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Bloody Sunday: Brigadier Frank Kitson and MI5 denounced in Dail Eireann

Deputy Sean Haughey raises role of Brigadier (later General Sir) Frank Kitson in the dirty war in Ireland.

This brings me to the appalling and unilateral decision by the British Government to bring forward legislation to prohibit future prosecutions of military veterans and ex-paramilitaries for crimes related to the Troubles and to impose a statute of limitations on Troubles-era prosecutions.

Deputy Sean Haughey tonight denounced the activities of General Sir Frank Kitson in Dail Eireann.  The full text of his speech is set out below:

The 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday was marked on 30 January last. As we know, a march for civil rights in Northern Ireland took place in Derry that day. The participants marched for basic civil rights and equality, to be treated equally in a society where the minority were seen as second-class citizens by the government. The first battalion of the British army’s parachute regiment opened fire on innocent civilians, killing 13 people on the day. This followed the killing of other innocent victims by the parachute regiment in Ballymurphy the previous August. These events cast a long shadow over politics in Northern Ireland and this remains evident to the present day. The hastily established Widgery inquiry found the soldiers had started firing only after they had come under attack, among other adverse findings. This was deeply offensive to the families of those killed or injured, but it demonstrates what the establishment in a so-called democratic state can do, if so minded, to arrive at a false and predetermined outcome.

The barrister David Burke, in his book published last year entitled Kitson’s Irish War: Mastermind of the Dirty War in Ireland, outlines how Bloody Sunday and other killings of innocent civilians in Northern Ireland by British soldiers were part of a ruthless, dirty war that commenced in 1970, when brigadier Frank Kitson, a counterinsurgency veteran, was sent to Northern Ireland. Burke further outlines how Kitson organised a clandestine war against nationalists and ignored loyalist paramilitaries. How shocking is that?

The families of those who were murdered have campaigned for justice ever since. They have three basic demands, namely, a rejection of the Widgery report, an official acknowledgment of the victims’ innocence and the prosecution of the soldiers involved on the day. They campaign tirelessly and have to date been successful in achieving two of their three objectives. The then British Prime Minister Tony Blair established the Saville inquiry in 1998. It totally exonerated the victims and placed the blame firmly on the British army. Subsequently, the then British Prime Minister David Cameron issued a state apology and expressed his deep sorrow for what had happened. As we all know, however, the prosecution of the soldiers has, unfortunately, run into difficulty. The Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland announced in 2019 that only one soldier, Soldier F, would be prosecuted, but this was dropped and the matter is now before the courts.

This brings me to the appalling and unilateral decision by the British Government to bring forward legislation to prohibit future prosecutions of military veterans and ex-paramilitaries for crimes related to the Troubles and to impose a statute of limitations on Troubles-era prosecutions.

This has been widely condemned, rightly so. It was condemned by the Taoiseach in Derry at the weekend, when he said the soldiers involved should face prosecution. It has been condemned by the political parties in Northern Ireland, by victims groups and their families, by several international human rights organisations, including the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights and the United Nations special rapporteur, by Michael Posner, US Assistant Secretary of State, and by the Committee on the Administration of Justice in Northern Ireland – the list goes on.

This move essentially overturns a crucial part of the 2014 Stormont House Agreement, which was agreed by the British and Irish Governments and the political parties in Northern Ireland. For example, a commitment was given to establish an independent historical investigations unit as part of this agreement. In July of last year, talks were initiated between the parties in Northern Ireland and all of the relevant stakeholders on dealing with the legacy of the past and implementing the provisions of the Stormont House Agreement. These talks should be ongoing and the Irish Government must continue to make known to the British Government its total opposition to these proposals.

I would also like to raise another issue in this context. A range of rights-based commitments have been made in Northern Ireland, starting with the Good Friday Agreement and right up to New Decade, New Approach. This is not happening fully. For example, there has been a failure to progress a bill of rights in Northern Ireland. These objectives would give human rights protections to the people of Northern Ireland. In New Decade, New Approach, a commitment was given to establish an ad hoc committee on a bill of rights in Stormont but this has run into difficulty. Various proposals in this area are being obstructed in the Executive and the Assembly, using different veto mechanisms. This is very regrettable.

What all of this clearly indicates is that we need full implementation of all aspects of the Good Friday Agreement and subsequent agreements. All of us need to work at that – the British and Irish Governments, the parties in Northern Ireland and Ministers and parliamentarians in these islands, using the bodies established under the Good Friday Agreement, and civic society. We must rededicate ourselves to implementing all of the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement.

The role of MI5 was raised by Deputy Patrick Costello of the Green Party
We can talk about the Cory inquiry’s hard drives being seized by MI5 and arson at the Stevens inquiry – all these deliberate attempts to cover up the truth..
His contribution in full was as follows:

One of the recurring themes when we talk about the legacy issues is the responsibility of the British Government to act. It does have a responsibility and I will get to it in a minute. However, we also have a responsibility here in Dublin. We are co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement. As a result, we are co-guarantors of the bill of rights that has failed to be implemented; the reform of the petition of concern, which was agreed under the New Deal, New Approach agreement and has yet to be implemented and Acht na Gaeilge, which has yet to be implemented. We are their co-guarantors.

Of course, we are also the co-guarantors of the Independent Commission for Information Retrieval. This was the agreed mechanism for dealing with legacy issues. Obviously, it is complicated and needs legislation in Dublin and Westminster to happen, but over the years there have been many negotiations, agreements and details worked out. The British Government may have dragged its feet, but why do we have to wait for Britain?

Why do we not begin our own drafting? Why do we not at least begin our own pre-legislative scrutiny so that we can talk about what we want to achieve? We can get the experts in as part of that pre-legislative scrutiny, as we do with other Bills, to say what is needed, to reflect on how the legislation should look and to begin that conversation about how this will work and take one small step further away from it just being an agreement on paper. That then puts more moral responsibility and more pressure on the Government in London, and it is not sanctions. It is not aggressive moves, but simply saying that we are going ahead and we are a co-guarantor. Even something like the pre-legislative scrutiny of the legislation needed to implement the independent commission on information retrieval would be a bold step forward by us and a clear statement that we reject the British Government’s proposed amnesty, the very foundation of it and all the logic behind it.

Ultimately, we need truth. The families who have lost people and who are suffering to this day need the truth. In years to come, my young daughter will be studying history books. Will she get the truth when she opens it up or will it just be more cover-ups and stories of collusion that are never fully investigated? Will it simply be the name soldier F or will it be his real name, which has been published, is out there and was named by Mr. Colum Eastwood MP on the floor of Westminster? Will those who are responsible for the crimes and the murders that are now covered up be featured and named and photographed in the book she comes to read in the future? Without truth we cannot have justice. Without justice we cannot have healing. The British Government’s line that we should draw a line under the Troubles simply perverts truth, perverts justice and prevents healing. It flies in the face of everything the Good Friday Agreement was meant to achieve and it flies in the face of everything that the State is co-guarantor of.

The British Government has a strong responsibility to look at its own actions in recent times and right throughout the conflict that it has denied, covered up and sabotaged. We can talk about the Cory inquiry’s hard drives being seized by MI5 and arson at the Stevens inquiry – all these deliberate attempts to cover up the truth – but I come back to us being co-guarantor and to asking what are we doing. Any movement we can take, no matter how small, on the issue of the independent commission on information retrieval will contribute to moving that on, to having that conversation about truth, justice and healing and to putting further pressure on the British Government to live up to its international commitments.

OTHER STORIES ABOUT BLOODY SUNDAY, THE BALLYMURPHY MASSACRE, BRIGADIER FRANK KITSON AND COLONEL DEREK WILFORD ON THIS WEBSITE:

The secret scale model of Derry used to plan Bloody Sunday. By David Burke.

The covert plan to smash the IRA in Derry on Bloody Sunday by David Burke

Soldier F’s Bloody Sunday secrets. David Cleary knows enough to blackmail the British government.

Learning to kill

Colin Wallace: Bloody Sunday, a very personal perspective

Lying like a trooper. Internment, murder and vilification. Did Brigadier Kitson instigate the Ballymurphy massacre smear campaign? Where was Soldier F and his ‘gallant’ death squad during it?

Another bloody mess. Frank Kitson’s contribution to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. 300,000 have died in Afghanistan since 1979.

Lying like a trooper. Internment, murder and vilification. Did Brigadier Kitson instigate the Ballymurphy massacre smear campaign? Where was Soldier F and his ‘gallant’ death squad during it?

A Foul Unfinished Business. The shortcomings of, and plots against, Saville’s Bloody Sunday Inquiry.

Kitson’s Private Army: the thugs, killers and racists who terrorised Belfast and Derry. Soldier F was one of their number.

Soldier F and Brigadier Kitson’s elite ‘EFGH’ death squad: a murderous dirty-tricks pattern is emerging which links Ballymurphy with Bloody Sunday. A second soldier involved in both events was ‘mentioned in despatches’ at the behest of Kitson for his alleged bravery in the face of the enemy.

Mentioned in Despatches. Brigadier Kitson and Soldier F were honoured in the London Gazette for their gallantry in the face of the enemy during the internment swoops of August 1971.

Soldier F, the heartless Bloody Sunday killer, is named.

Mission accomplished. The unscrupulous judge who covered-up the Bloody Sunday murders. Soldier F and other paratroopers have been protected by the British State for five decades. None of them now face prosecution. This perversion of justice began with the connivance of the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, John Widgery, a former British Army brigadier, Freemason and oath-breaker.

Counterinsurgency war criminals, liars and cowards: Kitson and Wilford, the brigadier and colonel who led the soldiers who perpetrated the Ballymurphy Massacre.

Brigadier Kitson’s motive for murdering unarmed civilians in Ballymurphy.

The McGurk’s Bar cover-up. Heath’s Faustian pact. How a British prime minister covered up a UVF massacre in the hope of acquiring Unionist votes to enable the UK join the European Economic Community, the forerunner of the EU.