Ireland: British collusion with loyalist paramilitaries not forgotten

The single-most deadly terror attack on Irish soil took place on May 17, 1973. Four car bombs placed across the cities of Dublin and Monaghan and over the border into the Irish Free State exploded, killing 34 and injuring hundreds more. This attack, and many more like it, supposedly flew under the radar of British “Security Forces” sent to the north of Ireland to deal with paramilitarism. However, it flew under the radar, not by chance, but by design.

The UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force, a British loyalist paramilitary group) claimed responsibility for the attack. However, according to numerous reports regarding the attack, members of the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary, the police force in the north of Ireland) and MI5 (British intelligence) were likely operating behind the scenes.

The blood on the hands of the Security Forces did not end with Dublin and Monaghan. The UVF along with at least two members of the UDR (Ulster Defence Regiment, a local branch of the British Army) were implicated in the murders of members of the Miami Showband in 1975. The assassins initially attempted to plant a bomb on the band’s bus, before gunning down members of one of Ireland’s most popular bands. More than 120 murders were perpetrated by the “Glenanne Gang”, a death squad of 40 Loyalist paramilitaries, British soldiers and RUC officers, which targetted Irish Nationalist civilians.

Sir Desmond de Silva's report into the 1989 murder of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane by the UDA (Ulster Defence Association) estimated that around 85% of the information used by loyalist paramilitary groups in their attacks was supplied by British security forces. On top of this collusion, it is known that many British army and RUC officers funneled military-grade weapons to these groups, and were members themselves.

In the investigation into the bombing of McGurk’s Bar in 1971 by the UVF, which killed 15 people, the RUC attempted to keep the perpetrators free of guilt by biasing their investigation towards it being a prematurely exploding IRA bomb.

In the aftermath of the 1994 Loughinisland Massacre, in which six civilians were gunned down in a pub while watching the World Cup, RUC investigators willfully destroyed evidence and performed an improper investigation.

These acts of collusion are known to the British Government. In 2011 Prime Minister David Cameron met with Finucane’s family and freely admitted to collusion in his murder, yet not a single member of the security forces has ever faced trial. Finucane was killed by the UDA in front of his family at Sunday breakfast. The UDA, outlawed in 1992, carried out joint patrols with the British army and were armed (in large part) by them.

In recent months, many victims’ families and support groups have begun to make progress towards the truth. Landmark cases against the Glenanne Gang are currently ongoing and there has been a renewed public interest in the topic, with popular documentaries such as “Unquiet Graves” and “The Miami Showband Massacre” bringing these injustices back into the public eye.

Collusion is not an illusion.

[A rally against British state collusion in Ireland will be held outside Victoria's State Library on August 17, 2pm. For more information visit James Connolly Association on Facebook.]

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