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British Top secret files in Ireland remain classified

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Sceala Clann T.D.
Location: Belfast and Donegal.






Sceala Irish Craic Forum Discussion:     British Top secret files in Ireland remain classified

The British have released some more token classified files to the public.
The British want the world to view their government as fair and democratic, governing a genuinely open society. The British then have no choice but to release some previously classified files.
Most British top secret files of thirty and forty years ago, remain top secret. Top secret files from the period 1916, remain to this day as classified. The British declare the public have no right to know what they got up to in Ireland.
Imagine what they are still desperate to cover up.
Every crime imaginable.
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Long Kesh internment camp near Lisburn in Antrim. Files in the National Archives show that the army discriminated: british Protestant terrorists were not interned on anything like the same scale as IRA members. (Photograph: PA)

The army knowingly enforced an anti-terrorist policy based on religious discrimination during the early years of the north of Ireland's Troubles, according to files unearthed in the National Archives.

Ministry of Defence memos from the early 70s reveal for the first time that senior officials acknowledged that british Protestant terrorists were not being interned on the same basis as members of the IRA.

Accusations that the government pursued repressive security measures against republican paramilitaries while adopting a softer line against loyalist gunmen and bombers fuelled sectarian resentment for many years.

During the four years that internment without trial was enforced, August 1971 to December 1975, a total of 1,981 suspects were held in Long Kesh and other prison camps. Of those, 1,874 were Catholics or republicans, and only 107 were Protestants or loyalists.

The recently released files, discovered at the National Archives in Kew in London by researchers from the Derry-based Pat Finucane Centre, expose the official thinking behind the disparity and highlight the military's relaxed attitude towards loyalist paramilitary factions.

In 1972, around 120 people were killed by loyalist paramilitaries from the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). The IRA and other republican groups were responsible for almost 270 deaths that year.

A secret MoD review entitled Arrest Policy for Protestants, undertaken in 1972, reveals a debate among officials about whether anti-terrorist measures should be uniformly applied across the province's sectarian divide. IRA suspects at that time were being arrested if there was evidence to justify criminal charges, if they held officer rank in the Provisional IRA, or if they were Provisional IRA volunteers �who, on the strength of reliable intelligence, are known to be an exceptionally serious threat to security.

The last two categories were based only on intelligence assessments but meant that IRA suspects could be served with interim custody orders and interned without trial.

Military arrest instructions did not, however, specify that senior members of the UVF or other loyalist paramilitary groups should be arrested over similar suspicions.

The policy does not therefore provide for the arrest of Protestant terrorists except with the object of bringing criminal charges, the MoD review admitted. Protestants are not, as the policy stands, arrested with a view to their being made subject to interim custody orders and brought before the commissioners.

�If we are to arrest Protestant terrorists who are not chargeable (for the same evidential reasons which lead us to resort to detention rather than prosecution for many Provisionals), then we need to extend our policy. This would be a big step to take.

The veteran Conservative politician Willie Whitelaw had recently become the first direct-rule secretary of state for the north of Ireland. Ministers, it was said, judged that the moment was not ripe for an extension of the arrest policy in respect of Protestants.

Membership of the main loyalist group, the UDA, was not at that stage illegal. One MoD official in November 1972 defended the imbalance by remarking that �an important function of the UDA is to channel into a constructive and disciplined direction Protestant energies which might otherwise become disruptive.

Another confidential army briefing paper not to be passed [around] in writing below battalion level stated: Operations against UDA should be directed against their criminal extremist elements whilst making every endeavour to maintain good relations with law abiding citizens in the organisation. Contact should be maintained at company commander level with the UDA.

By 1974, when the Irish government brought a case at the European court of human rights over the UK government's use of internment, the arrest policy came under close legal scrutiny.

One file records an inquiry from an official from the attorney general's office who explained that another question from counsel was why only Roman Catholics were interned before 1973″. A lawyer from the Treasury solicitor's office replied that �in [the] view of the security forces there was no serious Protestant threat in that period of a kind which led to death and serious injuries.

The Pat Finucane Centre, established in memory of the Belfast lawyer killed by loyalist gunmen, has researched many of the official files of the time that have been released.

Paul O'Connor, the organisation's project co-ordinator, said: Given the extent of the loyalist assassination campaign in this period and the complete unwillingness of the British government to face up to it, it is difficult to come to any other conclusion than that the state tolerated and encouraged loyalist paramilitaries. All this waffle about the role of the UDA in particular must be deeply hurtful for all those who had loved ones murdered in romper rooms and dark alleyways while civil servants and senior military staff talked of harmless vigilante type activity.

The British army has always made welcome any Irish willing to accept their Queen's shilling to harass and murder their own Irish neighbours or complete strangers in foreign fields.
We Irish know that the British army in Ireland has otherwise always been viciously anti Irish.
The British Secret Files made public prove this to the world.
The reader should consider this thought - The British desire that the world view them as fair and democratic, a genuinely open society. The British then have no choice but to release some of their past secret files.
The fact is most British top secret files from thirty and forty years ago, remain top secret. Top secret files from the period 1916 remain to this day classified as top secret. The British declare the public have no right to know what they got up to in Ireland even from a near hundred years ago.
Imagine what they are still desperate to cover up from their recent war here in Ireland.
Every crime imaginable.
British state sanctioned terrorism. bombings and assassinations. British murderers given medals by their queen, their crimes remain top secret.
You are not allowed to know.
You can only Imagine what the British are still desperate to cover up.

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