‘Internment’ by John McGuffin (1973)

Chapter 16

THE truce called by the Provisional IRA for 27 June 1972 was, for them, a masterstroke. When the Officials had earlier called their truce they had done so from a position of weakness, following the Derry public's revulsion at the shooting of Ranger Best. Whitelaw and the middle-class ladies of 'Women Together', with the active co-operation of the media who played up any peace move for all that it was worth – and then some – took the initiative. All the Officials' truce had got them was the release of the vast majority of their members in Long Kesh (by 16 August there were only two Officials still in the camp), but for the Provos it was a different story. Their highly successful (militarily) bombing campaign had demonstrated that their strength was undiminished despite numerous arrests. The more perceptive amongst their leaders, in particular Daithi O'Connell, now recognised that there was a need for a cessation of hostilities in order not to provoke a sectarian civil war which the well-armed and increasingly militant Ulster Defence Association was threatening. The Provos' bombing campaign had been a dangerous piece of brinkmanship, but, on 28 June, it almost looked as if they had got away with it. Despite all the oft-repeated ministerial pledges about "no question of talks with killers" (just as they had said about Makarios, Kenyatta and even Nehru) the Provo command was well aware that Whitelaw was prepared to meet them personally – talks through intermediaries, of course, had been going on for some time. This was a considerable coup for a primarily military organization, whose lack of a really viable political wing was their biggest weakness. Up to now the SDLP had been the nominal representatives of the Catholic minority, despite the fact that in many areas the people had completely rejected them (in Andersonstown they had been burned in effigy outside Casement Park), the more so after the betrayal of their repeated pledge of no talks until the last internee was released.
     But the truce was to be shortlived. Too many people had a vested interest in seeing that it failed. Various die-hard Provos, such as Seamus Twomey of the Belfast Command, wanted to fight on – "one big push to finish it once and for all" being their raison d'être, regardless of the risk, or certainty, of civil war. (Sectarian murders were already a nightly occurrence with gunmen cruising in cars and gunning down total strangers merely because they were in a Catholic area – thus did 'Loyalists' demonstrate their fealty to Her Majesty). Twomey obeyed orders in Belfast and the truce was declared, but it was obvious that it would not take too much to provoke him.
     Others, too, had a vested interest in the failure of the truce. The UDA leaders, fearful of a sellout at the peace talks and a diminution of their own power and patronage, became increasingly provocative and menacing. From the minority point of view the open collusion in some areas between the British army, RUC and the UDA was an ominous sign. In Belfast fraternisation was blatant in the Ligoniel, Woodstock, Crumlin, Donegall and Old Park roads, as well as the Tiger Bay and Ballygomartin areas. The arrest of several Protestant members of the 'impartial' UDR on murder charges did nothing to further confidence in the regiment, most of whose officers are ex-B Specials. One particular example, in Belfast, was the attack upon the home of Frank Gogarty, the veteran and tireless civil rights worker. This was not the first time that a 'Loyalist' mob had attacked Gogarty's home on the Antrim Road but on 28 July the attack was fiercer than usual and Gogarty called the police and the army. They arrived, but stood by for several hours and allowed the attack to continue unabated. Finally, a senior police officer approached Gogarty and demanded that the local masked commandant of the UDA be permitted to enter the house to search for arms. Gogarty, a respectable dentist, was incensed at this open collusion between the supposed guardians of law and order and a mob of masked attackers, but was powerless to prevent the search being carried out, with the police seemingly taking orders from the UDA officer. In the event, nothing was discovered and the attack was called off.[1]
     Nor were the examples of collusion restricted to Belfast. Not at all. A fairly typical incident occurred in the first week of August on the main Armagh-Portadown road. Three members of the Armagh People's Democracy were returning from a meeting in Belfast when their car was ambushed on the main road. Masked men used stones and clubs to break the windows and six shots were fired into the car, wounding John Rocks in the right arm and pock-marking the car with bullet holes; despite this the PD members were able to drive on but were pursued by another car at high speed. On arrival at Armagh they went straight to the police station to report the murderous attack and were themselves arrested. This was at midnight. For three hours the police intimidated them, waved guns under their noses and claimed that they were under arrest "for not stopping at a (completely illegal) UDA roadblock." Their jackets were taken "for forensic tests" and police continually refused to take statements or get medical assistance. At 3.30 a.m. they were bundled into landrovers and driven to Portadown where the same process was repeated. Requests to make statements or consult a lawyer were constantly refused until 7 a.m. when the police grudgingly acceded to them. They were released at 8 a.m., their faith in Whitelaw's "new policy of police-civilian relations" scarcely enhanced.
     Nor were the UDA and Vanguard the only Protestants with an interest on seeing violence continue. Ex-PM Brian Faulkner, having momentarily recovered from his pique at his summary dismissal, began to openly attempt to discredit Whitelaw, for any success for the English Minister was yet another nail in Faulkner's political coffin. His speeches became increasingly bitter and aggressive; he attempted to resurrect a working alliance with William Craig, to the latter's discomfort since the majority of 'Loyalists' wouldn't trust Faulkner as far as they could throw him and in September he was physically stoned off the Shankill Road. There was another split in the Unionist ranks when rank-and-file members of LAW broke away alleging that the leaders were only intent on personal aggrandizement. More and more Faulkner bemoaned "the lack of democracy in Ulster under Whitelaw" – somewhat incongruous coming from the man who had introduced internment without trial. In fact, as Andrew Boyd[2] has pointed out, when traditional Unionists complain about this they really mean that:

Their power and privileges, upheld for so many generations against the wishes of the majority of the people of Ireland, were being effectually challenged and abolished.

Whitelaw had promised that internment would be speedily ended if there was a truce. The Provos claim that he broke his word since he said that the camp would be empty within a fortnight. Both sides could not completely agree on what was said at the secret meeting. The Provos were represented by Twomey, O'Connell, Martin McGuinness of Derry, Joe Cahill, Ivor Bell and Gerry Adams, all of whom were offered safe conduct to London and were transported by army helicopter and RAF plane on 7 July. By 'coincidence' two British officers in plain clothes strayed into the Bogside at the same time and were promptly captured by the Provos. They were released unharmed as soon as the spokesmen returned from London.[3] Der Spiegel, the German paper, claimed that the talks went so well that an actual document was signed by both parties. Whitelaw was angrily to reject such an allegation when it was put to him by Enoch Powell in the Commons on 7 August, but English readers of Der Spiegel found that their favourite paper was not available that week.
     People in the North breathed a sigh of relief when the truce was announced, but internment was still there and the men in Long Kesh were still held as hostages. More experienced political commentators, moreover, took a less optimistic view of peace continuing. Intimidation and victimization of Catholic families were still rife. For example, 300 families forced out of Rathcoole in July, and increasing numbers of Protestants were harassed and bullied into moving home by 'patriotic' Catholics. Nor did the killings stop. In the four months from 30 March to 30 July, 182 people died. Of these, 47 were soldiers,[4] seven members of the UDR, two RUC men, and 126 civilians, of whom 88 were Catholic and 38 Protestant. The Catholic Ex-Servicemen s Association broke down the civilian casualties as follows:[5]

Killed by the British army 25 3
Killed by Protestant extremists  42 7
Killed by Catholic extremists 13
Killed by explosions 13 10
Killed by crossfire 4 5

In addition, there were four Catholics killed in uncertain circumstances. Given that the CESA may not be the most impartial body, it is nonetheless clear that increasingly large numbers of Catholics were being murdered by assassination squads of 'Loyalist' persuasion. The Sunday Times of 13 August alleged that the RUC had captured one such squad which had been responsible for no fewer than 16 deaths. In 1973, however, 12 'Loyalists' were charged with different sectarian murders.
     But the British army, despite the truce, had not ceased their fraternisation with the paramilitary UDA and it was to be this which sparked of the 'Lenadoon Affair' of 9 July which resulted in the breakdown of the truce. Twomey may have been spoiling for a fight, but the behaviour of the troops involved, the 20th Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery, seems to have been so crass: first encouraging the families to occupy the vacant houses in Horn Drive and next minute preventing them, that it was no surprise when the shooting started, each side blaming the other. The Provos had thrown away their negotiating advantage. They were further to jeopardize their position with the murderous bombing of 'bloody Friday' 21 July. Two days previously, in an effort to patch up the truce, they had talked to Harold Wilson, who had agreed to act as an agent for Heath; nothing was achieved. And then, on the 21st, 22 bombs exploded in Belfast, killing nine people (two of them soldiers), wounding 130 and destroying thousands of pounds worth of property. In all cases warnings had been given and the Provos accepted responsibility, blaming the police and army for failing to act quickly enough to warn people, but it just would not wash. Many who had been prepared to give at least tacit support to the Provos were totally sickened. Even though in many cases an hour's notice had been given, with that number of bombs exploding in the city centre it was inevitable that innocent civilians would be maimed or killed, but this did not deter the Provisional IRA who, by their actions, played into the hands of Whitelaw and the SDLP.[6]
     Public revulsion was such that Whitelaw was able to get another 4,000 troops, making 21,000 in all (and necessitating permission from NATO allies, including Richard Nixon – Jack Lynch was informed out of 'courtesy') and to mount the long-delayed operation 'Motorman' (or 'Murderman', as the hitherto 'no-go' areas referred to it). And so, in the early hours of 31 July 1972 the armoured columns of the British army poured into Creggan, Bogside and Andersonstown. Resistance was virtually non-existent. The IRA wisely melted away, choosing to fight again another day. All that the soldiers encountered was sullen hostility, exacerbated when the army occupied the local Catholic schools and used them as billets. In Belfast, the army's seizure of the GAA pitch and clubhouse at Casement Park was to provide the focal point for the next week's riots.
     Meanwhile, despite the release of 47 more internees as a 'goodwill gesture' on the part of Whitelaw, there were still 283 men held hostage in Long Kesh. That their status was precisely that of hostage was by now in no doubt whatever. Both Whitelaw and Faulkner were prepared to release men upon the 'defenceless public' who only the day before they had been castigating as vicious killers and mad bombers, if it were politically advantageous. Whitelaw no longer formally interned men; merely 'detained them', a polite euphemism for the same thing. A Government spokesman said:[7] "About 30 detention orders have been signed under direct rule" (in fact, the figure was 42). Some detainees, such as Billy Kelly of Unity Flats, spent four months in Long Kesh, were released on 8 June only to be re-detained on 13 August. From 'Bloody Friday' 21 July 1972 to 12 August the army arrested some 258 men, of whom 159 were released and 94 charged. Five were still 'helping police with their inquiries'. Nor had the brutality ceased with the introduction of direct rule, as the European Commission on Human Rights was to hear. (See chapter on brutality, page 115).
     Talks had, however, commenced between Whitelaw and the SDLP. For months secret meetings had been held but publicly the SDLP had clung to their 'no talks until the last internee is out' formula, which public opinion had forced upon them. Using the excuse of the horror bombing of 'Bloody Friday' and the terror bombing in Gaudy on 31 July in which nine people died (the Provisional IRA denied responsibility for the Claudy explosion, but their credibility was strained this time), the SDLP publicly announced that they were having "talks about talks" and then "talks". Whitelaw announced an all-party conference to be held in England, between 25 September and 27 September, and broadly hinted that all internees would be released by then. Most political commentators felt that this was hardly likely to provide any solutions and was merely designed to give the Tories a chance to impose the political 'solution' they had already decided upon following the 'breakdown' of talks. But in Long Kesh the mood of despondency finally lifted and men really began to believe that their release was imminent. 18 August saw the release of the last two Officials[8] – at the height of the internment period there had been 297 Officials behind the wire – although some 22 were still held as 'detainees'.
     But the internees' optimism was to be shortlived.[9] The continuing bombing campaign, albeit on a lower key than before 'Operation Motorman', was still enough to harden governmental resistance to ending internment. As the UDA, UVF, LAW and Vanguard movements came closer together, following the shooting of two unarmed men on the Shankill Road by the now infamous Parachute regiment, so their cries for the retention of internment became more strident. Gone were the days when the Loyalist News could denounce internment as an 'evil weapon' which was about to be used on true blue loyalists – they had claimed that a special camp was being set up near Lisanelly in Fermanagh. Now they demanded the continuation of this "evil weapon" and threatened to "paralyse the province" if it were ended. As they made these threats, 'Loyalist' power workers were doing just that with political strikes over the refusal of Whitelaw to hold an inquiry into the actions of the Paras on the Shankill Road.
     Army brutality and harassment continued unabated, too, despite Whitelaw's bland assurances to the contrary. It was not enough to transfer the Government interrogation centre from the by-now-notorious Palace barracks to Castlereagh police station. In order to stop the ill-treatment Whitelaw would have needed to make sweeping changes in the personnel of the RUC and the army and this he was unable or unwilling to do. And so the persecution of young boys like Gerard Bradley continued; because Branch men did not want him to give evidence about the terrible beatings he and his friends received from them, his young brothers and sisters were harassed and terrified nightly, and forced to leave their home.[10] More publicised cases concerned remand prisoners at the Maze prison, as Long Kesh was being called. Complaints that they were being regularly beaten and degraded by the police on their visits, in an old water cannon, to the remand courts led on 11 September to a sitdown protest at the prison, but to little or no avail. Soldiers were sent in to baton the peaceful demonstrators, who included a 14-year-old boy on remand on an arms charge.[11] It is noticeable that this protest occurred at a time when in other parts of the 'British Isles' prisoners were climbing onto roofs and staging much more violent demonstrations. In no case did the authorities deem it necessary to send in armed soldiers to beat up the demonstrators and then destroy their few pitiful personal possessions.
     In the Catholic ghettoes resentment grew at the continued occupation of local schools and recreation centres and the erection, at great expense, of armed encampments. For example, 'Fort Silver City' and 'Fort Apache' at Slieve' gallion Drive and Lenadoon Gardens cost over £120,000. In the West Belfast area alone eight fortresses ringed Andersonstown. Clearly, the army's 'hearts and minds' campaign, despite all their posters, leaflets and stickers, was a dismal failure. Reluctantly the SDLP had to accept this. In order to keep up the polite fiction of 'No talks until the last internee was released' the SDLP met with Heath at Chequers and then with Wilson – at which, they claimed, the former PM denounced internment yet again.[12] They then announced that because of their high principles they were going to boycott the talks.[13] In fact, as Ben Carragher, a senior member of the party admitted, there was no need to go to the talks. They had already had a private meeting with Heath, had explained their position and published their proposals, and lost nothing by avoiding sterile argument with the rump of Faulkner's Unionist party and the Alliance and Labour parties which were the only other groups bothering to attend. In any case, it was widely accepted that the talks were only for show and that the Government intended to present its own 'solution' when the talks inevitably produced nothing.
     The army continued to have their successes, although their own casualty rate went up. Well-publicised escapers like Martin Meehan, Terence Clarke, Jim Bryson and Thomas Toland were recaptured, as was Eddie Campbell, claimed by the army to be a batallion OC. But still the army had to have recourse to the Special Powers Act. Embarrassing inquests, for example, were banned or indefinitely postponed.[14] As it became clear that the synonym 'detention' was being used for 'internment' even Brian Faulkner began to revise his opinion about internment which he had always regarded as essential. Now he claimed that all along he had favoured special courts, adding, hypocritically, that the power to intern without trial was perhaps too much for one man to have. Many observers felt that it didn't really matter what Brian Faulkner thought anymore since, with the defection of three of his lieutenants and his ignominious flight from the 'loyal' Shankill Road in front of a stone-throwing mob, he counted for little in local politics despite his desperate effort to woo Bill Craig. 22 September saw the long-expected announcement of Special Courts, although none of the details were spelt out. Clearly, they were internment by another name and, at that, hardly necessary since men were being remanded without trial for up to a year already: witness the case of Sean McGuigan.[15] The announcement, however, was not designed, as some speculated, to tempt the SDLP to the conference table, but to provide some ammunition for Sir Peter Rawlinson in his efforts to get Britain off the hook at the European Court at Strasbourg where allegations of British torture were due to be heard. Unfortunately for Sir Peter, the court was to find, on 30 October, that many of the charges were admissible and that consequently Britain would have to answer them at a future court.
     (When internment was introduced in 1971 Britain had to derogate from Article 5 of the European Convention of Human Rights. She did not, however, derogate from Article 6 of the European Declaration of Human Rights and the Special Courts and Detention of Terrorists Act are a flagrant violation of her international obligations).
     As the security situation showed little sign of improvement, despite the arrest of more and more Provos – indeed the Guardian pointed out that the army had arrested more men claimed to be Provo officers than they had claimed to be in the entire IRA – the UDA flexed its muscles and declared a 24-hour war on the British army – which lasted 24 hours. William Craig gave his 'shoot to kill' speech to the Monday Club – and 'gravel in the kidneys' became a new journalistic euphemism for 'drunk'. Many people were interned for saying less than Craig or John Taylor. The UDA claimed several bombing raids into the Twenty-six Counties, and denied any responsibility, despite army finds of explosives on their premises, for bomb attacks in the North. Meanwhile in the South seven Provos escaped by tunnelling out of the Curragh camp[16] on 29 October and Desmond O'Malley, Minister for Justice, announced that he would be drawing up a Bill to outlaw Sinn Fein. The Bill, which O'Malley described as "rather controversial," was designed to force suspects to prove their innocence rather than requiring the courts to prove a suspect's guilt. The new Act, known as the Offences against the State (Amendment) Act 1972, completely transgressed normal legal practice and stated that henceforth "any statement made orally, in writing, or otherwise (semaphore signalling IRA members?) or any conduct by an accused person implying or leading to a reasonable inference that he was at a material time a member of an illegal organisation shall, in proceedings under section 21 of the Act of 1939, be evidence that he was then such a member." Moreover, failure to deny a report that stated that one was a member of an illegal organisation was, under the new Amendment, to be taken as admission of the report's accuracy – even though the person might not have seen the report. Worse still, one of the 25 chief superintendents of the Garda Siochana had, in future, only to state that he believed a man to be in the IRA for that to be accepted as 'evidence' by the courts. Meetings, peaceful pickets or demonstrations outside courthouses or judges' homes were also banned.
     It looked as if the Bill would be defeated when Fine Gael, albeit reluctantly, agreed with Labour and four Independent TDs to oppose the Bill. Debate was repeatedly extended but it still looked as if the Government were going to be defeated until the news reached the Dail that two carbombs had exploded in Dublin that evening, killing two and injuring 114 people. No warning was given in Dublin although the Belfast Newsletter was informed 15 minutes prior to the explosions. As yet, the identity of those responsible is unknown, but clearly it was not the IRA since this deus ex machina enabled Fine Gael to abstain and so allow O'Malley's Bill to be passed. Had the Bill been defeated Lynch had announced his intention of holding a general election, and with the prospect of losing possibly as many as 12 seats Fine Gael had probably as vested an interest as Fianna Fail in seeing the Bill passed. Next day it went to the Senate. Fine Gael were soon to win the general election – but only when in coalition with Labour.


5 February saw the first 'Loyalists' 'detained' – Sammy McCreary and William Halsall. A general strike in protest over this on 7 February brought Belfast to a standstill and led to widespread arson and the murder of a fireman. Within two months 22 'Loyalists', including John McKeague, were behind the wire of Long Kesh. It was ironic to see men who, 20 months previously, had marched on the Belfast City Hall demanding the introduction of internment now themselves behind bars without charge or trial.
     Conditions in the camp didn't improve either and Under-Secretary Peter Mills revealed in February that more money was spent on food for the guard dogs in Leicester jail than on the internees in Long Kesh – £2.50 per week as opposed to £2.20. Perhaps it was the poor food that spurred William James Kelly into escaping. At any rate on 11 March, in a dense fog, he cut his way through the wire to become only the second man to escape from the camp.
     By April £1 ½ million had been spent on the 65 acres of Long Kesh/Maze. A further 15 acres were about to be utilised, and while the anguished British press, public and parliament worried about the unfortunate Peter Niesewand being badly treated by the evil Smith régime, 338 people, including four women, were being detained without charge or trial, 234 of them had been lifted since November 1972 and 46 per cent of them were under 22. 23 of them were only 17 years old. Plus ça change....

Brigadier Kitson, Britain's up-and-coming 'strategist' has said that "the law should be used as just another weapon in the Government's arsenal". He went on to admit that in this case it became "little more than a propaganda cover for the disposal of unwanted members of the public". This is now the case in Ireland, both North and South. Internment has not ended. All that has happened is that "the names have been changed in order to protect the guilty".

Footnotes Chapter 16:

  1. Gogarty and his family were finally forced to leave their home for good.
  2. ANDREW BOYD, Brian Faulkner and the Crisis of Ulster Unionism, Tralee (Anvil Books), 1972, p. 112.
  3. Despite this, the two captains, Millard and Cornwall, were, it is reported, disciplined, fined and sent back to England (17 August 1972).
  4. The figures given out by the British army as to the casualties suffered by them are often grotesquely understated. In many cases the evidence of doctors, nurses and morgue attendants is that many more soldiers are killed than the army is prepared to admit. This is ignoring the claims of IRA snipers who will, of course, just like the British marksmen, claim hits in a most nonchalant fashion. Eyewitnesses – the author included – have actually seen the dead bodies of soldiers lying on the road, and read next day in the papers of "one soldier receiving a minor injury". Some such casualties are subsequently 'killed off' in 'road accidents' or service accidents in Germany. An army medic has confirmed this to me personally and said that one way of hushing up figures is to tell parents not to make any publicity about the loss of a son lest "the IRA come over and try to kill you too". It is to be noted that many soldiers in today's army are orphans recruited straight from children's homes. Obviously, credence cannot be given to all the tales of dead soldiers in morgues, but research has shown me that a conservative estimate of British army casualties would put them at 50 per cent higher than the official figures – which were 209 killed up to 1 May 1973. In contrast, the old myth of the IRA 'burying' its dead down the manholes is precisely that: a myth. The IRA do lie about their injuries on occasion but it is most unlikely that the body of a volunteer would be treated in such a disrespectful fashion by an organization which could almost be said to be obsessed with funerals – honouring the dead is a national pastime in Ireland and one that Republicans take very seriously.
  5. The Irish Press, Dublin, 31 July 1972.
  6. Allegations that the British army deliberately let innocent people be killed, including two of their own men, have been made by Republicans. Certainly, the political capital that the British Government made out of Bloody Friday was of inestimable value to them, and nothing in these cloak-and-dagger days can be ruled out. However, British jeremiads against terrorism ring hollow when one recalls the wanton destruction of Dresden (a non-military target) and the saturation bombing of Hamburg during the second world war; and, since then, the barbarous treatment of political prisoners in Malaya, Kenya, Cyprus, and Aden. In Kenya the British Government paid her troops a bounty for every dead Kenyan nationalist: 12/6 for a male head, 10/-for a female and 5/- for a child's (An Phoblacht).
Nonetheless, those who use such instances of barbarity to justify acts of terrorism against the general public are no better than the perpetrators of other atrocities. Twenty-two bombs in the heart of. a crowded city in broad daylight are bound to kill people no matter what warnings may be given, and the Provisional IRA must bear the full responsibilities for these murders, whether the British were deliberately negligent about passing on the warnings, or not.
  7. The Irish News, Belfast, 14 August 1972.
  8. Eamonn Kerr and Charlie Fleming.
  9. Indeed, some 60 men in cage five were so cynical about their release date – or, perhaps, they were bored – that they tried to burrow their way out. The tunnel, a sophisticated affair with electric lighting, went for 60 yards before rain caused subsidence which led to its discovery, on 8 August 1972. As usual, this led to a revenge raid upon cages by the soldiers and the destruction of the internees' few paltry personal possessions.
10. Father Denis Faul forwarded to the European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg, dossiers of no fewer than ten cases of illegal arrest, detention and ill-treatment in the space of one week: 15-22 August. See The Irish News, Belfast, 5 September 1972.
11. Gerard Wilson. By September most juveniles were remanded to the adult remand centre at Long Kesh following the escape of 16 of the 18 juveniles from the youth centre where they had been committed. Two weeks later it was the turn of the remand prisoners in cage six to experience the soldiers' wrath. This time, according to the ALJ, 78 men were injured, some seriously. As usual, the prison commandant remained silent.
12. The SDLP would have done well to remember that, as late as 22 May 1969, Harold Wilson said: "Not a Government in the world would do without its (Special Powers Acts) authorization until they were assured that there would be a period of law, order, peace, calm and quiet." (House of Commons debates, Vol. 784, Col. 667, 22 May 1969.)
13. 218 internees from cages two, three, four and five in an advertisement in The Irish News, Belfast, "deplored the horse-trading of internees with the Whitelaw regime by politicians claiming to represent the people". Eventually, on 25 November 1972, the SDLP conference agreed to open talks with Whitelaw.
14. See, for example, the case of Patrick McVeigh, shot dead on 12 May 1972. McVeigh, a member of the Catholic Ex-Servicemen's Association, was standing with an unarmed group of vigilantes at the corner of Riverdale Park South Belfast, when a burst of fire from a passing car cut him down dead and wounded four others. The first army statement claimed that one of their patrols had been fired upon and had returned fire. Twenty minutes later a senior officer contradicted this and claimed that a civilian car had been involved. Next day the army admitted privately to persistent Pressmen, as well as to a detective chief inspector, that it had been "some of our boys in plain clothes. It's all been a most regrettable mistake." Surely the understatement of the year. Not until 21 December 1972 was an inquest held. Again the army admitted that he was shot by one of their plain clothes squads – and that he was unarmed. No report of the inquest was published.
15. McGuigan, of Jamaica Street, in Belfast, was remanded for 51 weeks on 36 different charges. All were thrown out by different magistrates when the police produced no evidence. Eventually, after almost a year, he was released – and rearrested as he left the court. He is now in Long Kesh.
16. Colm Murphy, James Hazlett, Pat Quinn, Michael McVerrey, James McCabe, Chris Murphy and Tom McGrath. McGrath was subsequently arrested in the North, in Armagh, and extradited back to the Curragh.

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