By Patrick Campbell
One of the dirty tricks pulled by the British Special Forces and the loyalist Ulster Defence Association in 1974 will come back to haunt both organisations early next year, when a documentary on the North is aired on television in Britain.
The documentary will focus on a bombing campaign in the Irish Republic, in Dublin and Monaghan, which took the lives of 33 people and did millions of pounds of property damage.
At first the IRA was held responsible, but then it became apparent that an Orange extremist organisation was behind the bombing, and later still fingers were pointed at the British Army.
The bombings came in the aftermath of a series of IRA bombings in the North and in Britain. The British are being blamed because the bombings in the Republic were seen as retaliation. The bombings were also designed to get the Republic to crack down on IRA members who were finding refuge there.
But the government of the Republic had no proof that the British Army was involved.
That is how the matter has rested since 1974.
However, the documentary, being produced by Thames Television, may very well result in some action against those who are guilty of these murders. The producers say they will name the officers who planned the bombings and those who were involved in carrying them out.
The producers say that a British Army major, four members of the British Special Forces, three members of the British Secret Service and a dozen members of the UDA were involved in the plot, which was supposedly carried out without the knowledge of the British government.
The alleged ignorance of the British government may be the key to whether anyone will be prosecuted. If there was no involvement of any high-ranking member of the British Army, then there is no reason why the British government should not punish those involved to the full extent of the law.
However, if there were high-level government involvement, then there is little likelihood that the British government will go after the guilty, no matter what evidence is offered. The Bloody Sunday incident, the shoot to kill policies, and the Gibraltar incident showed just how obstructive the British can be when they want to protect high-level officials from accusations of
It remains to be seen what the Irish government will do if the documentary offers substantial proof of British wrongdoing. Dublin is so paranoid about being seen as sympathetic to the IRA that it is afraid to confront the British.
[Abridged from the Irish Echo.]