Northern Ireland: State Terrorism

State Terrorism in Northern Ireland

THE NEW report by Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir John Stevens shows clear long-term collusion between Britain’s security forces and loyalist paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland.

The 1989 murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane was one result of this collusion and could have been prevented, the report says.

Members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), connived with loyalist paramilitaries. Then Special Branch officers briefed former Tory Home Office minister Douglas Hogg after the murder that “some solicitors were unduly sympathetic to the cause of the IRA.” Hogg repeated this in a parliamentary debate after Pat Finucane’s shooting.

So the British state apparatus was used to help extreme loyalists get rid of Republicans and even ordinary Catholics in a blatantly sectarian campaign. They later tried to cover up the whole issue.

This much-delayed investigation also said that loyalist group, the Ulster Defence Association was in effect run by a member of a covert army group – the Force Research Unit. Stevens accuses FRU member Brian Nelson, whose death was reported conveniently a week before the report, of carrying out scores of killings.

The report also makes Blair’s promises to bring democracy to Iraq look even more dubious when the armed forces have failed so noticeably in Northern Ireland. The capitalist state machine can never bring peace, equality and justice. Stevens accuses the intelligence forces of getting “out of control” – in truth whenever they are threatened, they always tend towards their traditional habits of divide-and-rule.

As after the 1972 Bloody Sunday killings, we shall see whether any top army personnel or government ministers face charges. It has been the organisations of the working-class who have fought against any return to sectarian killings. The Socialist Party are fighting for a longer-term socialist solution based on the common interests of working-class people.