Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Northern Ireland: The British State and Paramilitary Terrorism

1998 Omagh bombing. 29 dead, 220 injured. Source
We share these comments from a comrade in Northern Ireland who offers some history of the British state’s activities in the North and explains that the only way forward and a solution to sectarian and state violence begins with workers unity and against religious sectarianism.

From Harry Hutchinson
Labour Party Northern Ireland

As a socialist and trade unionist, I, like this blog have been opposed to Loyalist, Republican and state violence. I have always supported working class action to oppose these forms of violence.

In 1992, in the aftermath of the slaughter of 8 workmen known as the Teebane massacre by Republican paramilitaries, the Mid-Ulster Trade Union Council organised a workers’ strike in the province of Mid-Ulster against all sectarian paramilitary and state killings.

The leaders of the Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions condemned the strike on the grounds it was being led by a group of leftist union militants. Under pressure from public sector workers who supported the call for strike action, the trade union leaders capitulated and were forced to make the workers strike official.

Almost 3000 Catholic and Protestant workers in the Mid-Ulster area walked out of their work places to join the strike at a rallying point addressed by the leader of the Congress of Trade Unions and myself. The initiative from Mid-Ulster forced the Congress of Trade Unions to organise a similar strike in Belfast, resulting in 20,000 marching to the city centre.

The strikes isolated the paramilitary killing gangs, significantly reducing violence. The strikes put people in a position of influence to take an offensive to take up the political and economic issues of poverty, unemployment and also the National question, which were the root causes of the conflict in Northern Ireland.

Despite calls from the Mid-Ulster Trades Council urging the Trade Union leaders to seize the opportunity, they deliberately allowed the momentum to die off. The strikes demonstrated the way forward for working class people in NI. They resulted in further killings being met with workers strikes. Workers’ opposition played a significant part in bringing to an end the campaign of violence from Republicans, and Loyalists and the State.

State killings in Northern Ireland.

In a recent Panorama TV program about state involvement in killings in Northern Ireland former Police deputy constable and former Special branch officer Alan McQuillan claimed intelligence agents saved the lives of 'literally thousands'. This claim is not backed up from the investigations into many of the major atrocities during the troubles in NI.

Almost all inquiries to date, point to the fact that special branch/MI5, (special units of the state which work mostly underground) knew of many expected attacks; allowed these attacks to proceed; did not inform the local police of an imminent attack; colluded with paramilitaries in the attack; covered up evidence did not carry out a proper investigation after the attack. And all this in spite of knowing in many cases that the killers would continue killing. And all this in aid of protecting the State informers.

Of the worst atrocity during the troubles, Omagh, the special branch failed to pass details of the town centre bomb to local police. In the inquiry the RUC's handler was told ' the bomb will be allowed to go through to protect the informer'. Twenty nine were killed in the subsequent explosion.

Likewise in the Shankill bomb where many were killed, the IRA operative was a police informant, who tipped off Special branch. Yet in spite of this the bomb was allowed to go through, almost certainly to protect the informer.

Loughinisland, 6 killed. The inquiry ruled the 'RUC did not carry out a proper investigation in order to protect the informer. Possible collusion between RUC and paramilitaries.

Keady, 2 killed, Glenanne gang, made up of LVF/UDR/POLICE. (Protestant paramilitaries and the police)  Special branch knew the identities of bombers, but no one questioned.

Kingsmill-10 murdered. Survivor claimed an English accent among killers. Does special branch/MI5 know it was the voice of state assassin Robert Nairac?

Claudy-9 killed. Priest James Chesney allowed transfer to Donegal, despite him being known to Special Branch as director of Republican operations in South Derry.

The list goes on and on.

The state Force Research Unit and Loyalist Ulster Defence Association, the FRU/UDA, colluded in directly killing an estimated 15 civilians. Stakeknife, a state informant positioned at the head of the IRA killed an estimated 18 people.

What secrets do MI5 hold.? Interview notes from La Mon (12 killed) gone missing. Teebane-(8 killed), bearded suspect at scene, witnessed by survivor of attack. Witness never asked to view photos. Kingsmill:  palm print of assassin disclosed decades later.

Is there one atrocity during the troubles that special branch/MI5 were not acting to protect their informers at the expense of civilian lives and causalities? Almost all the inquiries to date prove this to be the case. The war was allowed to continue.  Why is this?  

The answer is simple. When the British invests so much time, money and other resources into both Republican and Loyalist paramilitary organisations, there can be only one winner and that is Britain or more accurately, British capitalism.

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