Northern Ireland news

New book examines collusion and counterinsurgency in the north

Mark McGovern pictured at the launch of his new book. Picture by Declan Roughan.
Connla Young

A new book on collusion and British counterinsurgency policy in the north has been launched in Belfast.

‘Counterinsurgency and Collusion in Northern Ireland' explores suspected collusion between loyalists and the security forces during the Troubles.

Author Mark McGovern, who is a professor of Sociology at Edge Hill University in England, spent several years researching the book and worked closely with campaign group Relatives for Justice.

The academic, who is originally from Derry, carried out numerous interviews with relatives of people killed by loyalists in controversial circumstances.

Those attending the launch included Operation Kenova chief Jon Boutcher, who is currently investigating the activities of the IRA agent known as Stakeknife.

Geraldine Finucane, the widow of murdered lawyer Pat Finucane, and investigative journalist John Ware both spoke at the launch event, which was held at St Mary's University College on Belfast's Falls Road on Thursday.

Pat Finucane was shot dead in front of his wife and children at his north Belfast home by a UDA hit squad, including British state agents, on February 12, 1989.

The new book focuses on the activities of loyalist murder units in the Mid Ulster area, including east Tyrone and south Derry, in the late 80s and early 90s.

Weapons believed to have been smuggled into the north with the help of British intelligence were used to kill dozens of Catholics and across the north between 1988 and 1994.

The book also focuses on a “notable” rise in the number of republicans killed by the state forces in the late 1980s in what the author describes as ‘set piece' and ‘shoot to kill' operations.

Mr McGovern also considers the number of Sinn Féin representatives targeted and says that of the 25 killed during the Troubles more than half, 14, died between 1989 to 1993.

Speaking at the event Mr McGovern paid tribute to the relatives of those killed.

“Families are not just there as receivers of the truth, as important as that's going to be, families are very much active agents witnesses, providing testimony, providing insight because no has as much insight very often as they do,” he said.

“They are also archivists.”

RFJ director Mark Thompson said the book is an important addition.

“It is important because it adds to the rich tapestry of the story of collusion,” he said.

Counterinsurgency and Collusion in Northern Ireland is published by Pluto Press.

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