Shining a light on Kitson's disastrous Irish plan

Shining a light on Kitson's disastrous Irish plan

Kitson's Irish War by David Burke (Mercier Press, 2021)

Review: Kitson's Irish War: Mastermind Of The Dirty War In Ireland – David Burke (Mercier Press, 2021)

There will be those, especially within Derry, who will come to the conclusion that Burke hasn't told them what they already know about General Frank Kitson and the counter-insurgency plans that spiralled into the massacre of Bloody Sunday.

However, this book will serve as an important reference point for those who have yet to be told how the plans of one General culminated in one of the most shameful of chapters in British military history.

You only have to go on social media and type in “Soldier F” – one of the paratroopers involved at Bloody Sunday – to see how those across the Irish Sea viewed The Troubles.

A cursory glance shows, at best, ignorance of how the forces acting in their name shamefully conducted themselves on Derry's streets that day.

Which is why Burke's book is so important – more so for readers in Britain who have been deprived of the full picture given the low-level of importance of their own nation's role in Ireland that is given to history classes in schools across the water.

Burke describes the mindset that had been allowed to take root and fester within the British armed forces on foreign lands that they thought were 'theirs by right'.

The black-ops employed in Malaya, Aden and Kenya were those used by Kitson and his staff before they set foot in the north of Ireland.

Kitson believed the same counter-insurgency techniques could work here but only served, as Burke describes, in becoming an effective recruiter for the very enemy they were fighting – the IRA.

The build-up to Bloody Sunday is revealing and shocking at the same time. Reliable 'informers' such as the infamous Observer B turned out to be unreliable – sadly, such poor intelligence was believed.

Given recent events, Soldier F, is a name that's become synonymous with the Bloody Sunday massacre.

Burke reveals that Soldier F's day did not stop with the killings that took place that fateful afternoon as he later took part in the interrogations of those rounded-up that day, with allegations of rough treatment being dealt out by Soldier F towards those being questioned.

Kitson was transferred out of Ireland to another post not long after Bloody Sunday and has never been held accountable for his actions while here.

Burke's book exposes what those in Whitehall would prefer to keep quiet about Kitson and his staff's conduct in the north of Ireland.

While loud voices grow louder in Westminster's corridors trying to drown out any calls for British military accountability during The Troubles, Burke's book ensures that those in Derry and the north of Ireland who suffered from State violence, continue to be heard.

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