Brutal and unaccountable SAS have no place in light entertainment

The review of Channel 4’s new television programme SAS Who Dares Wins which was carried on your website on Wednesday, October 19, appears to be completely oblivious to the fact that this is a so-called “game show” based around a regiment of the British army that is responsible for the deaths of Irish citizens.

Brutal and unaccountable SAS have no place in light entertainment

I chose not to watch the programme because I believe the premise behind it is simple, old-fashioned propaganda. It seeks to dull in the viewers’ minds the reason and purpose for the existence of the SAS in the first instance. This is a regiment of the British Army who work in close combat, highly secret operations and who use the cloak of national security to avoid accountability when their actions are outside of the law. They are trained killers who do not take prisoners. They are not personal trainers seeking to assist contestants in achieving their peak fitness.

Anyone who thinks that this programme is about developing skills in physical and mental endurance has completely fallen for the propaganda that it is. There is no way this programme was allowed to be made without the endorsement of the British Ministry of Defence, or at very least its tacit agreement. In showcasing the physical and mental endurance skills of their covert soldiers, they reinforce a national pride in “our boys” and the elite nature of the SAS regiment.

That may be acceptable for a British audience, but I don’t find it acceptable for an Irish one.

That the Irish Examiner’s review of the first episode starts out by introducing us to “…the chief instructor Ant, a former sniper who seemed like a thoroughly nice chap…” and then includes screen grabs from various twitter accounts showing us the mostly female perceptions of Ant. And there you have it, propaganda win number one – the handsome spy in the mould of James Bond, trained to go out there and kill the baddies. The review goes on to tell us about members of the group being taken out with bags over their heads to undergo psychological grilling. No mention in The Irish Examiner of the Hooded Men, 14 Irish citizens subjected to days of deep interrogation techniques by British soldiers and whose case was taken – and won – to the European Court of Human Rights by the Irish government. That case is now live again because there is significant evidence pointing to the British government having concealed evidence during the original hearings. Nine of those Irish men are still alive. Can you imagine their response, the -traumatising effect such a show and casual acceptance of it as entertainment might provoke?

Your review ends with “We’ll be back for more next week.” That was true of the SAS in Ireland. Their involvement began in 1969 and stretched right throughout the conflict.

Not only were they responsible for directly killing dozens of Irish citizens, but they colluded in the murders of many more, including The Miami Showband and the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1974. Father Raymond Murray’s book The SAS in Ireland by Mercier Press is an excellent source of information on the regiment’s brutal and bloody history in our country.

Thirty years on, the Stalker/Sampson investigations into covert military operations including those of the SAS are still secret and still impact on the ability to achieve peace in the North.

Let us not buy into the propaganda exercise and forget the true impact of the SAS and their secret and dirty war on Irish people. They are not role models for Ireland and the Irish people.

We don’t need to look across the sea for heroism. Just look at the bravery of our Defence Forces on peacekeeping duty in the Golan Heights, our Naval Service on board the LE Niamh saving thousands of refugees in the Mediterranean. That’s the sort of military actions we ought to take pride in.

Patricia MacBride


Co Derry

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