People Before Profit MLA: ‘British state takes most of blame for Troubles’

Some of the fiercest denunciations of the UK state during the Stormont debate about a Troubles amnesty came from People Before Profit’s Gerry Carroll, who primarily blamed the government for the bloodshed.

Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 9:17 am
Gerry Carroll

The debate on Tuesday was over the government plans to permanently end all prosecutions for pre-spring 1998 crimes – something which has enraged politicians and many victims.

Mr Carroll (who is listed as neither a unionist nor nationalist MLA) decried “the British Empire, where the sun never set and the blood never dried” during his contribution to Tuesday’s sitting of Stormont.

He told the chamber: “There should be no doubt that the British state was the main protagonist in fuelling violence and conflict in the North.

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“That is evident when you look at the pattern of repression and violence that was meted out to a peaceful and democratic movement for civil rights and at the various abuses of power in the early 1970s and onwards, not least internment, collusion, torture and shoot to kill.

“The list goes on and on ...

“If the British Army’s crimes in the North were tried before the courts, the image created by the British establishment of an army sent on a peacekeeping mission between warring tribes would be further shattered. It would call into question the entire institution of the British military.”

In 2018, Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly had been widely criticised for saying the UK state was the “main protagonist” of the Troubles – even though security forces were responsible for around one-tenth of the deaths (and many of those were gunmen or bombers shot whilst on ‘active duty’).

During yesterday’s debate, Sinn Fein restated its position on the history of the Troubles.

Michelle O’Neill said the amnesty is to protect the “upper echelons of the British political, military and intelligence world who designed, facilitated and covered up the policy and practice of British state terrorism, which involved state killings and torture practices in the interrogation centres, and presided over weapons importation and the administrative practices of collusion”.

Mr Kelly got up to add his own denunciation ... using virtually identical words.

And Declan Kearney specifically criticised those “in Thatcher’s war Cabinet who supplied unionist paramilitary organisations such as Ulster Resistance (UR) with arms”.

Ulster University’s CAIN project does not attribute a single death to Rev Ian Paisley’s short-lived UR group (though it does note that UR members were involved in handing guns to mainstream loyalist paramilitaries).

By contrast, CAIN states that the group responsible for by far the greatest number of killings was the IRA, with 1,705 fatalities (though that number is an under-estimate, due to a large number of ‘unclaimed’ killings).

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