Northern Ireland

Former British officer Frank Kitson left ‘terrible legacy’ in north

The Bloody Sunday Trust has said former British army officer, General Frank Kitson, who has died, left a 'terrible legacy' in Northern Ireland.

Decorated British army officer General Frank Kitson left a “terrible legacy” and was allowed to act with total impunity in Northern Ireland, Derry’s Bloody Sunday Trust has said.

Kitson (97), who died on January 2, was considered the key architect of the British army’s intelligence operations during the early Troubles.

He was one of the most senior officers in the north at the time of the Ballymurphy massacre (1971) and Bloody Sunday (1972).

The 1st Battalion, the Parachute Regiment (responsible for Bloody Sunday) was nicknamed “Kitson’s private army” due to his reliance on them.

He was also believed to be involved in establishing the British Army’s Military Reaction Force (MRF), which was believed to be involved in innocent Catholic deaths.

A British soldier since 1946, Kitson learned his trade in Kenya where he was instrumental in brutally putting down the native Mau Mau rebellion in the 1950s. He subsequently authored two books on counter-insurgency, believed to be the blueprint for British policy in the Troubles.

Chairman of the Bloody Sunday Trust Tony Doherty said Kitson left a trail of devastation in Derry, Ballymurphy and other communities in the north.

“Kitson, in his blind pursuit of defending the crown’s interests, made no distinction between civilian and combatant as he honed his skills in applying torture, internment and death from Kenya, to Aden and then to Ireland,” Mr Doherty said.

Mr Doherty said it was a “disgrace” that a CBE awarded to Kitson in February 1972 was allowed to stand, even after the innocence of the Ballymurphy dead was clearly established.

“His legacy is a terrible one. We are still living with it. He has blood on his hands from the innocents of three continents,” Mr Doherty said.