August 6th, 1986: From the archives


In the late 1980s the IRA killed a number of workmen and employees of suppliers to the security forces in the North, drawing widespread criticism upon itself for extending the conflict. It eventually issued a statement defining those whom it considered to be “legitimate targets”. – JOE JOYCE

THE IRA, whose campaign and warnings to contractors and civilian employees at security force bases have been widely condemned over the past fortnight, said that it was issuing the statement “to clarify our position once and for all” about who would be “regarded as legitimate targets regarding the administration, maintenance and building of British army, UDR, and RUC barracks and all military installations”.

The statement went on: “As from today, all who we mention should take this warning very seriously as we are not prepared to allow these oppressive institutions to function unchallenged. They are part of the war machine and those who assist in any way will be treated as part of that war machine and therefore must expect to suffer the consequences.”

After warning two named firms, the statement went on: “The same applies to the following who are engaged in maintaining British army, UDR and RUC barracks and all military installations: British Telecom and Standard Telephones, who are responsible for installing and maintaining machines such as computers for gathering information and decoding machines. They have also facilitated both British Intelligence and RUC Special Branch in tapping phones throughout the Six Counties.

“Those in the civil service, fuel contractors, caterers and food contractors (this includes those who tender for bread and milk contracts etc), transport, ie the shipping companies and the bus companies who ferry British soldiers and UDR men back and forth from Britain to the occupied Six Counties, cleaning contractors, those who supply and maintain vending machines and anyone else who takes on Ministry of Defence and/or NIO contracts in these installations.

“Trade unions should recognise the dangers that their members face by being employed in military installations and should advise their members to seek alternative sites of employment.

“Those who continue to refuse to take heed of this warning are in effect collaborating with our enemies and shall be treated as our enemies.”

Mr [Terry] Carlin said that the statement’s reference to people finding alternative work was “a sick joke”. Had they not noticed there were 130,000 unemployed?

Was the IRA threat also to include telephonists who receive 999 calls from the Provisionals asking them to pass on their bomb warning, he asked.

The ICTU, at its annual conference, had condemned intimidation and violence and it would stand by that rather than responding to threats “to tell us to tell members what to do”.