Jack Lynch told the British ambassador in 1972 that
voters in the South "could not care less"
about Irish unity. Lynch also offered to withdraw
the Irish Government's human rights case against Britain
over the treatment of detainees in the North if Britain
agreed to end internment.
remarks came at an hour-long meeting between Lynch
and ambassador Sir John Peck at Garda headquarters
in Cork at 12.30am on July 31st, hours before the
4am launch of Operation Motorman, the British Army
occupation of Nationalist "no-go" areas
in Derry. Lynch, in Cork campaigning in a by-election,
had asked for the meeting after being given advance
notice of Motorman the previous evening.
telegrams to the Northern Ireland Office and Premier
Edward Heath, Peck reported:"I asked (Lynch)
how serious an issue reunification had been in the
by-election and how much it mattered to the Irish
people as a whole. His answer amounted to saying that
they could not care less. As far as he was concerned,
he wanted peace and justice in the North and close
friendship and cooperation with us."
telegrams are among documents recently retrieved from
the Public Records Office at Kew by the human rights
group, British-Irish Rights Watch.
stressed that towards the end of the meeting, "The
conversation became, to say the least, informal. Mr.
Lynch was exhausted by long days of electioneering
and spoke with a freedom which should not be recorded
for use against him."
ambassador continued: "As Mr. Lynch seemed extremely
helpful and relaxed, I said that if all went well
in the North it was a thousand pities that the Irish
had the Strasbourg millstone around their necks. When
I began to expand on the bad consequences, he said:
'All right, what about a horse trade?' I asked what,
and he replied, 'The remaining internees.' I said,
'Do you mean that if we released them you would withdraw
your application?' To which he replied with a firm
reference was to the case brought by Lynch's Government
against the British Government the previous year alleging
that interrogation techniques used by British soldiers
against internees had breached the European human
rights charter. A number of internees had been deprived
of food, water and sleep, made to stand leaning against
walls for prolonged periods supported only by their
fingertips and had been subjected to continuous "white
noise". The result was extreme disorientation
and lasting trauma. The Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg
was eventually to convict Britain of breaching the
human rights charter.
does not record any reaction from Lynch to his suggestion
that the Strasbourg case represented a millstone around
the neck of the Irish Government, the accuser, rather
than of the British Government, the accused.
to Peck, Lynch asked what more the Irish Government
could do to help after the no-go areas had been occupied.
"He supposed there might be an influx of fugitive
IRA. The special courts would continue to function
and the border would continue to be patrolled and
added: "The upshot is that his Government will
do all that they can to discourage violent reactions
and precipitate striking of attitudes. There are four
pre-requisites for the support of the Irish Governmnt
and people, the latter of which could turn very nasty."
The pre-requisites were set out as a quick political
follow-up, action against barricaded Protestant areas;
new measures against Loyalist murderers of Catholics
and every effort to avoid civilian casualties during
will probably put out a statement on these lines during
the morning," Peck reported. "It may contain
an unconvincing grumble that we did not allow time
for the barricades to be taken down."
British Government was so concerned about international
reaction to possible civilian casualties during Motorman
that two days before the operation it sent diplomatic
signals to world leaders giving a detailed justification
of its intended action.
documents obtained by British-Irish Rights Watch show
that British ministers had given army commanders permission
to use heavy weapons including rocket launchers in
built-up areas in the event of IRA resistance to the
occupation of the "no-go" areas.
leaders contacted by Prime MInister Heath included
US President Richard Nixon, President Pompidou of
Franch, German Chancellor Willy Brand, the leaders
of other Common Market states and of Canada, Australia
and New Zealand and Pope Paul VI.
signals, dated July 29th 1972, claimed that, "Everything
possible has been done to set the affairs of the province
on a new course. Unfortunately, our efforts have been
thwarted by the actions of the Provisional IRA."
Referring to "Bloody Friday" in Belfast
eight days earlier, when the Provisional IRA detonated
20 bombs in just over an hour, killing nine civilians
and injuring more than a hundred, the British Government
declared that, "The actions of the terrorists
have aroused feelings of horror and revulsion among
Roman Catholics and Protestants alike..In this situation,
the possibilty of political progress has been receding...We
need to end a situation in which they have safe havens
from which they can come out at will to destroy and
shoot...Our operations are are, of course, aimed only
at the terrorists and gunmen."
"Top Secret" document of July 26th drawn
up by Cabinet Secretary Burke Trend and initialled
by Prime MInister Heath said: "I understand that
the Secretary of State for Defence envisages that
Company Commanders should be authorised to use Carl
Gustav rocket launchers (such as have been used to
detonate bombs in cars) against premises from which
heavy firing is being directed against the security
forces. This may entail substantial casualties."
Carl Gustav is a Swedish-designed bazooka-style rocket
launcher intended for use against armoured battlefield
the event, two men were shot dead by soldiers during
Motorman, Seamus Bradley, 19, a member of the Provisional
IRA, and Daniel Hegarty, 16.
document made clear that Motorman was an element in
a general escalation of British Army activity taking
advantage of revulsion against Bloody Friday. "It
is important to exploit quickly a situation in which
firm and effective action by the Army appears acceptable
to a wide range of opinion, including a significant
proportion of Catholics. If this opportunity is not
not taken, it may be very difficult to pursue any
operational policy which holds out any hope of making
significant inroads into IRA strength...It is the
Army's view that such inroads cannot be made without
maintaining a strong level of military presence in
the IRA dominated areas over a period of several months.
The presence must be accompanied by the ability to
interrogate suspects and to remove from the streets
by one method or another those who are believed to
be the principle leaders and most active terrorists."
of the factors in ministers' minds was the failure
of the current security strategy. "The Army's
search operations have been based on old or almost
non-existent intelligence," wrote Trend. "Their
success has been exaggerated for political and PR
reasons. Such yields as have been obtained were principally
due to chance...The degree of antagonism these operations
are likely to arouse will probably increase as the
memory of 21st July fades and the Army's searches
are seen to be random and resulting in searches of
houses and arrests of individuals with no direct connection
with the hard-line Provisional IRA.'
Cabinet Ministers in 1972 felt frustrated by the difficulties
of combatting the IRA while keeping within the law.
Northern Ireland Office memorandum to the Cabinet
Office dated July 27th refers to individuals who "do
not themselves indulge over-much in specific acts
of terrorism, but rather organise them...We are in
a position under existing law and powers whereby we
cannot deal with (them) even after we have caught
them, other than by internment. And this, as you know,
is a poison which might kill all further politial
Ireland Secretary William Whitelaw's chief official,
Sir William Nield, suggested "a system of special
courts whose function would not be to convict accused
persons of criminal offences but to judge whether
they were guilty of certain specified conduct and
commit them to 'preventive detention' if they were."
The measure "would apply to conduct involving
complicity in any degree with terrorism generally...Any
person would be allowed to effect an arrest if there
was reasonable suspicion of complicity...Any list
of suspects published by the authority of the Chief
Constable of the RUC would be conclusive evidence
that there was a reasonable suspicion."
courts were envisaged consisting of "a judge
of the Supreme Court sitting with any other judge
of the Supreme Court or a county court judge or a
resident magistrate. There would be no jury, no preliminary
hearing of evidence by an examining magistrate and
the proceedings would be in camera. The ordinary laws
of evidence would not apply; the court would simply
be enjoined to to have regard to the probative value
of evidence laid before them. The court would be obliged
to inform the accused at least of the general tenor
of the evidence against him and to hear him or his
counsel in his defence...There would be a right of
appeal to the Court of Appeal of Northern Ireland
sitting in camera...Preventive detention is quite
far removed from the present concept of internment.
Naturally, anyone who could be brought before a criminal
court would be and it could be provided that acquital
in a criminal court was no bar to proceedings for
the event, preventive detention was never introduced.
Instead, the phasing out of internment was marked
by the introduction of a policy of "criminalisation",
involving the reorganisation of interrogation methods
object of interrogation is to obtain reliable inforamtion
with the maximum of speed, not to obtain evidence,"
declared a secret Government memorandum issued a few
days after Motorman.
responsibility for obtaining a statement in compliance
with the Judges' Rules for use in evidence rests with
the CID and has no relevance to the interrogation
process conducted by the Special Branch."
"General Procedures", the memo declared
that, "Interrogation is a contest of wills and
psychological attack is called for. The interrogator
has the advantage that from the moment of arrest the
subject may be under mental strain to a greater or
lesser degree...Due advantage will be taken of this
by the interrogator. " The memo recommends that
"facilities for medical inspection and treatment
should be readily available at all times but (doctors)
should NOT in any sense supervise the subject's treatment
at the hands of guards or interrogators."
separate MoD memorandum, dated August 3rd 1972 and
directed to the Northern Ireland Office, said that,
"In the view of the GOC, interrogation following
Operation Motorman cannot be effectively carried out
simply by using the existing facilities at RUC stations...The
GOC therefore advises, and the Ministry of Defence
endorses this advice, that the RUC should be authorised
to establish three Police Offices for the purposes
of interrogation---one in Ballykelly (for Londonderry),
one in RUC premises at Castlereagh (for Belfast) and
one in Armagh for the country areas."
"Top Secret" Cabinet Office document issued
a week earlier, just before Motorman, suggested Government
concern about the attitude of the Special Branch to
the mooted new interrogation procedures. "The
scale of the interrogation and the willingness of
the RUC Special Branch to conduct it," were identified
as possible difficulties. The Special Branch had been
the prime target of protest against the interrogation
methods previously. "They have recently become
uncooperative in this respect; but the Attorney General
hopes that the Special Branch will accept his assurance
that, provided that they adhere to lawful methods
of interrogation, they will have nothing to fear."
memo revealed that Defence Minister Lord Carrington
had advocated the transfer of operational control
of the Special Branch to the Army's GOC and the Director
of Intelligence but that Northern Secretary William
Whitelaw "was strongly opposed to this course
on grounds of RUC morale."
in the new Police Offices were to become the subject
of fierce controversy later in the 1970s, with allegations
of systematic ill-treatment, particularly at Castlereagh
and at Gough Barracks, Armagh. The offices were closed
following an inquiry into revelations on a London
Weekend Television programme in 1979 in which two
police doctors said that serious injuries on a large
number of detainees could not have been self-inflicted.
at "considerable sympathy" within the RUC
and the UDR for the UDA was expressed in a "Top
Secret" memorandum from the Northern Ireland
Office to the Cabinet Office in July 1972.
Secretary of State's anxiety is that he is not opposed
by one violent and subversive force, the IRA, but
by two, the IRA and the UDA," declared the memo.
"And moreover, the Army can neither ally with
the one nor the other, because both are challenging
the authority of the Government; nor can they take
on both at once with anything like their present strength,
quite apart from the considerable sympathy for the
UDA which two and a half years of bombings has aroused
in the Army's auxiliary security forces, ie the Ulster
Defence Force (sic) and the Royal Ulster Constabulary."
minute of a meeting on July 20th involving Heath,
Whitelaw, Defence Minister Carrington and the Chief
of the General Staff, Michael Carver, records that,
"Pressures were developing within the Army for
more aggressive action against the IRA. This attitude
was shared by some senior officers. In general, the
Army disliked having to operate in direct opposition
to the Protestants."
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