Unionist Law and Order
By Mary Nelis
The news that the last of the Shankill Butchers, William Moore,
was released from prison in July barely roused a whisper from
those unionists who go into a paroxysm of hysteria each time a
republican prisoner of war is freed.
The release of Thomas McMahon who had served 19 years for his
part in the Mountbatten killing in August 1979, brought down a
deluge of fury and condemnation from the ``righteous brothers'',
Donaldson and Robinson. They were wheeled out ad nauseam by the
TV and radio hacks to scream that the release of this ``notorious
killer'' was another concession to the IRA.
Yet the release of Moore seemed to have produced a state of
collective amnesia among the media in general and unionist
politicians in particular. Perhaps Jeffery and Peter, and that
community which is forever proclaiming its devotion to law and
order, never mind its culture and religion, don't want to be
reminded of the gruesome details of that period from 1972 when
Catholics became the targets for the serial killers of the UVF
and their mutilated bodies began appearing on the waste grounds
around the Shankill Road.
It is widely believed that Mr Moore, a former meat packer,
supplied the knives and meat cleavers used by the UVF gang to
mutilate their victims. And mutilate them they did. Some of the
victims recieved over 200 stab wounds. The RUC at the time,
described the murders as motiveless or mysterious, carried out by
one person, whom they stated was a ``Jack the Ripper'' character.
But the Shankill Butchers, who stripped, tortured, and murdered
Catholics, were not psychopaths, nor were the killings
The Shankill Butcher murders were part of a co-ordinated campaign
by loyalist death squads to terrorise the Catholic population
into withdrawing support for the IRA. The gang were caught when
one of their victims, although seriously injured, lived, and was
able to identify his kidnappers and torturers.
There were allegations of collusion with the security forces, and
indeed among the gang was a British soldier and member of the
It was hardly surprising that the British army and the RUC not
only refused to deal with the campaign of terror, but they denied
that it even existed.
Such double standards within the RUC, the unionists and the
media, didn't begin with their attitude and the Mountbatten
incident or the Shankill Butchers. It was, and still is, the
stock in trade of the structure of the 6 county state and forms
the basis for that Unionist particularity known as Law and Order.
The sprinkling of one's career with bigoted attacks on Catholics
always added significantly to the chances of appointment and
Within the RUC and the judiciary, sectarian bias is most evident
in the preferring of charges and the differential in sentencing.
This is evident in the large number of Catholic males given life
sentences with recommendations, an issue overlooked by unionist
spokespersons, in their vociferous denunciations of the release
of prisoners, who on the whole have served longer sentences than
those from the various loyalist factions.
This peculiarity and bias in the law should form the basis of a
legal enquiry by impartial observers of the administration of
justice, unionist-style over the past 30 years. It could examine
the role played by the various judges, including that
distinguished member of the bar, Lord Justice Babington, whose
family has served Unionism for generations. In 1981, the Lord
Justice fined a man £600 on a charge of possessing a large
collection of ammunition and firearm components. The man, a
security guard at Hillsborough Castle, was also a member of that
sinister organisation Tara, well known for its connections with
the Kincora Boys Home and William McGrath, the housemaster at the
centre of allegations of a paedophile ring servicing the security
Babington, in accepting the man's admission that he kept the
arsenal for protection, made the comment, ``In considering the
state of affairs in the North of Ireland, one would not be
surprised if persons did find it incumbent upon them to seek the
oddest kind of solution to the problem. I am satisfied you were
behaving and acting as a good patriot should''.
In Derry this week, a whole string of ``good patriots'', escorted
by David Nicholl, UDP spokesperson for the UDA, gave themselves
up to the RUC for the attempted murder of two Catholic brothers
in the city some weeks ago. Two other ``good patriots'' had already
been charged, not with attempted murder, although the RUC claimed
they were investigating a sectarian murder attack.
These seven people, all connected to the UDA were arraigned on
the lesser charge of grevious bodily harm. If they ever come to
trial, they can be assured that their patriotism will be
recognised and suitably rewarded.
In the light of this, Unionist spokespersons should put up or
shut up on prison releases.