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Old 02-01-2014   #141
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Default Countering the "dissidents"

A rare article on the success of the security forces, it is from The Belfast Telegraph, unlikely to appear on the "mainland" and a "taster":
Quote:
The charging of republican Colin Duffy with conspiracy to murder and IRA membership. Two other men were separately charged in connection with a murder bid on a police patrol in north Belfast, when shots were fired at officers at a sectarian interface.

The discovery of materials allegedly designed for homemade explosives. A couple were arrested following the cross-border operation which resulted on the raid on a property in Forkhill, south Armagh.

The sentencing of Gavin Coyle to 10 years in jail after he admitted having guns and explosives with intent to endanger life. It followed the discovery in 2011 of a major haul which included assault rifles and Semtex high explosives.
Link:http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/ne...-29966725.html
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Old 07-13-2014   #142
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Default Comforting terrorists, sorry partners in peacemaking

I thought the issue of the 'comfort letters' had been raised here, apparently not on a quick scan. The 'letters' were issued by the Northern Ireland government without public knowledge, after a secret agreement with PIRA / Sinn Fein:
Quote:
...almost 200 IRA terrorism suspects were told they were not wanted by police
Some may argue this was part of the "price for peace", the whole issue is to say the least murky and now Tony Blair comes into focus, as the British Prime Minister who agreed to them:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/poli...s-say-MPs.html
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Old 09-01-2014   #143
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Default It was beginning and not an end.

Blimey it is twenty years since the PIRA ceasefire:
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Sunday marks the 20th anniversary of the IRA calling a "complete cessation of military operations".
It was the beginning, violence continued in Northern Ireland on the 'mainland' with the February 1996 Canary Wharf or London Docklands bombing.

Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-28948900

Note the cited documentary is only being shown in Northern Ireland and is not yet on BBC I-Player.
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Old 09-03-2014   #144
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Default Comforting terrorists, sorry partners in peacemaking

An update on this strange part of the peace process, the so called 'comfort letters' issued by the Northern Ireland government without public knowledge, after a secret agreement with PIRA / Sinn Fein.

Quote:
The Northern Ireland Secretary confirmed the Government was effectively annulling the assurances given to the so-called IRA “on-the-runs” that they no longer faced prosecution.

The Daily Telegraph disclosed on Wednesday that recipients of the letters, sent out in the years after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, are to be told they are not worth the paper they are written on and they will still be pursued by police.

Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...-annulled.html
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Old 09-22-2014   #145
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Default Still the "jam in the middle" - the police

A short reflective article on policing, on a website dedicated to security sector reform (SSR) which was found today:http://www.ssrresourcecentre.org/201...thern-ireland/

Quote:
Northern Ireland’s police reform is often held up as a model for other post-conflict countries. Indeed, the transformation of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has been mostly successful. Following the reforms, the PSNI emerged as more accountable, professional, and legitimate police service than its predecessor. However, despite the significant gains made in transforming the police, the events of the past continue to resurface.

(Ends) As Chief Constable Hamilton indicated, if the PSNI is to survive the current turmoil, something new needs to happen. In his view, unless politicians and civil society can resolve the past, policing will always remain susceptible to the political machinations of peace processing, no matter what reforms are developed. Lessons from the PSNI indicate that unless new ways are found to deal with past crimes, policing the present will also become more difficult.
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Old 10-11-2014   #146
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Default Who won the war?

Peter Taylor, a BBC journalist has made a hundred films on 'The Troubles' in Northern Ireland and now his latest is available, which is a personal assessment of who really 'won the war', with "talking heads" and some grim reminders of what the 'troubles' meant.

I assume it is available beyond the UK, oddly - again - it was not shown on the 'mainland':http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04jy8hf

It is fascinating to contrast the views of those involved then and now, whether they are paramilitaries or politicians. Particularly poignant are the convicted murderers who now say it was not worth it.

There is a linked series of film clips on 'What turns a civilian into a paramilitary', which are not included in the main film:http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/zghnn39#zqr44wx

As Peter observes rolves have been reversed for the Protestant, loyalist working class; now their flag waving, bands playing marches are stopped by the police - sometimes with violence.

This was a stand-alone thread and was merged to here.

Talking to terrorists is a political option, starting covertly and is the theme of a new book by Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair's assistant 'Talking to Terrorists: How to End Armed Conflicts'. I've only seen one review in The Spectator, entitled Dirty dealing; it is nevertheless even-handed:http://www.spectator.co.uk/books/9328482/dirty-dealing/
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Last edited by davidbfpo; 10-20-2014 at 09:00 PM. Reason: Merged and slightly amended
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Old 01-15-2015   #147
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Default

A detailed report on Tony Blair's reluctant, delayed appearance last week before a House of Commons committee, which is reviewing the "On The Run" or "Comfort" letters - which has enabled suspects to escape prosecution:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-30776891

Quote:
One of the most controversial elements of the Good Friday Agreement was the early release scheme for hundreds of republican and loyalist prisoners but it crucially did not deal with so-called On the Runs. After negotiations between the government and Sinn Fin, Tony Blair gave Gerry Adams a personal assurance, an undertaking, that he would take steps to resolve this issue.
His government then set up a scheme whereby Sinn Fin could submit the names of individuals who wanted to check their legal status, to see if it was safe for them to return to Northern Ireland or if they could face arrest or questioning if they did so.
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Old 01-15-2015   #148
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Default Tony Blair and John Major betrayed the people of Northern Ireland

In a somewhat bitter and very direct commentary Norman Tebbitt argues the Good Friday Agreement was a betrayal, as indicated by the sub-title:
Quote:
By letting up with the IRA/Sinn Fein on the verge of defeat, they undid years of good work by the intelligence services
He writes, as a taster:
Quote:
The truth is that they knew that the IRA – all the way up to the Army Council on which they sat to plan and authorise the bombings, tortures and killings – had been penetrated by British intelligence, and none of them could any longer trust another.
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Old 02-07-2015   #149
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Default Not the PIRA, the Loyalists

Compared to the volumes of commentary and publicity at times for the violent Republicans, notably the Provisional IRA, since the Good Friday Agreement, there has been little written about the "Loyalist" paramilitaries.

Arraon Edwards in his blog UVF: Behind the Mask has a series of artricles that provide an explanation. in particular their role in reconciliation:https://uvfbook.wordpress.com/author/aaronedwards2012/
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Old 02-17-2015   #150
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Default Omagh bombing 1998: one man faces court soon

The August 1998 bombing in Omagh's main street is remembered for the twenty-eight deaths and injuries as the Real IRA's attempt to derail the Good Friday Agreement. Shortly after Prime Minister Tony Blair vowed those reponsible would face justice.

The criminal investigation meandered along, it is known to rely on forensic evidence and cell phone analysis. Frustrated with the slow pace a private prosecution was launched, which found several men liable in 2009 and re-affirmed in an appeal in 2013.

More details here:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...h-bombing.html

Now a criminal court hearing is expected next month, for one man, Seamus Daly, who maintains he is innocent:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...-go-ahead.html
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Old 03-22-2015   #151
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Default 'Comfort letters' may not be so comfortable

The use of 'comfort letters' continues to roll along; they provided an assurance to paramilitaries that prosecution would not happen, all part of the peace process we are assured by Tony Blair and others.

Now we are told for a small number the 'letters' will not stop a prosecution:
Quote:
Six IRA terror suspects thought to be behind some of the worst atrocities committed on mainland Britain are facing major new police investigations, the Telegraph can disclose.....PSNI now believed there to be no barrier to prosecuting OTR suspects who had been sent “comfort letters” – because Coalition Government ministers have recently said the letters had no legal force.
Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...-suspects.html

This has nothing to do with the forthcoming parliamentary report on the 'letters', let alone the General Election.
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Old 04-15-2015   #152
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Default Murders of alleged informers to be investigated

An exclusive in The Guardian as another "pandora's box" is to be opened and the sub-title says it all:
Quote:
Northern Ireland’s police ombudsman is focusing on role of double agent Stakeknife, British intelligence’s top spy in the IRA
Link:http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2...mants-troubles

I am not convinced that this helps peace and reconciliation. The only "side" in the frame are the UK security forces.
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Old 06-13-2015   #153
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Default Raking over the past

Now three weeks ago the BBC's leading current affairs programme, Panorama, run a hour long 'Britain's Secret Terror Deals', which made a number of allegations, few of which had not been heard before, although one clip was astonishing:
Quote:
British security forces have been accused of involvement in dozens of murders during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
The documentary is available as a podcast:http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05x8gzs

It is also on YouTube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUJCPY9F40I

The clip that astonished me was Lord Paul Stevens giving evidence to parliament that in his external police investigation into collusion between the security forces (mainly the UDR) and 'loyalist' paramilitaries that "of the 206 people we arrested only three were not informants for the security forces".

An ex-RUC SB senior officer was cited:
Quote:
...the state “recruited people with blood on their hands” in order to save lives. “That’s what we were employed to do, to get information and the best information comes from within organisations. That’s the reality of the life in which we lived"
Such allegations led to an exchange in Northern Ireland; so here are two opposing articles. First from a 'Loyalist' sceptic and critic:http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/reg...land-1-6771770

An alternative, sympathetic view:http://sluggerotoole.com/2015/05/29/...no-difference/
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Old 06-20-2015   #154
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Default Bits of a jigsaw

Just attended a two day conference 'How Terrorist Groups 'Learn': Innovation and adaptation in political violence' at the British Academy, London and Northern Ireland featured almost as much as ISIS. Several snippets came up and maybe of interest.

Quote:
Irish republican dissidents have updated their technical expertise by studying improvised explosive devices used by the Taliban in Afghanistan and Islamic State-inspired militants in Iraq, according to the most senior police officer in charge of anti-terrorist operations....
Link:http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2...police-officer

A US-funded research project on PIRA and Tactical Innovation found that 70% bombers travelled less than two miles to a target and it took thirty months for an innovatio(IED) to move from Belfast to South Armagh. The study is on an open access article:http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jocb.28/full

Or the BA PPT:https://prezi.com/kh72gxvrfwk5/diffu...ovisional-iri/

Long ago a PIRA recce team supported the ANC MK (armed wing) attack on the symbolic key economic target, the SASOL coal to oil plant in June 1980:http://www.irishtimes.com/news/ira-a...asmal-1.609314

In a fascinating aside one speaker, Professor Adrian Guelke, added that the PIRA strategy of the 'Armalite and the Ballot Box' led to an unexpected adjustment to PIRA's path. When canvassing door to door many people stated they supported their objectives, not the way it was being pursued.

The British government eventually recognised this too.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #155
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Default Northern Ireland: when Britain fought terror with terror

The title is from The Guardian, in a 'long read' on an incident in 1982, which still resonates today, in part due to a mainland police officer John Stalker starting an investigation and suddenly withdrawn amidst much "smoke". The inquests into this and another shooting have yet to happen.

The incident strated with two young men visiting a local hayshed, with one of them shot dead by the police, alerted by a MI5 bug inside and:
Quote:
But Michael Tighe’s death was different, because the shots that killed him, and the subsequent cover‑up, were part of a dark episode in the undeclared war in the north, in which it was possible to glimpse the British state fighting terror with terror.....Stalker began to think that special branch, supported by MI5, might be using informants to lure terrorism suspects into pre-planned ambushes, mounted by police officers who were indeed shooting to kill.
The survivor from the hayshed reappeared years later:
Quote:
...had trained the Marxist Farc guerrilla army in the construction and use of home-made mortars that fired gas cylinder bombs.
Link:http://www.theguardian.com/news/2015...shoot-to-kill?
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Old 1 Week Ago   #156
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Default Scotland and planned Loyalist murders

An interesting BBC report:
Quote:
Three men have been found guilty of planning to murder two ex-leaders of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). Antoin Duffy, 39, his cousin Martin Hughes, 36, and Paul Sands, 32, all denied plotting to kill Johnny "Mad Dog" Adair and Sam McCrory in Scotland.
They were convicted after a nine-week trial at the High Court in Glasgow.
It appears likely that the plot was notified to the Security Service (aka MI5) after criminals learnt of it:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotlan...-west-33594180
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