Today’s “revelations” regarding the activities of British Government forces in Ireland  in the 1970’s are no surprise to some of us who have been around for a while. I’ll not go over that ground again. It has been better done by others.

For me the interesting thing is how history repeats itself and the mistakes of the past tend to dictate the narrative of the present.  We have all, in a sense, been 250px-Cairo_gangprisoners of history in Ireland. Interpretation of that history and our own perspective tends to be the point of contention. From my own point of view, education is the escape from that particular multi dimensional map.

The activities revealed in tonight’s Panorama programme are no surprise. The surprise is that they were admitted to and acknowledged by those responsible. They are yet to be admitted to and acknowledged by those, to whom those responsible, reported to.

With a little historical perspective none of this is new. The Cairo gang- named in honour of the Dublin café they frequented (pictured above) did pretty much the same job as the FRU (pictured below). The Black and Tans and the Auxillaries operated with the same impunity from law during the 1920’s.

Courtesy An Sionnach Fionn

Courtesy An Sionnach Fionn

It is arguable, indeed increasingly provable, that the RUC, UDR, British Army  and Loyalist paramilitaries operated in concert and with overlapping membership, common goals and shared resources over at least a 35 year period.

To sum up I have two questions.

1.Will The British Government be pursued to answer for their actions in the same way that nationalist and republican politicians are? (Particularly by the Bel Tel and Slugger 😉 )

2. When will the lessons of history be learned? I refer to the records of success of both the Cairo Gang and the FRU.

Given recent events in Iraq regarding British Army actions, does anyone else see repetition in British Government policy in Ireland?