Don’t mention state agents. It complicates things.

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If you want to spot someone who’s sloganizing rather than exploring key events during our Troubles, check if their sole focus is on the IRA and its ‘murderous campaign’. Or, in the case of more liberal-minded commentators, on the ‘murderous campaign of the IRA and loyalist paramilitaries’. You could dismiss such people as blockheads and move on. Or you might be tempted to introduce them to two new words: state agents.

The latest possible involvement of state agents to surface is the slaughter that occurred at Frizzell’s fish shop on the Shankill Road. Chief Constable George Hamilton may tell us robustly that no prior information about that bomb was available, but there are questions being asked which demand answers that match Hamilton’s certainty.

Last week a judge investigating dozens of Troubles-related cases said that the withholding of documentation by the police and British Ministry of Defence was “preposterous”.

Last Spring the BBC’s Panorama listed events from the Troubles in which the state was secretly involved and are currently attempting to cover up. These included the five people killed in the Ormeau Road bookie shop and the ten Protestants killed at Kingsmill. Nuala O’Loan told the programme that the agents involved were a law unto themselves. “Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people were killed because those people were not stopped in their tracks.”

John Stephens in 2003 found that a group of army and police officers “actively and deliberately helped a loyalist paramilitary group to kill Catholics”. What’s more, as we all know by now, investigations of this group was obstructed at every turn. And I haven’t even touched on the dozens of cases detailed in Anne Cadwallader’s book Lethal Allies.

 Will we ever get full disclosure of all these state-related killings? Not if the state can help it. Is a discussion of the Trouhles with someone who refuses to acknowledge that those paid to protect us were involved in killing innocent people – is such a discussion worthwhile? A firm No must be the answer. They’re part of the problem, not part of its resolution.





41 Responses to Don’t mention state agents. It complicates things.

  1. ANOTHER JUDE January 28, 2016 at 2:37 pm #

    There is no point trying to get to the bottom of these things, the British state has controlled it`s population so well over the decades, the average Brit is as ignorant of the cause of the `troubles` now as they were thirty or forty years ago. Just another colonial insurgency, same as Iraq or Afghanistan. Witness the hysterical over reaction from Cameron to the possible (pointless) investigations of British army murder and torture of civilians. The Unionists can be relied upon to trot out the old `it was all the IRA`s fault` mantra.George Hamilton is the latest in a long line of cover up merchants. His bleating about the force not being able to keep up with the various requests for information was pathetic. His assertion that the RUC had no prior knowledge of the Shankill bombing was bizarre to say the least.

  2. Wolfe tone January 28, 2016 at 2:47 pm #

    Some folk in the nationalist community,back in the day, didn’t believe a person got shot for simply being a taig. Tin foil hat stuff from republicans was the usual riposte.
    Fast forward to the present day some folk still refuse to believe the state would fail to protect its citizens let alone be complicit in the harming of them.
    It was common knowledge back in the day, there were a few detectives based at Gough barracks who ‘worked with Billy and his rat pack’. ‘They would arrange to sort you out boyo!’
    A friend of mine recalled being threatened on a building site by loyalists who were looking protection money in the late nineties in Belfast. He effed them off and they said they’d be back to ‘plug him’. Alas a few days later the same boyos shot his work colleague on site. My friend was visited by detectives, thinking they wanted to take a detailed statement of the murder, but alas the cop scolded him for ‘starting trouble around here’. Collusion not only existed but still goes on.

  3. Séamus Ó Néill January 28, 2016 at 3:10 pm #

    The revelations are certainly not new but seem to be gaining in frequency. This time it was an IRA double agent and the outrage ( feigned or otherwise ) from the DUP was as predictable as it was partisan .Last week Nigel Dodds was casually dismissing collusion as a Republican conspiracy….now he’s outraged ( but seemingly only about this alleged complicity ) Deafening silence again from the ” Free Staters ” regarding the pernicious actions of their British buddies…no wronged female to exploit ….no opportunity for a bit of Sinn Féin bashing propaganda ,….surely they’ll be able to turn it to their advantage in some sham concern for the poor victims. Lets wait and see.

    • Ryan January 28, 2016 at 10:04 pm #

      The Free State Government don’t give a hoot about the people in the 26 counties Seamus, what hope have the victims of the British Government in the North got of the Southern Government holding them to account when they wont even hold them to account for the massacre committed by the British Army in Dublin and Monaghan? Can you imagine the reaction if files were found by the BBC showing the Irish Army had involvement in planting a no-warning bomb in the middle of London and murdering over 30 people?

      No, the current Irish Government just like many previous Irish Governments are being lead by corrupt, weak, partitionist politicians who think only of their bloated salaries and pensions but rob, literally rob, the Irish people in order to pay billions to bondholders. Its no wonder David Cameron gave his support to Enda Kenny. We need to get them out ASAP for the good of all the Irish people. I think Sinn Fein will do very well in the upcoming General Election, their target will be getting a total of 30 TD’s or more but anything over 25 will be fine. I don’t see them forming a Government until 2021.

  4. Jim.hunter January 28, 2016 at 3:13 pm #

    Great story.jude.

    • Jude Collins January 28, 2016 at 5:52 pm #


  5. Iolar January 28, 2016 at 4:46 pm #

    Given comments attributed to a member of the Force Reaction Unit, that he shot people and would be prepared to do so again, there can be no doubt left that lives could have been saved if the rule of law had been upheld by all those with a duty to protect citizens.

    The state abdicated its responsibility to uphold the law when it actively and deliberately colluded with person or persons unknown to act as judge, jury and executioner in acts which led to deaths on the streets. We have a mess to clear up. Using the interests of National Security to conceal the truth will only prolong the agony for many and thwart efforts to right the wrongs of our past. The work of Stalker and Stephens was obstructed at every turn and the problem remains. It is evident that there are some who wish to remain part of the problem and there are many prepared to work in an agreed legal context to become part of a solution.

  6. Mary Jo January 28, 2016 at 5:18 pm #

    ” Nuala O’Loan told the programme that the agents involved were a law unto themselves.” As one news story after another reveals the level of British Government collusion on all sides during the ‘Troubles’, I find myself wondering if the people of NI were mere pawns in a series of murderous British war games.
    A more evil version, it would seem, of Chesterton’s “The Man who was Thursday”.

  7. Sherdy January 28, 2016 at 6:07 pm #

    On George Hamilton’s denial that the RUC had prior information on the bombing of Frizzell’s fish shop – he would say that, wouldn’t he!
    The exclusive in Monday’s Irish News which generated this storm of speculation also deserves some speculation.
    That paper and its journalist Allison Morris have not been on good terms with Sinn Fein or the IRA for years, so it is most unlikely they would feed her such a story.
    The basis for the story apparently comes from documents stolen in the raid on Castlereagh RUC station, so the ‘suspicion’ is that Allison got her info from republicans.
    But to look at it objectively Castlereagh at that time was a heavily fortified, very secure location, and the idea that a group not known to the guards on duty could just waltz past them unquestioned, go to the files room and remove exactly what they wanted (how did they know where to find what they wanted), put it under their arm and calmly walk away with it, beggars belief.
    It would have been more likely for RUC personnel, who would have known what intelligence was kept on them, had decided to destroy papers which had the potential to destroy them.
    Then there is another question on the source of the scoop.
    Twitter had a leaflet a few days ago, apparently by Mairia Cahill, announcing she would be speaking on this particular same subject.
    No problem there, you might think, but then the date on that leaflet was five days before Allison’s ‘exclusive’ – so did she have the documents, or would she have handed them to Allison?
    Curiouser and curiouser!

  8. Perkin Warbeck January 28, 2016 at 6:34 pm #

    Evening shadows, Esteemed Blogmeister, famously made Connie Francis blue and continue to make those neo-Cons, the Unionists, both north and south of the Black Sow’s Dyke blue too.

    Though, of course, in a different way. Whereas the celestial Connie was made blue in the emotional sense, it is more in the political sense with the neo-Cons, on both sides of the affrontier. On the southern side, it is actually flaunted in the favoured colour of the party shirt.

    No surprise, therefore, that the secret agents at work both in the 006 counties and the 0026 counties were/ are particularly partial to evening shadows as their working milieu of choice, both in the metaphorical and in the crepuscular meaning of the term. (A daaaarlin’ word, shadows, Joxer).

    Nothing was/is more guaranteed to bring them happiness than the turning of the blind eye and the deaf ear / an chaochshuil agus an chluas bhodhar by the security forces, to be sure, to be sure.

    Their cup of happiness runneth over in the Liffeyside bombings in late November, 1971 and early December of 1972 when the lethal car bombs detonated by the double o’s in Dublin, at Burgh Quay and Eden Quay facilitated the passage of an even more offensive Offences against the Stateen Act through the hallowed chambers of Linseed House. Where the blue and bluer shirts, erm, flaxed their parliamentary muscles.

    This reaction to the James Bonds of the OOSeventies was replicated in the response to the Bondholders of 2007 +.

    It is widely accepted in the faculties of political science that these bombs marked the start of a whole new ballistics game: the bomb as timing device. One of the cars, incidentally, a Hillman Avenger was blue in the blue of the night while another car, Ford Escort was a shadowy silver-grey.

    Eminent emeritus professors of a particular gripe were especially chuffed by the historical continuity which the Brothers Littlejohn of that epoch brought to the chronicle of Liffeyside. Their interventionist tactics conjured up shades of the Sherwood Foresters of a previous era.

    Nothing if not versatile, Keith and Kenneth (for it was they !) also functioned as part-time, pin-striped merchant bankers who were feared by the bad and loved by the good of Grafton Street. Ah yes: Keith and Kenneth; curious how some names are so adhesive they just continue to stick to the memory.

    And, then, the biggie, in May 74, when Lincoln Green was exchanged for Lincoln Place. And in broad daylight too. So, confident were the secret agents of Pax Britannica of their guaranteed impunity by this stage that they dispensed altogether with both the evening scenario and the attendant shadows.

    -Robin now, Robin then, riding from Glennane. Any place will do, just as long as they’re waved through.

    Tiocfaidh ar L.A. (Lethal Allies).

    • Jude Collins January 28, 2016 at 6:46 pm #

      Re Connie: a heavenly voice, a homely presence; re South of the Black Pig’s Dyke – I was down there myself today – where were you, didn’t see you…And re collusion – it looks like state agents were to the Troubles were what holes were to Blackburn, Lancashire…

      • Perkin Warbeck January 29, 2016 at 8:31 am #

        One, Esteemed Blogmeister, was hosting the W.T. Cosgrave Croquet Competition on the grounds of Warbeck Towers.

        This annual competition is held at this time (gulp) every year at W.T. for the County Set. As Cosgrave (Cos being derived from the Leprechaun for ‘foot’) literally means ‘one foot in the grave’ it is naturally enough confined to elderly duffers from the great piles of rural Eireland.

        Because many of these duffers and their stately piles too suffer from disorders of the anal canal (no moats here !) naturally enough this annual competition is subject to the law of diminishing returns. (A condition that, d.r. which lawyers ,oddly enough, never seem to suffer from). Thus, the entry list is increasingly on a dwindling downward spiral.

        This year’s winner was ffrench of ffermanagh.

        Which should come as no great surprise, carrying on, as he was, his encouraging fform shown in Pairc an Croquet against Dublin in the Championship last year. Even without Kissy as coach.

        There are many rules in the game but one rule is more compulsory than the others; ricochet is at ALL times to be pronounced as roquet in croquet. The reason for this is that ricochet qua ricochet betrays the origin of the game – the island of Eireland.

        In his authoritative history of the game (published in 1872) Dr. Prior (sic) stated quite unequivocally:

        -One thing only is certain: it is from Ireland that croquet came to England. It was on the lawn of Lord Lonsdale that the game was first played in England in1851.

        Records show that ‘crooky’ was played on the ha ha (both funny and peculiar) of Castlebellingham in 1834: the south of Louth favours the Poc Gairid rather the Poc Fada. And that it had made its way south via Termonfeckin’ Grand Manor to the genteel gardens of Kingstown, Contae Atha Cliath in 1835. Where it was first recorded as ‘croquet’.

        As the first railway line in Eireland had been laid locally in 1834 this is proof positive that the pronunciation known as Dort was playing its port earlier even than suspected in the popular imogination. A foct which deserves to roquet if not ricochet around the world of sport in Eireland, loike.

        Note for slow learners; the famous mallet is used to whack wooden balls in croquet through the hoop. Which is a metal U-shaped gate pressed into the ground, upside down. The U’s come in different shapes, ranging from the Official to the Democratic to the (gasp) Social Democratic itself.

        A pity, EB, it was not known you were southwards bound. For, if we had of having knew you were after coming down we would have had of going to the bother of baking you a Caucus Milis.

        • Jude Collins January 29, 2016 at 11:29 am #

          “A pity, EB, it was not known you were southwards bound. For, if we had of having knew you were after coming down we would have had of going to the bother of baking you a Caucus Milis.” – Perkin, your gems know no end.I LOVE it…

  9. billy January 28, 2016 at 7:10 pm #

    surely they were double agents or they couldnt have stayed in place for so long.

  10. neill January 28, 2016 at 7:28 pm #

    Jude how would you have dealt with Republican and Loyalist violence if you had been in charge of the Government here?

    • Ryan January 29, 2016 at 2:51 am #

      Neill if Jude had been in charge of the British Government, for a start I don’t think he would’ve let Loyalist paramilitaries carry out hundreds of sectarian murders of Catholic civilians, form his own paramilitaries too (MRF and FRU) and let them murder even more innocent Catholics (the MRF man himself said it didn’t matter, being a Catholic or from a particular area made you guilty to them), let the British Army carry out massacres like at Bloody Sunday, Ballymurphy Massacre, Springhill massacre, etc protect British soldiers from prosecution, destroy evidence, etc This is not to mention many individual murders carried out by British soldiers, which included children, my mothers childhood friend Francis Rowntree (who was only 11 when murdered) was one of many child victims of the British Army here. I could go on.

      The reality is, whether you accept it or not (of course we know you don’t accept it Neill because you don’t like it) the British Government didn’t pursue a peaceful agenda here, for 3 decades it pursued a policy of trying to destroy the IRA (the UVF/UDA was to be left alone and were even classed as Allies). All this was revealed in files, so there’s no if’s or but’s. Of course peace only came when the British finally realized they couldn’t defeat the IRA, just when the IRA was bombing English cities causing massive damage, especially to London’s financial district and the IRA had John Major and his Cabinet hiding under the table at No.10 when they mortared Downing Street.

      What Jude would do if he was in charge of the British Government only Jude can say but I’ve read his blogs long enough now to know he has the common sense and decency not to pursue a macho, Unionist backed, military agenda that would claim the lives of thousands of people like the British Government did.

      I was reading Eamonn McCann’s recent article in the Irish Times concerning allegations that the British Government could’ve prevented the Shankill Bomb and many, many other incidents, especially when it came to Loyalist paramilitaries and the British Army. Eamonn ends his article by declaring, when you consider all the murders, cover up’s, continued attempts to hide the truth, etc that the British state is a rogue state. I agree 100% with him but I would go further, I would say Britain is a terrorist, rogue state and I have plenty of evidence to prove it and it’s just a matter of time before its exposed to the International community…..

      • neill January 29, 2016 at 12:00 pm #

        So you would have prevented the loyalists from doing anything and done nothing about the IRA how telling.

        • Ceannaire January 29, 2016 at 4:20 pm #

          “Jude how would you have dealt with Republican and Loyalist violence if you had been in charge of the Government here?”

          In other words, what else could the British do – that is what you are saying, Neill.

          How telling.

  11. giordanobruno January 28, 2016 at 7:36 pm #

    I am not sure that anyone now
    “refuses to acknowledge that those paid to protect us were involved in killing innocent people”.
    Enough information has appeared over the years to make that much clear. Bit by bit as the years go by we learn a little more.
    Past governments and state forces clearly have blood on their hands.
    It does not absolve the PIRA from their actions.
    What happened to the Ardoyne commander after being stood down I wonder?

    • Ryan January 29, 2016 at 3:01 am #

      The IRA commander who allegedly was an agent still lives in Ardoyne Gio and is apparently a recluse. If what I read was true the IRA found out many informers and key facts with the files they stole when they broke into that police station years back.

      “It does not absolve the PIRA from their actions”

      Why not Gio?

      Are the British state/British Army to be absolved from their actions here?….

      • giordanobruno January 29, 2016 at 2:01 pm #

        Well just obeying orders is not, in my view, a valid excuse whether for a guard in Auschwitz or a member of the unit this person commanded.
        If he was acting totally in isolation then the blame would be solely his yes. I haven’t seen that suggested so I am assuming his operations were approved of or at least known of by others within the organisation.
        Additionally when the files were uncovered and he was stood down (in 2002 I think) why was his name given to the media or to the Irish authorities?
        Of course I am not saying the British Army or Government should be absolved either, I thought I made that clear. Whoever knew about this has responsibility for the lives lost on the Shankill and perhaps others too.

  12. iorarua January 28, 2016 at 8:07 pm #

    Where are you Neill???……Neill?…

  13. Bridget Cairns January 28, 2016 at 8:37 pm #

    During her tenure as Ombudsman, Nuala O’Loan, on investigating the murder of 2 brothers in the aftermath of the Shankhill bombing, could find no evidence of collusion in their deaths, despite much evidence to the contrary. Nuala O’Loan is a hypocrite of the lowest kind. Believe me my nephews murders went unnoticed as has many others on all sides. Is it time to bring up the bodies………………to quote Hilary Mantel.

  14. Ryan January 28, 2016 at 9:33 pm #

    It is basically pointless trying to have a discussion about the Troubles with people that are so entrenched in their own views. So entrenched are they in their own views that they don’t care if their views are right or wrong, they might even continue holding to their view even if they know it is basically a lie. Of course Unionists are most accustomed to this trend. Nearly every year new evidence is found that confirms long held suspicions involving British government collusion, from its highest levels to its lowest, with Loyalist terrorists. Unionisms response to this initially was the weak argument of “it was just a few bad apples” but now its new response is “this is an attempt to rewrite history”. They are actually right (for once) that it IS rewriting history, its rewriting history with the facts.

    I’m a Republican, I’m sure that’s not news to anyone, I wasn’t born till 1990 so the Troubles were basically near its end (mostly considered to be with the Good Friday Agreement in 1998). Would I have supported the PIRA if I was born in 1960 instead of 1990? Yes, without a doubt I would’ve. That’s not to say I agree with everything the PIRA done, they made many mistakes but were they the cause of the troubles? Certainly not. The environment built by Unionism was what made violence nearly inevitable, I even remarked before on this blog that I’m surprised violence didn’t break out earlier.

    Now, I’m willing to listen to Unionisms point of view, consider their opinions, consider their views on what caused the issues in our society and take them on board. It doesn’t mean I’ll agree but I’ll listen and debate. Are they willing to do the same when it comes to Republicans? I can easily say the majority of Unionists wouldn’t. Unionism as reflected by the DUP and increasingly with the UUP under Mike Nesbitt doesn’t want to listen or to consider the views of Catholics or Republicans. Any narrative that doesn’t agree with their own is “rewriting history”. Again, it doesn’t matter if their narrative is right or wrong, they demand the Unionist narrative be seen as the only narrative that is important and to be cast in stone.

    We all know this attitude from Unionism was what caused the Troubles here in the first place and its the cause of the lack of progress towards equality and fairness in our society today. Through refusing to co-operate, by refusing to reciprocate, by refusing to endorse equality and fairness, etc Unionism is holding our society back and it might even cause, in the long run, a descent into further violence in the future one way or another. The Loyalist Fleg protests was one event that had many thinking around the World was Trouble going to break out again.

    When it comes to the British Government they can count on the support of political Unionism to aid them in their continued attempt to hide the truth and to deny countless people (including innocent Protestants) justice. Political Unionism sees the British Government as THEIR government, the British Army as THEIR army and they wont suffer anything that will damage their Government, even if that means denying Justice and Truth to tens of thousands of families. The media? why they are just another tool in the arsenal of the elite in Westminster…..

  15. neill January 29, 2016 at 9:30 am #

    Some honesty at last from Ryan as we all knew he was a terrorist supporter. Isnt it strange that a man who was born in 1990 would have been so supportive of the IRA and yet never experienced the worst of there crimes do you feel guilty that you never picked up a rifle planted a bomb or kidnapped people as part of the struggle?

    • Jude Collins January 29, 2016 at 12:45 pm #

      A little less of the ‘we all knew’, neill. Speak for yourself.

  16. neill January 29, 2016 at 11:58 am #

    Jude he said he would have supported the IRA campaign is it not fair to say he was a terrorist supporter?

    • Jude Collins January 29, 2016 at 12:21 pm #

      No, I don’t think so. For a start, it’s saying the same thing twice. For another, ‘terrorist supporter’ is intended as a jibe, not an accusation. It’s maybe no big thing but I don’t like people using those terms – it verges on slander.

  17. shay mallon January 29, 2016 at 12:27 pm #

    I notice neill did not answer any of the points put to him.

    • neill January 29, 2016 at 12:48 pm #

      If the British state and members of the army had conspired to kill or murder people they should be tried and if found guilty should face the full consequences for their actions that clear enough?

      • Wolfe tone January 29, 2016 at 3:06 pm #

        If the British state and past British governments admitted it was involved in murdering people and creating terrorism in and effort to defeat the IRA would you still support them Neill?
        If they devised a policy to inflict sheer fear on a part of the community via beatings,torture,intimidation,mutilation,decapitation,murder etc in an effort to defeat the IRA would you still support them?

        • neill January 29, 2016 at 4:53 pm #

          No I would not.

  18. neill January 29, 2016 at 12:37 pm #

    Would I have supported the PIRA if I was born in 1960 instead of 1990? Yes, without a doubt I would’ve.

    He has put it down that he would have supported a terrorist group therefore he is a terrorist supporter.

    It’s maybe no big thing but I don’t like people using those terms – it verges on slander.
    It cant be slander as he said it about himself.

    If you have a problem with stating facts especially since the aforementioned person has stated it then I have had my fill of this this blog.

    • Jude Collins January 29, 2016 at 12:44 pm #

      Well neill, don’t let the door hit your arse as you leave…If he has said he’s such, then fine, I’ll remove the redacted. As you say the same thing only in different words in the next sentence, I’m a little bewildered how you see me as preventing you stating facts. I still think it’s finger-pointing name-calling – your next sentence is a little more civilized-sounding.

      • neill January 29, 2016 at 12:51 pm #

        My point was that my first comment should not have been redacted in the first place as it was both a fair and factual comment.

        • Jude Collins January 29, 2016 at 12:53 pm #

          I accept it was factual, in the light of what you’ve pointed out. I still think it’s a nasty phrase – people have been killed in the wake of such remarks. Please avoid it in future – assuming you’re staying…

  19. neill January 29, 2016 at 1:10 pm #

    It is a nasty phrase and quite rightly so especially in the case of someone who didn’t face the carnage and sheer bloody murder we faced for a generation and yet faced with all the evidence still would support such a group.

    • Jude Collins January 29, 2016 at 2:51 pm #

      Neill – how can I put this…You are testing my tolerance. It is a phrase that has led to people being killed. Full stop. Don’t use it of anyone on this blogsite again. I hope you understand that.

      • gendjinn January 30, 2016 at 1:57 am #


        I know one of the civil servants in the room when Blair told Ahern that the paper trail on the Finucane coverup led straight to the Thatcher cabinet.

        And neill continues with the Unionist fantasy of “If the British state..” As if Bloody Sunday never happened. I wonder what neill would say is the worst atrocity the British Army has committed since 1945.

  20. neill January 30, 2016 at 1:35 pm #

    How long will it be before the UK gets blamed for Teebane La Mons and Enniskillen?

    Before long the IRA will have committed no murders whatsoever.

    • John February 2, 2016 at 12:43 am #

      neil, did the brits commit atrocities during the troubles yes or no? please no avoiding the question with a question this time and if you come back with the usual ‘If they…’ seriously you have no credibility.