Narrative: A driving force behind the troubles in Northern Ireland: History of Loyalism in Northern Ireland

Author: Alan Malcher

Military historian and defence commentator

3 thoughts on “Narrative: A driving force behind the troubles in Northern Ireland: History of Loyalism in Northern Ireland”

  1. The following is a bit anecdotal but I believe interesting. I was by pure chance instrumental in the arrest in Paris of UDF’s John Little at the Paris Hilton as he was negotiating with apartheid-time South African intelligence the purchase of surface-to-surface missiles. I had just had a meeting at DST (today’s DGSI) at 7 rue Nélaton in the 15th district of Paris. It so happens that this street is parallel to that where the Paris Hilton is, and that there’s a back door to the hotel on rue Nélaton.

    I had finished my meeting which was about selling DST a system for identification of unlisten numbers (I had a software company at the time which had as main clients defense, etc, companies).

    So I went to have an orange juice at the hotel’s café on the ground floor. Two tables from mine there was a group of people recognizable by their accent: northern Irish, South African and American. They were discussing in plain English -probably believing no one around knew much about Ulster and the UDF- the purchase of those South African missiles by the norther Irish protestant terrorist group.

    I listened carefully, making only mental notes as making written ones could have resulted in my being spotted. I left before the end of the meeting as if I had waited they could all have eloped and avoided arrest. So I went back to DST, to the office where I had my meeting as I had no idea who was in charge of Northern Ireland in that agency. From that office they led me to the appropriate department, I told my story as fast as possible and we all left together for the Hilton as they needed me to identify the group. In the meantime I remembered that the thin and relatively tall guy with the Ulster accent was John Little, a person I had discussed with a BBC journalist when I lived in London. I could not tell however who were the others, only where they came from as they had marked accents.

    The group was arrested. I had to go back to DST to make a statement. Little was jailed at Paris Santé prison.

    Later I was informed that John Little, Samuel Quinn, and James King, all of Northern Ireland, were given a three-year suspended sentence and fined between $8,590 and $3.440 each. Obviously Little had made deal. Maybe he agreed to grass on the UDF..

    Douglas Bernhardt, the American, got a three-year suspended sentence and a fine of $17,200.
    The charges said the four men were arrested in 1989 at the Hilton Hotel in Paris for allegedly trying to sell a stolen (?) surface-to-air missile to South African diplomat Daniel Storm. Storm also was arrested but was not tried as he claimed diplomatic immunity.

    During the trial the court heard how Bernhardt, a Swiss-based arms dealer, acted as a liaison between the Northern Irish men and the South African State Armaments company, Armscor.

    The prosecution said officials at the South African Embassy in Paris promised a $100,000 down payment in exchange for weapons technology, in effect that of missiles stolen from a British army base in northern Ireland and from an arms factory in Belfast.

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    1. This is a excellent examle of the narrative of Ulster loylaists based on history, mythology and perceived identity as a people. I heard these and seimilar narratives duing the 70s and 80s.

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      1. I have also heard these narratives and can see how these supported the violence. The content of the video is an excellent example of how narrative of this nature fuels hatred and violence.

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