Thursday, 3 July 2014

A Dirty War and an Amoral Decade

Perhaps the most disturbing fact that the Blether Region has hitherto gleaned about Northern Ireland's compact Ulster-Scots movement is the surprising extent of involvement on the part of individuals who subscribe, or purport to subscribe, to British-Israelism, the risible, racially tinged fantasy that the British peoples are descended from the Lost Tribes of Israel and thus have a special democracy-trumping role in the world — as well as an overlapping set of individuals connected with a single Orange lodge, the Cross of Saint Patrick, LOL 688.

In the 1970s the same theory was advanced by one William McGrath, a co-founder of LOL 688 remarkable for being, in turn, an agent of MI6 and MI5, as well as the leader of legal Protestant paramilitary group TARA and an active paedophile able with a minimum of effort to insinuate himself into a position of trust at the Kincora Boys' Home, whose vulnerable teenage residents he subjected to a lengthy and brutal campaign of rape.

McGrath eventually wound up in jail, serving a lighter sentence than his two co-accused despite being, by some accounts, the worst offender. Upon his release he retired to the Ards Peninsula and eventually died in the 1990s, still implausibly protesting his innocence and, somewhat in the style that Tommy Sheridan has since made his own, ascribing his conviction to a political fit-up.

One of the enduring mysteries surrounding Kincora is the question of whether the home was being used by the British intelligence services as a "honey trap" in order to provide material with which to blackmail people of influence during the Troubles. Most commentators nowadays think not, although they hold out the possibility that child prostitution rings involving the "great and good" existed elsewhere.

One such ring may be about to face exposure, since many UK newspapers are this week reporting on the handling of a dossier of allegations involving the Elm Guest House in south-west London by Leon Brittan, Home Secretary for two years in the 1980s, as well as on conflicting statements made by him in that regard.

Some unsubstantiated reports have listed a royal equerry, a clean-cut pop singer, and a Sinn Féin politician with a Protestant-sounding name among the habitués of the guest house, along with, most worryingly, an MP who went on to hold one of one of the four great offices of state.

Another leading British-Israelite in the 1970s was LOL 688 member Rev. Robert Bradford MP, murdered by the Provisional IRA during a constituency surgery in 1981. His friend and fellow UUP politician Jim Rodgers has alleged that he was about to expose a scandal involving corruption at the Royal Victoria Hospital. It has also been suggested that Freddie Scappaticci, later outed as a British agent, was involved in the operation, and that British intelligence services were aware that Rev. Bradford was about to be targeted — ostensibly for no reason more serious than his undoubtedly sectarian pronouncements — but declined to undertake any action to save him. Surprisingly few Northern Ireland politicians were murdered by anyone during the Troubles — Wikipedia lists only 11, including one from the 1920s — and those killed by the Provisional IRA solely because they were politicians and not also soldiers, judges or RUC reserves were even fewer; in fact, apart from Rev. Bradford, only Edgar Graham springs to mind.

All this is of course murky in the extreme and may turn out to have only the flimsiest basis in fact. The undue influence exerted by British-Israelites over Ulster Scots, however, is documented and real.

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