Jean McConville’s Hastings Street ID Parade Was A Tried British Tactic

The photograph above is taken from The Daily Express during the so-called ‘Aden emergency’ of July-November 1967, when British troops came under sustained attack from armed elements of the Front for the Liberation of South Yemen (FLOSSY).

The assault, inspired by Nasser’s Arab Nationalist movement in Egypt, eventually led to the withdrawal of British forces from that part of the Arab world and was a key way-point in the post-war decline of the British empire.

The importance of the photograph is that it shows British troops using a tactic which three or four years later they would employ in Belfast against the IRA in an effort to identify militants.

The three Arabs in the photo are hooded, presumably to reduce any possibility of being recognised, and behind a cloth screen they are being asked to identify people who took part in an armed attack which killed a British soldier the day before.

A similar practice was commonplace in Belfast in the early days of the Troubles when intelligence on the IRA was scarce and unreliable, and military commanders had only scant information on the identity of IRA activists.

A variant of this ploy was, according to Dolours Price, the fatal mistake which led to the identification of Jean McConville as a spy only days, apparently, after the late Brendan Hughes had let her go on the understanding she would not return to her old ways.

According to Price, a blanket – with peepholes – placed between her and IRA suspects as they were allegedly paraded in front of her in Hastings Street Military/RUC barracks, failed to cover her lower legs and she was recognised by virtue of her distinctive house slippers.

10 responses to “Jean McConville’s Hastings Street ID Parade Was A Tried British Tactic

  1. this is the first time i have heard this story about Mrs McConville, the transmitter theory was discredited, so let’s try another, let’s face it, she was murdered because she was a protestant by a sectarian terrorist organisation who have never accepted responsibilty or apologised for any of their actions, many of them took the queen’s shilling during their PIRA days & continue to do so post 1992.

    one wonders if Dolores was a british agent as she purports to know a lot of the workings of the British Security forces

  2. The most common and frequently used method whereby informers would directly identify suspects was simple photography i.e informers are shown photos of suspects. Another common method was to simply detain or ‘lift’ a group of suspects and have them walk past what they thought was just another British Army pig parked in the base or police station. Inside would be the informer looking out of one of the side slots.

    Not unless the case was something big like a supergrass case would the informer EVER be seen in front of the suspect in the company of their handler.

    • And, according to the account given by Dolours Price, that was the case with Jean McConville. She was hidden from those paraded in front of her, except she was not hidden well enough, at least according to DP’s version of events.
      Incidentally when I write on this blog, I do so under my real name. Everyone knows that. You use a pseudonym, and a fairly ridiculous one at that. Why don’t you use your real name?

  3. As I mentioned in another post there are many narratives to this story. I keep an open mind to them all. However, the one which I have the most doubt about is anything coming from the Provisionals themselves. Since they lied for over 30 years about any involvement in this murder I take anything that say about with a huge pinch of salt. Guess what, they may have lied to you. Even the revisionist take on Brendan Hugh’s nickname pushes credibility to the limit. ‘The Dark’, my arse. I guess Gerry’s prison pen name is now ‘The Brown’ then?

    As for my pseudonym, I guess you are not a big fan of the Mod revival then?

    • you really should do research before you comment, although i know that would involve actually reading stuff and that might be a bit of a challenge. BH was called ‘the Dark’ because of his swarthy features. Adams did use the word ‘Brownie’ as a pseudonym for his columns in Republican News. Again if you had read widely enough you would know what the origin of that was…..and actually you don’t have an open mind on all the versions of the story. you have your own theory and that is the one you believe because it is closes to your politics….this exchange is now ended.

  4. Ed, you and I know both that Bendan Hughes real nickname was ‘Darkie’ for the very reasons you have stated. I merely pointed out the Provo’s have now carried out a bit of historical revisionism and renamed him ‘The Dark’. Much more PC.

    Your blog is superbt as are you books, but you don’t have come across as a grumpy git with those who question your theories.

  5. Precisely the same tactics were used in both Aden (remember ‘Mad Mitch?’) and in Cyprus against EOKA. In fact the parallels with Cyprus are really extraordinary.

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