Saturday, 3 November 2012

ACT OF WAR : Irish Republican News


The shooting of a senior British prison official has drawn attention to the conflict in the north of Ireland and the increasingly bitter dispute over the treatment of republican prisoners at Maghaberry jail.
A well-planned ambush on a remote stretch of the M1 motorway resulted in the death of Maghaberry warder David Black yesterday [Thursday] morning. Black had been involved in the torture and abuse of republican prisoners since as far back as the 1980 hunger strike.
Although no organisation has claimed responsibility for the attack, there had been warnings over the years of an IRA response to the abuses of republican prisoners, chiefly by the Continuity IRA.
A government backlash today saw PSNI raids and arrests in Lurgan, County Armagh where the vehicle involved in the attack was said to have been found. Former internee Colin Duffy, who spent almost three years behind bars on IRA charges before finally being cleared in January this year, was one of two men detained.
Sinn Fein and the rest of the political establishment at Stormont have strongly condemned the attack.
“The killing of a prison officer yesterday is wrong,” said Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams. “There is no future in such actions which are rejected by the entire community, North and South.”
He said the organisations that are politically associated with the armed groups had “no popular support or political strategy”.
“On the contrary they play into the hands of those in the British system who are opposed to the peace process and to its potential for achieving a united Ireland.
“These groups must be challenged. The media has a responsibility to ask these organisations where they stand on actions such as Thursday’s murder.”
The attack was also condemned by the DUP, the PSNI Chief Matt Baggott, British Prime Minister David Cameron and 26-County Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
But it drew little sympathy in hardline republican areas of the North. A ‘screw’ who had played an oppressive and mercenary role for the British Crown -- from the original blanket protest and the hunger strikes of Long Kesh, up to the current no-wash protest at HMP Maghaberry -- was seen as a casualty of the war he had engaged in.
Black, who was also a prominent member of the anti-Catholic Orange Order, was the 30th member of the British prison system to be killed in Ireland since 1974.
PROTEST ARRESTThe attack took place just days after a series of international protests were organised by Republican Sinn Fein in protest at the abuse and criminalisation of republican prisoners.
At one picket in Lurgan last weekend, the RSF Ard Chomhairle member Cait Treanor was arrested and taken to Hydebank women’s prison in Belfast.
In March, Treanor was fined for ‘participating in and organising’ a march through Lurgan in January 2011 in support of Martin Corey, interned without trial in Maghaberry since 2010. Treanor refused to pay the fine of 700 euro imposed on her and so was arrested and jailed. She is expected to be released after two weeks.
Pickets also took place throughout Europe, in Canada and in the US to call for the restoration of political status and an end to the strip- searching and controlled movement of the prisoners.
Dieter Blumenfeld, spokesperson of the organising committee, said: “More than 30 years after the H-Block Hunger strikes ended, Irish prisoners are once again forced to protest for their rights. Some of these men are on dirty-protest for more than a year. Injustice in Ireland is growing.
“Marian Price and Martin Corey are both interned for more than a year and an Irishman held in a Lithuanian jail is denied his basic human rights.
“Only international pressure can be successful in the campaign to support the Irish Republican prisoners.”
There were protests in 11 countries on 3 continents. One of the protests, a vigil organised by Irish republicans of the “Maghaberry Awareness Group St. Pauli” in Hamburg was broken up by German police.
PRISONERS’ STATEMENTThe following message was sent from the group of RSF-aligned republican prisoners at Maghaberry to the protests:
“Greetings from the Republican Prisoners in Maghaberry jail to the activists, supporters and participants of the International Day of Action for Irish Republican Prisoners of War 2012.
“We, the Republican Prisoners of War incarcerated in Maghaberry prison camp, wish to send greetings to those assembled all over the world today protesting on our behalf.
“At present we are engaged in a ‘dirty protest’ to end the archaic practice of strip searching and 23-hour lock-down, and to secure conditions befitting of Prisoners of War. The age-old British policy of criminalisation of Irish Republican prisoners is in full swing in Maghaberry and as always we, as Republicans, will oppose this in anyway we can.
“We have been on this current phase of protest now for over 18 months and we see little movement from our captors. The conditions we endure are far from humane or acceptable, yet we will continue in our struggle until our demands are met. We have a duty to all Republicans and to those prisoners who may follow us.
“We find ourselves incarcerated due to British rule in Ireland and are part of the broader struggle for Irish independence. We take heart from gatherings such as this, that Irish Republicanism is alive and vibrant, kept alive by people like you. As Republican Prisoners of War we will not shy away from our duty and we salute all those in Ireland and abroad who work towards the independence of Ireland by any means necessary.”The support we have received from those across the world makes us more determined and resolute, we are indeed grateful for such support, and ask for your continued support and activism on our behalf.
“We applaud those of you who take to the streets all over the world in protest at the detention of true Republicans.
“We will continue to resist all attempts by the British government to criminalise us and our struggle and with your continued support we are confident of victory.
“Onwards to the Republic!
“Signed O/C Maghaberry Gaol, “October 2012”

Finucane report to be vetted by MI5

A British government “security check” on a new report into the murder of Belfast defence lawyer Pat Finucane by British agents has further undermined the credibility of the document.
The newly-appointed British Direct Ruler Theresa Villiers said she had ordered the examination of the case review ahead of its publication to ensure it does not breach “national security”. Similar reviews have been held by British military intelligence (MI5) throughout the conflict to censor any embarrassing facts or details which might emerge.
Mr Finucane was gunned down in his north Belfast home by loyalist paramilitaries in 1989. Previous investigations have uncovered that most or all of the UDA death squad which carried out the assassination were agents of the British Crown.
The murder of the Catholic father-of-three was one of the most controversial of the conflict. British Prime Minister David Cameron has accepted collusion took place and has apologised to the Finucane family.
But his refusal to hold a full public inquiry into the murder - instead opting for a “legal review” - angered the Finucane family, who subsequently launched a bid to challenge the decision in the courts.
Mr Finucane’s son John yesterday said his family never had confidence in the review and the government’s decision to subject it to the so-called “security check” had emphasised their misgivings.
He said it was not appropriate for the state to control the information published in a report that was supposed to be examining its alleged role in a murder.
“This confirms again that the government, who on the one hand are being accused of collusion in the murder of my father and the prime minister has accepted that there was collusion, controls the flow of information - which I don’t think is credible,” he said.
“It is not a process that I think is independent. We think that process is best managed by a court.”
Mr Finucane again called for a full public inquiry to be held. “We did not have any faith to begin with,” he said of the review.
“I would be very surprised if this will put to bed the international concerns around the murder of my father when it is released. The government should deal with this appropriately and announce a full independent inquiry.”

New investigation into PSNI collusion with UVF

A decision by the Police Ombudsman to investigate allegations of collusion between the PSNI and the unionist paramilitary UVF has been welcomed.
The ombudsman is to examine allegations that police colluded with the UVF by failing to properly investigate fatal shootings in north and west Belfast between 1989 and 2010 -- including that of Bobby Moffett, who was murdered on Shankill Road after a dispute with a senior UVF man. It is widely believed that the PSNI had approved the cold-blooded murder, which took place in a casual manner on a busy street in May 2010.
A number of families of UVF victims have welcomed the Ombudsman’s intervention and it is their testimonies which have led to this move.
It is believed investigators will examine claims that no-one has been charged or convicted in connection with the murders because police agents and informers were being protected.
The investigation bears strong similarities with another Ombudsman inquiry.
Operation Ballast, which homed in on north Belfast’s Mount Vernon estate, revealed UVF killers were protected from prosecution because they were police agents.
Raymond McCord, whose son was murdered by the UVF, has welcomed it.
“What people have to understand is that when people from the unionist community or any community go to the Police Ombudsman’s office and make a complaint it has to be investigated,” he said.
“This isn’t having a go at any paramilitary group and I’m delighted because hopefully now it’ll show that there wasn’t a proper investigation in a lot of the murders.”
INQUEST OPPOSEDMeanwhile, the PSNI have said they are ‘unable’ to extradite a man suspected of killing Derry republican Kieran Doherty in 2010 -- but do not want an inquest to go ahead.
A PSNI inspector said a suspect had left the jurisdiction some time ago, but that extradition “would not be relevant”. He said was concerned that “matters would be revealed” in the coroner’s inquest which could be “detrimental to the investigation”.
Senior coroner John Leckey said during decades of conflict in the North, coroners routinely held inquests quite soon after a death and he could not remember police objecting.
The Doherty family remain suspicious of the involvement of MI5 (British military intelligence) in Kieran’s death, despite a report by senior British barrister Alex Carlile which denies this.
Family lawyer Fiona Doherty said: “There is a serious allegation, a serious issue in this inquest about the approaches made to the deceased, Mr Doherty, by MI5 for a continuous period of time up to his death and the family have serious concerns about that and serious concerns about the possible involvement of state agents in the death.”
The family want the full contents of the Carlile report to be available to the coroner. Kieran Doherty’s uncle, Vincent Coyle, said they were only given two paragraphs of the report.
“Now we know there is a lot more in that report which we have not seen. In fact we think there’s a report the size of a phone directory and that must be made available to the inquest,” he said.

Internment by deception

A County Tyrone republican has lashed out at the justice system in the North of Ireland after charges against him and four others were quietly dropped by Crown prosecutors this week -- after more than 14 months held without bail at Maghaberry prison.
The charges against Coalisland man Kevin Barry Murphy were based on alleged forensic evidence linking him to a claimed arms find in County Armagh in April last year.
Another man, Patrick Carty from Dungannon, was also freed after the PSNI police and prosecutors abandoned claims that his fingerprints were discovered on a mortar rocket.
Relatives and friends of the two men, who packed into the public gallery at Armagh Magistrates Court, were filmed entering and leaving the court complex by Special Branch police.
Murphy was previously cleared by a court of IRA charges in 2004 after it emerged that a police informer had been used to lure him and three others to a site where a rocket launcher had been hidden.
He said he had been interned by remand [‘awaiting trial’] and denied ever being a member of the ‘Real IRA’.
“In the past I have been acquitted of being a member of that organisation,” he said.
“The important point is that for the last 14 months we have asked for the fingerprint evidence and they have failed to produce it. It is tantamount to internment by remand.
“Someone said we were guilty of something without producing the evidence. That is the strategy being used against republicans. In the eighties we had the super-grass trials, in the nineties we had shoot-to-kill and today they are using internment by remand.”
He also called for the role of the PSNI and the forensic scientists used in his arrest and detention to be examined.
“An independent body needs to look at how those who step outside the box, those who are not pro-Good Friday Agreement republicans, end up in Maghaberry,” he said.
“What happened to us is also an indictment of constitutional nationalism which has remained silent on the issue.
“It’s an indictment of the new political dispensation on policing and justice.”
The two men have spent their detention at Maghaberry prison in County Antrim, where they joined in the ongoing no-wash protest against criminalisation by other political prisoners held there.
Arms charges against three other men were also dropped this week, although they continue to be held at Maghaberry without bail.
Mr Murphy’s lawyer, Peter Corrigan said the charges had been dropped to avoid having to finally reveal the statements of evidence.
“We have been requesting the so-called fingerprint evidence from the police station from his arrest right through the proceedings,” he said.
“We initiated experts to go into the lab and that request was refused.
“All of a sudden they know we are going to see the statements of evidence and they withdraw the charges.”
He said he believed his client had been targeted for imprisonment and ‘malicious prosecution’.
“This is effectively internment by remand when you don’t produce the evidence to justify the detention,” he said.
“In light of this case we are calling for custody time limits to be brought in so the prosecution cannot do this, so they cannot delay cases without producing the evidence.
“This case is going to be referred to the police ombudsman and we will be initiating civil proceedings for malicious prosecution.”

Friday, 2 November 2012

British MI5 Internment Act of War in British Occupied Ireland.

British MI5 Internment Act of War in British Occupied Ireland... on Twitpic

British MI5 Internment Act of War in British Occupied Ireland

by BrianClarkeNUJ - AllVoices Fri Nov 02, 2012 20:28

Marian Price is just one of several Irish people still interned in British Occupied Ireland for almost 18 months, during which time neither Marian or her lawyers have been allowed to see any of Britain's ‘alleged’ evidence against her.

• She has been kept in solitary confinement in a ‘male’ high security prison
• She is effectively interned without a trial, sentence, or release date.
• She has not been given any timescale for any investigation.
• She has not been allowed to see the evidence that the state claims to have
• Her release has been ordered on two occasions by judges. However, on both occasions the British Vice royal has overruled those decisions.
• The Vice royal claims they ‘revoked Marian’s license, ’despite Marian never being released on license. She was given a Royal Pardon.
• Marian’s Royal Pardon has ‘gone missing’ from the home office (the only time in history). The British Vice royal has taken the view that unless a paper copy can be located – it must be assumed that she does not have one. It is generally agreed that MI5 shredded her majesty's pardon.
• Despite no ‘license’ existing for her release from prison in 1980, it is the non-existent licence that is being used to keep her in prison.
• She can only be released by Theresa Villiers the current Vice royal responsible for Marian's internment.

The second last time Marian appeared in court, the charges against her were thrown out of court for lack of evidence by a Judge. Now the very same charges have been re-instated against Marian again in front of the very same Judge!

In secret courts, being introduced secretly, by the back door, through legislation in the House of Lords, MI5 the British secret service, push for secret trials to take place, with secret evidence by secret witnesses, that not even the defendant's lawyers are allowed to know or see. The length of sentence is secret with it all kept secret, under penalty of a long jail sentence, of their Official Secret's Act.

Despite protests of defence lawyers, the secret courts will operate, with virtually no rules of evidence, no discovery rules, no rules of decision and no rules regarding precedent. Not only will traditional law be in short supply, so too, will any sense, as to what interpretive practices would be followed by the 'judges' or what precedent values will exist. 

In the constant existential crises, of the nonsensical British scum state, established on the basis of a British mentored sectarian headcount, with rules and ongoing lawlessness of farcical law, its obvious injustice, commands no respect from informed Irish citizens, with the exception of Her majesty's cultivated bigoted, sectarian, neo-colonial, commoners.

With indefinite internment without a fair trial, without formal charges, where counsel is uniformed, where an individual cannot have their day in open court, events such as the miscarriages of justice like the Guildford 4 and the Birmingham 6 will become the secret norm. Internees without trial are being secretly judged, by observers with a vested financial and political interest to infer guilt by often bigoted, prejudiced, sectarian, racist, blackmailed, intimidated bureaucrats of colonial perceptions.

The dehumanization of internees such as Marian Price, through the infliction of pain and torture, not only damages her body and mind, it is as Elaine Scarry wrote, world-destroying, "It is the intense pain that destroys a person‘s self and world, a destruction experienced spatially as either the contraction of the universe down to the immediate vicinity of the body or as the body swelling to fill the entire universe. Intense pain is also language destroying; as the content of one‘s world disintegrates, so the content of one‘s language disintegrates; as the self disintegrates, so that which would express and project the self is robbed of its source and its subject. Thus, physical erasure also eliminates the intelligible voice, reducing human speech to the primordial expression of pain, a state anterior to language."

In addition to these erasures of her body, mind and self, British torture achieves a third form of physical erasure by the very fact
of the political prisoners‘ torture, requiring concealment. The retreat of torture from respectability by European standards, means that the British must perform their brutality in hiding, primarily with censorship. However they also conceal their involvement in rendition, as they hide their activity in subcontracted assassinations, with more curtains over their already, shrouded victim's bodies such as several human rights lawyers liquidated in British Occupied Ireland

While in some instances, their prolonged stress positions along with other techniques, constituting cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment, may not always rise to the level of torture, they nevertheless were found guilty of such, by the International Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg regarding their activity in Ireland. The physical erasure of British torture is self-evident in their colonial history worldwide, right up to the present day and therefore needs only brief comment.

In secret British courts, with identity blacked out on their transcripts, judges will not countenance torture complaints, deeming this complaint conduct unacceptable and defendants will receive a final warning, oblivious to international law. In such courts they do not tolerate words, such as international law. The British are not concerned about international law and insist on it, by having internees like Marian Price, removed from the hearings, so that their secret services and military can consider classified evidence against her in secret.

If we accept the integrity of human rights law and its independence from any state sovereign, then it follows that there can never be
lawlessness such as there is in British Occupied Ireland, only gross violations of human rights law. Britain's current habeas-corpus-stripping provisions, are a core breach of human rights law. The many liberty concerns with regard to the Geneva Conventions and current British attempts at unilateral re-interpretation of sections of international law, have no constitutional basis whatsoever.

British Occupied Ireland with the treatment of political internees such as Marian Price, Martin Corey and many others, has become a human-rights-free zone.The quarantine of many Irish political prisoners is a familiar concealment. When placed in a human rights context. British Occupied Ireland is often described in terms of the British government‘s denial of rights to political prisoners but equally important the denial of their Irish humanity.

British Occupied Ireland has been a laboratory, of their systematic dehumanization, while they use their corporate right-wing media, such as the BBC world service, to refer to prisoners of conscience, as terrorists, to ostracize them from what it means to be human and allow the British continue the physical and mental maltreatment of Irish political prisoners, abhorrent to human beings.Thus they accomplish through cultural erasure, through the creation of the terrorist narrative; legal erasure and physical erasure through torture.

While the dimensions of dehumanization are distinct, they are interrelated. All are connected by law and specifically by human rights.The British have created the preconditions for state power activity, so brutal, as to deprive Irish political prisoners of the ability to be human or have any human rights. Irish political internees stand exposed to the violence of the British state, unmediated, unprotected by any human rights, reducing political internees to a state of bare life without humanity. The evolving normalization, is the Irish have no right, to have rights, a vacuum enabling extreme British state violence, placing the internment of internees such as Marian Price, at the center of a struggle not just for rights, but for humanity that includes you and me.

Through resistance, political space will open up but the mere resistance, the assertion of self against state violence, is in itself life-affirming. Resistance is a way of staying human. This, then, is the work that human rights do, when pushed to the brink of annihilation, they provide us with a rudimentary and perhaps inadequate tool to maintain our humanity. Thus by paying particular attention to the value of human rights and arguing the importance of rights, it becomes a mode of peaceful resistance, to British state violence. British internment is a military act of war on a defenceless civilian population, even their own beloved wartime Churchill called it and odious act of war in wartime.

It has been used in every decade in Ireland in the last century with political concentration camps with impunity, because the British ruling class regard and portray the Irish as subhuman. Indeed Irish political prisoners of conscience, currently live in subhuman conditions in British Occupied Ireland. Irish political prisoners pushed to the the edge of annihilation of their identity, have a long track record of participating in direct forms of resistance in many forms, including dirt strikes and hunger strikes, as a form of prisoner resistance, along with lawyer rights-based litigation and the hunger strikes, sharing an understanding of the relationship between rights, violence, and humanity.

While sometimes the resistance of lawyers and of prisoners may not be enough to win the prisoners‘ freedom as in the instance of dozens of Irish political prisoners who have died on hunger strike, it is still essential when British state violence is so extreme, as to attempt to extinguish our humanity and carry out this act of war on a defenceless civilian population that we explore every peaceful mode of resistance, besides fighting fire with fire. We have a moral obligation to consider all other alternatives first, that we fight fire with water and deny the British, with their barbaric acts of war on ordinary people, any basis for their inhumanity with their terrorist narrative.

Ordinary people too, who are genuinely interested in real peace in Ireland, have a responsibility to work for justice in Ireland, which is the only basis for a real lasting peace. Careerist politicians making millions off the backs of the long suffering Irish people make superficial careerist calls for peace, knowing full well is is hypocritical nonsense in an island of a divided Ireland, in more senses than one, planted firmly in social and political injustice of the extreme.

There is rally today, Saturday the 3rd of November in Dublin, starting at the Garden of Remembrance at 2.00 p.m, which goes to the historic GPO. That is a good start for anyone genuinely interested interested in Peace in Ireland and remove the basis of political violence. It would do well for those politicians engaged in state violence and acts of war against the Irish people of no property, to open their minds to this suggestion, rather than mouth vacuous, hypocritical condemnations for strictly political profit.


Related Link: 

MI5 Wags Her Majesty's Dogs of War in British Occupied Ireland

More at The Real News

More at The Real News

MI5 Wags Her Majesty's Dogs of War in Britsh Occupied Ireland

category international | crime and justice | opinion/analysis author Friday November 02, 2012 03:49author by BrianClarkeNUJ - AllVoices Report this post to the editors
Prison Officer Shot Dead MI5 Whistleblower claims"The Culture Spiralled Out of Control"
The shooting dead yesterday, at 7.30 a.m of a senior prison officer of Maghaberry jail while a major security alert was in progress, just a little further along the motorway, at a shopping centre in Sprucefield, near Lisburn, as bomb disposal experts were checking a car, confirms that MI5 have succeeded in finishing the Peace Process in Ireland with their return to internment. While politicians on all sides went through the synthetic motions of condemning the killing, most of them ignored in the last couple of years, the underlying work needed to address justice, to bring real peace.
Peace Process Ireland Shredded by MI5
Peace Process Ireland Shredded by MI5
MI5 have a state-of-the-art headquarters in the British Army’s Palace Barracks in Belfast. Their new headquarters, which stretches to over 10,000 square feet, is capable of housing 400 employees while they employ thousands elsewhere.. They are in reality, unaccountable to anyone, other than the very limited powers of the police ombudsman and policing boards, which cannot investigate British spying and intelligence gathering in all of Ireland. While MI5 is part of the British ‘Security Services,’ it regularly operates in all of Ireland, including the twenty-six counties.They are best known in southern Ireland, for their central role, in the Dublin/Monaghan bombings, which murdered 33 innocent people.

A good example of MI5's unaccountability, is the debacle around the shredding of a Queen's pardon with regard to the ongoing internment of Marian Price. Provisional Sinn Fein's director of publicity, Jim Gibney has written, that the fingerprints of MI5 are all over the internment of Ms Price, who is at the centre of a power struggle for control over the dispensation of justice, between MI5, those in the supposed British justice system, prison system, with the judiciary attempting to decipher, "concocted stories woven in the minds of those inhabiting the murky world of MI5." He claimed that a carefully planned campaign of intimidation orchestrated by MI5, is directed at David Ford, the north’s justice minister, the life sentence parole board inside the prison and the north’s judiciary.

Provisional Sinn Fein have a vested interest in the success of a Peace Proces, while many peace activists clam that MI5 have a vested interest in a return to war in Ireland, to justify their huge bloated budget and unlimited power over Her Majesty's writ and parliaments. Many human rights activists have pleaded with the regime, who are in essence, the real political masters in Britian, to end the return of internment without trial and the torture of political prisoners, which have been widely seen as a blatant, unjustifiable provocation, ending the peace process.Other activity by MI5, with the backing of the Tory Government heavily funded in the last election, by the British industrial war complex, have broken in no uncertain terms the agreements of the Peace Process in Ireland.

The shooting dead yesterday, at 7.30 a.m of a senior prison officer of Maghaberry jail while a major security alert was in progress, just a little further along the motorway, at a shopping centre in Sprucefield, near Lisburn, as bomb disposal experts were checking a car, confirms that MI5 have succeeded in finishing the Peace Process in Ireland with their return to internment. While politicians on all sides went through the synthetic motions of condemning the killing, most of them ignored in the last couple of years, the underlying work needed to address justice, to bring real peace.

Assistant Chief Constable of Britain's paramilitary police Drew Harris, said the gunman was in a Toyota Camry with a Dublin registration which drove alongside Mr Black's black Audi. "From that car it appears that shots were fired at Mr Black, almost immediately his car veered off the motorway and into a pretty deep drainage ditch. Mr Black appears to have sustained very serious and probably fatal gunshot wounds."

The car used in the attack was found burnt-out in Lurgan, Co Armagh, where many have supported the internment protest campaign. Mr Black was the 30th prison officer killed in British occupied Ireland since 1974. It is understood he worked in Long Kesh Concentration Camp when internment was introduced 40 years ago and during the 1981 IRA hunger strike, when 10 republicans died on hunger strike.

Videos on Two Transcipts Below Access Link at Bottom of the Page or at the Real News Network

Annie Machon was an intelligence officer for the UK's MI5 in the 1990s, but she left after blowing the whistle on the incompetence and crimes of the British spy agencies. She is now a writer, media commentator, political campaigner, and international public speaker on a variety of intelligence-related issues. She is also the Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) in Europe.

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore.

In 1997, Annie Machon, a member of MI5 British intelligence left the intelligence agencies, blowing the whistle, alongside her partner, for what she said was corruption, incompetence, and illegality. She's now a writer, a media commentator, a public speaker on a variety of intelligence-related issues. She's also the director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, or LEAP, in Europe. She now joins us to tell us her story. Thanks very much for joining us, Annie.
JAY: So give us a little bit of background. How do you get into MI5 in the first place? And then what happened?
MACHON: I was recruited at the end of the Cold War. They were looking for a new generation of counterterrorism officers, moving away from the old political work they'd been doing up until that point. And they also at that point had just been put on a legal footing for the very first time in their 80-year history. So they reassured me that they had to obey the law, just like the rest of us.
JAY: What do you mean, for the first time in their history on a legal footing?
MACHON: Well, they were established in 1909, and until 1989 they didn't officially exist. There was no oversight. No member of Parliament could ever question what they got up to. They could do what they wanted. In fact, Peter Wright, the 1980s author of Spycatcher, said notably that they could bug and burgle their way around London with impunity. So—and they did.
JAY: And MI5 is the domestic service.
MACHON: That's right, yes. And MI6 is the international service, like the CIA. And we also have a listening post as well. So we got three key—.
JAY: So a domestic service above the law, not just the international service above the law, which was sort of the culture here for the longest time.
MACHON: Yeah, no, the domestic service could do what they want, and they did. In fact, they investigated almost a million U.K. citizens purely for their political activity, and not only the citizens: they also had files, secret files, on a number of government ministers in the 1990s. And they did this because it was the Labour government and some of those ministers in their youth had been involved in left-wing politics. So, yeah, it was—it's a strange situation where you have the spies—.
JAY: This is all justified first of all by the Second World War, and then the Cold War.
MACHON: Yes, very much so, and they got very paranoid about penetration of Soviet moles.
JAY: Well, they did such a good job kicking them out.
MACHON: Exactly, yeah, exactly. So that gave them justification to investigate what they called subversives, the political activists.
JAY: So they—with all the Soviet moles that in fact did infiltrate MI6, MI5 would have been investigating them? Or MI6 is supposed to have investigated them?
MACHON: MI5 should have been investigating them, and they failed, obviously. And, of course, all these people who were the Soviet moles were very much establishment figures. They were very posh, top-drawer. And so none of them was ever prosecuted. They were allowed to flee.
JAY: Okay. So jump us up to you get recruited. What year, and to do what?
MACHON: I actually started working there in 1991, and I left in '96, and I had three postings during that time. First of all, in fact, my very first posting was in the political section, even though they said they no longer did it. And this is iiwhen I saw these files on government ministers, because there was a general election and we had to review them. So you have a situation in a democracy where the spies have secret information on people who are supposed to be their political masters, and so it's a tail-wagging-the-dog situation.
JAY: A bit of what Hoover did in the FBI here.
MACHON: Very much so. I mean, less cross-dressing, though, within MI5.
JAY: As far as you know.
MACHON: As far as we know. Then I worked against Irish terrorism for two years. And then my final posting was to international terrorism. And it was during my very first posting that I met my former partner, a man called David Shayler, who went on to become a very notorious, very well known whistleblower in the late 1990s, and we both ended up leaving and blowing the whistle.
JAY: So what happened? First of all, when does the coin drop?
MACHON: Well, the coin dropped pretty quickly, because, of course, they lied to me during recruitment, saying that they didn't do political work.
JAY: What do you mean by political work?
MACHON: Looking at subversives, people who are radical, either very left-wing [incompr.]
JAY: So investigating people simply 'cause of their political activities.
MACHON: Exactly. And when I say investigating, I mean incredibly invasive. So they could put bugs in their properties, they could bug their phones, they could follow them around, they could send undercover people in to report on them.
JAY: And what kind of people were they targeting?
MACHON: Oh, tiny little Trotskyist groups, things like—they were called "militant tendency" or Socialist Workers Party.
JAY: Why would they bother?
MACHON: Well, indeed. It was illegal to do that, because Trotskyist groups did not represent a threat to national security.
JAY: And anyone—certainly everyone on the left knew that.
MACHON: Well, quite. So this was a problem. They were shutting down the section. So at least that sort of stopped in the mid 1990s. Unfortunately, then the role of spying on left-wing groups was taken over by the secret police, who then ran undercover cops into these groups. And there was a big scandal only last year.
JAY: It sounds a bit like some of the discussions we've been having with some of your colleagues at LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and they're talking about how it's sort of become self-generating that you need to create the problem to justify some of the jobs and some of the money. So it sounds like some of this left-wing spying is sort of like that. I mean, everybody knows it's not a threat, but you keep saying it is, 'cause you keep getting more work out of it.
MACHON: It's jobs for the boys, very much. And as the Cold War drew to an end and the Berlin Wall came down, suddenly the MI5 was casting around for new areas of work. That's when they focused on the IRA, the provisional IRA in Northern Ireland. They took that work off the police. And that's what I thought I'd been recruited to do, to be a counterterrorism officer. And, in fact, my second posting was to that section.
And David also moved into T Branch, as it was called, and then moved into G Branch, which was international. And we saw a sort of escalation of issues that troubled us in both those sections. I mean, certainly in the Irish section, bombs that could and should have been prevented by MI5 were detonated on the U.K. mainland, killing people, and MI5 would then lie to government to cover up their mistakes.
JAY: And these were mistakes?
MACHON: They were mistakes, yes.
JAY: I mean, sometimes there's been some suggestion they're errors of deliberate omission, that sometimes it's not so bad if a bomb goes off here or there, 'cause it again justifies even more effort to stop such things. Any whiff of that?
MACHON: There's certainly a whiff, yes. And, of course, when they were working against the IRA, it was very different from working against al-Qaeda, because the IRA had a system of issuing passwords, codewords before an explosion. So they were quite sophisticated in their PR offensive. They would put a bomb down and then warn the police so that nobody would get hurt, so they'd just have sort of the PR hit of the bomb detonating. So, yes, I think some of that might have happened as well.
But it was really in the third posting that we saw the major issues. There was, first of all, an illegal telephone tap on a very famous left-wing journalist in the U.K. on The Guardian newspaper. There was also the imprisoning and the conviction of two innocent people for conspiracy to bomb the Israeli embassy in 1994 in London, and MI5 had evidence that they were innocent, and still let them go ahead and be convicted.
JAY: Why?
MACHON: Why? That's a very good question, because MI5's assessment, after they'd looked at all the evidence around this case, was that Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, had carried out a controlled explosion outside their own embassy in order to, one, increase the security around all their interests in London—which they'd been pushing for for years, and MI5 kept telling them to, you know, take a hike—and also to frame these two innocent people who were involved in Palestinian support networks in London. And that network was gaining a lot of traction politically and financially. And, of course, once you finger two innocent people, the whole network just disappeared.
JAY: So you're saying this as if you know this to be true. Has this evidence risen to the public level? Has anything happened?
MACHON: Oh, absolutely. I mean, during the whistleblowing years, this was one of the things that came out. And there was indeed an appeal for the two people in prison. And they admitted that there were documents within MI5, but they weren't going to disclose them, because they didn't have to under the secrecy laws. So the two people who had to finish their sentences, they got 20 years in prison each.
JAY: They did?
MACHON: Yeah. So the judge went against all—.
JAY: They did most of 20 years?
MACHON: They did most of 20 years.
JAY: That's insane.
MACHON: It was a young woman called Samar Alami and a young man called Jawad Botmeh. And there was a huge campaign to release them and everything. It was a big, big scandal. But the judge just ignored all case law and let them rot in prison.
JAY: Alright. So was that one of the things that starts to inspire you that this is—I can't live with myself doing this?
MACHON: Pretty much, yes. I mean, it was a sort of process of boiling the frog when we were in MI5. Things got worse and worse.
JAY: So when's the moment you look around and say, okay, I'm turning into frog's legs?
MACHON: Well, that sort of came to a head, came to the boil in 1995, because David Shayler, my partner at the time, was the head of the living section in MI5. And he had an unusually close working relationship with his counterpart in MI6, the foreign intelligence agency. And he was briefed officially about a plot that MI6 was involved in—and some of his colleagues were, too; it wasn't just David. And this was basically MI6 funding a bunch of Islamic extremist terrorists in Libya. And this group had links with al-Qaeda, which was a known terrorist group even then, which MI5 was investigating. And MI6 was funding this group. And what they were doing was helping to foment a coup against Gaddafi. So the group—.
JAY: But to investigate, they just, I assume, could have phoned the CIA and asked, because the CIA had, certainly at the beginnings of al-Qaeda, at least, something to do with it.
MACHON: Absolutely, yes. I mean, you know, all the support they gave them during the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, no doubt about it. But no, MI6 always liked to talk the talk. They liked to think they were big James Bond figures. And this was an opportunity to do something, I think. And also, the quid pro quo was that if Gaddafi was toppled, this group would seize power and then would start building nice, lucrative oil contracts with British Petroleum and all the other companies. So that seemed to be what they were after.
JAY: Yeah, it worked out really well in Afghanistan.
MACHON: Yeah, I know. They never seem to learn from history. They're doomed to make the same mistakes again and again.
So this group was funded by MI6. And David was concerned about this and reported it all the way up the management chain, but sort of thought they wouldn't do it. MI6 always talked big and did little. But then, in early 1996, a lot of intelligence reports—.
JAY: [incompr.] he's in MI5 or MI6?
MACHON: He's in MI5 along with me. He's the—.
JAY: And you get wind of this MI6 plan.
MACHON: He is officially briefed by his counterpart in MI6 over a period of months. So this was building up for a while.
JAY: And he, up the food chain of MI5, says, are you guys aware of what MI6 is planning to do.
MACHON: Yeah, and nobody seemed bothered, partly because MI6 would [crosstalk]
JAY: So just to get clear, this is a plan to use al-Qaeda type groups in Libya to assassinate the leader of Libya.
MACHON: Yes, at a time when al-Qaeda was known to be an enemy of the West. So MI5 was investigating them; MI6 was funding them. And that was how crazy it was. Crucially, as well, this operation was illegal under U.K. law, because under the Intelligence Services Act 1994, MI6 can commit crimes abroad with legal impunity, but only if they get the prior written permission of their political master, the foreign secretary. In this case, they didn't get it, so it was illegal as well as immoral and unethical.
And in early 1996, Gaddafi was returning from Sirte, in Libya, to Tripoli in a cavalcade of cars, and an explosion occurred under one of the cars—obviously, the wrong one, because Gaddafi survived. But there was a security shoot-out afterwards, and innocent bystanders were gunned down. So we're looking at an illegal operation funding our terrorist enemies, which goes wrong and also kills innocent people.
JAY: Now, just to back up, MI6 doesn't have the official sanction. But is there a suggestion here this is being done without the political masters knowing?
JAY: So it's—I mean, this is a kind of rogue MI6 operation.
MACHON: Yes, completely rogue and completely illegal. And yet roll forward a few years, and David has blown the whistle on this and gone to prison for it. The MI6 officers involved were never even arrested, certainly not charged or convicted. They were just protected by MI6.
JAY: Why would MI6 do something like this without the political masters knowing? I mean, how much of this goes on, do you think, where they have their kind of own agenda about how the world should look?
MACHON: Well, it's very much a sort of network of old public schoolboys, so, you know, as chaps might talk casually to each other. But I think the major problem is cultural, because until 1994, MI6 had operated outside the law. It was only in 1994 the new law came in which said they should get permission to do this sort of thing. And I think by 1995 the old boys hadn't really got to grips with the fact they had to follow the law. I think it was just that simple.
I mean, it's noticeable now, of course. You roll forward to 2011 and the war in Libya, the NATO invasion, and MI6 people were on the ground in Libya helping the Benghazi rebels, and most of those rebels were the very same groups that they'd been funding in 1996 secretly. This time they were funding and training and helping them overtly.
JAY: I think it is important, I think, from what I know of the Benghazi situation, that is, one segment of the rebels, 'cause there were a lot of people involved in that rebellion that were not al-Qaeda and not linked to MI6 or, we should add, French intelligence, 'cause the French were up to their eyeballs in all of this.
MACHON: Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah.
JAY: And also, just for the sake of the record, we shouldn't jump over the fact that after this '96-'97 period you're talking about, Gaddafi made his grand bargain with Cheney and Bush and had kind of had his rapprochement, including with the British, and Gaddafi's son was running around with British lords and Rothschilds and other people.
MACHON: Well, again, there's some interesting history there, because we know (it's on the public record) that the Shayler case was one of the negotiating factors between the Gaddafi regime and the Tony Blair government, that and the Lockerbie trial, you know, the two suspects that were wanted for the trial of bombing Pan Am 103 in 1988. So we have a situation where that was one of the sort of hot potatoes that helped Gaddafi use as a lever to get a deal with Blair and come in from the cold.
JAY: Right. So let's go back to your story. So you decide you've had enough and your partner decides he's had enough. And what happens?
MACHON: Well, there's not much you can do if you're concerned about crimes inside the intelligence agencies. And in the U.K., under the Official Secrets Act, a bit like the U.S. Espionage Act, it's a crime to report a crime.
JAY: Okay. You know what? We're going to stop here, and we're going to do a part two of this interview.
JAY: So this is a cliffhanger. So if you want to know what happens next, you've got to watch part two of our interview with Annie Machon on The Real News Network.

Transcript 2

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome back to The Real News Network. We're continuing our interview with Annie Machon.

Annie was an intelligence officer for the U.K.'s MI5 in the 1990s. She left after blowing the whistle on the incompetence and crimes of the British spy agency. She's now a writer and a political speaker, a public speaker. And she's also director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, or LEAP, based in Europe. Thanks for joining us again, Annie.
JAY: Alright. So we left off—you got to watch part one, 'cause I'm not going to summarize it. We're going to just pick up where we were. You left off with you had had enough. And then what?
MACHON: Well, after David was briefed about the Gaddafi plot and he saw it unfold, he decided he had to do something about it. So we took the decision of resigning and going to the newspapers, because under British law, the Official Secrets Act, the only people you can report a crime to legally are the heads of the agencies you're reporting on, so, of course, you can imagine how many complaints are upheld. And he had tried taking it up the management chain. They weren't interested. So he made contact with a British newspaper just before he resigned, and then we resigned. It took a long time to build the relationship of trust.
JAY: [incompr.] just clear on timing here. This is before this bomb goes off or after?
MACHON: It's—no, no. This is after the Gaddafi attack in—.
JAY: So the attack has taken place.
MACHON: In February 1996.
JAY: So the motive for doing this is you think it was illegal, there should be some accountability, you don't want it to happen again.
MACHON: Well, innocent people—.
JAY: And why do you guys stick your necks out?
MACHON: Innocent people have died. I mean, we weren't the only people resigning at the time. Many of our colleagues had equally valid reasons for leaving. They were flooding out of the agency because they were concerned about the ethics of the organization. But most of them didn't go public. They had ties and kids and mortgages and things. But yeah.
So the bomb occurs in late February, early March 1996. We resign in the summer of 1996. In the meantime, David makes contact with a national newspaper in the U.K., because he reckons if you're going to stick your neck out and go public about something, you want as much fuss as possible to push for an inquiry into this crime. It took a long time for the whistleblowing to happen, because the journalists were suspicious it might be a sting operation, and David was paranoid about being shopped by the journalists. So it took a few months. And then, finally, in summer 1997, the story started to break.
Now, the newspaper was too frightened to go with the Gaddafi plot initially.
JAY: Which paper are we talking about?
MACHON: It was The Mail on Sunday, which is a big national newspaper, and it's independently owned, crucially. So it belonged to Viscount Rothermere, who was very anti intelligence agencies. So it was a good newspaper to go with.
So, yes, the story finally breaks. They were too frightened to go with the Gaddafi plot. They wanted to research it themselves. So they start with the low-level stuff like files on government ministers, illegal phone taps.
And we flee the country. We literally have to go on the run around Europe, because we don't want to sit in our flat waiting to be arrested by the secret police. So we flew off to the Netherlands, we backpacked all around Europe for a month. And the government took out an injunction, of course, to try and gag David Shayler and gag the whole of the U.K. media to stop other stories coming out. And it all looked good, because once they did that, the whole of the national media was saying, you can't do this, we're the free press. The injunction occurred at the end of July '97. We went to bed happy.
The next morning, we woke up to the news that Princess Diana had died in Paris that night. So that was the end of any media support we could conceivably have had in our case. So we sort of found ourselves lost in Europe. And I went back after a month, knowing I'd be arrested, knowing I'd be questioned by the counterterrorism police. I found that our flat, our home had been completely ripped apart in a counterterrorism-style search. They found nothing. They also arrested David's brother, two of his best friends, on trumped up charges to put pressure on him.
I was never charged. I was never tried of anything And then I returned to France, where David had found a little farmhouse to hide in. And we spent almost a year there, where he tried to negotiate with the government.
JAY: Now, when you say "hide", they were looking for him and couldn't find him?
MACHON: Yes. Yeah. They were sort of chasing us all around Europe. And then we found this little place through a friend of a friend.
JAY: With an arrest warrant?
MACHON: Not at that point, no. It was the intelligence agencies, not the police. But we were there for about a year. And David finally got the newspapers and the BBC to come out with the Gaddafi plot story in the summer of 1998.
And after all this time hiding in France, suddenly there's an urgent extradition request from the British government to the French, saying, David Shayler's a traitor, you've got to extradite him back to us. So they arrested him and put him in prison, and he was there for a few months.
JAY: And then what happens?
MACHON: The French released him. They do not extradite people for political actions, which is what they deem whistleblowing to be. So a handy hint to anyone who has to go on the run from spy agencies: go to France.
JAY: And what happens to you?
MACHON: I'm stuck in Paris. My partner's in prison.
JAY: They haven't been chasing you. They didn't try to extradite you.
MACHON: They didn't, no. No. They wanted David because of the Gaddafi plot story. So I spend my time sort of shuttling backwards and forwards between France [crosstalk]
JAY: 'Cause he was the lead whistleblower—
MACHON: He was.
JAY: —on the Gaddafi plot story.
JAY: The stuff that you blew the whistle on was what?
MACHON: On a whole range of—well, mainly the political stuff, the more low-level stuff.
JAY: Going—the investigation into political activists and stuff.
MACHON: Yeah, that sort of thing. Yeah.
JAY: So then what happens? What do you do? They do extradite him eventually.
MACHON: They don't, no. They fail.
JAY: They don't. France let's him go.
MACHON: France lets him go.
JAY: But they don't—. Then what?
MACHON: Then we have—then he is safe in Paris. So we live in Paris in exile for two years. So he's there. They can't touch him, so long as he stays in France. I travel backwards and forwards between France and London trying to lobby MPs and deal with the journalists, deal with the lawyers, and at that time more evidence comes out from the CIA and from the French DGSE, which is the French CIA—actually, backing up, the fact the Gaddafi plot had happened, because the British tried to brush it aside as fantasy. And also, crucially, a document was leaked from MI6 which supported the Gaddafi plot, too.
So at this point, of course, there's another huge push for an investigation into this criminal action by MI6, and the government managed to spin its way out of having an inquiry.
JAY: So there never is an inquiry.
MACHON: There's never an inquiry. To this day, they still haven't officially taken the evidence.
JAY: And how many people were killed in that bombing?
MACHON: Eleven.
JAY: And who were they?
MACHON: Mainly bystanders. I gather two of Gaddafi's entourage were killed, too.
JAY: But just—.
MACHON: Just people standing on the street, watching the cars go by. Yeah.
JAY: So this is collateral damage, as they like to say.
MACHON: They do now, yes.
JAY: So then what? So this is never—then this is never unravelled, this issue, in terms of any kind of public accountability.
JAY: And has—do you think—I guess you weren't inside after this, but do you think anything changes in terms of the culture of either MI5 or MI6?
MACHON: I gather it's got worse, actually, because there was a crackdown in the wake of our going public. They very much tightened up security. They threatened anyone that we'd known in the services with prosecution if they spoke to us. And I know as well, post-9/11, of course, when the security gloves came off, that the culture spiralled out of control.
So we have a situation now where MI5 and MI6 are being investigated for involvement in torture of terrorist suspects, along with some of the American agencies, and when I was there in the 1990s they did not torture people. I mean, one, of course, it's ethically wrong, but two, they knew it was counterproductive—they'd seen it being counterproductive in the civil war in Northern Ireland in the '70s. They didn't do it.
But I think since 9/11, opinion has hardened and it—I'm sure there are many, many more people, potentially, who could blow many, many more whistles now than we ever could in the 1990s. It's just, you know, they're too frightened to.
JAY: Thanks very much for joining us.
MACHON: Thank you.
JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.
Related Link:

Thursday, 1 November 2012

An MI5 Whistle Blowers Story Who Shredded Her Majesty's Writ ?

More at The Real News
Who shredded Marian Price's Royal Pardon and Perverted the Course of Justice ?

The fingerprints of MI5 are all over the detention of Marian Price and Martin Corey, two former prisoners who served life sentences through the 1970s, eighties and nineties and are continuing to serve life sentences following their forcible return to prison at the direction of the British secretary of state Owen Paterson.

Ms Price and Mr Corey are at the centre of a power struggle for control over the quality of justice and its dispensation between Britain’s intelligence agencies and those inside the north’s justice and prison system and the courts who seek to administer justice based on the facts they see before them and not concocted stories woven in the minds of those inhabiting the murky world of MI5. A carefully planned campaign of intimidation orchestrated by MI5 is directed at David Ford, the north’s justice minister, the life sentence parole board inside the prison and the north’s judiciary.

The basis of this intimidation is vacuous testimony secretly sourced and provided by members of the intelligence agencies alleging that Ms Price and Mr Corey are a danger to the public because of their association with dissident republican groupings.

On Monday MI5’s interference in the justice process received a temporary and very public setback when Mr Justice Treacy ordered Mr Corey’s release on the grounds that there had been a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights and that his detention was unacceptable because it relied on “closed material” and that this was unsafe.

Within minutes of Mr Justice Treacy’s judgment directing Mr Corey’s release Paterson moved to block it, no doubt with the approval of MI5.

The speed with which Paterson moved against this judgment is an indication of the determination of those in the British intelligence system to fight to maintain their control.

At the time of writing Mr Corey is appealing the British secretary of state’s attempts to block his release.

And Paterson is facing additional pressure to release his grip over the north’s justice system by the solicitor representing Ms Price. With the assistance of Ms Price’s family and British-Irish Human Rights Watch, her solicitor, Peter Corrigan, invited two United Nations doctors to examine her.

The examination was carried out two weeks ago and the UN doctors’ report is due to be released shortly.

There has been concern for quite some time about Ms Price’s mental and physical health due to the prolonged period of isolation she has experienced since her arrest in May 2011. And although the staff at Belfast City Hospital, where she has been moved, are professional and attentive to Ms Price, the isolation continues. She is still a prisoner under armed guard.

There is a broad consensus among the medical team monitoring her health that a home-based environment is essential to arrest the decline in her physical and mental health. The minister for justice in the north’s executive, David Ford, has been lobbied to release Ms Price on humanitarian grounds by Sinn Féin, the SDLP and her family and supporters.

And while Mr Ford is not responsible for detaining Ms Price he has the power to release her.

He exercised that power some time ago when he released Brendan Lillis who was seriously ill in Maghaberry Prison.

Mr Ford was correctly praised for doing so. But it is not just the treatment of Ms Price in prison which is a travesty of justice, it is also her continued detention.

On two occasions Ms Price was granted bail and on both occasions Owen Paterson personally intervened to block her release.

When she was hours away from being released he revoked the pardon she was granted in 1980 and reimposed the life sentence she was given for bombing the Old Bailey in London in 1973.

Her solicitor pursued Paterson to hand over a copy of the pardon which triggered her release in 1981 because he believes the pardon will show that her conviction and life sentence were overturned.

Conveniently for Paterson, the pardon search ran cold. He claimed it was either lost or shredded.

Ms Price and Mr Corey are prisoners of MI5 and the web of deceit it has woven around them.

They should be released immediately.

By Jim Gibney.

First published by Organized Rage

MARCH DUBLIN NOV 3@2PM Garden of Rembrance

Tuesday, 30 October 2012


The Free Marian Price Campaign is a Non-party Political Campaign

'That great and respectable class, the men of no proper'

We would be very grateful if you would pass this information about the rally on to your friends, your comrades, your family and your colleagues to ensure that there’s a great crowd on the steets on the day. Marian’s case is a human rights issue and with your support and presence at the rally, we will be able to send a strong message to the British secretary of state.

Human Rights activist Monsignor Raymond Murray and Clare Daly TD will be speakers at the rally.

The Free Marian Price Campaign is a non-party political campaign and the campaign group asks every political party not to bring political material on the day. Placards, banners and posters will be provided.



British Army's Opening Shots of Civil War


British soldier’s account contradicts near century-old official records that say Collins refused help
BRITISH ARMY artillery crews were used to bombard the Four Courts in 1922 in the opening battle of the Civil War, according to a recently unearthed memoir.
The revelation contradicts near century-old official accounts that Michael Collins refused British offers of soldiers to end the three-month occupation of the Four Courts by anti-Treaty forces.
The memoir of Lance Bombardier Percy Creek, Royal Field Artillery, was found by Open University academic William Sheehan and broadcast by BBC Radio 4’s Document series last night.
In it, Creek recounts how his unit of howitzer artillery was sent to Fermanagh, but later told to march by night to Dublin and “told not to speak to anyone and to keep as quiet as possible”.
Up to then, the Irish National Army had fired less-effective shrapnel rounds into the Four Courts, then held by Rory O’Connor, who opposed the 1921 Treaty with Britain.
Creek’s unit, according to a memoir now held by the Imperial War Museum, waited until they were given the orders to fire, before unleashing two heavy rounds.
“[We] then saw the shell rip into a wall of one of the courts. Then, all became quiet and I think the officers and dignitaries were all very tense,” he recounts.
“We only fired two rounds and quickly limbered up and went back to the rest of the battery,” said the first World War veteran, who described the situation in Dublin as “very tricky”.
Creek recalled that his sergeant and commanding officer were worried beforehand because of the presence of Irish soldiers in the Royal Field Artillery unit: “The Irish are temperamental people,” he recorded.
Some of the memoir is contradictory in parts because Creek was under the impression that the building had been occupied by Black and Tans, rather than anti-Treaty forces.
“A few days later we went to some docks and the whole battery was shipped back to Fishguard,” he remembered in an account that appears to have been written in the 1960s or 70s.
In response to rumours at the time, the National Army vehemently denied that British soldiers had been involved in the Four Courts bombardment, issuing a detailed statement to The Irish Times.
In his records, Gen Nevil Macready recorded that Michael Collins had refused offers of British help, save artillery which the National Army did not have.
The British put pressure on Collins to end the Four Courts occupation after the assassination in London in June 1921 of Gen Henry Wilson, Chief of the Imperial General Staff.
The Creek memoir is significant, William Sheehan told The Irish Times yesterday, because it shows “that the agenda was being driven by the British cabinet in London”.
Ministers there, including Winston Churchill, were concerned that anti-Treaty forces in Munster and elsewhere would mobilise to surround the National Army troops encircling the Four Courts.
If that happened, Ireland would “then have fallen back into anarchy, forcing the British to impose order once again”, said the Nottingham-based academic.
Collins, he said, was “not a victim, but there is evidence that he was certainly not in control of what was going on around him. He’s choiceless. He is essentially doing what the British wanted”.
The British pressure had increased after the June 18th referendum on the Treaty, which the pro-Treaty side won by 239,193 first-preference votes to 133,864 – a result giving Collins democratic legitimacy.
Collins’s biographer Tim Pat Coogan told the programme he did not know if Creek’s version of events was accurate, but “it could have happened”.
Dr John Regan of the University of Dundee said the account “complicates things”, since it suggests that “the British were there for the opening shots of the Civil War”.