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Establishment hypocrisy and the ‘dirty war’

the recent death of UDA informer Brian Nelson, the partial release of the Stevens Report and the ‘Stakeknife’ revelations remind us of the murky underside of the Ulster conflict.

  Successive British governments liked to give the impression that the problem here was just an outbreak of mindless criminality from a bunch of murdering psychopaths.  This peculiar crime wave would be tackled by the police and the courts.

  This was nonsense.  PIRA was never ‘just a bunch of murdering gangsters’ but a disciplined politically motivated organisation with a clear aim in view.  The Provos wanted Brits (and Prods) out and a united all-island socialist republic.

  Despite its professed concern for the ‘rule of law’ and due process, the British establishment fought a dirty war here in Ulster.  It used agents-provocateur, dirty tricks and proxies against republicans, loyalists and unionists who got in the way.  The former Vanguard Assemblyman, Professor Kennedy Lindsay, was the first to expose this dirty dealing in his hard-to-get 1979 book, Ambush at Tullywest: the British Intelligence Services in Action.  Two others who exposed these goings-on at great personal cost were the former army officers Colin Wallace and Fred Holroyd.

   The aim of the establishment was never to defeat the IRA but to manage the conflict at ‘an acceptable level of violence.’  Had they been really serious, they would have accepted the Provos’ declaration of war at face value and gone for them openly on the same terms.  Instead, we had to suffer the long drawn-out murderous, hypocritical ‘dirty war’ with all the consequences we have had to face over the past three and a half decades.

  God alone knows what atrocities the British secret state has permitted to go ahead in order to protect their sources.  Despite all the cant about ‘saving lives’ they didn’t do it for us! There’s no moral difference between them and the terrorists they claimed to fight.

  Some folk think that there should be a full scale sworn inquiry into all this.  Given the experience with the very expensive Bloody Sunday inquiry we have no confidence that it will shed any light on the subject.  Why should people who have made a career of lying start to tell the truth because someone confronts them with a black leather-bound book?

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