by David Granville
YOU'D THINK that a substantial - and growing - body of evidence supporting long-standing allegations of British state involvement in the murder of its own 'subjects' and those of a 'friendly' neighbour might warrant the kind of media treatment that, let's say, recent events in Ipswich, or the alleged murder of just one ex-KGB agent have attracted.
Unfortunately, this is the British state and Ireland, its very own partially-occupied colonial fag end, that we're talking about. Instead of pages of indignation, outrage and a scandal so large that senior heads - political, secret service and military - would have to roll, the silence has been almost deafening.
At the end of November an Irish parliamentary committee published its report into a number of incidents which took place on both sides of the Irish border in the mid -1970s, claiming the lives of 18 people. The Irish parliamentarians concluded that collusion was involved in many of the nine attacks under investigation.
The report is the fourth to date to be published in the wake of the Irish government-commissioned Barron report, which itself identified the possibility of widespread collusion between British security forces and loyalist paramilitaries.
Particularly disturbing is the conclusion that successive British governments, including those of Harold Wilson and Margaret Thatcher, were aware of the situation, as were the Irish authorities, but did nothing about it.
At the end of October, another report, prepared by a panel of independent, international investigators, concluded that there was "strong and credible evidence" of British state collusion in 24 of the 25 cases, involving 74 murders, it had investigated.
Both of these reports join a growing body of evidence pointing to substantial British state involvement in acts of criminality and murder in Ireland throughout the conflict from the early 1970s.
Among other damning evidence to have emerged in recent months has been:
- the unearthing of documents by the Pat Finucane Centre and the Irish News revealing that, in 1973, the British government knew that between five and 15 percent of those serving in the Ulster Defence Regiment, a unit within the British army, were linked to loyalist groups and that the regiment was "the best single source of weapons" for loyalist terror gangs.
- a report by police ombudsman Nuala O'Loan's team, which concludes that the Royal Ulster Constabulary's special branch had allowed loyalist informers to carry out around a dozen murders
- claims made in October by a former police colleague that Chief Superintendent Harry Breen, the highest-ranking RUC officer to be killed by the IRA, had been involved with the mid-Ulster loyalist gang responsible for a number of attacks across the border, including the Dublin/Monaghan bombings, which resulted in 33 deaths and several hundred injuries.
Almost as damning as the growing body of evidence itself has been the British government's unwillingness to co-operate or assist the work of various investigations into collusion between the British state and its agents and loyalist paramilitaries. Despite this lack of co-operation it is clear that attempts to keep the truth buried can never be wholly successful.
Indeed, some of those involved in the important initiatives concerned with bringing about individual and community reconciliation have spoken of the truth 'seeping under the doors'.
However, despite the trickle of evidence of evidence of collusion becoming more of a flood, outside of the Irish editions of the mainstream British media and their associated websites, very little has been reported. Even where it has, reports have elicited little or no comment from the public or politicians outside of Ireland.
As fellow campaigner and Englishman, Ken Keable, wrote recently:
"The result is that the British state is getting away with murder, the Blair government actively covers up these crimes, and so inured is the public to the whole mess that even when some of the information gets into the mainstream media, hardly anyone in Britain bats an eyelid."
Of course, had it been criminal activities and human-rights violations of the Syrian, Iranian, North Korean or perhaps the Venezuelan, states and their agents that had been under investigation, things would have been different.
Such attempts to ignore the crimes of the British state, carried out in our name, are themselves an outrage and a scandal. Apart from the dastardly nature of the crimes themselves, the implications for civil liberties and human rights in every part of Britain are enormous. It just goes to show how thin the veneer of 'democracy' in Britain really is.
For further information about collusion between the British state loyalist paramilitaries, including the investigation undertaken by the Pat Finucane Centre and Stephen McCaffrey visit the Pat Finucane website at: http://www.serve.com/pfc/ The Irish parliamentary report on collusion can be found at: http://www.oireachtas.ie (see Justice Joint Committee)
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Copyright © 2006 David Granville