Socialist Worker

Shankill bomb revelation blows the cover of British state terror

Issue No. 2488

Mural in Northern Ireland about state collusion

Mural in Northern Ireland about state collusion (Pic: Wikimedia Commons)


Extraordinary new revelations this week show that a notorious bombing by Irish Republicans was planned and overseen by a British agent.

Ten people died in the Shankill bombing in Belfast in 1993.

Irish Republican Army (IRA) men Thomas Begley and Sean Kelly walked into Frizzell’s fishmongers on the Shankill Road with orders to clear it of customers and then detonate a bomb. It was aimed at Loyalist paramilitaries believed to be meeting upstairs.

But the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) terror group leaders conveniently escaped. The bomb instead killed shoppers and one of the bombers as it was being carried into the shop.

Secret documents stolen by the IRA during a break-in at police headquarters in 2002 show that a British agent known as AA plotted the bombing.

AA had extensively briefed his MI5 and Special Branch handlers on the attack.

In the week following the bombing, Loyalist paramilitaries killed 14 people in a series of attacks. These included the attack on the Rising Sun bar in Greysteel, County Derry. Six Catholics and two Protestants were killed.

The Shankill evidence says that the British state at the very least allowed bombing of civilians to exert pressure on a faction of the IRA.

And AA may have had custody of the bomb the night before the attack, allowing time for the device to be rigged to blow up his comrades.

Sectarian bigotry is a crucial part of the set up in Northern Ireland. The British state boasts of bringing “democracy” to the North, but it outdid the paramilitaries in terror.

Sectarianism is not inherent to Northern Ireland. It was created and fostered from the outside.

Ever since the state was created by British imperialism, it has been characterised by repression, sectarianism and grinding poverty. Catholics faced systematic discrimination.

In response to increased violent repression, the IRA began a military campaign against the British occupation in the 1970s.

The state colluded, encouraged and carried out a series of attacks and atrocities to try and keep control.

Beyond the repression carried out by British troops, they repeatedly helped Loyalist murder gangs in Northern Ireland.

A secret unit of the British Army, the Force Research Unit, along with the police supplied names, addresses and photographs of Catholic targets to Loyalist paramilitaries.

The activities of the agents were discussed at the highest levels of the British government.

The British occupation of Northern Ireland was repressive and murderous. The full truth about that—and all the British state’s imperial horrors—is still covered up.


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