Author Topic: Death on the Rock: the IRA Gibraltar killings  (Read 190 times)

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Offline Steve_uk

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Death on the Rock: the IRA Gibraltar killings
« on: March 03, 2021, 05:21:PM »
The controversial killing of three members of the IRA in Gibraltar 33 years ago this month. https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x33p0fp

Offline QCChevalier

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Re: Death on the Rock: the IRA Gibraltar killings
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2021, 06:41:PM »
The controversial killing of three members of the IRA in Gibraltar 33 years ago this month. https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x33p0fp

I can certainly see the dilemma faced by the British security services given that they broadly knew what the terrorists intended, yet did not know for sure where the bomb was, or where (or if) it had been planted or would be planted, and were faced with terrorists who might flee and set off a bomb remotely if cornered by ordinary civilian police officers. 

If they stopped the terrorists before reaching Gibraltar, that would tip them off and also put them in the hands of the Spanish authorities, who might be reluctant to extradite them.  That left only one viable option, which was to wait for the terrorists to cross the border into Gibraltar and then attempt to apprehend them - which is not as easy as it sounds, for the reasons just given.

It is also difficult to sympathise with IRA terrorists who were clearly not on holiday in Gibraltar and who would have gladly killed and maimed soldiers of the Royal Anglian Regiment, plus the staff of the governor of Gibraltar, maybe the governor himself, not to mention countless innocent Gibraltar residents and tourists.

However, there is a distinction to be made, and though what I am about to say essentially repeats old and established principles, the practical importance of these principles is incalculable. 

A terrorist acts against, or outside, the rule of law.  The authorities represent and enforce the rule of law.  The authorities must therefore be held to a much higher standard, lest they (and we) sink to the terrorists' depraved level.  If we allow ourselves to sink, then the crucial distinction between criminals and the law-abiding, upon which liberty, civic peace and stability all depend, will be gradually eroded and lost, and along with it, our day-to-day freedoms and the rule of law itself will deteriorate. 

It is also instinctively concerning whenever British soldiers shoot dead civilians in a British street. Regardless of the circumstances and suspicions involved, due process should only be disregarded when there is no other option. 

For these reasons, I believe the incident could and should have been handled differently.  It is important that Britain acts within the law when facing terrorists and only uses such force as is absolutely necessary.  That is what the European Court of Human Rights decided and I think they were right.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2021, 06:51:PM by QCChevalier »

Offline Steve_uk

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Re: Death on the Rock: the IRA Gibraltar killings
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2021, 07:12:PM »
I can certainly see the dilemma faced by the British security services given that they broadly knew what the terrorists intended, yet did not know for sure where the bomb was, or where (or if) it had been planted or would be planted, and were faced with terrorists who might flee and set off a bomb remotely if cornered by ordinary civilian police officers. 

If they stopped the terrorists before reaching Gibraltar, that would tip them off and also put them in the hands of the Spanish authorities, who might be reluctant to extradite them.  That left only one viable option, which was to wait for the terrorists to cross the border into Gibraltar and then attempt to apprehend them - which is not as easy as it sounds, for the reasons just given.

It is also difficult to sympathise with IRA terrorists who were clearly not on holiday in Gibraltar and who would have gladly killed and maimed soldiers of the Royal Anglian Regiment, plus the staff of the governor of Gibraltar, maybe the governor himself, not to mention countless innocent Gibraltar residents and tourists.

However, there is a distinction to be made, and though what I am about to say essentially repeats old and established principles, the practical importance of these principles is incalculable. 

A terrorist acts against, or outside, the rule of law.  The authorities represent and enforce the rule of law.  The authorities must therefore be held to a much higher standard, lest they (and we) sink to the terrorists' depraved level.  If we allow ourselves to sink, then the crucial distinction between criminals and the law-abiding, upon which liberty, civic peace and stability all depend, will be gradually eroded and lost, and along with it, our day-to-day freedoms and the rule of law itself will deteriorate. 

It is also instinctively concerning whenever British soldiers shoot dead civilians in a British street. Regardless of the circumstances and suspicions involved, due process should only be disregarded when there is no other option. 

For these reasons, I believe the incident could and should have been handled differently.  It is important that Britain acts within the law when facing terrorists and only uses such force as is absolutely necessary.  That is what the European Court of Human Rights decided and I think they were right.
It was by the narrowest of margins: 10/9. The whole episode was within the context of the period of the time: 1979 Warrenpoint massacre, killing of Lord Mountbatten, the hunger strikers 1981, Maze Prison escape 1983, the Brighton bomb 1984, Enniskillen 1987. There was no justification for trying to attain a united Ireland by force by cowing Ulster unionists into submission.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2021, 07:13:PM by Steve_uk »

Offline QCChevalier

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Re: Death on the Rock: the IRA Gibraltar killings
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2021, 07:52:PM »
It was by the narrowest of margins: 10/9. The whole episode was within the context of the period of the time: 1979 Warrenpoint massacre, killing of Lord Mountbatten, the hunger strikers 1981, Maze Prison escape 1983, the Brighton bomb 1984, Enniskillen 1987. There was no justification for trying to attain a united Ireland by force by cowing Ulster unionists into submission.

I agree with that, but the law still matters.  I think the ECHR's decision in McCann and Others v United Kingdom is among the best and most measured jurisprudence it has produced.  I would not want any of the Flavius soldiers to be prosecuted, but I think it was right to send a message that the state's actions were unlawful on that occasion.