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This week on Behind the Headlines, we interviewed British journalist, author and human rights advocate Anne Cadwallader about UK government collusion with terrorism in Ireland.

Cadwallader is a former BBC and RTE journalist who has written extensively on the Northern Ireland conflict for media outlets like Ireland on Sunday, the New York Irish Echo, Reuters News Agency, and others. Using her deep understanding of the conflict, she has dedicated herself to helping bereaved families discover more about the circumstances in which their relatives were killed, and has campaigned for an Agreed Truth Recovery Process for all those who lost family members during 'The Troubles'.

To this end, Anne has worked with the now-suspended Historical Enquiries Team, the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, and the Serious Crime Review Team of the Police Service of Northern Ireland. Perhaps her most important work however has been as a researcher with the Pat Finucane Center (PFC), an Armagh-based human rights advocacy and lobbying organisation. One of the core activities of the PFC is to research and document individual cases of death during the conflict.

As a result of her work in this regard, Anne wrote the book Lethal Allies: British Collusion in Ireland, published by Mercier Press of Cork in October 2013. This ground-breaking work, which lays bare the fact of British collusion in Ireland, has sold 17,000 copies to date, and has been reprinted seven times.

Running Time: 02:02:00

Download: MP3

Here's the transcript of the show:

Niall: Hi and welcome to Behind the Headlines on the SOTT Radio Network. I'm Niall Bradley and my co-host as usual is Joe Quinn.

Joe: Hi there.

Niall: This week: British state terror in Ireland. We're interviewing Anne Cadwallader. Anne, originally from London, England, is an experienced journalist. She has worked for the BBC, Irish state broadcaster RTE, the Irish Press, Independent News Network, Network News and Reuters. She's spent a large part of her career in journalism reporting from Northern Ireland. She is the author of Holy Cross - The Untold Story and the groundbreaking Lethal Allies-British Collusion in Ireland. In 2009 she gave up journalism to work for the Pat Finucane Centre for Human Rights in Armagh as an investigator and case worker. So a big, warm welcome to you Anne.

Anne: Thank you very much.

Joe: So Anne if I could just start off with a question. You're a former BBC and RTE journalist, you've written for a lot of other mainstream media publications as Niall was mentioning, like Reuters and Ireland on Sunday, etc., but Niall also mentioned that you were involved very much in the Northern Ireland conflict, in terms of reporting on it in your capacity as a journalist. Was that by choice or how did you actually end up reporting on the worst of "the troubles" at that time?

Anne: Yes, it was by choice. I did my degree and my post-graduate work in England. But then in 1981, if you can think back that far, the biggest news story in the world was Bobby Sands' hunger strike in Long Kesh, in the Maze jail here in Northern Ireland. It was the biggest a story in the world that everybody was hanging on the every word on the radio to hear whether he was still alive or whether he had passed on. I had been across to Belfast in Northern Ireland for my holidays that year because I was just absolutely so fascinated by it, and, as a trainee young journalist trying to make a name for myself, I was interested in what was happening.

When I came to Northern Ireland it was completely different from what I had expected. I went back to work in England; I was working in Yorkshire at the time for the Bradford Telegraph and Argus, a good newspaper in Yorkshire in northern England, determined to return to Northern Ireland and work here. I applied to everywhere I could think of and one of the places I applied was the BBC and I was lucky enough to get a job with them.
So over I came in 1981 to work for the BBC.

Joe: Okay. You said that it was very different from what you expected in Northern Ireland. What was your impression being an English person and viewing it, until then, from afar, from England? What was you impression of the differences?

Anne: I guess I hadn't really thought about it very much actually, although obviously it was and should have been a very major news story. As a journalist even, I really hadn't thought that much about Northern Ireland. I was aware there was a conflict on over here. I had worked in London and I had heard bombs exploding in London, but even so I hadn't given it that much thought. And so when I came over here and realized the strength of view, the strength of opinion, on both sides, and the very real threat of violence over everyone - and I thought to myself I'm involved in anti-Aparteid in Britain and that's the other side of the world! And here in Northern Ireland there were civil rights issues that were happening right under my nose and as part of the jurisdiction in which I lived, that I didn't know that much about, and I just thought that was horrendous.

When I was over here I witnessed an Orange parade which I didn't expect to see and I was fully taken aback by it, people waving Union flags and other people scattering away as far and as fast as they could. I witnessed a UDA rally on the Shankill Road and I saw bars with huge white boulders outside them to prevent bombs taking place. Of course I was aware of the IRA's campaign in Britain because I'd heard the bombs myself. And all of a sudden something which had been just words in a newspaper, to me became something incredibly real, incredibly intense, very unexpected and utterly fascinating; issues such as: when is it right to take up arms; when is violence ever justified, if ever; issues about power, domination, control, nationalism, religion, all of that. Huge issues that are relevant even today in all sorts of other parts of the world as well as here in Ireland suddenly became so very, very real. This was happening right in front of me and I became totally absorbed in it and couldn't possibly gone back to England and not come back over here. I'd have come back no matter what, but I was lucky enough to get a job to work with the BBC.

Joe: My understanding is that at that time and even still today, a lot of people, particularly in England, would have had a very 'official' understanding of the conflict, that this was a terrorist organization. Did you have that understanding when you came?

Anne: Yeah. Well just to take one side of it, for example, I read lots of stories in the British newspapers about the IRA being godfathers and involved in sleazy rackets - one-armed bandits and taxi firms - I didn't have any idea that there was any popular support on the ground for the IRA. Now rightly or wrongly, there was, whether you agree with it or not. When I came over here and found that ordinary, decent Catholic people were out on the streets demonstrating in support of the IRA hunger strike I was absolutely gobsmacked! I just couldn't believe it. I didn't realize that this was a campaign that was rooted in the population.

Now, whether that was right or not, the fact is that it existed. People were out there demonstrating in their thousands in support of IRA hunger strikers and this was not what I expected.

Joe: So, to a certain extent you had your eyes opened to the much more complex and nuanced nature of...

Anne: And the rest of my countrymen unfortunately didn't and still don't. But I firmly believe that if people in Britain knew what had been going on here and had given a better idea by the media of what was happening here during the conflict, that the conflict would have ended a whole lot earlier than it did. The peace process would have come in the 1970s instead of the 1990s. A whole lot of people lost their lives unnecessarily simply because we, us, journalists, the media, didn't do our job properly and didn't convey to the ordinary people in Britain what was really happening on the ground in Northern Ireland. And that's a great pity.

Joe: What kind of experience did you have in terms of trying to convey...

Niall: The truth as a journalist.

Joe: ...the truth as a journalist in Northern Ireland working for BBC Northern Ireland?

Anne: Well I spent 30 years, I suppose, trying to do that. When I was working for BBC Northern Ireland, I was largely broadcasting to the local audience, in the six counties, in Northern Ireland. When I worked in Dublin, I was working for the Irish Press in Dublin as a political correspondent reporting on Leinster House [the parliament of Ireland], I was also working for the BBC down there too.

I'd largely been responsible for broadcasting to Northern Ireland, and to the 26 counties to the south as well, not to Britain. But whenever I'd had the opportunity, I certainly tried both on a personal basis and also on a profession one, to do as good a job as I could, as a journalist. And when I quit journalism five years ago to work for the Pat Finucane Centre, one of the reasons I think I did that was I felt I'd spent 30 years trying to do my very best as a journalist and maybe it was time to try another way, which was to become more directly involved in human rights issues and in exploring and researching human rights issues and then telling people about them.

Joe: Was there a defining moment in your time spent as a journalist in Northern Ireland, looking at the conflict, where you started to realize that things really weren't as they seemed?

Anne: Yes, if I had to pick out one moment, I suppose the very first time I was on night duty at the BBC in Belfast. At that time it was a 24 hour news room because so many things were happening around the clock. One person would be left in the wee hours of the night, between midnight and 4:00 a.m., then other people would come in at 4:00 a.m. People would go home at midnight and other people would come in at 4:00 o'clock. But for those four hours you were on your own, between midnight and 4:00 a.m. And I got a phone call the very first night I was on overnight duty - on my own in the BBC newsroom in Belfast - from the RUC press office to tell me that three men had been shot dead after their car broke through an RUC roadblock and the police had opened fire to protect themselves in self defence and had killed these three men.

I got the statement and I reported on it; I repeated it; I wrote up the story for the morning news pages and it was only after that, that I discovered that whole thing was a lie. That there was no roadblock, that the men who had been killed has been unarmed, that the police that had opened fire had ambushed them and there was no question of self defence. These killings later became the subject of the Stalker and Sampson investigations, the so-called "shoot to kill" episode in the early 1980s. And that was my role in it, and it's not one I'm particularly proud of, but certainly when I came to Northern Ireland, I believed that the police by and large told the truth, but I was very severely disabused of that.

Joe: You said you retired, was it five years ago?

Anne: Yes. I joined the PFC five years ago now.

Joe: Right. And before that you were involved in some way in the Historical Enquiries Team as well?

Anne: No, that was after I joined the Pat Finucane Centre. I was involved with the HET only as far as I would very occasionally interview members of it. The Historical Enquiries Team was a unit set up that was semi-independent from the police service of Northern Ireland which the then-chief constable initiated as a method I suppose, of shifting from his own responsibility, responsibility for investigating the past. Hugh Orde who was the then-chief constable who'd taken over as chief constable after it changed from being the Royal Ulster Constabulary to the new Police Service of Northern Ireland, he found that an increasing amount of his officers' time was being taken up by investigating unresolved murders from the troubles, from the conflict times. And so he set up a new unit which was semi-independent from the Police Service of Northern Ireland, called the Historical Enquiries Team and they were responsible for investigating unresolved murders and indeed, in the end, all murders that had taken place during the conflict.

And as a journalist I very occasionally would interview people from the HET (Historical Enquiries Team), but then when I joined the Pat Finucane Centre it became a key part of my responsibility because we were working and engaging with the HET to try and find out as much as possible about the deaths of the families for whom we worked with, and that was a very key part of my job at that time.

Joe: The impression I get is that the Pat Finucane Centre, unlike the Historical Enquiries Team which is now suspended and was semi-independent from the...

Anne: Yes, we're completely independent. PFC is a completely independent organization, what's called an NGO, a non-governmental organization. We're involved in campaigning for human rights on many different levels. One of the most important thing is that we work with people whose loved ones died during the conflict, many of whom we believe died unnecessarily because of illegal collusion between members of the security forces and loyalist paramilitary groups, i.e., people who were paid and responsible for upholding the law and enforcing the law, and those in the loyalist paramilitary groups who were dedicated to murder against the law.

So one of our main issues is to work with families who believe their loved ones died as a result of collusion between the two groups of people who should have been completely opposed to each other but legally secretly worked together in many instances to cause the deaths of many totally uninvolved civilians who were just going about their ordinary everyday business. And as a result of that work, the book Lethal Allies became written.

Joe: Right, it's a fantastic book. I've read quite a few books on the conflict in Northern Ireland and your book, Lethal Allies - British Collusion in Ireland I have to say is by far the best in the sense that it really leaves the reader with no...

Anne: Well I can take very little credit for that because ten years of work had gone into Lethal Allies before I even joined the Pat Finucane Centre. But as a journalist, when I did join, most of the research had been done and they were determined to try and bring it into a book to be published as far and wide as possible. Of course as a journalist I was ideally placed not only read all the research that they had, but to try and turn it into a readable book.

I'd already been asked twice before to write books about collusion but I turned down the requests because I believed it was impossible to prove collusion. Because collusion is something that's terribly private and very, very difficult to prove, because it leaves no evidence. Of course the resulting act of murder, of bombing and shootings as a result of collusion, they give plenty of evidence. But the original crime if you want, the original sin, is a secret one. It's like conspiracy. If you have loyalist paramilitaries meeting and discussing with members of the police force and British soldiers on how to kill people and where to kill people and who to kill, that will be private, unless one of them breaks and speaks about it themselves and becomes a whistleblower; then it's very, very difficult to prove that this happened.

I wasn't interested in writing a book that wasn't conclusive. I wasn't interested in destroying my reputation by writing a book that everybody could point at and say, "Well this is just speculation. This is rumour. This is propaganda." I would only have been interested in writing a book where we could nail it, where we could prove it. And I think that that's what we've done with Lethal Allies. People can pick up this book and they can read it and they won't be saying to themselves "This maybe 80 percent true or even 90 percent true". What's in the book has not been challenged either in detail or in principle in the two years or so since it's been published. So people can be sure that when they read this book, they are reading the god's honest truth, not something that's been made up.

Joe: Absolutely. Anne, like I said it's a fantastic book because it does that and because I suppose of your background and your journalistic training, you were the ideal person to put together this information in the way that you have. But the overall impression I'm left with from reading this book is that the British state effectively, and it's involvement in Northern Ireland, contrary to what it claimed that it was there for, to keep the peace and fight terrorism, that it was actively involved in continuing the conflict and furthering the conflict, even the point of maybe even considering pushing a civil war on the people of Northern Ireland.

Anne: Yeah. I don't think they realized what the outcome would be. I think they decided very early on that they weren't going to be able to defeat the IRA militarily. I think they also decided, and indeed in the documents we found them saying that they couldn't fight the war on two fronts. They couldn't genuinely be neutral. They couldn't be umpires holding the jumpers during the game of cricket that was going on at the pitch. They decided early on that they were going to have to take sides. But they didn't want the world to know that.

So they became involved in collusive activity which changed its nature during the course of the conflict. Collusion in the 1980s wasn't the same as in the 1970s. But they must have known very early on that if they created a regiment - which they did, called the Ulster Defence Regiment - that it would inevitably be infiltrated by loyalist paramilitaries who would use it to train, to arm themselves, to target people. And that is exactly what happened. Weapons went missing month after month after month and they were used to kill people. They knew that. They did nothing about it.

It's probably even worse than that, but at the very, very lowest level, there was collusion and it was known about and nothing was done to stop it. It's also very interesting, as I've said, a lot of the book was researched before I joined the PFC, but one thing I did do and which I do take credit for, is that we drew up a list of all the people who died in this series of murders - and there was 120+ of them - and then we drew a line and we put on one side of the piece of paper, all those people who died at random, who were just terribly, terribly unlucky for being in a bar that was bombed or sprayed with machine gun bullets.

And on the other side of the piece of paper we put all those people who were deliberately targeted for who they were, for what they were; who were killed in their own homes, for example, who were killed at their own work or were killed as they turned into the driveway on their way home from work. With those people, we came up with some very interesting findings. All of these people, with one exception, either had a bit of land or property or they'd just been promoted at work, or they'd just started a new company, or they were self-employed; they were all people of standing within the community. None of them had any paramilitary links at all, with one exception. If they had any political links it was with the social democratic labour party, which was the more moderate of two Roman Catholic nationalist parties, not Sinn Fein, not with the IRA.

The only conclusion we can draw from that is that these people had been deliberately targeted in order to spread fear through the community because it was their very ordinariness that singled them out; the fact that nobody would look at them after they'd been killed and say "Ah, well yes, they were involved in active republicanism. They'd taken up a gun or they were involved in any way, shape or form with republicanism, either militarily or politically." These were people who weren't involved in any of that and therefore, what that meant was that anybody could be a target, that it didn't matter what the politics were. You could be killed. You could be singled out and killed.

The idea, I think, was to terrorize the Catholic community into spitting out the IRA, into turning their backs on the IRA. It didn't have that result! The result was a longer conflict because the entire Catholic population knew what was going on. The priests knew what was going on. The politicians knew what was going on. They had delegation after delegation, to London, to Dublin, to Stormont, saying something had to be done in mid-Ulster to break this gang apart, that were spreading so much blood around them. They knew what was happening; everybody knew what was happening. And it turned people, not against the IRA, but against the state that they knew was responsible with these series of killings. It was totally unproductive. Not only was it immoral, illegal and involved domestic and international law, but it was totally counterproductive.

I think this has very important lessons for today's so-called 'war on terror', wherever it's being waged.

Joe: Yeah, absolutely. That's a very good point. When I read about what went on in Northern Ireland and understand the very duplicitous nature of the state's actions, it makes me wonder if those kinds of policies and that kind of strategy are being used elsewhere around the world today.

Anne: What it means is there's no quick fix. I think the British thought maybe there would be a quick fix in the 1970s, if they decided to give the loyalists a bit of leeway so that they could spread terror around and that this would defeat the IRA, it would bring people to heel; it would force nationalists to lower their political aspirations and to go back to the situation that existed pre-civil rights days. But there is no quick fix. If you breach human rights, and you terrify people in the short term, in the long term you make people determined to resist you. Breaching human rights is never, never a good idea, whether it's in Guantanamo, whether it's in Iraq or Iran or Afghanistan, it's not productive policy, to breach human rights, because you create more enemies and you force people to stand up against you.

Joe: Yeah. Some of the stuff is really horrifying. Your book is a very traumatic to read...

Anne: If it was traumatic to read, I can tell you it's traumatic to write as well.

Joe: I can imagine. I watched the video of you at the launch of your book on the Falls Road, I think, in Belfast.

Anne: Yes.

Joe: And you got, understandably, quite emotional when you were recalling some of the memories.

Anne: It was big [Coup] De Grace because while we weren't sure if there would be an audience for it. Maybe people would say, "Oh well, so what?" But we were very gratified when we didn't know how many people would turn up to that launch in Belfast, whether they'd be 10, 20, 30, 40, maybe 100, but upwards of a thousand people turned up. The book was sold out before it was even published. It was an immensely emotional time for us to realize that the 10 years work that had gone on before I joined the PFC and the five years work that had gone on after I joined the PFC, was going to receive a popular welcome. And it has done and the book has been reprinted eight times now and has done very well right across the world.

The one place it hasn't done very well is in Britain. But we've not given up on that. Our publishers, Mercier Press in Cork, had a publicist in Britain at the time of the book's publication and the publicist read the book and was very impressed by it. But she contacted everyone that she usually contacts when she's involved in a book launch, and not one single magazine or radio show called her back, in Britain. Although there's been interest as far as Australia and New Zealand. I've just returned from Australia and New Zealand on a speaking tour there.

Joe: Yeah.

Anne: But the British people unfortunately are still left in the dark. There's a kind of glass ceiling which is very hard to break through in order to reach people in Britain, to tell them about the true nature of the conflict in Northern Ireland. But we haven't given up. We're still carrying on and we will get there in the end. It's just taking much longer than we thought.

Joe: It's very interesting. What do you think that mechanism is, when your publicist tried to get the book spread around in Britain?

Anne: I think it's resistance in Britain. Unfortunately, although I'm British myself obviously, I think there is a huge resistance in Britain to looking honestly at the government's role in Irish affairs. I think that's probably because Ireland is so close to Britain and people in Britain tend to associate Irish people with Graham Norton, Terry Wogan, etc. I think there's a resistance there. I hesitate to call it racism. But I think there is a huge resistance there to taking the Irish people seriously.

Of course the IRA has its own responsibility for that. People obviously, recoil from what the IRA did during the conflict and don't particularly wish to think about it. It's a very hard subject to grapple with and a very difficult, unpopular, unfashionable subject to grapple with. But one nevertheless that I think if the British government and the British people are going to take any kind of responsibility for what happened in Ireland, they should really examine the past and examine what their government's role was in Ireland.

As a people, I don't think ordinary British people are to be held responsible. I would hold the governments responsible, not the people. But the one responsibility people do have, is to inform and educate themselves about conflicts in which their own government plays a part and in which their own taxes pay for.

Joe: Yeah, absolutely. The name of the NGO that you work with and through which your book was published, the Pat Finucane Centre, which is a very appropriate name for the kind of work you do.

Anne: Yeah, Pat was a very successful Catholic lawyer who, as you know, was murdered by a group of people that included British military intelligence. And this is not just talking out of turn here. It's been proven and accepted and apologized for by the British government. David Cameron has finally apologized profusely to the Finucane family for the involvement of state forces in his murder. He was a successful lawyer. He was beginning to - coincidentally, actually - force disclosure in open court about the shoot-to-kill episodes of the early 1980s that I was speaking about some time earlier.

But he also believed in the power of the law and in the principles of law which is that everybody is equal before the law and in the principles of human rights. He believed in those to vindicate peoples' rights and not to take up the gun and not to become involved in violence. And we too, like him, believe that it's only in abiding and enforcing and respecting humans rights and the rule of law, is the only protection we have against the law of the jungle.

Joe: Yeah. Pat Finucane's murder was I think, one very clear example of the British state forces using a proxy army to kill, to get rid of someone, that, to them, was a threat to their agenda.

Anne: And i reported that side, indeed. But they have so far managed to protect themselves from the full rigors of the truth almost, because Pat Finucane's family is demanding and was indeed promised, a full independent public inquiry into his murder, and the British have reneged on that promise. And they haven't got their enquiry. They've had various investigations carried out by Sir John Stevens, former Metropolitan Police Commissioner in London and by others as well. But they not had the full public enquiry which would mean full disclosure of all the practices that happened with his murder, that they were promised. In fact the British government changed the rules in public enquiries just after they promised to hold a public enquiry into Pat's murder, simply, one would feel, to avoid the truth coming out. One wonders about how high up the chain of command knowledge of the plans to murder Pat Finucane went.

Niall: How come the book is limited to a certain set of murders and bombings over a certain time period.

Anne: Well that's a very easy answer to give you: because we only had that information. We could have written more but the book is entirely based on factual documentary information.

Niall: Okay.

Anne: We didn't get access to the RUC archives. We got access to the HET and they consisted of mostly former British police officers who were security vetted and who therefore had access to the RUC archive. The RUC archive, as you can well understand, is not open to people like me who might wander in and look at documents; we can't get in there. But the HET officers could get in, having been security vetted and being former police officers themselves, had access to the files. So they had access to the files and we therefore had access to the files through them. These murders that we covered are the only murders to whose files the HET, at that time, had access. So those are the only murders that we could investigate.

Niall: Okay.

Anne: We were aware that there are other series of murders in other parts of the north and at other times, for example in East Tyrone in the 1980s where collusion was possibly even more targeted and controlled than it was during these series of murders, but we haven't got access to that information. That information is kept under lock and key, away from the families who lost their loved ones, away from human rights investigators such as ourselves, and it is hidden from public view. Until there is an agreed mechanism to investigate the past in Northern Ireland, they will remain hidden from public view. Those secrets will remain secret. The only reason that we limited ourselves to these 120 murders which took place between 1972 and 1976, very largely in Ulster but also in Dublin and Monaghan, is that we had access to the files.

Niall: Okay. But even from that limited disclosure - let's call it that - the case is solid.

Anne: Yes.

Niall: What was maybe known to the Catholic nationalist community from the beginning, but which was contested for decades, is now clear for everyone to see.

Anne: People have been talking about collusion for decades. That's the whole point! People 'knew' it was going on. The dogs in the street, as they say, knew it was going on. But the dogs in the street is not evidence. What we got was hard evidence that is incontrovertible and indeed has not been challenged in the two years since the book has been published. So that's the difference. People can say "Oh well, we knew this was going on." Yeah, you might have known it was going on, but you had no proof until we produced it. And that's the difference. The difference is that we can prove this happened.

Joe: Anne, you mentioned the Dublin and Monaghan bombings which were in the Irish Republic, officially another state at the time. So this was attacks being spread further afield than just Northern Ireland, down into the south.

Anne: Yes.

Joe: I know you cover it in your book, but what's your...

Anne: Because it was the same gang that was involved.

Joe: Who?

Anne: ...the same gang that was involved, or permutations of the same gang. It was the same group of loyalists, in liaison with members of the RUC and the UDR. We firmly believe that the Dublin-Monaghan bombings, was the single largest loss of life in the entire history of the conflict, was carried out by the same kind of people, by the same group of people.

Joe: But is there evidence of British state involvement?

Anne: Yes there is. You can easily access that information by going to our sister organization, Justice for the Forgotten, that speak out on behalf of the Dublin-Monaghan bombing victims. They have on their website, the copies of the full verbatim reports from the Barron enquiry that was ordered by Dail Eireann, the Irish Parliament, into the Dublin-Monaghan bombings, and which did turn up much evidence of state involvement in those bombing as well. The three bombings in Dublin and the one in Monaghan that all took place on the 17th of May 1974. So that can be easily accessed. Under Mr. Justice Henry Barron there was a series of enquiries into those bombings and it did turn up evidence that the same miscreants who were involved in the murders north of the border were also involved in those attacks as well. The evidence is there; the forensic, ballistic and other evidence is there to be seen. And it's easily accessed via the Justice for the Forgotten website.

Joe: That amounts to an attack, effectively, by the British government on the Irish state. It could almost be construed as a an of war. But it has to be said that the Irish government's response was fairly muted to that.

Anne: Yes, that's why it's called Justice for the Forgotten, because it was really so embarrassing that Dublin would much rather have just ignored it; even ignore the deaths of its own people in order to promote and protect its friendship and its alliance with London, against the main enemy, which always seemed to be the IRA.

Now, Mr. Justice Henry Barron when he conducted his enquiry, did not get full access to all the files on Dublin-Monaghan. The British government has refused to share them with the enquiry on the grounds of national security. And one can only imagine what that euphemism "national security" stands for. To this day they have still refused. The Irish government's position is that every time it meets the British government and its representatives to discuss the law and to discuss legacy issues like this, that the Irish government does ask the British government to reveal those files.

Now we originally - Justice for the Forgotten and the Pat Finucane Centre - were initially asking for those files to be revealed publicly but we have compromised our position, on the basis that the British state can't release the files for national security reasons. We've therefore compromised and said "Okay, if you won't let us view the files, maybe you'll let an agreed judicial figure of substantial standing that we can agree on, to see those files instead of them being released publicly. Maybe an international judicial figure should be able to view those files and report on what they contain, subject to genuine concerns of national security." But that has not been acceptable to the British side either. Which has led even the Irish President Michael D. Higgins, to make an appeal as well that they should release those files. Until they do the families won't give up and will continue campaigning.

Joe: It's pretty obvious, to me anyway, that when governments like that talk about "in the interests of national security", what they're talking about is "in the interests of not making the government look bad".

Anne: Yeah. Presumably - and one can only presume - that there were informers involved, agents and informers. One theory is that the explosives and the bombs themselves were constructed by people who had some experience with them from within the security forces. We just don't know. Unlike the other cases that we reported in the book there is still a huge question mark hanging over the extent of the British security force's involvement in those bombings. We just simply don't know at the moment because the files haven't been released.

Niall: Am I correct Anne, to say that the Dublin bombings were the single biggest atrocity during the whole conflict?

Anne: Yeah, more people lost their lives on that one day than lost their lives on any other single day during the entire conflict.

Niall: That's astonishing. So it's a conflict in - ostensibly - a separate state, the worst atrocity of which happened, what rationally would be its natural ally with the victims in that other conflict. And worse than not just putting a lid on it; you make the case in your book that the Dublin government's reaction was to effectively enhance their own involvement in working against the IRA and Irish nationalism.

Anne: Yes. Not all, but many Irish politicians at that time said, "Well if it wasn't the IRA then we wouldn't have been attacked in Dublin and Monaghan. So we won't blame the loyalists who detonated the bombs, we'll blame the IRA who prompted the loyalists to detonate the bombs." And so rather than focus on the loyalists, they focused, yet again, they redoubled their efforts against the IRA rather than try and track down the loyalists who were directly responsible for the creation and detonation of the bombs; three in Dublin and one in Monaghan, killing 34 people. It's always horrible to do a body count, but 32 people were killed in the Omagh bombing; thirty-four people were killed in the Dublin bombing. Nobody should be killed at all, ever, anywhere. But if you're going to look at the worst atrocity, the worst single loss of life was Dublin on that one day; thirty-four people including one full-term unborn child.

Joe: That response from the Irish government is extremely obtuse, to blame the IRA. That's more or less like saying "Well, if the IRA would just stop doing what it's doing and if the nationalists in the north would just lie down and take the discrimination against them and their status as second class citizens, then everything would be okay." It seemed to me that the Dublin bombings were more about sending a warning from the British state to the Irish state that "this can be brought to your door".

Anne: You could certainly look at it that way and there would be a logical argument there. That's certainly the view of many people who lost relatives in Dublin-Monaghan bombing.

Niall: Yeah, the message being: "We can bring this war to you".

Joe: "To your door".

Anne: Yes.

Joe: Anne, you mentioned informants and agents and obviously these kind of people are central to the whole thesis here of collusion. But there's another aspect to it that occurred to me. I'm thinking specifically here of the spate of tit-for-tat killings and massacres that happened during the late 1970s, specifically, for example, the Miami Show Band murder where a group of musicians effectively, Catholic nationalist musicians were gunned down.

Anne: They were a mixed group. The Miami Show Band, which was then the most popular show band in Ireland, were mixed. At least two of the members of the band were protestant.

Joe: Right. And then the response to that was the Kingsmill massacre where a group of...

Anne: Yes. What happened was that you had a ratcheting up of the murders. Towards the end of 1975, there was an attack on Donnelly's Bar in Silverbridge, three dead there. The same day there was an attack in a bar just across the border in Dundalk, two dead. So you have five dead on that one day, the 19th, just before Christmas, 1975. And then you had the Christmas break and almost immediately the New Year started with the murders of the Reavy and the O'Dowd families. That was three members of the Reavy family, three members of the O'Dowd family, separately, were shot dead on the same day, the 4th of January.

So the body count was ratcheting and ratcheting up. And then you had the IRA taking retaliation by going in and killing 10 protestant workmen at Kingsmills. It was a horrific case. But in the background one wonders if somebody somewhere hadn't decided that it was time to take the gloves off and get stuck in and if there was a massive, massive body count like that, it would result in prompting civil war in which case all bets were off and the British army could go in and it would become a full scale outright war, with no pretence of human rights or the law being upheld. And there very well may have been those behind the scenes in London who thought that that was the best way to end this conflict, to get it over and done with, get it all out in the open and have an outright civil war.

Joe: Yeah, those allegations have been made that in this second response killing that you just mentioned, in Kingsmill, where a group of protestant workers were supposedly killed by the IRA, there has been allegations that this was a kind of rogue faction of the IRA and that it wasn't sanctioned by the IRA to kill these people. And that the one of the people involved in it, who came up with the idea, may well have been effectively a British state agent.

Anne: There may have been agents on both sides.

Joe: Right.

Anne: There may have been agents on both sides trying to promote outright civil conflict. The 10 protestant workmen who were killed at Kingsmills had the absolute same right to the truth as the 120 families who lost loved ones in the series of murders outlined in Lethal Allies. They have absolutely the same right and they are already themselves alleging collusion in those murders. And they have an absolute right to get as much as possible, the truth of that out into the open, be they protestant, Catholic, nationalist or unionist. The Pat Finucane Centre believes that every single person who lost a loved one during the conflict has precisely the same right to the truth as everybody else. And the Kingsmill families have just that same right.

Joe: There's a problem there though, in the sense that there's a lot of motivation among the nationalist Catholic community to expose this kind of collusion because...

Anne: It's harder. It's harder for a protestant group because if they allege collusion, what they're talking about - protestant people, all unionist people, believing what you will - have always believed that the security forces were there to act in their best interests.

Niall: Yes!

Anne: I don't think Catholics ever had that illusion. So it's very, very hard for them to make allegations against the security forces. Many of them have family who served in the UDR and RUC and therefore it's even harder for them to make accusations against the security forces that they genuinely, honestly believed - and many of them still do believe - were there to protect their own interests. And to make those allegations is very hard for them. But they have made those allegations. The Kingsmills families have alleged that there was collusion in their loved ones' murders and they have an absolutely right to that truth. It takes a lot of courage to speak out against your own community and against your own community's long-held beliefs, and long-held support for the security services. And to accuse those same security services now of colluding with others in your loved ones' murders, it takes a lot to do that and that's what they've done. And they deserve all the support possible.

Joe: Yeah, just speaking about Kingsmill, it's been said, and I read this on the Pat Finucane Centre's website, about the Kingsmills massacre and the idea that loyalist paramilitaries came up with an idea to keep that tit-for-tat cycle going; and that they had planned to launch an attack on a children's school outside the area in Belleek and kill 30 school children and their teacher and that this may have actually been, effectively, the brainchild of someone in British military intelligence.

Anne: Yeah, it's our belief anyhow, but this after Kingsmills, it's not just our belief, we have an interview with an RUC officer, Billy McConkie, who said that at that point he was one of the RUC officers involved with the loyalists in colluding in some of these murders. He said at that point, as far as he and his colleagues were concerned, it was gloves off time and it was time to go in hard. And one idea was to murder Catholic nuns at a convent in Newry and another idea was to go to the primary school at the village of Belleeks in south Armagh and to kill 30 children and their school teacher. But when this proposal was put to the UDF leadership in Belfast, they already suspected some of their members in south Armagh were being manipulated by British military intelligence. And the UDF leadership vetoed that and it didn't happen but it was being planned.

Joe: Another aspect of agents of the British state shaping, molding and pushing this conflict in a way that was going to benefit nobody in Northern Ireland, is the IRA's so-called proxy bombs, where they would kidnap someone's family and hold them at gunpoint and force them to drive a car to a military checkpoint and detonate a bomb. But there evidence again - I think there was even an article on the Guardian website - that this idea was also the brainchild of British intelligence, to use these proxy suicide bombers.

Anne: I've seen the same reports as you but I haven't seen the hard evidence for that so I don't feel qualified to comment. But all I will say is that having seen the evidence that I have seen, in the 120 murders that have gone into Lethal Allies, I would put nothing beyond them, nothing.

Niall: Just to go back to the Kingsmill families who have alleged collusion, that also touches on, what we talked about earlier, which is what motive the British state as a whole, and particularly the authorities in Northern Ireland, would have for withholding information. Because right there you're shattering the myth of the very people you need to support the existing regime. So collusion is such a dirty word all the way around because if the protestant population of the north of Ireland were to understand and pursue the truth to where it may lead them...

Joe: Yeah, they would find common cause with the Catholics.

Niall: Exactly and that's their worst nightmare.

Anne: Yeah, exactly. That's one reason that we believe that it's so necessary to have an agreed historical investigation into the past. Obviously the main reason we're campaigning is that we want the truth for the families that we work with. We know them; we believe they deserve the truth and we believe they should be given the truth. But a secondary and almost equally as important reason is that, I personally believe there is the possibility that if both sides in this conflict could understand better what was really going on during the conflict, which is that it wasn't two communities fighting each other, it was two communities being manipulated to a greater or lesser degree by others outside of the communities.

Then there is the possibility for making common cause and there is the possibility, looking at it with the glass half full, there is the possibility for reconciliation between nationalists and unionists, understanding our shared history and moving forward. Now I don't think there'll ever be an agreed narrative as to what happened during the conflict but I think if there's a better understanding about how people were being manipulated by forces outside their control or even outside their knowledge, then there is the potential there for greater understanding and possible even a reconciliation between the communities.

Niall: And at the very least, prevent history from repeating itself so soon.

Anne: Well one would hope so in Ireland, certainly, although the prognosis isn't good looking at the past, and looking at how the same mistakes are repeated over and over again, and looking at how in the Middle East at the moment, the Suni and Shia have been set against each other and the mess that has been created in the Middle East by western intervention; you wonder if our governments in Europe and America are ever going to be capable of learning from history.

Niall: They clearly like the strategy. I'd like to talk about that because you mentioned from the list of 120 people, only one had the remotest connections to anything republican.

Anne: Yes.

Niall: And not just that, but the others were not just a random selection of people, working class people etc., rather they were people chosen because they were upwardly mobile. They were people going somewhere. They were people who would surely reinforce the prospects for peace in the north of Ireland.

Anne: I have to say I think it was totally counterproductive. By picking on people like that, picking on pillars of the community if you like, or people who just were trying to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps as a result of educational reforms in the 1940s and 50s. This was a new class of confident, upwardly mobile Catholics, who potentially, I suppose, could have been a danger to populist support for armed republicanism, but ended up not being so because they could see themselves what was happening in their communities. They knew what was happening. People aren't stupid you know. They can understand; they can see who's being targeted and they can work out for themselves why. It's never a good idea for governments to believe that they can fool people. You can't people all the time.

Niall: Okay, that's the perspective from the victims' side. I want to think about it from the attackers' side because clearly in this case, a gang of reactionary people who clearly have no qualms about committing violence, behind them there's a strategy that's at work, a play where they target a certain profile of person. Does it strike you in what you're seeing that that cannot have been decided by loyalist paramilitary forces, that that is a strategy from higher up?

Anne: No, I think it came from higher up.

Niall: Okay.

Anne: And I think it changed as well because during the 1970s in this series of murders - as I've said, I've described to you the sort of people who were killed - it changed in the 1980s. In the 1980s it became much more targeted on the republican and Sinn Fein politically-oriented activists. It changed. You could see the pattern changing over the years. And if there's a pattern, it means there's someone drawing a pattern. So yes, I really believe you. Very definitely I think it was being directed from other sources, not just from loyalist paramilitary leadership. I think it was being directed by others. We still don't know who these people are and probably never will know their names, but we can certainly think of who they might, where they might come from, who they might be; not name them but have a rough idea where they were.

Joe: Well Anne, we don't want to keep you too long from your work or your activities, but I just wanted to say that I really commend you; I think you're a very rare individual and really a credit to humanity. I think that that's not too high praise. Because your book Lethal Allies in itself, goes a long way to explaining the conflict in Northern Ireland, but it's not just limited to that. I think in those pages people can understand a lot about what's going on in the world...

Niall: Today.

Joe: in the Middle East and all of that. When people understand the way that the state or big government views these kinds of conflicts, that will allow people really to make sense of a lot of the stuff in the world that today people are just scratching their heads over and thinking it's all just madness.

Anne: Yeah.

Joe: So it's a very, very valuable book and I think everybody should have a copy.

Anne: Well thank you very much but I'd like to name check one person. And that is my colleague here at the PFC in Armagh, and that is Alan Breckman, whose father was killed at Donnelly's Bar in Silverbridge in December 1975. When he discovered that there may have been collusion in his father's murder, he quit his job and spent 10 years working voluntarily with the PFC; digging into his own father's murder. And then when he discovered there were other linked murders, he began investigating them as well. Without his efforts, none of this would ever have happened.
And another person that I'd can't name check - I'd like to but I can't - is an officer in the Historical Enquiries Team who had a fair amount of pressure put on him to turn down his reports and to withhold stuff from evidence in his reports, on which we base the book. And without him as well, none of this would ever have come to light. It was a series of happy coincidences. There was Alan and his work and there was the PFC working there with the experience of researching this kind of thing scrupulously. Then there was the HET and then there was the Barron reports into the Dublin-Monaghan bombings.

And the final piece in the jigsaw was myself coming along and writing it all up in a book. So if any of those pieces hadn't been there, then the whole chain would have fallen. As it was, this book, as far as we know, is unique. And let us hope that it doesn't remain unique. Let us hope that more information, more evidence comes out so that we can all understand what we've been through, and truly come to terms of the nature of the conflict that we all endured.

Joe: Very well said. Absolutely. I want to encourage all of our listeners to buy this book, to not only inform themselves of very important information but also to support the kind of work that you and others at the Pat Finucane Centre are doing, because you need to keep doing this work and I know there's probably a lot more work to do.

Anne: Yes there is and we're in very, very early stages of discussions with an independent television company to produce a full-length TV documentary on the whole process.

Niall: Brilliant!

Anne: So watch this space! We ain't finished yet!

Joe: Excellent.

Niall: Brilliant. Thanks Anne.

Joe: Okay Anne, thanks a million for coming and talking to us today. We'll leave it there.

Anne: Thank you very much, both of you.

Niall: Well, there you have it folks: British government death squads in the name of national security. Thirty years after the fact it's now finally established, although as Anne explained, it's just another book. It's not really though because it's essentially a synthesis and the closest the north of Ireland has had to a truth commission. It's a shame it's just the way things go. It's part of history. It's like this infamous quote from Karl Rove when he said to a journalist in 2004: "Listen you don't get it. We create reality and all of you are left to study it, judiciously as you will. By the time you establish the facts, we've moved on and you're now in a new reality."

Nevertheless, that is not to take away from the value of doing this for those who do linger for the truth, this kind of service is essential. There are people of all backgrounds in the north of Ireland and they have friends and relatives there and all around the world. So a big, big thank you to Anne.

Joe: Yeah, absolutely. She's a very rare individual when you think about it. Of all the people involved in that conflict in Northern Ireland and in other conflicts around the world who knew what was happening, knew the truth, but didn't try to expose it or just turned away, she's one that didn't. There are very few people who don't. So she's a real credit to humanity because there isn't much humanity going around on the planet these days and to see someone take that kind of an interest in the truth, primarily motivated by the suffering - I think she'd probably admit herself - by the suffering of the victims, that was her motivation. Most people these days don't really care much about other peoples' suffering, so that's why you don't find too many people like Anne.

Niall: Yeah. Just a quick reminder, the book specifically covers 120 murders in the mid-70s, so it's over a specific period. This is just a snapshot of the total number of people killed, which is about what, Joe?

Joe: Officially there was over 3,000 killed.

Niall: Over three decades.

Joe: Yeah. So in terms of the people that she documents, from the nationalist community Catholics, there's another probably 1,000 or more people. Of course that includes active members of the IRA etc., because the total is 3,000, she has 120 which is very small. Officially I think the British government says that 1,000 British soldiers were killed, but that includes active members of this UDR regiment. Which was a regiment that the British government set up specifically for the conflict in Northern Ireland and it recruited lots of death squad types into that regiment to give them a veneer of legitimacy.

So they're English soldiers, effectively, who came over. Several hundred of them were killed. And then you had another several hundred of local death squad types from Northern Ireland who were from the protestant community. They were inducted into the UDR and they were killed. Then amongst the IRA and Catholic civilians you had over 1,000 dead. She recounts 120 civilians. There's probably another 300 or 400 civilians, at least, that weren't involved at all, who were killed. So over 500 certainly.

Niall: As Anne explained, they're working with the best documentation they can find, which is completely understandable; they want to build a case for it. In the meantime other revelations have since come out, that are separate. You can get some updates on these things if you go to the Pat Finucane website, but they've also been all over the news. I'm thinking specifically of an episode in the 1980s. There have been BBC and RT documentaries about this. This was a force called the Military Reaction Force.

Joe: Military Reaction Force. That was one of their names.

Niall: This was even more straight up, where these weren't loyalists or local UDR people mixing with military intelligence, they were out-and-out British soldiers or British intelligence who would go around in plain clothes, driving in a car with a machine gun, and just shoot down people at random; Catholic, Protestant, it didn't matter. This went on for some years in the 1980s.

Joe: 1970s and '80s.

Niall: Seventies also, okay.

Joe: If you were to read this book or study the situation in Northern Ireland, it really does explain a lot of what's going on the world...

Niall: Today.

Joe: ...because the same template has been used over and over again. Certainly what they did in Northern Ireland was not the first time that they'd used this strategy of provoking conflict and fighting the war on both sides, essentially. The British did it in the service of empire many times previously. You could cite places like Kenya or Malaysia or Cyprus even, where the same kind of tactics were used against a local population who basically wanted equal rights and democracy and justice. And they were being denied that by the occupying British forces and British government.
In response to people demanding equal rights and justice, the response of the British government has been always to provoke a war between two groups within that country. Sometimes they bring groups into the country to play the part of the opposing side, but they try and create a civil war, effectively. This is when people in the country who are being abused or mistreated by the occupying government take up arms or in some way try to resist militarily that kind of injustice, the response of the British government is to give them a war. But not overtly involving the British government but with some kind of proxy force or other element that they arm and train and use to fight against this 'uprising' as they might call it, or these 'insurgents' as they might it call them.

So you can just apply that kind of strategy to many places in the Middle East. You can even apply it to the likes of ISIS, for example, although that's on a much broader scale. The thing that makes the situation in Northern Ireland stand out and the information that is available, the hard data about what really happened in Northern Ireland, make it kind of unique in the sense that there aren't many other places around the world where that kind of hard data on the true nature of the so-called 'conflict' or 'terrorist organization' that a western government is fighting against, has been exposed to the extent it has in Northern Ireland.

And also it's unique in the sense that this happened in the west. In modern history there's no other example of a western government using that kind of a strategy against 'its own people' in a western country. They do it with much more freedom and abandon in far away places where people think it's all crazy and that kind of thing happens all the time anyway. The only reason people think that it happens all the time in those strange places in the Middle East and Africa, for example, is because western governments have been doing it for so long. That's why they think it happens just as a matter of course there. Because it's been happening for so long and because it is effectively a strategy of empires, of neo-colonialism, which hasn't been so well exposed.

So it's a fairly safe thing to do, to take the data available from Northern Ireland and just transplant it onto different places around the world where western governments are supposedly fighting terrorism. When you can't understand what's really going on in those places where the war on terror is happening, just use the data from Northern Ireland and very quickly you will understand what's really going on.

Niall: Absolutely. for a recent example, especially the civil war in Iraq that came about just after an invasion and occupation.

Joe: Yeah, that's a good example because back in 2006 I think it was, there were two members of the British military, paratroopers or SAS (special air service), the equivalent of the navy seals in America, these were British SAS special forces, caught in 2005 driving around Basra. Which is a historical centre for British occupation of Iraq because the British occupied Basra way back in the 1920s. So when the new occupation happened in 2003 the British were given Basra, saying "Hey, you guys know this place. You were here 80 years ago". And these guys were caught driving around in a car loaded with weapons and a bomb in the trunk of the car and they were dressed in supposedly traditional Arab garb, white dishdashas on their head. They supposedly looked like Muslims.

They were stopped by a detachment of Iraqi police and they were arrested. When they were stopped one of them shot at the Iraqis and I think maybe shot an Iraqi police officer. They were arrested and taken into jail. And the question is then: why were they driving around in Arab garb posing as Muslims or Iraqis with a bomb in the back of a car and shooting at police when they were stopped? When they were put in prison by the Iraqis the British immediately, within a few hours, sent in a tank, knocked down the prison wall and rescued them and took them away and nothing else was ever heard from them. Although the Iraqis released a photograph of the two of them sitting on the ground looking rather put out by the fact that they had been exposed in this way.

But that's a perfect example of the kind of thing, not only that the British were doing in Northern Ireland for 30 years, but also that they were obviously still doing it and this was a strategy in Iraq. This is just one small snapshot of probably a very wide-ranging campaign or strategy that was being employed in Iraq more or less from the get-go in 2003 by the British and by the Americans as well, because the Americans have a long history of doing exactly the same thing. In fact they more than likely learned this strategy from the British at some point in the early 20th century.
So this is what was going on across Iraq. So any time you heard of a car bomb exploding in a market in Iraq, we heard that probably hundreds of times at this point, that killed 40, 50, 60 people, there's a good chance that this was either British operatives themselves who had planted a bomb there. Or it was some other group. And it's very easy in that kind of a situation, where you've invaded and occupied a country and there's a war going on, to recruit hired guns from the local population who will do anything for money, but are, effectively, in that case, British agents; people like that doing similar things, either planting bombs inside places outside markets to kill civilians, or just going and shooting a lot of people; gun attacks, all sorts of torture. There's all sorts of horrible stories about Iraq where there was a spate of killings where people had their heads chopped off and had been tortured in horrible ways, etc.

Most of that was the work, in one way or another, of the occupying British and American forces and their goal was to create the appearance and to a certain extent the reality, of a civil war so that they could justify their continued occupation. They were there as 'peacekeepers', right? To keep the 'crazy Iraqis' from killing each other. If you implement a strategy like that you can see how eventually it would lead to a civil war.

You could effectively provoke a civil war. If you kill enough people from two sides in a community that previously weren't that divided, necessarily, but you made a division by going and killing a bunch of people from one community, be it religious, ethnic or whatever, and making it seem like it was people from the other community that did it, if you do that enough times, eventually people will start to believe that's what's actually going on and they will take up arms themselves and start killing the people that they think have been killing them when in fact the very few people you should suspect, that wonderful bestower of freedom and democracy like the British government or the American government, would ever do such a horrible thing. They've done it all the time.

People really need to grow up. This is my main gripe about everybody in the west. It's not that they're stupid or ignorant or anything like that, or they have ridiculous political opinions. I don't have a problem necessarily with anything anybody says, any pro-western government zealot from the west. My problem is it's just that everything they say is hopelessly naïve and obviously naïve. I just want them to grow up and say "Listen, you're a big boy or big girl now. You live in a world where a lot of people will do a lot of horrible things to get what they want. You understand that there are some nasty people around?"

Niall: They'll look at you and say "Yeah. ISIS."

Joe: Right. But allow for the fact that your government would do the same because they have done. The evidence is there and the only thing that stops them from believing that evidence is this childish naïveté or childish wish to believe that "No, my government/father figure would never do that". Well get over this need to see your government or your leaders as some kind of benevolent father figures who will protect you. You're an adult. You should be able to take care of yourself and look at the world objectively and assign what you know of human nature and beyond human nature, issues like psychopathy, assign that to certain situations in a mature, adult and objective way, without falling apart at the thought that your team might not be such a great team after all.

It's really just pathetic. That's my main problem. I'd love to talk to some people like that on TV or something. That's what I'd say. I'd just call them hopelessly childish and naïve and just keep repeating it.

Niall: I can imagine you in a TV debate Joe.

Joe: They wouldn't let me on.

Niall: Probably not.

Joe: I'd get kicked off. I'd get tazed.

Niall: Well they'd just go to advertisements and then you wouldn't be there when they came back. Yeah, well said Joe. In terms of Irish affairs, people like us in the republic are brought up to believe that the IRA were the fount of all evil and everything stems from that. It's disgusting how successive Irish governments have gone along with this. Anne suggested as well that because they believed the IRA was the root of the problem.

Joe: Well it was. They didn't believe that the IRA was the root of the problem in the sense that the IRA was the evildoer. The IRA, on balance, was the force for good. It had justice and righteousness on its side. There's no question about that. There's no possibility for anyone to dispute that fact on the very fundamentals of morality and justice and righteousness - I can take you back to the bible or whatever - i can find the justification - that's not a good thing to say - justification for what the IRA did in the bible. That's not a good thing to say because you can find justification for anything in the bible.

But what I'm saying is that there's no question that the genesis of the IRA is found in a fight against clear, obvious, objective injustice that was not being redressed. The authorities that were supposed to redress it in fact ignored it and told you to "f-off and just suck it up". So people who were suffering and being abused physically, were told to just deal with it. In that situation no one can fault anyone from taking physical action to defend themselves to stop that kind of injustice. That's the origin or essence of where the IRA came from in the late 1960s, let's say, when they reformed, or whatever you want to call it.

The problem is that the Irish government throughout this period of the troubles or the conflict, didn't like the IRA because the Irish government is more or less the same in Ireland and has been mostly from Irish independence in 1922, where it soon evolved into a two-party system like you have in most other western countries; blue and red, green and yellow, two different colours but more or less the same. Those people establish themselves in power and just flips back every few years between each one.

So they were the authorities in Ireland throughout this conflict and they saw that any support in the Irish Republic, for Irish nationalism, would mean the end of their hold and reign of power every few years where they switch positions. Because their ethos wasn't based in Irish nationalism, it was based in the Irish free state without Northern Ireland, And if there was an up-swell in nationalism on the basis of the Irish government, allowing the crimes of the British against the Irish in north of Ireland to become widely known, then those people in power would lose their positions to the republican nationalist party of Sinn Fein, for example.

So effectively they sided with the British to maintain their positions and power and they've always been down on Irish nationalism for that reason, because that's not their ticket. Sinn Fein and other Irish republican nationalist parties, already had staked out that ground and they would be the parties that the people would go to and vote into power if an up-swell of nationalism overtook the Irish population. So the Irish government, the actual authorities, suppressed Irish nationalism; not just in terms of support of the people of Ireland for the IRA by exposing what the British were doing and the historical and modern day injustices, but they also clamped down on all sorts of Irish cultural aspects. They suppressed the promotion of the Irish language and even Irish culture in other ways because it's associated with a sense of identity or nationalism.

Niall: Oh yeah. Every Irishman knows that there are certain areas you don't even speak about - lest you be accused of being a nationalist. Fairly recent history, the 'great famine' being one clear example.

Joe: Yeah. One example. Look at what the Jews do with their holocaust. Six million Jews.

Niall: Oh they get great leverage out of it. But the Irish automatically self-censor themselves.

Joe: Yeah. It's ridiculous because if the Irish government would just take a leaf out of the Jewish book and say "Look, you can make hay with this. You've got to shove this in peoples' faces so that they remember and you get cut all sorts of slack on the international stage when you're a victim of a historical aggression in that way, or a genocide." But they didn't go with it because I think it's associated with an anti-British sentiment. And it's not just for their own positions of power that the Irish government did that, but it's also the economic ties that they have with the UK. The republic was very much seen as a little 'west Britain' in a large sense, certainly from the point of view of the Dublin centre of power and government. Their world view is very much west, Brit. They're just western British people, off the coast. They're an offshore island. That's the way they saw themselves in terms of their economic and political ties with the British.

The British had a lot of control. They had occupied Ireland for more or less for 800 years, so their tentacles had spread throughout the entire fabric of society, particularly in terms of economics.

Niall: I call it 900 years. I don't distinguish, I think. The Dublin government colluded with what happened in the north of Ireland. They did that for power and they did that for Britain. There was collusion with the British state.

Joe: Yeah. Or at least zipping their lips on things and saying nothing.

Niall: Sure. I think I mentioned, in Anne's book they buried the investigations into the Dublin-Monaghan bombings.

Joe: Yeah.

Niall: And then they went overboard in frustrating themselves to assist the British in the north in cracking down harder against nationalists.

Joe: Yeah, but there's also the leverage the British had over the Irish government in that respect. They had primarily economic links; Ireland depends quite largely - it certainly did there before the whole monetary union and all that kind of stuff with the EU - on the British, in terms of their economy and all sorts of perks in different ways. There's a lot of connections between British and Irish politicians. So the British could say, "Well if you don't toe the line on this one and back us in allow us to kill and murder your own citizens..."

Niall: I don't think they'd do that. I don't think they needed to.

Joe: No, but the implication was there, in the background. Anybody who's smart enough would have known you don't rock that boat because it's trouble. And the British have a lot of power; they could have a coup; people are put in positions of power. If any Irish government at any time during the conflict in Northern Ireland had decided to buck the system, they would, probably, very quickly, find themselves out of power. There'd be scandals or photographs of politicians published in the press doing all sorts of different things. That's the kind of leverage the British use in the same way the Americans do.

That's the essence of empire; when you've had an empire and your goal is to dominate as much of the world as possible. You become very well versed in all these kinds of dirty tricks. And the Irish government was in no position to stand up to that and they knew it. So if they didn't know that they had to toe the British line all the way through the conflict in Northern Ireland, they were made aware of the fact that they had to, and why.
Me being a Catholic from the north, people in the south weren't very...

Niall: Sympathetic.

Joe: People from the north didn't view the people in the south as being very sympathetic. It wasn't really their fault. They were propagandized. To me it was amazing to see it during those years, when I would go down to the south, to see how people that I would talk to, even family members, cousins, etc., would be very negative about the IRA and about the conflict in the north, just wanting nothing to do with it. It's amazing to see that real time influence that the powers that be or the government in Ireland, had on the population, that it could shape public perceptions, against logic.

Niall: Against their own natural sympathies.

Joe: Well their own natural sympathies should have been with their fellow countrymen and women just 60 miles away. But they were turned against them through all sorts of black propaganda in the press being played up by the British and by the Irish government, just how horrible the evil IRA were in planting this bomb in such-and-such a place and killing these people when in most cases it was the British. It's amazing; the one thing that nobody has ever answered in terms of the logic of it, how an armed group of people who get together, who by definition are intelligent people and well aware of strategy, and capable of changing their strategy and think about what the best strategy is, and weigh up all of the different considerations, are able to wage a war against the full might of the state occupying forces. But apparently on many occasions, those same by definition very intelligent people who are very good strategists, would now and again decide to just kill a bunch of innocent civilians; British civilians for example; by planting a bomb in England and kill innocent bystanders and not even try and target any military objective.

It's amazing how they would decide to do that as part of their strategy and not be aware that what would happen was exactly what happened every time the IRA supposedly did that, which was that there was a massive public backlash against them. They even lost support among their own population on which they depended to actually survive. And it allowed the British government to impose extremely harsh measures against them and to go out and hunt them even more actively.

I can understand why they might do it once but as soon as they see the result of that, you'd never do it again. But supposedly they did it repeatedly. Of course there's evidence that on several occasions, as we just talked about, the British were behind many of these bombs. We talked about Iraq with these two guys in a car dressed up as Arabs.

Niall: Well the single biggest "IRA bomb" was the one that ended the whole thing, which is the Omagh bombing.

Joe: That wasn't even the IRA. That was meant to be the splinter...

Niall: No, they were meant to be in peace talks now so it was the real IRA splinter group. If you haven't listened to it already, you should listen to our show last month with Chris Fogarty; he was kind of connected to that indirectly because he was in Chicago and he ran into some dodgy characters there who turned up in the north of Ireland and were involved with setting up the Omagh bombing. There was an undercover FBI guy called Rupert and an actual FBI agent, probably Rupert's handler called Buckley, I think.

That's just an incredible story but it fits a pattern. When the worst atrocities were actually British intelligence jobs, that tells you all you need to know really, about the entire conflict.

Joe: Yep. There was one or two bombs that the IRA planted in England, I'm pretty sure because when you start down this road you have to question all of them. Did the IRA do anything type thing, when you have the state forces of a major world nation fighting the war on your behalf? You have to wonder about "Did we really do that or was that somebody else?"

There was one event in 1982 I think, the conservative party conference in Brighton. And Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet were holed up in a hotel in Brighton and the IRA planted a bomb in it with an express desire to send Maggie back to wherever she came from. She was in the toilet at the time and she survived.

Niall: God!

Joe: It's time like that where you wonder, is god even against us? Is fate and providence against us as well??

Niall: Was it supposed to be a larger bomb or something? It was targeted against her.

Joe: Well her and the conservative party cabinet at the time.

Niall: Imagine how many children would have been saved, after what we now know was going on in the '80s.

Joe: Yeah, absolutely. A lot more children might not have been abused.

Niall: The thing is though, people in the IRA still get accused of being traitors and selling out to the Brits, but what they learned was that after three decades of this, there was no way out of the labyrinth. The British had this set up in such a way that it was impossible to fight your way out of it. It was set up to encourage you to keep fighting.

Joe: Exactly. How do you win against an enemy who wants to keep fighting? And when you show...

Niall: And has limitless resources compared to you.

Joe: Yeah. And when you show signs that you want to call a truce, they say "No. I want you to keep fighting and if you don't keep fighting, I'm going to go and carry out attacks in your name to make it look like you want to keep fighting." But at the same time, as we mentioned, Chris Fogarty from two weeks ago?

Niall: It was already July, about a month ago. Look it up. Good show.(See here for the show)

Joe: Chris Fogarty, an Irish American historian who has written on the Irish holocaust caused by the British, gave a very interesting explanation as to why the peace process started in the late '90s; because the British government's friends in Washington told them in advance of a planned upcoming really big show in Iraq and Afghanistan. And that they would need British military resources freed up for that and that they didn't want to have a conflict ongoing in Northern Ireland that involved the British military because it would be a distraction, in a certain sense, from that and it would take away resources from their planned upcoming big show in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003. This was in 1998 they were being told this.

Niall: I think the suggestion from Fogarty was that it dates a little bit earlier, that they initiated the peace process and put pressure on the British government to "wrap things up".

Joe: Exactly.

Niall: So they were already looking a decade before. They wanted to make sure that the British were firmly onside.

Joe: Yeah, the peace process began in '95 effectively. Murmurings started for cease a fire in 1995. So yeah, we're talking about eight years previous to the invasion of Iraq, they were planning an invasion of Iraq and wanted the British military freed up from its Northern Ireland "quagmire". The point there is that the British government could have, at any time, initiated and carried through a peace process, that it didn't have to go on for 30 years. But they wanted it to go on for 30 years because one of the major motivations for any armed conflict on the part of western governments is to give your military a bit of real time exercise.

Think about it: if you've got a big military and it's peacetime, what do you do? It's not so good. You've got military budgets to justify. But how do you justify your military budget when all your troops are in the barracks and they're not shooting any bullets, rockets or missiles? You need war to justify military budgets and to funnel large quantities of public tax-payers' money to military contractors, to big corporations; to sell you the weapons that you need to use so that you can buy more and get more money from the tax payers to buy more bullets to kill more people in other places around the world. And also, obviously, politicians would lobby for this because very often they have friends or when they leave office, they're going directly to the 'board' of that military contractor that they are generating income for, creating the rationale for war.

Niall: Yeah. I think that's the biggest thing you can point to: greed, money. But with the British elite there's something else. I suspect that they actually enjoy killing people and when this was put to them "Listen, you'll be able to do what you're doing in Ireland, but on a whole other scale", that was just too good to turn down. Because look what's come since. Back then you had to have a counter-gang, a pseudo gang as their General Kitson framed it, to use against a particular target population. But with the war on terror, it's open season. It's a war on terror globally so you can use it on any population. It's like the market just opened right up.

Joe: Yeah.

Niall: So I can imagine the British elite were like "Very good, very good. Yes."

Joe: The British were like "Just say no more!"

Niall: This sounds extreme. You cannot escape the conclusion, looking back at history, that the British elite love war; they love killing people. And they love doing it in savage ways. The only way you can explain why they do it over and over again is it's sadism.

Joe: Yeah. It's the destructive principle that they base their entire world view on. Obviously we're talking here about the psychopathic mind effectively, that is wired in a certain way. It's primary motivation and prime directive is greed and the enjoyment, in a strange way, of the suffering of other people. If you can mix the two together, which they usually do, then that's the best case scenario for psychopaths in positions of power, where you get to make people suffer and profit from that suffering.

Niall: Yeah. And fool everyone in the process.

Joe: Yes of course. Tell everybody that that process of making people suffer for no good reason other than to profit from their death and suffering, tell them it's the exact opposite: freedom, democracy, compassion. It's amazing!

Niall: I was thinking there's additionally a strong element of mockery. If you think of the absurd scenarios given in the media post-9/11; first of all Bin Laden in a cave then, more recently, Al-Bagdadi, or the story we saw earlier this week with the Taliban. Joe you wrote about it. Tell us what happened there.

Joe: Anybody who's been keeping up with things over the past 10 or 15 years will recognize this guy, the Taliban Mullah Omar. There's only one picture of him. He's missing one eye. I think he probably has a hook for a hand and a parrot on his shoulder - well okay, I'm joking a little bit. But he only has one eye and he's a dastardly looking figure in this grainy photograph of him. Nobody really knows if he actually exists, but he was supposedly the leader of the Taliban that was fighting against the Americans when they first arrived.

So he's appeared here and there over the past 10 or 15 years, supposedly in news reports. He's been killed a few times; lots of things have been attributed to him but he's never seen and he certainly hasn't been interviewed by anybody. But this is the kind of 'Talibani' version of Osama Bin Laden effectively, but he's even more obscure.

So just recently the western press announced that he had died and they got this information from the Kabul or Afghanistan government. So what the Taliban - whoever they are - supposedly rushed to elect a new leader. The problem was according to the information, that their leader this guy, Mullah Omar, had died two years ago. So we're meant to believe that the Taliban were not aware that their leader was dead for two years and had to hear it from the US-backed Kabul government, at which point they ran to elect a new leader. Because of course you can't operate without a leader, right?

But apparently they had been for two years, completely unaware of the fact that he was dead! To me it was just another example of the complete farce that is the western narrative on Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East, everything you hear about what's going on there is pretty much fabricated. Most of it is made up.

Niall: It's made up. It's intelligence people just writing stuff into...

Joe: Writing a script.

Niall: They're either writing the article because they are journalists in their day job or they leak the information to the journalists. But they're literally making stuff up as they go along. I'm sure they get a great old kick out of it. But really "You are just pathetic scum of the earth and damn you all to hell!"

Joe: Exactly.

Niall: I want to give a shout out to another guy in this post-9/11 war on terror. The British people will know this guy. He was your dedicated bogey man from 9/11 onwards, for about a decade. Again, one eye, patch, no hands (laughing), he had two hooks on each hand, wore this dark grey robe, scraggly beard - he looked like a freak.

Joe: He had to spend hours in makeup every morning before he had to appear in the press because he had to look the part. (laughter)

Niall: I can't remember his name, it escapes me right now. But he was the preacher, imam, whatever, at some mosque in London and every time there was a threat or a plot foiled or blah, blah, they'd use the opportunity in the British press to put his picture up next to it, with him cackling with glee at the coming 'doom' of whatever was supposed to happen.

Joe: Abu Hamza is his name.

Niall: Abu Hamza. The Americans at some point decided they wanted him extradited on charges related to a specific terror attack. They get him over; they're about to sentence him - I think he has since been sentenced and is prison - that's what they say, but they were about to sentence him and he says, "Listen your honour, my lawyers have some files you probably want to see" and that went public. The files basically said that he'd been a British agent since 1994 and "Please don't jail me". Apparently they did jail him. I suspect they just shaved the beard off, gave him a new identity, whatever.

Joe: Maybe. But people like that are patsies as well. They pick the most clueless ones to act that part, tell them that they're going to be a famous preacher of radical Islam. They're handled. They're groomed in this way.

Niall: He was more deeply involved because the reason why he has one hand is because it was blown off while making bombs when helping the Bosnia extremists.

Joe: Yeah.

Niall: In the mid-90s. He was there with MI6.

Joe: Yeah, but those people are dupes as well. Ultimately they don't know what's going on. They're being handled and anybody who's being handled in that way, in that kind of intelligence agency environment, has no clue about what's really happening and by definition, they have to be stupid to get involved in that and not understand the nature of the beast with which they are working. That's their fate. They get burned, as they say. They're expendable. In his case he was sentenced to life in prison, in January in New York.

But that's the problem. There's no end of naïve, grandiose-type individuals in this world for them to pick from and to groom in that way. They can be smart enough, but they're never as smart as the people who are running the show. That includes them running this farcical drama that puts them centre stage for a while. So they're fundamentally stupid. It's a murky world and we don't want to look too long into it because it might look back at us.

Niall: And snarl.

Joe: Alright, we are going to leave it there for this week. We hope you enjoyed the interview. We just want to say thanks to Anne Cadwallader again and recommend that anybody who's interest to get her book. If you only get one book, if you want to know about the Northern Ireland conflict, just read her book and you'll understand an awful lot, far more than most other people in this world. So until next week, thank you for listening and for chatting and whatever else you were doing while you were listening.

Niall: Thanks for listening. See you next week. Bye-bye.