Undercover soldiers 'killed unarmed civilians in Belfast' Watch

finnthehuman
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Soldiers from an undercover unit used by the British army in Northern Ireland killed unarmed civilians, former members have told BBC One's Panorama.
Speaking publicly for the first time, the ex-members of the Military Reaction Force (MRF), which was disbanded in 1973, said they had been tasked with "hunting down" IRA members in Belfast.
The former soldiers said they believed the unit had saved many lives.
The Ministry of Defence said it had referred the disclosures to police.
The details have emerged a day after Northern Ireland's attorney general, John Larkin, suggested ending any prosecutions over Troubles-related killings that took place before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.
The proposal has been criticised by groups representing relatives of victims.
Panorama has been told the MRF consisted of about 40 men handpicked from across the British army.

.....
Panorama has identified 10 unarmed civilians shot, according to witnesses, by the MRF:

  • Brothers John and Gerry Conway, on the way to their fruit stall in Belfast city centre on 15 April 1972
  • Aiden McAloon and Eugene Devlin, in a taxi taking them home from a disco on 12 May 1972
  • Joe Smith, Hugh Kenny, Patrick Murray and Tommy Shaw, on Glen Road on 22 June 1972
  • Daniel Rooney and Brendan Brennan, on the Falls Road on 27 September 1972

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24987465
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Et Tu, Brute?
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Why can't we all just get along?
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GR3YFOXXX
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(Original post by finnthehuman)
Soldiers from an undercover unit used by the British army in Northern Ireland killed unarmed civilians, former members have told BBC One's Panorama.
Speaking publicly for the first time, the ex-members of the Military Reaction Force (MRF), which was disbanded in 1973, said they had been tasked with "hunting down" IRA members in Belfast.
The former soldiers said they believed the unit had saved many lives.
The Ministry of Defence said it had referred the disclosures to police.
The details have emerged a day after Northern Ireland's attorney general, John Larkin, suggested ending any prosecutions over Troubles-related killings that took place before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.
The proposal has been criticised by groups representing relatives of victims.
Panorama has been told the MRF consisted of about 40 men handpicked from across the British army.

.....
Panorama has identified 10 unarmed civilians shot, according to witnesses, by the MRF:

  • Brothers John and Gerry Conway, on the way to their fruit stall in Belfast city centre on 15 April 1972
  • Aiden McAloon and Eugene Devlin, in a taxi taking them home from a disco on 12 May 1972
  • Joe Smith, Hugh Kenny, Patrick Murray and Tommy Shaw, on Glen Road on 22 June 1972
  • Daniel Rooney and Brendan Brennan, on the Falls Road on 27 September 1972

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24987465
I think we are only now beginning to see how dirty a conflict it really was. I can't believe people still condemn James McClean for refusing to wear a poppy.
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finnthehuman
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(Original post by GR3YFOXXX)
I think we are only now beginning to see how dirty a conflict it really was. I can't believe people still condemn James McClean for refusing to wear a poppy.
I agree, entirely.
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pol pot noodles
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(Original post by GR3YFOXXX)
I think we are only now beginning to see how dirty a conflict it really was. I can't believe people still condemn James McClean for refusing to wear a poppy.
Certain dubious actions in a conflict shouldn't be a reason to not remember our war dead. He could for example have chosen to honour the 50,000 Irish who chose to fight Nazi tryranny in WW2.
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StarsAreFixed
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(Original post by pol pot noodles)
Certain dubious actions in a conflict shouldn't be a reason to not remember our war dead. He could for example have chosen to honour the 50,000 Irish who chose to fight Nazi tryranny in WW2.
And be hated by those in his home city of Derry, which suffered the most by the actions of the British army? Not likely. If he wore a green poppy for instance he'd probably be slammed for that too.
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pol pot noodles
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(Original post by StarsAreFixed)
And be hated by those in his home city of Derry, which suffered the most by the actions of the British army? Not likely. If he wore a green poppy for instance he'd probably be slammed for that too.
Frankly the hatred of bigots shouldn't enter into the equation, no more than the British should base decisions solely on how loyalists would react. If these nationalists are so angophobic that they would even take offence at honouring their own people, who fought for the frickin' freedom of Europe, then there's no hope for them. Northern Ireland is never going to move forward so long as these petty grudges remain.
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Manitude
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I think a lot of people are quick to judge without the full facts.
Yes they killed unarmed people which in breach of rules of engagement, however they were not necessarily non-combatants. Maybe they were totally innocent people - I don't know for sure, and I'm pretty certain neither do most people.
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Zürich
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Doesn't surprise me. The army's role in Northern Ireland is a disgrace to this country.
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techno-thriller
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So it was ira memeberrs that got killed right? Isn't that good?
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Cannotbelieveit
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(Original post by Zürich)
Doesn't surprise me. The army's role in Northern Ireland is a disgrace to this country.
So how would you have combated the IRA? Who were literally the lowest scum bags you could come across in the 70's and 80's.
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Arbolus
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Do IRA members count as civilians?
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Zürich
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(Original post by Cannotbelieveit)
So how would you have combated the IRA? Who were literally the lowest scum bags you could come across in the 70's and 80's.
When the army was itself killing innocents, and of course covering it up, and supplying weapons and information to paramilitary organisations just as bad as the IRA, I cant say its anything to be proud of. The right thing to do would have been to arrest terrorists and trial them of course.

I honestly think the majority of the actions of the army made things worse. Shooting dead innocent people on the streets etc. Personally I would have handed back the land to the Irish and apologised for having stolen it in the first place. Unionists could have been offered a population transfer to Scotland or they could come round to the idea of the island of Ireland being run by Ireland, just a thought. What gets me is that Unionists, not native to the land btw, refuse point blank to contemplate that but expect the native Nationalists to toe the British line. At the very least the border counties could have been handed back to the Rep. of Ireland since the majority of the population was catholic etc.
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Et Tu, Brute?
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(Original post by Cannotbelieveit)
So how would you have combated the IRA? Who were literally the lowest scum bags you could come across in the 70's and 80's.
Loyalist paramilitaries were much worse in comparison. Often you would dispute if they were better suited to the term serial killers as opposed to paramilitaries, ie skankill butchers.

(Original post by Arbolus)
Do IRA members count as civilians?
No. However the people referred to in the OP are not IRA members, hence the reason for this thread and the reason why it has been a top story on the BBC homepage all day. If it was simply 'British soldiers killed IRA members, I'd doubt that would have been big news for 1973 let alone 2013.
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Unruly Marmite
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I saw a similar article on the Daily Mail website, but I'm a little dubious, for a couple of reasons: 1, it was to promote a book, 2, several of the comments pointed out that the depictions of the 'actions' seen were unrealistic and 3, wouldn't any member of this unit have to sign the Official Secrets Act? Also, it seems stupid to come out with something like this while you can still be prosecuted. I'm not saying things like this didn't happen, but the timing seems...convenient.
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Cannotbelieveit
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(Original post by Zürich)
When the army was itself killing innocents, and of course covering it up, and supplying weapons and information to paramilitary organisations just as bad as the IRA, I cant say its anything to be proud of. The right thing to do would have been to arrest terrorists and trial them of course.

I honestly think the majority of the actions of the army made things worse. Shooting dead innocent people on the streets etc. Personally I would have handed back the land to the Irish and apologised for having stolen it in the first place. Unionists could have been offered a population transfer to Scotland or they could come round to the idea of the island of Ireland being run by Ireland, just a thought. What gets me is that Unionists, not native to the land btw, refuse point blank to contemplate that but expect the native Nationalists to toe the British line. At the very least the border counties could have been handed back to the Rep. of Ireland since the majority of the population was catholic etc.
Trying to ignore the strong bias that coats that entire answer...

First of all, Northern Ireland was not stolen, considering the fact that in 1921, the vast majority wanted to remain in the UK. Population transfer to Scotland? Next time lets have some mildly realistic propositions please. The Northern Irish protestants aren't native, but the Catholics are? What crap. Protestantism has been in Ireland for centuries, it's the same as saying all non-Native Americans should leave North America.

As for the last point, I would have no qualms with the catholic counties going to the ROI, only if there was a majority support for it. Which there is not - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-20475919
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Sharpshooter
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(Original post by pol pot noodles)
Frankly the hatred of bigots shouldn't enter into the equation, no more than the British should base decisions solely on how loyalists would react. If these nationalists are so angophobic that they would even take offence at honouring their own people, who fought for the frickin' freedom of Europe, then there's no hope for them. Northern Ireland is never going to move forward so long as these petty grudges remain.
Petty grudges exist on both sides. Many protestants have no interest in marrying or mixing with catholics because they fear their ethnicity and heritage will become diluted, and as a people they will disappear. Some of these people are against mixed marriages and are against mixed schools. This of course goes on both sides. But it is not soley one sided and surely you are not that naive to believe otherwise.

(Original post by cannotbelieveit)
So how would you have combated the IRA? Who were literally the lowest scum bags you could come across in the 70's and 80's.
Well for a starters not going shooting sprees shooting random taigs because it was a cool thing to do. The IRA were scum and I agree with you but this is largely about innocent catholics in Northern Ireland who Scottish/English people often considered "lesser" people for many years in Northern Ireland.

And as you well know many catholic Scots aren't seen as "true Scots" by some sections of the Scottish population.
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thunder_chunky
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(Original post by Et Tu, Brute?)
Why can't we all just get along?
Because we don't live in a fairytale.
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Arbolus
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(Original post by Et Tu, Brute?)
No. However the people referred to in the OP are not IRA members, hence the reason for this thread and the reason why it has been a top story on the BBC homepage all day. If it was simply 'British soldiers killed IRA members, I'd doubt that would have been big news for 1973 let alone 2013.
The story says that people were shot if they were suspected to be IRA members and to be armed. That suggests to me that the ten civilians were just the instances where the soldier's instincts happened to be wrong.

The soldiers then shouldn't be prosecuted for their mistake, as it seems they had no way of knowing otherwise. The most that should happen is that the families should be paid compensation - that's what often happens in other countries when a non-combatant is mistakenly killed.
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DorianGrayism
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(Original post by Cannotbelieveit)
So how would you have combated the IRA? Who were literally the lowest scum bags you could come across in the 70's and 80's.
Well, clearly not by shooting unarmed civilians for 2 years.
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