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By Jason Michael
We are being led to believe that an otherwise innocent and somewhat naïve British state is doing a deal with the devil that is the Ulster loyalist DUP. The truth is that this is a whitewash of Britain’s role in Ireland. It is another lie.
England is in uproar over Theresa May’s decision to formalise a confidence and supply agreement with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, a political arrangement being presented to the British public as the Westminster government jumping into bed with terrorists. Nothing could further from the truth. There is no doubt, as state and police records verify, the DUP has a long history of association with Ulster loyalist paramilitary murder squads in Northern Ireland, but the narrative now being manufactured by the British establishment media would have us believe – quite wrongly – that the London government is entirely innocent of loyalist violence in Ireland.
It is difficult to believe now that, after over five decades of brutal violence and an uneasy peace, in early 1966 Northern Ireland had the lowest crime rate in the United Kingdom. It was a province at peace. It was governed by a supremacist Protestant unionist majority and the minority Catholic nationalist population was denied basic civil rights, but notwithstanding the obvious injustice and inequality Northern Ireland was not marked by unrest or violence.
In 1966 all of this began to change. It was the 50th anniversary year of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin, an event that led ultimately, through a war of independence and a bitter civil war, to the foundation of the Irish Free State – the later 26 county Republic of Ireland – and the partition of Ireland between the Free State and the 6 counties of British occupied Northern Ireland. Loyalists in the north in 1966 began to feel uneasy over the growth of the nationalist civil rights movement, seeing in it the hidden hand of a largely dormant IRA. Those accustomed to privilege, of course, see equality as oppression. As “defenders of Ulster” the Ulster Volunteer Force – founded in 1913 to stave off the rising tide of republicanism – started to take matters into its own hands.
Peter Ward was the first victim of the Troubles. A young barman out with his friends enjoying a pint, he was followed out onto the streets of Belfast and shot dead because he was from the Falls Road; an area of the city that identified him to his UVF murderers as a Catholic. As the trouble escalated over the next five years the British government quickly picked sides; as the nationalists’ political aspirations were perceived to be either the creation of a united Ireland or to challenge the unionist dominance of Northern Ireland they were identified as the enemy.
Then on 4 December 1971 the UVF detonated a bomb in a pub, killing 15 innocent people – including the owner’s wife and young daughter. Following a brief inquiry into the bombing the RUC and the British security services concluded that this was the result of a premature explosion of an IRA device awaiting delivery to its intended target. A later independent review found this to be a fabrication, exposing for the first time the reality of active collusion between the British Army and loyalist paramilitaries in the premeditated targeting and murder of innocent nationalists.
Behind all of this, whipping up the anti-Catholic sectarianism that led to the violence, were two men in particular; a young Presbyterian churchman Ian Paisley (later Lord Bannside) – the leader of the paramilitary Ulster Protestant Volunteers terrorist organisation – and Bill Craig, the leader of Vanguard – a hard-line sectarian loyalist umbrella organisation preaching that it was its “job to liquidate the [nationalist] enemy.” The Ulster Unionist First Minister of Northern Ireland, David Trimble (later Baron Trimble), was a follower of Craig and a fellow Vanguardist.
Theresa May is now inviting the DUP – the political wing of Ian Paisley’s UPV murder squad – into the heart of government, into the heart of the Brexit negotiations – the most important diplomatic repositioning of the United Kingdom in our generation. The BBC and the rest of the British establishment media are instructing us to be shocked. How can Britain – as though its hands are clean – do business with these murdering thugs?
There is a perfectly good reason Northern Ireland is ignored by the British media, why it is only now the British public is being informed of the DUP’s existence – only Northern Ireland’s biggest political party; and the reason is that Britain has always been doing business with them and that business has always been dirty. It was the British government’s cover up of the British Army’s massacre of nationalist civil rights protesters – shown by the 2010 Saville Inquiry to be peaceful and unarmed – that led to the United States’ intervention to dissuade the Irish Republic from sending its own troops into Northern Ireland to protect British citizens from what it and the rest of the world saw as part the an ongoing genocide of Northern Ireland’s nationalist population by the British state.
Britain’s decision to include the DUP – its longstanding friends and confederates – in the government of the United Kingdom is far from a new political departure for Westminster into the murky world of terrorism and criminality. Theresa May is merely bringing into the open a long tradition of friendship and collaboration that has always existed between Britain as a violent and oppressive force in Ireland and its frontline political-paramilitary defenders of the Union in Northern Ireland, and it is time the record on this score was set straight.
Taoiseach Jack Lynch responds to Britain’s crimes in the North, 1969.
14 thoughts on “Britain is Telling Lies about Ulster”
There are a few sloppy things about this. an Paisley was not a Presbyterian. He was an Independent Sectarian Baptist. The relationship between him and violence was not quite what you say. Spence and the UVF and the UPV were not a Paisley outfit though they looked to him. Remember that the DUP started off as the Protestant Unionists. However at the same time Paisley was pushing quite revolutionary ideas that Unionism should move away from the Big House Unionism which there was with the workers kept down. The problem with this article is that there is a journalistic and polemic view of history. I understand, but it lacks nuance.
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Big Irish Man, you know the moment I pressed ‘publish’ on this I knew you’d be on it like a cat on a mouse. Yes, I am aware of Paisley’s theological origins, but, as he was the founder and chief minister of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, I felt it best not to go off on a theological tangent. But you are right. I do not say there was a specific relationship between him and the violence. I hoped only to show that he was the founder and leader of the UPV, a group whose membership was deeply active in the violence. Paisley himself always disassociated himself from their actions. Of course he would.
The problem you identify is correct. This is a journalistic and therefore shallow introduction, but one that does not stray from the facts. It can’t be anything else without becoming an academic and encyclopedic piece – something that is well beyond the scope of a longer-than-average blog post – one, admittedly, with a clear objective apropos its intended reception and purpose (let he who has ears understand). Again, and sincerely, thanks for your insight and welcome comment.
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I thought John Scullion was considered the first victim of The Troubles? His death made odder by the fact that everyone was told he was stabbed (RUC insisted this was the case) when in fact he’d been shot by Gusty Spence in the doorway of his home. They actually had to exhume his body to confirm that he had in fact been shot and not stabbed.
And the Paisley stuff is more complicated. The Ulster Resistance would be a better place to start with that. The thing about the DUP is that they’ve never had any ‘official’ links with any groups other than the UF, but that in itself is a rabbit hole. They’ve been in a lot of rooms with a lot of people, are connected to certain groups/people in a myriad of different ways. They like to keep the moral high ground that way, when in reality, they’re in it up to their necks.
The point about England’s ignorance of all this is a good one. The Guardian is the only national paper that I’ve actually seen touch on the issue of the British government and collusion.
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Nathan, thanks for this comment. I think that you are right, but it all depends on when we date the beginning of the Troubles. The difficulty is one of the grey area that is the threshold between sectarian criminality and open warfare. The murder of Peter Ward, coming after the explicit declaration of intent by the UVF, may also be a starting point. Again, it is a grey area.
As you see with your allusion to the complex Paisley stuff is that there is so much that can rightly be said about all of this that we never have the space. We have to pick our ingredients to suit the dish. What I would like to achieve, far from being definitive, is to kick start a much needed and more honest discussion on what happened. Thanks for your excellent comment.
John Scullion was actually the first to be murdered several weeks prior to peter ward and his two companians
john was shot to death as he reached his own doorstep after a night out in local pubs
he was selected at random after the uvf gang hat had driven about the area had failed to find any perceived ira men
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While I would agree with Nathan about John Scullion being the first victim of the troubles, the great advantage of using Peter Ward is that a connection can be established between the action and Paisley. I was in the Custody Court the day that the three accused appeared and one of them (Not Spence) said “I wish that I’d never heard of that man Paisley” Its over 50 years ago and I have never kept a scrap book or any records, but I know that was what was said.
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As Jack Lynch put it in 72 ,maybe it is time to march on the north and reclaim ” our Ireland ” once and for all rather than seeing another generation wasted by hate and sectarian bigotry ! I’m old enough but young enough to fight for righteousness ! Erin go braith …!
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don’t ever remember him make that statement but i do remember his not stand idly by statement ( 1969), the problem is he did stand idly by !! And went on to imprison republicans and attempted to criminalise them in the process
that statement was made by a co defendant off Spence his name was Mc Clean I think he came from Whitehead or Rathcoole or Carrickfergus an area where he and his cohorts they blew up electrical transformation stations to blame an non existent IRA and create tensions to justify the rants off Paisley
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Not Whitehead, but Whitehouse
You reap what you sow. It is time for Brittan’s ugly harvest.
When I spent 2 weeks in Belfast in 1961, I was amazed to see dozens of classified advertisements in the ‘situations vacant’ columns of theBelfast Telegraph, seeking domestic servants etc, most stipulated ‘No Catholics need apply’. I rest my case.
Do you remember Paisley trying to emulate Carson. Not having his followers waving guns, but gun licences. The man of peace?
I must say this is a true and truthful account off what is still going on in the north of ierland. It’s worth reading .