That Panorama programme

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Picture by Outi Les Pyy

That Panorama programme last week could be seen, for several reasons,  as a Good Thing. It laid charges of collusion in many cases where innocent Catholics/nationalists were killed. And Protestants/unionists –  the Kingsmill massacre was included as an example where state agents were active. It also – for the first time I can remember – placed the loss of life at Kingsmill alongside the deaths of three members of the Reavey family who were shot  when the UVF broke into their home  Whitecross and three members of the O’Dowd family who were killed at their home in Ballydougan by the UVF. The killing of the Reaveys and the O’Dowds the day before doesn’t justify the Kingsmill massacre, but it sets it in a wider context that explains why it happened. Panorama  also showed former Ombudsman Baroness Nuala O’Loan making it clear that there were “killers and serial killers” operating with impunity in loyalist death-squads because they were protected and employed by the state.

On the other hand there were several things about the programme that made it for me a Bad Thing. It had as presenter Darragh McIntyre, who is rapidly morphing into a latter-day Fergal Keane. It’s  prejudice on my part, of course: but I simply find both men too well-fed, too well-groomed, too look-at-me-crusading.  I’m sure they’re both lovely people but I can’t stand them. I also found the use of dramatic background music almost insulting: as though the programme makers thought the bullet-holes and blood-soaked ground might not move us sufficiently on their own.

Lastly, I found myself asking the question ”Why now?”. The great majority of the cases highlighted occurred ten, twenty, thirty years ago. And there were lots of people claiming collusion. Did it never cross the minds of any of the professional journalists from the BBC at the time that this might be going on?  If it didn’t, what does that say about their professional competence? If  it did and they  sang dumb, what does that say about their personal integrity?

29 Responses to That Panorama programme

  1. ANOTHER JUDE May 31, 2015 at 1:00 pm #

    The people in Britain were treated like mushrooms when it came to Ireland, kept in the dark and fed…..well, you know the rest. They have always either ignored or supported the actions of their brave boys. Britain is a militaristic nation, it has raised it`s armed forces to an almost fetish level, the link between the British royals and the British military is the glue that holds the whole rotten edifice together, From Mountbatten to Charles to HM Queen herself, dripping in medals and dripping in blood. I agree about the two presenters, they are really annoying.I also agree about the soundtrack. What was that about? Normally all we get are a few Irish flutes or the odd blast from the uilleann pipes to show we are watching a programme about the conflict. What did I learn from the report? Well apart from the obscenity of the murder weapon appearing on display at the Imperial War Museum (quite apt I suppose, although the likes of McIntyre seem to labour under the illusion that the north was/is a normal place and seem aghast that normal legalities do not apply, Diplock Courts anyone?) which was something leaked to the local media a few days ago, the fact also that the British were quite prepared to screw over the Unionist community just as much as the Nationalists must make for uncomfortable viewing for some of our local politicians.

  2. bf_bhoy May 31, 2015 at 1:05 pm #

    Jude – I was working in England last week and this programme on BBC was UK wide. On Friday morning (the morning after its showing) I watched the BBC UK headlines on TV – Sepp Blatter/FIFA followed by David Cameron touring Europe for support. Not a mention from the channel that produced the show.

    • Jude Collins May 31, 2015 at 1:58 pm #

      Interesting, bfb – but I hope you’re not surprised…

      • Bf_ bhoy May 31, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

        not surprised at all

    • Francis May 31, 2015 at 2:54 pm #

      Likewise, Radio Ulladh was consumed with relative minutiae the following day. A so-called “Liberal Democracy”, comprehensively indicted for the mass Murder of “Its” Citizens, and far from the noise and clamour for independent enquiries and this abhorrence being top of the Agenda,- That this State can be held to account, at the very least that it may never happen again….Instead, there seems a damage limitation exercise being conducted be those who control the main media.
      If this had happened in Finchley, the muffled effect would not be so stifled……
      Are we not as British as them?

      • giordanobruno May 31, 2015 at 6:15 pm #

        It was the lead story on Nolan on Friday morning.
        Also I’m pretty sure Good Morning Ulster had an extensive interview with one of the victims from Grahams bookies.
        Also I think Talkback was all about informers on Thursday.
        Also the story was covered in the Telegraph on Friday I believe.
        But don’t let that stop you.

        • Jude Collins June 1, 2015 at 5:15 am #

          We’re talking about reaction in Britain, gio. Do try to keep up…

          • giordanobruno June 1, 2015 at 6:28 am #

            I see. I thought Francis was talking about Radio Ulladh. My mistake.

          • Jude Collins June 1, 2015 at 7:02 am #

            To err is human, gio – to forgive, divine…

  3. greg May 31, 2015 at 2:29 pm #

    Thanks Jude as a member of the odowds i can tell u that u are spot on they have forgot about us they always start that year with Kingsmill

  4. Tony May 31, 2015 at 4:47 pm #

    Jude don’t shoot the Messenger!

    • Jude Collins May 31, 2015 at 5:54 pm #

      Not sure I’d be prepared to give him a certificate of immunity either, Tony. The message could be bad and the messenger could be (although not in this case, natch) a bit of a bollix too…

  5. paddykool May 31, 2015 at 5:10 pm #

    The Panorama programme was something of a re-hash of all that has gone before, I suppose .We all know all the little dirty details.Sure ..there’ll be the odd little thing to add as the years go by , like the bit about the “missing firearm” that turns up on open display in the london Imperial War Museum….you couldn’t make it up, could you?….. but really nothing will ever come of any of it.It’s a bit like our own wee” government” that they let us have . It’s so hamstrung and screwed up that when we know some ministers have behaved in a criminal or immoral or a simply un-parliamentarian manner , we can do nothing about it. They walk free and get promotions for keeping shtum. At most they’ll be suspended on full pay for a few days so that they can sally about free or maybe have a stroll in the park.Think about it. none of them get sacked no matter what they do and we sit back and accept it all. I’m afraid it’s all become a bit of a dark joke like much in Norneverland. If it continues , will people continue to vote ? They probably will because all it is a balance of power like a sort of political arms race.It doesn’t appear to work like any other government . So …why are any of us not shouting from the rooftops?
    Think of the scenarios we’ve been through over the years. Just picking a few intriguing plotlines…There was the whole “Stalker” affair..remember how it was buried? The “Nairac ” thing too .The “Glenanne Gang” thing . That whole King Rat and Willie McCrea thing. The whole of the “the Committee” intrigue… Was it real? Did I imagine these things happened ? There was Peter Robinson in his Raspberry Beret and his mate Ian Paisley waving gun licences. What planet were they on?
    Let’s see now ..has any one of those stories had a conclusion that wasn’t burial in some deep, deep hole. Maybe it’s time to make some more tv programmes about them.They’re becoming a bit of a cliche though.As was pointed out …the music …the pipes…the Irish airs…Why didn’t they play some pop music of the day , which would have been more relevant.It was what played on folks radios back then.Then there’s the doorstepping style of “interviewing”…where the reporter chases the suspect and asks questions while he drives away in his car with his mouth tightlly closed….How many more times are we going to see that scene on local or national television..It’s all become a little formulaic , methinks.It’s what we’ve come to expect ….We’ve been trained like Pavlov’s wee doggies…

  6. Perkin Warbeck May 31, 2015 at 5:29 pm #

    That melodramatic musak which proved so pestiferous to you, Esteemed Blogmeister, might well have a plausible explanation..

    Both intrepid investigative reporters, Darragh McIntye and Fergal Keane, come from a theatrical background via the paternal route. Tom McIntyre was a dramatist while Eamonn Keane was an actor.

    If Mother Mary McAleese were a drama critic she would possibly describe the former as a ‘bog-standard’ playwright. And in doing so, would be right for once. Eamonn Keane, on the other hand, would be hotly tipped to be crowned the greatest wearer of the motley ever to tread the boards of an Irish stage. That is, if he had ever got the chance.

    Such is the modest opinion of Perkie’s thinner, inner thespian, having witnessed his performance in the role of ‘The Shaughraun’ .On that occasion he came off the bench to replace the original choice, one Cyril Cusack who seemingly had suffered a cruciate ligament strain of the brain which normally results in line-forgetfulness. That is, the lines of the dramatist, in this instance, the dionysian Dub, D. Boucicault.

    On this immortal, scintillating performance alone, Eamonn Keane could well have traced a blood line to his namesake, the legendary Shakespearean actor, Edmund Kean.

    This performance of ‘The Shaughraun’ (the leprechaun for On the Run) was staged in the Abbey Theater where once the audience objected to the use of the word ‘shift’ and which caused W.B. Yeats to gracefully term them a ‘disgrace’.

    Nowadays, it is the likes of such drama queens as Panti Bliss and her/his silky ilk who tend to, erm, put in a shift at this publicly-funded venue. Ane where M.M. McAleese, might well yet make her (favourable) debut as a, erm, novice critic)

    Btw, Cyril Cusack is no stand-alone there, as his grandson is not unknown either; one, Richard Boyd Barrett of the People before Profit Party. The latter’s mother and the former’s daughter, Sinead, once starred in a famous inaction movie called ‘The Lost Weekend’. In which she played the role of G. Best’s, erm, bird / boyd in New Yawkese.. Sinead, of course, is a versatile actress with many irons in the fire.

    But mais revenons a nos moutons/ let us return to the sheep-wool jackets favoured by investigative journalists of both the fearless and the peerless stripe.

    Though in truth, one cannot quite envisage or have any fear of Fergal Keane in particular ending his career, peerless. Being rather big as he is on the hereditary thing.

    And besides, Fergal, Earl of the Twirly Brogue in the Foreground and the Swirly Musak in the Background, does have a certain ring to it, Even if it is something of a mouthful. But then no better man for the mouthful than the current Mr. Keane. How the ermine would become his broad shoulders, just as it now does his mellifluously cultivated voice.

    Curiously enough, the topic of today’s blog was not such as to catch the attention of the media down here South of the Black Sow’s Dyke. Right now, of course, the Cahillphate that is the Free Southern Stateen has rather bigger f. to fry: such as (gulp) the ominous threat to the Freedom of the Press.

    When Collusion and stuff was (allegedly) taking place in Norneverland, the same mettlesome media was shackled by Section 31 which prevented them from having Collusion and stuff tackled.

    Then, the Muzzleman in Chief of the Cahillphate was one, Conor Cruise O’Brien. Today, his counterpart, who spends most of his time in the Carribean rather than the Corribean, is Denis ‘Cruise Ship’ O’Brien.

    Could they be, one wonders, in anyway related ?

    • Jude Collins May 31, 2015 at 5:51 pm #

      Oh Perkie – you have set off a string of yesterdays with your post today. I do believe I saw Richard B-B’s granda actually playing the Shaughraun in the Abbey – maybe Keane took over when Cyril’s line-memory wilted. And I remember RB-B’s mammy too, as she stood in the main hall place at UCD, surrounded by a bevy of such as was her equal, unlike we cowed Tyrone and Derry poltroons who could only gaze and wonder from afar…I have a vague notion of Eamon Keane being at UCD then too, but that no doubt is another symptom of my imminent dotage. Though I still think Darragh and Fergal were separated at birth…

      • Perkin Warbeck June 1, 2015 at 11:11 am #

        Not surprised to hear you caught the same production in the Abbey Theatre / Amharclann na Mainistreach, Esteemed Blogmeister.

        The reason Perkie’s inner playgoer went was twofold: (1) to get out more; and (2) as one’s Q’s English tutor (it has a hooter to it, does it not: the tutor word) at the time, one J. Collins, had advised the class of ’67 to go see.

        1967, by the way.

        In fact, Perkie thought ‘The Shaughraun’ / ‘The On the Run’ so good he put his name down to go twice. The second time to see Cyril Cusack in the role after Eamonn Keane had substitued for him. It must have been a blood injury which caused CC to exit stage left in the first place.For he was later to return to the field of play, as it were.

        Alas, quel disappointment. To say CC underperformed after EK’s interpretation is to introduce a bargain basement / cellar to the concept of stellar.

        In fact, one left at half-time, the second time round. After witnessing a performance which must have been right down there with the legendary one on Broadway in which a mafia don’s moll got the eponymous role in the stage version of ‘The Diary of Anna Frank’.

        The same duff production which later inspired Woody Allen’s probable masterpiece, the movie ‘Bullets over Broadway’.

        So abysmal was this moll in the title role that when the Nazis arrived to arrest A.F. some members of the audience were heard to roar: ‘She’s in the attic !’.

        Perkie knows the feeling: for he too felt like bellowing, despite being the most subdued of thespian fellows: ‘He’s on top of the haystack !’ when the Redcoats, bayonets a gleam, came looking for the On the Run Conn, aka, Cyril C.

        Even the performance of Peader Lamb in the minor role of the tout, Harvey Duff was not enough to detain one beyond the interval. Who can ever forget the immortal line, as uttered deadpan by P. Lamb as Harvey D. On hearing that Conn the Shaughraun had just escaped from chokey:

        -I’m a corpse !

        One mentions the mighty Peadar Lamb as an indication of the peptic cleansing which was to befall the Abbey Theatre in later years. When not only did it have its alter ego lobbed off (Amharclann na Mainistreach) but indeed its superb permanent company of actors (with one or two notable exceptions) as well.

        Peadar Lamb, the son of the painter Charles Lamb and the grandson of the novelist, Ford Maddox Ford,(but no relaiton of Richard Ford) like the good professional he was, for many a long year soldiered on through role after role on the stage of the Abbey. Being effortlessly bilingual, he was never less than captivating, whether the play was in either of the, ahem, Two National Languages.

        That alas was all to change and to utterly change when the axe was allowed to fall.

        As fall it indubitably did when the critically-acclaimed Gary Hynes was given the green light to take charge. To say she adopted a Thatcherite approach to what her cheerleaders in the arty-f. media of the FSS smartly called the ‘thatch cottage repertoire’ of the Abbey, is to nail it in one.

        -Out ! Out ! Out !

        Became the mantra of the new Abbess on the Block who differed only from the above-mentioned Margaret in her taste in clothes. Whereas La Thatch belonged firmly in the Dame Edna school of decor (Bluerinse and Rhinestones) Ms,. G. Hynes, Bachelor of Arts, preferred to pad around in canvas shoes, a white-T shirt, no make up and a close-cropped hairstyle whose popularity has been recently revived by the Judy G. of our times (nudge-n, wink-w.) the much garlanded last Prez but one.

        Ms G. Hymes was also given to wearing a singlesilver bangle whose jingle jangle fairly put the wind-up all those who came within hearing range.

        Not least those bywords for excellence, the ensemble members of long-standing whose days were numbered. UB 40-numbered, to be precise, in Norneverland terminology.

        The G in G. Hynes, BA, did not always stand for Gary, incidentally. But rather for Gearoidin, which is leprechaun for Geraldine. Not many folks know that blureen of folklore.

        Out !

        Not only did the permanent ensemble and the Gearoidin get the canvas shoe treatment,but the First National Language did as well.

        The Gaelic being considered, a lick too far it was replaced with a language altogether better equipped to curtsy and kow-tow in: erm, Hiberno-English.

        Hence, the recent holding in thrall of Camilla the Chamelon aka Lady in Waiting for the Mum in Law to pop her not altogether inelegant clogs.

        This was accomplished by a ten-minute out-take from the Druid Shakespeare. Which is all it out-took.

        Personally, Perkie can’t wait for the ultimate in Hiberno-English histrionics: the Druid Edwin Drood.

        Which really ought to finish off old Charlie.

        That is, Charlie Dickens.

  7. Neill May 31, 2015 at 5:42 pm #

    Once again you use the term Loyalist death squads how would you describe the IRA who gunned down the men in Kingsmills?

    The sad fact is and once again if both sets of terrorists hadnt been active we wouldn’t be discussing this we wouldn’t be talking about touts and the police services infiltrating terrorist groups that is the context of the situation.

    What the special branch did wasn’t nice by any stretch of the imagination but it saved many lives being lost bombs going off etc still perhaps they shouldn’t have done that that and just let terrorists run wild as many on this blog would have seemed to have liked

    • Jude Collins May 31, 2015 at 6:10 pm #

      You may be right – that they saved many lives. Then again you may be wrong. There are certainly cases where bombs were allowed to go off and people allowed to be shot while agents were in the paramilitary ranks. Actually your argument for these double agents sounds quite like the US argument for dropping the A-bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki – it saved thousands of American lives that’d otherwise have been lost. Not being a reader of crystal balls, it looks more like being faced with a choice between possible/probable deaths and certain deaths, and choosing the latter.

      • Neill May 31, 2015 at 6:27 pm #

        As I said to you before what happened during the troubles has caused all of our hearts to darken and both sides can take very little credit for what happened here

        • Jude Collins June 1, 2015 at 5:14 am #

          Agreed, neill

        • Ceannaire June 1, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

          Couldn’t agree more, Neill.

  8. Argenta May 31, 2015 at 5:47 pm #

    “I simply find both men too well fed,too well groomed”——Brings to mind the quote from Julius Caesar —“Let me have men around me that are fat”!.On a serious note,it appears the B B C can’t win.They are damned if they do and damned if they don’t !Surely it’s better that questions are asked rather than not.Wouldnt it be interesting to discover how many informers were in the ranks of the Provos!

    • Jude Collins May 31, 2015 at 6:05 pm #

      Well I suppose better late than never, Argie – but I think it would have been more vital early. As to informers in the IRA – we know of a few already – Denis Donaldson and Freddie Scappaticci being the first to spring to mind. And then there were the various supergrasses. Don’t know why but I get this feeling you expect me to protest “No, no!” re touts/agents within the IRA. I’m not totally stupid, Argie, despite appearances. That said, I’d say with some confidence that agents within unionist/loyalist paramilitary/death-squad ranks were more numerous.

      • Páid May 31, 2015 at 8:13 pm #

        I think it was John Stalker on the programme that said that they interviewed 210 suspects of which 207 were agents!!

        • paddykool June 1, 2015 at 7:35 am #

          Yes Paid , I thought that little factoid was amazing.I think you could make an entire programme based on that one little line ….maybe a whole series of programmes.It’s time for someone to do a HBO style thing on Norneverland…..If only for educational purposes ….Season One starting anytime soon …it could run for years and years….boxsets of the stuff…

  9. Iolar May 31, 2015 at 9:39 pm #

    From Russia with love

    “Why now?”, I hear you ask. A Russian might respond, “Правда своё возьмет”/The truth will prevail.

    The Foreign Office has strongly condemned the fact that certain individuals are now personae non gratae in Russia. It is rich to listen to the bluster from the Ministry of Defence about Russian ‘bullying tactics’. Sir Humphrey et al are getting themselves into a right royal lather as they prattle on about the annexation of territory but ignore the partition of Ireland.

    FIFA trumped Panorama in the media stakes with RTÉ priorities firmly focused on share prices and cookery programmes sprinkled with large helpings of football and golf. The reality in Ireland is that the terms, right wing and left wing are terms now used exclusively to delineate the starboard and port sides of Aer Lingus aircraft. What passes for journalism, now that is a different kettle of fish.

  10. Belfastdan June 1, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

    I have come to believe that the British state used this place as a training ground; a big war game with real bodies.

    Britain has always been a world leader in counter insurgency techniques and since WW2 has had plenty of opportunity to put these theories and techniques (or murder and torture to give them their proper titles) into practice. The dead and broken bodies in Malaya, Cyprus, Kenya (Frank Kitson again), Aden, here of course and latterly Iraq and Afghanistan are proof of that.

    If as alleged in the Panorama programme that the British ran agents both loyalist and republican the number of killings, injuries etc that the British state was responsible for has to be reassessed.

    it is also true that the British state is the keeper of all the secrets here from Jean McConville, Capt Nairac, Dublin/Monaghan, Pat Finucane, Rosemary Nelson, the list is endless.
    One only has to ask oneself how did loyalists lose the ability to make the sort of bombs that devastated McGurk’s and Kelly’s bars and Dublin/Monaghan? The answer of course is they did not make them in the first place they were made for them! If the IRA’s bomb making capability progressed throughout the course of the troubles one would have thought that loyalists would have shown similar progress given their almost exclusive access to the engineering industry, instead they regressed to the extent that they could only produce crude pipe bombs.

    Britain would have been quite happy, given the Ulsterisation policy, to have let this place fester on. It was only the bombing campaign in GB that eventually focussed their minds on a solution of sorts.

    British people have no interest in this place or what their security forces did here in fact looking at tne BBC “Points of View” message board mainy supported the actions of the British state as a necessary evil. The Brits do tend to see themselves as paragons of virtue and decency and anything done to the lesser breeds will not tarnish that view.

    • Micheal June 28, 2015 at 3:39 pm #

      Totally agree Dan, my aunts partner, Jack Duffin was shot dead in the bookies on the Ormeau Road by the rifle found in the Imperial War Museum he jumped in front of one of the kids to save them but sadly it didn’t help. After watching the documentary I could only think of Norneverland being used as a game of chess for the Brits. They were literal Gods watching from afar while their little game took turn for turn, life for death. How dare they try to pronounce themselves law makers when they were the ones directing the killing.

  11. Wolfe tone June 2, 2015 at 5:56 pm #

    ‘They could only produce pipebombs.’ Too true belfastdan.
    The elephant in the room is still being ignored I.e are the security services still up to their dirty tricks? Lets not forget when the ‘gun was being taken out of irish politics’ up pops a few organisations opposed to the peace process and what was their primary weapon? Yes the pipebomb. I for the life of me can’t remember the IRA using a pipebomb during the troubles? And yet we are lead to believe the disso groups are lead by former provisionals? You would’ve thought if that were true there would be constant stories of coffee jar and drogue bomb incidents not pipebombs? Millions of pounds are spent ‘fighting the war on terror don’t you know’? If the terrororists went away a whole lot of people would discover the terror of the dole office.