Deliberately stoking fears of the ultimate evil in Northern Ireland in the 70s

Sometimes, there really is a government conspiracy. Agents play on the fears and superstitions of the targeted population to gain an advantage. A new study claims that British intelligence officers created a Satanic Panic in Northern Ireland war zones in the 70s.

Satanic panic: how British agents stoked supernatural fears in Troubles | UK news | The Guardian.

British military intelligence agents in Northern Ireland used fears about demonic possessions, black masses and witchcraft as part of a psychological war against emerging armed groups in the Troubles in the 1970s, a study says.

Prof Richard Jenkins, from Sheffield University, spoke to military intelligence officers, including the head of the army’s “black operations” in Northern Ireland, Captain Colin Wallace.

Wallace told Jenkins that they deliberately stoked up a satanic panic from 1972 to 1974, even placing black candles and upside-down crucifixes in derelict buildings in some of Belfast’s war zones.

Then, army press officers leaked stories to newspapers about black masses and satanic rituals taking place from republican Ardoyne in north Belfast to the loyalist-dominated east of the city.

Jenkins has a new book out called Black Magic and Bogeymen: Fear, Rumour and Popular Belief in the North of Ireland 1972-74. In it, he claims the paranoia spun off of popular films like The Exorcist and was affected by the fear of the church to claims of demonic influence. The tales enhanced the idea that human life was not valued. It was also useful for keeping kids in at night and clear of buildings used by military and police.

Loyalist paramilitary groups were already carrying out ritualistic-style torture killings of Catholics and political opponents at the time.

Jenkins writes that military intelligence sought to create a “subtle” link in the public’s minds between these true-to-life horrors of the Troubles and something more supernaturally evil as part of its propaganda campaign.

In the U.S., the Satanic Panic bore down on child care centers and neighborhood fears of Satanic worshippers abusing children and animals. There is no evidence that there was a widespread surge in devil worship or such crimes and many claimed cases of it have been shown to be erroneous, bolstered by a witch-hunt mentality. Again, religious figures fanned the fear of this old-time evil, and they STILL do today.

  4 comments for “Deliberately stoking fears of the ultimate evil in Northern Ireland in the 70s

  1. Paul Robinson
    October 10, 2014 at 1:58 PM

    I was there and lived through it and this story is possibly true about the attempted campaign, but widespread satanic panic? Mon derriere. Never read much more than bylines about anything about devil worship, occult, or supernatural (as it was in my distant youth), in any papers and was avid reader of everything since an early age. The only satanic panics were the “other side” all being evil. Still no satanic panic in “The Province” to these days, and racism, is the new sectarianism.

  2. Cimpy
    October 10, 2014 at 4:01 PM

    in ’70? Was not something quite Global, in those ages?

  3. Paul Robinson
    October 10, 2014 at 4:19 PM

    Global in that religion pitted against another or sections thereof, like Sufi and Sh’iite Muslims, Protestants vs Catholics (back to my natal Northern Ireland), etc etc. Bit like the stoking of racists today by wars in far flung corners of world all meant to be because of Islam, which at heart is non violent. It is the old use, misuse, and warping of charismatic would be leaders of sects, that start things on one side, and play into the paranoia and racism of another religion or country. Not all Muslims want to kill white Christians, and not all white Christians want to arbitrarly and carelessly drop bombs and fire artillery rounds into poor desert dwelling farmers villages in the middle east. Satanic panic is not always under that name – for use in propaganda and war each side is usually demonised by the other, and claims their god(s) on their side, not the other.

  4. Ian
    October 13, 2014 at 3:08 AM

    The source of this claim is Colin Wallace, who has his own Wikipedia article. His reminiscences about his time in the intelligence services are sometimes controversial. The “satanic panic” claims have surprised people who lived in Northern Ireland at the time, because it appears that few if any people had heard of them.

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