Britain is Telling Lies about Ulster


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.

015

UVF Mural, Belfast – “We’re Up to our knees in Fenian blood…”

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.

016

Derry, 1972 – Britain’s war against “innocent (David Cameron)” people.

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.

003


Taoiseach Jack Lynch responds to Britain’s crimes in the North, 1969.


032 001

008

Meeting with an IRA Volunteer and Republican Prisoner


By Jason Michael

Hoping to put together an article on the likely activity of the British secret services in Scotland I went to speak with a man who had first-hand experience of the work of Britain’s shady operations. This was coffee with the IRA.


Other than Scholars Townhouse, a favourite getaway of mine these past few years, Drogheda is unknown territory to me. Pretty much everything north of Balbriggan is. So the Brown House Bakery was something of a new discovery. Sitting on a line of fairly nondescript local shops off the Dublin Road, the Bakery seems a tad out of place; an upmarket café and cakery in what has all the appearance of a Celtic Tiger housing development. Carrie tells me the place sprang up during the recession; “an inexpensive little treat when people have had to give up on bigger things.”

The coffee was alright, but, then, I’m no connoisseur. The carrot cake, on the other hand, was exquisite, but I felt unable to express this to the company I was in. How does one have a Rajesh Koothrappali moment over dainties when you are interviewing a former member of the IRA, a man who from the age of 14 was engaged in an armed insurgency against the British Army on the streets of Belfast, and who had spent 18 years locked-up in the infamous H-Block for murder? Well – I thought to myself – be cool. Mirror the body language, maintain eye contact, and don’t – whatever you do – go soft over the delicious pastries.

Anthony McIntyre was not at all what I had expected. He had generously agreed to an interview for a piece I am writing for iScot on British deep state activity in Ireland during the Troubles. I’m attempting to construct a picture of what these security and spook agencies are likely to be doing in Scotland in light of the growth of the independence movement – so make sure to pick up a copy.

015

Former IRA Volunteer and Republican Prisoner Anthony McIntyre

He’s sporting a hefty greying beard, oddly squared in shape; more at home I thought in a monastic setting like Glenstal Abbey. Proper Benedictine altogether. Denims are a given. Everyone wears jeans. Open loose shirt, exposing a t-shirt underneath, and a rubber AC-DC wristband. I’d imagined it different, maybe more Patriot Games with the tweed and the hint of Bostonian Irish-American trad music. Check me with my stereotypes.

This was real life, and I was being taken on a narrated journey through a past I could only relate to through fiction and on a tour of the lived retirement – if retirement is what you call it – of two people for whom ordinary is utterly bizarre. It’s Carrie who opens up the discussion. She’s an American of about my age with a healthy and impressive distrust of the state – every state. Now and again she finds queer looking electronic devises around her home, her mobile “clicks” during certain conversations, and her family in the States are aware that her calls are being “rerouted.” When it becomes obvious – or at least obvious to them – that the house has been bugged she calls the Gards. The Gardaí drop in and give the gaff the once over, but everyone in the know knows they just use it as an opportunity to plant some stuff of their own.

Here’s the thing – everyone is listening in on them; the Gards, Special Branch, MI5 and GCHQ – or both, and the IRA. Anthony’s a Provo, well, a former Provisional Irish Republican Army Volunteer; not a dissident, but a dissenter. We didn’t get into it. We could have been there all day, but since Good Friday he has had disagreements with Sinn Féin and many of those from his ranks who went into politics. I haven’t seen it, but I assume his relationship status on Facebook reads, “It’s complicated.”

Carrie, who, as the discussion developed, began to emerge as some sort of manager-cum-special envoy. She represents him in the Belfast court as the PSNI continues to seek access to the Boston College tapes, an oral history of the Troubles kept for safe keeping by the college in Massachusetts. I can’t go into any more details on their contents. On the record Anthony would neither confirm nor deny if these records amounted to a “little black book of activities.” In fairness, I think there’s too much at stake – like the entire peace process – if the people who want them think they are as important as they may or may not be.

Anthony McIntyre, when he begins to talk, is way too calm for a man who has dodged a few bullets and at least one bombing. He can’t go to Belfast for fear of another stretch in somewhere like Long Kesh. He can’t even take a beach holiday on the Costas because of a European Arrest Warrant. You could say that, while he’s technically a free man, he is living under state arrest.

We slip back to the 70s, to the details of the war; the logistics and complexities of moving munitions and explosives, the rooting out and recruitment of spies, agents, and assets, and avoiding the RUC and the “Brits” at the time of Britain’s shoot-to-kill policy. “It wasn’t torture,” he explains, “they never tortured you when they arrested you. They just gave you a good hiding and kept you in stress positions until you can’t take any more.” I began to think that torture has a bit of a sliding definition.

What I wasn’t prepared for was his take on the Troubles. It was all related to the differences he has now with Sinn Féin, but he was firm on the point that the IRA too had committed war crimes. I was disarmed and taken aback. During the 80s and 90s the BBC had us convinced the IRA was a terrorist organisation of mindless, heartless thugs and murderers. No doubt this is a truth for many who were on the receiving end, as it is for those who suffered at the hands of loyalists, the security services, and the army – but here was an IRA man acknowledging the totality of the conflict. It was a war, it was a dirty war, and things happened that shouldn’t’ve.

The full vista of his account, of which I hope to be writing more in next month’s iScot, is a vision of violent, organised chaos. On the surface there was the war; soldiers, police, paramilitaries, and the IRA all playing a lethal game of cat and mouse in the six counties. But under the surface was another unreal reality of intelligence and counter-intelligence gathering, infiltrations, agents, recruited agents, double agents, informants, and “girls who’d tickle their balls to get them to talk in bed.” Every faction was at it, and even your most trusted friends could be “turned” if they were not already. Sure, even the Russians were in on it – organising trips for volunteers to Moscow to chat with the KGB.

It was a lengthy interview over a few coffees, a few smokes, and some more carrot cake. I found out everything I wanted to know, and found, when I left, that I wanted to ask more. Each answer snowballed into more questions, and, aye, I was aware there might have been things that if I had been told someone may have had to deal with me, but – and honestly – it was an eye opener. As the journo, it wasn’t my place to judge, but heading home I took another IRA and another Troubles away with me. Carrie and Anthony had, in a couple of hours, become ordinary. These were peoples’ neighbours and friends. No balaclavas or AR-18 rifles. There was certainly a whole load of the past, sure, but Fika with the IRA ended up being strangely jovial, even a bit of craic. I’m not sure how I feel about that, but it definitely wasn’t what I expected.

003


Anthony McIntyre on the Arrest of Gerry Adams


032 001

008

What the Union Loathes and Fears


By Jason Michael

An independent Scotland with Elizabeth Queen of Scots as its head of state sounds positively repulsive. For many of us Yes is as much about rejecting London rule as it is about rejecting the monarchy. But “republicanism” gives them nightmares.

“We’re not really enemies, you know,” I responded to Trevor Moore – one of the few unionists I follow on Twitter, “pretty sure in the real world we have plenty in common.” The polarisation of Scottish politics has created a false sense of deeper conflict, which to some degree most of us buy into. He and I have at least one thing in common; neither of us actually lives in Scotland. Presumably, as his online profile begins with the words “Wage slave,” he moved to Texas for the same reason I came to Ireland – work. No doubt had we to meet in a pub in Dublin or Houston we’d get on like a house on fire. He’s wearing Mardi Gras throws and a Stetson in his profile picture – what’s not to like?

On social media there has always been a level of hostility towards that faction of the “other side’s” belligerents who live abroad; the International Brigades – as I like to call us. Rev. Stuart Campbell, the controversial figure behind Wings Over Scotland, gets no end of grief for living in Bath in the south west of England. His “outsider” status is always used as a stick with which to beat him for his “interference.” While I have never asked him, the same must to true for the Union’s outside interferers like Trevor. It’s certainly true in my case. But I have the feeling the response to my own interference is different. My interference is Irish, and that is not the same as Bath or Houston.

009

Unionists can’t think of Ireland without popping a haemorrhoid over “republicanism.”

Even though we are all Scots – I am presuming Trevor is, the criticism of our involvement hinges primarily on the fact that we don’t live in Scotland. It has nothing to do with us. Of course it does, of course. Scotland has always had an involved diaspora community, and no matter where we are in the world we will always be Scots. Yet Ireland has a special significance in unionist mythology. Ireland is an idea they fear and loathe in almost equal measure. Be it the old guard’s detestation of Irish Catholicism – the “Fenians” – or unionism’s more recent memories of imperial humiliation and the reluctance of the Provisional IRA to take British domination lying down, Ireland troubles their waters.

Where other Scots abroad get slapped down with the tort of not living here, those of us in Ireland are subjected to the “Oh, you’re living there?!” Britain spent so long dehumanising the Irish as subhuman apes in magazines like Punch it began to believe its own racist propaganda. The Irish of British imperial invention were drunken, lazy, stupid, and feckless. It came as a shock then when these “inferior” people decided they had had enough. At the apex of the British Empire its never setting sun was plucked from the sky and smothered on the streets of Dublin, Cork, and Galway. Before Gandhi liberated India the Irish women of Cumann na mBan and the boys in the ranks of the Óglaigh na hÉireann were busy showing British soldiers – hardened on the Western Front – how to discharge a rifle.

British imperialists have never forgiven Ireland for forcing them to strike the Union flag from Dublin Castle. Its establishment mindset that Ireland has a tenuous claim to independent statehood – à la Melonie Phillips inter alia – is testimony enough to the bitterness of this grudge. In the world of respectable diplomacy it is never stated outright, but it trickles down and seeps out whenever Britain is reminded of its vulnerability to the peoples it has likewise subjugated; the rebellious and restless Scots and Welsh. When we kick off the spectre of Ireland haunts them. It is Ireland’s republicanism they have in mind – and not that of France, Italy, or the United Stated – when they waspishly spit out this word as us. This republicanism is London’s primal fear. I can understand why a Scottish independentista living in the Republic of Ireland really whizzes on their cornflakes.

I am a republican. For this I make no apology. Before anyone gets over excited and before the British secret service come knocking on my door, this does not mean I condone violence. It means only that I believe – in the political sense – that hereditary monarchy is as much use as an ashtray on a motorbike. This said – it is also important to stress that I am not presently engaged in a plot on Mrs Saxe Coburg und Gotha or any member of her family’s life. As a Scottish nationalist and a republican all I want is Scottish independence and the dissolution of the monarchy in my country. I’d be quite happy to have any member of the by then former Royal Family as my neighbour and follow citizen.

003


Discussion on Britain’s monarchy and Republicanism


032 001

008

Every Blackmail Letter Stinks of Desperation


By Jason Michael

Dear President Tusk, writes Theresa May, we realise we have nothing to offer, but we do have a hostage and unless we get what we want we will pull the trigger. Of course, a hostage situation and a blackmail letter won’t fly very far across Europe.

Given the obvious weakness of Mrs May’s negotiating position, her Article 50 letter, addressed to the President of the European Council – Donald Tusk, is a truly remarkable document. On the surface, whilst lacking entirely of grace, it is a cordial and diplomatic statement of intent, but it is impossible for the reader to fail to notice the subtle belligerence of its tone and the fact that it is quite a petulant attempt at blackmail. At its heart is Britain’s proposal of a “bold and ambitious” Free Trade Agreement of a “greater scope and ambition than any such agreement” without the inconvenience to the United Kingdom of the European Union’s fundamental freedoms. As such it is no better than the previous deal David Cameron had already failed to achieve.


Theresa May outlines three bargaining chips in her frankly delusional bid to bring the EU to heel; economic and security stability, and of course Northern Ireland – where, other than Gibraltar which she neglects to mention, the UK and the EU share a land border. All of this is naturally couched in the language of the “deep and special partnership” she intends to maintain with the bloc once the negotiations are over, but – deal or no deal – it is evident Britain will be going to Brussels shortly with a list of demands.

She has made it perfectly clear – knowing well the changing mood on the continent towards Scottish independence – that neither Scotland nor the other devolved administrations will have a seat at the table. “From the start and throughout the discussions,” she reiterates, “we will negotiate as one United Kingdom” – a refrain that sounds so much more hollow after yesterday’s decision by the Scottish parliament in Edinburgh to seek a second independence referendum as a direct consequence of England’s decision to leave the EU.

As was voiced in the United States when she went there crawling for a get-out-of-jail-free card, the British Prime Minister has almost nothing of any real substance to offer Europe. The EU will not, as Switzerland has already learned, entertain the possibility of free trade without a mutual concession to the other freedoms of the union Britain has utterly foresworn in Brexit. Yet, undaunted by this hard reality, May imagines she has a couple of aces up her sleeve. So she dangles the carrots of shared economic prosperity and security before Mr Tusk before making a veiled threat to the peace and wellbeing of the Republic of Ireland.

019

The idea that Britain cares about Northern Ireland is beyond ridiculous.

Indeed, Mrs May writes about the unique relationship between Ireland and Britain and the need to preserve the peace process in the North, but – if her complete indifference to the political crisis in Belfast of late is anything to go by – she and the British government couldn’t care less about Ireland or the Good Friday – or Belfast – Agreement. To keep the Brexit agenda on track the Westminster Brexiteers have demonstrated both their contempt for the Irish Republic and their callous willingness to return Northern Ireland to a state of civil war. No, Ireland is not a priority for Britain. It never has been. All the same, they know that – as a member state of the EU – Ireland, and therefore by extension Northern Ireland, is a serious concern for peace and stability in Europe. For Brexit Britain they are little more than pawns in a high stakes trade negotiation.

London has, at best, a marginally better chance than a snowball in hell of securing an agreement with the EU that will safeguard its economy, and of course this too will have costs for the EU. Still, everyone has accepted that the Brexit process will result in certain and unavoidable losses. It is now only a matter of ascertaining which side can bear the cost better – and that isn’t going to be Britain.

Security is the only other offer the UK is making in this its opening gambit, but even this is a transparently ridiculous bluff. “We want,” the letter says, “to play our part to ensure that Europe remains strong and prosperous and able to lead in the world, projecting its values and defending itself from security threats.” Like every other offer this is conditional. Britain will continue to work with Europe against all the bogeymen it has helped to create on condition it gets what it wants – unprecedented access to the market without obligation.

The bottom line is that this is no offer at all. In such an interconnected world Britain knows that the security of Britain depends every bit as much on the security of Europe as the security of Europe depends on the security of Britain. Twenty-one of the EU’s member states are members of NATO along with the UK, a common defensive alliance that links Britain to the security of the EU regardless of EU membership – not to mention the obligations all involved have to peace and security as members of the United Nations. No, the security carrot is a piece of nonsense and everyone knows it.


What we have in this letter is a feeble crack at blackmail, and one that is already doomed to failure. Having realised this – even as it was being formulated – the British government has resorted to the desperate measure of using Ireland as a human shield. Where Britain continues to speak of a “unique relationship” with Ireland, Ireland – outside its official discourse – sees all of this as a hangover of its history as a British colonial possession, and Britain shows in this ransom note that it still thinks of Ireland as its plaything.

Just how this pathetic note in which the UK is trying to impose the rules of engagement will go down in Brussels will not become fully apparent until the talks begin. Tusk did, by expressing his regret, give us a hint as to how other EU leaders have received it – and that does not bode well for Britain. Starting from the position of weakness that it so obviously does, and with nothing much to offer other than an Irish hostage; perhaps a blackmail letter was not the best way to begin a process that will play a massive role even in the future existence of the United Kingdom.

003


Theresa May’s full address to the House of Commons


032 001

008

Theresa May is Determined to Undermine Irish Peace


By Jason Michael

Enda Kenny, An Taoiseach na hÉireann, invited Theresa May to address Ireland’s elected TDs at Dáil Éireann while she is in Dublin. Today the British Prime Minister snubbed the invitation because she doesn’t have time for real diplomacy.

Ireland has learned through hard and painful experience that Britain’s arrogance makes it impossible for the Westminster government to treat the Republic of Ireland as an equal partner in dialogue. Between 1919 and 1921 the people of Ireland were forced to take up arms against the brutality of the British occupation, and even after defeating the British Empire in Ireland the London government still refuses to acknowledge, to their fullest extent, the respect that is due to Ireland as an independent and sovereign nation among nations. In the North of Ireland the UK has a proven track record of collusion with Loyalist paramilitaries to wage a dirty war against Irish nationalists; it has denied people civil and political rights, detained them without charge, and shot them on their own streets.


As the old Irish proverb runs: “Beware of the hoof of the horse, the horn of the bull, and the smile of the Saxon,” Irish people – north and south – have an intuitive caution about them when it comes to their dealings with Great Britain. It was only with the intervention of the United States and its envoy George Mitchell, the Irish government, and the work of countless Irish intermediaries that the Good Friday Agreement – the concordat that ended a century of violence – could be hammered out. Yet Britain seldom recognises this. It sells its Tony Blair model for peace. More worrying is the reality that London has never taken the importance of the Good Friday Agreement for the whole of Ireland seriously. The reason for this is simply that Britain refuses to take Ireland seriously.

Now that yet another British Prime Minister is posing a direct threat to the welfare of Ireland the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, extended to Mrs May and invitation to address Dáil Éireann – the Dublin parliament – when she is in the city later this month. Ireland has made all the concessions in the process of normalising relations between the two countries. When it was Britain’s Crown forces that demolished Dublin in 1916 and waged a nationwide terror campaign until independence was won, it was Dublin that had to swallow hard and welcome the Queen herself in 2011 on a state visit. Irish people had to watch their president, Mary McAleese, laying a wreath with the Queen at the 1916 Garden of Remembrance honouring even the British soldiers who fell.

014

Bloody Sunday, 30 January 1972: 14 civil rights demonstrators murdered by British soldiers.

A hard Brexit brings a great deal of uncertainty to Ireland. Ireland’s economy, as the United Kingdom’s closest EU neighbour, depends heavily on trade with Britain, and Theresa May’s hard line position on leaving the single market has worried many in Ireland. Moreover, and by far more seriously, her recklessness threatens to upturn the Good Friday Agreement – bringing the shadow of the Troubles back over the whole island. Seeing as Mrs May will be in Dublin by the end of the month Mr Kenny reached out to her in good faith, and asked if she would address the Dáil chamber. But she can’t. She does not have enough time on her schedule – that’s diplomatic code: “Sorry Paddy, I don’t have time.” Irish people don’t need to be told that England doesn’t take them seriously.

003


032 001

008