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An historical question June 17, 2021

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.
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A friend passed this along, from the Irish Republican Education Forum. Anyone able to shed any light on the question?

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1. Paul Wilson - June 17, 2021

I read the United Irishman over that period 71-72 and I can’t remember any claim involving figures like that. From memory OIRA had claimed about half a dozen soldiers killed before his death in April 72.

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WorldbyStorm - June 17, 2021

That seems more likely Paul.

Looking at this I think I see where this is coming from… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Official_Irish_Republican_Army

“According to Malcolm Sutton’s Index of Deaths from the Conflict in Ireland, part of the Conflict Archive on the Internet (CAIN), the OIRA was responsible for at least 50 killings during the Troubles.[47] According to the book Lost Lives (2006 edition), it was responsible for 57 killings.[48]Of those killed by the OIRA:[49]

22 (~44%) were civilians, including 4 civilian political activists
19 (~38%) were members or former members of the British security forces, including:
15 British soldiers and 1 former soldier
3 RUC officers
8 (~16%) were members or former members of Republican paramilitaries
1 was a UDA member”

It beggars belief that any single volunteer would be involved in all 15 soldiers mentioned above so I suspect the figure has been elided from the CAIN/Sutton figure.

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Paul Wilson - June 17, 2021

WBS yes that’s probably the case. The book Deadly Divisions adds a handful more, making about 20 regular troops.

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WorldbyStorm - June 18, 2021

I’d forgotten that. Do you think that was myth making on the part of some involved or reasonably robust?

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Paul Wilson - June 18, 2021

WBS myself I thought probably accurate.

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WorldbyStorm - June 18, 2021

Cheers Paul. Appreciated btw can I drop you an email sometime re a query I have?

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Paul Wilson - June 18, 2021

Yes of course WBS

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WorldbyStorm - June 18, 2021

Thanks Paul! I’ll delete that out of your comment.

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2. Daniel Baker - June 18, 2021

Hi to you both,

It was me who asked the initial question posed here (I’d like to thank whoever passed it on to Cedar Lounge and also thank CL for the kind repost). Thank you so much for your responses.

Like Worldbystorm says, I find it very unlikely that such a figure could be arrived at so confidently. Remarkably, it was a figure referred to by the prosecution in court, not only the defence. I’ve been contacted by one of Joe McCann’s relatives and we’ve been discussing some aspects of the case which will appear in the article when its finished, but the figure of 15 seems to me highly unlikely and as you say, clearly just cribbed from the CAIN/Sutton index in the hope people won’t look to deeply into it.

Joe McCann wasn’t even in Belfast for the entirety of the time mentioned, for some of it he was in a small ASU put together by Seamus Costello operating across the border, so I’m interested to find out more about how the figure was arrived at. Because if they are purely basing it on stats for soldiers killed in and around McCann’s turf in the Markets, that feels even more inaccurate and fanciful, which gives me further reason to agree with you both.

Thanks again for your comments! I’ll try to remember to post a link here when the piece is finished.

Daniel Baker

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WorldbyStorm - June 18, 2021

Daniel, you’re very welcome and apologies for not posting your name up in the original post above but wasn’t sure if you wanted it repeated in a slightly more public forum.

There’s an interesting site that tracks the numbers of deaths during the conflict and as far as I can see that adds to the curiousness of the figure because the numbers seem to be numerically low (I’m conscious that we’re talking about the death of people here too) for 1970 and early 1971 and not allowing for assertions of 15.

Hope the piece goes well and please do send a link. Sounds very interesting and an under researched area.

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Paul Wilson - June 18, 2021

Thanks Daniel best of luck with your article.

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