Telling history or selling a distortion

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Picture by Paul

We can be very blinkered people in this sad corner of the world. I was listening on BBC Raidio Uladh/ Radio Ulster to a couple of local veterans who had been in the British army – both in the UDR I think. One of the men had lost both legs, both were passionate that more should be done for army veterans of campaigns stretching from the Second World War through our decades of conflict and up to the British army’s engagement in Afghanistan. The terms ‘Province’ and ‘mainland’ were frequently used and both felt that the sacrifice made by British army veterans had been under-served by the society they had fought to protect. The presenter Karen Patterson asked how they felt about those on the other side of the conflict here – should they not receive support as well? The answer from one of the men, Doug, was unambiguous: those who had engaged in conflict against soldiers such as himself should be recognised as veterans (and, he implied, receive the same support); those who had set out to kill innocent women and children should not.

It would be difficult to disagree with much of the argument put forward. Those who’ve suffered in fighting for a cause in which they believed do deserve recognition and support. Where the argument gets weaker is in its separating of the sheep from the goats. At least one of the men had served in the UDR; thanks to the research of people like Anne Cadwallader, we know that there was widespread collusion between the UDR, the RUC and unionist paramilitaries. And we know that this collusion often targeted innocent men, women and children. One example:  Jim Devlin, who played for the Tyrone Gaelic football team of the mid-fifties, was shot dead along with his wife Gertrud as they drove up the lane to their home in 1974. Jim was a supporter of the SDLP. To that single example so many others could be added: the Dublin-Monaghan bombs, the Miami Showband killings, the killings of the Reavey and O’Dowd family members – the list goes on.

The notion that the IRA were terrorists, in that their policy was to target innocent civilians, is denied by the facts. The notion that the UDR, RUC, British Army targeted only members of the IRA is denied by the facts. So for the two men on the radio this morning to seek support for those who suffered while members of British armed forces  here or abroad, is legitimate and understandable. But it must also factor in the uncomfortable truths of cruel and unjustifiable killings of innocent people from a Catholic/nationalist background by British ‘security’ forces. Equally, republicans did engage in acts of straightforward terrorism. But as a general policy their targets were those involved as active combatants in the British forces. To cling to the simplistic notion  that the IRA initiated and inflicted violence on an innocent population, and would have taken more innocent lives had it not been for the courage of the RUC/UDR/British army, is to pervert history. 

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62 Responses to Telling history or selling a distortion

  1. Neill August 12, 2015 at 8:53 am #

    The notion that the IRA were terrorists, in that their policy was to target innocent civilians, is denied by the facts.

    Teebane bomb
    La Mon Hotel
    Shankill
    Warrington
    Birmingham Pub bombings
    Hilton Hotel Bombing London
    Bloody Friday
    Enniskillen
    Harrods Bombing
    Victoria Railing station bombing London
    Baltic Exchange Bombing London
    Bishopsgate Bombing
    Kingsmills

    To name but a few Jude you claim not to be an IRA apologist however when you come with the above line that they didn’t target civilians many people must sadly suspect the veracity of your word

    • Jude Collins August 12, 2015 at 9:51 am #

      Neill – I know you find it hard but you really must read what I said.I accept that the IRA did target civilians but their policy overall was to target British ‘security’ forces. To take one example from your list – Baltic Exchange bombing: yes, three people were killed and many injured in that bombing. But one would have to be very blinkered or very dumb to think that the IRA targeted those people.

      • Neill August 12, 2015 at 10:02 am #

        But one would have to be very blinkered or very dumb to think that the IRA targeted those people

        Or you could be an apologist after all if you plant bombs in work areas innocent people will be killed agreed!

        The notion that the IRA were terrorists, in that their policy was to target innocent civilians, is denied by the facts
        They didn’t target to kill innocent civilians at all what exactly was Teebane then Jude?
        I know you have a massive desire for the IRA to be good guys they were not and never will be and for you to argue otherwise flies in the face of all reason.

        • Jude Collins August 12, 2015 at 10:37 am #

          Neill – three requests. (i) Stop using the term ‘apologist’. I’m sure it’s clear in your mind what it means but for many people it gets mixed up with the idea of ‘apology’ and ‘defending’. Everyone with a view on anything is an apologist. So maybe use something less misleading like ‘perspective’ or ‘argument’; (ii) You quote from me (“The notion that the IRA were terrorists, in that their policy was to target innocent civilians, is denied by the facts”) and in the next sentence say ‘They didn’t target to kill innocent civilians at all’ – I never suggested they weren’t guilty of just that. In fact I state they were.Read what I’ve written, please; (iii) “I know you have a massive desire for the IRA to be good guys” – that frankly is insulting and I’d prefer you didn’t engage in insult of me or anyone else. I am concerned to present what happened, as I see it, not to distort history.

          • Neill August 12, 2015 at 11:49 am #

            Neill – three requests. (i) Stop using the term ‘apologist’. I’m sure it’s clear in your mind what it means but for many people it gets mixed up with the idea of ‘apology’ and ‘defending’. Everyone with a view on anything is an apologist

            A somewhat pedantic and clearly arguable point there Jude so we can clear all of this up for once do you condemn Republican Loyalist and State violence?

            The notion that the IRA were terrorists, in that their policy was to target innocent civilians, is denied by the facts”) and in the next sentence say ‘They didn’t target to kill innocent civilians at all’

            I forgot to add the word “so” between the word “all” and “what”

          • Jude Collins August 12, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

            If ever there was a useless, mindless ritual it is the calling on people to ‘condemn’ this or ‘condemn’ that. The media and some politicians used that here for years and it always set my teeth on edge. If you mean ‘Do I regret that a single person died in violent conflict here?’ – of course I do. Regardless of who they were – republican, unionist, the state. The same goes for any violent conflict – world wars, Vietnam war, Korean war – on and on and on. (I might also add that you manage to bundle together ‘apologist’ and ‘condemn’. Please…)

    • Ryan August 12, 2015 at 4:50 pm #

      Are you the same Neill I spoke to the other day that justified the genocide which Cromwell committed because the victims were Catholics? Then here you are today crying about what the IRA done….

      Your definitely a DUP member Neill or at the very least a support. The Hypocrisy is strong with you. Cry about what the IRA done but then turn the blind eye (or as we have seen, actively support mass murder, as long as the victims are “them’uns”) to what Cromwell, Unionism, British Army, British Empire, Loyalism, etc have done.

      The hypocrisy really is outstanding.

      • Neill August 13, 2015 at 12:59 pm #

        Your definitely a DUP member Neill or at the very least a support.

        You definitely a SF member Ryan o at the very least a supporter.

        Neill also fails to mention that warnings were given in reference to Bloody Friday and many other IRA bombs

        Well now that just makes it all right doesn’t it I am sure you would appreciate if I gave you 5 minutes to get your family out of your house before I blow it up!

        Ryan you are what you are a supporter of terrorism.

  2. michael c August 12, 2015 at 9:39 am #

    Jude,it would do harm to give Nolan a history lesson regarding the above facts on the next occasion that you are on his show and he starts pontificating about “terrorism”.Also in a couple of months time it should be pointed out to all TV presenters that by wearing poppys they are glorifying those who commited mass murder here.

    • paddykool August 12, 2015 at 3:25 pm #

      Michael…”Jude,it would do harm to give Nolan a history lesson “,,,What abot Geography or music?,Just a coupe of days ago he was saying he’d never heard of Heraklion in Greece. I didn’t pay enough attention in school to my Geography teacher , but Chritalmighty…I’d heard of Heraklion and i’m not holding down a job in broadcasting!!…now ask me about Ox-Bow lakes and I might just pass myself..ha ha!

  3. Pól August 12, 2015 at 10:14 am #

    Neil I can make lists too, but why don’t you just read Ann Cadwallader’s book as Jude suggested. Also, most of the tragedies you’ve listed above involve what the British Army refer to in their own massacres (far more frequent and large-scale) as ‘collateral damage’, which is expected unfortunately as part of the targeting of commercial or soft military targets in civilian areas. War is awful, and ‘collateral damage’ is unforgivable in my view. But targeting civillians it ain’t.

    • Neill August 12, 2015 at 11:38 am #

      Sorry you use Ann Cadwalladers book as a bible many people have a deep suspicion of her personal bias for a start look who her partner is…

      So Pol was the Teebane bomb targeting innocent civilians?

      • Patrick August 12, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

        And are we to assume that you are a man without personal bias Neill?

      • Wolfe tone August 12, 2015 at 1:30 pm #

        I am guessing teebane would never have happened if individuals hadn’t decided to help build up the British war machine? It’s pointless blowing up a British terror barracks and allowing others to rebuild it?
        Btw I read somewhere that information was passed forward warning of an imminent attack on those British war machine workers. Alas the state remained silent about it.

        • Ryan August 12, 2015 at 5:00 pm #

          Neill also fails to mention that warnings were given in reference to Bloody Friday and many other IRA bombs. Now, I’m no Einstein but if the IRA wanted to target civilians, why would they give warnings before hand? Surely bombs without warnings would cause much, much more destruction and loss of life?….

          The UVF/UDA, 85% of all their targets were civilians, they unashamedly admit that their targets were Catholic civilians and hence why their bombs (The British State knew almost about all of them and did nothing to stop them, hence more collusion) came without warnings, Dublin/Monaghan bombing being one example. Their objective in all their bombings was to murder as many civilians as possible.

          The IRA and other republican paramilitaries obviously didn’t have the same agenda as Unionist paramilitaries.

      • Ceannaire August 12, 2015 at 2:57 pm #

        Neill, Anne Cadwallader used facts from the Historical Enquiries Team’s investigations. She has merely made public what they had found using the evidence available. You can shoot the messenger all you want but the message remains the same.

        Let’s look at some more facts. Jude’s assertion that it was not IRA “policy was to target innocent civilians” is correct. That’s not to say that they did not kill civilians or that some members were not deranged.

        The fact remains, though, the POLICY was not to kill civilians. Think about it, if the IRA had a kill civilians policy then there would have been many, many more deaths and injured over the conflict. That stands to reason.

        According to the CAIN database of deaths, 35% of the people killed by Republicans were civilians. I condemn that figure, by the way. But whether you accept it or not, Neill, the overwhelming majority of people killed by Republicans were connected with the British forces.

        Loyalists and British Security Forces combined killed 1055 civilians – more than all the Republican groups combined.

        A. R. Oppenheimer’s book IRA: The Bombs and the Bullets: A History of Deadly Ingenuity, estimates that the IRA carried out 19,000 explosions during the troubles with maybe as many gun battles etc – that’s a lot of action. Yet in all that action Republicans killed over 700 civilians (700 too many, mind). Does that sound like a policy of attacking civilians to you?

  4. Iolar August 12, 2015 at 10:58 am #

    The British army’s engagement in Afghanistan may be traced back to 1842 and to a policy of divide and conquer designed to bolster the profits of merchants and merchants continue to make vast profits buying and selling arms in the Middle East to the present day. Military might failed in India , Africa, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. The failure of military intervention is obvious with a comparison of the concentration of oil generated wealth in Saudi Arabia, the thousands of refugees advancing towards Calais and mass graves throughout the Middle East.

    In Ireland, military solutions were used as a response to deal with political, social, economic and cultural problems. Internment without trial in the past or internment by remand at present is indicative of a dysfunctional society. The lack of mature political engagement between all parties concerned is giving rise to disorder on the streets. Any government that needs to keep files ‘secret’ until 2052 remains part of the problem, not part of the solution with Mr Cameron displaying all the characteristics of a modern day Nero.

  5. billy August 12, 2015 at 11:31 am #

    seen the celebration of wesley somervilles life in portydown on f/b, brit and udr captain killed while murdering the miami showband,sounded a nice chap in the speech they give.oh the poppy wreath was prominent there,

  6. Beachguy August 12, 2015 at 12:12 pm #

    Many republicans have said that if they had it to do over again there were many things that would have been done differently.

    Jude correctly points out that the targeting of civilians was NOT IRA policy whereas , as documented in Cadwalladers book, it was a significant part of the British security forces.

    And by the way, we are still waiting for a response from Miss Villiers concerning the book which was sent to her quite some time ago.

  7. Seamus August 12, 2015 at 12:15 pm #

    I will never get this idea that one bullet one bomb or one rpg or one hellfire missile somehow has more creedence or legitamacy than the other….hindsight is a great science… the uncomfortable fact for us all is that all “war” is violence it kills and maims and wrecks lives…collateral damage is the “apologist” of all “legitimate” war…we see no body counts in Iraq Afghanistan Libya et al… but pie charts for every associated deaths that occured in our own conflict…all the needless funerals people attended will not lessen the hurt…the fact is the war that occured in this particular part of the country in this particular part of our countrys’ history.. was dark, dirty and nefarious in nature…it was written as the politics of the last atrocity,proactive or reactive violence…and the usual “tit for tat”… informing the world that these savage prods and taigs just have an insatiable bloodlust to kill and murder eachother….History and the 50 year rule will no doubt tell another story…but it has to be said…if the IRA had a fleet of helicopter gunships two three F1-11 fighter jets and perhaps a few drones for pinpoint operations…would they have got the “job” done alot cleaner…with minimal collateral damage?

  8. Neill August 12, 2015 at 12:38 pm #

    Do I regret that a single person died in violent conflict here?’ – of course I do.

    That was all you had to say.

    If ever there was a useless, mindless ritual it is the calling on people to ‘condemn’ this or ‘condemn’ that. The media and some politicians used that here for years and it always set my teeth on edge

    It sets your teeth on edge calling on people to condemn murder I cant understand this at all we were brought up to condemn any violence any murder and any bombing we were brought up to know the difference between right and wrong I have to be honest your attitude to this I find a trifle strange.

    • Jude Collins August 12, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

      Well I’m afraid we were brought up differently, then, neill. I certainly was taught about right and wrong but ‘condemn’ – that is, hone my judgement and decide on the right and wrong of others – that wasn’t part of my upbringing. ‘Do you condemn X,Y and Z’ – how often I’ve heard lazy-assed journalists put that question, almost invariably to republicans. It’d at least have been more honest if they’d said ‘You’re the bad guys and we’re the good guys, right?’ Playground semantics…

  9. Perkin Warbeck August 12, 2015 at 12:39 pm #

    One of the darling words of these contemporary, computerised times, Esteemed Blogmeister, is the d-word: default.

    Used to be a time when this d-word meant to suddenly disappear into the powder room of the pub when it just happened to be your turn to buy the round. Nowadays, of course, it has to do with reverting automatically to a pre-selected option thingy on the old new laptop.

    Although the latter meaning has only come into its own since Apples began to grow on the Ivy League and the likes of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs took ordinary words and turned them into extraordinary surnames with Capital Letters, d for default hasn’t been long going retro, as it were.

    As in: 14-18 is the default setting whereas, erm, the fault of any troubles in that era is laid at the door of 1916.

    Thus, whereas an avalanche of angst- ridden articles are in the process of being written and published about the latter, the former can expect to see out its four year lap of p.c. honour with but a trickle of mildly questioning pieces in print.

    One has only to take a quick gawk at (gulp) today’s The Unionist Times to get a well nigh pitch perfect example of the mindset which can differentiate between ‘default’ and ‘the fault’.

    A piece entitled ‘Looking for the Heart of Armagh’ by a lady name of Christine Dwyer Hickey who had trekked all the way from a dim and distant place called Dublin. It could as easily been titled ‘Looking for the Heart of Darkness’ as she made Armagh sound as strange and exotic as if it were the very place those medium-sized, burrowing, nocturnal mammals, the Aardvarks therein do dwell.

    Eist le seo / Listen to this:

    – Next morning we came across a funeral. A man in a top hat led the cortege. A piper played a republican song. The coffin was draped in a Tricolour. There was none of the usual palaver we’ve come to expect from a republican funeral- just a quiet country procession down a quiet country road.

    As we left the city behind, I wondered how the Tricolour was getting on, if it had gone down with the coffin or had it been refolded and put aside like a good tablecloth until the next old republican died’.

    Fan, ta breis / Wait, there’s more:

    ‘The Union Jacks were still a-flutter all across the green velvet landscape but the sight of them no longer irritated me’.

    As a definitive example of a default discourse from The Unionist Times one need look no further.

    To conclude: Anonymous once observed:’War is when the government tells you who the enemy is.Revolution is when you figure it out for yourself’.

    Or even – in the interests of gender quotas – Anne O’ Nymous (for it is she !) once observed.

  10. Belfastdan August 12, 2015 at 1:22 pm #

    I think that Neil and his ilk should ponder that after the IRA many years ago consigned itself to history the British armed forces are still killing people to this very day the majority of whom are innocent non combatants.

    Yes the good old Crown forces – they have never gone away you know!

    • Neill August 12, 2015 at 4:27 pm #

      The crown forces don’t need to go away as Northern Ireland remains British…

      • Ryan August 12, 2015 at 10:11 pm #

        Is the North east corner of Ireland more British today Neill than it was in 1969? I think the obvious answer is: No.

        Irish has parity with British here now. The Irish Government has a say on every major agreement that is made here too. Even people claiming to be British here has dropped below 50%, so people calling themselves British are a minority. So is our wee Statelet here “as British as Finchley”? Anyone with a brain cell would say obviously not. Even when Margaret Thatcher made that famous quote in public, she was behind the scenes wondering how she could get rid of norn iron from the Union. One proposal she considered was giving England, Scotland and Wales the power to vote on whether NI should stay in the Union or not….not so British after all then….

        As one Labour MP said: Northern Ireland is British AND Irish. I agree with him certainly in reference to its people but as someone with family in London and Dublin, I would actually say the average joe in the south has more in common with the average brit than someone who calls themselves British from Norn Iron….

  11. ANOTHER JUDE August 12, 2015 at 2:11 pm #

    Neill is under the illusion the UDR (you`ll do rightly…..) were a proper regiment of the British army. They were not. They were a bigoted, unfit, ignorant, sectarian, lazy bunch of terrorists and religious weirdos. They are not missed and they should not receive a penny in compensation.

    • Neill August 12, 2015 at 4:28 pm #

      That accusation could be geared towards the Republican community as well Another Jude?

      • ANOTHER JUDE August 13, 2015 at 1:49 pm #

        But as a Republican I supported the Republican movement. I concede that terrible things were done but the IRA never murdered a Catholic simply for being a Catholic and that made them better. What you have to accept Neill is that the likes of the UDR will never be seen as decent by Nationalists, they were part of the British war machine and good riddance to them.They were the mirror opposites to the IRA.

        • Neill August 13, 2015 at 6:10 pm #

          but the IRA never murdered a Catholic simply for being a Catholic and that made them better

          There you have it lets make the IRA good guys at long last somebody on here has been honest about this!

  12. paddykool August 12, 2015 at 3:03 pm #

    Neill’s at it again. You can’t argue a point , in his mind without wholeheartedly supporting that point of view .In his world , if you read a book about Hitler and made a debate from Hitler’s point of view, you would automatically be in support of Hitler. Not so Neill.It’s a good exercise to cooly look at exactly what went down in this land and then try a variety of viewpoints.It helps if you lived through it too and many , simply because of their age ,really know nothing about any of it ..other than a lot of claptrap they’ve been told .Sometimes it would help if we knew what age some of our contributors were.
    That all said , every one of us is a victim of our place of birth or upbringing .Most of us can make a choice but that might be predicated on our immediate friends and family. It’s a fact that the majority of the UDR came from the unionist or Protestant community and the majority of the IRA came from the Catholic or nationalist community .That would be a good start. You have to take a good look at why anyone would actually “want” to join either group . It never occured to many of us to do that. I never lived in a street that was invaded by an armed group and my father or myself wasn’t hoiked off to be interned for no good reason other than living in that street.Neither did I have any inclination to join an army group and learn how to shoot a weapon and kill people and walk the roads or put up roadblocks. Frankly , I had better things to do with my time.Many chose to join these groups so it’s best to asjk them exactly why they did it.
    You might call that luck or maybe making a free choice. If I’d been angry enough and my father or friends had been killed , or my street had been invaded or possibly burnt down I might have wanted to join an armed group and decide that the government were getting it very wrong and I might have wanted rid of them by any means at hand .If memory serves , it all happened gradually at first but street violence with weaponry, CS gas , plastic bullets , real bullets and all the rest …led to more ideas of violence and eventually the IRA was targeting what they called “economic targets ” in a war of attrition on the british economy .Every building they chose to bomb had to be paid for and if anyone got in the way it was collateral damage in an ongoing war. It got to the stage where anyone even working in some vague way for british interests might be a target. Royal Mail postmen walked a fine line there and were probably only safe when delivering the odd dole giro. Loyalism and the like never even figured in the IRA’s schemes really , other than as street gangs who thought it would be a good idea to murder any catholics because by doing that they’d bound to get the odd republican.As far as they were concerned it was that same old Kill All Taigs line…Many people were killed in this way and we were all scared shitless while working in Belfast. It was either the bombers or the crazy killers in the shadows. People were resilient .Life went on and it became very complicated what with the british seeing loyalism as their natural allies given that they seemed to think they were bein g some kind of support by killing the odd republican . The republican ideal had never been considered by loyalism , even as a study, but it was enough that the IRA supported the idea of a republic. To say that there was a legitimate british presence at this stage is being very loose with the actual truth of it .Morality was being bent every which way by everyone and on all sides.Unionism called the UDA out onto the streets and were prepared to overturn any british law they didn’t like . They always flirted with violence and violent men .It was ever thus with loyalism and unionism .If they don’t like a law they won’t observe it. It’s as it is now with marching and Twaddell. They’d rather hold their breath and go blue in the face than obey a law.
    That all said , it’s a bit rich to get all moralistic about anyone in a society so ripped to pieces.We know that none of them are perfect but some of us know why.

    • Gerard August 12, 2015 at 4:30 pm #

      Just brilliant, well done Paddy

  13. Tyrone Poet August 12, 2015 at 5:15 pm #

    To paraphrase Thatcher “A bomb, is a bomb, is a bomb” I could say the same for bullets. There are two questions to ask when you hear they have been used. Firstly what has been the outcome resulting from their use ie deaths and injuries, this is mostly relatively easy to quantify. The second question which is seldom asked and more difficult to answer is why were they used?
    If we can successfully answer the second question, we can minimise the use of bombs and bullets in the first place.

  14. Sherdy August 12, 2015 at 5:27 pm #

    We have been told for years how brave ‘our heroes’ are, from the British army to the UDR, RUC and PSNI.
    But now that they are thinking of living off the welfare and medical systems they want to rush to the front of the queue and avail of benefits to which the ordinary Joe Bloggs may not be entitled.
    They want preferential treatment over our grandchildren and grandparents, and demand it as their ‘entitlement’.
    Surely if they are the brave heroes they claim to be they would take their place in the queue and not expect pampering, just because they made their living with a gun!

  15. Willie D. August 12, 2015 at 5:49 pm #

    Not quite sure that I buy into the argument that the I.R.A. didn’t target civilians and that this is borne out by the facts. They certainly killed more members of the combined security forces, a total, in N.I., of 928. But they also killed 638 civilians, which was an awful lot of mistakes to make and makes me really glad that they were supposedly not targeting people like me during “the Troubles.” On the other hand, its been alleged by other contributors that the security forces did deliberately target civilians : despite this, the total of civilians killed by them was 187. So the I.R.A. weren’t targeting civilians, but somehow managed to kill 451 more than those who allegedly were.
    As for condemnation, I think if you can’t bring yourself to condemn events like La Mon or Kingsmills –and yes Loughinisland and McGurks — then there is something seriously awry with your moral compass.

    • Ryan August 12, 2015 at 10:44 pm #

      I think you forgot to mention the collusion the “Security forces” had with Loyalist paramilitaries, Willie. Therefore the tally of civilians murdered by the “Security forces” is a lot higher than you stated. For example, the Glenanne gang alone was responsible for the murders of over 120 Catholic civilians and the “Security Forces” knew all about it, that’s without mentioning the Glenanne gang was made up of “Security Force” members…..

      In reference in Kingsmills, that was carried out by the “Catholic Reaction Force” which was in retaliation to the murders of a number of Catholics the day before by the UVF. I’m certainly not justifying Kingsmills, I condemn it completely and any other murder but that’s the facts. But the sole survivor of the Kingsmills massacre, Alan Black, believes the “Security Forces” had a hand in Kingsmills too. According to Black, the man leading the men who shot down those Protestant workmen had an English accent. As a recent documentary showed, files relating to the Kingsmills Massacre mysteriously disappeared and years after when they were found again, suddenly a fire breaks out and a lot of the files were destroyed, what are the chances, eh? Even a blind man can see the “Security Forces” today have as much to hide as back then.

  16. Ryan August 12, 2015 at 5:55 pm #

    If the IRA’s aim was to target civilians and to kill as many as possible, we can be sure that the death toll from the troubles would be a lot higher than what it is. Unionist paramilitaries, aided by the British state, British Army, UDR and RUC, deliberately targeted Catholic civilians. That’s not counting the Catholic civilians murdered by the British Army, UDR and RUC themselves, Bloody Sunday and the Ballymurphy Massacre being but two examples.

    I was reading up on the Dresden bombing recently, which occurred in WW2. To cut a long story short, the principle aims of that bombing was to target the German civilian, not military, but CIVILIAN population, to damage morale and to put on a spectacle for the approaching Soviet Armies, almost like an Allied show of strength, much like the Atom bombs being dropped on Japan. What better way to show your power and strength than letting the Soviets see a city completely in ruins and its civilian population (whats left of it) being left in a state of despair?

    We know that the British Army/State used the North of Ireland as a training ground for its military experiments. Both communities, Catholic and Protestant, were the guinea pigs and both were expendable, though the Catholics were maybe deemed amore expendable than the Protestants, as the statistics of British state murders clearly shows.

    My point is, were the British state using the same tactics here that were used in Dresden but only against the Catholic community? The UDA/UVF made clear their aim was to terrify and terrorize the Catholic community, not the IRA, the Catholic community and we know the UDA/UVF were basically run by the British state. The outcome intended by such a tactic was the same that was desired when Dresden was bombed: to demoralize and terrify the Catholic community so much that they disowned the IRA, surrendered and held a political view that was nothing short of pleading for mercy. Of course we know the exact opposite happened, as we seen in the aftermath of Bloody Sunday where the IRA had so many new recruits that they actually had to turn many away. Needless to say this is nothing short of state murder and state terrorism.

    The IRA, regardless of what Unionists like Neill says (who cant handle the facts/truth), simply did not have such a tactic. Their principle targets were British soldiers, RUC, UDR and Unionist paramilitaries. Anyone who was aiding the British state, such as building barracks, working in British Army barracks, etc were no longer considered civilians and were viable targets to the IRA, which from a military point of view is understandable and logical. Whenever there was talks between the British Government and the IRA, the IRA and other Republican paramilitaries, usually switched their focus to Unionist paramilitaries. The 1990’s is a good example of this when Unionist paramilitary leaders/Senior Commanders were dropping like flies, such as Cecil McKnight, Trevor King, Joe Bratty, Raymond Elder, Billy Wright, etc.

    The IRA had a huge arsenal of weapons, equipment,47 etc. Tons of Semtax was coming in from Libya by the ship load, along with AK47’s, RPG’s, etc Irish America was donating money by the millions and the latest sniper rifles were donated and were used, most notably, in South Armagh, not against civilians but against British soldiers. It goes without saying the IRA could have levelled Northern Ireland to the ground if they wanted to with this equipment and killed maybe tens of thousands of civilians but they didn’t. This is more evidence, as if its needed, that the IRA’s principle target was not civilians, Catholic or Protestant.

    The British state, UDR, RUC, British Army, UVF, UDA, LVF, etc on the other hand cant say the same….

    Don’t get me wrong, the IRA did kill civilians, whether deliberately or by accident, it doesn’t matter it was wrong and I completely condemn it.

    • Neill August 13, 2015 at 1:26 pm #

      So Teebane was acceptable then Ryan?

      What about Patsy Gillispie?

      You are very convincing at justifying murder Ryan.

      • Emmet August 14, 2015 at 11:10 am #

        strange that you also mention the ‘Human bomb’ in Derry. Another example of British collusion. Noticing a pattern Neill?

  17. billy August 12, 2015 at 7:01 pm #

    it was all for nothing,all the jail,the deaths injured ect…

  18. giordanobruno August 12, 2015 at 7:28 pm #

    As usual Neill gets a hard time for expressing a contrary view.
    There is no doubt that state forces, the UDR and the RUC, were subverted to some extent by loyalist paramilitaries. To what extent we may never know.
    Personally I don’t think it was at all levels endemic as some would suggest, since the evidence is not there to back that up. For one thing the actual number of killings attributable to them as organisations is relatively small,and they were active in arresting many loyalist paramilitaries too. Eventually the evidence may implicate the whole organisation, but in the meantime they should not all be tarred with the same brush.
    On the other hand, clearly the PIRA did not solely target civilians but it is equally clear they were quite prepared to do so when they thought it would further their cause.
    Many many times, as Neill’s list makes clear. And the planting of bombs in civilian areas is clearly going to result in civilian injuries.
    That was part and parcel of their modus operandi, their long war of attrition designed to make the place ungovernable. The place their political wing now governs!
    Those, as Jude would say, are the facts.

    • Ceannaire August 12, 2015 at 11:15 pm #

      No, giordano, to even think that anyone would target civilians “when they thought it would further their cause” is naive. Name one government or group that has killed civilians when they thought it would further their cause! It never has worked! How can you even quantify that?

      Did the IRA at times act without care about civilians? I have no doubt they did. And anytime civilians were made a target – then that is a war crime. But to even suggest that it was a ‘policy’, as Neill has done, is wrong, wrong, wrong.

      Neill did not get “a hard time for expressing a contrary view”. He merely got his perception challenged because the facts tell a different story.

      • giordanobruno August 13, 2015 at 11:34 am #

        Ceannaire
        Maybe it depends on your definition of a civilian.
        I consider census takers to be civilians for example.
        I consider families of magistrates to be civilians.
        If you leave bombs in city centre areas you must calculate that civilians may be killed.To go ahead anyway is clearly a calculated act (we can always blame the brits for not evacuating the area).
        To keep repeating such acts knowing the outcome would be the same meets the definition of insanity. So either insanity or deliberate calculation.
        Did loyalist groups not target catholic civilians? Presumably they thought it would further their cause.
        Did alqaeda not target civilians in the twin towers? Presumably they thought that would further their cause.
        That is how terrorism works.
        Was the bombing of Dresden not targeting civilians?

        • Argenta August 13, 2015 at 1:25 pm #

          Well said,Gio but don’t expect your views to get a lot of sympathy on this blog site .Your points about census takers and the families of magistrates is well made.I’m sure it would have been a great consolation to those civilian victims to know that their killings were not as a result of an I R A policy!!

          • Jude Collins August 13, 2015 at 3:15 pm #

            Argenta – I don’t think you should imply that people are saying “Killing innocent people was OK cos it wasn’t IRA policy”. I certainly didn’t say so and I don’t think other posters have either. Of course those were horrific and cruel deeds you refer to. And of course it’s little/no consolation to victims that it wasn’t IRA policy. But that doesn’t mean the policy didn’t exist.

      • Neill August 13, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

        Neill did not get “a hard time for expressing a contrary view”. He merely got his perception challenged because the facts tell a different story.

        The facts don’t tell another story by planting bombs in towns and cities you are aiming to kill civilians if you don’t want to kill civilians you don’t plant bombs not that difficult to understand

        • Jude Collins August 13, 2015 at 3:17 pm #

          That’s simply not true, neill. You would be right to describe such actions as reckless, heedless of the danger to human life, etc – but that doesn’t mean their aim is to take human life. Otherwise why give any warning, as normally happened?

          • Neill August 13, 2015 at 6:17 pm #

            Sorry Jude that is not true if you leave a bomb on the bus or in a centre of town or even in a housing estate you are trying to kill civilians and a 5 minute call is scant concern as well. Bad luck with your campaign to diminish the IRA`s crimes.

          • Jude Collins August 13, 2015 at 10:14 pm #

            Neill – you’re a naughty little boy. I am on no campaign to diminish the IRA or anyone’s crimes. If you read my blog you’ll see I make clear that the IRA were guilty of sectarian and callous killings. But as you well know, the IRA rarely gave 5 min warnings – more often than not people were cleared and the damage was mercifully commercial, not human. I don’t deny it’s reckless in the extreme – callously so, even – to bring a bomb into a heavily populated area. But that still wouldn’t mean that their target was people rather than property. I think you know that too, so maybe just accept the truth of the point I’m making rather than talk about campaigns which I certainly have nothing to do with

        • Belfastdan August 13, 2015 at 5:09 pm #

          Very true Neil it also follows if you don’t drop bombs or send drones and cruise missiles against areas where civilians live you don’t kill innocent people.

          Killing is killing whether it is done by the IRA or the RAF. As Brendan Behan said “The terrorist is the one with the small bomb” more true today than ever.

  19. Patrick August 12, 2015 at 9:09 pm #

    Neill comes on this forum and often expresses a contrary view. Many on the regular contributors have graciously praised him for doing so. I’m not quite sure how he is getting “a hard time”?

    • paddykool August 13, 2015 at 5:04 pm #

      I don’t think neill is getting a hard time either . We all choose freely to give of our tuppence worth and we are all big enough to argue out our points . neill knows that too but he seldom stands back and takes a look at the entire picture.I simply don’t see things in the neat little black and white terms that some do.in my world view , there are no heroes…only flawed human beings struggling to make some sense of a set of circumstances.

      It’s like looking at the Indian wars in a historical setting instead of seeing the mythic “Cowboys” as the good guys and the “Redskins” as the enemy. There is a context and somehow neill only sees one part of it .

      It was a very dirty business and it included many damaged individuals on all sides.There were even a few dreaminig psychopaths involved who were legends in their own minds….sometimes clouded with religious fervour or revolutionary zeal. I have no idea how it was supposed to have all worked either.Was there a master plan or were there just small groups of loosely connected individuals …gangs if you like…working to their own loose agendas and trying not to tread on each other’s toes.

      It seemed very organic and made-up- as -we -went -along for those of us living through it .There were some very deliberate deaths…murders..if you like by both sides .There were bombings. They were ostensibly “economic” bombs , but there were pubs full of people bombed too. I remember some of those dead. There were drive -by-shootings and there was downright butchery of some individuals. There were also armed B Specials who were supposed to be “the Law” shooting willy -nilly into a crowd of people. there was drive -by -shooting just yards from my home in broad daylight. …and there was an Ulsterbus depot bombed late at night while myself and my wife and small child slept only yards away.

      There were attacks on police stations and there were also killings in barnyards when arrests might have been made. There were killings of solicitors carrying out the Law of the Land [the Queen’s} because it didn’t suit that the law might be the same for everyone and not just unionism.

      No …none of it was in any way simple …or black and white.

      Some of it was an excuse to allow some of the most disturbed individuals a free rein. Some had loftier ideals but were caught short when simple human foolishness or bad -timing let them down. Some were unable to get out of the way in time .Some claimed that adequate time had been given but deliberately misconstrued. People died anyway and the truth was a phantom. There was talk of a conspiracy between businessmen and loyalist terrorists.There was talk of a conspiracy between the UDr, the british arm and loyalist terrorists…..who to believe?
      It ground on day- by -day . People actually began to get used to it in an odd sort of way.i’ll tell you this ..i was glad when it was brought to a grinding end . It could go nowhere other than more and more of the same for generations.I’m just hoping there are enough out ther ewho also think like that and can come up with some real ideas and solutions to bury it forever. Pretending there were anything but flawed human -beings…certainly not heroes ..is a non-starter.

    • giordanobruno August 13, 2015 at 6:37 pm #

      Patrick
      Neill can speak for himself and maybe you are right, but here are a few recent remarks to him:
      “Oh dear, neill – you’re such an attention-seeker.”
      “It seem that our friend Neill is a sandwich sort of picnic.”
      “Too much truth and education might make Neill’s head overload and explode!”
      “Wow Neill, that was quite the rant,”
      “The Hypocrisy is strong with you”
      All gracious stuff.
      However my remark was off the cuff and perhaps Neill does not feel he gets a hard time so I will say no more.

      • Jude Collins August 13, 2015 at 10:10 pm #

        Oh gio – you’re such an attention-seeker…There – bet neill feels better now. Or less alone at least…

  20. Neill August 13, 2015 at 6:18 pm #

    Paddykool do you agree that the IRA targeted civilians?

    • paddykool August 14, 2015 at 7:57 am #

      Well neill, some of them probably did. I never saw them as a homogenous grouping. Like I said there were a lot of deluded crazy, stupid bastards on every side.I’m sure there were plenty of revenge killings going on. Some of these people joined violent groups purely for a revenge kick.
      There are bound to have been many hate-filled individuals attempting to murder and actually murdering people they didn’t like under the guise of the whole conflict….even neighbours that had crossed them in one way or another . I think it’s naive to think otherwise. That doesn’t mean i think the general thrust of the republican movement at the time condoned it or encouraged it. I think when things like that happened they felt it embarrassed them and somehow stained their perceived cause .If they made blunders …and many of them did..there were always sheepish apologies .
      Many of these characters were all- but amateurs and accidentally blew themselves up or shot themselves , never mind their “enemy”.There were also proxy bomb runs where wholly innocent people were placed in invidious positions driving cars and vans full of explosives where there was no escape. I’d call that murderous behaviour.
      A lot of the activity during the Troubles was predicated on pure hatred . You can see that even yet across the board.It is very apparent even now in times of peace. The thing is, it was across the board and even the so-called forces of law and order and even the government were guilty of the same behaviour so there was no moral compass. Add to that …simple psychopathic killers …and we all know who they are…who almost absurdly were driven by religious , zealous bigotry or purely demented sociopathy …like the Shankill Butchers for example or certain mad preachers…and a few other lesser known sheebeen dwelling murderers and you’ve got the “Wild West” . That is what we were dealing with. like i said ..nobody forced anyone to join either side of it and take up arms unless there were very special circumstances.
      So yes neill ..I believe that the IRA or certain members of that nebulous grouping, targeted certain civilians at that time . I also believe that everyone in the conflict did the very same thing too…including the british, loyalism , the UDR or whatever gang of armed individuals had the firepower to do it.
      Remember, neill the vast majority of us got on with our lives well enough without ever lifting a weapon in their lives. Guns have only one purpose and it’s not a pleasant one.

  21. Patrick August 14, 2015 at 10:39 am #

    Gio,
    Neill can certainly speak for himself and maybe you’d agree that in some of the comments he has directed at others, our good host included, has went further than calling him a mere “attention seeker” and whatnot? An example of this could be in calling Jude an “apologist” for the IRA which he clearly is not.

    Maybe since you feel the need to defend him, or at least felt the need once, you could find it in you to call him out on some of the more outrageous comments he is prone to making? It might mean more coming from you considering he likely sees you as some sort of ally. Anyway just a thought.

    Patrick.

    • Neill August 14, 2015 at 7:04 pm #

      I would be in desperate trouble if I ever needed anybody on this blog to defend me from the intellectual giants of the class of Patrick,Ryan and others.

      More unionists should read this website to understand our intellectual republican neighbours who are a bit coy about condemning murder as long as it doesn’t Coe from their community…

      • Wolfe tone August 14, 2015 at 10:59 pm #

        I agree, more unionists should read.

      • Patrick August 15, 2015 at 4:20 pm #

        Neill perhaps you should carefully read what contributors to the comments section of this blog write, as opposed to what you perceive our thoughts to be. I and many others have no qualms in condemning the actions of Republicans that unfortunately resulted in the deaths of innocent people. That innocent people died is an inescapable fact. I believe that to be a source of huge regret for many republicans and apologies have been offered. It’s entirely up to victims of such acts whether to forgive or not.

        That being said, Republicans were not the only party involved in the troubles. The state forces and various groupings within unionism and loyalism also committed many actions that resulted in the deaths of innocents and caused great grief to many. With all due respect to you I don’t feel that you have totally accepted this reality. You are unequivocal when it comes to condemning violence committed by republicans. ‘Murder is murder’ and all that. Yet you seem strangely reticent to be as unequivocal in your condemnation of British/Unionist violence. Can I ask why?

        Regardless of what happened in the past I think it’s important that we move on and try to create a better society. We share this island and must work together. The hand of friendship is being offered to Unionists.Take it Neill. Embrace the future 🙂

  22. giordanobruno August 14, 2015 at 11:36 am #

    Patrick
    Certainly.
    Come on Neill, enough of that nonsense now. Do onto others….

  23. Patrick August 14, 2015 at 3:11 pm #

    Good man Gio. Let’s hope he listens. He’s done little of that up to now 🙂

    Now if you could ask him to maybe try using a comma or two within his comments I’d be most grateful lol (I hope calling him out on this doesn’t constitute ‘giving him a hard time? 🙂 )