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A betrayal.

slowmartslowmart Posts: 3,809
edited December 2016 in The cake stop
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/201 ... joe-mccann

So British soldiers are being investigated for any killing in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. Factor in the letters of comfort extended to terrorists which stopped any legal pursuit by HMG of previous crimes ensured the peace process got across the finishing line.

So why investigate and prosecute? Who is making the political capital by grounding the bones of people who served their country and operated within the rules of engagement as they were then. I can't see how you can use the lens of today's civilian values to judge actions of servicemen 40 years ago?

If we want the truth to come out, and that's an admirable aspiration we should have a truth and reconciliation process where the past troubles were investigated and no charges were bought but the families of victims and the victims themselves knew the truth.
And God created the bicycle, so that man could use it as a means for work and to help him negotiate life's complicated journey.

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  • mamba80mamba80 Posts: 5,086
    Fcuking disgrace.

    so they cant prosecute anyone for Warren Point or Omagh but can for the shooting of a well known IRA leader.

    i thought May raised this sort of thing at the tory conf.... just talk, which politicians seem very able to do.
  • Garry HGarry H Posts: 6,614
    Absolute disgrace. Live by the gun, die by it as well.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 46,768 Lives Here
    slowmart wrote:
    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/dec/16/two-british-soldiers-charged-over-ira-leader-murder-1972-joe-mccann

    So British soldiers are being investigated for any killing in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. Factor in the letters of comfort extended to terrorists which stopped any legal pursuit by HMG of previous crimes ensured the peace process got across the finishing line.

    So why investigate and prosecute? Who is making the political capital by grounding the bones of people who served their country and operated within the rules of engagement as they were then. I can't see how you can use the lens of today's civilian values to judge actions of servicemen 40 years ago?

    If we want the truth to come out, and that's an admirable aspiration we should have a truth and reconciliation process where the past troubles were investigated and no charges were bought but the families of victims and the victims themselves knew the truth.

    Presumably because it acts as a disincentive for current Brit soldiers to make illegal killings, as their behaviour can be investigated long after the event.

    It's difficult to really defend illegal killings, whenever they happen. I presume you're not doing that?

    Surely the concern should be aimed at the lack of prosecution for those illegal killings that aren't being investigated (presumably by the IRA), rather than investigating the UK armed forces?

    If they represent us, Brit soldiers really ought to be held accountable for the actions, within the context that they work.

    It's what sets them apart from the terrorists - that they adhere to certain rules!!
  • rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 16,949
    It's what sets them apart from the terrorists - that they adhere to certain rules!!
    This. As soon as you start down the road of "they're terrorists so they deserve it" you are heading for waterboarding and worse.
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  • Ben6899Ben6899 Posts: 7,225
    Presumably because it acts as a disincentive for current Brit soldiers to make illegal killings, as their behaviour can be investigated long after the event.

    It's difficult to really defend illegal killings, whenever they happen. I presume you're not doing that?

    Surely the concern should be aimed at the lack of prosecution for those illegal killings that aren't being investigated (presumably by the IRA), rather than investigating the UK armed forces?

    If they represent us, Brit soldiers really ought to be held accountable for the actions, within the context that they work.

    It's what sets them apart from the terrorists - that they adhere to certain rules!!

    Basically this.

    Good post, Rick.
    Ben

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  • gethincerigethinceri Posts: 1,006
    Agreed.
  • Garry HGarry H Posts: 6,614
    Just pawns in a game.
  • slowmartslowmart Posts: 3,809
    slowmart wrote:
    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/dec/16/two-british-soldiers-charged-over-ira-leader-murder-1972-joe-mccann

    So British soldiers are being investigated for any killing in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. Factor in the letters of comfort extended to terrorists which stopped any legal pursuit by HMG of previous crimes ensured the peace process got across the finishing line.

    So why investigate and prosecute? Who is making the political capital by grounding the bones of people who served their country and operated within the rules of engagement as they were then. I can't see how you can use the lens of today's civilian values to judge actions of servicemen 40 years ago?

    If we want the truth to come out, and that's an admirable aspiration we should have a truth and reconciliation process where the past troubles were investigated and no charges were bought but the families of victims and the victims themselves knew the truth.

    Presumably because it acts as a disincentive for current Brit soldiers to make illegal killings, as their behaviour can be investigated long after the event.

    It's difficult to really defend illegal killings, whenever they happen. I presume you're not doing that?

    Surely the concern should be aimed at the lack of prosecution for those illegal killings that aren't being investigated (presumably by the IRA), rather than investigating the UK armed forces?

    If they represent us, Brit soldiers really ought to be held accountable for the actions, within the context that they work.

    It's what sets them apart from the terrorists - that they adhere to certain rules!!


    And the rules of engagement in the 70''s were not as prescriptive as they are 40 years later. In 1972 over 500 people were killed, over half of them civilians. There were constant gun battles between armed terrorists and the army with no go areas throughout N Ireland.

    Peace comes with a heavy price, "you can't put an ideology against a wall and machine gun it to death" which means reconciliation and in time understanding need time to evolve. To subscribe to the view that prosecuting any individual for breaches in the law within the context of armed conflict is nothing more than naive and would mean no peace.
    And God created the bicycle, so that man could use it as a means for work and to help him negotiate life's complicated journey.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 46,768 Lives Here
    I don't have anything to add, other than I would be very sure the investigation would be looking at their conduct in the context of the rules at the time.

    All I can see is you opposing investigating illegal killings in war, just for the reason that it might highlight that stuff happened again.

    If I were you, I'd be more annoyed about the illegal killings in the first place, since that's the reason things were less peaceful, not because they were investigated.

    You don't want to sound like an apologist for war crimes do you?
  • slowmartslowmart Posts: 3,809
    Was internment without trial a war Crime?

    And who said any of the killings were illegal? To date no service man has been tried or convicted unless you're keen to grind the bones of servicemen to further your political agenda or leaning and convict without any evidence to the contrary


    If your take the European courts finding regarding the three PIRA members shot on active service the judgement directs legal causation and responsibility to the commanders of the operation rather than the soldiers.

    Oh and rules of engagement were changed on a tactical needs basis back then. That's the way it was, soldiers under direct command and in armed conflict.


    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/ ... 10854.html

    The application of the law is not black and white, unless your sitting in your armchair oblivious to the dangers, intensity and complexity of armed insurgence driven by inbred sectarianism for over 300 years. Any peace in this context was always going to have accommodations to ensure all parties bought into the process.

    Does that mean murderers go free? Yes.
    Does that mean unsolved murders go unpunished? Yes
    Is that legally correct? No

    But armed conflict has been replaced with dialogue.
    And God created the bicycle, so that man could use it as a means for work and to help him negotiate life's complicated journey.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 46,768 Lives Here
    If they didn't do anything wrong I'm sure that's what the judgement will be.
  • mamba80mamba80 Posts: 5,086
    If NI was some sort of UNTAG peace keeping op, like some revisionists would have you believe, then why were the Paras sent there? an elite fighting force of soldiers, why not the TA ?

    why are these killings being investigated long after the politicians who sent them there, are dead and buried, complete with their honour intact.

    The soldiers that served in NI helped defeat the IRA with their blood, not Ricks blood, but blood such as from my mate who was killed weeks before his 21st birthday, no one has ever been convicted of his killing but that ok isnt it? he was just a squaddie.
    this has led to a relative peace, so we dont get bombs going off in Manchester or London and Rick can go about his London life safe in the knowledge that a bomb wont be set off on the tube back home.

    Some understanding of the circumstances these soldiers found themselves in wouldnt go amiss, instead of treating british soldiers as the enemy.
  • slowmartslowmart Posts: 3,809
    If they didn't do anything wrong I'm sure that's what the judgement will be.


    "Wrong"

    Care to elaborate?

    Did you not read my post. 500 deaths in 1972 alone, no go areas, gun battles on the streets. The Irish government had plans to create safe corridors to the Catholic areas in N Ireland. Loyalists were killing Catholics

    24 bombs were detonated in towns in N Ireland and 14 shootings in one day, 14th April 1972. In July, Bloody Friday occurred, this time 22 bombs went off in Belfast with 75 minutes, 2 British soldiers were killed, one UDA member and 130 civilians were injured.

    Within the context of the events above and as a squaddie you see a known player and have the opportunity to kill him. Sorry Rick, I don't see anything wrong with that. Then or now.
    And God created the bicycle, so that man could use it as a means for work and to help him negotiate life's complicated journey.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 46,768 Lives Here
    Yeah. All my bosses fought in NI.

    I've heard enough stories over beers.

    Current boss (granted he was quite senior) feels quite strongly about "playing by the rules" and he's given us some fairly eye opening examples from his time in NI & the Fauklands as an example of the standards he sets us.

    He said it himself, the line that set him apart from "us and them" as he put it was the rules. It's the same (on a much more trivial level) in our business. Plenty who break the rules at our expense.

    I get it's not easy. No one says it is. I wouldn't trust myself in that situation. But then I'd make a rubbish soldier.

    The courts will take it in the context you describe. But if the Brit soldiers don't play by the rules, they're no better than the people they're fighting.

    If you start making exceptions, where do you stop?

    I'm not anti the army. I respect them enough to think they will police themselves to behave correctly in the toughest of situations. That's the discipline it takes to be some of the best soldiers, don't you think?

    That's when they deserve our respect. That, in all of that grief and threats to their life, they keep it on the straight & narrow. That keeps them on the right side and justifies their actions which can be pretty deadly.

    Things that break the rules around war crimes only undermines what the army is about.

    It should actively police itself to make sure it stays that way.
  • finchyfinchy Posts: 6,889
    While I generally agree with Rick on this one, about how soldiers should not be allowed to kill unlawfully just because they're in uniform, I do wonder how effectively PTSD was diagnosed (or even understood) in those days, and whether we might end up convicting someone 40 years on who was suffering from undiagnosed mental illness.

    So from that point of view, I'm a bit uneasy about prosecuting soldiers so long after the conflict and hope that they are given decent resources to defend themselves if any cases come to trial.
  • smoggystevesmoggysteve Posts: 2,918
    Unless you have been in the situation the soldiers found themselves in at the time, its difficult to judge them on their actions retrospectively. You don't have the time to think about the consequences when you have rounds incoming. If there is a case of troops shooting someone unlawfully then they should stand trial as per Marine A. But back then anyone you saw was a potential terrorist. Maybe there were cases of unlawful shootings but I can't see how any new evidence could emerge after 40 years.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 46,768 Lives Here
    Unless you have been in the situation the soldiers found themselves in at the time, its difficult to judge them on their actions retrospectively.

    To be clear, I'm not. That's for the investigation & the judges etc.
  • pinnopinno Posts: 38,242
    My godfather was high up in the Narcotics investigations whilst at Scotland yard. He was following the links between narcotic sales and organised terrorism.
    There was a hardcore element intent on violence under a banner of any given religious denomination or flag. These same thugs were released under the good Friday agreement. Something I personally, totally disagreed with. Some of these individuals performed knee capping and other 'honour' acts to minors (one female of 11 years old).
    In the context of the level and extremes of violence perpetrated by those who were perpetrators now claiming some form of victim status, if one or two were 'taken around the back' and shot during the troubles, I wouldn't care. In fact, back in 1976, my parents met a retired officer who said that they could have almost totally suppressed the sectarian violence within weeks had the armed forces been allowed free will and not adhered to the Geneva Convention and the possible repercussions of breaches in humanitarian rights. One may argue that without proper trial, some innocent individuals may have been killed despite the fact that the intelligence services knew exactly who were at the top of each pyramid.
    However, in the light of how long the troubles continued and the number of innocent civilians caught up in the malaise, would have that been such a bad thing?
    On the whole, I truly believe that the British forces acted with a higher degree of conscientiousness than those wrapped up in their sectarianism. Therein lies the irony.

    On a slightly obtuse tack, I remember going to Belfast in 1993. Armed soldiers standing outside the entrance to Marks ans Sparks and barbed wire around the police stations atop high fences. I got a taxi up Newtonards road to Dave Kane's cycles and the taxi driver stopped and said he was going no further at one point saying "I got a wife and kids ye know" and we ended up walking the rest of the way.
    For the weekend of the Northwest 200, the same individual I was with on that occasion, was at a bar with hos brother (1997). The patrons were convinced that the brother was in the army and the baseball bats came out and chanting and singing begun and suggestions that they both come out for a 'bit of fun' was being throw at them. They escaped out of the toilet window.
    Being so close to Belfast, during old firm fixtures, many of these people come across the water and I have met quite a few and they make your skin crawl.
    My other half's father was in REME during the conflict and there is not a person who served who he said wasn't on edge permanently and he hated every minute of being in NI during the conflict. As a soldier, this whole environment would have hardly made for rational decisions and rational acts.

    Now, I had a conversation with a guy on the train who had a leather clothing factory based in Belfast. He pointed out the money being poured into NI during the troubles: Public spending per head of population in England and Wales at the time (1996) was £3400. In Scotland £4300 and in NI: £5400. On top of that, both the European Rural and urban development funds were putting money in to the extent that as a start up business package, you could get 50% towards your first year of overheads and even capital purchase costs. You could build a big fancy house from scratch with a juicy 50% grant - if you want the evidence of this, have a look at the plethora of new houses along the edges of Belfast Lough when you arrive by ferry. I personally think that the movers and shakers, (the Paisley's and co.) had very little incentive to push for peace. I would go so far as to say that perpetuating the conflict benefited too many individuals for coincidence and comfort. So for me, the moves to investigate soldiers is a hypocritical whammy:

    McCann was a 'legend' amongst the Republican dissenters - the opposite of a Saint and without doubt, orchestrated violence against many. Just like many other perpetrators of violence, has no right to any clemency or apology either directly or indirectly. They lost that right the minute they took to violence as a solution.
    If they want to let bygones be bygones, is this really a constructive way to forgive and forget?

    The double standard that this current scenario presents sits snugly in with the Political Correctness that seems to be permeating modern life and the continued theme of thrashing oneself for past sins where often the protagonists are long gone and the political and moral environment has changed fundamentally.
    Does it serve the people who sanction such acts of recompense a slice of morally superior pie? What good does it do?
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    "This year will be harder than last year. But that is good news; this year will be easier than next year." President of Abyssinia's annual address to the nation.
  • ProssPross Posts: 22,167
    Very good Pinno. The 'illegal' killings result from the UK government refusing to accept they were at war therefore making the terrorists common criminals rather than enemy combatants. The terrorist leaders played that to their advantage, instructing murders while staying clear of positions where they may have been killed under the rules of engagement that were in place.
  • smoggystevesmoggysteve Posts: 2,918
    Pross wrote:
    Very good Pinno. The 'illegal' killings result from the UK government refusing to accept they were at war therefore making the terrorists common criminals rather than enemy combatants. The terrorist leaders played that to their advantage, instructing murders while staying clear of positions where they may have been killed under the rules of engagement that were in place.

    You can't declare war on a terrorist organisation. You can only declare war (in the legal sense) on another state. Look at recent conflict. We were not at war in Afghanistan. We were guests to fight the Taliban. There is a massive massive difference and because of that it severely restricts your r.o.e . You also have to acknowledge most of these crimes happened of sovereign British territory so again the armed forces have no powers except that of self defence if fired upon. You cannot just shoot someone you believe to be a terrorist unless they are commiting or are about to commit an act which endangers life.
  • pinnopinno Posts: 38,242
    edited December 2016
    Pross wrote:
    Very...place.

    You cannot just shoot someone you believe to be a terrorist unless they are commiting or are about to commit an act which endangers life.

    Legally you can't, morally you can't (without a compromise of principles) but in the context of the violence and the atrocities and the innocent people it affected, the oppression that those living in NI having to bear such as resistance to basic rights for example 'mixed' marriages for the threat of death; would it have been justifiable? If 'executions' of the worst orchestrator's of violence had taken place, why not?
    Rhetorically: The legal principle has possibly been breached and therefore the killing of McCann was wrong so we have to compensate the 'victims' and punish the perpetrators! So the emphasis is on the breach of the legal principle not the fact that McCann was a known terrorist. There's something deeply wrong there.

    McCann and others crossed the line. Some soldiers (probably to order) crossed the line. One waived the right to legal protection as perpetrators of violence and death whilst the soldiers (and the men who ordered the act) were most probably aware that a line was going to be crossed but went ahead anyway. Who's right?
    It's a pity the likes of McCann and others cannot be held to account for their actions in a counter legal process. Maybe then the horrors that the sectarians and terrorists were culpable of would have been brought into full public view.
    It seems odd that army personnel are going to be possibly held to account but a bunch of violent thugs won't due to some abhorrent and rather convenient amnesty afforded to them by a bunch of politicians.
    Surely the fair response is to give amnesty to the soldiers as well (even though I would whole heartedly disagree with that).
    S - The Brazilian beach volleyball team
    W - Wiggle Honda

    "This year will be harder than last year. But that is good news; this year will be easier than next year." President of Abyssinia's annual address to the nation.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 46,768 Lives Here
    isn't the whole reason the army had to get involved because the terrorists were doing a lot of bad sh!t i the first place?

    The same bad sh!t that the British army shouldn't have been doing?

    That's what it boils down to. British army isn't a terrorist organisation, and so it has some restraints to what it can and can't do. The other lot were, which is one of the reason the army was there in the first place.
  • smoggystevesmoggysteve Posts: 2,918
    pinno wrote:
    Pross wrote:
    Very...place.

    You cannot just shoot someone you believe to be a terrorist unless they are commiting or are about to commit an act which endangers life.

    Legally you can't, morally you can't (without a compromise of principles) but in the context of the violence and the atrocities and the innocent people it affected, the oppression that those living in NI having to bear such as resistance to basic rights for example 'mixed' marriages for the threat of death; would it have been justifiable? If 'executions' of the worst orchestrator's of violence had taken place, why not?
    Rhetorically: The legal principle has possibly been breached and therefore the killing of McCann was wrong so we have to compensate the 'victims' and punish the perpetrators! So the emphasis is on the breach of the legal principle not the fact that McCann was a known terrorist. There's something deeply wrong there.

    McCann and others crossed the line. Some soldiers (probably to order) crossed the line. One waived the right to legal protection as perpetrators of violence and death whilst the soldiers (and the men who ordered the act) were most probably aware that a line was going to be crossed but went ahead anyway. Who's right?
    It's a pity the likes of McCann and others cannot be held to account for their actions in a counter legal process. Maybe then the horrors that the sectarians and terrorists were culpable of would have been brought into full public view.
    It seems odd that army personnel are going to be possibly held to account but a bunch of violent thugs won't due to some abhorrent and rather convenient amnesty afforded to them by a bunch of politicians.
    Surely the fair response is to give amnesty to the soldiers as well (even though I would whole heartedly disagree with that).

    We have rules of engagement to protect us as well. If soldiers were allowed to decide who they can and cannot shoot then who is going to judge them. It opens up the chance war crimes happening more. It matters not one bit who or what the perpetrators are or what they are doing, you cannot just bring the law into your own hands. We should appear to be above that. I have served 18 years. Deployed to NI, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan and I would like to think I know more than most on the matter. I have been in situations where I have had to make decisions that could possibly come into question. It is sh!t when you know the enemy is not playing by the same rules but you don't just decide to break the rules. I certainly don't fancy being dragged along to the Hague for something I did in my career just cos at the time I thought I could get away with it. The actions of others that have decided to do just this may seem gallant to those who think of some greater good has been served but in the end they just bring more problemsto the rest of us who serve our country and in some cases make the ultimate sacrifice in order to preserve the very values some decide to break.
  • pinnopinno Posts: 38,242
    I see your point entirely Smoggy. What I don't like is the hypocrisy - terrorists let off scott free having committed atrocities.
    So you can make a similar moral point; the terrorists took the law into their own hands and they should be held accountable. No?

    At no point have I said that I view the soldiers actions as somehow gallant. It was war, regardless of the domestic legal premise and war isn't in the slightest bit glorious. I'm sure you will agree with that.
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    W - Wiggle Honda

    "This year will be harder than last year. But that is good news; this year will be easier than next year." President of Abyssinia's annual address to the nation.
  • smoggystevesmoggysteve Posts: 2,918
    pinno wrote:
    I see your point entirely Smoggy. What I don't like is the hypocrisy - terrorists let off scott free having committed atrocities.
    So you can make a similar moral point; the terrorists took the law into their own hands and they should be held accountable. No?

    At no point have I said that I view the soldiers actions as somehow gallant. It was war, regardless of the domestic legal premise and war isn't in the slightest bit glorious. I'm sure you will agree with that.

    I don't like the hypocrisy. But I would never want to see us go down the route of lowering ourselves to the level of the terrorists. I never suggested you did call the actions gallant but others do. I read people campaigning for the release of Marine A. He commuted a war crime ffs. He can't even say it was ptsd he was conscious of his actions and even related to them at the incident. How we can condone his actions is baffling. Some do cos they say the playing field isn't level ref r.o.e but his actions endanger the rest of us and I find them despicable.
  • pinnopinno Posts: 38,242
    I admire your honour but what I find difficult is that a soldier pulled the trigger on this McCann bloke who was responsible either directly or indirectly for death (whatever the numbers) and that's the game he entered into willingly and with full control of his actions. Do I give a flying f*ck if McCann was shot illicitly? No.
    Yes, maintain a standard but if it was a domestic issue as terrorism and not war, jail the perpetrators who were not serving in Her Majesty's army for the crimes they committed. Then review the actions of certain individuals who were serving.
    What conclusion would you draw if the soldiers were under orders to shoot him, out of curiosity?
    [I doubt anything like that would actually come to the fore, so it's purely hypothetical. I think].
    S - The Brazilian beach volleyball team
    W - Wiggle Honda

    "This year will be harder than last year. But that is good news; this year will be easier than next year." President of Abyssinia's annual address to the nation.
  • smoggystevesmoggysteve Posts: 2,918
    pinno wrote:
    What conclusion would you draw if the soldiers were under orders to shoot him, out of curiosity?
    [I doubt anything like that would actually come to the fore, so it's purely hypothetical. I think].

    If you follow an order knowing it to be illegal then you are to blame. You cannot be ordered to do something the contravenes the Geneva convention or is outside your roe. Therfore if they did it on the orders from above knowing their actions were unlawful then they should be held accountable. Don't think just because I am a soldier I think they should not be held accountable - if they have any crimes to answer for in the first place. A lot of this is the word of the soldiers vs witnesses who were probably terrorists themselves. I don't see what new evidence there can be to open an enquiry into pressing charges but if there was then so be it.
  • The "letting off" of IRA killers was part of the peace dividend,yes, it leaves a sour taste in the mouth but it was neccessary or people would still be being killed now.

    I feel there is no public stomach to see ex soldiers pursued through the courts for things they may or may not have done. Leave it be.

    The real tragedy was that the IRA had to bomb themselves to the negotiating table in the first place.
    Tail end Charlie

    The above post may contain traces of sarcasm or/and bullsh*t.
  • Stevo_666Stevo_666 Posts: 39,629
    I feel there is no public stomach to see ex soldiers pursued through the courts for things they may or may not have done. Leave it be.
    Legally some people on here may well be right but my gut feel is exactly what you have said here Frank.
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