Extracts from 'The British Dimension - Brutality, Murder and Legal Duplicity in Northern Ireland' by Fr.D.Faul and Fr.R.Murray (n.d.,1981?)
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THE BRITISH DIMENSION Brutality, Murder and Legal Duplicity in N. Ireland
THE BRITISH DIMENSION
Brutality, Murder and Legal Duplicity in N. Ireland
By Fr Denis Faul, Fr Raymond Murray
Pope John Paul II and Human Rights
"Every human being has inalienable rights that must be respected. Each human community — ethnic, historical, cultural or religious- — has rights which must be respected. Peace is threatened every time one of these rights is violated. The moral law, guardian of human rights, protector of the dignity of man, cannot be set aside by any person or group, or by the State itself, for any cause, not even for security or in the interests of law and order. The Law of God stands in judgement over all reasons of State. As long as injustices exist in any of the areas that touch upon dignity of the human person, be it in the political, social or economic field, be it in the cultural or religious sphere, true peace will not exist. The causes of inequalities must be identified through a courageous and objective evaluation, and they must be eliminated so that every person can develop and grow in the full measure of his or her humanity."
— address at Drogheda, 29/9/79
"At the centre of the quest for peace and progress in individual countries and in the world is the human person, every human being . . . . In this last quarter of the millenium a pressing obligation faces all humanity to proclaim and to safeguard all human rights — and to respect them in their concrete application to each man and woman.
— address to new ambassador of New Zealand to the Holy See, 14/7/79
INTRODUCTION:‘The Other Way’
The path to peace can only be based on the twin pillars of truth and justice - and truth and justice must be applied to the concrete individual cases of persons no matter how poor and insignificant and no matter how inconvenient and embarrassing it is for the authorities of Church or State to have to face these cases. Pope John Paul laid down this challenge to us all in his words to politicians in Drogheda - and remember that all good citizens and members of society are politicians because they have a duty to build up the polis, the state as a place of justice and fair play.
Those who resort to violence always claim that only violence brings about change. They claim that political action cannot achieve justice. You (politicians) must prove them to be wrong. You must show that there is a peaceful political way to justice. You must show that peace achieves the work of justice and violence does not.
I urge you who are called to the noble vocation of politics to have the courage to face up to your responsibility, to be leaders in the cause of peace, reconciliation and justice. If politicians do not decide and act for just change, then the field is left open for the men of violence.
The Pope is challenging everyone of us to show the people, the poor, those tempted to violence and agents of the state who abuse the law in torturing those arrested under emergency laws or ill treating prisoners, that their actions destroy peace and that we should all try to achieve justice a better way. His speech in Drogheda must be complemented by his speeches to the Irish Bishops at Cabra, to the United Nations in New York and his message for the 13th World Day of Peace on January 1st, 1980. Then he said:
Restoring peace means calling by their proper names acts of violence in all their forms. Murder must be called by its proper name; murder is murder; political or ideological motives do not change its nature.... Torture must be called by its proper name.
...so must all forms of oppression and exploitation of man by man, of man by the state, of one people by another people.
SHOW THE OTHER WAY
The Pope details the task that lies before us in Ireland and removes the coward’s excuse for silence and inaction. We must show the other way.
The desire for peace does not cause the man of peace to shut his eyes to the tension, injustice and strife that are part of our world. He looks at them squarely. He calls them by their proper names out of respect for truth. And since he is closely attuned to the things of peace he is necessarily all the more sensitive to whatever is inconsistent with peace. This impels him to push courageously ahead and investigate the real causes of evil and injustice, in order to look for appropriate remedies.
The obligation has been laid on each of us to help to show another way than violence for achieving justice for the poor and oppressed. Failure to play a part in removing unjust laws, torture, social injustice and unjust denial of the national unity of the country and lawful aspirations to unite all the people to serve their country without interference to young men who say they can see no other way - indeed it also leaves them susceptible to the influence of alien and anti-Christian philosophies which strive to remove injustice and social inequalities. The poor are ‘selfish’ in the sense that they cannot wait; desperation drives them to leave the priest or Bishop who will not listen and act; to depart from the deaf or calculating politician; to go to the man or group who is prepared to do something about their problem now, about their own personal immediate problem; the poor pass on from group to group until they get some attention.
IF WE ARE CONVINCED
In a situation where they think that committed Christians are not prepared to listen and act, the population shift their attention and the struggle becomes Mammon verses Mammon, power versus power, and the influence of the Gospel of Christ and the law of God and the teaching of the Church is set aside quite consciously and deliberately. This is the danger if we cannot show another way from our traditional religious resources and the courage of our convictions. It is a test of convictions and of our courage. If we are really convinced of the Gospel and the grace of Christ working through the Church to save the poor, then we will act against Mammon. If we act with courage more than any other virtue. Courage arising from the Gospel will win the day for God and Ireland ‘at a difficult moment for the experience of the people of Ireland’.
(1) Man in the Concrete
From the cradle to the grave, every human being, even the weakest and most under-privileged, deprived or left aside, possesses an element of nobility which is the image of God and resemblance to him. And Jesus taught his disciples that his own Person is represented, particularly clearly, in the person of these poor people and these little ones.
The Church and believers cannot remain insensitive and passive, therefore, before the multiplication of denunciations of torture and ill-treatment practised in various countries on persons arrested, interrogated or else put in a state of supervision or confinement. While constitutions and legislation make room for the principle of the right to defence at all stages of justice, while proposals are put forward to humanise places of detention, it is obvious, nevertheless, that techniques of torture are being perfected to weaken the resistance of prisoners, and that people sometimes do not hesitate to inflict on them irreversible injuries. humiliating for the body and the spirit. How can one fail to be troubled when one knows that many tormented families send supplications in vain in favour of their dear ones, and that even requests for information pile up without receiving an answer? How could the Church fail to take up a stern stand, as she did towards duelling and does towards abortion, with regard to torture and to similar acts of violence inflicted on the human person? Those who order these activities commit a crime, really a very serious one for Christian conscience which cannot fail to react and to do everything in its power to secure the adoption of adequate and effective remedies.
Pope Paul VI addressed these words to the Diplomatic Corps 14 January 1978. Words such as these have encouraged us in our vocation to bring truth and meaning into the lives of poor people, the Catholic nationalist people of Northern Ireland. We are deeply concerned that the lives, liberties and civil and religious freedom of the men of no property should be guarded and their grievances be articulated. The worm’s eye view is an important one, the moaning of the tortured, the tears of the relatives of the imprisoned, the agony of the bereaved, the heartbreak of the refugees. Often it does not suit to take these cases under care, still less to make any noise about them. Political power, careerism, and cowardice have sometimes stopped people from doing their Christian and human duty.
We are convinced that all morality, Christianity and human rights, at least a person’s commitment to these things, can be summed up in the attitude to Paddy Murphy’s sore arm or Mrs. Murphy’s sore leg whether these injuries were inflicted by the British Army, Royal Ulster Constabulary, paramilitaries or local hooligans. The Human Rightstask, founded on the essential human dignity, is to deal with the problem of the individual and to do something about it, to persevere in doing something about it, not to use the sufferings and distress of persons as a bargaining counter in obtaining power, privilege or promotion for one’s self. It is the concrete, historical, live individual who is all important - not man in the abstract, computerized man. Such a man Pope John Paul II spoke of in his encyclical Redemptor Hominis. He mentioned the concrete man and woman in the concrete in his address to the new ambassador of New Zealand (14/7/79):
At the centre of the quest for peace and progress in individual countries and in the world is the human person, every human being In this last quarter of the millenium a pressing obligation faces all humanity to proclaim and to safeguard all human rights - and to respect them in their concrete application to each man and woman.
Very significantly Pope John Paul II returned to this theme in the Irish situation. These were his words for the British and Irish Governments:
Every human being has inalienable rights that must be respected. Each human community - ethnic, historical, cultural or religious - has rights which must be respected. Peace is threatened every time one of these rights is violated. The moral law, guardian of human rights, protector of the dignity of man, cannot be set aside by any person or group, or by the State itself, for any cause, not even for security or in the interests of law and order. The Law of God stands in judgment over all reasons of State. As long as injustices exist in any of the areas that touch upon the dignity of the human person, be it in the political, social or economic fields, be it in the cultural or religious sphere, ,true peace will not exist. The causes of inequalities must be identified through a courageous and objective evaluation, and they must be eliminated so that every person can develop and grow in the full measure of his or her humanity.
PART OF THE BRITISH SYSTEM IN NORTHERN IRELAND.
It is a regretful thing to say that the history of torture, cruel and inhuman treatment since 1971 indicates that they are part of the British system of administration in Northern Ireland. Britain has never ruled Ireland without Emergency laws; they have always become permanent! In the 19th century Habeas corpus was suspended for the entire century except for 12 years in Gladstone’s terms of Government. In the 1920 period there was the Special Powers Act which was used exclusively against Catholics until 1973. It was replaced by the Emergency Provisions Act to which was added the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 1975. Britain cannot do without these laws and has no intention of doing away with them. British rule in Ireland involves suspension of civil rights, violations of human rights, brutal ill-treatment of suspects, corruption of the court systems and ill-treatment of prisoners.
The present conflict began in 1968 on social issues. It was essentially a civil rights movement - inspired perhaps by a similar movement in the United States. The political problem about a united Ireland, after the enforced partition of Ireland, produced the serious social problem - social discrimination against Catholics on the grounds of their religion in jobs and, with regard to the placing of industries, bias shown against Derry, a nationalist city, and the second largest in Northern Ireland while funds were not lacking to build up unionist areas. Discrimination on the part of unionist ‘one-party’ governments was politically motivated. It was exercised blatantly in government franchise. As a result, the Catholic or nationalist population in Northern Ireland had a high emigration rate and its relative percentage of the total population, despite its high birth-rate, remains practically unchanged for 50 years after partition in 1921. British Governments turned a blind eye to these injustices. Nationalists were weak. Those who protested were imprisoned without trial in every decade of the 50 years of the Stormont Government. Given Ireland’s history - never allowed to assert herself, suppressed by emergency laws, the deep underlying feelings in the population on the questions of justice, the unconcern of governments, the suppression of the truth by the media - it was not surprising that the suppression of the non-violent civil rights movement has resulted in serious violence. Two thousand people have died through violence. The number of explosions is approaching the 7,000 mark and there have been some 30,000 shootings.
The violence of the IRA has been given tremendous publicity. The violence of the Loyalist paramilitaries has been given less, It is our contention that British rule in Ireland involves suspension of civil rights, violation of human rights, brutality, corruption of law, and the media will report little of this. They are selective; those who report it are few and far between and they have to endure flak and threats from the authorities -
Those who were involved in accusing the British Government at Strasbourg were accused of being engaged in black propaganda against the British security forces.
Dr Robert Irwin, police surgeon at Castlereagh Interrogation Centre, was maligned for his revelations of brutality against detained persons.
Cardinal Tomas O’Fiaich was maligned for his statement on the H Block protesting prisoners.
Father Desmond Wilson was pilloried over his allegations against the British Army chaplains.
GIVING AID AND COMFORT
One of the unfortunate by-products of the last ten years is the smear campaign against those who would dare either to espouse a nationalist, Republican or human rights philosophy. The great sin is to say anything which might ‘give aid and comfort to the terrorists’. The result of this carefully contrived situation is that the media is controlled for the British Government purposes. If a priest condemns atrocities by the IRA he will get headline treatment and interviews on television. Not so with the daily stream of complaints about ill-treatment at Castlereagh and other centres, the cases of blackmail, the acceptance of verbal statements in the courts. These are lucky to get coverage in the Catholic owned press. That is why we have been forced in the past ten years to write some twenty books and numerous leaflets and pamphlets - to make up for the neglect of publicity on one side about the violations of human rights by government agencies. This situation was summed up by the Editor of the Irish Press in reference to the Coalition government in the Republic of Ireland: ‘It got itself into a political and psychological cul de sac on the North through being afraid to take any action which might be seen or made to appear as giving aid and comfort to the IRA’.
The truth is that violations of human rights thrive on silence. To publicise them is to prevent violence by offering poor people, the individuals in the concrete, a method of articulating their injuries and grievances and attracting the interest of the Amnesty International Organisation and the sympathy of such countries as the United States of America, New Zealand and Germany.
(2) History of Events
What is the proof that Britain violates human rights in the north of Ireland? In August 1971 torture was imposed on 12 men at Ballykelly Barracks; they were hooded, beaten, deprived of food and drink, subjected to a hissing noise, interrogated for long periods, put in a stress position against the wall, for six days. Cardinal William Conway hastened to London where he got an assurance from the highest source that this practice would cease. In October 1971 when the Cardinal was absent at the Synod of Bishops in Rome. two more men were given the same sensory deprivation treatment. In February 1972 Amnesty International reported evidence of torture. A British inquiry under Compton reported in November 1971, finding no evidence of torture, cruel and inhuman and degrading treatment. Lord Parker reported in March 1972, finding no evidence, but Lord Gardiner in a minority report found such conduct as the ‘Hooded Men’ treatment to be against the law and Mr. Heath, the Prime .Minister, adopted the minority report. But it made no substantial difference. The ill-treatment of detained persons continued at Ballykelly Interrogation Centre and in police stations and British Army posts until 1975 when Castlereagh and then Gough became established as the principal centres for brutality, Castlereagh more so than Gough.
There were few but on the other hand notable television programmes on the torture. The World in Action team diligently researched their programme A Question of Torture issued 25 September 1972. BBC Television Tonight team reported the Bernard O’Connor case on 2 March 1977 and on 27 October 1977 ten cases of alleged ill-treatment by the RUC at Castlereagh together with the records of six doctors concerning ill-treatment were featured in Thames Television "This Week" programme. The European Commission of Human Rights reported in 1976 and found Britain guilty of torture in Northern Ireland in the 1971-72 period. In the 1975-79 period many hundreds were ill-treated in Castlereagh and sent to prison unjustly on the basis of statements taken under duress. At the same time thousands of pounds were paid out in compensation to tortured victims in settlements outside the courts.
This ill-treatment could not have taken place without the knowledge and approval of the British Government and the ‘high-ups’ in the RUC. It seemed to be a policy of ‘Get convictions, no matter what the methods’, just as the government policy for the shooting of innocent people by the security forces seemed to be ‘Shoot first, ask questions afterwards’. The cover was complete; all guilt was denied; all the legal and judicial agencies played their part. No soldier or RUC man has served a day in jail since 1968 for killing or ill-treating persons while on duty in Northern Ireland. No RUC detective from Castlereagh has been convicted of assaulting a prisoner since 1975. We exposed the ill-treatment there in our book The Castlereagh File published in April 1978. Amnesty International investigated the beatings in December 1977 and reported in June 1978. Their first conclusion was "On the basis of the information available to it, Amnesty International believes that maltreatment of suspected terrorists by the RUC has taken place with sufficient frequency to warrant the establishment of a public inquiry to investigate it’. The fact that this report following the decision of the European Court of Human Rights on two counts emphasises how the confidence of people in Northern Ireland especially the nationalist people, was being eroded; the police, the medical profession, and the judicial system was being brought into disrepute. The Bennett Report, the British domestic private inquiry which followed Amnesty’s Report, was published in March 1979. The findings and recommendations contained in the report represent the unanimous judgement of the three members, and even though the language of the report is very moderate in tone, and the committee is careful to point out in the opening paragraphs the limits of its mandate and authority, the burden of the report represents a shocking indictment of recent and current police practices in Northern Ireland.
The Bennett Report, which runs to 140 printed pages makes several significant points. It criticises emergency legislation under which the police operate (p.28); it cites the adverse findings of the European Court of Human Rights as proof of past mistreatment of Irish prisoners (p.50); details the fact that ‘One constant feature of the scene in recent years has been the large volume of complaints from prisoners about their treatment by CID. officers during interrogation’ (p. 52); which results in criminal activities which in turn results in the fact that 75%-85% of all convictions are based on self-incriminating statements. In mid-March, 1979, just before the Report was published. Dr. Robert Irwin the chief police surgeon at Castlereagh, who had personally examined scores of the prisoners who were alleged to have been the victims of beatings and torture, resigned his position in protest against the government’s presumed attitude of unconcern, and went on British television to denounce what he regarded as an outrageous cover-up of official misconduct. Dr. Dennis Elliott, police surgeon at Gough, and the Association of Police Surgeons in Northern Ireland backed him up.
The Bennett Report details extensive medical evidence from a number of sources which supports the charge of widespread police brutality, especially on the part of the non-uniformed CID. personnel (p. 72). The Report was especially critical of the denial of access to legal counsel during the detention and interrogation process, and concludes: ‘It seems to us desirable that vigorous use should be made of disciplinary proceedings in appropriate cases. The fact that none have arisen in recent years from complaints about the conduct of police in the course of interrogation is remarkable, and calls for explanation’ (p.120). It is these explanations that we have been looking for over ten years. There is a very serious imbalance in law and order and the administration of justice. One can only assume that it is so arranged for the political purposes of the British administration. We merely ask that the police in Northern Ireland and the British Army keep the law - that they even keep within the very wide confines of the sweeping emergency powers that the British Government has allowed them to use in Ireland. They have applied the full rigour of the law not to their own men but to the ignorant 17 year old boys of deprived background in the Catholic ghettoes. We think they nave blighted peace for years to come.
We want to tell the truth, to give the worm’s eye view, Now, not in twenty years time when the scholars can safely gain their PhDs from documenting the Irish question, not in fifty years time when the politicians can shout from safe eminence about the cover-up and the ill-treatment of the poor. The scholars and the historians and the universities have stood back from the storm, in academic safety. Let us speak from the sweat and tears and misunderstandings, the jealousies, the quarrels of the situation as it is. NOW is the moment of truth.
The British tactic is to clobber the weaker Catholic element; the method is repressive laws badly administered. The right path is the path of human rights for all, justice for all and the removal of the unjust social conditions which continue to breed violence; this will lead to the political structures. This path must not be abandoned, whatever crosses it lays on one’s shoulders.
In conclusion let us recall the prayer of Pope John Paul II at the Shrine of Our Lady at Knock. The Pope expects us to protect the young from violence by obtaining justice for them by our efforts Now. To create a respect for law one must ensure by daily vigilance that the government and its agents, especially the army and the police, do not break the law by killing or torturing people under cover of the powers which they have to coerce people in certain limited situations. When those entrusted with the enforcement of law in a society break it themselves and are covered up by civil servants, judges and politicians, then there is little hope that the young and poor will feel obliged to keep the law. The task of the clergy and the professional people and the academics, to whom the dignity and rights of man are entrusted in a special way, is to protect the values of Christian humanity by their vigilance and courage so that a lawless situation does not arise because law is based on accepted values. The two Amnesty International reports in Ireland in 1978 were attempts to protect values; the complaint against excessive punishments amounting to 'cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment’ in the H Blocks by Cardinal O’Fiaich in 1978 was another. But efforts to protect values are very scarce and avoid dealing with specific cases of abuse by government and legal agencies. So a ‘great wound’ is inflicted on the young and they are left to be the prey of paramilitary groups who take advantage of their poverty, idealism and desertion by the ‘great and the gracious’ of the land. Let us commit ourselves to protect the young and poor with Pope John Paul:
Mother, can we keep silent about what we find most painful, what leaves us many a time so helpless? In a very special way we entrust to you this great wound afflicting our people, hoping that your hands will be able to cure and heal it. Great is our concern for those young souls who are caught up in bloody acts of vengeance and hatred. Mother, do not abandon these youthful hearts. Mother, be with them in their most dreadful hours when we can neither counsel or assist them. Mother, protect all of us and especially the youth of Ireland from being overcome by hostility and hatred. Teach us to distinguish clearly what proceeds from love of our country from what bears the mark of destruction and the brand of Cain. Teach us that evil means can never lead to a good end; that all human life is sacred; that murder is murder no matter what the motive or end. Save others, those who view these terrible events, from another danger; that of living a life robbed of Christian ideals or in conflict with the principles of morality.
This article first appeared in Doctrine and Life. March 1980.
"The conflict in N. Ireland is a religious war - Protestants and Catholics are fighting each other."
The conflict in N. Ireland is rooted in Orangeism. Orangesim is the political manipulation of Protestantism in Ireland; it is not part of the Protestant credo. Protestants in other parts of the world do not subscribe to Orangeism. Ku Klux Klanism in the United States is a close equivalent to Orangeism. It is a philosophy of hate which misuses religion to maintain the hegemony of particular social group in society. The KKK hates "Catholics, Jews, Blacks and other foreigners"; the Orange Order hates Catholics (Jews, Blacks, and foreigners are not a threat in N.I.). The KKK, when it could, promoted economic, political and social discrimination; the Orange Order promotes economic, political and social discrimination.
British politicians have always espoused Orangeism and so created the so-called "Irish problem".
- In the 1980s Randolph Churchill played the Orange Card to thwart Home Rule.
- In 1912 Bonar Law did the same.
- In 1921 Lloyd George set up the Orange State of N. Ireland.
- In 1949 ClementAtlee consolidated partition by the guarantees he gave to the Orange State.
- From 1969 to 1979 Harold Wilson, James Callaghan. Merlyn Rees and Roy Mason obstructed the dissolution of the Orange State by playing with reforms and the lives and freedom of the Catholic people. They refused to support the radical changes effected by Ted Heath in the proroguing of Stormont and William Whitelaw who cobbled together the short-lived power-sharing Executive. Capitulation to the Loyalist Workers’ Strike of May 1974 was betrayal of the Catholic people to Orangeism. The 1980 version of the "Orange Card" is "the bloodbath argument’. Mr. Jack Lynch, formerly Irish Prime Minister has aptly summed up the British approach to the situation as "giving the right of veto to intransigent Unionists (Orangemen) over any reasonable settlement". Speaker O’Neill of the United State House of Representatives came up against this support for Orangeism in 1979 during his tour in the reactions of British politicians and an hysterical British Press.
Myth No. 2
"The British are the honest brokers in N. Ireland holding the ring between the Protestants and the Catholics - really protecting the Catholics from being slaughtered. They will support any solution agreed among local politicians representing all the interests in the community when these same politicians come to their senses".
The reality is that the British are pursuing a military solution to a political problem. The tactic makes good sense in military terms -clobber the weaker element which is the Catholic community and keep friends with the Orange majority. The method is repressive laws badly administered. The law in N. Ireland is not directed towards preserving the balance of justice but towards the suppression of terrorism.
Some Details of How British Policy Has Worked Out Since 1969:
It was this militaristic approach, in the interest of propping up Orangeism, through the suppression of Republican violence divorced from political initiatives, which Speaker O’Neill criticised during his visit. After the death of Lord Mountbatten, Cardinal Basil Hume of Westminster and Archbishop Coggan of Canterbury called for an examination of the conditions which led to the atrocity.
Myth No. 3
"The only useful contribution which Americans can make is (a) to stop the flow of funds to the IRA and (b) increase the flow of money for industrial investment in Northern Ireland."
This myth is calculated to distract Americans from making the really important contribution of political pressure on the British Government through their own government. It is imperative that Britain be treated internationally as a pariah as long as it pursues its present militaristic policies and the denial of fundamental freedoms and human rights in N. Ireland. Money is not what N. Ireland needs; it needs to be made an issue in the United States human rights crusade until these rights are guaranteed and protected by acceptable political structures in N. Ireland.
Even if one examines the details of the myth, one sees how it focuses on the unimportant in order to cloud the real issues. It is widely reported that the paramilitary organisations boast that they can net in a few bank raids more than they can ever get from America. On the matter of industrial investment by Americans in N. Ireland, one must regrettably report that it has not changed the pattern of unemployment in the deprived Catholic areas. It is often directed toward the relatively better off Orange areas and falls into the discriminatory employment practices of the indigenous industries. Overall unemployment in NI. remains at a stubborn 11.1% distributed as follows:
The second report of the Fair Employment Agency for Northern. Ireland (1 April 1977 - March 1978) contained the following table.
Unemployment Rates For Protestants and Catholics
The real intent of this deliberately fostered myth is seen in the vicious campaign against the Irish National Caucus. It does not collect money for any purpose in Ireland but only for its organisational expenses in the United States, it is pursuing an intensive lobbying campaign in Congress in order to have pressure applied to the British to set about preparing the ground for political structures which will guarantee human rights for the people of N. Ireland. Because it holds that the only basis for such structures is ultimate British withdrawal from N. Ireland it is. being pilloried as "an IRA front organisation". Its enemies deliberately ignore the fact that its means are the non-violent ones of political lobbying, that they are doing things the American way. It is never mentioned that people like Jack Lynch. Archbishop O’Fiaich, An Taoiseach, SDLP Politicians (esp. A Currie in recent statements - not a matter of "should" but "when") Dr. Robb, A.J.P. Taylor and John Pardoe and even Harold Wilson himself ("15 Years") have advocated British withdrawal. They are never branded "crypto-members of the IRA" except by the most irrational Orange politicians.
Thank God the myth is gradually being exploded. America is awakening to its responsibilities towards Ireland. Speaker O’Neill’s trip was an earnest of what can be done in America (a) for the immediate alleviation of the suffering people of N. Ireland and (b) for movement toward the radical solutions which, if realized, take Irish causes "out of the hair of Americans" in future generations.
THE BRITISH WAY OF SOLVING THE
EMERGENCY LAWS AND THEIR
Emergency Provisions Act (1973)
1. BRITISH ARMY
Arbitrary stopping and harassment of young people on the streets
Undercover activity - SAS "shoot-don’t question" policy (Boyle and Taylor plus others)
2. RUC UNIFORMED BRANCH:
Prevent freedom of assembly and freedom of speech of all groups with either Catholic or Republican affiliations - no parade or meeting of such groups has ever been permitted in central Belfast
3. SPECIAL BRANCH INTERROGATORS.
4. DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS
Prosecutions of Catholics without adequate prima fade evidence as a means of keeping them in custody
In Diplock courts they adjudicate the facts as well as the law: -
Admission of "torture" statements despite medical and other evidence thereby encouraging torture
6. PRISON WARDERS
Degrading body searches of prisoners
7. UDR - THE B SPECIALS REINCARNATED
Admitted to have been involved in 30 serious crimes e.g. Miami Showband murders and the Shankill Butcher Gang.
UNDER EMERGENCY LAWS
AT ROAD BLOCKS
On 30 June- 1980 the Court of Appeal ruled that political bias and religious discrimination blocked the appointment of a 34 year old Catholic as senior recreation officer with Craigavon Borough Council. Mr. Seamus Mallon, an SDLP Councillor, returned to the same subject in August at a meeting of Armagh District Council when he claimed that of 39 office staff employed by the Council only 8 were Catholics and one of them was in a temporary basis only. He forwarded a dossier of statistics to the Secretary of State, Mr HumphreyAtkins, following the refusal of the Loyalist controlled council to adopt the code of Employment and Promotion Procedures as drawn up by the Local Government Staff Commission.
Catholics have no effective voice in N. Ireland in the allocation of jobs and housing. They are a very large community, the biggest single denomination in N. Ireland, with their own nationality, culture, traditions, and religion. They are absurdly referred to as the minority - an expression which has racial overtones and which is used to steam-roll legitimate needs and demands. Mr. Humphrey Atkins and the N. Ireland Office look to the interests of the British community only. They have notop advisers in the Civil Service for the Catholic Irish community whose complaints are treated with contempt.
Mr. David McKittrick in an article in the Irish Times 17 May 1980 looked into the background of this discrimination against Catholics in the N. Ireland Civil Service:
‘This week’s news that Bob Cooper’s Fair Employment Agency is to launch an investigation into the number of Catholics in the Northern Ireland Civil Service has sent an apprehensive shiver down the collective spine of the bureaucrats. Nobody is exactly sure what Cooper will find - but there is a horrible feeling that what he turns up just might be most unpleasant.
The Civil Service has always been short on Catholics. When it was set up in 1921 there were quite a few in its ranks, recruited from the old Irish civil servants, but from the mid-20’s on their numbers dropped sharply, as Patrick Buckland details in his book "The Factory Grievances."
In 1934 the head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, Sir Wilfred Bliss Spender, estimated that Catholics made up 10% of the service. More significantly, he reported that in the previous nine years no Catholics had entered the administrative ranks. In 1943 an inquiry was launched by the then Prime Minister, Sir John Andrews, in response to allegations that Catholics were taking over the service. Sir John found he had no need to worry; of 833 people in the administrative class, only 37 were Catholic, representing 5.83% and the holders of the top 55 jobs were all Protestants.
Senior Catholics in the Civil Service say that things loosened up a fair bit in the 1960s: nevertheless, official figures released in 1973 showed that Catholics made up only 15% of the service. There is a general feeling that with the arrival of Willie Whitelaw and direct rule in 1972 a sort of "positive discrimination" was put into effect, with Catholics being given every encouragement and help to make their way up the career ladder.
The Unionist argument has always been that Catholics did not join the Civil Service because of the basic antipathy to the State of Northern Ireland, and that promotion did not come to them because of lower educational standards. Buckland’s researchers show, however, that that’s nowhere near the whole story.
Sir James Craig once considered reserving a quota of Civil Service places for the minority, but as time went on he became ever more receptive to recurring Loyalist complaints that Catholics were getting jobs at the expense of loyal citizens.
In 1924, the chief civil servant at the Home Affairs Ministry, one S. Whatt, assured the Cabinet Secretary that there were only four Catholics in his Ministry and that they "are not in any way employed on confidential work." (The same S. Whatt felt that anti-terrorist legislation should not be used against Protestants). The Minister of Home Affairs, himself, Sir Dawson Bates, advocated a complete ban on Catholics in the Civil Service.
Bates, in 1934 refused to use the telephone for any important business after, as he put it, discovering "with a great deal of surprise that a Roman Catholic telephonist had been appointed to Stormont." The telephonist was transferred.
The Cabinet minutes show that large chunks of Cabinet meetings were devoted to discussion of the religion of civil servants. The question of the loyalty of a senior man in the Ministry of Finance whose wife was a Catholic was discussed at a series of Cabinet meetings throughout the 1930s before the head of the Civil Service, Sir Wilfred Spender, investigated the matter fully and was able to assure Ministers that the woman, though Catholic, was extremely loyal.
When the civil servant died in 1940, however, it was noticed that a Catholic priest officiated at his funeral. Sir Wilfred was called upon to explain this, and wrote a lengthy memo in his own defence. He wrote:
"As late as last autumn he discussed the matter of his religious faith quite frankly with me.
"In February last, when still suffering from his great illness, he was persuaded by his family to take the step and it was onlythen that he changed his denomination. It is true that on his return he did not inform me of the change as I think he ought to have done."
All this may sound like ancient history, but people in Northern Ireland have long folk-memories and the events of the early years of the State set a tone which is still evident in many ways. In the history of the service only two Catholics have ever held a senior rank, that of Permanent Secretary: they were Napoleon Wyse in the 1929s and Paddy Shea in the 1960s.
Today none of the 10 Permanent Secretaries is a Catholic, nor are any of the 15 deputy Secretaries. Of the top 130 people in the service, well under 10% are Catholics. Even with the thawof the 1960s and 1970s this is not surprising for these people at the top are a reflection of the recruitment intake of 20 or 30 years ago. One of the obstacles to Catholics reaching the heights is that a spell in a Cabinet Minister’s private office is considered almost essential, and Unionist Ministers rarely if ever selected Catholics for such experience.
But the crucial task for the Fair Employment Agency’s investigation is to establish how sectarian proportions stand in the Civil Service’s middle ranks, for it is from here that the next generation of top administrators will emerge. The investigation will show up starkly whether direct rule has had a significant effect on employment patterns or whether nothing much has changed; and whether the composition of the Civil Service is going to be one of the major headaches for any new local administration here.
CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within Ulster University.
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