Over the next few days newspapers columns will be filled by the more sensational pickings from the annual release of State Papers.
Just remember, though: what we get is what they allow us to know.
One or two are coming along already. Perhaps the most titillating:
That turns out to be no more than a question of whether the flat in Downing Street was a home, or a second home or something entirely different.
And then there is this one:
I hate to say it, but we were close to knowing that already.
The Thatcher-Fitzgerald accord was the moment for lighting the True Blue touch paper and retreating. The Loyalists quickly buried hatchets (not, for once, in each other) and set about raising funds to buy arms. There was the July 1987 raid by Ulster Resistance, the UDA and the UVF on the Northern Bank in Portadown: £325,000 raised. Brian Nelson, who may or (less likely) may not have been also in the paid employ of the Force Research Unit, was despatched to South Africa to blow the kitty. This brought 200 assault rifles, 90 Browning pistols, 500 grenades, 212 RPG7 rocket launchers and 30,000 rounds of ammunition ashore in County Down. Similar buying trips went to Israel and across the European continent.
On 3rd August 1987, the Sunday News had an interview between John Coulter and an unnamed “independence strategist”, which outlined the intents of a group calling itself “the Ulster Movement for Self-Determination” (MSD). The programme would be excluding Dublin and all its works from Northern Ireland, no place for anyone even suspected of republican or nationalist tendencies, security controlled by loyalists, who would also be sealing the Border. Bottom line:
Our goal must be to bring about a completely new situation in this country.
To create a free Ulster for a free people, no longer at the mercy of either Republican terror gangs or appeasing and treacherous English politicians who do not understand us and do not wish to do so.
This same “independence strategist”:
warned that the time was fast approaching in the Loyalist community when Unionists would hire paid-for contract killers to assassinate known Republican “trigger men”.
… Loyalists would have a “slush fund” to pay such hit men in much the same way as gangland bases or Mafia chiefs operated.More likely the hired assassins would be former SAS personnel who had served in Ulster. The Loyalists themselves would compile a dossier on the intended IRA victim and hand it, along with the cash, to the would-be assassin.
Tellingly, the accompanying graphic was a map of the nine counties of Ulster:
While the MSD spokesman outlined that the initial solution to the present Troubles would be found within a Northern Ireland context, he did make a sinister remark about possible encroachments into Éire.
“We want to undo the injustices which were done to our Protestant forefathers when Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan were excluded from the original Northern Ireland settlement. We were robbed of our rightful heritage in the 1920s.”
In all truth, the Ulstermen of 1920 couldn’t get rid of the three other counties quick enough. The more thoughtful (yeah: a paradox in connection with those boneheads) even considered dispensing with anything beyond the Bann. What Northern Ireland consisted of was so much — and no more — where a sound Proddy majority existed.
A further moment of interest: a month later John Coulter had the chair of the Ulster Clubs, Alan Wright, named and on the record.
Wright stated that Ian Paisley and Jim Molyneaux were no longer in favour: instead he expressed a preference for Peter Robinson or David Trimble neither of whom was greatly known or appreciated outside the loyalist mindset.
- Robinson was a founder of Ulster Resistance in 1986, and infamously the “Peter Punt” who led the incursion into Clontibret in August 1986.
- Sure enough, in February 1988 Trimble published a pamphlet, What Choice for Ulster?, arguing for independence.
So, if we can now firmly tie Robinson to MSD, is anyone greatly surprised?