Northern Ireland: Dirty tricks & collusion

Will the truth come out?

THE PUBLICATION of the Cory Report into the deaths of Pat Finucane, Rosemary Nelson, Billy Wright and Robert Hamill, and of the Dail report into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, has provided further evidence of the nefarious role played by the British State in the conflict in Northern Ireland.

British Government policy during the last 30 years has been by and large one of pragmatism. Over the first two decades of the Troubles, it relied on a policy of repression, overwhelmingly directed against Catholic areas, allied with repeated attempts to create political solutions based on the "constitutional" parties. All attempts at a political solution failed.

The IRA, while not defeated, was contained and could not win. In the late 1980s, the British Government realised that the Republican leadership were seeking a way out and the peace process began in an attempt to incorporate former paramilitaries in a "solution."

This does not mean that the State regrets its former methods or would not be prepared to use them again. That is why it is so important to expose the truth of the last decades.

It is absolutely clear that the RUC Special Branch, MI5 and the Force Research Unit (run by British Army Intelligence) used agents in the ranks of the UDA and, probably to a lesser extent, the UVF to target dozens of individuals for assassination. Because of the intervention of these agents, Pat Finucane and many others were assassinated. This policy was pursued in the interests of the state, seeking to use any means to stabilise the situation. At the same time informers within the IRA, such as "Steak Knife" were allowed to kill with impunity if it suited the interests of their masters.

The state did not stop with the assassination of individuals but clearly was also deeply involved in the mass slaughter of civilians in Dublin and Monaghan in 1974, the worst single day of the Troubles.

It is important that the labour movement draws the lessons of these events. The ruling class will use these methods again in the future and the ruling classes of every "Western democracy" are quite capable of resorting to undemocratic and extra-judicial measures when their position is threatened.

Thus the US ruling class invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, killing thousands of innocent civilians in the process and suspended all civil liberties for those detained in its "war on terror". The US ruling class has also been involved in targeted assassinations on its own territory, gunning down members of the militant Black Panther group in the early 1970’s.

The Spanish ruling class created secret armed gangs to assassinate ETA suspects.

The labour movement should not accept the crocodile tears of Blair, Bush or Spanish ex-Prime Minister Aznar over the Madrid bombings. All three are responsible for mass murder themselves and are in no position to condemn.

The reports tell us only part of the story, much has been hidden. It is clear that documents have been destroyed or suppressed. Attempts to hide the truth continue and will continue. The Government has refused to follow up the Cory Report with a public inquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane, fearing what may come out about state involvement. Nor are they prepared to allow the full truth about the Dublin and Monaghan bombings to surface. Any proof that a past British Government colluded in attempts at mass murder similar to what al Qaeda is attempting now would be just too damaging.

A full public inquiry is necessary to expose the truth of Britain’s secret war in Northern Ireland. The real questions are not about the role of this or that agent but are about the issue of how high up knowledge of their activities went.

The Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday illustrates some of the problems with official inquiries. After years of apparently exhaustive examination it now turns out that thousands of vital documents have been withheld or destroyed. Enormous sums were spent to demonstrate what everyone already knows-that those who died were innocent men gunned down in cold blood-but the Inquiry is extremely unlikely to tell us anything about the role of the Prime Minister at the time Edward Heath, the Cabinet or senior military figures.

A genuine inquiry must examine the question of who directed operations, not just who pulled the triggers. We do not need another Saville. Instead there should be an inquiry made up of the communities concerned as well as representatives from the broad trade union and community movements who are capable of having an independent and non sectarian view. A false inquiry, which makes lawyers rich but which lets the guilty men and women at the top off the hook, would be worse than useless.

From Socialist Voice, paper of the Socialist Party, Ireland

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