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poor suckers on the ground who get the feeling that some of the nastier are kept in power by the authorities from expediency. Better the devil you know, etc. This makes life on the street all the more difficult.
    Eventually you lose track of all the secret squirrels lurking around trying to pass themselves off as part of the community. Cowboys in civilian clothes, as if the local community don't know that someone has been inserted in their midst. They are purely diversionary, but I wonder if they know that? With the number of Irish in the Army who actually live in these areas, it is j ust not possible to use regular troops in infiltration roles without th e locals knowing about it. Christ, it's so easy to spot a squaddy even with long hair and dirty jeans.
    It doesn't take long to tire of the banter and we come to the real reason for the visit to the club. Some of the local lads have recently taken it upon themselves to spark a few incidents of bottle-throwing, crashing V.C.P.s and other sundry silliness, so before it gets out of hand we try and enlist the aid of the U.D.A.
    "Sammy, there have been a few nasties in this area over the past week or two. Do you know anything about it?"
    "Really Lieutenant? Well, I didn't know that now. I'll just have to take your word for it."
    "Well, perhaps the word might go out that we don't appreciate the invitation to have a free-for-all. You know what that leads to?"
    "Well now Lieutenant, I really don't know what I can do about it. I'll see if I can talk to some of the parents."
    "Thank you, Sammy, we appreciate it."
    The word will go out swiftly, the offenders found and either the proverbial kneecap job or just a plain beating. The clubs don't particularly want to be raided at this moment as business is going well, especially on the supplies of stolen booze. Profits are high and the living for the local "godfathers" is good. Policing by proxy.
    When it suits us we'll raid the clubs; they know this but the longer they can be kept open the better the nest-egg at the end of the day. The clubs. Some legal with licences to serve alcoholic drinks, a majority illegal. The illegal ones run by the U.V.F. and its fringe groups.
    The clubs. Where plots are hatched to drive the Catholics out of Northern Ireland. In the Ardoyne they exist to bolster the cause of the I.R.A.
    The clubs. Breeding ground for discontent, anarchy and bloodshed. The clubs, the clubs, always the clubs.
    Private thoughts compartmentalised. Private emotions suppressed. Hearts and minds. Don't forget what you're doing.
    "No really, it's a six-foot white rabbit. " Paul, straight-faced with a captive audience, who are now looking visibly scared. "What do you mean, you fuckin' can't see him?" At first they laugh.
    "What the fuck are you laughing at? I don't see anything funny. "
    The smiles die away and an unease spreads through the place. Well, would you laugh at a potential nut with a rifle? The lads are enjoying the joke hugely. Light relief in the interminable round of forced smiles and charm.
    Charm! How do you charm a spitting cobra?
     
    Back at Leopold Street, complaints are beginning to drift through about intimidation to women in the area.
    "He swore at me and made fun of my Michael."
    "They came into my house and tried to rape me."
    What time, what day, what did he look like. Tense in case they can link in a time that my patrol was in the area. Most times they get it wrong, their sense of timing no good. The local priest is the one that usually comes with the tales. Show him a copy of the log and send him away satisfied.
    Talking to the priest is the most disliked chore in the base. He's old, bigoted and rambles for hours about how good the people are.
    "Wonderful people, the Irish. Warm, generous to a fault." Duck as another salvo of bricks, bottles and petrol bombs comes hurtling over the roof-tops.
    "Kind, considerate, family-loving people."
    Watch the middle-aged housewife impassively. "Youse fucking bastards. I hope

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