Security forces kept memorabilia of shot suspects
Northern Ireland: special report
Undercover soldiers in Northern Ireland would celebrate the shooting dead of a terrorist suspect with a cake adorned with the victim’s name in icing, it emerged yesterday.
The BBC released a photograph of one of the cakes, in the shape of a cross, baked to mark the SAS killing of the IRA man William Price, 28, in Ardboe, Co Tyrone, 16 years ago. It was marked RIP, with his name and where he died.
The reporter Peter Taylor discovered it when interviewing members of the security forces for Brits, the BBC2 series on the role of intelligence during the troubles. They often kept memorabilia, including snaps of shot suspects, and the cake photo was no big deal to them, he said.
In tonight’s episode, a member of 14 Intelligence Company, an undercover army unit, denied there was any shoot to kill policy. Soldiers adhered to the yellow card stipulating when they could legitimately open fire, she said. But they would mark the killing of suspected IRA volunteers.
The woman, identified as Anna, said: “We celebrated, if you like, as the IRA would if they had shot somebody. They made no secret of the fact that they celebrate the death of a soldier or a policeman, and they can be highly public about their celebrations. We celebrated in the same way. We went to the bar. We drank quite a lot. The cooks made us a cake.”
She added: “After a shooting occurred, if a terrorist was killed there was a cake made with their name on it, part of the celebration. Some of the cakes were in the form of a cross with RIP on it.”
Asked by Taylor whether she thought that macabre, she replied: “Possibly, but the saying is: Live by the sword and die by the sword.”
Price was shot four times in July 1984 as the IRA planned an incendiary attack on a factory to coincide with the death of the hunger striker Martin Hurson. The SAS was laying in wait.
Two soldiers told the inquest they had opened fire fearing Price was about to shoot. He was hit in the legs and then in the head as he was in a sitting position.
An IRA statement at the time said Price was scouting a way to the factory with another IRA man, adding: “When they got within 20 yards or so of the bushes, three to four figures rose in front of them, and suddenly the whole place lit up with gunfire. William Price fell moaning. The other volunteer crawled back through the long grass to make his escape.
“From the time William Price was shot and wounded to the time the other volunteer got out of the firing line, the shooting never stopped. Some time after that shooting the other volunteers heard the SAS whooping hysterically like Indians in a wild west film. A good three minutes after the firing, there seemed to be one shot and then a burst of shots.”
A private in the parachute regiment said on the programme that he had arrived on the scene after a shootout in Belfast between undercover soldiers and the IRA. It was hard to know who the enemy was. He began dressing the wound of an injured with his own shoulder dressing, reassuring him. The victim was going blue when the private learned he was an IRA man.
The private added: “Without thinking, I took the shoulder dressing off, threw it on the floor, picked up a handful of grass and sod of earth and shoved that where the shoulder dressing had been in his femur, obviously creating a load of pain and alarm.” Asked if he had said anything, he replied: “‘It looks like you’re on the way out, mate,’ and that was it. Thought no more of it.”
• David Trimble‘s plan to return to power sharing with Sinn Fein is to be challenged with alternative proposals by opponents in his Ulster Unionist party. They would be put to the party’s council before Saturday’s crucial vote, said Jeffrey Donaldson, MP for Lagan Valley, and would deal “with the issue of arms and the issue of government.
WITH MANY THANKS TO : John Mullin, Ireland correspondent,guardian.co.uk