Tag Archives: British Army

The Chennai 6 – The Forgotten British Veterans

The Chennai 6

The six ex- forces personnel with a combines 74 years of service were arrested in October 2013 after they were accused of entering Indian waters without permission.

 

Seaman Guard Ohio Vessel.JPG

They were on board the American-owned anti-piracy vessel the MV Seaman Guard Ohio, tasked with protecting merchant seamen in some of the most dangerous waters in the world.The coastguard accused them of straying into Indian waters without permission as they headed for emergency fuel and supplies.

Once they boarded the ship, officials discovered 35 firearms and ammunition. The men’s pleas that the weapons were lawfully held for anti-piracy purposes fell on deaf ears — even though their paperwork, issued by the UK Government, was all in order and provided proof that the anti-piracy team were given permits to carry the guns by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills.

Image result for Department for Business, Innovation & Skill

The Indian High Court, at first, accepted the paperwork was in order and dismissed the case but the men were unable to leave India while a lengthy appeal against the charges being dropped was considered. This led to the men standing trial at the magistrate court, who then decided that the men had failed to prove that they were on anti-piracy duties.

In January 2016 they were found guilty by the court and sentenced to five years imprisonment.

This is a complete miscarriage of justice!

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The families are completely devastated and are now doing everything they can to support their dads, brothers, sons and husbands by sending them support packages with items such as foods, toiletries, books, games etc. and are asking you, if you can spare the time and money, to also send the lads something (even just a handwritten letter) to let them know that they have not been forgotten.

The families are also trying extremely hard to get this terrible situation into the media as it certainly hasn’t had the coverage it deserves. So please help us by sharing details via social media and signing the petition.

Thank you all for your support so far for these men who have now been held in India for over 3 and a half years. Let’s hope we can get the lads home soon and overturn this miscarriage of justice!

Join the Campaign to Free these veterans & clear their  names!

 

Visit the website and give your support: www.chennai6.co.uk

 

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9th August – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

9th August

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

Monday 9 August 1971

Internment

Operation Demetrius

Operation Demetrius was a British Army operation in Northern Ireland on 9–10 August 1971, during the Troubles. It involved the mass arrest and internment (imprisonment without trial) of 342 people suspected of being involved with the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which was waging a campaign against the state. It was proposed by the Northern Ireland Government and approved by the British Government. Armed soldiers launched dawn raids throughout Northern Ireland, sparking four days of violence in which 20 civilians, two IRA members and two British soldiers were killed. All of those arrested were Catholic Irish nationalists. Due to faulty intelligence, many had no links with the IRA. Ulster loyalist paramilitaries were also carrying out acts of violence, which were mainly directed against Catholics and Irish nationalists, but no loyalists were included in the sweep

See below for additional details on Internment

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Internment, 17 People Killed

In a series of raids across Northern Ireland, 342 people were arrested and taken to makeshift camps as Internment was re-introduced in Northern Ireland. There was an immediate upsurge of violence and 17 people were killed during the next 48 hours. Of these 10 were Catholic civilians who were shot dead by the British Army (BA).

Hugh Mullan (38) was the first Catholic priest to be killed in the conflict when he was shot dead by the British Army as he was giving the last rites to a wounded man.

Winston Donnell (22) became the first Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) solider to die in ‘the Troubles’ when he was shot by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) near Clady, County Tyrone.

[There were more arrests in the following days and months. Internment was to continue until 5 December 1975. During that time 1,981 people were detained; 1,874 were Catholic / Republican, while 107 were Protestant / Loyalist. Internment had been proposed by Unionist politicians as the solution to the security situation in Northern Ireland but was to lead to a very high level of violence over the next few years and to increased support for the IRA. Even members of the security forces remarked on the drawbacks of internment.]

Wednesday 9 August 1972

There was widespread and severe rioting in Nationalist areas on the anniversary of the introduction of Internment.

Friday 9 August 1974

A report on the Dublin bombings investigation was completed by the Garda Síochána (the Irish police).

[A number of further inquiries were carried out by the Garda Síochána between 1974 and 1976 but nothing of consequence resulted.]

Tuesday 9 August 1977

The Queen began a two-day visit to Northern Ireland as part of her jubilee celebrations. It was the first visit by the Queen for 11 years.

Saturday 9 August 1980

Following protests on the ninth anniversary of Internment there was continuing violence and three people were killed and 18 injured in a number of incidents.

Sunday 9 August 1981

Liam Canning (19), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a covername used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), as he walked along Alliance Avenue, Ardoyne, Belfast.

Peter Maguinness (41), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by a plastic bullet fired by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) while he was outside his home on the Shore Road, Greencastle, Belfast.

There were continuing riots in Nationalist areas of Northern Ireland.

Tuesday 9 August 1983

In the run-up to the anniversary of the introduction of Internment in 1971 there was rioting in Nationalist areas of Belfast. A young Catholic man was shot dead by a British soldier following an altercation between local people and a British Army (BA) foot patrol on the Whiterock Road, Ballymurphy, Belfast.

Thursday 9 August 1984

Martin Galvin, then leader of NORAID (Irish Northern Aid Committee), appeared at a rally in Derry despite being banned from the UK.

Galvin appeared at another rally in Belfast on 12 August 1984.

Wednesday 9 August 1989

Seamus Duffy (15) was killed by a plastic bullet fired by a member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).

Friday 9 August 1991

Garry Lynch (28), who was an election worker with the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP), was shot dead in an attack at his workplace in Derry.

Wednesday 9 August 1995

Albert Reynolds, the former Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), said that the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons had not been highlighted in the talks leading to the Downing Street Declaration. He further stated that if the issue had been raised he would not have signed the Declaration.

Monday 19 August 1996

Jimmy Smith, one of those who had escaped from the Maze prison in 1983, was extradited from the United States of America.

Saturday 9 August 1997

The Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) planted a hoax van bomb on Craigavon Bridge in Derry, prior to the start of the Apprentice Boys’ parade through the city. When the march got underway there were disturbances when Loyalist bandsmen broke ranks to attack Nationalist residents who were observing the parade. An Apprentice Boys’ parade through Dunloy, County Antrim, was rerouted by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).

The Royal Black Preceptory decided to cancel a parade in Newtownbutler, County Fermanagh, because of protests by the Nationalist residents of the village.

Monday 9 August 1999

The Director of Public Prosecutions decided not to press charges against Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers who were accused of assaulting David Adams, an Irish Republican Army (IRA) member.

Adams had received £30,000 compensations for injuries, including a broken leg, inflicted upon him while being held in Castlereagh Holding Centre. Adams had been arrested in 1994 and later sentenced to 25 years for conspiracy to murder a senior RUC detective.

A man from north Belfast appeared in Belfast High Court and was charged with the murder of Charles Bennett on 30 July 1999.

The Northern Ireland Parades Commission decided to allow an Apprentice Boys march down the lower Ormeau Road, Belfast, on 14 August 1999 despite the opposition of local Nationalist residents. Delegates from the Apprentice Boys of Derry and the Bogside Residents’ Group met in an effort to reach a compromise on the arrangement for the forthcoming parade in Derry.

Thursday 9 August 2001

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued a statement about its meetings with the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD). David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), said the statement did not go far enough and his party wanted to see a beginning to actual decommissioning.

The UUP and Sinn Féin (SF), and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), held separate meetings with John Reid, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, at Hillsborough Castle, County Down. The UUP argued for a suspension of the institutions of devolved government, whereas SF favoured fresh elections to the Assembly.

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Remembering all innocent victims of the Troubles

Today is the anniversary of the death of the following people killed as a results of the conflict in Northern Ireland

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die

– Thomas Campbell

To the innocent on the list – Your memory will live forever

– To the Paramilitaries –

There are many things worth living for, a few things worth dying for, but nothing worth killing for.

.26 People lost their lives on the 9th August between 1971 – 1991

9th August

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09 August 1971
William Atwell,  (40)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Republican group (REP)
Security man. Killed by nail bomb thrown into Mackie’s factory, Springfield Road, Belfast.

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09 August 1971
 Sarah Worthington,  (50)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot in her home, Velsheda Park, Ardoyne, Belfast.

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09 August 1971
Leo McGuigan,   (16)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot while walking along Estoril Park, Ardoyne, Belfast.

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09 August 1971

Patrick McAdorey,   (24)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot during gun battle, Alliance Avenue, Ardoyne, Belfast.

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09 August 1971
John Beattie,  (17)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot, from British Army (BA) observation post in Clonard Monastery, while driving van along Ashmore Street, Shankill, Belfast.

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09 August 1971

Francis Quinn,   (20)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot during gun battle, Springfield Park, Ballymurphy, Belfast, by BA snipers from the nearby New Barnsley British Army (BA) base, while going to the aid of a wounded man.

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09 August 1971

Hugh Mullan,  (38)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Catholic Priest. Shot during gun battle, Springfield Park, Ballymurphy, Belfast, by BA snipers from the nearby New Barnsley British Army (BA) base, while going to the aid of a wounded man.

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09 August 1971
Francis McGuinness,   (17)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot during street disturbances, Finaghy Road North, Belfast.

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09 August 1971

Desmond Healey, (14)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot during street disturbances, Lenadoon Avenue, Belfast.

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09 August 1971

 Joan Connolly,   (50)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot as she stood opposite New Barnsley British Army (BA) base, Springfield Road, Belfast.

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09 August 1971
Daniel Teggart,  (44)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot as he stood opposite New Barnsley British Army (BA) base, Springfield Road, Belfast.

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09 August 1971
Noel Phillips,   (20)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot as he stood opposite New Barnsley British Army (BA) base, Springfield Road, Belfast.

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09 August 1971
 Joseph Murphy,  (41)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot as he stood opposite New Barnsley British Army (BA) base, Springfield Road, Belfast. He died on 22 August 1971.

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09 August 1971
Winston Donnell,  (22)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot while at British Army (BA) Vehicle Check Point (VCP), Clady near Strabane, County Tyrone.

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09 August 1972

Colm Murtagh, (24)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Died in premature bomb explosion in garage, Dublin Road, Newry, County Down.

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09 August 1973

 Henry Cunningham,   (17) nfNI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
From County Donegal. Shot during gun attack on his firm’s van, from bridge overlooking the M2 motorway, near Templepatrick, County Antrim.

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09 August 1977

Paul McWilliams,  (16)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army Youth Section (IRAF),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot from British Army (BA) observation post, in Corry’s Timber Yard, Springhill Avenue, Ballymurphy, Belfast

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09 August 1977
Loius Harrison (20) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot by sniper while standing outside Henry Taggart British Army (BA) base, Springfield Road, Ballymurphy, Belfast.

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09 August 1980
James McCarren,  (19)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
Shot during sniper attack on British Army (BA) mobile patrol, Shaw’s Road, Andersonstown, Belfast.

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09 August 1980

Brien Brown,   (29) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed by remote controlled bomb while on British Army (BA) foot patrol, Forkhill, County Armagh.

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09 August 1980

Michael Donnelly,  (21)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot by plastic bullet at the junction of Leeson Street and Falls Road, Belfast.

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09 August 1981
Liam Canning,  (19)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)
Shot while walking along Alliance Avenue, Ardoyne, Belfast.

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09 August 1981

Peter McGuinness,  (41)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)
Shot by plastic bullet outside his home, Shore Road, Greencastle, Belfast.

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09 August 1983

Thomas Reilly,  (22)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot during altercation between local people and British Army (BA) foot patrol, Whiterock Road, Ballymurphy, Belfast.

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09 August 1989

Seamus Duffy,   (15)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)
Shot by plastic bullet while walking along Dawson Street, New Lodge, Belfast

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09 August 1991

 Lynch, Gary (27)  

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Association (UDA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Also Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) member. Shot at his workplace, Foyle Meats, Lisahally, Derry.

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Operation Demetrius

Internment

Operation Demetrius was a British Army operation in Northern Ireland on 9–10 August 1971, during the Troubles. It involved the mass arrest and internment (imprisonment without trial) of 342 people suspected of being involved with the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which was waging a campaign against the state. It was proposed by the Northern Ireland Government and approved by the British Government. Armed soldiers launched dawn raids throughout Northern Ireland, sparking four days of violence in which 20 civilians, two IRA members and two British soldiers were killed. All of those arrested were Catholic Irish nationalists. Due to faulty intelligence, many had no links with the IRA. Ulster loyalist paramilitaries were also carrying out acts of violence, which were mainly directed against Catholics and Irish nationalists, but no loyalists were included in the sweep.

The introduction of internment, the way the arrests were carried out, and the abuse of those arrested, led to mass protests and a sharp increase in violence. Amid the violence, about 7,000 people fled or were forced out of their homes. The interrogation techniques used on the internees were described by the European Commission of Human Rights in 1976 as torture, but the European Court of Human Rights ruled on appeal in 1978 that while the techniques were “inhuman and degrading”, they did not constitute torture.

It was later revealed that the British Government had withheld information from the ECHR and that a policy of torture had in fact been authorized by British Government ministers. In December 2014 the Irish government asked the European Court of Human Rights to revise its 1978 judgement.

The policy of internment was to last until December 1975 and during that time 1,981 people were interned;1,874 were Catholic/Irish republican, while 107 were Protestant/loyalist. The first Protestant/loyalist internees were detained in February 1973.

Background and planning

Internment had been used a number of times during Northern Ireland‘s (and the Republic of Ireland‘s) history, but had not yet been used during the Troubles, which began in the late 1960s. Ulster loyalist paramilitaries such as the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) had been engaged in a low-level violent campaign since 1966. After the August 1969 riots, the British Army (BA) was deployed on the streets to bolster the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). Up until this point the Irish Republican Army (IRA) had been largely inactive. However, as the violence and political situation worsened, the IRA was divided over how to deal with it. It split into two factions: the Provisional IRA and Official IRA. In 1970–71, the Provisionals launched an armed campaign against the British Army and the RUC. The Officials stated that their policy was one of defence.

During 1970–71 there were numerous clashes between state forces and the two wings of the IRA, and between the IRA and loyalists. Most loyalist attacks were directed against Catholic civilians and the Irish nationalist/republican community, but they also clashed with state forces on a number of occasions.

The idea of re-introducing internment for republican militants came from the unionist government of Northern Ireland, headed by Prime Minister Brian Faulkner. It was agreed to re-introduce internment at a meeting between Faulkner and UK Prime Minister Edward Heath on 5 August 1971. The British cabinet recommended “balancing action”, such as the arrest of loyalist militants, the calling in of weapons held by (generally unionist) rifle clubs in Northern Ireland and an indefinite ban on parades (most of which were held by unionist/loyalist groups). However, Faulkner argued that a ban on parades was unworkable, that the rifle clubs posed no security risk and that there was no evidence of loyalist terrorism

It was eventually agreed that there would be a six-month ban on parades but no targeting of loyalists and that internment would go ahead on 9 August, in an operation carried out by the British Army.

On the initial list of those to be arrested, which was drawn up by RUC Special Branch and MI5, there were 450 names, but only 350 of these were found. Key figures on the list, and many who never appeared on them, had got wind of the swoop before it began. The list included leaders of the non-violent civil rights movement such as Ivan Barr and Michael Farrell. But, as Tim Pat Coogan noted,

What they did not include was a single Loyalist. Although the UVF had begun the killing and bombing, this organisation was left untouched, as were other violent Loyalist satellite organisations such as Tara, the Shankill Defence Association and the Ulster Protestant Volunteers. It is known that Faulkner was urged by the British to include a few Protestants in the trawl but he refused.

In the case brought to the European Commission of Human Rights by the Irish government against the government of the United Kingdom, it was conceded that Operation Demetrius was planned and implemented from the highest levels of the British government and that specially trained personnel were sent to Northern Ireland to familiarize the local forces in what became known as the ‘five techniques‘, methods of interrogation described by opponents as “a euphemism for torture”.

Legal basis

The internments were initially carried out under Regulations 11 and 12 of 1956 and Regulation 10 of 1957 (the Special Powers Regulations), made under the authority of the Special Powers Act. The Detention of Terrorists Order of 7 November 1972, made under the authority of the Temporary Provisions Act, was used after direct rule was instituted.

Internees arrested without trial pursuant to Operation Demetrius could not complain to the European Commission of Human Rights about breaches of Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) because on 27 June 1957, the UK lodged a notice with the Council of Europe declaring that there was a “public emergency within the meaning of Article 15(1) of the Convention.”

The operation and immediate aftermath

The HMS Maidstone, a prison ship docked at Belfast where many internees were sent

Operation Demetrius began on Monday 9 August at about 4AM.

The operation was in two parts:

In the first wave of raids across Northern Ireland, 342 people were arrested. Many of those arrested reported that they and their families were assaulted, verbally abused and threatened by the soldiers. There were claims of soldiers smashing their way into houses without warning and firing baton rounds through doors and windows. Many of those arrested also reported being ill-treated during their three-day detention at the holding centres. They complained of being beaten, verbally abused, threatened, harassed by dogs, denied sleep, and starved.

Some reported being forced to run a gauntlet of baton-wielding soldiers, being forced to run an ‘obstacle course’, having their heads forcefully shaved, being kept naked, being burnt with cigarettes, having a sack placed over their heads for long periods, having a rope kept around their necks, having the barrel of a gun pressed against their heads, being dragged by the hair, being trailed behind armoured vehicles while barefoot, and being tied to armoured trucks as a human shield.[12][13] Some were hooded, beaten and then thrown from a helicopter. They were told they were hundreds of feet in the air, but were actually only a few feet from the ground.

The operation sparked an immediate upsurge of violence, which was said to be the worst since the August 1969 riots. The British Army came under sustained attack from Irish nationalist/republican rioters and gunmen, especially in Belfast. According to journalist Kevin Myers:

“Insanity seized the city. Hundreds of vehicles were hijacked and factories were burnt. Loyalist and IRA gunmen were everywhere”.

People blocked roads and streets with burning barricades to stop the British Army entering their neighbourhoods. In Derry, barricades were again erected around Free Derry and “for the next 11 months these areas effectively seceded from British control”.  Between 9 and 11 August, 24 people were killed or fatally wounded: 20 civilians (14 Catholics, 6 Protestants), two members of the Provisional IRA (shot dead by the British Army), and two members of the British Army (shot dead by the Provisional IRA).

A mural commemorating those killed in the Ballymurphy Massacre during Operation Demetrius

 

Of the civilians killed, 17 were killed by the British Army and the other three were killed by unknown attackers. In West Belfast’s Ballymurphy housing estate, 11 Catholic civilians were killed by 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment between 9 and 11 August in an episode that has become known as the Ballymurphy Massacre. Another flashpoint was Ardoyne in North Belfast, where soldiers shot dead three people on 9 August.

Many Protestant families fled Ardoyne and about 200 burnt their homes as they left, lest they “fall into Catholic hands”.Protestant and Catholic families fled “to either side of a dividing line, which would provide the foundation for the permanent peaceline later built in the area”.  Catholic homes were burnt in Ardoyne and elsewhere too. About 7000 people, most of them Catholics, were left homeless.

About 2500 Catholic refugees fled south of the border, where new refugee camps were set up.

By 13 August, media reports indicated that the violence had begun to wane, seemingly due to exhaustion on the part of the IRA and security forces.

On 15 August, the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) announced that it was starting a campaign of civil disobedience in response to the introduction of internment. By 17 October, it was estimated that about 16,000 households were withholding rent and rates for council houses as part of the campaign of civil disobedience.

On 16 August, over 8000 workers went on strike in Derry in protest at internment. Joe Cahill, then Chief of Staff of the Provisional IRA, held a press conference during which he claimed that only 30 Provisional IRA members had been intern

On 22 August, in protest against internment, about 130 non-Unionist councillors announced that they would no longer sit on district councils. The SDLP also withdrew its representatives from a number of public bodies. On 19 October, five Northern Ireland Members of Parliament (MPs) began a 48-hour hunger strike against internment. The protest took place near 10 Downing Street in London. Among those taking part were John Hume, Austin Currie, and Bernadette Devlin.

Protests would continue until internment was ended in December 1975.

Long-term effects

Anti-internment mural in the Bogside area of Derry

 

The backlash against internment contributed to the decision of the British Government under Prime Minister Edward Heath to suspend the Northern Ireland Government and replace it with direct rule from Westminster, under the authority of a British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. This took place in 1972.

Following the suspension of the Northern Ireland Government and Parliament, internment was continued by the direct rule administration until 5 December 1975. During this time a total of 1,981 people were interned: 1,874 were from a Catholic or Irish nationalist background, while 107 were from a Protestant or Ulster loyalist background.

Historians generally view the period of internment as inflaming sectarian tensions in Northern Ireland, while failing in its goal of arresting key members of the IRA. Many of the people arrested had no links whatsoever with the IRA, but their names appeared on the list of those to be arrested through bungling and incompetence. The list’s lack of reliability and the arrests that followed, complemented by reports of internees being abused, led to more people identifying with the IRA in the Irish nationalist community and losing hope in other methods.

After Operation Demetrius, recruits came forward in huge numbers to join the Provisional and Official wings of the IRA. Internment also led to a sharp increase in violence. In the eight months before the operation, there were 34 conflict-related deaths in Northern Ireland. In the four months following it, 140 were killed.

A serving officer of the British Royal Marines declared:

It (internment) has, in fact, increased terrorist activity, perhaps boosted IRA recruitment, polarised further the Catholic and Protestant communities and reduced the ranks of the much needed Catholic moderates.

In terms of loss of life, 1972 was the most violent of the Troubles. The fatal march on Bloody Sunday (30 January 1972) in Derry, when 14 unarmed civil rights protesters were shot dead by British paratroopers, was an anti-internment march.

Interrogation of internees

All of those arrested were interrogated by the British Army and RUC. However, twelve internees were then chosen for further “deep interrogation”, using sensory deprivation. This took place at a secret interrogation centre, which was later revealed to be Shackleton Barracks, outside Ballykelly. In October, a further two internees were chosen for deep interrogation. These fourteen became known as “the Hooded Men”, or “the Guineapigs”.

After undergoing the same treatment as the other internees, the men were hooded, handcuffed and flown to the base by helicopter. On the way, soldiers severely beat them and threatened to throw them from the helicopter. When they arrived they were stripped naked, photographed, and examined by a doctor.

For seven days, when not being interrogated, they were kept hooded and handcuffed in a cold cell and subjected to a continuous loud hissing noise. Here they were forced to stand in a stress position for many hours and were repeatedly beaten on all parts of their body. They were deprived of sleep, food and drink. Some of them also reported being kicked in the genitals, having their heads banged against walls, being shot at with blank rounds, and being threatened with injections. The result was severe physical and mental exhaustion, severe anxiety, depression, hallucinations, disorientation and repeated loss of consciousness.

The interrogation methods used on the men became known as the ‘five techniques‘. Training and advice regarding the five techniques came from senior intelligence officials in the British government. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) defined the five techniques as follows:

  • (a) wall-standing: forcing the detainees to remain for periods of some hours in a “stress position”, described by those who underwent it as being “spreadeagled against the wall, with their fingers put high above the head against the wall, the legs spread apart and the feet back, causing them to stand on their toes with the weight of the body mainly on the fingers”;
  • (b) hooding: putting a black or navy coloured bag over the detainees’ heads and, at least initially, keeping it there all the time except during interrogation;
  • (c) subjection to noise: pending their interrogations, holding the detainees in a room where there was a continuous loud and hissing noise;
  • (d) deprivation of sleep: pending their interrogations, depriving the detainees of sleep;
  • (e) deprivation of food and drink: subjecting the detainees to a reduced diet during their stay at the centre and pending interrogations.

The fourteen Hooded Men were the only internees subjected to the full five techniques. However, over the following months, some internees were subjected to at least one of the five techniques, as well as other interrogation methods. These allegedly included waterboarding,  electric shocks, burning with matches and candles, forcing internees to stand over hot electric fires while beating them, beating and squeezing of the genitals, inserting objects into the anus, injections, whipping the soles of the feet, and psychological abuse such as Russian roulette.

Parker Report

When the interrogation techniques used on the internees became known to the public, there was outrage at the British government, especially from Irish nationalists. In answer to the anger from the public and Members of Parliament, on 16 November 1971, the British government commissioned a committee of inquiry chaired by Lord Parker (the Lord Chief Justice of England) to look into the legal and moral aspects of the ‘five techniques’.

The “Parker Report” was published on 2 March 1972 and found the five techniques to be illegal under domestic law:

10. Domestic Law …(c) We have received both written and oral representations from many legal bodies and individual lawyers from both England and Northern Ireland. There has been no dissent from the view that the procedures are illegal alike by the law of England and the law of Northern Ireland. … (d) This being so, no Army Directive and no Minister could lawfully or validly have authorized the use of the procedures. Only Parliament can alter the law. The procedures were and are illegal.

On the same day (2 March 1972), United Kingdom Prime Minister Edward Heath stated in the House of Commons:

[The] Government, having reviewed the whole matter with great care and with reference to any future operations, have decided that the techniques … will not be used in future as an aid to interrogation… The statement that I have made covers all future circumstances.

As foreshadowed in the Prime Minister’s statement, directives expressly forbidding the use of the techniques, whether alone or together, were then issued to the security forces by the government.  While these are still legally in force and the use of such methods by UK security forces is not officially condoned by the government, the five techniques were still being used by the British Army in 2003.

European Commission of Human Rig

The Irish Government, on behalf of the men who had been subject to the five techniques, took a case to the European Commission on Human Rights (Ireland v. United Kingdom, 1976 Y.B. Eur. Conv. on Hum. Rts. 512, 748, 788-94 (Eur. Comm’n of Hum. Rts.)). The Commission stated that it

…unanimously considered the combined use of the five methods to amount to torture, on the grounds that (1) the intensity of the stress caused by techniques creating sensory deprivation “directly affects the personality physically and mentally”; and (2) “the systematic application of the techniques for the purpose of inducing a person to give information shows a clear resemblance to those methods of systematic torture which have been known over the ages…a modern system of torture falling into the same category as those systems applied in previous times as a means of obtaining information and confessions.

European Court of Human Rights

The Commissions findings were appealed. In 1978, in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) trial Ireland v. the United Kingdom (Case No. 5310/71), the court ruled:

167. … Although the five techniques, as applied in combination, undoubtedly amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment, although their object was the extraction of confessions, the naming of others and/or information and although they were used systematically, they did not occasion suffering of the particular intensity and cruelty implied by the word torture as so understood. …168. The Court concludes that recourse to the five techniques amounted to a practice of inhuman and degrading treatment, which practice was in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights Article 3 (art. 3).

On 8 February 1977, in proceedings before the ECHR, and in line with the findings of the Parker Report and UK Government policy, the Attorney-General of the United Kingdom stated:

The Government of the United Kingdom have considered the question of the use of the ‘five techniques’ with very great care and with particular regard to Article 3 (art. 3) of the Convention. They now give this unqualified undertaking, that the ‘five techniques’ will not in any circumstances be reintroduced as an aid to interrogation.

Later developments

In 2013, declassified documents revealed the existence of the interrogation centre at Ballykelly. It had not been mentioned in any of the inquiries. Human rights group the Pat Finucane Centre accused the British Government of deliberately hiding it from the inquiries and the European Court of Human Rights.

In June 2014, an RTÉ documentary entitled The Torture Files uncovered a letter from the UK Home Secretary Merlyn Rees in 1977 to the then British Prime Minister James Callaghan. It confirmed that a policy of ‘torture’ had in fact been authorized by the British Government’s ministers—specifically the Secretary for Defence Peter Carrington—in 1971, contrary to the knowledge of the Irish government or the ECHR. The letter states:

“It is my view (confirmed by Brian Faulkner before his death) that the decision to use methods of torture in Northern Ireland in 1971/72 was taken by ministers – in particular Lord Carrington, then secretary of state for defence”.

Following the 2014 revelations, the President of Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams, called on the Irish government to bring the case back to the ECHR because the British government, he said,

“lied to the European Court of Human Rights both on the severity of the methods used on the men, their long term physical and psychological consequences, on where these interrogations took place and who gave the political authority and clearance for it”.

On 2 December 2014 the Irish government announced that, having reviewed the new evidence and following requests from the survivors, it had decided to officially ask the ECHR to revise its 1978 judgement.

3rd August – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

3rd  August

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

Tuesday 3 August 1976

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a series of six bomb attacks on Portrush, County Antrim.

Monday 3 August 1981

 Liam McCloskey, then an Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) prisoner, joined the hunger strike.

Sunday 3 August 1997

Nationalist residents of Newtownbutler, County Fermanagh, protested against a Royal Black Preceptory march in the village.

The parade was escorted by Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers in riot gear. Six people were injured in disturbances.

The Claudy Bombing

The 25th anniversary of the bombing of Claudy, County Derry was marked in the village when approximately 1,500 people attended an open air service

See Claudy Bombing

Although no group claimed responsibility for the explosions it was widely believed that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) had planted the three car bombs in the village which resulted in the deaths of nine people. Inadequate warnings were given about the bombs.

Monday 3 August 1998

In the first break-through of its kind, Nationalists and Loyalists in Derry reached an agreement over the Apprentice Boys march in the city planned for 8 August 1999.

The agreement came after three days of shuttle (indirect) negotiations between the parties. [However, there were some minor disturbances following the march.]

Tuesday 3 August 1999

Security sources confirmed that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) was considered responsible for the death of Charles Bennett on 30 July 1999.

Republican sources claimed he was killed to pacify hardliners over decommissioning and the lack of political progress.

Friday 3 August 2001

The Ardchomhairle of Sinn Féin held a meeting to consider the party’s response to the British and Irish governments’ Implementation Plan. The meeting took place in County Louth, Republic of Ireland.

The Ardchomhairle is comprised of 41 members, including Gerry Adams, then President of SF, Mitchel McLaughlin, then Chairman, Pat Doherty, then Vice-President, and Martin McGuinness.

Sinn Féin rejected Monday’s deadline and said that the party needed to see the detail and guarantees on policing reform and demilitarisation.

In the days following the meeting SF said it needed to see more detail on policing, demilitarisation and criminal justice before it could support the package.

 3rd August   2010

Óglaigh na hÉireann claimed responsibility for detonating a 200 lb car bomb outside Strand Road PSNI station in Derry.

——————————————

Remembering all innocent victims of the Troubles

Today is the anniversary of the death of the following people killed as a results of the conflict in Northern Ireland

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die

– Thomas Campbell

To the innocent on the list – Your memory will live forever

– To the Paramilitaries –

There are many things worth living for, a few things worth dying for, but nothing worth killing for.

10  People lost their lives on the 3rd of August between 1972  – 1992

————————————————————–

03 August 1972

William Clark,   (34) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed attempting to defuse bomb discovered by side of road, Urney, near Clady, County Tyrone.

————————————————————–

03 August 1972

Robert McCrudden,   (19)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot during gun battle, Hooker Street, Ardoyne, Belfast.

————————————————————–

03 August 1973
James Farrell,  (50) nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot, during armed robbery, while delivering wages to British Leyland factory, Cashel Road, Crumlin, Dublin.

————————————————————–

 03 August 1974

Martin Skillen, (21)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot from British Army (BA) undercover observation post in Clonard cinema building, Falls Road, Belfast.

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 03 August 1974
Charles McKnight,   (25)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed by booby trap bomb when he entered the cab of his employer’s lorry, parked outside house, Ballycraigy, Newtownabbey, County Antrim.

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 03 August 1976
Alan Watkins,   (20) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
Shot by sniper while on British Army (BA) foot patrol, Dungiven, County Derry.

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03 August 1979
Whilliam Whitten  (65)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Died six weeks after being injured in bomb attack on Marine Hotel, Ballycastle, County Antrim. He was wounded on 19 June 1979. Inadequate warning given.

————————————————————–

 03 August 1980
William Clarke, (59)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Shot while travelling in his car along laneway, Gortnessy, near Pettigoe, County Donegal.

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 03 August 1988

Raymond McNicholl,  (30)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Shot by sniper, while driving his car to work, Desertcreat Road, near Cookstown, County Tyrone.

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03 August 1992
Damian Shackleton,   (24) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot by sniper while on British Army (BA) mobile patrol, Duncairn Avenue, New Lodge, Belfast.

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1st August – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

 

1st August

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles Claudy Bomb

Friday 1 August 1975

James Marks

 Two Catholic civilians, Joseph Toland (78) and James Marks (42), died as a result of a gun attack on a minibus near Gilford, County Down. Marks died from his injuries on 7 January 1976.

No group claimed responsibility but ‘Lost Lives’ (2004; p614) records: “the attack …, according to reliable loyalist sources, was carried out by the UVF”.

Lt Gen David Leakey.jpg

David House, then a Lieutenant-General in the British Army, replaced Frank King as General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the army in Northern Ireland.

Tuesday 1 August 1978

 Tomás Ó Fiaich, Catholic Primate of Ireland, who had paid a visit to Republican prisoners in the Maze Prison on 30 July 1978, issued a statement saying that the prisoners engaged in the ‘blanket protest’ where living in ‘inhuman’ conditions.

At this stage of the ‘blanket protest’ over 300 Republican prisoners were refusing to wear prison clothes or follow normal prison regulations. This protest was an attempt to secure a return of special category status for people convicted of politically motivated crimes.

Wednesday 1 August 1979

The United States (US) State Department halted a private firearms shipment to Northern Ireland. The shipment also included firearms that were intended for the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). The RUC later purchased the arms from West Germany instead.

This decision by the US State Department was brought about by a campaign to try to bring pressure on the British government to undertake a new political initiative in Northern Ireland to find a solution to the conflict.

The campaign was headed by the so-called ‘Four Horsemen’ who were: ‘Tip’ O’Neill, then Speaker of the House of Representatives, Edward Kennedy, then a Senator, Daniel Moynihan, then a Senator, and Hugh Carey, then Governor of New York. Previously the US had been uncritical of British policy in Northern Ireland and these developments were to prove worrying for the British

Saturday 1 August 1981

Seventh Hunger Striker Died

Kevin Lynch (25) died after 71 days on hunger strike. Lynch was a member of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA).

See 1981 Hungry Strikes

Monday 1 August 1988

An Irish Republic Army (IRA) bomb killed one soldier and injured nine at an army barracks in London. It was the first IRA bomb in Britain since the ‘Brighton’ bombing on 12 October 1984.

Friday 1 August 1997

Stewart Hunter (24), a Protestant civilian, was found dead at the side of a road near his home near Larne, County Antrim.

It was believed that Loyalist paramilitaries were responsible for the killing

Saturday 1 August 1998

Thirty-three civilians and two members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) were injured when a car bomb, estimated at 500 pounds, exploded in Banbridge, County Down.

Extensive damage was also caused in the explosion that was later claimed by the “real” Irish Republican Army (rIRA).

The government in the Republic of Ireland took the decision to release six Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoners from Portlaoise Prison. [Unionists reacted angrily to the announcement.

Sunday 1 August 1999

In the aftermath of the killing of Charles Bennett on 30 July 1999, John Bruton, then Leader of Fine Gael, called upon Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), to make “an authoritative statement” on the relationship between Sinn Féin (SF) and the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

 

Wednesday 1 August 2001

Implementation Plan Published and Bomb At Belfast Airport

British Army technical officers defused a car-bomb was left in the main car park at Belfast International Airport. There had been an initial warning at 5.00am (0500BST) but security forces were unable to locate the bomb. Following a second warning the vehicle was found close to the main terminal building.

The car park was closed but flights in and out of the airport were not affected. The “real” Irish Republican Army (rIRA) was thought to have been responsible for the attack.

The British and Irish governments published their Implementation Plan for the Good Friday Agreement. The document addressed the remaining issues of policing, normalisation, stability of the institutions, and decommissioning of paramilitary weapons.

The political parties were given until Monday 6 August 2001 to give their response to the proposals. The funeral of Gavin Brett (18), who had been shot dead by Loyalist paramilitaries on 29 July 2001, took place at Carnmoney Parish Church. Nigel Baylor (Rev), then Church of Ireland rector, said that those responsible for the killing “have done nothing but bring shame on the name of Protestantism

——————————

——————————————

Remembering all innocent victims of the Troubles

Today is the anniversary of the death of the following people killed as a results of the conflict in Northern Ireland

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die

– Thomas Campbell

To the innocent on the list – Your memory will live forever

– To the Paramilitaries –

There are many things worth living for, a few things worth dying for, but nothing worth killing for.

6 People lost their lives on the 1st August   between 1972 – 2001

——————————————

 

01 August 1973

Peter Wilson, (21)

Catholic

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)

Abducted somewhere in the St. James area, Belfast. His remains eventually found by information supplied anonymously, buried in land at foreshore, Waterfoot, County Antrim, on 2 November 2010.

 ————————————————————–

01 August 1975

Joseph Toland,  (78)

Catholic

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)

Shot during gun attack while travelling in mini bus, near Gilford, County Down.

————————————————————–

01 August 1975

James Marks,  (42)

Catholic

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)

Shot during gun attack while driving mini bus, near Gilford, County Down. He died 7 January 1976.

 ————————————————————–

01 August 1976

John Bovaird, (33)

Protestant

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Defence Association (UDA)

Shot at his home, Annalee Street, Lower Oldpark, Belfast. Lived with Catholic family.

 ————————————————————–

01 August 1981

Kevin Lynch, (25)

Catholic

Status: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA),

Killed by: Hunger Striker

Died on the 71st day of hunger strike, Long Kesh / Maze Prison, County Down.

————————————————————–

01 August 1988

Michael Robbins, (23) nfNIB

Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)

Killed in time bomb attack on Inglis British Army (BA) base, Mill Hill, London.

28th July – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

28th July

Key events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

Saturday 28 July 1984

Martin Galvin, then leader of NORAID (Irish Northern Aid Committee), was banned from entering the United Kingdom (UK).

[Despite the ban Galvin appeared at rallies in Derry (9 August 1984) and Belfast (12 August 1984) where a Catholic civilian was killed by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).]

Monday 28 July 1986

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued a statement threatening any civilians who worked for the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) or the British Army (BA).

On 30 July 1986 the IRA killed a civilian contractor who worked for the RUC. On 5 August 1986 the IRA issued a further threat to people working with the security

Sunday 28 July 1991

The Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) exploded seven incendiary devices in shops in the Republic of Ireland.

Friday 28 July 1995

The British government transferred three Republican prisoners involved in a ‘dirty’ protest at Whitemoor Prison in Cambridgeshire to prisons in Northern Ireland. Four other prisoners continued with their protest at Whitemoor.

This brought the number of prisoners transferred to Northern Ireland to 21.

Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, lifted a fund-raising ban on organisations suspected of having paramilitary links. The ban had been imposed 10 years earlier.

Monday 28 July 1997

James Coopey (26) from County Down was charged with the murder of James Morgan on 24 July 1997.

[Later a second man was also charged with the killing.]

Tuesday 28 July 1998

The Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act became law. The legislation allowed for the early release of paramilitary prisoners. Only prisoners who were members of organisations that were observing ceasefires could benefit from the legislation. Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, declared that the Irish Republican Army (IRA), Ulster Defence Association (UDA), and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), were inactive.

[There was criticism of this decision by those who highlighted continuing violence by these organisations.]

Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), announced that the Union Flag would not be flown outside RUC stations on public holidays.

 

Flanagan said that this would bring RUC policy on the matter into line with the rest of the United Kingdom (UK). [Some Unionists reacted angrily to the announcement.

As part of a government reshuffle of ministerial posts, John McFall replaced Tony Worthington at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO).

Wednesday 28 July 1999

Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, retained her position in a British government reshuffle that left all but one member of Tony Blair’s cabinet in place. Mowlam had earlier briefed journalists that she wanted to stay in post to complete the Good Friday Agreement. Peter Robinson, then deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), called the decision “a disaster”, however, Nationalists welcomed the development.

Relatives of the 14 men shot dead and 13 people wounded by British soldiers in Derry on 30 January 1972 expressed disappointment at an Appeal Court ruling that the soldiers who opened fire would not be named during the proceedings of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry.

——————————————

Remembering all innocent victims of the Troubles

Today is the anniversary of the death of the following people killed as a results of the conflict in Northern Ireland

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die

– Thomas Campbell

To the innocent on the list – Your memory will live forever

– To the Paramilitaries –

There are many things worth living for, a few things worth dying for, but nothing worth killing for.

4  People lost their lives on the 28th  July between 1972 – 1998

——————————————

28 July 1972

Seamus Cassidy, (22)

Catholic

Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: British Army (BA)

Died one day after being shot by sniper while sitting in parked car outside Starry Plough Bar, New Lodge Road, Belfast.

————————————————————–

28 July 1972

Philip Maguire,  (55)

Catholic

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)

Found shot in his firm’s van, Carrowreagh Road, Dundonald, Belfast.

————————————————————–

28 July 1979
James McCann,  (20)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Shot while walking along Obins Street, Portadown, County Armagh.

————————————————————–

28 July 1988

Michael Matthews,  (37) nfNI

Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)

Died one day after being injured during land mine attack on British Army (BA) / Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) foot patrol, Cullyhanna, County Armagh.

23rd April – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

23rd April

———————————————

Wednesday 23 April 1969

The Unionist Parliamentary Party voted by 28 to 22 to introduce universal adult suffrage in local government elections in Northern Ireland. The demand for ‘one man, one vote’ had been one of the most powerful slogans of the civil rights movement. James Chichester-Clark, then Minister of Agriculture, resigned in protest at the reform.

[This move further undermined the position of O’Neill who resigned on 28 April 1969, to be replaced by Chichester-Clark.]

Sunday 23 April 1972

The Sunday Times Insight Team published their account of the events of ‘Bloody Sunday’ (30 January 1972).

See: Bloody Sunday

Tuesday 23 April 1974

The United Ulster Unionist Council (UUUC) held a three-day conference in Portrush, County Antrim. The conference was attended by representatives of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and also by Enoch Powell.

The main focus of the conference is to agree a strategy for bringing about the end of the Executive. At the end of the conference (26 April 1974) the UUUC called for a Northern Ireland regional parliament in a federal United Kingdom (UK).

Saturday 23 April 1977

Paisley, in his role as head of the United Unionist Action Council (UUAC), threatened to organise a region-wide strike unless Roy Mason, then Secretary of State, acted against the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and also implemented the Convention Report.

Thomas Passmore, then the County Grand Master of the Orange Order in Belfast, launched a verbal attack on the UUAC and its plans for a general strike. In addition he alleged that a member of the UUAC had been involved in discussions with the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

See The Orange Order 

Thursday 23 April 1981

In what was seen as a response to continuing rioting in Catholic areas, Loyalist paramilitaries decided to meet under the auspices of the Ulster Army Council (UAC) which was effectively a co-ordinating committee for Loyalist groups.

Marcella Sands, the sister of Bobby Sands, made an application to the European Commission on Human Rights claiming that the British government had broken three articles of the European Convention on Human Rights in their treatment of Republican prisoners.

[Two Commissioners tried to visit Bobby Sands on 25 April 1981 but are unable to do so because Sands requested the presence of representatives of Sinn Féin (SF). On 4 May 1981 the European Commission on Human Rights announced that it had no power to proceed with the Sands’ case.]

Wednesday 23 April 1986

James Molyneaux, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), announced a 12-point plan of civil disobedience in protest at the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA). Among the measures was a ‘rates’ (local government taxes) strike.

Thursday 23 April 1987

Peter Archer, then British Labour Party spokesman on Northern Ireland affairs, expressed support in a letter for the MacBride principles.

Thursday 23 April 1992

Two former Moderators of the Presbyterian Church revealed that they had held private talks with Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), and Tom Hartley also of SF.

Friday 23 April 1993

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a bomb attack on an oil terminal in North Shields, England. The bomb damaged a large storage tank.

John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), held another meeting.

Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, made a major speech on Northern Ireland to an audience at the Institute of Irish Studies in Liverpool. Mayhew stated that the British government was against the notion of “joint sovereignty” but did want to see a devolved government with wide powers.

Sunday 23 April 1995

The Sunday Tribune (a Dublin based newspaper) published what it claimed to be an internal Irish Republican Army (IRA) document. The document had been circulated within the Republican movement before being leaked and was believed to have dated from prior to the 1994 ceasefire.

The text contained the acronym ‘TUAS‘ which people were led to believed meant ‘Totally UnArmed Struggle’.

[Following the ending of the first IRA ceasefire some people suggested that TUAS actually stood for ‘Tactical Use of Armed Struggle’. Others suggested that the two interpretations were meant for two different audiences – inside and outside the Republican movement.]

Thursday 23 April 1998

kneecapping reversed.jpg

A 79 year old Catholic man living in the Nationalist New Lodge area of North Belfast was ‘kneecapped’ in his home. The man was tied up and beaten about the head before being shot in both knees and both ankles in a paramilitary style ‘punishment’ attack.

[No organisation claimed responsibility for the incident but local people blamed the Irish Republican Army (IRA) for the attack. The man was the oldest person in Northern Ireland to be the subject of a ‘punishment’ shooting.]

Five Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoners, who were serving sentences in England, were transferred to Portlaoise Prison in the Republic of Ireland.

Three members of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) shared a platform at the Ulster Hall in Belfast with Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), as part of a rally against the Good Friday Agreement.

The three UUP members were: William Ross, William Thompson, and Roy Beggs.

Also at the rally was Robert (Bob) McCartney, then leader of the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP), and also representatives of the Orange Order. Two Unionist members of the Parades Commission, Glen Barr and Tommy Cheevers, resigned from the organisation. The reason given for their decision was the level of media attention they had received since their original appointments to the Commission.

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Irish Constitution began considering a proposal that Members of Parliament (MPs) elected in Northern Ireland should be entitled to sit in the Daíl. The committee also began considering the possibility of permitting Irish citizens living in the North to vote in presidential elections and referendums.

Friday 23 April 1999

A ‘Support Drumcree’ rally was held in Newtownards, County Down, and was attended by several hundred people. Adam Ingram, then Security Minister at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), announced that the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) team investigating the killing of Rosemary Nelson was to get more assistance in the form of detectives from outside Northern Ireland.

See Rosemary Nelson

Sunday 23 April 2000

It was rumoured that Peter Mandelson, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, might quit his position to return to Britain to help the Labour Party fight the next general election.

———————————————

Remembering all innocent victims of the Troubles

Today is the anniversary of the death of the following people killed as a results of the conflict in Northern Ireland

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die

– Thomas Campbell

To the innocent on the list – Your memory will live forever

– To the Paramilitaries –

There are many things worth living for, a few things worth dying for, but nothing worth killing for.

 7  People lost their lives on the 23rd  April   between 1977– 1987

———————————————–

23 April 1977


Patrick Devlin  (72)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Security man. Shot at entrance to Legahory Inn, Craigavon, County Armagh.

———————————————–

23 April 1977


Brendan O’Callaghan  (21)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot from concealed British Army (BA) observation post, while in car park of Hunting Lodge Bar, Stewartstown Road, Belfast.

———————————————–

23 April 1981
John Robinson  (38)

Protestant
Status: ex-Ulster Defence Regiment (xUDR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot while driving firm’s van, Mullacreevie Park, Armagh.

———————————————–

23 April 1984
Neil Clarke   (21)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot by sniper, while on British Army (BA) mobile patrol, Bishop Street, Derry.

———————————————–

23 April 1986


 James Hazlett,   (54)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Shot outside his home, Bryansford Road, Newcastle, County Down.

———————————————–

23 April 1987


Thomas Cooke  (52)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Shot shortly after leaving golf club, Prehen, Derry.

———————————————–

18th August Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

18th August

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

Wednesday 18 August 1971

Eamon Lafferty (20), a member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), was shot dead by the British Army (BA) during a gun battle in the Creggan area of Derry. Eamon McDevitt (24), a Catholic civilian who was deaf and dumb, was shot dead by the British Army in Strabane, County Tyrone.

Thursday 19 August 1971

bbc news

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) was accused of political bias by the then British Minister of Defence, Lord Carrington.

[This was the first of many direct and indirect attempts by successive British governments to influence the way the media reported the conflict in Northern Ireland.]

Wednesday 18 August 1976

Brian Faulkner announced that he would be retiring from active political life.

Tuesday 18 August 1992

Jimmy Brown (36), then a member of the Irish People’s Liberation Organisation (IPLO), was shot dead in Belfast at the start of an internal IPLO feud. [It was later revealed that a new group called the Belfast Brigade of the IPLO was responsible for the killing.]

Thursday 18 August 1994

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) left an incendiary device which exploded in a Protestant public house in Belfast.

Martin Cahill (45), who was alleged to be a leading Dublin criminal, was shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

He was killed while driving his car, at the junction of Oxford Road and Charleston Road, Ranelagh, Dublin.

[His nickname was ‘The General’ and his life formed the basis of a film of the same name. A second film called ‘Ordinary Decent Criminal’ also was based on aspects of his life.]

Friday 18 August 1995

Sir Hugh Annesley, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), said that he believed Irish Republican Army (IRA) units were active behind the scenes. However, he believed that the IRA ceasefire would hold.

Monday 18 August 1997

In the Student Union building in Queen’s University of Belfast, signs which were in English and Irish were removed. This was in response to a report which claimed that the Irish language alienated Protestant students by causing a “chill factor”.

[The Student Union had a policy of promoting bilingualism.]

13 Republican prisoners serving sentences in Britain had their security status reduced allowing them to be moved from Special Secure Units to main prison accommodation.

Tuesday 18 August 1998 “real” IRA Suspension of Military Actions

The “real” Irish Republican Army (rIRA) announced that “all military operations have been suspended”. The announcement came in a telephone call to the Irish News, a Northern Ireland newspaper, at 11.35 pm and the ‘suspension’ took effect from midnight. Earlier in the day the rIRA had contacted the Dublin office of the Irish News and stated that the organisation was responsible for the Omagh bombing but denied that it had deliberately set out to kill people. During the day people all over Ireland were still coming to terms with the death toll in the Omagh bomb as the first of the funerals took place. Funerals continued for the rest of the week.

Friday 18 August 2000

The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) defused a pipe-bomb in Cullybackey near Ballymena, County Antrim. Police ruled out a sectarian motive for a pipe-bomb attack in which a woman in her 80’s escaped injury. The device was found by a neighbour on the windowsill of the house at Lowtown Terrace in Cullybackey at about 7.30am. The police said the fuse of the bomb had been lit but it did not explode.

Saturday 18 August 2001

The Ulster Defence Association (UDA) held a parade down the Shankill Road in Belfast. The paramilitary march involved an estimated 15,000 members of the organisation. Around 100 masked members of the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name used by the UDA, together with 16 bands took part in the parade. The event was held to commemorate Jackie Coulter (46) who was shot dead during the Loyalist feud on 21 August 2000.


Remembering all innocent victims of the Troubles

 Today is the anniversary of the follow  people killed as a results of the conflict in Northern Ireland

To the innocent on the list – Your memory will live forever

– To  the Paramilitaries  –

“There are many things worth living for, a few things worth dying for, but nothing worth killing for.

11 people lost their lives on the 18th August between 1971 – 1994

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 18 August 1971

Eamon Lafferty,   (20)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot during gun battle, Kildrum Gardens, Creggan, Derry

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 18 August 1971


Eamon McDevitt,  (24)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Deaf and dumb man, shot during street disturbances, Fountain Street, Strabane, County Tyrone.

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18 August 1972
Philip Faye,   (21)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Defence Association (UDA)
Shot at his home, Island Street, Belfast.

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18 August 1972
Leonard Layfield,  (24) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot by sniper while at British Army (BA) Vehicle Check Point (VCP), junction of Falls Road and Beechmount Avenue, Belfast.

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 18 August 1972
Richard Jones,  (23) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot by sniper while on British Army (BA) mobile patrol, Excise Street, off Grosvenor Road, Belfast.

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 18 August 1973

Trevor Holland,   (36)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot from passing car while standing outside cafe, West Street, Edgarstown, Portadown

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18 August 1976
Robert Walker,  (32)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF),

Killed by: Ulster Defence Association (UDA)
Found shot by the side of Flush Road, off Crumlin Road, Belfast. Ulster Defence Association (UDA) / Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) feud.

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 18 August 1988
Michael Laverty,  (32)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Shot while renovating house, Cliftonville Road, Belfast.

————————————————————–

18 August 1990
Andrew Bogle,  (43)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed by booby trap bomb when he entered his workplace, building site, Strabane Road, Castlederg, County Tyrone.

————————————————————–

 18 August 1992

Jimmy Brown,  (36)

Catholic
Status: Irish People’s Liberation Organisation (IPLO),

Killed by: Irish People’s Liberation Organisation Belfast Brigade (IPLOBB)
Shot while sitting in his car, Clonard Street, Lower Falls, Belfast. Internal Irish People’s Liberation Oraganisation (IPLO) feud.

————————————————————–

18 August 1994


Martin Cahill,   (45) nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot, while driving his car, at the junction of Oxford Road and Charleston Road, Ranelagh, Dublin. Alleged criminal.

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17th August Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

17th August

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

Monday 17 August 1981

Jackie McMullan, then an Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoner, joined the hunger strike. [ 1981 Hunger Strike.]

Friday 17 August 1984

Clive Soley, then Labour Party spokesperson on Northern Ireland, called for ‘harmonisation’ of Northern Ireland society to that in the Republic of Ireland in preparation for the reunification of the island.

Wednesday 17 August 1994

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out two bomb attacks on public houses in Belfast. One bomb exploded and badly damaged a bar on York Road. The second bomb in a pub on the Shankill Road was defused. Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), said that his party would not take part in any fresh round of political talks.

Thursday 17 August 1995

Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), said that the Republican Movement was ready to make “critical compromises” to achieve peace. He appealed to Unionists to enter all-party talks.

Thursday 17 August 1995

Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), said that the Republican Movement was ready to make “critical compromises” to achieve peace. He appealed to Unionists to enter all-party talks.

Monday 17 August 1998

The Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) issued a statement calling upon the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) to announce a ceasefire. The IRSP said that it felt, in the light of the Omagh bombing, that the ‘armed struggle’ could no longer be justified. The IRSP also felt that the INLA would call a ceasefire in the near future.

Tuesday 17 August 1999

Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, met the Martin McGuinness, then Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), at Stormont. She was seeking further information from US and Irish authorities on the attempt to import arms from Florida and the recent murder in west Belfast of Charles Bennett, before deciding if the Irish Republican Army (IRA) had broken its ceasefire.

Friday 17 August 2001 Policing Implementation Plan Published

A number of shots were fired at a house in the Westacres area of Craigavon, County Armagh. Nobody was injured in the attack which happened at around 12.20am (0020BST). A gang of seven or eight masked men broke into a house at Donegore Drive in Antrim shortly after midnight. They were armed with a handgun, a machete, and knives. There were seven people in the house at the time and all were assaulted and injured. The revised proposals for the policing service were published. Entitled ‘The Patten Report | Updated Implementation Plan 2001‘ [PDF document; 366KB] the report was issued by the British government. John Reid, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, urged everyone to back the Implementation Plan and said it offered “unprecedented opportunities for a new start, a real partnership to policing”. He set a deadline of midday on Tuesday (21 August 2001) for the political parties to respond to the plan. The Northern Ireland Police Federation welcomed the fact that many of the recommendations in the plan were dependent on an assessment of the security situation. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) rejected the plan stating that the measures it contained went far beyond the Patten Report. The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) said it would consider the plan in detail before responding. [Some of the pro-Agreement political parties had been shown a copy of the plan prior to its publication. Sinn Féin (SF) had rejected the document for not going far enough and the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) stated that it would not consider the issue of policing without IRA decommissioning.] The Irish government called on the SDLP and SF to support the Implementation Plan and to nominate representatives to the Northern Ireland Policing Board. Nuala O’Loan, then Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman, announced that her office would investigate claims that security sources had prior warning about the Omagh bomb (15 August 1998). The claim was made by former British Army informant who uses the pseudonym Kevin Fulton. Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), welcomed the investigation but said the claim was “preposterous”.

Friday 17 August 2001 Policing Implementation Plan Published

A number of shots were fired at a house in the Westacres area of Craigavon, County Armagh. Nobody was injured in the attack which happened at around 12.20am (0020BST). A gang of seven or eight masked men broke into a house at Donegore Drive in Antrim shortly after midnight. They were armed with a handgun, a machete, and knives. There were seven people in the house at the time and all were assaulted and injured. The revised proposals for the policing service were published. Entitled ‘The Patten Report | Updated Implementation Plan 2001‘ [PDF document; 366KB] the report was issued by the British government. John Reid, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, urged everyone to back the Implementation Plan and said it offered “unprecedented opportunities for a new start, a real partnership to policing”. He set a deadline of midday on Tuesday (21 August 2001) for the political parties to respond to the plan. The Northern Ireland Police Federation welcomed the fact that many of the recommendations in the plan were dependent on an assessment of the security situation. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) rejected the plan stating that the measures it contained went far beyond the Patten Report. The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) said it would consider the plan in detail before responding. [Some of the pro-Agreement political parties had been shown a copy of the plan prior to its publication. Sinn Féin (SF) had rejected the document for not going far enough and the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) stated that it would not consider the issue of policing without IRA decommissioning.] The Irish government called on the SDLP and SF to support the Implementation Plan and to nominate representatives to the Northern Ireland Policing Board. Nuala O’Loan, then Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman, announced that her office would investigate claims that security sources had prior warning about the Omagh bomb (15 August 1998). The claim was made by former British Army informant who uses the pseudonym Kevin Fulton. Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), welcomed the investigation but said the claim was “preposterous”.

Saturday 18 August 2001

UDA Logo
UDA Logo

The Ulster Defence Association (UDA) held a parade down the Shankill Road in Belfast. The paramilitary march involved an estimated 15,000 members of the organisation. Around 100 masked members of the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name used by the UDA, together with 16 bands took part in the parade. The event was held to commemorate Jackie Coulter (46) who was shot dead during the Loyalist feud on 21 August 2000.

Sunday 19 August 2001

Catholic bishops in Northern Ireland issued a statement calling on people to support the latest proposals on policing in the region: “We believe the time is now right for all those who sincerely want a police service that is fair, impartial and representative to grasp the opportunity that is presented and to exercise their influence to achieve such a service.”

Monday 20 August 2001 SDLP Support Policing Plan

The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) held a meeting to decide on whether or not to accept the ‘Patten Report – Updated Implementation Plan 2001’ that was issued on 17 August 2001. Following the meeting the party announced that it would nominate representatives to the proposed 19 member Policing Board which would oversee the new Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). John Hume, then leader of the SDLP, said: “We will respond positively to an invitation to join the Policing Board and we will be encouraging people from all sections of the community to join the new police service.” The SDLP issued a document outlining its reasons for the change in policy. [The decision represented a historic shift in SDLP policy given that the party had withheld support from the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) since 1970. The decision was welcomed by the Irish government, the British government, the Catholic Church, and the Department of Sate in the United States of America (USA).] There was a gun attack on a house at Mounthill Drive, Cloughmills, County Antrim, at approximately 10.30pm (2230BST). Two shots were fired at a bedroom window of the dwelling but none of the family of five in the house at the time were injured. The estate where the shooting happened was mixed and the house was owned by a Protestant family. [The RUC have not established a motive for the attack.] A ‘paint-bomb’ was thrown at the home of a Protestant man in Hesketh Park, north Belfast. The bottle of paint broke a window and caused paint damage to fittings and furnishings. The man had taken part in a Loyalist stand-off in Ardoyne in June which prevented primary school-children from going to the Catholic Holy Cross Girls’ Primary School. Nelson McCausland, then Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) councillor, accused Republicans of being responsible for the attack. There were two security alerts in west Belfast. One suspect device was thrown at a house in Tullymore Gardens in Andersonstown, while the other device was discovered on the Hannahstown Road. Sinn Féin accused the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) of being responsible for the attacks. The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland published an annual report on the religions composition of the workforce in the region: A Profile of the Workforce in Northern Ireland, Summary of 2000 Monitoring Returns. The report showed that the overall composition of the monitored workforce was 60.4 per cent Protestant and 39.6 per cent Catholic. Other surveys showed that the economically active population is 58 per cent Protestant and 42 per cent Catholic. The imbalance between Catholic and Protestant employment rates has narrowed over the past 10 years. However the last year saw the smallest improvement at 0.1 per cent.


17th August

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

Today is the anniversary of the follow  people killed as a results of the conflict in Northern Ireland

To the innocent on the list – Your memory will live forever

– To  the Paramilitaries  –

“There are many things worth living for, a few things worth dying for, but nothing worth killing for.

4 people lost their lives on the 17th August between 1972 – 1991

————————————————————–

17 August 1972


Michael Boddy, (24) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot by sniper while on British Army (BA) foot patrol, Selby Street, off Grosvenor Road, Belfast.

————————————————————–

17 August 1978
Robert Miller, Robert (22) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed by remote controlled bomb hidden in parked car, detonated when British Army (BA) foot patrol passed, Forkhill, County Armagh.

————————————————————–

17 August 1988

Frederick Otley,  (44)

Protestant
Status: ex-Ulster Volunteer Force (xUVF),

Killed by: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
Shot at his shop, Shankill Road, Belfast.

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17 August 1991


Simone Ware,   (22) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in land mine attack on British Army (BA) foot patrol, Carrickrovaddy, near Cullyhanna, County Armagh.

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Robert Nairac – Undercover Soldier & Hero His Capture & Death

Robert Nairac
Robert Nairac.jpg
Robert Nairac
Robert Nairac in his Grenadier Guards uniform
Born (1948-08-31)31 August 1948
Mauritius
Died 15 May 1977(1977-05-15) (aged 28)
Republic of Ireland
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svgBritish Army
Years of service 1972 – 1977
Rank Captain
Unit Grenadier Guards
Battles/wars Operation Banner
Awards George Cross

The views and opinions expressed in this page and  documentaries are soley intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland. They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors

BBC Panorama – Bandit Country, South Armagh

Captain Robert Laurence Nairac

31 August 1948 –15 May 1977

Captain Robert Laurence Nairac GC (31 August 1948 –15 May 1977) was a British Army officer who was abducted from a pub in Dromintee, south County Armagh, during an undercover operation and killed by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) on his fourth tour of duty in Northern Ireland as a Military Intelligence Liaison Officer. He was posthumously awarded the George Cross in 1979.

A number of claims have been made about both Nairac’s involvement in the killing of an IRA member and his collusion with loyalist paramilitaries, although he was never charged.[1]

Whilst several men have been imprisoned for his death, the whereabouts of his body remains unknown.

Background

Nairac was born in Mauritius to English parents. His family – long settled in Gloucestershire – had ancestors from the south of Ireland.[2] His family name originates from the Gironde area of France. His father was an eye surgeon who worked first in the north of England and then in Gloucester. He was the youngest of four children, with two sisters and a brother.[3]

Nairac, aged 10, attended prep school at Gilling Castle, a feeder school for the Roman Catholic public school Ampleforth College which he attended a year later. He gained nine O levels and three A levels, was head of his house and played rugby for the school. He became friends with the sons of Lord Killanin and went to stay with the family in Dublin and Spiddal in County Galway.[4]

He read medieval and military history at Lincoln College, Oxford, and excelled in sport; he played for the Oxford rugby 2nd XV and revived the Oxford boxing club where he won four blues in bouts with Cambridge. He was also a falconer, keeping a bird in his room which was used in the film Kes.[5

]

He left Oxford in 1971 to enter Royal Military Academy Sandhurst under the sponsorship of the Grenadier Guards and was commissioned with them upon graduation.[6][7][8] After Sandhurst he undertook post-graduate studies at the University of Dublin, before joining his regiment.[9]

Nairac has been described by former army colleagues as “a committed Roman Catholic”[10] and as having “a strong Catholic belief”.[11]

Military career in Northern Ireland

Nairac’s first tour of duty in Northern Ireland was with No.1 Company, the Second Battalion of the Grenadier Guards. The Battalion was stationed in Belfast from 5 July 1973 to 31 October 1973. The Grenadiers were given responsibility first for the Protestant Shankill Road area and then the predominantly Catholic Ardoyne area. This was a time of high tension and regular contacts with paramilitaries. Ostensibly, the battalion’s two main objectives were to search for weapons and to find paramilitaries. Nairac was frequently involved in such activity on the streets of Belfast. He was also a volunteer in community relations activities in the Ardoyne sports club. The battalion’s tour was adjudged a success with 58 weapons, 9,000 rounds of ammunition and 693 lbs of explosive taken and 104 men jailed.

The battalion took no casualties and had no occasion to shoot anyone. After his tour had ended he stayed on as liaison officer for the replacement battalion, the 1st Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. The new battalion suffered a baptism of fire with Nairac narrowly avoiding death on their first patrol when a car bomb exploded on the Crumlin Road.[12]

Rather than returning to his battalion, which was due for rotation to Hong Kong, Nairac volunteered for military intelligence duties in Northern Ireland. Following completion of several training courses, he returned to Northern Ireland in 1974 attached to 4 Field Survey Troop, Royal Engineers, one of the three sub-units of a Special Duties unit known as 14 Intelligence Company (14 Int). Posted to South County Armagh, 4 Field Survey Troop was given the task of performing surveillance duties. Nairac was the liaison officer among the unit, the local British Army brigade, and the Royal Ulster Constabulary.[13]

He also took on duties which were outside his official jurisdiction as a liaison officer – working undercover, for example. He apparently claimed to have visited pubs in republican strongholds and sung Irish rebel songs and acquired the nickname “Danny Boy”. He was often driven to pubs by former Conservative[14] MP Patrick Mercer, who was then an Army officer.[15] Former SAS Warrant Officer Ken Connor, who was involved in the creation of 14 Int, wrote of him in his book, Ghost Force, p. 263:

Had he been an SAS member, he would not have been allowed to operate in the way he did. Before his death we had been very concerned at the lack of checks on his activities. No one seemed to know who his boss was, and he appeared to have been allowed to get out of control, deciding himself what tasks he would do.

Nairac finished his tour with 14th Int in mid-1975 and returned to his regiment in London. Nairac was promoted to captain on 4 September 1975.[16] Following a rise in violence culminating in the Kingsmill massacre, British Army troop levels were increased and Nairac accepted a post again as a liaison officer back in Northern Ireland.

Nairac on his fourth tour was a liaison officer to the units based at Bessbrook Mill. It was during this time that he was abducted and killed.

Shot by the Provisional IRA

On the evening of 14 May 1977, Nairac arrived at The Three Steps pub in Dromintee, South Armagh, by car, alone. He is said to have told regulars of the pub that his name was Danny McErlaine, a motor mechanic and member of the Official IRA from the republican Ardoyne area in north Belfast. The real McErlaine, on the run since 1974, was killed by the Provisional IRA in June 1978 after stealing arms from the organisation.[17]

Witnesses say that Nairac got up and sang a republican folk songThe Broad Black Brimmer” with the band who were playing that night. At around 11.45 p.m., he was abducted following a struggle in the pub’s car park and taken across the border into the Republic of Ireland to a field in the Ravensdale Woods in County Louth. Following a violent interrogation during which Nairac was allegedly punched, kicked, pistol-whipped and hit with a wooden post, he was shot dead.[18]

He did not admit to his true identity. Terry McCormick, one of Nairac’s abductors, posed as a priest in order to try to elicit information by way of Nairac’s confession. Nairac’s last words according to McCormick were: ‘Bless me Father, for I have sinned’.[19]

His disappearance sparked a huge search effort throughout Ireland. The hunt in Northern Ireland was led by Major H. Jones, who as a colonel in the Parachute Regiment was to be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross in the Falklands War. Jones was Brigade Major at HQ 3rd Infantry Brigade. Nairac and Jones had become friends and would sometimes go to the Jones household for supper. After a four-day search, the Garda Síochána confirmed to the Royal Ulster Constabulary that they had reliable evidence of Nairac’s killing.[20]

An edition of Spotlight broadcast on 19 June 2007, claimed that his body was not destroyed in a meat grinder, as alleged by an unnamed IRA source.[21] McCormick, who has been on the run in the United States for thirty years because of his involvement in the killing (including being the first to attack Nairac in the car park), was told by a senior IRA commander that it was buried on farmland, unearthed by animals, and reburied elsewhere. The location of the body’s resting place remains a mystery.[22] Nairac is one of nine IRA victims, whose graves have never been revealed and who are collectively known as ‘The Disappeared’. The cases are under review by the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains.

In May 2000 allegations were made claiming that Nairac had married, and fathered a child with a woman named Nel Lister, also known as Oonagh Flynn or Oonagh Lister. In 2001, her son sought DNA testing himself and revealed the allegations to be a hoax.[23][24]

Criminal prosecutions

In November 1977, Liam Townson, a 24-year-old IRA member from the village of Meigh outside Newry, was convicted of Nairac’s murder. Townson was the son of an Englishman who had married a County Meath woman. He confessed to killing Nairac and implicated other members of the unit involved. Townson made two admissible confessions to Garda officers. The first was made around the time of his arrest, it started with

“I shot the British captain. He never told us anything. He was a great soldier.”

The second statement was made at Dundalk police station after Townson had consulted a solicitor. He had become hysterical and distressed and screamed a confession to the officer in charge of the investigation.[25]

Townson was convicted in Dublin’s Special Criminal Court of Nairac’s murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. He served 13 years in prison and was released in 1990. He was part of Conor Murphy‘s 1998 election campaign team and as of 2000 he was living in St. Moninna Park, in Meigh.[26]

In 1978, the RUC arrested five men from the South Armagh area. Three of them – Gerard Fearon, 21, Thomas Morgan, 18, and Daniel O’Rourke, 33 -were charged with Nairac’s murder. Michael McCoy, 20, was charged with kidnapping, and Owen Rocks, 22, was accused of withholding information. Fearon and Morgan were convicted of Nairac’s murder. O’Rourke was acquitted but found guilty of manslaughter and jailed for ten years. McCoy was jailed for five years and Rocks for two. Morgan died in a road accident in 1987, a year after his release. O’Rourke became a prominent Sinn Féin member in Drumintee.

Two other men, Terry McCormick and Pat Maguire, wanted in connection with this incident remain on the run.[27] Maguire has been reported as living in New Jersey in the US.[28]

————————

Man charged with murder of undercover British Army officer in 1977

A man has been charged with the murder of Robert Nairac, an undercover British Army officer, in Northern Ireland more than 30 years ago

Kevin Crilly: Man charged with murder of undercover British Army officer in 1977

Crilly was interviewed by detectives in the weeks after the incident but left for the United States before officers could arrest him on suspicion of murder Photo: PA

Kevin Crilly, 59, from Lower Foughill Road, Jonesborough, Co Armagh, is already facing charges of kidnapping and falsely imprisoning the 29-year-old Grenadier Guardsman near the Irish border in 1977.

The captain, originally from Gloucestershire, was interrogated, tortured and then shot dead by the IRA after being snatched from a pub car park near Jonesborough and driven to a field at Ravensdale, Co Louth. His body has never been found.

Prosecutors laid the murder charge before Crilly as he appeared at Newry Magistrates’ Court for a routine bail hearing on the two lesser counts, with which he was charged last year.

District Judge Austin Kennedy granted Crilly bail; however, he ordered him to remain in custody after Crown lawyers indicated that they may seek to appeal against the decision in the High Court in Belfast.

In the years after Capt Nairac’s disappearance, three men were convicted of his murder, but police have always said they were looking for more suspects.

Crilly was interviewed by detectives in the weeks after the incident but left for the United States before officers could arrest him on suspicion of murder.

Judge Kennedy was told today that the suspect had remained in the US for almost 30 years.

Investigating officer Detective Sergeant Barry Graham said that, when he returned, he took another name, explaining that Crilly was adopted as a child and had assumed his birth name of Declan Parr.

“The only reason he returned to Northern Ireland was because he was in a long-term relationship in America and that relationship had broken down,” he said.

The officer told the judge that he could connect Crilly with the murder charge and the two other counts of kidnapping and false imprisonment.

Crilly, dressed in a black leather jacket, white check shirt and blue jeans, spoke only to acknowledge that he understood the charges that he was facing.

His defence team objected that the prosecution had given them no prior warning that the murder charge would be put to their client or that they would be objecting to his bail.

Noting that Crilly had complied with all bail requirements since his original arrest 18 months ago and pointing out that, at that point, the defendant was aware that the Public Prosecution Service was examining whether there were grounds for charging him with murder, Judge Kennedy rejected the prosecution objection to bail.

The magistrate said any appeal against his decision would have to be lodged within two hours. He ordered that Crilly was held in the cells until the PPS signalled its intentions.

————————

On 20 May 2008, 57-year-old IRA veteran Kevin Crilly of Jonesborough, County Armagh, was arrested at his home by officers of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). He had been on the run in the United States but had returned to Northern Ireland under an alias after the 1998 Belfast Agreement. He was charged the following day with the kidnapping and false imprisonment of Nairac.[29] In November 2009, Crilly was also charged with the murder of Robert Nairac at Newry magistrates’ court during a bail hearing on the two counts on which he had been charged in 2008.[30] Crilly was cleared on all counts in April 2011 as the Judge considered that the prosecution failed to prove intention or prior knowledge on the part of Crilly.[31]

Nairac’s killing is one of those under investigation by the PSNI’s Historical Enquiries Team (HET).[32]

George Cross award

On 13 February 1979 Nairac was posthumously awarded the George Cross.

Captain Nairac’s posthumous George Cross citation reads, in part:[33]

[…]On his fourth tour Captain Nairac was a Liaison Officer at Headquarters 3 Infantry Brigade. His task was connected with surveillance operations.

On the night of 14/15 May 1977 Captain Nairac was abducted from a village in South Armagh by at least seven men. Despite his fierce resistance he was overpowered and taken across the border into the nearby Republic of Ireland where he was subjected to a succession of exceptionally savage assaults in an attempt to extract information which would have put other lives and future operations at serious risk. These efforts to break Captain Nairac’s will failed entirely. Weakened as he was in strength – though not in spirit – by the brutality, he yet made repeated and spirited attempts to escape, but on each occasion was eventually overpowered by the weight of the numbers against him. After several hours in the hands of his captors Captain Nairac was callously murdered by a gunman of the Provisional Irish Republican Army who had been summoned to the scene. His assassin subsequently said ‘He never told us anything’.

Captain Nairac’s exceptional courage and acts of the greatest heroism in circumstances of extreme peril showed devotion to duty and personal courage second to none.

Collusion allegations

Claims have been made abouts Nairac’s involvement in the killing of an IRA member in the Republic of Ireland and his relationship with Ulster loyalist paramilitaries.

Hidden Hand documentary

Dublin Monaghan Bombings 1974 – First Tuesday -1993

Allegations were made concerning Nairac in a 1993 Yorkshire Television documentary about the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings of 1974 entitled Hidden Hand. The narrator of Hidden Hand states:

We have evidence from police, military and loyalist sources which confirms the links between Nairac and the Portadown loyalist paramilitaries. And also that in May 1974, he was meeting with these paramilitaries, supplying them with arms and helping them plan acts of terrorism against republican targets. In particular, the three prime Dublin suspects, Robert McConnell, Harris Boyle and the man called ‘The Jackal’ (Robin Jackson, Ulster Volunteer Force [UVF] member from Lurgan), were run before and after the Dublin bombings by Captain Nairac.

According to the documentary, support for this allegation was said to have come from various sources:

They include officers from RUC Special Branch, CID and Special Patrol Group; officers from the Gardaí Special Branch; and key senior loyalists who were in charge of the County Armagh paramilitaries of the day….

Holroyd

It was alleged by a former Secret Intelligence Service operative, Captain Fred Holroyd, that Nairac admitted involvement in the assassination of IRA member John Francis Green on 10 January 1975 to him. Holroyd claimed in a New Statesman article written by Duncan Campbell that Nairac had boasted about Green’s death and showed him a colour Polaroid photograph of Green’s corpse taken directly after his assassination.[34]

These claims were given prominence when, in 1987, Ken Livingstone MP told the House of Commons that Nairac was quite likely to have been the person who organised the killing of three Miami Showband musicians.[35]

The Barron Report stated that:

The evidence before the Inquiry that the polaroid photograph allegedly taken by the killers after the murder was actually taken by a Garda officer on the following morning seriously undermines the evidence that Nairac himself had been involved in the shooting.

Holroyd’s evidence was also questioned by Barron in the following terms:

The picture derived from this is of a man increasingly frustrated with the failure of the British Authorities to take his claims seriously; who saw the threat to reveal a crossborder SAS assassination as perhaps his only remaining weapon in the fight to secure a proper review of his own case. His allegations concerning Nairac must be read with that in mind.[36]

Barron report

Nairac was mentioned in Justice Henry’ Barron’s inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings when it examined the claims made by the Hidden Hand documentary, Holroyd and Colin Wallace

Former RUC Special Patrol Group member John Weir, who was also a UVF member, claimed he had received information from an informant that Nairac was involved in the killing of Green:[37]

The men who did that shooting were Robert McConnell, Robin Jackson and I would be almost certain, Harris Boyle who was killed in the Miami attack. What I am absolutely certain of is that Robert McConnell, Robert McConnell knew that area really, really well. Robin Jackson was with him. I was later told that Nairac was with them. I was told by… a UVF man, he was very close to Jackson and operated with him. Jackson told [him] that Nairac was with them.

In addition, “Surviving Miami Showband members Steve Travers and Des McAlee testified in court that an Army officer with a crisp English accent oversaw the Miami attack” (see Miami Showband killings), the implication being that this was Nairac.[38] Fred Holroyd and John Weir also linked Nairac to the Green and Miami Showband killings. Martin Dillon, however, in his book The Dirty War maintained that Nairac was not involved in either attack.[39]

Colin Wallace, in describing Nairac as a Military Intelligence Liaison Officer (MILO) said “his duties did not involve agent handling”. Nevertheless, Nairac “seems to have had close links with the Mid-Ulster UVF, including Robin Jackson and Harris Boyle”. According to Wallace, “he could not have carried out this open association without official approval, because otherwise he would have been transferred immediately from Northern Ireland” [40] Wallace wrote in 1975; Nairac was on his fourth tour of duty in 1977.

Robin Jackson was implicated in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of May 1974, and Harris Boyle was blown up by his own bomb during the Miami Showband massacre.

The Barron Inquiry found a chain of ballistic history linking weapons and killings under the control of a group of UVF and security force members, including RUC Special Patrol Group members John Weir and Billy McCaughey, that is connected to those alleged to have carried out the bombings. This group was known as the “Glenanne gang“. Incidents they were responsible for “included, in 1975, three murders at Donnelly’s bar in Silverbridge, the murders of two men at a fake Ulster Defence Regiment checkpoint, the murder of IRA man John Francis Green in the Republic, the murders of members of the Miami showband and the murder of Dorothy Trainor in Portadown in 1976, they included the murders of three members of the Reavey family, and the attack on the Rock Bar in Tassagh.”[41] According to Weir, members of the gang began to suspect that Nairac was playing republican and loyalist paramilitaries off against each other, by feeding them information about murders carried out by the “other side” with the intention of “provoking revenge attacks”.[42]

The Pat Finucane Centre stated when investigating allegations of collusion between the security forces and loyalist paramilitaries, that although Nairac has been linked to many attacks, “caution has to be taken when dealing with Nairac as attacks are sometimes attributed to him purely because of his reputation”.[43]

See Forkhil – Bandit Country

See The Disappeared

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Irish Republican Army. (I.R.A) – History & Background

Irish Republican Army. (I.R.A) – History & Background

The views and opinions expressed in this page and  documentaries are soley intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland.

They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors.

Provisional Irish Republican Army

The IRA were responsible for approx.  1,823 deaths

————————————————————-

IRA Bombers (IRA Documentary

 


Gaddafi and the IRA – Full

 


The Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA or PIRA) was[5][6][7][8] an Irish republican paramilitary organisation that sought to remove Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom and bring about an independent republic encompassing all of Ireland.[9][10] It was the biggest and most active republican paramilitary group during the Troubles. It saw itself as the successor to the original IRA and called itself simply the Irish Republican Army, or Óglaigh na hÉireann in Irish.[11] It was also widely referred to as such by others. The IRA is designated an unlawful terrorist organisation in the UK and an unlawful organisation in the Republic of Ireland.[12][13]

The Provisional IRA emerged in December 1969, following a split in the republican movement. The Troubles had begun a year before, when a Catholic, nonviolent civil rights campaign was met with violence from both Ulster loyalists and the police, culminating in the August 1969 riots and deployment of British troops.[14]

Secret Undercover British Army Terrorist Force – Military Reaction Force Disclosed

 

The IRA initially focused on defence, but it began an offensive campaign in 1971 (see timeline). The IRA’s primary goal was to force the British to negotiate a withdrawal from Northern Ireland. It used guerrilla tactics against the British Army and Royal Ulster Constabulary in both rural and urban areas. It also carried out a bombing campaign in Northern Ireland and England against what it saw as political and economic targets. Telephoned warnings were usually sent before such bombings. The IRA called a final ceasefire in July 1997, when Sinn Féin were re-admitted into the Northern Ireland peace talks. It supported the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and in 2005 it disarmed under international supervision.

Overview of strategies

The IRA’s initial strategy was to use force to cause the collapse of the government of Northern Ireland and to inflict enough casualties on British forces that the British government would be forced by public opinion to withdraw from the region.[15] This policy involved recruitment of volunteers, increasing after the 1972 Bloody Sunday incident, in which the British military killed unarmed protesters, and launching attacks against British military and economic targets.[16][17] The campaign was supported by arms and funding from Libya[18] and from some groups in the United States.[19][20]

The IRA agreed to a ceasefire in February 1975, which lasted nearly a year[21] before the IRA concluded that the British were drawing them into politics without offering any guarantees in relation to the IRA’s goals (as well as launching an intelligence offensive),[22] and hopes of a quick victory receded.[23] As a result, the IRA launched a new strategy known as “the Long War”. This saw them conduct a war of attrition against the British and increase emphasis on political activity, via the political party Sinn Féin.[24]

The success of the 1981 Irish hunger strike in mobilising support and winning elections led to the Armalite and ballot box strategy, with more time and resources devoted to political activity. The abortive attempt at an escalation of the military part of that strategy led republican leaders increasingly to look for a political compromise to end the conflict, with a broadening dissociation of Sinn Féin from the IRA. Following negotiations with the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and secret talks with British civil servants, the IRA ultimately called a ceasefire in 1994 on the understanding that Sinn Féin would be included in political talks for a settlement.[25] When the British government, dependent on Ulster Unionist Party votes at Westminster, then demanded the disarmament of the IRA before it allowed Sinn Féin into multiparty talks, the IRA called off its ceasefire in February 1996.

This demand was quickly dropped after the May 1997 general election in the UK. The IRA ceasefire was then reinstated in July 1997 and Sinn Féin was admitted into all-party talks, which produced the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. The IRA’s armed campaign, primarily in Northern Ireland but also in England and mainland Europe, caused the deaths of approximately 1,800 people. The dead included around 1,100 members of the British security forces, and about 640 civilians.[26][27] The IRA itself lost 275–300 members[28] and an estimated 10,000 imprisoned at various times over the 30-year period.[1][29]

On 28 July 2005, the IRA Army Council announced an end to its armed campaign, stating that it would work to achieve its aims using “purely political and democratic programmes through exclusively peaceful means”,[30] and shortly afterwards completed decommissioning. In September 2008, the nineteenth report of the Independent Monitoring Commission stated that the IRA was “committed to the political path” and no longer represented “a threat to peace or to democratic politics”, and that the IRA’s Army Council was “no longer operational or functional”.[31][32] The organisation remains classified as a proscribed terrorist group in the UK and as an illegal organisation in the Republic of Ireland.[12][33] Two small groups split from the Provisional IRA, the Continuity IRA in 1986, and the Real IRA in 1997. Both reject the Good Friday Agreement and continue to engage in paramilitary activity.

On 26 July 2012, it was announced that some former members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army were merging with the Real Irish Republican Army, other independent republican paramilitary groups and the vigilante group Republican Action Against Drugs (but, notably, not with the Continuity Irish Republican Army) into a unified formation known simply as the “Irish Republican Army”.[34][35] This new IRA group is estimated by Police Service of Northern Ireland intelligence sources to have between 250 and 300 active militants and many more supporting associates.[36]

Origins

An IRA badge – the Phoenix is frequently used to symbolise the origins of the Provisional IRA.

In August 1969, a confrontation between Catholic residents of the Bogside and police Londonderry ollowing an Apprentice Boys of Derry march led to a large communal riot now referred to as the Battle of the Bogside – three days of fighting between rioters throwing stones and petrol bombs and police who saturated the area with CS gas.

Protests and riots organised by NICRA in support of the Bogsiders began elsewhere in the Province sparking retaliation by Protestant mobs; the subsequent burning, damage to property and intimidation largely against the minority community forced 1,505 Catholics from their homes in Belfast in what became known as the Northern Ireland riots of August 1969, with over 200 Catholic homes being destroyed or requiring major repairs[14] and a number of people were killed on both sides, some by the forces of law and order. The Irish Republican Army had been poorly armed and unable to adequately defend the Catholic community, which had been considered one of its traditional roles since the 1920s.[37]

Veteran republicans were critical of the IRA’s Dublin leadership which, for political reasons, had refused to prepare for aggressive action in advance of the violence.[38][39] On 24 August Joe Cahill, Seamus Twomey, Dáithí Ó Conaill, Billy McKee and several other future Provisional leaders came together in Belfast intending to remove the Belfast leadership and turn back to traditional militant republicanism.[40] Although the pro-Goulding commander Billy McMillen stayed in command, he was told it was only for three months and he was not to have any communication with the IRA’s Dublin based leadership.[40]

Traditional republicans formed the “Provisional” Army Council in December 1969, after an IRA Army convention was held at Knockvicar House in Boyle, County Roscommon.[41][42][43] The two main issues were the acceptance of the “National Liberation Strategy” and a motion to end abstentionism and to recognise the British, Irish and Northern Ireland parliaments. While the motion on the “National Liberation Strategy” was passed unanimously[43] the motion on abstentionism was only passed by 28 votes to 12. Opponents of this change argued strongly against the ending of abstentionism, and when the vote took place, Seán Mac Stíofáin, present as IRA Director of Intelligence, announced that he no longer considered that the IRA leadership represented republican goals.[44] However, there was not a walkout. Those opposed, who included Mac Stíofáin and Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, refused to go forward for election to the new IRA Executive.[45]

While others canvassed support throughout Ireland, Mac Stíofáin was a key person making a connection with the Belfast IRA under Billy McKee and Joe Cahill, who had refused to take orders from the IRA’s Dublin leadership since September 1969, in protest at their failure to defend Catholic areas in August.[46][47] Nine out of thirteen IRA units in Belfast sided with the Provisionals in December 1969, roughly 120 activists and 500 supporters.[48] The first “Provisional” Army Council was composed of Seán Mac Stíofáin, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, Paddy Mulcahy, Sean Tracey, Leo Martin, and Joe Cahill,[49] and issued their first public statement on 28 December 1969, stating:

We declare our allegiance to the 32 county Irish republic, proclaimed at Easter 1916, established by the first Dáil Éireann in 1919, overthrown by forces of arms in 1922 and suppressed to this day by the existing British-imposed six-county and twenty-six-county partition states.[50]

The Sinn Féin party split along the same lines on 11 January 1970, when a third of the delegates walked out of the Ard Fheis in protest at the party leadership’s attempt to force through the ending of abstentionism, despite its failure to achieve a two-thirds majority vote of delegates required to change the policy.[51] Despite the declared support of that faction of Sinn Féin, the early Provisional IRA was extremely suspicious of political activity, arguing rather for the primacy of armed struggle.[52]

There are allegations that the early Provisional IRA received arms and funding from the Fianna Fáil-led Irish government in 1969, resulting in the 1970 “Arms trial” in which criminal charges were pursued against two former government ministers. Roughly £100,000 was donated by the Irish government to “Defence Committees” in Catholic areas and, according to historian Richard English, “there is now no doubt that some money did go from the Dublin government to the proto-Provisionals”.[53]

The Provisionals maintained the principles of the pre-1969 IRA; they considered both British rule in Northern Ireland and the government of the Republic of Ireland to be illegitimate, insisting that the Provisional IRA’s Army Council was the only valid government, as head of an all-island Irish Republic. This belief was based on a series of perceived political inheritances which constructed a legal continuity from the Second Dáil.[54][55]

The Provisionals inherited most of the existing IRA organisation in the north by 1971 and the more militant IRA members in the rest of Ireland. In addition, they recruited many young nationalists from the north, who had not been involved in the IRA before, but had been radicalised by the communal violence that broke out in 1969. These people were known in republican parlance as “sixty niners”, having joined after 1969.[56] The Provisional IRA adopted the Phoenix as symbol of the Irish republican rebirth in 1969. One of its common slogans is “out of the ashes rose the provisionals”.[57]

Organisation

The Provisional IRA was organised hierarchically. At the top of the organisation was the IRA Army Council, headed by the IRA Chief of Staff.

Leadership

All levels of the organisation were entitled to send delegates to IRA General Army Conventions (GACs). The GAC was the IRA’s supreme decision-making authority. Before 1969, GACs met regularly. Since 1969, there have only been two, in 1970 and 1986, owing to the difficulty in organising such a large gathering of an illegal organisation in secret.[58][59]

The GAC in turn elected a 12-member IRA Executive, which selected seven volunteers to form the IRA Army Council.[58] For day-to-day purposes, authority was vested in the Army Council which, as well as directing policy and taking major tactical decisions, appointed a Chief of Staff from one of its number or, less commonly, from outside its ranks.[60]

PIRA re-enacment in Galbally, County Tyrone (2009)

The Chief of Staff would appoint an adjutant general as well as a General Headquarters (GHQ), which consisted of heads of the following departments:

  • Armory
  • Finance
  • Engineering
  • Training
  • Intelligence
  • Publicity
  • Operations
  • Security

Regional command

Republican colour party in Dublin – March 2009. The blue flag being carried at the front is that of “Dublin Brigade IRA”

The IRA was divided into a Northern Command, which operated in the nine Ulster counties as well as County Leitrim and County Louth, and a Southern Command, operating in the rest of Ireland. The Provisional IRA was originally commanded by a leadership based in Dublin. However, in 1977, parallel to the introduction of cell structures at local level, command of the “war-zone” was given to the Northern Command. According to Ed Moloney, these moves at reorganisation were the idea of Ivor Bell, Gerry Adams and Brian Keenan.[61]

Brigades

The IRA refers to its ordinary members as volunteers (or óglaigh in Irish). Up until the late 1970s, IRA volunteers were organised in units based on conventional military structures. Volunteers living in one area formed a company as part of a battalion, which could be part of a brigade, although many battalions were not attached to a brigade.

For most of its existence, the IRA had five Brigade areas within what it referred to as the “war-zone”. These Brigades were located in Armagh, Belfast, Derry, Donegal and Tyrone/Monaghan.[62] The Belfast Brigade had three battalions, respectively in the west, north and east of the city. In the early years of the Troubles, the IRA in Belfast expanded rapidly. In August 1969, the Belfast Brigade had just 50 active members. By the end of 1971, it had 1,200 members, giving it a large but loosely controlled structure.[63]

The Derry Brigade had two battalions – one based in Derry City, known as the South Derry Brigade, and another in Donegal. The Derry Battalion became the Derry Brigade in 1972 after a rapid increase in membership following Bloody Sunday when British paratroopers killed 13 unarmed demonstrators at a civil rights march.[64] Volunteers based in Donegal were a part of the Derry Brigade as well. County Armagh had three battalions, two very active ones in South Armagh and a less active unit in North Armagh. For this reason the Armagh IRA unit is often referred to as the South Armagh Brigade. Similarly, the Tyrone/Monaghan Brigade, which operated from around the Border of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, is often called the East Tyrone Brigade. Fermanagh, South Down and North Antrim had units not attached to Brigades.[65] The leadership structure at battalion and company level was the same: each had its own commanding officer, quartermaster, explosives officer and intelligence officer. There was sometimes a training officer or finance officer.

Active service units

Ulster Defence Association – Hunting The IRA (Documentary

 

From 1973, the IRA started to move away from the larger conventional military organisational principle owing to its security vulnerability.[66] A system of two parallel types of unit within an IRA brigade was introduced in place of the battalion structures. Firstly, the old “company” structures were used for tasks such as “policing” nationalist areas, intelligence gathering, and hiding weapons. These were essential support activities. However, the bulk of actual attacks were the responsibility of a second type of unit, the active service unit (ASU). To improve security and operational capacity, these ASUs were smaller, tight-knit cells, usually consisting of five to eight members. The ASU’s weapons were controlled by a brigade’s quartermaster.[67] By the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was estimated that in the late 1980s the IRA had roughly 300 members in ASUs and about another 450 serving in supporting roles.[65]

The exception to this reorganisation was the South Armagh Brigade, which retained its traditional hierarchy and battalion structure and used relatively large numbers of volunteers in its actions.[68]

The IRA’s Southern Command, located in the Republic of Ireland, consists of a Dublin Brigade and a number of smaller units in rural areas. These were charged mainly with the importation and storage of arms for the Northern units and with raising finances through robberies and other means.[69]

Details on strategy 1969–1998

Initial phase

Following the violence of August 1969, the IRA began to arm and train to protect nationalist areas from further attack.[70] After the Provisionals’ split from the Official IRA the Provisional IRA began planning for an all-out offensive action against what it claimed was British occupation.[71]

The Official IRA were opposed to such a campaign because they felt it would lead to sectarian conflict, which would defeat their strategy of uniting the workers from both sides of the sectarian divide. The IRA Border Campaign in the 1950s had avoided actions in urban centres of Northern Ireland to avoid civilian casualties and resulting sectarian violence.[72] The Provisional IRA, by contrast, was primarily an urban organisation, based originally in Belfast and Derry.

The Provisional IRA’s strategy was to use force to cause the collapse of the Northern Ireland administration and to inflict casualties on the British forces such that the British government be forced by public opinion to withdraw from Ireland. According to journalist Brendan O’Brien, “the thinking was that the war would be short and successful. Chief of Staff Seán Mac Stíofáin decided they would ‘escalate, escalate and escalate’ until the British agreed to go”.[15] This policy involved recruitment of volunteers and carrying out attacks on British forces, as well as mounting a bombing campaign against economic targets. In the early years of the conflict, IRA slogans spoke of, “Victory 1972″ and then “Victory 1974″.[16] Its inspiration was the success of the “Old IRA” in the Irish War of Independence (1919–1922). In their assessment of the IRA campaign, the British Army would describe these years, 1970–72, as the “insurgency phase”.[73]

The British government held secret talks with the IRA leadership in 1972 to try and secure a ceasefire based on a compromise settlement within Northern Ireland after the events of Bloody Sunday when IRA recruitment and support increased. The IRA agreed to a temporary ceasefire from 26 June to 9 July. In July 1972, Seán Mac Stíofáin, Dáithí Ó Conaill, Ivor Bell, Seamus Twomey, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness met a British delegation led by William Whitelaw. The Irish republicans refused to consider a peace settlement that did not include a commitment to British withdrawal, a retreat of the British Army to its barracks, and a release of republican prisoners. The British refused and the talks broke up.[74]

Éire Nua and the 1975 ceasefire

The Provisionals’ goal in this period was the abolition of both the Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland states and their replacement with a new all-Ireland federal republic, with decentralised governments and parliaments for each of the four Irish historic provinces. This programme was known as Éire Nua (New Ireland). The Éire Nua programme remained IRA policy until discontinued by the Army Council in 1979.[75] Éire Nua remained Sinn Féin policy until 1982.[76]

By the mid-1970s, the hopes of the IRA leadership for a quick military victory were receding. The British military was unsure of when it would see any substantial success against the IRA. Secret meetings between Provisional IRA leaders Ruairí Ó Brádaigh and Billy McKee with British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Merlyn Rees secured an IRA ceasefire which began in February 1975. The IRA initially believed that this was the start of a long-term process of British withdrawal, but later came to the conclusion that Rees was trying to bring them into peaceful politics without offering them any guarantees.[23] Critics of the IRA leadership, most notably Gerry Adams, felt that the ceasefire was disastrous for the IRA, leading to infiltration by British informers, the arrest of many activists and a breakdown in IRA discipline resulting in sectarian killings and a feud with fellow republicans in the Official IRA. At this time, the IRA leadership, short of money, weapons and members, was on the brink of calling off the campaign. The ceasefire, however, broke down in January 1976.[21]

The “Long War

IRA political poster from the 1980s, featuring a quote from Bobby Sands – “There can never be peace in Ireland until the foreign, oppressive British presence is removed, leaving all the Irish people as a unit to control their own affairs and determine their own destinies as a sovereign people, free in mind and body, separate and distinct physically, culturally and economically”.

Thereafter, the IRA evolved a new strategy which they called the “Long War”. This underpinned IRA strategy for the rest of the Troubles and involved the re-organisation of the IRA into small cells, an acceptance that their campaign would last many years before being successful and an increased emphasis on political activity through Sinn Féin. A republican document of the early 1980s states, “Both Sinn Féin and the IRA play different but converging roles in the war of national liberation. The Irish Republican Army wages an armed campaign… Sinn Féin maintains the propaganda war and is the public and political voice of the movement”.[77] The 1977 edition of the Green Book, an induction and training manual used by the IRA, describes the strategy of the “Long War” in these terms:

  1. A war of attrition against enemy personnel [British Army] based on causing as many deaths as possible so as to create a demand from their [the British] people at home for their withdrawal.
  2. A bombing campaign aimed at making the enemy’s financial interests in our country unprofitable while at the same time curbing long term investment in our country.
  3. To make the Six Counties… ungovernable except by colonial military rule.
  4. To sustain the war and gain support for its ends by National and International propaganda and publicity campaigns.
  5. By defending the war of liberation by punishing criminals, collaborators and informers.[78]

Confidential documents released on 30 December 2008 from the British state archives show that the IRA leadership proposed a ceasefire and peace talks to the British government in 1978. The British refused the offer. Prime Minister James Callaghan decided that there should be “positive rejection” of the approach on the basis that the republicans were not serious and “see their campaign as a long haul”. Irish State documents from the same period say that the IRA had made a similar offer to the British the previous year. An Irish Defence Forces document, dated 15 February 1977, states that “It is now known that feelers were sent out at Christmas by the top IRA leadership to interest the British authorities in another long ceasefire.”[79]

1981 hunger strikes and electoral politics

Insight: The 1981 Hunger Strike 20 Years On – 2001

 

IRA funeral, 1981

IRA prisoners convicted after March 1976 did not have Special Category Status applied in prison. In response, over 500 prisoners refused to wash or wear prison clothes (see Dirty protest and Blanket protest). This activity culminated in the 1981 Irish hunger strike, when seven IRA and three Irish National Liberation Army members starved themselves to death in pursuit of political status. The hunger strike leader Bobby Sands and Anti H-Block activist Owen Carron were elected to the British Parliament, and two other protesting prisoners were elected to the Irish Dáil. In addition, there were work stoppages and large demonstrations all over Ireland in sympathy with the hunger strikers. Over 100,000 people attended the funeral of Sands, the first hunger striker to die.[80]

After the success of IRA hunger strikers in mobilising support and winning elections on an Anti H-Block platform in 1981, republicans increasingly devoted time and resources to electoral politics, through the Sinn Féin party. Danny Morrison summed up this policy at a 1981 Sinn Féin Ard Fheis (annual meeting) as a “ballot paper in this hand and an Armalite in the other”.[81]

Peace strategy

The success of the 1981 Irish hunger strike in mobilising support and winning elections led to what was referred to by Danny Morrison as, “the Armalite and ballot box strategy” with more time and resources devoted to political activity. The perceived stalemate along with British government’s hints of a compromise[82] and secret approaches in the early 1990s led republican leaders increasingly to look for a political agreement to end the conflict,[83][84] with a broadening dissociation of Sinn Féin from the IRA. Following negotiations with the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and secret talks with British civil servants, the IRA ultimately called a ceasefire in 1994 on the understanding that Sinn Féin would be included in political talks for a settlement.[25] When the British government then demanded the disarmament of the IRA before it allowed Sinn Féin into multiparty talks, the organisation called off its ceasefire in February 1996. The renewed bombings caused severe economic damage, with the Manchester bombing and the Docklands bombing causing approximately £500 million in combined damage. After the ceasefire was reinstated in July 1997, Sinn Féin was admitted into all-party talks, which produced the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. The IRA’s armed campaign, primarily in Northern Ireland but also in England and mainland Europe, caused the deaths of approximately 1,800 people. The dead included around 1,100 members of the British security forces, and about 630 civilians.[26][27] The IRA itself lost 275–300 members,[28] of an estimated 10,000 total over the 30-year period.[1]

According to author Ed Moloney, the IRA made an attempt to escalate the conflict with the so-called “Tet Offensive” in the 1980s, which was reluctantly approved by the Army Council and did not prove successful. On the other hand, public speeches from two Northern Ireland Secretaries of State, Peter Brooke[85] and Patrick Mayhew[86] hint that, given the cessation of violence, a political compromise with the IRA was possible. Gerry Adams entered talks with John Hume, the leader of the moderate nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) in 1993, and secret talks were also conducted since 1991 between Martin McGuinness and a senior MI6 officer, Michael Oatley.[82][84][87] Thereafter, Adams increasingly tried to disassociate Sinn Féin from the IRA, claiming they were separate organisations and refusing to speak on behalf of the IRA.[88] Within the Republican Movement (the IRA and Sinn Féin), the new strategy was described by the acronym “TUAS”, meaning either “Tactical Use of Armed Struggle” or “Totally Unarmed Strategy”.[89]

Weaponry and operations

The Armalite AR-18, obtained by the IRA from an IRA member in the United States in the early 1970s, was an emotive symbol of its armed campaign

An AK-47 assault rifle (over 1,000 of which were donated by Muammar Gaddafi to the IRA in the 1980s)

Heckler & Koch G3. 100 of these, stolen from the Norwegian police, finished up with the IRA

In the early days of the Troubles the IRA was very poorly armed, mainly with old World War II weaponry such as M1 Garands and Thompson submachine guns, but starting in the early 1970s it procured large amounts of modern weaponry from such sources as supporters in the United States, Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi,[21] and arms dealers in Europe, America, the Middle East and elsewhere. The Libyans supplied the IRA with the RPG-7.

The RPG-7

In the first years of the conflict, the IRA’s main activities were providing firepower to support nationalist rioters and defending nationalist areas from attacks. The IRA gained much of its support from these activities, as they were widely perceived within the nationalist community as being defenders of Irish nationalist and Roman Catholic people against aggression.[90]

Grand Hotel following a bomb attack

 
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Thatcher and the IRA Dealing with Terror BBC Documentary 2014 Full

 

From 1971–1994, the IRA launched a sustained offensive armed campaign that mainly targeted the British Army, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), and economic targets in Northern Ireland. In addition, some IRA members carried out attacks against Protestant civilians.[91]

The IRA was chiefly active in Northern Ireland, although it took its campaign to England and mainland Europe. The IRA also targeted certain British government officials, politicians, judges, establishment figures, British Army and police officers in England, and in other areas such as the Republic of Ireland, West Germany and the Netherlands. By the early 1990s, the bulk of the IRA activity was carried out by the South Armagh Brigade,[citation needed] well known through its sniping operations and attacks on British Army helicopters. The bombing campaign principally targeted political, economic and military targets, and approximately 60 civilians were killed by the IRA in England during the conflict.[92]

It has been argued that this bombing campaign helped convince the British government (who had hoped to contain the conflict to Northern Ireland with its Ulsterisation policy) to negotiate with Sinn Féin after the IRA ceasefires of August 1994 and July 1997.[93][94]

Ceasefires and decommissioning of arms

On 31 August 1994, the IRA declared an indefinite ceasefire. However, from February 1996 until July 1997, the IRA called off its 1994 ceasefire because of its dissatisfaction with the state of negotiations. They re-instated the ceasefire in July 1997, and it has been in operation since then.[95]

The IRA decommissioned all of its remaining arms between July and September 2005. The decommissioning of its weaponry was supervised by the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD). Among the weaponry estimated (by Jane’s Information Group) to have been destroyed as part of this process were:

A “Sniper at Work” sign in Crossmaglen. The PIRA used snipers as a tactic in south Armagh to disrupt foot patrols

Having compared the weapons destroyed with the British security forces’ estimates of the IRA weaponry, and because of the IRA’s full involvement in the process of destroying the weapons, the IICD arrived at their conclusion that all IRA weaponry has been destroyed.[97]

Since the process of decommissioning was completed, unnamed sources in MI5 and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) have reported to the press that not all IRA arms were destroyed during the process. This claim remains unsubstantiated so far.[98] In its report dated April 2006 the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) stated that it had no reason to disbelieve the IRA or to suspect that it had not fully decommissioned. It believed that any weaponry that had not been handed in had been retained locally and against the wishes of the IRA leadership.[99] The Russian and British Intelligence services alleged that during the decommissioning process the IRA secretly purchased a consignment of 20 Russian special forces AN-94 rifles in Moscow.[100][101][102]

In mid-July 2013, the Gardaí displayed arms and explosives (Semtex) recently recovered from dissident republicans in the Dublin area. The Gardaí believe this Semtex to have come from the Libyan connection back in the 1980s and therefore should have been decommissioned.[103][104][105]

Other activities

Apart from its armed campaign, the IRA has also been involved in many other activities.

Sectarian attacks

IRA, purely sectarian, calculated slaughter of Protestants at Kingsmill

 

The IRA publicly condemned sectarianism and sectarian attacks.[106] However, some IRA members became involved in sectarian tit-for-tat violence and attacked Protestants in retaliation for attacks on Catholics.[106] Of those killed by the IRA, Sutton classifies 130 (about 7%) of them as sectarian killings of Protestants.[107] Unlike loyalists, the IRA denied responsibility for sectarian attacks and the members involved used covernames, such as Republican Action Force.[108][109] Many in the IRA opposed these sectarian attacks, but others deemed them effective in preventing sectarian attacks on Catholics.[110]

Some unionists allege that the IRA took part in “ethnic cleansing” of the Protestant minority in rural border areas, such as Fermanagh.[111][112] Many local Protestants allegedly believed that the IRA tried to force them into leaving. However, most Protestants killed by the IRA in these areas were members of the security forces, and there was no exodus of Protestants.[113]

Alleged involvement in organised crime

The IRA have allegedly been involved in criminal activities, including racketeering, bank robbery, fuel laundering, drug dealing and kidnapping.[114][115][116]

In 2004, £26.5m was stolen from the Northern Bank‘s vaults in Belfast city centre. The British and Irish governments agreed with the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s report blaming the robbery on the IRA.[117] On 18 January 2005, the IRA issued a statement denying any involvement in the robbery.[118] In February 2005, the Independent Monitoring Commission’s Fourth Report stated their belief that the robbery was carried out with the prior knowledge and authorisation of the IRA’s leadership.[119] Commentators including Suzanne Breen have stated that the IRA was the only organisation capable of carrying out the raid.[120] In May 2009, two men were arrested in Cork, and charged with IRA membership and offences relating to the robbery.[121]

According to several sources, the organisation has also been involved in the Irish drugs trade. A 1999 report by John Horgan and Max Taylor cited Royal Ulster Constabulary reports, alleging that this involves the “licensing” of drug operations to criminal gangs and the payment of protection money, rather than direct involvement.[114][122][123] However, Chief of the RUC Drugs Squad Kevin Sheehy notes “the Provisional IRA did its best to stop volunteers from becoming directly involved [in drugs]” and noted that on one occasion an IRA member caught in possession of a small amount of cannabis for personal use was “disowned and humiliated” in his local area.[124] According to Horgan and Taylor’s report, the IRA are also involved in several legitimate businesses including taxi firms, construction, restaurants and pubs. The IRA have also been involved in racketeering, which involves the extortion of money from legitimate businesses for “protection”.[125]

Speaking at Sinn Féin 2005 Ard Fheis, Gerry Adams stated that “‘There is no place in republicanism for anyone involved in criminality”. However, he went on to say “we refuse to criminalise those who break the law in pursuit of legitimate political objectives”.[126]

In 2013 it was reported that an Italian police investigation had revealed links between the IRA and the Mafia in a €450m money laundering scheme.[127]

Vigilantism

The IRA saw itself as the police force of nationalist areas of Northern Ireland during the Troubles instead of the RUC.[128] This was made possible by a feeling of mistrust by some members of the community against the police force and army. The feeling, that the RUC, B-Specials, UDR, British Army and other arms of the Governmental apparatus in Northern Ireland were biased against the nationalist community was not new; it predated the Troubles and took in organisations like the Ulster Defence Volunteers, a home guard body of World War II, who were also widely considered sectarian.[129] Catholics did, however, serve in the UDV,[130] Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), and Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).

Also, the RUC and other forces of the authorities were, in some instances, reluctant to enter or patrol certain Nationalist areas unless it was in armoured Land Rovers and in convoy. Police stations were also heavily armoured because of persistent attacks from the IRA. This gave them the appearance of being fortresses. This vacuum in policing was functional for the IRA because it stopped the local community being in contact with the police which may have posed a threat if information was passed.[131] Therefore, the community would turn to the IRA first to deal with troublemakers or those practising what came to be called “anti-social behaviour”.[132] In efforts to stamp out “anti-social behaviour” and alleged instances of drug dealing reported to or noticed by the organisation, the IRA killed or otherwise attacked suspected drug dealers and other suspected criminals. These attacks varied in severity and depended on various factors. In the first instance, the IRA may warn their intended victim, with further transgressions escalated to an attack known as a “punishment beating”. The process which the IRA went through to determine an offender’s “guilt” or “innocence” was never open to debate or scrutiny.[citation needed] The IRA also engaged in attacks that broke the bones of alleged offenders, or involved shooting through the hands, or knees for persistent offenders of activities such as joyriding or drug dealing. In certain cases, for persistent offenders the IRA would intimidate the individual into leaving the country; this was known as being “put out” of the community/country, and the clear message given to individuals served with these notices was that if they returned to the community/country they would be killed. This practice was frequently criticised by all sections of the political establishment in Northern Ireland as “summary justice“.[citation needed]

Irish Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, speaking in the Dáil Éireann, challenged Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams, over allegations of sexual abuse cover up by Sinn Féin/IRA. In the same debate Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin said victims of sex abuse by IRA members were sworn to silence. Adams denied there was any Sinn Féin cover up and accused Kenny and Martin of politicising the issue.[133] Adams also apologised to abuse victims who he said were “let down” by the IRA’s failure to properly investigate their claims of abuse.[134]

Killing of alleged informers

IRA execute suspected informer | South Armagh | 20th July 1991

 

In an effort to stamp out what the IRA termed “collaboration with British forces” and “informing”, they killed a number of Catholic civilians, such as Joseph Fenton. Purges against these individuals, whom the IRA considered traitors to their own community and to the cause of nationalism, were most prevalent when the IRA found itself persistently vulnerable to infiltration. Investigations into informers and infiltration are suspected to have been dealt with by an IRA unit called the Internal Security Unit (ISU), known colloquially as the “Nutting Squad”. This unit is said to be directly attached to IRA GHQ. Where a confession was solicited, the victim was often exiled or executed with a bullet in the back of the head. The body was either buried or, later in the IRA campaign, left in a public place, often in South Armagh.

One particular example of the killing of a person deemed by the IRA to have been an informer that is the source of continuing controversy is that of Jean McConville from Belfast, who was killed by the IRA. Ed Moloney and IRA sources continue to claim she was an informer despite the Police Ombudsman recently stating that this was not the case. The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) have described the killing as a “war crime“. Her family contend that she was killed as a punishment for aiding a dying British soldier in West Belfast, however this claim has been rejected in an official investigation,[135] while neither the Sutton Index or Lost Lives record the death of any British soldier near her home prior to her killing.[136] In March 2014, Ivor Bell – former IRA Chief of Staff – was arrested and charged with aiding and abetting in the murder of Jean McConville.[137] In April 2014, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams was arrested and questioned by PSNI detectives in relation to the abduction and murder of Jean McConville.[138] He was released four days later without charge.[139]

In March 2007, Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan announced that there would be an inquiry into claims of collusion between IRA members working as agents for the Special Branch and other agencies and the British security forces.[140]

Conflict with other republican paramilitaries

The IRA has also feuded with other republican paramilitary groups such as the Official IRA in the 1970s and the Irish People’s Liberation Organisation in the 1990s.

Leading Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA) member Joseph O’Connor was shot dead in Ballymurphy, west Belfast on 11 October 2000. Claims have been made by O’Connor’s family and people associated with the RIRA that he was killed by the IRA as the result of a feud between the organisations,[141] but Sinn Féin denied the claims.[142] No-one has been charged with his killing.

Casualties

This is a summary. For a detailed breakdown of casualties caused by and inflicted on the IRA see Provisional IRA campaign 1969-1997#Casualties

An IRA signpost with the word “Provoland” underneath in Strathroy, Omagh, County Tyrone.

The IRA was responsible for more deaths than any other organisation during the Troubles.[143] Two detailed studies of deaths in the Troubles, the CAIN project at the University of Ulster, and the book Lost Lives,[144] differ slightly on the numbers killed by the IRA. CAIN gives a minimum figure of 1,707 and a maximum of 1,823, while Lost Lives gives a figure of 1,781. Of these, about 1,100 were members or former members of the security forces (the British Army, Royal Ulster Constabulary etc.), while between 510[145] and 640[27] were civilians. The civilian figure also includes civilians employed by British forces, politicians, members of the judiciary, and alleged criminals and informers. The remainder were either loyalist or republican paramilitary members (including over 100 IRA members accidentally killed by their own bombs or shot for being security force agents or informers).

A little under 300 IRA members were killed in the Troubles.[146] In addition, roughly 50–60 members of Sinn Féin were killed.[147] However, many more IRA volunteers were imprisoned than killed. Journalists Eamonn Mallie and Patrick Bishop estimate in their book The Provisional IRA that roughly 8,000 people passed through the ranks of the IRA in the first 20 years of its existence, many of them leaving after arrest (senior officers are required to surrender their post after being arrested), retiring from the armed campaign or “disillusionment”. They give 10,000 as the total number of past and present IRA members at that time.[148]

Categorisation

The IRA is a proscribed organisation in the United Kingdom under the Terrorism Act 2000[12] and an unlawful organisation in the Republic of Ireland under the Offences Against the State Acts.[149] Harold Wilson‘s secret 1971 meeting with IRA leaders with the help of John O’Connell angered the Irish government; Garret FitzGerald wrote 30 years later that “the strength of the feelings of our democratic leaders … was not, however, publicly ventilated at the time” because Wilson was a former and possible future British prime minister.[150] Members of IRA are tried in the Republic of Ireland in the Special Criminal Court. In Northern Ireland, the IRA are referred to as terrorists by the Ulster Unionist Party, the Democratic Unionist Party, the Progressive Unionist Party, the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland,[151] and the Social Democratic and Labour Party.[152] On the island of Ireland, the largest political party to state that the IRA is not a terrorist organisation is Sinn Féin. Sinn Féin is widely regarded as the political wing of the IRA, but the party insists that the two organisations are separate.[153]

Peter Mandelson, a former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, contrasted the post-1997 activities of the IRA with those of Al-Qaeda, describing the latter as “terrorists” and the former as “freedom fighters” (though Mandelson subsequently denied this sentiment).[154] The IRA prefer the terms freedom fighter, soldier, or volunteer.[155][156][157] The US Department of State lists them in the category ‘other selected terrorist groups also deemed of relevance in the global war on terrorism.’[153] The organisation has also been described as a “private army” by a number of commentators and politicians.[158][159][160]

The IRA described its actions throughout “The Troubles” as a military campaign waged against the British Army, the RUC, other security forces, judiciary, loyalist politicians and loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland, England and Europe. The IRA considers these groups to be all part of the same apparatus. As noted above, the IRA seeks to draw a direct descendancy from the original IRA and those who engaged in the Irish War of Independence. The IRA sees the previous conflict as a guerrilla war which accomplished some of its aims, with some remaining “unfinished business”.[161]

A process called “Criminalisation” was begun in the mid-1970s as part of a British strategy of “Criminalisation, Ulsterisation, and Normalisation”. The policy was outlined in a 1975 British strategy paper titled “The Way Ahead”, which was not published but was referred to by Labour’s first Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Merlyn Rees, and came to be the dominant British political theme in the conflict as it raged into the 1980s.[citation needed]

Another categorisation avoids the terms “guerrilla” or “terrorist” but does view the conflict in military terms. The phrase originated with the British military strategist Frank Kitson who was active in Northern Ireland during the early 1970s. In Kitson’s view, the violence of the IRA represented an “insurrection” situation, with the enveloping atmosphere of belligerence representing a “low intensity conflict” – a conflict where the forces involved in fighting operate at a greatly reduced tempo, with fewer combatants, at a reduced range of tactical equipment and limited scope to operate in a military manner.[citation needed]

Membership of the IRA remains illegal in both the UK and the Republic of Ireland, but IRA prisoners convicted of offences committed before 1998 have been granted conditional early release as part of the Good Friday Agreement.[162] In the United Kingdom a person convicted of membership of a “proscribed organisation”, such as the IRA, still nominally faces imprisonment for up to 10 years.[163]

Strength and support

Numerical strength

In the early to mid-1970s, the numbers recruited by the IRA may have reached several thousand, but these were reduced when the IRA re-organised its structures from 1977 onwards. An RUC report of 1986 estimated that the IRA had 300 or so members in Active Service Units and up to 750 active members in total in Northern Ireland.[65] This does not take into consideration the IRA units in the Republic of Ireland or those in Britain, continental Europe, and throughout the world. In 2005, the then Irish Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Michael McDowell told the Dáil that the organisation had “between 1,000 and 1,500″ active members.[164]

According to the book The Provisional IRA (by Eamon Mallie and Patrick Bishop), roughly 8,000 people passed through the ranks of the IRA in the first 20 years of its existence, many of them leaving after arrest, “retirement” or disillusionment.[148] In later years, the IRA’s strength has been somewhat weakened by members leaving the organisation to join hardline splinter groups such as the Continuity IRA and the Real IRA. According to former Irish Minister for Justice Michael McDowell, these organisations have little more than 150 members each.[164]

Electoral and popular support

The popular support for the IRA’s campaign in the Troubles is hard to gauge, given that Sinn Féin, the IRA’s political wing, did not stand in elections until the early 1980s. Most nationalists in Northern Ireland voted for the moderate Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) until 2001. After the 1981 hunger strike, Sinn Féin mobilised large electoral support and won 105,000 votes, or 43% of the nationalist vote in Northern Ireland, in the United Kingdom general election, 1983, only 34,000 votes behind the SDLP.[165] However, by the 1992 UK General Election, the SDLP won 184,445 votes and four seats to Sinn Féin’s 78,291 votes and no seats.[166] In the 1993 Local District Council Elections in Northern Ireland, the SDLP won 136,760 votes to Sinn Féin’s 77,600 votes.[167]

Few Protestant voters voted for Sinn Féin. In 1992, many of them voted for SDLP West Belfast candidate Joe Hendron rather than a unionist candidate to make sure Gerry Adams of Sinn Féin lost his seat in the constituency.[168]

An IRA wall mural in Coalisland, County Tyrone

The IRA enjoyed some popular support in the Republic of Ireland in the early 70s. However, the movement’s appeal was hurt badly by bombings such as the killing of civilians attending a Remembrance Day ceremony at the cenotaph in Enniskillen in 1987 (Remembrance Day bombing), and the death of two children when a bomb exploded in Warrington, which led to tens of thousands of people demonstrating on O’Connell Street in Dublin to call for an end to the IRA’s campaign. In the 1987 Irish General Election, they won only 1.7% of the votes cast.[169] They did not make significant electoral gains in the Republic until after the IRA ceasefires and the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. By the 2011 Irish general election Sinn Féin’s proportion of the popular vote had reached 9.9 percent.

Sinn Féin now has 27 members of the Northern Ireland Assembly (out of 108), five Westminster MPs (out of 18 from Northern Ireland) and 14 Republic of Ireland TDs (out of 166).

Support from other countries and organisations

The IRA have had contacts with foreign governments and other illegal armed organisations.

Libya has been the biggest single supplier of arms and funds to the IRA, donating large amounts: three shipments of arms in the early 1970s and another three in the mid-1980s, the latter reputedly enough to arm two regular infantry battalions.[18]

The IRA has also received weapons and logistical support from Irish Americans in the United States. Apart from the Libyan aid, this has been the main source of overseas IRA support. American support has been weakened by the War against Terrorism, and the fallout from the events of 11 September 2001.[19][20]

In the United States in November 1982, five men were acquitted of smuggling arms to the IRA after they claimed the Central Intelligence Agency had approved the shipment, although the CIA denied this.[170] There are allegations of contact with the East German Stasi, based on the testimony of a Soviet defector to British intelligence Vasili Mitrokhin. Mitrokhin revealed that although the Soviet KGB gave some weapons to the Marxist Official IRA, it had little sympathy with the Provisionals.[171] The IRA has received some training and support from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). In 1977, the Provisionals received a ‘sizeable’ arms shipment from the PLO, including small arms, rocket launchers and explosives, but this was intercepted at Antwerp after the Israeli intelligence alerted its European counterparts.[172] According to Dr Mir Ali Montazam, one-time first secretary at the Iranian embassy, Iran played a key part in funding the IRA during the 1980s. Iranian officials deposited £4 million into a secret Jersey bank account, funded by the sale of artwork from the Iranian Embassy in London. Hadi Ghaffari, the “machinegun mullah”, was sent to Belfast and organised the distribution of the money via sympathetic Irish businessmen.[173]

Falls Road in 1981

It has been alleged that the IRA had a co-operative relationship with Basque militant group ETA since the early 1970s. In 1973 it was accused of providing explosives for the assassination of Luis Carrero Blanco in Madrid.[174] In the 1970s, ETA also exchanged a quantity of handguns for training in explosives with the IRA.[175] In addition, the leaders of the political wings of the respective Irish republican and Basque separatist movements have exchanged visits on several occasions to express solidarity with each other’s cause.[176] Prominent former IRA prisoners such as Brendan McFarlane and Brendan Hughes have campaigned for the release of ETA prisoners.[177][178] In the mid-1990s after the IRA ceasefire, Basque media outlets followed the process carefully, sending a team to follow the families of those killed on Bloody Sunday as they campaigned for apology.[citation needed]

IRA propaganda poster

In May 1996, the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s internal security service, publicly accused Estonia of arms smuggling, and claimed that the IRA had contacted representatives of Estonia’s volunteer defence force, Kaitseliit, and some non-government groups to buy weapons.[179][180] In 2001, three Irish men, who later became known as the Colombia Three, were arrested after allegedly training Colombian guerrillas, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), in bomb making and urban warfare techniques. The US House of Representatives Committee on International Relations in its report of 24 April 2002 concluded “Neither committee investigators nor the Colombians can find credible explanations for the increased, more sophisticated capacity for these specific terror tactics now being employed by the FARC, other than IRA training”.[181]

In December 2013 the report of the Smithwick Tribunal concluded that “on the balance of probability” collusion took place between the IRA and members of the Garda Síochána in the 1989 killing of two RUC officers; however, the report could not conclusively prove this.[182]

Aftermath of Manchester bombing

Good Friday Agreement

Main article: Good Friday Agreement

The IRA ceasefire in 1997 formed part of a process that led to the 1998 Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement. One aim of the Agreement is that all paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland cease their activities and disarm by May 2000.

Calls from Sinn Féin led the IRA to commence disarming in a process that was monitored by Canadian General John de Chastelain‘s decommissioning body in October 2001. However, following the collapse of the Stormont power-sharing government in 2002, which was partly triggered by allegations that republican spies were operating within Parliament Buildings and the Civil Service, the IRA temporarily broke off contact with General de Chastelain.[citation needed]

In December 2004, attempts to persuade the IRA to disarm entirely collapsed when the Democratic Unionist Party, under Ian Paisley, insisted on photographic evidence. Justice Minister Michael McDowell (in public, and often) insisted that there would need to be a complete end to IRA activity.[citation needed]

At the beginning of February 2005, the IRA declared that it was withdrawing from the disarmament process, but in July 2005 it declared that its campaign of violence was over, and that transparent mechanisms would be used, under the de Chastelain process, to satisfy the Northern Ireland communities that it was disarming totally.

End of the armed campaign

On 28 July 2005, the IRA Army Council announced an end to its armed campaign, stating that it would work to achieve its aims using “purely political and democratic programmes through exclusively peaceful means”,[30] and shortly afterwards completed decommissioning. In September 2008, the nineteenth report of the Independent Monitoring Commission stated that the IRA was “committed to the political path” and no longer represented “a threat to peace or to democratic politics”, and that the IRA’s Army Council was “no longer operational or functional”.[31][32] The organisation remains classified as a proscribed terrorist group in the UK and as an illegal organisation in the Republic of Ireland.[12][33] Two small groups split from the IRA, the Continuity IRA in 1986, and the Real IRA in 1997. Both reject the Good Friday Agreement and continue to engage in paramilitary activity.

In a statement read by Séanna Breathnach, the organisation stated that it had instructed its members to dump all weapons and not to engage in “any other activities whatsoever” apart from assisting “the development of purely political and democratic programmes through exclusively peaceful means”. Furthermore, the organisation authorised its representatives to engage immediately with the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) to verifiably put its arms beyond use “in a way which will further enhance public confidence and to conclude this as quickly as possible”.[30]

This is not the first time that organisations styling themselves IRA have issued orders to dump arms.[183] After its defeat in the Irish Civil War in 1924 and at the end of its unsuccessful Border Campaign in 1962, the IRA Army Council issued similar orders. However, this is the first time in Irish republicanism that any organisation has voluntarily decided to dispose of its arms.[184] Some authors, like Patrick McCarthy, Peter Taylor and Brendan O’Brien concluded that, unlike previous IRA campaigns, the provisionals were not defeated.[185][186][187]

On 25 September 2005, international weapons inspectors supervised the full disarmament of the IRA, a long-sought goal of Northern Ireland’s peace process. The office of IICD chairman John de Chastelain, a retired Canadian general who oversaw the weapons’ decommissioning at secret locations, released details regarding the scrapping of many tons of IRA weaponry at a news conference in Belfast on 26 September. He said the arms had been “put beyond use” and that they were “satisfied that the arms decommissioned represent the totality of the IRA’s arsenal.”

The IRA permitted two independent witnesses, including a Methodist minister, Rev. Harold Good, and Father Alec Reid, a Roman Catholic priest close to Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, to view the secret disarmament work.[188] Ian Paisley, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), complained that since the witnesses were appointed by the IRA themselves, rather than being appointed by the British or Irish governments, they therefore could not be said to be unbiased witnesses to the decommissioning. Nationalists and Catholics viewed his comments as reflecting his refusal to support devolution in Northern Ireland with Catholics in power.[189]

In 2011 Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said: “The war is over. The IRA is gone. The IRA embraced, facilitated and supported the peace process. When a democratic and peaceful alternative to armed struggle was created the IRA left the stage.”[190] In 2014 Adams said: “The IRA is gone. It is finished”.[191]

Continuing activities of IRA members

The 10th report published in April 2006 from the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), an organisation monitoring activity by paramilitary groups on behalf of the British and Irish governments, prefaced its remarks about IRA activity by commenting that the IRA leadership has committed itself to following a peaceful path and that in the last three months this process has involved the further dismantling of the IRA as a military structure.

The report commented that there was no paramilitary or violent activity sanctioned by the leadership; there is a substantial erosion in the IRA’s capacity to return to a military campaign; and, that the IRA had no intentions of returning to violence.[192] However the IMC report also noted that following decommissioning, the IRA still retained a considerable amount of weaponry beyond what was needed for self-defence.[193]

The IMC has come in for criticism (mainly by republicans) as having been set up outside the terms of the Good Friday Agreement as a sop to Unionism. Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy stated that the IMC was established outside and in breach of the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and that it is politically biased, and had an anti-Sinn Féin agenda.[194]

On 4 October 2006, the IMC ruled that the IRA were no longer a threat.[195]

In late 2008, the The Sunday Times quoted a senior Garda intelligence officer as saying that “the IRA had recruited in recent years, still held arms despite apparently decommissioning the lot, and was being maintained in ‘shadow form.’” The Gardaí also said that the IRA was still capable of carrying out attacks.[193][196] A senior member of the PSNI, Assistant Chief Constable Peter Sheridan, said that it was unlikely that the IRA would disband in the foreseeable future.[197]

At the end of March 2010, SDLP MLA Dominic Bradley said that the IRA were still active and that they had been responsible for a number of incidents in his constituency including a punishment shooting and an armed robbery during which a shot was fired.[198]

In August 2010, the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, the Republican Network for Unity and the UPRG, claimed that the IRA were responsible for a shooting incident in the Gobnascale area of Derry. It is claimed that up to 20 masked men, some armed with handguns, attacked a group of teenagers who were engaging in anti-social behaviour at an interface area. A number of the teenagers were attacked and shots were fired into the air. The men are then reported to have removed their masks when the PSNI arrived and were subsequently identified as members of the Republican Movement. Sinn Féin denied the IRA were involved.[199][200][201]

“P. O’Neill”

The IRA traditionally uses a well-known signature in its public statements, which are all issued under the pseudonym of “P. O’Neill” of the “Irish Republican Publicity Bureau, Dublin”.[202] According to Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, it was Seán Mac Stiofáin, as chief of staff of the IRA, who invented the name. However, under his usage, the name was written and pronounced according to Irish orthography and pronunciation as “P. Ó Néill”. According to Danny Morrison, the pseudonym “S. O’Neill” was used during the 1940s.[202]

Informers

Throughout the Troubles, some members of the IRA passed information to the security forces. Members of the IRA suspected of being informants were usually executed after an IRA court-martial. In the 1980s, many more IRA members were imprisoned on the testimony of former IRA members known as “supergrasses” such as Raymond Gilmour. A Belfast newspaper has claimed that secret documents show that half of the IRA’s top men were also British informers.[203]

In recent years, there have been some high profile allegations of senior IRA figures having been British informers. In May 2003, a number of newspapers named Freddie Scappaticci as the alleged identity of the British Force Research Unit‘s most senior informer within the IRA, code-named Stakeknife, who is thought to have been head of the IRA’s internal security force, charged with rooting out and executing informers. Scappaticci denies that this is the case and, in 2003, failed in a legal bid to force the then NIO Minister, Jane Kennedy, to state he was not an informer.[204] She has refused to do so, and since then Scappaticci has not launched any libel actions against the media making the allegations.

On 16 December 2005, senior Sinn Féin member Denis Donaldson appeared before TV cameras in Dublin and confessed to being a British spy for twenty years.[205] He was expelled from Sinn Féin and was said to have been debriefed by the party.[206] Donaldson was a former IRA volunteer and subsequently highly placed Sinn Féin party member. Donaldson had been entrusted by Gerry Adams with the running of Sinn Féin’s operations in the US in the early 1990s.[207] On 4 April 2006, Donaldson was found shot dead at his retreat near Glenties in County Donegal.[208] When asked whether he felt Donaldson’s role as an informer in Sinn Féin was significant, the IRA double agent using the pseudonym “Kevin Fulton” described Donaldson’s role as a spy within Sinn Féin as “the tip of the iceberg”.[209] The Real IRA claimed responsibility for his assassination on 12 April 2009.[210]

On 8 February 2008, Roy McShane was taken into police protection after being unmasked as an informant. McShane, a former IRA member, had been Gerry Adams’ personal driver for many years. Adams said he was “too philosophical” to feel betrayed.[211]

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