Belfast Telegraph

RUC's success against loyalists disproves lies of republican 'war of words', claims former officer


By Rebecca Black

The RUC solved more murders carried out by loyalists than republicans during the Troubles, it has been reiterated.

Figures produced for the RUC George Cross Foundation show that between 1972 and 2001 some 50% of killings by loyalists were solved, compared to 30% committed by republicans.

They also show that between 1972 and 2001 just over 8,000 loyalists were charged with terrorist and serious public order offences, and 10,957 republicans were likewise charged.

It has prompted claims the republican movement is continuing its war through propaganda and by the rewriting of history.

The figures emerged following the repeat of 30-year-old allegations of police and loyalist collusion, with Sinn Fein MLA Mairtin O Muilleoir standing over a tweet in which he claimed the RUC had helped UFF terrorist Michael Stone carry out his murderous attack at Milltown Cemetery in 1988.

Alan Mains, a former crime adviser for Northern Ireland in the RUC and PSNI, told the Belfast Telegraph he believed republicans had moved from armed conflict to a war of words.

"I think it's very sad that Sinn Fein/IRA are trying to manipulate the past," he said.

"On one hand they accept there were victims on all sides, and then on the other hand they want people to be accountable.

"Again they admit their own atrocities, but they only appear to want accountability on one side. It's very difficult in that context to find a balanced way to go forward.

Mr Mains added: "A lot of people are saying to me that we are now slipping backwards, because we are not wanting to let go of the past, and people are seeing shadows where there are no shadows."

From 1969 to 2001 it is estimated republicans carried out more than 2,000 murders, loyalists carried out more than 1,000, the Army was responsible for more than 300 deaths and the RUC for around 52.

Some 302 police officers were killed in that period, and some 1,183 families were forced to move house due to threats from both republicans and loyalists, such as the 78 police families relocated due to threats from loyalists during the Drumcree crisis in the late 1990s.

Mr Mains emphasised how dangerous policing became during the Troubles.

"In 1983, Interpol found that Northern Ireland was at that time the most dangerous place in the world to be a police officer - more than twice as risky as serving in El Salvador, the next most hazardous location," he said.

The former senior RUC officer went on to say that the Smithwick Tribunal - a Dublin-based public inquiry into claims of IRA/Garda collusion in the murders of RUC Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan - exposed Sinn Fein's double standards over the past.

During the tribunal, members of the IRA gave evidence, but refused to be cross-examined over their evidence. "The south Armagh PIRA came forward, but they wouldn't have their testimony challenged in an open forum, even given the reassurances of no prosecutions," Mr Mains said.

"On one hand Gerry Adams put them forward, which was a bit of a breakthrough, yet on the other hand, they wouldn't be accountable for their actions - like we have to be as police officers. No one seems to be grasping what is going on here at the minute.

"There are a lot of silent voices, and the PIRA and their campaign is continuing, but it is a war of words now, as opposed to the Armalite and the guns.

"They are continuing into the next phase now where they want to rub it in, not let the past go, yet they were very much part of the problem."

Belfast Telegraph

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