UK

WHY EASTERN UKRAINE SHOULD MATTER TO LOYALISTS

During the Czechoslovakian crisis of 1938, with Nazi Germany pushing for the annexation of the Sudetenland, UK Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain spoke of “a quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing”. Today our world is a much smaller place (figuratively speaking) there are no more people of whom we know nothing. Every evening our television screens are filled with images of conflict in Syria, Iraq & lately, in Eastern Ukraine. Why should Ulster Loyalists care about that “far away country”? For me it is very simple, we should care because the Russian people of Eastern Ukraine have much in common with the British people of Northern Ireland. Both are much maligned by the BBC! That should have alarm bells ringing for a start!

The Russian people in Eastern (& parts of South-Western) Ukraine constitute the largest number of ethnic Russians outside of the Russian Federation, numbering 8.5 million, according to the last census there in 2001. Much of Eastern Ukraine has an ethnic Russian majority. They speak Russian (although Russian & Ukrainian are mutually intelligible languages anyway, in the same way as English & Ulster-Scots), they are culturally Russian, they are Russian in their outlook & way of life. In fact, they are Russian in every way, except by citizenship. They are not Ukrainian, they do not identify themselves with Ukrainian culture, they do not view themselves as being Ukrainian & they are prepared to fight to defend themselves, their culture, their heritage & their way of life. Remind you of anyone?

A 'flag protest' in Donetsk. Russian style!

A ‘flag protest’ in Donetsk. Russian style!

A LONG HISTORY

Russians have been settling in Ukraine (or rather, in what is today considered Ukraine) since medieval times, when the Goriun peoples settled in Putivl. The first new waves of Russian settlers onto Ukrainian territory came in the late 16th century, to the uninhabited lands of Slobozhanschyna, in what is now Northeastern Ukraine. More Russians came to settle in those lands in the late 17th century, at the same time as the Williamite Wars were being fought in the British Isles. At the end of the 18th century, the Russian Empire captured large swathes of territory from the former Crimean Khanate & the systematic colonization of lands in what became known as ‘New Russia’ (Novo Rossiya) began. Officially, the Russian Empire regarded ethnic Ukrainians as being Russian, belonging to a single Russian nation, the descendants of the people of the Rus’. In fact, until the end of the 19th century, Ukraine did not really exist, even as a concept, let alone as nation.

After the October revolution (1917) several Soviet Republics were formed by the Bolsheviks of the region,  later, due in large part to pressure from Lenin & other Bolshevik leaders, a single unified Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was proclaimed. The Ukrainian SSR was de jure a separate state until the formation of the USSR in 1922 & survived until the breakup of the USSR. Lenin insisted that ignoring the national question in Ukraine would endanger the support of the Revolution among Ukrainians & thus the new borders of the Ukrainian SSR were established. These new borders included all of Novorossiya & other neighboring provinces, which contained a substantial number of ethnic Russians. In 1954, the Supreme Soviet issued the decree on the transfer of the Crimea from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR. Thus increasing the ethnic Russian population of Ukraine by almost a million people. Since Ukrainian independence in 1991 the Russian people of Ukraine have felt increasingly isolated & marginalised. Many Russian language schools have been closed, Russian culture has been attacked & cultural activities curtailed (again, sound familiar?) When the far-right ‘European Movement’ seized power in the so-called ‘2014 Ukrainian Revolution’, ousting democratically elected president Viktor Yanukovych, the Russian people of Crimea & Eastern Ukraine decided that enough was enough & took up arms to defend themselves from the illegitimate new regime in Kiev. The ‘Crimean Crisis’ resulted in that region declaring independence on the 17th of March this year, with Crimea applying to join the Russian Federation soon after. A referendum on the issue was called & 96% of Crimeans supported joining Russia. In the East however, things are more complex. Crimea is a relatively small peninsula on the Black Sea, even if the far-right junta in Kiev were to bow to inevitability & recognise it’s new status as a part of Russia, Ukraine could continue much as it has done since 1991, but to accede to the demands of the Russian people in the Donbas & other Eastern areas means relinquishing control of a large (& lucrative) portion of the country. Ukraine will not let the coal miners of Donetsk, or the metal workers of Luhansk, break away from Ukrainian domination without a fight.

THE PARALLELS ARE DRAWN

A people whose culture is threatened & attacked, whose language is denied legitimacy, whose schools are closed, whose way of life is denigrated & who are condemned by the media. Am I talking about Russians in Eastern Ukraine or the Ulster-Scots people of Northern Ireland? Clearly both face the same problems. We both face an implacable enemy, driven by a sense of self-righteousness & a swivel eyed fanaticism rarely found in most modern European nations. We are both vilified & demonised by the politically motivated & morally repugnant BBC. We are both accused of being ‘planted’ into our native lands, of being ‘invaders’ or ‘immigrants’ (a favourite slur of the more racist element within republicanism). We both face an enemy with a murky & disreputable history, for Ukrainian nationalists, just like Irish nationalists, supported the Nazi war machine in WWII, whilst Ulstermen fought against Fascism in every corner of the globe & Russians made the ultimate sacrifice in their tens of millions to rid the world of the genocidal Nazis. The Russian people of Eastern Ukraine & the Loyalist people of Ulster have much in common. Loyalists should be proud to support those in Ukraine who are fighting to free themselves from the grasp of a monocultural state, a state that is as foreign & as artificial to them as an all-island republic would be to us. Ulster Loyalism as always had an international dimension. Loyalists are not parochial or insular. International affairs have always had a special significance for us here in Ulster. The history of the Ulster-Scots as a people is invariably tied to the history of Western Europe & beyond, after all, The Boyne was not an Irish battle but a European one, as were the battles of both world wars. Loyalists & Unionists have never been predisposed to think that the world revolves around this one small island, nor content to stay within these shores & plead for help from our diaspora, or anyone else. Loyalists & Unionists have gone out into the wider world, as soldiers, as statesmen, as pioneers & frontiersmen. I hope that Loyalists/Unionists never become political introverts. That we never become as obsessional about this one little patch of Earth as our fanatical & xenophobic enemies within Irish nationalism. Let us never be afraid of reaching out to those with whom we feel a strong affinity. Especially when there are such striking similarities, such strong parallels, between ourselves & those in “far away lands”.

The Russian people of Eastern Ukraine, forced to take up the gun to preserve their national identity.

The Russian people of Eastern Ukraine, forced to take up the gun to preserve their national identity.

A LESSON FOR IRISH REPUBLICANS

Kiev cannot make the Russian people of Eastern Ukraine be Ukrainian. They cannot force Russian culture out of the heads of those who feel themselves to be Russians. If they ratchet up the violence in the East of the country even more, they will either be beaten or they will have to ‘ethnically cleanse’ those loyal to Russia & leave huge swathes of the country as wasteland (although Russia will never tolerate that). There is clearly a lesson there for Irish nationalists & republicans. A culture cannot be destroyed unless you destroy the people that carry that culture in their hearts. A people cannot be made to feel that they are something they’re not. A national identity cannot be forced onto people. You may be as Irish as you like but you will never force that sense of ‘Irishness’ onto me, nor supplant my identity for any other. Just as the Russian people in Eastern Ukraine are prepared to fight, to kill & to die for their national identity, culture & way of life, we Ulster Loyalists are prepared to do the same. We have been compelled to do so before. We will have no compunction about doing so again. We should stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of the Donetsk Peoples Republic & those Russians fighting for their very existence in Ukraine. We should tell the world that we support them. For just like us they have been pushed down & vilified for too long. Their culture has been criminalised. Their heritage threatened. Kiev has tried to take the very language from out of their mouths. But no more. The Russian people of Eastern Ukraine have risen against their oppressors & I salute them for it!

 

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If you agree with me about the situation in Eastern Ukraine, please show your support for the Donetsk People’s Republic, give this Facebook page a like- https://ru-ru.facebook.com/stopukrainianarmy & use the hashtags- #SaveDonbassPeopleFromUkrainianArmy
#SaveDonbassFromUkrainianArmy
#SaveDonbassPeopleFromArmyUkraine
#SaveDonbassFromArmyUkraine when tweeting, thank you.

COLLUSION: PART 2

PROLOGUE

In the first part of this article I examined the inflated claims of Irish nationalists & republicans concerning alleged collusion between militant Loyalists & the British state. There is however another side of collusion, one which is beginning to be exposed. Despite not recognising the legitimacy of the “partitionist 26 county state”, otherwise known as the Irish republic, republicans have, throughout the history of ‘The Troubles’, colluded with & accepted aid from the organs of that state. Irish nationalism is demonstrably immoral. That nationalists would cast aside their principles in order to advance their aims, is not in the least surprising. What is more surprising, indeed shocking, is that a supposedly modern, democratic, European nation state would sponsor terrorism against their closest neighbour. What is also shocking is the way in which this collusion between the Irish state & the crazed fanatics of PIRA, INLA etc has been covered up. That cover up is thankfully now being exposed. Loyalists & Unionists, indeed anyone interested in truth & transparency, need to ensure that that exposure continues.

HOW THE IRISH GOVERNMENT HELPED CREATE THE PROVOS

In October 1969, a meeting of ‘Northern Citizen Defence Committees’, which had been set up to ‘defend’ republican areas & which included senior IRA members, was held in Bailieboro, Co. Cavan, with Irish army intelligence officer Cpt. James Kelly in attendance. The meeting was told that £50,000 (sterling) would be made available, from the Irish government to buy weapons “for defence of Irish nationalist areas”. Later, Irish Minister of Finance, Charlie Haughey, held meetings with Cathal Goulding, so-called ‘Chief of Staff’ of the emerging (though as yet unnamed) Provisional IRA. Minister for Justice, Micheál Ó Móráin, reported one of these meetings to the Irish Cabinet, but Haughey dismissed it as a mere “chance encounter” & no further action was taken. Meanwhile, Neil Blaney, Minister for Agriculture & Fisheries, made plans with Cpt.Kelly to import weapons from continental Europe, with Haughey providing the money for the purchase & also arranging customs clearance for the guns. By late April 1970, An Garda Síochána Special Branch were aware of the plot & informed Taoiseach Jack Lynch. However, Lynch took no action until the leader of the opposition, Liam Cosgrave, became aware of the smuggling scheme & pressed the Prime Minister to take action. Haughey & Blaney were sacked by Lynch on the 6th of May when they refused to resign. Kevin Boland, Minister for Social Welfare, resigned from the government in protest at the sackings as he was adamant (as were the accused) that Lynch & most of the Cabinet, in particular Jim Gibbons, then Minister for Defence, knew about the plan to import guns with which to arm the Provo death squads, all along. Minister for Justice, Micheál Ó Móráin, who was in hospital at the time, was asked to resign on the 4th of May. He later claimed that he had in fact informed Lynch of the individuals involved weeks before.

On Friday, 28th May 1970, Haughey & Blaney went on trial in Dublin, together with Captain James Kelly, a Belfast republican leader named John Kelly & Belgian businessman & fugitive Nazi Albert Luykx, who had allegedly agreed to use his contacts in West Germany to acquire the weapons that would be sent to the PIRA death squads in NI. All charges against Blaney were controversially dropped in the District Court on the 2nd of July 1970 & as a result he was not tried. Following a second trial the other four accused were cleared on the 23rd of October. At the trial there was a direct contradiction of evidence regarding the sanctioning of the imports between Haughey & chief prosecution witness, Jim Gibbons, Minister for Defence at the time of the attempted gunrunning. Haughey admitted arranging customs clearance for the shipment, but claimed in his defence that he did not know it consisted of weapons. This directly contradicted the evidence of Gibbons & Peter Berry that Haughey was fully aware of all the details of the conspiracy. It also contradicted the stories of his co-defendants, who admitted that they had tried to import weapons for the Provos, but maintained that the shipment had been legally authorised by the Irish government! During the trial, the judge remarked that either Haughey or Gibbons had to be committing perjury. Sadly though, due to the efficient cover up of these events by the Dublin government, we will probably never know the truth. Was the proposed arms shipment sanctioned at the highest level? Were other shipments of guns & explosives successfully imported & turned over to the Irish government’s Provo allies? How much Irish government money found it’s way into PIRA/SF bank accounts? One can only imagine the uproar & the outrage amongst republicans if this affair had involved the UK government channeling money to, or attempting to import arms on behalf of, the UDA or UVF.

THE MURDER OF RICHARD FALLON

In April, 1970, Garda Richard Fallon, 44, was shot dead as he & another garda chased armed raiders who had just robbed the Royal Bank of Ireland on Arran Quay, Dublin. The robbery & subsequent murder were widely believed to have been the work of a small Irish nationalist terror gang, styling themselves Saor Éire . One might think that no stone would have been left unturned to uncover the killers of a police officer, especially when he had three brothers who were also Gardai. But The investigation was botched from the very start. No effort was made to cordon off the crime scene. Children found spent cartridges at the scene & handed them to the gardaí. Shockingly though, the investigation may well have been deliberately sabotaged by senior members of the Dublin government. Gerry L’Estrange TD told the Dáil on the 4th of November, 1971 that “one of the men who murdered Garda Fallon was brought down to Greenore ferryboat in a State car”. He did not name the minister responsible in the Dáil, but gardaí were convinced it was Neil Blaney. On the 29th of July, 1970, Blaney told the Dáil “I would query how active these forces [the Garda] have been in apprehending the murderers of Dick Fallon? The murderer was witnessed by some members of these forces & yet the people involved in the murder have escaped the net.” It seems that having had his driver, a garda now dead, help one of the wanted men to escape, he was now taunting the police.

Garda Richard Fallon, whose killers were aided by members of the Irish government.

Garda Richard Fallon, whose killers were aided in their escape by members of the Irish government.

Des O’Malley, Minister for Justice when Blaney made his reprehensible statement, told the Dáil in July 2001 that  “there is some reason to believe Garda Fallon may have been murdered in April 1970 with a weapon which had been part of earlier illegal arms shipments into this State. There is also reason to suppose that some senior gardaí suspected that a prominent politician was fully aware of this earlier importation and had turned a blind eye to it.” Investigators believed that Pádraig “Jock” Haughey had smuggled a consignment of pistols in through Dublin Airport the previous September. Jock Haughey, was the brother of the infamous Charlie Haughey, who was in charge of Customs at the time. Another Irish political dynasty, the Aherns, were also implicated, with one of those arrested for questioning on suspicion of possibly harbouring the raiders being Con Ahern, the father of former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

Thirty years after his father’s murder, Richard Fallon’s son, Finian, went in search of the files relating to the murder, but they were withheld. He later told an RTE interviewer that “the Government, or elements within the Fianna Fáil Government of the day, were embarked on a common endeavour with subversives to supply arms to the North for whatever reason, & that one of the guns made its way into the hands of the gang, or members of the gang, called Saor Éire, who killed my father, & in the aftermath of that I believe that the Government had to cover up those circumstances.” A damning indictment indeed.

SMITHWICK & BEYOND

On Monday, 20th of March, 1989, a Provo murder gang killed two senior RUC officers, Chief Superintendent Harry Breen & Superintendent Bob Buchanan. The 2 were returning from a cross-border security conference in Dundalk, Co. Louth, in the Irish Republic, when Buchanan’s car (a red Vauxhall Cavalier) was flagged-down & fired upon by six PIRA gunmen. Buchanan was killed outright whilst Breen, suffering serious gunshot wounds, was deliberately shot in the back of the head as he tried to crawl out of the vehicle. They were the highest-ranking RUC officers to be killed during ‘The Troubles’. The Smithwick Tribunal, a judicial inquiry into the killings which opened in Dublin in June 2011, published its final report in December 2013. In the report Judge Peter Smithwick stated that he was satisfied there was collusion in the killings & that somebody inside Dundalk Garda station had passed on information to the Provos regarding the presence of the two RUC men. Irish Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore responded to the publication saying:

“Chief Superintendent Harry Breen & Superintendent Robert Buchanan of the RUC were murdered by the IRA on 20 March 1989 as they returned home from a meeting in Dundalk Garda Station. For years we have sought to get to the truth about their deaths. Today we must acknowledge & confront the central grave finding of the Smithwick Tribunal Report, that there was collusion with the IRA from within An Garda Síochána in the murders of Chief Superintendent Harry Breen & Superintendent Robert Buchanan. I am appalled & saddened by this finding; it is a matter of grave public concern. On behalf of the Government and the people of Ireland, I apologise without reservation to the Breen & Buchanan families for any failings identified in the report on the part of the State or any of its agencies”

Collusion between the Irish state (or agencies thereof) & Irish nationalist terrorist gangs had been proven, at least in one case, but there are many other cases of alleged collusion between republican killers & representatives of the Irish state.

Other high-profile cases of alleged collusion include the murder of Lord Justice Maurice Gibson & his wife Cecily in an PIRA bomb at Killeen, Co Down, 1987; Co. Louth farmer, Tom Oliver, who was murdered by the Provos in 1991 for allegedly being an ‘informer’; the murder of electrical contractor Terence McKeever, who worked in RUC stations & was brutally tortured & killed by a Provo gang in June 1986 in South Armagh. The deaths of four RUC officers- William Wilson, 28, Stephen Rodgers, 19, David Baird, 22, & Tracy Doak, 21, in the bombing of a Brink’s-Mat van in 1985 moments after the RUC had taken over escort duty from the gardai. The killing of businessman John “Big Note” McAnulty who was abducted by the Provos from a border pub in July 1989, tortured & murdered. There was also the sickening ‘mistaken identity’ murder of Robert Hanna, his wife Maureen & their seven-year-old son David in a bomb at Killeen, Newry, as they made their way home after a family holiday to Disneyland, Florida, in July of 1988. In a callous attempt to excuse the murder of an entire young family, PIRA/SF said it meant to kill Judge Eoin Higgins but had slaughtered the Hanna family “by accident”.

IAN SPROULE

Ian Sproule was 23 years old & lived with his parents at their home on the Lisleen Rd, just outside Killen, near Castlederg, Co. Tyrone. Ian was a joiner by trade & spent a number of years working for his father who was a builder. He left Ulster
for a short time to take up a job in England but returned home in 1991 & was again working in the family business. Ian was an avid Everton supporter, & was learning to play the guitar. On the night of Friday, the 12th of April, 1991, Ian attended a birthday party in Castlederg. He returned home around 1 am in the morning. As he parked his car in the street outside the family home, three republican terrorists, who were lying in wait, opened fire on him from close range. Ian died instantly. Follow-up searches of nearby fields produced no evidence & the security forces made no arrests. After Ian’s murder, PIRA/SF claimed their victim had been a member of the UVF, in a bid to distract media attention away from what was, in reality, another sectarian assassination of a young Protestant civilian.

After the murder of Ian Sproule, Unionist politician Gregory Campbell raised the issue of PIRA/Garda collusion.

After the murder of Ian Sproule, Unionist politician Gregory Campbell raised the issue of PIRA/Garda collusion.

In the week after Mr. Sproule’s murder the Provos tried further to ‘justify’ this latest sickening sectarian murder. A masked man, claiming to be from PIRA/Sinn Fein, passed papers to a reporter from the ‘Derry Journal’. The papers included copies of Garda security files alleging Mr. Sproule was a suspected member of the UVF, wanted in Éire for questioning in relation to a firebomb attack in Ballybofey, Co. Donegal, in 1987 (an attack that was the work of the Ulster Freedom Fighters, not the UVF) In any event, Ian Sproule had never been charged with, nor found guilty of any offence. He was an innocent man. The Garda Commissioner at the time ordered an investigation into how confidential files belonging to his police service were passed onto terrorists – an irrefutable act of collusion between members of the Irish republic’s police & PIRA/Sinn Fein. Mr. Sproule’s family was never advised of the outcome of that investigation, although it was referred to in the Smithwick tribunal in 2012 when an RUC witness (‘Witness 68’) testified that “beyond doubt that there was a leak from the Gardaí to the IRA” in relation to the Garda security document containing Ian Sproule’s details. Today, this disgusting act of collusion remains uninvestigated & largely forgotten. Ian Sproule’s family deserve to know the truth. They deserve to know, as do we all, who sanctioned such acts of collusion? Who was directing the Irish nationalist killer gangs that stalked the border regions of Northern Ireland for over 30 years? Why did the Gardai make false allegations against Mr. Sproule? And who among them gave PIRA/SF documents containing those heinous slurs? Surely now, nearly 25 years on, it’s time the Sproule family were told the truth.

CONCLUSION

Whilst Irish nationalist/republican propagandists repeat their lies, myths & half-truths about alleged collusion between the NI Security Forces & Ulster Loyalist militias, the issue of actual, proven collusion between republican death squads & the Irish state, in particular An Garda Síochána, goes undiscussed, unmentioned & largely forgotten. That is a travesty. The Unionist/Loyalist community suffered at the hands of (Irish) state sponsored terrorist groups. Innocent people, men, women & children, were murdered by blood thirsty fanatics, acting in collusion with (at various times) the Irish government, the police force of that state & it’s army. The truth must be told. The victims of PIRA/Irish state collusion deserve to be told the truth. The international community also needs to know that PIRA/SF & other Irish nationalist murder gangs, were state sponsored. There is blood on the hands of successive Dublin governments. Time that that was acknowledged. Loyalists will not allow Irish nationalists/republicans to whitewash the history of the Conflict any longer. We absolutely cannot, will not rest until the truth comes out, until justice is done & until the suffering, hurt & trauma inflicted on our community is recognised. For if it is not, if the demonisation of our community continues, if we do not see any prospect for truth & justice, then it will not be mere recognition that Loyalists seek, it will be retribution!

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…

DRAWING SUPPORT

MURALS 

In Ulster, murals are more than just a creative way of covering up unsightly graffiti, they are a means of political & cultural expression. Some would argue that it is time for murals to be ‘decommissioned’, I would argue that they are a fantastic visual representation of local politics, history & heritage, & furthermore, a very fair & impartial way for communities to voice their opinions, since for every Loyalist mural, there can be an Irish nationalist/republican response (& vice versa) in the form of another mural. But maybe that’s why most in the media & the ‘lets-all-just-forget-and-hold-hands’ brigade are so opposed to working class communities (especially Loyalist communities) expressing their traditions, opinions & aspirations through murals?

Anyway, I’m not going off on a rant today! So instead I’m just going to present a few (Loyalist) murals from across the country that I find interesting, well executed and/or thought provoking, so here ya go!

BELFAST

mural1

mural2

"Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed"

“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed”

Another excellent East Belfast mural, entitled 'War & Peace'

Another excellent East Belfast mural, entitled ‘War & Peace’

Shankill mural, honouring the contribution of women to the Loyalist cause

Shankill mural, honouring the contribution of women to the Loyalist cause

PORTADOWN

UVF mural, Portadown

UVF mural, Portadown

BUSHMILLS

UDA mural featuring Finn McCool, Bushmills

UDA mural featuring Finn McCool, Bushmills

COLERAINE

Memorial mural, dedicated to UDA volunteer William Campbell, Coleraine

Memorial mural, dedicated to UDA volunteer William Campbell, Coleraine

LONDONDERRY

Mural dedicated to the memory of Cecil McKnight, a member of the Ulster Democratic Party murdered by republicans. Emerson St, L'derry

Mural dedicated to the memory of Cecil McKnight, a member of the Ulster Democratic Party murdered by republicans. Emerson St, L’derry

MONKSTOWN

UDA/UFF mural, dedicated to the memory of two fallen UDA volunteers. Monkstown, Newtownabbey

UDA/UFF mural, dedicated to the memory of two fallen UDA volunteers. Monkstown, Newtownabbey

I intend to post quite a few more photos of murals from across NI. There are some fantastic murals around. Any suggestions or contributions would be very welcome, so if you know of any good Loyalist murals in your area, don’t hesitate to share them with me.