Skilled journalists shine Spotlight on the darkest secrets of our sad past

THERE’S an old proverb about the road to hell being paved with good intentions. 

And friends of mine have occasionally tried to explain away unionism’s vice-like grip on the first 50 years of the North of Ireland by quoting it. They claim the unionist government which oversaw the North of Ireland always planned to do better, but never quite got there. There’s no doubt that in 1921 after the partition of Ireland was complete, unionist leaders had a chance to create a northern state where few Catholics would have opted to join the newly-formed 26 County Free State.

Rev Ian Paisley Leader of the DUP and Firebrand preacher

But religious bigotry at the heart of at the heart of the Stormont regime meant that opportunity was passed over. And instead unionism firmly pulled the shutters down tight. It viewed every Catholic citizen with suspicion. Unionist Party leaders ignored the parting advice of Sir Edward Carson – the public face of unionism – to be kind to the minority. And although not publicly acknowledged, some unionist establishment figures even gave the green light to loyalist gunmen to wage a war of attrition against Catholics. Pogroms were terrifying and real, with hundreds losing their lives as the contrived state of the North of Ireland became a political reality. A semi-secret plan was hatched where police officers like the infamous DI Nixon were allowed to run their own murder gangs. Their intention was to grind Catholics into submission and force them to accept that they now lived in a place where only those loyal to Britain ruled the roost. Rejecting unionist offers of top police jobs abroad. Nixon eventually quit the RUC to become an Independent Unionist MP.

EXPOSE

And until the day he died, he repeatedly threatened to expose fellow unionist politicians’ involvement in violence at the foundation of the state. Eventually many Catholics accepted their diminished status and kept their heads down. Occasional IRA attacks in the north and in England posed no threat to the northern state. But the 1947 Education Act – forced on unionist by the British government  – created an articulate Catholic middle class no longer willing to accept the status quo.

Martin McGuinness Deputy First Minister for the North of Ireland and OC Officer Commanding the IRA Derry Brigade

In 1967, along with other interested groups – including the remnants of the Irish Republican Movement – these people formed the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association. The organisation had the stated aim of replacing unionist discrimination in jobs, housing and voting rights with British liberal values. It was well received in Ireland and also in the rest of the UK, where people were shocked to learn that the North of Ireland citizens hadn’t the same rights as them. The North of Ireland Prime Minister Captain Terence O’Neill (who the unionist claimed was a Lundy) – steeped in the unionist landed gentry – knew in his heart that if the union was to survive, then things needed to change. But a rabble-rousing fundamentalist preacher called Ian Paisley – who led his own Free Presbyterian Church – had other ideas. He had an ability to tap into ancient Protestant fears and suspicions. And he helped form a series of new loyalist paramilitary organisations opposed to any reforms proposed by O’Neill. Paisley was following in the footsteps of his close friend and hero DI Nixon, a police officer turned politician who had terrorised Catholics at the foundation of the state. Much of Paisley’s involvement with the reconstituted Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) was denied because the authorities feared the clergyman’s Svengali-like powers. But this week – in the first of a new seven part series of TV programmes to mark the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Troubles – Paisley’s real role in the violence is exposed.

Martin McGuinness above and the Rev Ian Paisley

Spotlight on the Troubles: A Secret History goes out simultaneously on BBC Northern and BBC4 on Tuesday night. Using first-hand testimony of individuals who were around at the time, reporter Darragh McIntyre reveals how Ian Paisley personally financed the UVF bombing of a water pipe line at the Silent Valley Reservoir near Kilkeel in April 1969. Paisley and his cohorts attempted to give the impression that the explosion, coming as it did months before serious violence erupted on the streets of Derry and Belfast, was the work of the practically moribund IRA. But a retired senior British Army officer, drafted in to examine the aftermath of the bomb, told MacIntyre his suspensions were raised as soon as he saw the bomb site. “This just didn’t have the look of an IRA bomb,” he said. And he went on to claim that a senior RUC officer in Killkeel showed him intelligence reports which revealed the entire operation had been financed by Paisley.

A mural which appeared in Moygashel of the late Martin McGuinness

As Paisley’s UVF mates were bombing the place, a young butcher’s apprentice by the name of Martin McGuinness was about to quit his job to assume the role of 2nd in Command of the Provisional IRA in Derry.

Fottage of former Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness overseeing a car bomb being loaded in Co Derry

In newly emerged footage, McGuinness is filmed overseeing an IRA bomb being loaded into the boot of a car. McGuinness sits in the passenger seat and, minutes later, it is transported to Derry city centre and detonated. And in another remarkable clip, McGuinness instructs children on how to load bullets into a revolver.

Martin McGuinness showing teenagers how to load a revolver in Derry city

It is almost beyond belief that 3,500 deaths later, these two men were sworn into office as the First Minister and Deputy First Minister in a new devolved administration at Stormont. But they also became close personal friends.

ASTONISHING 

In an astonishing revelation near the end of the first programme, MacIntyre reveals written details of a top secret report by Sir Michael Carver, the most senior officer in the British Army. In the report, Carver advises the British government to consider an alternative strategy which doesn’t demand maintaining the North of Ireland border by military means, (what Brexit will mean).I.e. British withdrawal.

A burial headstone commenting a member of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)

Spotlight editor Jeremy Adams say he’s proud his talented team of investigative reporters consisting of McIntyre, Jennifer O’Leary and Mandy McAuley, have been able to uncover new findings relating to the history of the Troubles. “This past has shaped our present and it’s vitally important that truths continue to be told,” he said. I’m in no doubt that this body of work from the awarding-winning BBC Spotlight team will become the definitive television history of the Troubles. This series of programmes – which uncovers much previously unknown material  – is informative, revealing, shocking and at times very, very moving. It was an enormous undertaking for the reporters and filmmakers involved, but once again, BBC Spotlight comes through with flying colours. Don’t miss it.

 

With many thanks to the: Sunday World and Hugh Jordan for the original story 

 

Follow these links to find out more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-11313364

(2)-: https://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/latest-news/rev-ivan-foster-ian-paisley-is-unable-to-reply-to-these-slanderous-allegations-against-him-1-9063523

(3)-: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-49348633

Now we know who pulls SF’s strings and if they didn’t sanction murder, they certainly turned few blind eyes – BelfastTelegraph.co.uk

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http://m.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/news-analysis/now-we-know-who-pulls-sfs-strings-and-if-they-didnt-sanction-murder-they-certainly-turned-few-blind-eyes-34127227.html

Martin (J118) McGuinness refuses to say if he murdered anyone whilst he was a member of the PIRA

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TALKS WILL BE SUCCESSFUL SAYS (J118) McGUINNESS

THE ongoing political talks will be successful “against the odds”, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness told a meeting of his party last night.

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He said the devolved institutions “are worth saving and I believe the vast majority of people share that view”. But he said the parties must agree to protect the most vulnerable and ensure Stormont (the big house on the hill) has “a workable budget so that public services are delivered to the standard the public expect and deserve”. The deputy first minister also called on the British government to accept they are part of the negotiations and are “not some kind of neutral arbitrator”. He also hit out at the government’s legislation on dealing with the legacy of the Troubles and said it is “in clear breach of the Stormont House Agreement”.

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“The legislation proposed by Theresa Villiers and her cabinet colleagues has more to do with covering up the role of the British state as a central player in the conflict and its collusion with unionist death squads,” he said. He said that the executive had succeeded in blocking the worst of the Conservative government’s cuts, including the introduction of water charges. He said lower student fees, free prescriptions and lower rates bills were “rarely highlighted successes of the executive and local parties working together”. The Mid Ulster assembly member warned that a return to direct rule will result in an “unrestrained onslaught on public services and the most vulnerable in our society”. Ms Villiers repeatedly warned that if the parties cannot agree a deal on welfare reforms, the British government will take back welfare powers as a “last resort”. Mr McGuinness said as well as welfare cuts previously announced, new cuts to tax credits in April will affect 120,000 families in the north.
<strong>With many thanks to: Claire Simpson, for the origional story, The Irish News.

The decommissioning of the Provisional IRA, 10 years on

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/the-decommissioning-of-the-provisional-ira-10-years-on-1.2367009

Masked flag-bearer appeals conviction

‘This classically is a case which calls for an answer from the person who knows whether he was on that march or not – Sir Declan Morgan.

A DERRY man given a suspended jail sentence for being the masked flag bearer in a republican parade was never properly identified, the Court of Appeal has heard. Lawyers for Patrick John McDaid argued that experts in facial mapping and image comparison techniques were not certain he had been the man pictured in a balaclava.

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As well as the photographs and facial mapping evidence, the judge in the non-jury trail in Belfast Crown Court heard how police later seized a document which purported to be minutes of a meeting to organise the march. It included the reference: ‘Colour party – McDaid to get people sorted’. But judges in the Court of Appeal were told on Tuesday that nothing more than a surname was found. Kieran Mallon QC, for McDaid, also challenged the strength of the evidence from an expert who noted striking similarities in the lips and eyes of his client and Man X. “It’s our contention there was not established any form of meaningful identification,” he said. “On balance he cannot say the accused and Mr X were one and the same person, primarily because there was no statistical database against which he could test an individual with that type of eye colour or lip shape.” Lord Chief Justice Declan Morgan, sitting with Lords Justice Girvan and Coghlin, drew his attention to two other strands of the prosecution case: McDaids name being on the organising document and his participation in previous events. Mr Mallon accepted there would have been clear suspicions, but contended this fell short of proof. Sir Declan then alluded to McDaid’s failure to give any evidence at trial. “This classically is a case which calls for an answer from the person who knows whether he was on that march or not,” he said. Judgment in the appeal was reserved.

With thanks to: The Irish News

POLICE XMAS PARTY FLEE BOMB

Senior officers were targets of ONH device

THE rebel IRA were trying to murder cops with a fireball bomb carried into Belfast city centre on Friday night. The sports bag bomb, packed with inflammable material according to police on Saturday, was abandoned short of its target, according to our sources.

Oglaigh na Heireann – ONH

Sources in Belfast’s Ardoyne, where the incendiary device originated, say the bomb, which partially exploded, was meant to mimic the IRA fire bomb attack on the La Mon House Hotel in February 1978 which murdered 12 people. The Sunday World learned on Saturday that a posse of top police officers – up to a dozen strong, were out for their Christmas ‘do’ just 100 metres from where the lethal firebomb in a Slazenger sports bag was left.

Revellers

One source said: “They got an emergency call just minutes before a squad of police rushed in to evacuate the whole of the St Anne’s Square pub/restaurant area in the heart of Cathedral Quarter, packed with pre-Christmas party revellers. “They immediately left the premises. But they were the targets. The dissident bombers knew who they were, and where they were.” In fact, the explosive sports bag was abandoned just 100 metres from where the police officers were sitting down for a meal and a drink. On Saturday, the PSNI staged a hastily convened press conference where it was stated that the bomb which partially exploded could have killed anyone nearby. Dissident republican group, Oglaigh na hEireann, later said they were responsible. Police said the explosion at Exchange Street West at about a quarter to seven on Friday night could have caused multiple deaths. The bomb went off as the area was being cleared. No-one was injured in the attack. Police said the bomb was fully functional and consisted of explosives and flammable liquid. It was in a sports bag and was left on a street about 150 metres away from the spot identified in a warning call made to a newspaper office. That was also just round the corner from where the off-duty police officers were having their Christmas party.

Even when they evacuated the restaurant they were in, they would have walked straight into the abandoned bomb. About 1,000 people were affected by the alert in Cathedral Quarter, which is one of the main entertainment venues in Belfast. On Saturday First Minister Peter Robinson said this was an “attack on democracy”. “We are witnessing the work of a mindless minority who are intent on taking the heart out of the city and wreaking havoc on the lives and businesses of the people of Belfast and Northern Ireland,” he said. Deputy First Minister (J116) Martin McGuinness (The Fisherman) said the bombers showed “a complete disregard for life”. “Their actions have done nothing to move our society forward but, instead, have caused distress to local residents, disruption to Christmas revellers and loss of revenue for surrounding businesses,” he said. At Saturday’s Press conference at the PSNI’s Brooklyn HQ in Belfast, Detective Chief Inspector Justyn Galloway said: “This device was fully functional. It could have injured or killed members of the public and it has similarities to previous devices used by dissident republicans. “I would like to make a direct appeal to people who were in the area on Friday night and ask them did they see a male wearing a black hoidie carrying a black Slazenger bag in and around 6pm. “If they saw this person or anybody acting suspiciously I would appeal to them to come forward to detectives. “We are working very hard to keep Belfast safe and we will continue to do that but we need the community to be vigilant. We want them to go about their normal businness and support the premises in the town but be vigilant and if they see anything suspicious in the town don’t hesitate to lift the phone and tell us.” On Saturday and Saturday night it was ‘business as usual’ in Cathedral Quarter.

Support

Dermot and Catherine Regan, owners of the Potted Hen restaurant close to the scene of the eexplosion said they were grateful for public support. “Thankfully no one was injured and there was no physical damage to the area. We are back to normal service from lunchtime on Sunday and will be contacting everyone who had booked for last night and whose evening entertainment was ruined,” they said. And Storming Shame Fein Sports and Culture Minister Caral Ni Chilin certainly voted with her feet. She visited the Cathedral Quarter in an unofficial capacity on Saturday evening, had a drink in a bar there, and when asked if she was giving a vote of confidence to the area after the Friday night bomb fright, said: “That’s why I’m here.”

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