The Hard Press
Conflict exacerbation and rantings from a returned Clinton-era exile and his Wife Sarah, a recent immigrant from Northern Ireland.
the hardpress at comcast dot net
GRAYDEN in 1990.
Saturday, May 31, 2003
This post is the text of a paper I wrote for a class last year. Call it my own version of "The Department of Righteous Killings".
By the late 1980s the conflict between the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) and the British security forces in Northern Ireland had settled into what has been often referred to as an ‘acceptable level of violence’ – meaning that the terrorists had been largely contained, but could not be eliminated. The tactics of the 1970s, such as house-to-house searches and internment without trial had been abandoned by the British as counter-productive. The late 70s and 80s saw the reliance more upon the use of intelligence, informers and counter-terrorist army units. There was also the phasing in of the policy of ‘Police Primacy’ – “Under this plan, the role of the regular Army was to be reduced and the overall direction of the security effort given to the RUC in 1976, thus requiring an expansion of locally recruited forces.”1 A controversial policy was to arise during this period – that of ‘Shoot-to-Kill’, the tactic of using intelligence to gain advance knowledge of pending terrorist actions and using elite forces to ambush the terrorists. The ambush at Loughgall on the 8th of May 1987 was to be one of the most successful actions undertaken by the Special Air Service (SAS) in Northern Ireland.
The Provisional IRA in Tyrone did not match their comrades in other parts of Northern Ireland in terms of body count, but had been able to launch more operations than most other units. By this time the IRA was organized as Active Service Units (ASUs) – that is small, compartmentalized units of three to five ‘volunteers’. By the mid-1980s the Tyrone leadership had begun to organize actions involving several ASUs to mount complex actions. The targets that were chosen were mainly off-duty members of the security forces and remote police stations. The remote stations were especially vulnerable due to the inability to protect them with army patrols at all times. These rural stations were also only staffed during the daytime. “The campaign against police stations in Tyrone peaked in late 1985. The most spectacular operation was an attack on Ballygawley police station. It was a complex operation, involving teams of dickers, a group of armed members and bomb-making experts. The IRA attacked the station with gunfire. Reserve Constable William Clements and Constable George Gilliand were shot dead at the entrance to the station. The IRA members then went into the wrecked building taking guns and documents and planting a bomb in the entrance to the building. It went off: three other police officers who had been inside escaped through the back door.”2 This attack proved to be a huge success for the IRA as it succeeded without loss. In addition to the morale boost, the spectacle of the three officers ‘running’ from the scene was an embarrassment to the RUC.
The architect of the IRA’s approach in Tyrone was Patrick Kelly, a thirty-year old Dungannon man. He exercised effective control over the ASUs in the area and devised tactics for attacking these remote stations. Later operations were to involve diversionary actions, specialized teams and even earth-moving equipment to rip through barriers. The men involved in these actions were to be equipped with the latest in military-grade weapons, body armor and night vision devices.
The man chosen to lead the attack on the station at Loughgall was Jim Lynagh, a veteran IRA man from County Monaghan in the Republic of Ireland. Lynagh’s approach to operations was different from the IRA norm. He preferred to lead a group of ten or more heavily armed men on a mission. This made his team very difficult to arrest, but made them more vulnerable to informers. Lynagh was not concerned about informers though as most of those he operated with were known to him and came from families with impeccable Republican credentials. Lynagh felt that he was a guerrilla leader rather than part of a terrorist cell.3 “Lynagh was a ruthless IRA gunman, whose politics were simple and straightforward, his belief in military methods as unshakable as his readiness to conform to the party line was undependable…”4
The 22nd Special Air Service Regiment, or SAS, is generally considered to be the finest anti-terrorist force in the world. They have operated in Northern Ireland since 1976, giving the security forces an edge when coming to blows with the IRA. The original commitment was as much to gain a military advantage over the IRA as to send a signal to them – that they were in for a fight. The SAS was to be used in a surveillance role in addition to setting up ambushes of IRA units.
The Royal Ulster Constabulary has been the police force of Northern Ireland since 1922. Serving in the frontlines against terrorism, the RUC has lost over three hundred of their officers to terrorist violence. Northern Ireland in 1983 was considered the most dangerous place in the world to be a police officer, twice as dangerous as El Salvador.5 The RUC was essentially a paramilitary police force, due to its lead role in fighting terror. It also had set up specialized units for surveillance and intelligence gathering – units that were trained by the SAS.
Jim Lynagh had planned to attack the Loughgall RUC station some time after it closed at seven pm. The initial approach began at 7:15 pm when a blue Toyota van containing Lynagh and five of his men. The other two members of his team followed in a mechanical digger. The team had placed a large bomb, three to four hundred pounds, in the scoop of the digger. The aim was to drive the digger through any obstructions and then place the bomb against the wall of the police station.
The combined SAS/RUC team had placed men all around the police station and a few inside it – the RUC officers amongst those volunteering to be in the station. The presence of the RUC made the operation a police one at least nominally. “The SAS commander’s decision to put men inside the police station may have owed something to the philosophy of the ‘clean kill’. Many of those involved in the operation regarded it as a simple ambush, part of a terrorist war. But it was vitally important that a judicious use of force appeared to be maintained and that the soldiers be seen to have acted within the terms of the Army Yellow Card·.”6 The resident Northern Ireland SAS troop had been augmented by some of their colleagues from their base in England. The soldiers were armed with their usual G3-A4K and M-16 assault rifles, but they were also supported by at least two belt-fed general purpose 7.62mm machine guns – a level of firepower that was normally considered excessive for SAS operations in Northern Ireland. This was not to be a normal night however.
The IRA team approached their target unaware that their operation was well known to the security forces. The exact source of this intelligence is still a matter of debate. Some are convinced that there was an informer that tipped off the police, while others argued that Lynagh and his team were lax in their security and discipline in the run-up and execution of the attack. Whatever the source of the intelligence knowledge, the IRA men were walking into an ambush.
When the blue van reached the station is drove past a short distance to allow the digger enough room to drive through the gate. When the van came to a halt several of the IRA men jumped out and in an act of bravado began firing their weapons at the police station they expected to be deserted. As soon as they opened fire, the SAS responded with a withering hail of gunfire from two directions. The initial gunfire from the security forces was concentrated against those IRA men in the van and gave the two transporting the bomb a precious few seconds to light the fuse and try to run. They did not get far though; both were cut down soon after the fuse was lit. The bomb did explode and destroyed part of the station and injured some of the men in the station. Those who arrived in the van were, by some estimates, on the receiving end of over one thousand rounds of ammunition. Some of them were wearing flak vests – which were useless considering the heavy caliber rounds used and the number of times they were hit.
Unfortunately a few civilians were caught in the crossfire: one man was killed, his brother wounded and few others had lucky escapes. The man that was killed had the misfortune to be dressed in a boiler suit – the same article of clothing that the IRA men were wearing.
This action against the IRA represents possibly the biggest success of the security forces in Northern Ireland’s history. The elimination of Jim Lynagh and his team removed some of the most ruthless and effective operators in the IRA’s rolls. The weapons recovered at the scene had been used in many murders and other crimes. Then men themselves had been convicted of many offences. These men were the hardcore of the IRA in the Tyrone border region. Some criticisms have been leveled at the security forces, about excessive force and a need to have arrested, rather than kill these men. This argument can be countered by bringing up Lynagh’s own tactic of using heavily armed teams – teams that could fight off or kill any police officer attempting to apprehend them. This action has been referred to as the ultimate ‘clean kill’ and many even on the Republican side have admitted that the operation was ‘fair’. The operation also had a longer term, and perhaps largely overlooked, benefit: the men killed were hardliners and their elimination helped to remove opposition to those that were more inclined to follow the path of peace and eventually declare the first ceasefire in 1994.
1. Urban, p. 17
2. Urban, p. 221
3. Urban, p. 223
4. Moloney, p. 306
5. Ryder, p. 2
6. Urban, p. 230
Ellison, Graham and Smyth, Jim (2000) The Crowned Harp: Policing Northern Ireland London: Pluto Press
Holland, Jack and Phoenix, Susan (1996), Phoenix Policing the Shadows: The Secret War Against Terrorism in Northern Ireland London: Hodder and Stoughton
Moloney, Ed (2002), A Secret History of the IRA New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
O’Brien, Brendan (1993), The Long War: The IRA and Sinn Fein 1985 to Today Dublin: O’Brien
Ryder, Chris (2000), The RUC: A Force Under Fire 1922-2000 London: Arrow
Urban, Mark (1992), Big Boys’ Rules: The SAS and the Secret Struggle Against the IRA London: Faber and Faber
Weitzer, Ronald (1995), Policing Under Fire: Ethnic Conflict and Police-Community Relations in Northern Ireland New York: SUNY Press
Tuesday, May 27, 2003
Unwelcome in the USA? - you're damn right
Northern Ireland Part 3
The article I have linked to above is about an IRA man who has been locked up here after overstaying his visa. I found this article to be especially offensive seeing as my Wife has been waiting almost a year and a half to get a visa to enter legally.
"Ciaran Ferry thought his days behind bars were part of another lifetime, a decade and an ocean away."
"The 31-year-old spent 7 ½ years locked up in his homeland of Ireland as an admitted member of the Irish Republican Army."
-Right away he has admitted that he is a member of a terrorist organization, enough said.
"He was released in July 2000 as part of the Good Fridays Accords, a peace process agreement negotiated between Ireland and England with the support of the United States government."
"But now the same government that played a role in setting Ferry free has jailed him again."
"Immigration officials took Ferry into custody in Denver on Jan. 30 when he and his American wife arrived at the local office to meet with authorities about an application Ferry had filed seeking a green card."
"Ciaran (pronounced KEER-an) Ferry was accused of overstaying his visa."
-Essentially what happened is that he entered the country as a tourist, overstayed his visa, then applied for a change of status. This is a common tactic used by those that don't wish to be annoyed by things like obeying the law when it comes to immigration. Immigration authorities generally forgive these types of activities, but they still retain the authority to act if they feel it is necessary. He probably also knew that his terrorist past might make it difficult to get in legitimately.
"But in an interview with the Rocky Mountain News, immigration authorities acknowledged that Ferry also is being held because of his "association with a known terrorist organization.""
""He would be considered a public safety threat," said Tony Rouco, acting assistant director for investigations."
-I am happy to see INS acting against an admitted terrorist. I personally don't think that he is a threat to the USA, but he is associated with an organization that has ties to the PLO.
"Ferry disputes the allegations, saying he is seeking to live in this country because he wants an end to violence - for himself, his wife and their daughter, who turns 2 next month."
""I had to leave my country behind. I did it for my family," he said in an interview from the Denver County Jail. "I'm a big advocate of the peace process. I'm no threat to anybody.""
"Ferry's case illustrates what some argue is a growing rift between efforts to protect the United States in the post-9-11 world and individuals' civil liberties."
-Now Ferry wants an end to the violence, but on his own terms, of course. Ending the violence when it involved murdering innocents in Northern Ireland was not an option, but now that he has an American wife and child it is a different story. This is not an issue of civil liberties, but of someone who made a choice to become a part of a murderous organization and now wants to escape his past. There are many who do not set out to kill for some threadbare, historically irrelevant ideology and these people don't have articles written about what they go through dealing with immigration. I have seen my wife for all of nine weeks in the last eighteen months - is my sob story in the paper? I guess you only get noticed if you are part of a terrorist organization that is romanticised by the left.
"Ferry and his wife point out that the IRA is not included on the State Department's list of terrorist organizations."
-Yes, and this is a fiction created to allow the British government to release murderers onto the streets to appease the IRA. This fiction is bought into by the US Government to help Tony Blair in dealing with this terrorist scum. This is a policy that is shameful and only makes us look hypocritical is dealing with Islamofascist terrorists.
""I'm not going to deny my politics. There was a conflict in my country, and I was involved in the political opposition to the occupation," Ferry said. "To live in Belfast and to not come into contact with some aspect of the violence, it just doesn't happen.""
-Please spare me all the tired rhetoric. To live in Chicago and not come into contact with some aspect of violence, it just doesn't happen. I witnessed alot more crime in two years in Chicago than eight in Belfast. Besides, is it occupation when a majority of those living in Northern Ireland want to remain in the United Kingdom?
"Ferry's arrest in Ireland came after two guns and ammunition were found in a car in which he was riding. He was sentenced to 22 years in Long Kesh, a political prison."
-Two guns and ammunition? Had these thugs not been arrested, I would be willing to bet that some young girl like his daughter would never get to see her Daddy again. And just for the record: HMP The Maze, formerly know as Long Kesh, is not a 'political prison', but a place that contained some of the hardest and most bloodthirsty murderers and other criminals in the United Kingdom. Contained them, that is, until the farce that was the Good Friday Agreement let them out onto the streets.
"It was there that he met his wife, who was working as co-chair of the Denver chapter of Northern Ireland Aid, which offers support to the families of political prisoners."
-If this is NORAID that is being referred to, it is an organization that sends money to support terror. They claim that it all goes to things like humanitarian aid, but even if that is true(which I highly doubt), then it allows the terrorists to spend a larger proportion of their money on activities such as killing, due to having the Yanks pick up the slack by supporting the families of those in prison.
"The couple planned to live in Belfast, they said. They came to Colorado that December to visit Heaven Ferry's family for the holidays."
"Ferry was allowed into the United States under the visa waiver program, which granted him permission to stay for up to 90 days."
"While the Ferrys were here, however, the couple learned they were pregnant. Suddenly, a return to Ireland seemed too risky."
-Likely story, I'm sure it never crossed their minds to stay in the USA past the time allowed.
"Ferry and his parents already had been subjected to death threats. Three months before coming to Colorado, the couple received a government grant to put bars on the doors and windows of their Belfast home."
""Every time I put the bars back, I thought, what if I had a child here? Innocent victims happen all the time," Heaven Ferry said, looking over at her daughter, Fiona, who was transfixed by Sesame Street. "It's terrifying, absolutely terrifying.""
-It obviously never occured to them that someone who had pledged his life to a terrorist organization might have to live with the consequences of his actions. Now they are angry that those who have lived by the sword might have to die by it? You make me sick - these sort of people are the reason that innocent people have had to fear for their lives and you want my sympathy? Do us all a favor and shut the hell up. Save the sympathy for Britain's ONLY political prisoner.
"After he was jailed in January, Ferry was ordered deported. Now he is seeking political asylum."
"His attorney, Jeff Joseph, argues the Irish citizen is one of many casualties of America's new homeland security focus."
""Homeland security has been given almost unfettered power to decide who is and who isn't a terrorist, who is and who isn't a criminal," Joseph said."
-Political asylum is for people who are actually being persecuted. You make a mockery of the concept and of the suffering of those that are the real victims. Homeland security might give almost unfettered powers to decide who is a criminal and a terrorist, yes - but this time it looks like they got it right - on both counts.
"One hundred and two days into his confinement, he remains in a cell by himself. His lawyer says Ferry is is subjected to strip searches after every visit."
-I'm sure he is alot more comfortable than those of the IRA's victims that are in a different type of solitary confinement - in a pine box under six feet of dirt.
"Heaven Ferry hasn't seen her husband since St. Patrick's Day."
"Meanwhile, she struggles to explain to her daughter why her father can't come home."
""She goes through photos and cries, 'Daddy, Daddy,' " Heaven Ferry said. "All she knows is that he left one day and didn't come back.""
-I imagine that telling your daughter that her father was part of a murderous conspiracy to prevent alot of other Mommies and Daddies from ever coming home won't be easy, but it will be the truth. I am sure that your husband never cared about the children of those his 'comrades' killed, so why should the law-abiding public care about him?
"Ciaran Ferry can't help but feel dismayed."
""Is the U.S. any safer with me behind bars? It's just costing taxpayers and my family a lot of money," he said."
-The USA may or may not be 'safer', but it is fair to say that a member of a terrorist organization should not be given a free pass into the USA. Personally I have no problem with my tax dollars going towards keeping this criminal in prison. I'm just glad that for once the system has worked.
The next time someone tries to tell you there is anything romantic about the IRA's "struggle" have them read this.
Monday, May 26, 2003
Jay Solo gave me a link on my last post about my choice of pursuing a plumbing apprenticeship. I hadn't realized that Glenn Reynolds had written on this subject in "A Hands on Future" I'm glad that he had because he was able to articulate some of my thoughts on the subject quite well. I loved my previous jobs in software quality assurance, but there was virtually no job security. Things were great during the 'gold rush' of the late 1990's, but those days are long gone. Now is the time to look towards something that has some security. I have to say that I am also attracted to nature of the work, not that it is going to be dirty, but that it will involve alot of problem solving and will be good, honest work. I found that working in the computer industry didn't leave me feeling that I had ever achieved much, especially since QA types don't really create, unless you count aggravation amongst software developers. I suppose it might be viewed as a waste of my education to take up a trade, but I was raised to view any job that was good, honest work as a good job - especially if it pays well.