Tags: britain | ira | civilians | hunted

BBC: British Military 'Hunted Down' Unarmed IRA Operatives in 1970s

By    |   Thursday, 21 November 2013 08:08 AM

Soldiers assigned to a British military undercover operation have admitted they killed unarmed civilians in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s, if they were believed to be Irish Republican Army (IRA) operatives, according to the BBC.
 
Former members of the unit, called the Military Reaction Force (MRF), told the BBC One’s Panorama program they had been given responsibility for "hunting down" IRA operatives in Northern Ireland.

Members of the clandestine group — comprised of about 40 men who operated during an 18-month period beginning in 1971 and ending in 1973 — said they believed their work had saved lives.

The Panorama revelations came out one day after Northern Ireland Attorney General John Larkin suggested ending prosecution of killings that occurred before the British government and the IRA signed the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

Larkin’s suggestion — which would have squelched prosecution of British soldiers and IRA members for crimes committed during the Northern Ireland conflict — was sharply criticized by victims’ relatives. Prime Minister David Cameron rejected Larkin’s suggestion, the Guardian reported.

MRF members interviewed by Panorama said they spent much of their time posing as Belfast municipal workers while carrying out surveillance of IRA members.

“We were hunting down hardcore baby-killers, terrorists, people who would kill you without even thinking about it,” one former member of the MRF said.

According to Panorama, the MRF’s operational records have been destroyed. Efforts to prosecute former members of the force will be complicated by the fact that those  interviewed did not incriminate themselves or their fellow soldiers in specific operations.

But they did admit to killing civilians, and Panorama said it identified 10 unarmed civilians it said were shot by the MRF between April and September 1972.

Gen. Sir Michael Jackson, the former head of the British Army, pointed to the dangers of undercover work.

“You know if you are discovered, a pretty gruesome fate may well await you – torture followed by murder,” he said.

But Col. Richard Kemp, who served in Northern Ireland, said charges could be filed if new evidence showed that the soldiers had killed unarmed civilians.
 
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Soldiers assigned to a British military undercover operation have admitted they killed unarmed civilians in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s, if they were believed to be Irish Republican Army operatives, according to the BBC.
britain,ira,civilians,hunted
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2013-08-21
Thursday, 21 November 2013 08:08 AM
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