The author is QUB Political Science Hons graduate and has written extensively on the conflict in Ireland.
Collusion, Conspiracy, and Cover-up in Northern Ireland
Now available on Kindle, A Very British Jihad: Collusion, Conspiracy, and Cover-up in Northern Ireland still ranks as one of the best ever exposés of state-sponsored murder available on the market. It is written by award-winning journalist and producer Paul Larkin, a former producer of the BBC Northern Ireland's BAFTA-winning Spotlight current affairs program. A Very British Jihad is 300-odd pages of compulsive reading for anyone with even the most casual interest in Irish affairs. The author comes across as a decent, honest human being whose role as truthseeker led him to some very dark and sinister places within the British colonial establishment's so-called counter-terrorism community. The title refers to the undercover war fought with almost religious zeal by the British occupational forces in Ireland and their loyalist allies.
Anne Cadwallader's excellent Lethal Allies: British Collusion in Ireland and documentaries such as Unquiet Graves and No Stone Left Unturned which copper-fasten the modus operandi of state-sponsored murder in Northern Ireland, Dublin and Monaghan, deal with and build on much of the subject matter Larkin introduced in A Very British Jihad 20 years previously.
A Very British Jihad delves into a murky world of spooks, agents, Loyalist bosses and sectarian murder, where the blurred edges of their dubious morality were refracted by much smoke and splintered mirrors. Its 22 chapters surpass anything thrown up in Martin Dillon's The Dirty War, which merely hints at collusion in a very timid fashion. Paul Larkin builds a much more solid construct of British state-collusion in sectarian murder, which compliments and even surpasses Sean McPhelimy's groundbreaking The Committee. Although effectively banned in the UK, McPhelimy's book may well be available at online booksellers such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble in the USA.
The British Jihadists
Larkin begins his book with his arrival on the Belfast political journalistic scene, where he meets his first Loyalist/military contact, the closet homosexual taxi driver and shady former UDR soldier called Howard. Literally, before the author even exits the cab he had hailed from the city's Central station, the part-time UDR taxi-driver seems to know that he is on his way to interview a leading Irish Republican activist, strongly suggesting that it may have been more than a random pick-up.
In the following chapters, Larkin interviews the late Billy 'King Rat' Wright, a notorious loyalist serial murderer, and British Military intelligence and RUC Special Branch agent who was spectacularly assassinated by an elite INLA unit within Long Kesh, Europe's most secure prison in 1997. The author describes King Rat's lair's decor as ultra-camp, yet fortress-like nestled in the heart of loyalist Portadown. As Larkin narrates, readers are left in no doubt that Wright was the epitome of the British Jihadist.
The author meets a brace of assorted Unionist paramilitaries, spies, touts, slimy Special Branch men, Official IRA men, South African Apartheid-era hit-men and bizarrely, the UDR on 'peacekeeping' duty in Bosnia, plus many other assorted and often unsavory characters. Even the most streetwise and politically savvy readers will feel like they have sampled a parallel world, where the lights are constantly dimmed and there are no friendly welcomes for the likes of us or anyone else to the Left of Eugene Terreblanche.
Censorship, Collusion and Murder
Collusion Was Systemic
The chapter A Very Fine Soldier deals with British infantryman Cameron Hastie's trial for involvement in a state-sponsored murder conspiracy and his subsequent unduly lenient sentence. Larkin devotes several chapters to pro-British death squad boss, the late Billy 'King Rat' Wright.
The late Marty O'Hagan, the Sunday World journalist assassinated by Billy Wright's LVF counter-gang, gets numerous positive mentions in Larkin's book. The author reveals how Jim McDowell, the Northern editor of the Sunday World who has close links to the RUC/PSNI's shadowy Special Branch, effectively handed several pages of the Northern edition over to the then mid-Ulster UVF and Billy Wright, to clarify their threats against his exiled colleague, Martin O'Hagan.
These dubious actions by McDowell were doubly ironic, as the late Martin O'Hagan, The Sunday World's security specialist, read of Billy Wright's Mid-Ulster UVF's 'clarification' in his own newspaper, while he was in hiding in Cork under threat from Wright's paramilitary gang. O'Hagan passed Wright's Special Branch codename to Larkin and it is exclusively disclosed in his book as 'Bertie'.
Another chapter, Sticking to Their Guns, deals with the Workers Party's then not so secret links to the Official IRA. Sticks or Stickies is a nickname for the Official IRA, as following the split within the IRA, resulting in the emergence of the Provisionals, the Official faction opted for sticky-backed Easter Lillies, as opposed to the traditional pin fastened Lillies worn during Easter Rising commemorations. Larkin narrates of a very close shave with an already media angered Official IRA supporters during an encounter at their, Twinbrook social club, well known for its liberal opening times. Unfortunately, the club suffered a serious fire in later years, although thankfully it was said to be very well insured.
First edition hard copies of Paul Larkin's excellent expose A Very British Jihad was retailing at one time for between £60 to £80 used on Amazon, presumably, this meteoric rise in value from its original retail price of £10.99 is because it had gone out of print. A Very British Jihad is now available at less extortionate prices of around $8 for the Kindle version. Anyone who has a hard copy should treasure it as it is an invaluable insight into the Kitsonian collusion model that few of us get to understand concisely.
Readers are left in no doubt that all Republicans and numerous apolitical Catholics were targeted by a British state-sponsored murder machine. All it took was a name to be entered into the 'system' on the most spurious of suspicions at a British military checkpoint or a sighting in the supposed 'wrong company', for the gears of a Kitsonian state-sponsored murder-machine to rotate into action. In the not too distant past, many people only knew they had been included in that murderous 'project' when it was much too late and the state-sponsored Loyalist murder gangs had departed, leaving splintered door-frames, shattered lives and an RUC Special Branch cleared 'run-back' for the UVF, UDA or UDR death-squad
In conclusion, A Very British Jihad should be compulsory reading for anyone wishing to scratch beneath the surface of 'authorized' and revisionist versions of the period of Anglo-Irish conflict popularly known as 'The Troubles'. Larkin's book exposes the British counter-insurgency 'jihadists', which the establishment unleashed in post-1969 Ireland and leaves the reader in no doubt of their hidden hand in a plethora of Loyalist paramilitary assassinations, bombings and even murder bids on the British Left.
© 2019 Liam A Ryan