Extracts from 'The RUC: The Black and Blue Book' by Fr. Denis Faul and Fr. Raymond Murray (n.d.)
[Key_Events] Key_Issues] [Conflict_Background]
POLICING: [Menu] [Reading] [Summary] [Background] [Chronology] [Main_Pages] [Statistics_Security] [Statistics_Law&Order] [Sources]
The following extracts have been contributed by permission of the authors, Fr. Denis Faul and Fr. Raymond Murray. The views expressed in this book do not necessarily reflect the views of the members of the CAIN Project. The CAIN Project would welcome other material which meets our guidelines for contributions.
These extracts are taken from the book:
The RUC: The Black and Blue Book
by Fr. Denis Faul and Fr. Raymond Murray (n.d.,1976?)
Paperback 108pp Out of Print
Originally published (1976?) by:
These extracts are included
on the CAIN site by permission of the authors. You may not edit, adapt,
or redistribute changed versions of this for other than your personal use
without the express written permission of the authors, Fr. Denis Faul and Fr. Raymond Murray . Redistribution
for commercial purposes is not permitted.
* * *
ONE of the most sought after reforms in the North of Ireland is the creation of a new police force, a truly non-sectarian, civilianised police service for the whole community. The RUC is an anti-Catholic paramilitary force, in spite of having a Catholic at present as Chief Constable. Catholics are more than a third of the population of the Northern Ireland statelet, yet the number of Catholics in the RUC has fallen from 11% to 4%. Only one Out of every 300 constables under the age of 30 is a Catholic. The RUC must take much of the blame for the present sectarian strife in the North of Ireland. Backed up by all the troglodyte elements in the several Unionist parties it has successfully resisted every attempt to reform it. The recommendations of John Hunt and the efforts of Arthur Young left it unchanged. Baron Hunt was chairman of an Advisory Committee appointed by R. W. Porter, then Minister of Home Affairs for Northern Ireland, on 2 6August, 1969, "to examine the recruitment, organisation, structure and composition of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and their respective functions and to recommend as necessary what changes are required to provide for the efficient enforcement of law and order in Northern Ireland"
Hunt put his finger on the essential:
"Policing in a free society depends on a wide measure of public approval and consent. This has never been obtained in the long term by military or paramilitary means. We believe that any police force, military in appearance and equipment, is less acceptable to minority and moderate opinion than if it is clearly civilian in character, particularly now that better education and improved communication have spread awareness of the rights of civilians." (Paragraph 81.)
Anthony Peacock, Inspector-General of the RUC, resigned on 10 October, 1969, and Sir Arthur Young, London Metropolitan Commissioner of Police, was appointed as Chief Constable. There were hopes then for a community police force. Some political commentators and historians have since frequently forwarded ideas of community police forces. The example of Scotland has been quoted where there are 21 police forces, one of which has an effective strength of 102. Detection rate is good and it has been argued that such a system would be less sectarian and that a decentralised system of small community forces could become a model for introducing "democratic participation" in Northern Ireland society.
The modest success of Sir Arthur Young fell into ruins after his departure. The recruitment of ex-B Specials into the force was stepped up, and recently was accelerated in the force and reserve under Merlyn Rees, Secretary of State. A general pattern emerged. The RUC could only operate in Catholic areas with military escorts or with military type armaments. Their practice in Catholic areas was standard — a party of soldiers accompanied by an RUC man arrived to make an arrest under emergency laws, the arrested man was then held for a number of hours and then released or handed over to the RUC Special Branch for questioning, all this surrounded by the agony of relatives who were met by a discourteous RUC attempting to block off the visits of relatives, solicitors, and clergy to the arrested man. This detention and interrogation of Catholics had a twofold purpose: (1) To make non-co-operative suspects talk. (2) It gave sectarian RUC men an opportunity for revenge, enabling them to engage in the traditional bashing of Catholics.
All this is not to say that there were not strong elements in the RUC who wished that everyone in the North would have confidence in the force and see it as its protector and ally. They see that there is a good deal of sense on both sides and that a new, just society depends on an acceptable solution. Indeed it has been argued that the acceptability of the police is dependent on the acceptability of the state and its institutions. Ideas like these were voiced by Basil Stange, chairman of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland, speaking at their annual dinner before guest William Whitelaw, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, on 4 September, 1975. Stange said: "When reorganisation to the police became a reality it was accepted by most, if not all the political parties here, and certainly by all the political parties in Britain. that the RUC would be a civilian police service and no longer seek to engage itself in a paramilitary frontier defending role. The acceptance was based upon the argument that to continue as up to then would remove from the police the confidence of a large section of the community. I accept that principle and certainly there has been no effort made through the federation by any of our members to persuade authority to revert to the previous system."
In 1973 a book entitled THE BLACK PAPER, Northern Ireland — The Story of the Police was published by the Central Citizens’ Defence Committee, Belfast. It sadly traces the attempt and breakdown of the reform of the northern police from the 1968 period onward. It concludes:
"All the wishing in the world will not achieve the impossible. There is no way out of this torturous dilemma but the more difficult way that must be faced up to sooner or later. Law and order will not return to Northern Ireland on any basis but one. It will have to be seen to apply equally and fairly, to everyone in the land, whatever their position, even if they wear a uniform or hold a seat in Parliament. Only when that is seen to be happening will the laws gain the respect from the community upon which its validity rests. This respect had been lost in Northern Ireland. It must be regained and strengthened. When those who make the law break the law in the name of the law there is no law."
In its issue of 13 July 1973, the New Statesman said that one of the most contentious issues which could wreck the Assembly in Northern Ireland concerned the future of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and in particular of its Special Branch. Its Special Correspondent wrote:
"The men to whom the charges of brutality and torture relate — the Belfast Special Branch — have long been a cornerstone of the police state that is Northern Ireland. Over the years they have developed an elaborate network across the province keeping surveillance on anyone who questioned the Protestant ascendancy. There is a Special Branch man in every RUC station in daily contact with the Belfast headquarters. In country districts particularly, they have long been familiar figures tape-recording political meetings and taking photographs of civil rights marches. Catholic children have grown accustomed, on leaving Gaelic youth clubs, to being asked at the door for their name and address by a large figure in a dark raincoat and brown brogues. The Branch have a long tradition of violence: not for them the sophisticated noise machines and ‘hoodings’ of the British Army; rather the punch in the kidneys, the boot in the genitals...
Since 1971 the RUC have put the finger on 2,000 Catholic men and 31 Catholic women for immoral internment. They have marked out 4,000 Catholic men for arrest and general brutal treatment under special and emergency powers. Over 400 cases of brutality have been documented against the RUC since 1971.
There is no doubt that torture procedures were standard practice in the case of the 14 Hooded Men because a special unit was set up in March, 1971 and groups of RUC men were trained to administer them. (cf. Paragraph 14 of Gardiner in the Parker-Gardiner Report — "The planning of the interrogation centre in Northern Ireland began in March, 1971. There was ample time to train a team of interrogators in our well tried and effective war-time methods" — and The Hooded Men, Faul-Murray.) There can be no doubt either that torture was administrative practice in the Palace Barracks, Holywood, and Girdwood Park Barracks. The sheer volume of evidence for practically every day of a seven month period in statements from the victims and medical reports proves it. We listed 25 methods of brutality used in British Army and Special Branch RUC Brutalities. Other illustrative extracts from statements of detained men and medical evidence is contained in this book. Some of these methods involved considerable preparation and the use of instruments such as those to produce electric shocks (see the statement of Thomas Taylor below). The World in Action team in their research for their programme on Northern Ireland for Independent Television, A Question of Torture, issued 25 September, 1972, came to the conclusion that the machine used to produce electric shocks to the men was a nerve or muscular stimulator available at medical equipment shops. This machine can be strapped on the arm and has electrodes capable of giving a powerful electric shock.
After the introduction of Direct Rule in Northern Ireland, 24 March, 1972, brutality continued as an administrative prac tice. The cases of Donnelly, Duffy, Bradley, Kearns, Jack, McBride, illustrated here, are proof, but there is a new pattern.
Holywood and Girdwood disappeared, but the tradition of an interrogation and detention centre within a British Army barracks continued, switching to Ballykelly RAF-Army Barracks, where young Catholic men west of the Bann river were taken for questioning. A special section of this book is devoted to Ballykelly. In conjunction with Ballykelly the administrative practice of brutality was transferred to police stations.
Widespread evidence of the use of brutality by the RUC leads to two conclusions: (1) It was administrative practice. (2) It was sanctioned by successive governments. NO RUC MAN HAS BEEN CONVICTED OF ASSAULTING A PRISONER SINCE 1968. Mr. Frank Maguire, MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, submitted a written question to the House of Commons (Written No. 84, 11/2/75): "To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, how many allegations of torture, brutality and degrading treatment accompanied by medical evidence have been made against the RUC in the period 1968 to 1975; how many have been formally investigated and in how many cases the allegations have been sustained in whole or in part." Mr. Merlyn Rees’ reply was: "Between 1 January, 1970 and 31 January, 1975, 1,345 complaints alleging assault were made against members of the RUC. All have been, or are being, investigated in accordance with the procedure laid down in the Police Act (NI), 1970. One thousand and six cases were referred to the Attorney General or the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland. Prosecution was ordered in 31 cases; there were convictions in 8 cases. It is not possible without disproportionate effort to provide comparable statistics for 1968/69 or to say how many complaints in the subsequent period were accompanied by medical evidence." Two points of comment: (1) None of the eight convictions was for an assault on a person arrested under special or emergency powers. (2) Eight convictions means that in only .17% of 1% of the complaints made was a conviction secured.
Immunity from effective prosecution illustrates a serious level of corruption in the RUC. Their machinery of complaints has proved to be useless. No complaint has been heard by a tribunal under Section 13(3) of the Police Act (NI), 1970. All have been referred to the Chief Constable. That machinery was never meant to punish the wrongdoers but to placate the public with an impression that something was being done about complaints. The RUC are by definition organised to catch and arrest criminals. That would include RUC criminals who use torture and brutality on their fellow citizens in a systematic way. These RUC criminals are of a base order. They have used a position of government trust and power to violate the law. Yet not only was the Police Authority for Northern Ireland negligent by their insufficient pursuit of complaints to impose discipline on the RUC, but RUC officers themselves, involved in investigating complaints, and their superior officers, have failed to find and convict the guilty men. One can only assume that their conclusion is that "there are no guilty members of the RUC" in their eyes. Isn’t the logical conclusion rather that brutality and torture were inflicted by RUC men as a result of administrative practice, carefully plotted, carried out, and protected by immunity stratagems?
Since there is no independent body in Northern Ireland capable of efficiently investigating grievances against the RUC and no good faith in the enforcement of existing internal law, there is no effective domestic remedy which can offer protection for the rights guaranteed by generally accepted international legal principles. Hence the reason for submitting communications concerning violations of human rights in Northern Ireland to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and the European Commission of Human Rights. Writing on current applications before the European Commission, Hurst Hannum and Kevin Boyle have written in The Irish Jurist:
"..... (The Irish Government Application — 24) ... the Irish Government.. . alleged that Articles 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8 and 14 of the Convention were being systematically violated by persons responsible to the United Kingdom Government in Northern Ireland. These alleged violations included both ‘legislative measures’, in the form of the Civil Authority (Special Powers) Act, and other detention procedures (contrary to Articles 6 and 6) and ‘administrative practices’ with respect to the British Government’s failure to protect the right to life (Article 2), sanctioning or permitting brutality and torture during interrogation (Article 3), and the exercise of powers of detention without trial and the use of the security forces in a discriminatory manner (Articles 8 and 14). By pleading the existence of such ‘legislative measures and administrative practices’ rather than complaining only about individual cases, the Irish Government sought to avoid the requirement that time-consuming domestic remedies be first exhausted (28)
The infringement of civil rights and human liberties in Northern Ireland and the lack of redress are dealt with in the booklet Corruption of Law (Brady-Faul-Murray). The breaking of the common law in Northern Ireland now goes hand in hand with a challenge from overseas to the United Kingdom to maintain international standards of justice. As Sir Leslie Scarman remarks in his published lectures. English Law — The New Dimension (1974) — "Put at its mildest, the present situation of the United Kingdom at the bar of European justice and in the eyes of international legal opinion is embarrassing — defendants at the suit of the Republic of Ireland alleging the torture of prisoners." He goes on to say: "One does not know what the outcome of the pending proceedings in Strasbourg will be. But they illustrate a challenge the law must face if it is to continue to be acceptable. They expose an unresolved difference between our legal system and our international obligations. If the difference is not resolved, we shall be faced, sooner or later, with an international finding that English law fails to provide a remedy which the United Kingdom is bound by international law to provide. A legal system of which that can be said is a legal system under threat: and the common law to survive will have to find its answer. I see no reason why- the answer should not be a new constitutional settlement. It is no longer enough to say, with Magna Carta, ‘no free man shall be taken or imprisoned. . . or any otherwise destroyed, nor will we pass upon him nor deal with him but by lawful judgement of his peers, or by the law of the land’. The legal system must now ensure that the law of the land will itself meet the exacting standerds of human rights declared by international instruments, to which the United Kingdom is party, as inviolable. This calls for entrenched or fundemental laws protected by a Bill of Rights — a constitutional law which it is the duty of the courts to protect even against the power of Parliament. In other words, there must be a constitutional restraint placed upon the legislative power which is designed to protect the individual citizen from instant legislation, conceived in fear or prejudice and enacted in breach of human rights."
It is accepted, perhaps, that occasional losses of civilian life would occur when security forces tried to deal with a guerrilla war, pursuing a policy of "defeating terrorism" or subversion. However, great numbers have been killed by the security forces in Northern Ireland, and those killed by them in unjustified circumstances shows a pattern of recklessness, and in some circumstances of deliberate murder, that cannot be dismissed as legitimate military action.
The Report of the Scarman Tribunal into Violence and Civil Disturbances in Northern Ireland in 1969 included an examination of seven deaths caused by the RUC. The killing of Patrick Rooney, a boy of 9, in his home at No. 5 St. Brendan’s Path, in Divis Street flats, was found to be unjustified. The report states: "We are unable to justify the shooting from the Browning machine gun which we find was directed towards the flats and was responsible for the death of Patrick Rooney." No RUC man has yet been charged with his murder. The killing of John Gallagher, Armagh, on 14 August was also found to be unjustified. The report states: "It is not possible to identify who fired the shot that killed Mr. Gallagher, or who wounded Mr. McParland and Mr. Moore. Nevertheless the Tribunal rejects the contention that none of the USC (a party of B Specials from Tynan) fired into the crowd. The Tribunal is satisfied that some of them did so fire, and that one of them killed Mr. Gallagher,, while others wounded Mr. McParland and Mr. Moore. Their leader, Mr. Murray, did not seek to justify ‘firing for effect’, and S/Sgt. McAnea specifically said it would not have been justified. The evidence of firing from the crowd as the USC approached and jumped out of their cars is vague and uncertain: if,, which the Tribunal doubts, it occurred at all, it was not serious enough to enable Mr. Murray or S/Sgt. McAnea to say that it justified firing by the USC for effect. After making all allowances for the strange, difficult and frightening situation in which they found themselves, there was no justification for firing into the crowd — as the USC themselves impliedly admitted by their strenuous denials that they had done any such thing. Grave as was the misconduct of the USC in firing into the crowd, the Tribunal considers that a measure of responsibility rests with the County Inspector (Buchanon), who put an untrained party of USC drawn from a country area into an alarming town riot without briefing or leadership."
On 22 August, 1974, Fr. Raymond Murray of Armagh wrote to Mr. Merlyn Rees: "On 14 August, 1969,, John Gallagher, one of our parishioners, was shot dead in Armagh. Are police investigations still continuing into this fatal shooting?" The reply was that investigations had closed but would be reopened if fresh evidence was obtainable.
In one case, the report found that the firing which killed Hugh McCabe on the night of the 14/15 August was justified, although there was no evidence that the victim had a gun. In the other four cases, all involving the police, no findings were made as to the particular circumstances.
It may be significant that the Unionist paper, the Belfast Telegraph, did not include Samuel Devenny’s name in its list of the first 1,000 casualties of the present troubles in Northern Ireland.
John Maughan and Michael Patrick Connors
The inquest on the dead youths was held on 4 January, 1973. According to newspaper reports five policemen and a soldier gave evidence of going to check the stationary van in the car park. They described how the van drove away as they approached it, and how it appeared that several shots came from the direction of the van. The police said they fired about three shots at the van after calling on it to stop. The soldier who was their escort on patrol that night said he fired six rifle shots at it.
There were four men in the van the night of the tragedy. Besides the two youths who died there was the driver, Paddy Maughan, a brother of John,, and Michael McDonagh. In his statement read at the inquest Michael McDonagh gave a picture of what happened. The Belfast Telegraph reported:
"He (Michael McDonagh) described how the four of them left their camp in the van to go for a drink. Paddy Maughan was driving, and they had a pint in a Belfast public-house. ‘We drove around blowing the horn at the girls,’ McDonagh’s statement went on. ‘Then I asked Paddy could he leave me at home to get some sticks. Then we drove into the parking lot.’ They were there less than five minutes, McDonagh said, when the police arrived in a jeep. ‘I opened the door to get out. Paddy Maughan crushed over me and closed it. He switched on the key and drove away as hard as he could. The policeman shouted "Stop" three times, but Paddy drove down the road as hard as he could go and the shots came. I think there were about four or five. I was trying to throw myself out. John Maughan was screaming in the back of the van. I wanted Paddy to stop. I never wanted him to drive away. Paddy Maughan was the cause of the whole lot, getting his poor brother shot and also wee Paddy Connors. The Lord have mercy on their souls.’ They drove to the hospital and McDonagh told staff there about the two men shot in the van. Then they went away. McDonagh said that later Maughan said he did not stop because the police were looking for him."
After Requiem Mass celebrated by Fr. Patrick O’Brien in Coalisland Church on 5 March, attended by a large crowd of mourners, Michael Connors was taken to Coleraine for burial along with the body of his three weeks old niece, who was accidentally smothered in her caravan home at Coalisland. In a statement issued on 4 March John Delaney, an uncle of the dead youth, said: "This child’s only crime was that he was young and a member of the travelling people and was in the wrong place at the wrong time. This was his only crime. I wish to state without any reservations that he was not a member of any illegal organisation, nor was he familiar or had he in his possession at any time firearms of any description."
John Maughan was buried in the cemetery, Armagh, on 5 March after Requiem Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral celebrated by Fr. Raymond Murray.
CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within the University of Ulster.
Last modified :