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Panorama Friday, 28 June, 2002, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
Your comments on A Licence to Murder
Your comments on .

Some of your questions were used in our

, which you can view from the website.

To read comments on previous programmes, please use the


Have your say

Sadly the notion that the British Army/Government could have orchestrated these murders and then covered the fact up for so long is easy to believe in this cynical age. What worries me is that I have heard no comment from the Government to either deny all or arrest the Army and Police officers involved. If these allegations are not proven to be wrong, or alternatively convictions made, then our democracy and credibility in the rest of the world are completely undermined.
Nigel Blake

I was impressed by the unbiased and impartial work of John Ware, at the risk of his own life, in uncovering the connivance of the army and RUC Special Branch with Loyalist paramilitaries in the murders of innocent Catholics like Pat Finucane. Keep up the good work.
Sean Flanagan

While the Catholic/Nationalist community has been painfully aware of the activities of the "security" forces here I can imagine many British people being shocked at these findings. The fact that Special Branch remains intact and many of its leading figures have been promoted in a supposedly new police service is more worrying. As is the fact that the UDA continues its campaign against Catholics apparently immune from arrest.

Certain elements in the security forces, loyalist thugs and republican thugs were guilty of dastardly and unforgivable crimes. Most of these criminals are now free and unless we bring them all to justice, it is a waste of time concentrating on one particular group. As someone who wants peace I think we should forget the past and protect our future. There are hundreds/thousands of relatives out there who should know who killed their loved ones, on all sides. Will we have a public enquiry for them all? Who is more important than anyone else? Let's stop this now and get on with peace for all the citizens of Ireland.

If you found this program interesting, but want to hear things from the opposite perspective, Paul Bruce's Nemesis File is worth a read.

Having digested the content now of both programmes and watched the forum, I am left with one overriding impression that the balance was not there. The BBC has focused too much on one side and has effectively just regurgitated Republican propaganda. Michael Finucane is obviously an intelligent and articulate man. His arguments, on the face of it, appear to be plausible, but he is far from objective. I think the BBC has done a disservice to the wider community by not challenging some of his more outrageous statements; John Ware seemed to go along with most of it, but his body language suggested to me that he too thought that some of the claims were more suited to a John Le Carre novel than a serious discussion about alleged state-sponsored terrorism. I believe the BBC has a duty now to monitor the situation and perhaps allow a more objective view to be put forward at some stage in the future.

Watched the program over the web. I can see why the army/police went this way but it was wrong. If it happened in such circumstances it doesn't take a leap for it to happen in normal circumstances. Regardless what the other gangsters did, they broke their own laws, systematically and by all accounts a lot of innocent people got killed. Sadly, I see this country embarking on the same course. It just sustains the hate.
San Diego, USA

Does it take a British television broadcast to open the eyes of millions? For hundreds of years the British Government has contributed to barbarism throughout the globe and today in the 21st century this pathetic little isle still thinks it can rip the hearts of millions of good Irish / British people. Since the gerrymandering of the NI elections in the 60's/70's to the discredited RUC and police force for the loyalist paramilitaries, 14 people in Derry were butchered in a civil rights march and over 30 years on, we still have to look for the truth.
Martyn Joseph Gallogly

The general feeling of people I have discussed this issue with, is that if this conflict was in a country such as the US, such collusion by the security forces would not only be tolerated but insisted upon. And, just as an aside, how can the US be so hypocritical by claiming it is "fighting terror", whilst providing financial backing to the IRA "freedom fighters" and numerous other terrorist organisations throughout the world?

Some people who have posted on this site seem to forget that there where innocent people killed in these state run murders. And to draw comparisons with the IRA makes YOU no better than them. Lets not forget that this has left children without fathers and mothers.
William Jenkinson

It's good to know the BBC haven't changed their spots. Britons investigating Britons for putting down the IRA is so typical of you. They say this is a war, well then accept these "people" as the casualties of war. My sympathies are with Lord Mountbatten, Ross Mcwirter, the victims of Warrington and every other IRA atrocity. It's good to see the BBC in their true colours (ie green and red).

Congratulations to John Ware on his investigative journalism and the courage he has shown in pursuing these investigations. I am dismayed that the MOD are still employing Kerr in China and that he has not been temporarily suspended even allowing for the fact that the official enquiry has still to report. (However there again given the track record of previous inquiries, I am perhaps not so surprised). This journalism, together with his investigation of the Omagh bombing, indicate that he is becoming the John Pilger of these islands and a refreshing presence where so many choose to ignore what has happened in NI. Will the establishment and institutional forces ever admit to the institutional collusion? Acknowledgement of these actions by the establishment forces is required before any healing can take place.
Maureen O'Sullivan

John Ware doesn't appear to have spoken with many of the actual FRU operators. However, he did meet and film terrorists. Also a lot of comments on this board reflect anger against the Security Forces - WHY? They never once bombed, shot or maimed anyone in Churches, pubs, shops or hotels. Some people have very selective memories. Just forget what you want and remember and speak out against all that you have hated for years.

As a Frenchman living in Belfast for the last five years, I consider myself as objective as one can be on these matters, and although I understand previous comments accusing the Panorama team of clearly choosing their side, I must congratulate John from a pure educational point of view. What was presented during these two excellent programmes can easily be related to stories that happen all around the world (what happened in Algeria under the French regime before independence is an example; more generally, what the French police nowadays call "bavures", or accidental mistakes, is another).

If politicians expect the public to have any confidence that they have some belief in truth and justice then this needs to be pursued urgently and those responsible be made accountable at all levels, starting from the top down. You can't murder your own citizens.

I've just been blown away by the second half of "Licence to Murder". Well done to John Ware and those at Panorama for your investigation, it's a brilliant piece of work. You seem to have come so close to the heart of this I can't help but wonder did you ever fear for your own safety? And yet, I'm not surprised that MI5 / the army acted in this way. For them to put an agent in place enabling the army to assassinate IRA members by proxy through loyalist gangs was a tactical masterstroke - no? That's how the military think and the Colonel was well rewarded. I was shocked, though, at the arrogance with which the police were stonewalled - and worse - the closer they dug at Mr Finucane's murder. The army must have been fairly rattled to start threatening the detective and his family. I applaud his bravery. To him it was just not right that a murder should go unpunished because the state was withholding information. And to the army it probably was not right that a civil police investigation was putting their very valuable asset, Mr Nelson, at risk. Soldiers are trained to kill their enemy, no surprises there. Mr Finucane unfortunately became a target because of his associations with the IRA and was devoured by the imperfect monster that MI5 created. It's ugly, especially if your father's killed before your eyes. If I was Michael Finucane I would want those in Whitehall brought down. But who would do the work in their place ? I wouldn't want their job in a million years.
Tony Puglia

How can anyone feel safe when forces of the state lie, cheat and murder their own people in the name of law and order? They threaten the people and the state. No-one is safe. When I think of all those thousands of people who fought and died in the last two world wars believing they were struggling for a better world where truth and justice prevailed, where honesty and justice, integrity and pride in doing the right thing was an abiding principle of behaviour - they have been badly let down by these cheats and those foolish people who can't tell right from wrong.
Brian May

Well done to the BBC for having the courage to tell the truth about collusion. I just wonder if John Ware will face the same legal harassment from the British Government as Sean McPhilemy did for his programme for Channel 4's Dispatches.

Myself and my wife were both shot and seriously injured on 8th August 1989 by loyalist paramilitaries - both innocent Catholics. We have watched this programme tonight and feel we have been part of the Brian Nelson murder campaign and don't know where to contact to try to get answers as to why someone wanted to murder myself and my wife. After 13 years we would be grateful if you could help us get in contact with someone to try and solve this trauma we have been going through.
Joseph Haughey

Well done John Ware - I wish you well. I don't know why it has taken so long for the truth to come out, but thanks to you for your years of work. In 1984 when John Stalker set up an inquiry into the killings of six men by the RUC he found himself being accused of improprieties because he was getting too near the truth. His life was made unbearable. I hope something can be done to bring justice to Northern Ireland.

Yes, the Stephens enquiry is a waste of taxpayers money. They never ask the right questions and don't want to know if you try to give them information that they don't ask for. There is some truth in the Programme but there is also a lot of fiction.

I never thought the day would come when I would say I am ashamed to be British.

Tim Jacobs
As an Englishman, I was brought up in the belief that the British Army's presence in Northern Ireland was primarily that of a peacekeeping one: filling a political vacuum and stopping Protestants and Catholics who were manifestly unable to live together from killing each other. Now I learn that the British Army and Special Branch actively colluded in the political assassination of Republicans. I think one of the most important questions the programme raises is the apparent autonomy with which the intelligence services have been allowed to operate seemingly independently of any political control, in a manner reminiscent of the CIA in its bad old days until Gerald Ford put a stop to political assassinations. It also raises the question of the composition of the RUC and Special Branch in Northern Ireland which should have been addressed many years before the Patten report. One cannot expect impartial policing from a force recruited almost exclusively from the Loyalist section of the Northern Ireland population. I am appalled that the British Establishment has colluded in the culture of thuggery it has the nerve to publicly condemn. I never thought the day would come when I would say I am ashamed to be British.
Tim Jacobs

I have just watched the final part of Panorama and I am left feeling uneasy/unhappy about the manner in which this extremely serious subject was treated. While watching the programme I found it impossible to separate fact from John Ware's "poetic licence". Rain on windscreens, strangely lit shots of mouths, hands, harrowing scenes of murder etc. When/how/where were these secret recordings filmed? Ken Barrett's recall of past conversations was amazing. Surely the people whose lives have been so tragically altered by these awful events deserve a more serious and objective perspective.
Sheelagh McCully

What an excellent programme. I felt sorry for all concerned, even the brutalised gunmen. However if all this was known -why all the government praise for the police and the security forces? I thought Mr Finucane's son was a credit to his family. I hope that he gains at least truth - if not justice - at the end of this sorry business.
Anne Mcshane

I am sorry to seem pessimistic but I can see no reason to feel otherwise. It is a lost cause.

I must admit that your show has opened my eyes and taught me a lot about the present situation in Northern Ireland. Being a young person coming from a strong nationalist community, my family has never had strong feelings on the present conflicts. My three uncles were shot dead 26 years ago and that is how long my family have been waiting for any sort of enquiry - we are still waiting. Your show has brought a new light on my views and have made me realise that there is no point wanting justice, because although you have found many horrifying truths, justice will never be served. The police service today is just as biased today as it was throughout the 70s and 80s. If they are what we rely on for law and order, I would say that it is no wonder this area is known as "bandit country". When men who brought pain and suffering to many families and communities by giving the "go-ahead" for murders in the 80s (and no doubt in the 70s also) were decorated by the Queen for their "good work" in Northern Ireland it shows us very clearly who the underdogs are in society. It enraged and disgusted me to watch your programme not simply because of the uncovering of the deeds themselves, but because of the fact that I know that with a police service like that (and let's not pretend the new one is any different) that my family and all others will never gain the truth. We know that someone knows the truth, but they are too biased to have the decency to let us know it. I am sorry to seem pessimistic but I can see no reason to feel otherwise. It is a lost cause.
South Armagh

In the light of your investigations do you now suspect that special branch were also connected to the Castlereagh break-in?
Anne Jordan

John Ware has done a great service to the Irish people and deserves our most Sincere thanks for these two wonderful programmes. He has taken his life in his hands and on more than one occasion. Well done John and keep up the good work - without you and the BBC there would still be a lot swept "under the carpet" here!!
Val W Stone
Wexford, Ireland

More pro-IRA propaganda from the BBC. I pay my licence fee with escalating hesitation every year. Have one of your programmes get the truth from Adams or McGuiness. Interview the families of the two soldiers brutally murdered live on BBC news. Let's get some perspective into your one-sided arguments.

Congratulations. I wish to send my heartiest congratulations to the BBC and to the wonderful Panorama team who compiled and presented the two-part programme on Northern Ireland and the Stevens Inquiry. Your tenacity of purpose, your skill and your professionalism in the pursuit of truth and justice is awe-inspiring. People like you make the world a safer place for all of us to live in. Keep up the work.
Phil Robert

Congratulations Panorama!! Finally the British people and others around the world will get to hear the other side of the story and one that the whole of the North already knows and has known for years. This is nothing new to them. The truth will out!! There is a book which is based on this particular subject, "The Committee". Unfortunately, you cannot buy it in the UK .... Hmmm, I wonder why?? You don't think they are trying to hide something from us you?

I am left wondering whether there is any connection between the facts unveiled in this programme and repeated street attacks I have suffered here on the British mainland over the years, where the police etc. seemed to go to some lengths not to prosecute the offenders when identified.
Richard Comaish

I do not condone members of Military Intelligence acting outside their chain of command. However Republican sympathisers now try to discredit the whole British Army. Difficult, but necessary acts, were undertaken by the SAS, and security services, in defence of the United Kingdom and to prevent atrocities by the IRA. It would have been unthinkable for them not to. I was in Germany when a young woman saw her British army husband, and three-month-old baby, brutally murdered by the IRA. If it is time to forgive and forget then why has this Panorama programme been shown at all?

I found the programme very disturbing and am astonished by some of the comments here. Once the army/RUC stepped over the line and worked hand in hand with loyalist terrorists they completely lost the moral high ground and were no better than terrorists themselves. I wonder if the RUC were working with the IRA to murder both loyalist terrorists and innocent Protestants, would those like Mike still want this brushed under the carpet - I very much doubt it!. It is obvious that many Protestants/Unionists saw the RUC as a Protestant police serving only them. I pray that the new PSNI will be more accountable and will uphold the law not step outside it. The Panorama team must be congratulated on yet another fine investigation.

As I see it, there are only two ways forward in Northern Ireland, namely, we can sweep the past under the carpet, draw a line in the sand, and move on (Belfast Agreement), or alternatively, we can have a South Africa style truth commission, where everyone who has been connected with violence in the past can be given the opportunity to confess and be forgiven. What is manifestly unfair, is to have a Belfast Agreement for the terrorists, but a truth commission for the British authorities.
Alex Birnie

I am English, but I could not watch the programmes without crying from pity and shame. The IRA stated that they wanted the British out at any cost. The British army, special branch and RUC were entrusted with keeping peace and defending the Irish people. All of them, not just those whose views agreed with their own. If it would not be patronisingly insulting, I would apologise, most humbly, to those we have bereaved. If the British are to come out of this with any scrap of honour, justice must be done - and be seen to be done by all.
Valerie Bates

Seeing this is the British Broadcasting Corporation I would like to see programmes exposing the atrocities committed by Republican terrorists against the British public and armed forces rather than scrutinising the work of those who try to keep us safe from these terrorists.
David Bell

It's entirely wrong to blame the British state as a whole for the actions of a small number within its midst

I don't doubt that much of what was reported in the two programmes is true. However, it's entirely wrong to blame the British state as a whole for the actions of a small number within its midst. It would also be pleasant to see a BBC investigation concerning IRA/Sinn Fein activities both past and ongoing but we can't upset our friends in Downing Street or threaten the precious "Peace Process" now can we?

To John from Boston. My eyes are unblinkered. The big difference between you and I is the fact that I live in the Province and you don't. Have you ever lived here or are your views typical of people drinking in Irish bars on St Pat's day? There has been a dirty war fought here for the last thirty years - ask the Provisional IRA. My message to you is simply this: ignore An phoblacht and read the real news, that is if you can stomach it.
East Antrim

A lot of people seem to be missing the point. The IRA is not a state organisation and is not operating on behalf of UK taxpayers. I have no reason to feel in any way responsible for their actions. These murders were set up by the British Army and the British intelligence services, in our name. The British State has always tried to justify its actions in Ireland by saying it is upholding law and order and contrasting this to the lawlessness of the paramilitaries. Difficult to justify that claim in the face of overwhelming evidence from their own agents that they have planned, colluded with and then systematically covered up any number of murders. It is particularly chilling when they collude to murder solicitors (remember also Rosemary Nelson) whose only crime is to have the temerity to provide legal representation to nationalists, which in the twisted minds of some so-called loyalists seems to equate with membership of the IRA. Congratulations Panorama!
Gerard Madill

What other country, government or security forces would have in the main operated for 30 years with their hands tied behind their backs while republican terrorists where murdering the innocents? When are we to see a Panorama investigation into the respectable face of Sinn Fein whose prominent officials and representatives are known murders or would it now be better to forget all misdeeds given Blair's clean sheet approach? As a licence payer could I ask how much did John Ware's trip to China cost when no meeting had been arranged with Kerr and approximately 30 seconds of air time resulted from the wasted journey.

May I register my anger at another BBC portrayal of what has been described as the dirty war. So pro-nationalist as to be considered treason. After many years of murder our security services are entitled to use whatever means they deem necessary to rid our country of these cowards. They complain of dirty war tactics yet wish to hide within the shadows, casting a frightening fear into the decent folk forced to live under their control. If all is to be fair and above board then let them officially declare war on our country, wear the uniform of their army and fight the clean fight. Until that day we should reserve the right to use any means to rid our country of this evil. Panorama's budget would be better spent giving us the true story of IRA connections with Sinn Fein, in particular Adams and McGuiness. What about the Columbian three or do your respected journalists forget, conveniently, as they do not fit with their own particular political agenda. After Sept 11 the spotlight should be focussed on US reluctance to deal with the American organisations who raise millions for the terrorists. Does Northern Irish terrorism not count or is it to much of a hot potato for the President to handle? Is it because of the Kennedys and the power they hold. Remember many innocent Catholics are forced to live with the fear of the IRA. Not all Catholics are nationalists and they deserve special recognition for the daily pressures they find themselves under. DISGUSTED AT THE WASTE OF MY LICENCE FEE. YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELVES.
Colin Scott

I thought that your programme has finally got to the real problem here in N.Ireland. If you feel like investigating I think there is much more. Through all the bigotry and hatred we will get to the truth about these people. What they have done is despicable. It is pretty obvious now why it is taking so long to get peace in our country. How can a Catholic join a police force that has been responsible for so many murders of innocent people? The peace process has been brilliant but the whole world must know the truth about what these people actually are dressed up in uniform.

Once again the BBC shows its pro-IRA bias. Not just by making this programme, but by publishing so many anti-British comments. But then you won't publish this comment will you? Nor will you make a documentary investigating links between the Irish security forces and the IRA.

I thought that the security forces were supposed to abide by the law at all times. Evidently, they haven't been doing this, so how can they be trusted at all? Do things like this still go on? By the way, I don't think that the BBC were particularly biased, the real issue under investigation was whether the security forces were behind these attacks and murders.

A truly outstanding programme. I never thought I'd see the day when this long-running dirty war was exposed for what it is. Naturally, there will be those who want to continue to bury their heads in the sand. Not if the true nature of the Crown forces' involvement in murder from Bloody Sunday to date get to the light - it will be a job well done!! Looking forward to Sunday's Panorama.
Frank O'Brien

I just wanted to congratulate John Ware and the rest of the Panorama team on an excellent programme. It illuminated a murky period of our history, when certain sections of the security forces acted outside of the rule of law and brought it to a peak time audience. Bring back Panorama at this time every week.
Eamon Walsh

I believe part of our conflict resolution is dealing with painful truths of the past. War, as we've seen, is a terrible thing and I hope programmes such as this will encourage the development of a "Truth Commission" in Northern Ireland. The sooner we learn the truth of our past, the sooner we can move on into the future.
Atlanta ( formerly Portadown )

I think that it only goes to show once again that you cannot believe anything you hear about in the news and to some extent this programme is probably no different - someone, somewhere is being manipulated to put this out at a politically sensitive time here in N.I. where the Republican movement needs to continue pushing propaganda out - this is a wonderful help to them. Smart move guys. Don't get me wrong. I'm behind the thrust of the investigation, just not the timing of the programme!!

Everyone in Ireland knows what the RUC is. The British army is and was never any better.
Raymond Cooke

"My enemy's enemy is my friend" may be a common plank of US foreign policy but it does have its problems. Remember when Mr Bin Laden was America's friend fighting the Russians in Afghanistan? A more ethical approach would perhaps be preferable.

We must step back and allow lawyers do their professional job on behalf of their clients without assuming that they are necessarily "in league" with their clients.

Peter McManus
Congratulations to Panorama - I look forward to the second part. As a husband and father I had previously read with horror the description of Pat Finucane's murder in front of his family in his kitchen. It is also a timely reminder to all civil servants to remember the role of the advocate or lawyer - I have seen the same confusion here in Australia where the lawyers representing someone who is opposing the bureaucracy becomes "the enemy". We must step back and allow lawyers do their professional job on behalf of their clients without assuming that they are necessarily "in league" with their clients.
Peter McManus
Canberra, Australia

I believe that the leftist BBC is once again showing its true colours. We were at war with the PIRA, and not through choice. They declared war on us. The army's main role is to defend the state and its people and that's exactly what it did and although sometimes innocent people get hurt then that's the price the Provisionals have to pay. I'm sorry for what happened to Michael and his family but I think maybe we should have seen this programme in 5 or 10 years time when a degree of stability might be in place in Northern Ireland but in the present climate, especially after the recent violence in the Short Strand, I think it was unwise to stoke the flames.
Derek Archibald

If this reporting is accurate, then story is incredible. How can the MOD get away with this? Are they above the rule of law? It would appear that this is the case, as nobody has yet been prosecuted.
Mr C Lavictoire

The Lord is truthful: he can be trusted. He loves justice and fairness. Psalm 33:4-5
Give the Catholics justice and fairness.
John Michael

My thoughts go out to the Finucane family and indeed, all those who have lost loved ones over the years. The programme has generated the expected shock/horror response from main-land Britain (I note the comments from London, Manchester etc). There is no doubt that members of the security forces colluded with loyalist terrorists on a number of occasions in response to increasing IRA barbarity. There is, however, a greater untold story of the troubles: that of the level of SF/IRA-Garda collusion in border areas, particularly South Armagh. I would ask everyone on the mainland to remember that there are two sides to every story in this part of the UK, contrary to what the SF propaganda machine would have you believe. Expect a lot of the usual anti-British rhetoric in the coming months.

No real surprises in the programme. Sinn Fein were right, the British government used FRU and Special Branch to run loyalist groups as 'death squads' against republicans and the wider nationalist community. But the Stevens Inquiry has failed to get any evidence to charge those who had Pat Finucane killed. Brian Nelson had charges dropped, Ken Barrett got a free pass from Special Branch, FRU all seem to be 'friendly witnesses' to the extent that 'Martin Ingram' could predict in The Irish News in Dec 2000 that Stevens would conclude: "institutionalised collusion primarily in the Belfast region...although not officially sanctioned, had the conscious acquiescence of RUC officers.". The only man put on trial was William Stobie, on a trumped up 'confession' so he was acquitted and then killed by the same 'death squads' that Stevens was supposed to have cleaned up. (Never mind the prime movers behind the policy in government.) Neither Stevens, nor Orde would have their jobs in the Met and PSNI now if they weren't prepared to cobble together the best defence possible for Britain as the evidence of the policy leaked out. Hence, "institutionalised collusion" and last week's leaks to the The Guardian where Stevens has retreated to say it merely "bordered" on "institutionalised collusion". Why not just admit that the Special Branch and British Army used loyalist 'death squads', or would that be state-sponsored terrorism?

Was an interesting insight and confirms my suspicions of the army, after the brutal murder of my uncle Cpl. Wood. As a family we are still waiting to hear the truth. Panorama has explored and named avenues that I hope one day will confirm truth and justice.
S. East

I found the evidence in last nights programme extremely distressing. That the army and police force of a European country not only collude with terrorists, but actively target and encourage the murder of innocent civilians, is indefensible. It makes the term "state terrorism" seem feeble. The attempts to cover up the original Metropolitan Police inquiry by such drastic means, as were displayed, show a total disregard for the rule of law. One has heard Sinn Fein's accusations of collusion for years. Could one have imagined both the extent and depth of that collusion? I look forward to Sunday's sequel. Compliments to the Panorama team for another excellent documentary.

Well done John Ware, the Panorama crew, the Stevens enquiry team and of course the Finucane, Reid and other families involved. While I have some reservation about programmes like this possibly introducing the possibility of people claiming prejudice in a trial (as in trials for Omagh), I am heartened by the frank and straight manner in how this programme was presented. I look forward to more and look forward to a successful "closure" for want of a better word for everyone who lives here, most of all the families involved. This e-mail forum is not the place for bashing of the Police/Army/Sinn Fein etc. It cannot be denied that wrongdoing has taken place and we cannot have one inquiry because other events have taken place that need investigating. Hopefully this is the start of presenting the past as it has happened and dealing with it accordingly. Please think before posting, and when doing so, have a bit of respect.

What a great idea for a feature film! A group of "officer elites" who, although acting outside of the farce that is the legal system, are answerable only to the greater good of the British people. They, and they only, have the courage to combat the racist/fascist extremist bandits and terrorists as represented by IRA/Sinn Fein. They achieve notable successes in the elimination of IRA men, lawyers and sympathisers.

I'm glad to see that the BBC has told the truth about the dirty work of the British army and may justice be DONE!!

The authors of some of the comments seem to miss the whole point. Government forces, police and army, colluded and directed terrorists to murder innocent and guilty people. The same government has gone to war against countries for the very same reason. I think the British government needs to be investigated and sanctions put in place till it agrees to a proper investigation. Let's not forget Britain has got Zimbabwe suspended from the Commonwealth on similar human rights abuses. Shouldn't Britain be excluded now?

Well done, excellent programme. The issue being exposed here is that the security forces were operating wildly outside the law. One wonders whose law they were following? It's only through understanding what went on less than 20 years ago that we can prevent it from happening again.
John Gleeson

Last night's programme was a confirmation rather than a revelation to me

Last night's programme was a confirmation rather than a revelation to me. It is past time for a full public inquiry. I have read the other comments and, as with the Bloody Sunday inquiry, some are saying "why keep looking at the police and army, look at what the PIRA were doing at the time", not even taking on board the fact that their comparison is being made between the "legitimate" power of the army/police and that of an "illegal" organisation. And here lies the crux of the problem: the army is a part of the apparatus of the state - so is the British government guilty of murdering its own citizens? The answer has to be a resounding YES. This is what the public inquiry needs to explore.

I would imagine that a lot of people would, like me, be frightened to say what they really think about these despicable actions.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. We will wait for as long as it takes for the truth. I don't expect justice, just the truth!

The British government is being hypocritical by barring ex-paramilitaries from the new police service whilst protecting the position of existing officers who were responsible for the murderous deeds described in last night's programme. However, Republicans also face charges of hypocrisy if they demand prosecution of army and Special Branch agents for criminal activity in the 80s and 90s, whilst calling for an "amnesty" for IRA actions committed during the same period.
Ian Rushforth

I see that Ian and Stephen's comments have once again shown the true colours of Protestantism - that they know nothing about what has been going on in our country for many years now. They say that these men were "brave". Ha, how brave is it to get a name for someone and go out and shoot him when there is no police about the streets. Very brave that is!! The fact is that Catholics have had to endure state killings not just for 30 years but over the last 80 years. The only reason this happens is due to the hatred that most Protestants have for Catholics as most of these have been innocent and not IRA volunteers. Then you have all these loyalists coming on TV saying they took the war to Republicans and all this, when realistically all they were doing was getting a few names off Special Branch, then going out and shooting them. It makes you feel sick what these men are capable. Well done to Panorama, a British programme that uncovers the truth against its own government.

I am a Unionist and to be honest I was disgusted to see this documentary last night. I am ashamed of my government and the security forces that are supposed to protect innocent people like me. As a British person I have huge mistrust concerning the Nationalist community. It's natural for me to feel this way. But, I really do not trust our Military services now. If we are to move on from this we need to be open and honest about all aspects of this investigation.

I'm not surprised by this, but I am surprised that the BBC has not investigated the 3,000 murdered by the IRA! what about the RUC officers, the army, the children? The IRA gave no quarter so why should they and anyone who worked with them expect any in return?

The programme showed that the British army was using UK taxpayers' money to murder their own citizens. One can see why Margaret Thatcher supports Pinochet.

I could not see the point of the programme. Another one-sided "documentary" about the troubles, siding with the terrorists. I can only assume that BBC programme makers are concerned that they will be killed by their poor innocent and misunderstood PIRA if they made any programmes showing their murderous activities.

I hope in years to come the real truth of this matter will become apparent; having watched the programme and noted the obvious response to it, it seems to me that you the BBC, have taken part in a gross misrepresentation of the facts. The main criteria of a lot of so called investigative journalism in the current era seems to be 'never let the truth get in the way of a good story' The way in which the programme was 'trailed' made me fearful of this being another example, watching it unfortunately confirmed those fears. If indeed John Ware has spent 13 years researching material for the programme, he has in my view, somehow lost the plot along the way. It looked more like a Lynda La Plante drama than a serious documentary.

As for the cost, you cannot place a price on justice

To those who have advocated that Pat Finucane's murder should be swept under the rug, I would like to remind you that what the State (allegedly) did to one person/group yesterday, it may do to you tomorrow. It is in everybody's best interests that there is a proper independent inquiry. If there was no wrongdoing, then that will come out in the inquiry. As for the cost, you cannot place a price on justice. I have enormous admiration for the dignity and patience of the Finucane family.

Anyone who doesn't know that this has been going on for 30 years is either blind or stupid. What is most offensive is to hear British politicians and media (who are responsible) lecture the Irish on "violence". Where are the journalists questioning Blair, Major and the rest, asking them to condemn the British Army and the RUC (renamed PSNI)?
Pat O Callaghan
San Diego, Ca

My family has always had a strong military tradition but I am ashamed to have ever been in the British army. I can understand the reasons for assassinations of leading terrorists but not the wanton murder of innocent civilians, not to mention the many families who have had their lives ruined and the mental scars the children have. Giving these death squads a free reign is utterly diabolical. If I had known then what I know now I would never have joined up.

Immense effort at digging up the damaging allegations. Once again you are our eyes and ears.
Michael Moore

Looking forward to the 2nd part of this excellent factual documentary. Would also like to say how well spoken Michael was, in what must have been an emotional interview.

It's amazing when the truth is told that the whistle blower is accused of working on a Republican agenda. Panorama recently investigated the Omagh bombing so obviously is not working with a Republican agenda. The Panorama crew has bravely told the truth on both occasions so Mike from East Antrim, you need to open both eyes and your mind and face the facts. The RUC was as bigoted and evil as any paramilitary group.

"My enemy's enemy is my friend" - the foreign policy of the USA. If it's good enough for them, then it's good enough for Northern Ireland. Anyone who doubts that this happens the whole world over is seriously deluding themselves.

Great reporting, can't wait till Sunday. History will out.
G O' Brien

Servants of the state who commit acts of violence and terror against their own civilians are contemptible beyond words. The subsequent attempts to prevent a GOVERNMENT inquiry into those events should be a warning to every British citizen. The acts of the FRU have undermined democracy in your country. Only a full disclosure to those events, and prosecutions if possible, will restore confidence. There is no dirtier crime than the murder of a lawyer by a police force.

Shouldn't we be concentrating on building a better future rather than insisting on debating the past?

I can't help wondering at what (human) cost tonight's programme's been made. Recent history has shown that the situation is bad enough at this time of year. Was a concerted effort made to broadcast at a time when feelings traditionally begin to run high(er) across the country? I fear that the programme will serve little purpose other than to inflame, particularly when it covers ground that's already been well-trodden since the 70s. Even if the government were to admit that there was evidence of there being "rogues" within the security forces, would anyone bet their mortgage on someone being held accountable for it? I wouldn't. Also, the programme seemed to imply (to me at least) that the security forces as a whole cannot be trusted. Is this fair bearing in mind that morale's low enough for those serving already? Shouldn't we be concentrating on building a better future rather than insisting on debating the past?

Once again the BBC has done all in its power to discredit the government, the British army and the then RUC. Not so long ago this would have been deemed as a treasonable action. Why do they insist on blackening the name of the RUC and the soldiers involved. Regrettably a number of innocent Catholics were killed by Nelson's actions but many lives have probably been saved due to some of his more accurate identifications. How any British police officer can strive to implicate members of the British army in a dirty tricks campaign against a terrorist organisation is a disgrace.
Martin Renolds

Will Ken Barrett and the rest of his murder gang be brought to justice? God Bless you Michael and your family.
Jonathan Murtagh

Another fine documentary from the Panorama team. I have long believed there to be collusion on a wide scale with so-called loyalist terrorists and the RUC. They were little more than a Protestant militia. Keep up the good work.

Having served for three years in Northern Ireland, 1969-1971, I find it sick that the army and the RUC use a terrorist group to kill so-called IRA targets. Some political figure must have known what was going on.

Stephen Cole - you sound very unbiased yourself. The Catholics of Northern Ireland have put up with so much suffering at the hands of the British, and those they brought into our country. We didn't ask for it.
Tom McDaid

Congratulations to the BBC Panorama team on pursuing the truth of this deplorable business which many in N. Ireland and Whitehall would prefer to sweep under the rug.
Frank Kennedy
Detroit, USA

Britain has moved on and Ireland has moved on, the Unionist-security terrorists have helped to destroy the very state which they wanted to preserve.

There should be no equivalence between the IRA and the British Security forces. This collusion is much, much worse than any IRA actions. Sections of Northern Irish Unionism, aided by misguided idiots, have once again subverted the state to which they owe allegiance. Britain has moved on and Ireland has moved on, the Unionist-security terrorists have helped to destroy the very state which they wanted to preserve. Shame on them, we deserve better

When will you do a programme about all the murders organised by Adams and McGuiness? They are now in power. I guess you have to be an IRA propagandist to get a job at the BBC now. I am glad that we had men who had the guts to stand against these Stalinist thugs who are Sinn Fein IRA. You are so one-sided you should be ashamed of yourself.
Stephen Cole

All I can say is well done to Panorama - but it is only confirming what we as Catholics knew in our heart of hearts: that the RUC were 100% behind the murder of Pat Finucane. I would like to wish Pat's family all the best for the future.
Tom Barrett

In the light of the Good Friday agreement, with a public perception that we are all friends now and the perpetrators of terrible atrocities on both sides are released from prison early, what is the point in investigating the death of Pat Finucane? Nothing will be achieved if - the likely result - no-one is charged for the crime. Or if someone is ever brought to trial they will not be convicted, or if found guilty they will say they are sorry, and be released immediately. Surely it would be better to concentrate valuable police resources on tracking down, convicting and imprisoning the loyalist and republican instigators of the current riots in Belfast and the IRA men training terrorists abroad. They are the real problem and threat to the ever shakier accord.

Once again we witness the BBC conducting Trial by Television. For well over thirty years we have been subjected to a one-sided version of events relating to Northern Ireland. The BBC is very definitely working to its own agenda, and that being a Republican one. I find it to be totally one-sided and best described as gutter journalism. You have lost all sense of fair play and I consider your views questionable to put it mildly.
East Antrim

At last, someone tells the truth.

In the late 70s I witnessed two murders in six days by the Shankill butchers. I could have IDd these guys. I was interviewed by Special Branch. They could not have cared less. I went to North Queen Street station - they basically told me to get lost. Right away I began to get phone calls letting me know they knew who I was and I was only 18. What was I going to do? I didn't want to be shot. I always think about how many people could have been saved...
Kieran O'Connor

Like the Bloody Sunday inquiry this new investigation will be a waste of taxpayers' money.

This programme confirms what every NI Catholic already knew: that loyalist paramilitaries and security forces were always one and the same. Let's hear David Trimble take the same line with the UK government that he has with Sinn Fein.

Why do people think this sort of thing doesn't happen in the UK, but only places like South Africa or Turkey? It's common practice everywhere, except where people are ignorant!
Jack Basharan

Panorama: A Licence to Murder

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