28 October 2005


Irish Northern Aid

**"Dirty war: an offensive conducted by secret police or the military of a regime against revolutionary and terrorist insurgents and marked by the use of kidnapping and torture and murder, with civilians often being the victims". (wordnet) This is one chapter from a work at Irish Northern Aid. By clicking on these links, you can read the rest directly on site.

1994 Britain's Dirty War

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  1. 1994 Britain's Dirty War
  2. Shoot to Kill
  3. Covert Operations
  4. Target Democracy
  5. Legal System
  6. British Garrison in Ireland
  7. Conflict's Deaths
  8. Orange Myths

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SHOOT TO KILL: The Stalker and Stevens Inquiries

"Shoot-To-Kill" is a covert strategy of assassination of targeted unarmed Republican supporters, of active or inactive IRA personnel, or the killing of combatants without the chance of surrender or during the act of surrender, in other words, "summary execution".

As a result of this policy, over 300 individuals, more than half civilians unassociated with the IRA or the broader republican movement, have been killed by British crown forces in the North since 1969.

The failure to prosecute soldiers for the slaughter of 14 unarmed, innocent civil rights marchers in Derry on Bloody Sunday in 1972 set the stage for future murders of civilians by British military and marked a watershed in the Nationalist community's attitude to the assorted military forces of the British crown.

The "shoot-to-kill" policy is the result of this indulgent attitude of the courts toward the murder of Irish nationalists or republicans.

Of all these cases of 'suspicious' killings by British soldiers or RUC, few have gotten to the courts. From 1972 to 1987, only 17 trials against British military personnel took place for the murder of Irish people. Only two were found guilty. One was sentenced to 12 months detention in a Young Offenders Centre, suspended for 2 years. The other, Pvt. Ian Thain, was sentenced to life imprisonment but was released after little more than 2 years and immediately reinstated to his former regiment!

In 1994, another British army private, Lee Clegg, was convicted of the murder of a teenage, Catholic girl in West Belfast [see the Case of Pvt. Lee Clegg in the Prisoners section on the Main Directory]. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, after an army cover-up failed to obscure the truth of the "shoot-to-kill" nature of the killing.

Like Pvt. Thain before him, Pvt. Clegg was released from prison after serving only two years of his life sentence, returned to the British army, and given a promotion to boot.
"Shoot-to-Kill" S.O.P.

Between late 1977 and late 1978, the number of selective assassination increased dramatically as 10 people were murdered by crown forces in covert operation. It was, however, the success of Provisional Sinn Fein in the October 1982 assembly elections that led to the full unleashing of shoot-to-kill operations against the nationalist community. Between 1982 and 1985, 35 people were killed by crown forces, 23 of them in covert operations. Only one of those 23 was not a known or suspected Republican activist. The lack of accountability for these killings shows that British military forces in Ireland have, to a large degree, been granted the power to decide the guilt or innocence of suspected Republican activists without recourse to the courts.
The Summary Execution of Gervais McKerr, Eugene Toman, and Sean Burns

On November 11, 1982, Gervais McKerr, Eugene Toman, Sean Burns were driving in Lurgan when an RUC patrol opened fire, killing all three. All were unarmed. It was claimed that the men had driven through a police roadblock and refused to stop. The RUC opened fire on the car and claimed that fire was returned. The car then came to a halt. The RUC officers said they heard the sound of a gun being cocked and they opened fire again. Toman was found lying out of the car with bullet wounds in his back. The officers had fired 109 bullets into the car. They were not just RUC men, but members of a British army trained Special Support Unit.

These officers originally claimed to be part of an ordinary RUC patrol and did not disclose that three dead men were under surveillance and stalked for some time. They changed their story when they were re-interviewed and the restrictions of the Official Secrets Act waived.

Justice Gibson held that this RUC special unit acted in "self-defense" and had used reasonable force in attempting to effect an arrest -- 109 rounds fired into unarmed men!

He stated that the prosecution never had "the slightest chance of sustaining a conviction" and then commended the RUC men for their "courage and determination in bringing the three deceased men to justice; in this case, to the final court of justice."

On August 22, 1984, Armagh coroner Gerry Curran resigned due to "grave irregularities" in police files. Just the following week , the acting corner, James Rodgers said he would be unable to take over the inquest due to "professional commitments" and he too pointed to a number of differences between the RUC account as contained in files versus the account given in court. The inquest was adjourned pending an inquiry by John Stalker and members of the Manchester Police from England. The inquest into the deaths of McKerr, Toman and Burns was transferred to the Belfast coroner, James Elliot.
The Stalker Inquiry and the Official Cover-up

John Stalker, Deputy Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, conducted an inquiry into a number of 'suspicious killings' by the RUC. Mr. Stalker concluded that there were grounds for charging a number of police officers, including senior RUC men, with a range of serious offenses.

During his investigations he carried out forensic tests, the results of which contradicted evidence presented in court. In the case of the RUC killing of Michael Tighe, it was apparent that an ambush led directly to the "cold blooded murder" of the wrong man.

Then came the cover-up. Stalker wished to interview Chief Constable Herman and one of his deputies "under caution." The tapes in the Tighe case had been mysteriously wiped clean! He also discovered that an informant was paid £2,000 after the execution of McKerr, Toman and Burns and was also involved in the Tighe killing. The RUC prevented Stalker from interviewing the informant.

In January 1988, eight RUC officers were accused of "conspiracy to pervert the course of justice" and responsible for obstructing the Stalker inquiry. The Director of Public Prosecutions for N. Ireland declared that there would be no prosecutions. Because of "National Security!"

It is difficult to see what "National Security" interests outweigh the public interest of bringing prosecutions against those in positions of trust and power who have committed serious crimes. This, and the many decisions like it, undoubtedly represents a potent reason for the Nationalist community to view the RUC as operating beyond the reaches of the law.

Stalker's Findings: Sanctioned, "Deliberate Assassination"
Stalker said "the killings had a common feature: each left a strong suspicion that a type of preplanned police ambush had occurred, and that someone had led these men to their deaths."

He believed that:

"The circumstances of those shootings pointed to a police inclination, if not a policy, to shoot suspects dead without warning rather than to arrest them. Coming as these incidents did, so close together, the suspicion of deliberate assassination was not unreasonable... There was no written instruction, nothing pinned upon a notice board. But there was a clear understanding on the part of the men whose job it was to pull the trigger that was what was expected of them."

The fact that a large number of these incidents involved specialist units excludes the explanation of occasional aberrations by members of the crown forces operating in situations of stress. The remarks of the trial judges provide further official endorsement of such a policy.

The Result: The Stalker Inquiry was suppressed. Stalker was rewarded for his efforts by being pulled off the inquiry befpre its conclusion, not before being publicly smeared in a concocted media campaign that destroyed his career.
Amnesty International Critical of "the secrecy shrouding police/military investigations"

In 1991, Amnesty International published a highly critical report which blamed the British government for not properly investigating serious allegations of unarmed civilians unlawfully killed and positing that "the government has failed to set up independent inquiries to openly scrutinize overall patterns of police and army malpractice."

"The secrecy shrouding police and military investigations has led many victims and their relatives to allege that authorities have actually suppressed important information and deliberately concealed unlawful actions," the report said.

Amnesty said that even though more than 300 people have died in disputed killings by "security forces in N. Ireland" there has still been no wide-ranging investigation into this pattern of killings. The report concluded with a criticism of the coroner's inquest system that follow such killings but "by law cannot compel members of the security forces to testify at the inquest."
New Constable, New Inquiry, and New Political Murder Strategy Comes to Light

After the Stalker fiasco, new disclosures came to light in 1989 of concrete and damning evidence linking the RUC with the widespread proliferation of secret British/RUC intelligence documents on nationalists and alleged "IRA suspects" directly to Loyalist Murder Squads, whose primary function is sectarian and political assassination.

The RUC covertly or otherwise provided classified information, not on scores or hundreds, but on thousands of potential nationalist targets to the murder gangs. Considering the fact that many members of the sectarian RUC and the sectarian Ulster Defense Regiment [now the sectarian Royal Irish Regiment] are also deeply involved Loyalist paramilitary organizations, and the British army and intelligence agents focus almost exclusively against the nationalist community, the flow of crown force intelligence to Loyalist murder gangs must be seen as inevitable.
Another "Internal" Inquiry

John Stevens, Deputy Chief Constable from Cambridgeshire, England, headed a team of 20 British police under the authority of RUC Chief Constable Hugh Annesley.

The controversy began in August when members of the Ulster Freedom Fighters murder gang exhibited copies of Crown forces secret intelligence documents to a BBC reporter to justify their recent assassination of a nationalist man, Loughlin Maginn of Rathfriland. How did they get these files? Maginn was named in the documents as an "IRA suspect" and it was his death warrant. Both the IRA and his family denied that he had any connection with the IRA, which always acknowledges their fallen volunteers.

A week later, the UDR admitted that security documents were missing from Ballykinlar UDR base. The RUC, which promised "a thorough investigation into the mater," was forced to admit within days that large numbers of its own files were also "missing." To complicate the issue further, large numbers of these documents, which consist largely of photographs and personal information and addresses, began to irresponsibly appear in various British newspapers such as the Sun and the Scottish Daily Record, which published files on over 50 alleged "IRA suspects" after they arrived in anonymous letters.
Collusion with Loyalist Extremists "has always existed... I can prove this absolutely."

In September of 1989 the Stevens Inquiry team questioned a Loyalist UDA murder squad member, Albert Baker, serving a life sentence in England for a series of sectarian murders. In a letter to the Irish News, Baker stated candidly that "Collusion between security forces and loyalist extremists in N. Ireland has always existed. I can prove this absolutely. However, the terrible truth which I can reveal may result in another cover-up."

When an Irish News reporter asked an Inquiry spokesperson about Bakers allegations, he stated that, "I can confirm that he has been in touch with us and what he has told us is being considered by senior officers." Baker subsequently stated that the second in command of his UDA murder squad was an RUC officer!
The RUC "Inner Circle" Murder Gang

In early October, further alarming facts came to light . A secret organization, comprised of currently serving and former RUC officers calling itself "The Inner Circle" sent the deputy editor of the Irish News a folio of sensitive and highly detailed documents containing the names and personal information on 233 nationalists, including 64 residents of the 26 Counties.

The accompanying statement claimed that the group was pledged to eradicate Republican terrorism and the battle for the survival of Ulster." They went on to outline how the "Inner Circle" murder squad of police officers would use high-level information to "remove suspected terrorists" through their "close links" with the loyalist paramilitary Ulster Resistance, three of whose members are in prison in France for attempting to sell parts stolen for Shorts Bros., a Belfast military and aeronautics firm, missiles to South African agents for arms for use in Ireland. They went on to claim they were "pledged to do all in their power to bring down the Anglo-Irish Agreement" which they claim was the catalyst for their formation four years ago.

According to the information passed on to the Irish News, the Inner Circe had operatives in every RUC division and sub-division, with only one exception, including the RUC headquarters. This statement, plus the impressive display of "secret intelligence" documents in their possession, was the largest single leak to date. Yet the Inner Circle stated that "the Stevens Inquiry will not have any impact on our group's objectives or methods. The stockpile of material which we have been able to build up during the past two years is detailed, highly accurate, and is being constantly maintained at full operational level. There is no way that the Stevens Inquiry will stop the information which we have access to."

The Stevens people reacted by sending men to interview the Irish News editor who was first contacted by the Inner Circle, Terry McLaughlin! They neither confirmed or denied the existence of the RUC Inner Circle murder gang.

Political figures on both side of the border reacted strongly with calls for real investigations coming from Sinn Fein, the SDLP, Alliance parties and others. All of the parties in the 26 Counties responded, even the conservative Fine Gael expressed they were "deeply disturbed."

Following this development, a further 156 official files on "IRA suspects" were mailed by an ex-British soldier to the Northern Echo, which dangerously printed 15 of them. The soldier stated he wished to expose "the shambles of security in Northern Ireland."

The same day, 49 more files were mailed to the Sinn Fein offices in County Monaghan, in the 26 counties. It seemed that Loyalist murder gangs had as much detailed information on nationalist as had the so called "police force". But this is not a new development in colonial Ireland. In 1986, the Sunday World reported that a secret group of RUC officers call themselves "The Inner Force" had vowed to assassinate the Chief Constable, Sir John Hermon, if "he stood in their way." Apparently, he did not.
Arrests, "Non-arrests", and Circles within Circles

On October 8, 1989, the RUC, under direct orders from the Steven Inquiry, arrested 25 members of the British army's Ulster Defense Regiment in connection with missing intelligence documents on nationalists. By December, twenty three people were charged either of mishandling or misappropriating secret files. Eight members of the UDR were incidentally charged with possession of illegal weapons. No RUC were charged.

Early Won Monday, January 8, 1990, the RUC arrested a number of loyalist suspects in connection with the "leaks".

The London Independent reported the following day that information about the intended arrest was also "leaked" prior to an ineffective dragnet with the result that many of the suspects the Stevens wanted arrested disappeared.

Even more incredible--the London Independent said it was also informed by RUC insiders of the impending arrests the day before they occurred. Apparently, Stevens, his team and everyone else was facing an RUC that wanted to publicly demonstrate it was a law unto itself. But there is more.

On January 11, the Belfast Telegraph reported a "Mystery fire" at the Stevens Inquiry offices. Numerous documents and computer discs were destroyed. Stevens said that backup documents were in place for all of the material lost in the mysterious fire.

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