mary Axe was partially demolished, the rest of the building extensively damaged.

PIRA/SF bombed the Baltic Exchange on 10th of April 1992, killing 2 men and a young girl. This was the sight that greeted those who came to inspect the damage the following day.

PIRA/SF bombed the Baltic Exchange on 10th of April 1992, killing 2 men and a young girl. This was the sight that greeted those who came to inspect the damage the following day.

The bomb led to the destruction of the Baltic Exchange which has now been replaced by The Gherkin. London had seen more than its fair share of PIRA/SF bombings and gun attacks but the murder of two men and a young girl was truly shocking. Irish republican apologists will try to warp the facts of the matter and claim that the civilians murdered that night were killed “in error”, but the facts speak for themselves. PIRA/Sinn Fein set out to destroy the Baltic Exchange and as much of the surrounding area as possible. The bombers didn’t care who died in the blast. They probably cheered when they heard that they had killed three ‘Brits’. PIRA/Sinn Fein’s sectarianism only being matched by their racist hatred for anyone and anything that is not Irish and ‘Gaelic’.

On Monday, the 12th of October, 1992, that xenophobic hatred was once again visited upon the innocent civilians of the UK’s capital. A Provo bomb gang left a small device, packed with ball-bearings and other deadly shrapnel, inside ‘The Sussex’, a busy pub on Upper St.Martin’s Lane in the popular Covent Garden area of the city. Five people were badly wounded in the attack. One of those unfortunate people, David Heffer (30), succumbed to his wounds the following day. The bomb attack on ‘The Sussex’ was just one of several such attacks in October of that year, although thankfully the other indiscriminate bombings caused only minor injuries to 12 people and no-one else was killed.

Any Irish republican reprobate who still foolishly clings to the notion that PIRA/SF did not deliberately target civilians should do some research. Not only did they target civilians, at times en masse, but the Provo thugs did it throughout the Conflict. From their emergence (aided and funded by the Irish government) in 1970, right up until their first ceasefire in 1994, PIRA/Sinn Fein targeted and killed civilians, deliberately, coldly, callously, without compunction. The sanitising of PIRA/Sinn Fein’s history needs to stop because it is farcical, it is damaging to the ‘Peace Process’ and it is insulting, not only to victims and their families, but to every decent, sane, rational person of a certain age who can remember ‘The Troubles’ as they really were, not as republicans would have the world believe they were.

NEXT WEEK: PART TEN – FROM WARRINGTON TO THE SHANKILL

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

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