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Abstracts on Organisations - 'M'

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Compiled: Martin Melaugh ... Additional Material: Brendan Lynn and Fionnuala McKenna
Material is added to this site on a regular basis - information on this page may change

initial letter of the name of the organisation

Making Belfast Work (MBW)
Making Belfast Work (MBW) was an initiative launched in July 1988 by the British government aimed at addressing the economic, educational, social, health, and environmental problems in the most deprived areas of Belfast. As of the end of the 2002/03 financial year, over 300m had been allocated to MBW which has in turn supported some 500 projects.
[Web Site]

Maranatha Community
An orgainsation set up to support victims of the conflict.
(See: Details on vicitims organisations.)

Market Research Bureau Ireland (MRBI)
One of the main opinion polling organisations in Ireland. Has been used by many news agencies and other organisations to canvas the opinion of people, north and south, on a range of political, social and economic matters.

Market and Opinion Research International (MORI)
One of the United Kingdom's (UK) main polling organisations. Mainly associated with polls of political opinion but also canvases attitudes on a range of other subjects.
[Web Site]

Mediation Network (Ireland)
Originally known as the Northern Ireland Conflict and Mediation Association this group was formed in 1986 by a group of people seeking to encourage non-violent approaches to conflict and disputes in different settings in Northern Ireland. The group offers training and support, and also a mediation service. Most recently representatives of Mediation Network have been involved in attempts to find resolution to argument over disputed parades and marches by the Loyal Institutions.

synonyms: Security Service
(See: Security Service.)

Military Intelligence
synonyms: Army Intelligence
Military Intelligence is a section within the British Army responsible for gathering, analysing, and acting upon information about paramilitary organisations. Military Intelligence was one of a number of agencies operating in Northern Ireland that had an intelligence remit - others included the Special Branch of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), and Security Service (MI5). Military Intelligence has been active in Northern Ireland at least since the deployment of British troops on 14 August 1969. However, Military Intelligence would have stepped up its operations following the imposition of 'Direct Rule' on 30 March 1972.
The Special Powers Act and more recent Emergency Legislation was used by ordinary soldiers and intelligence officers to screen large numbers of people, mostly working-class Catholic males. This screening process began in the early 1970s and was used as a means of recording basic information including: name, date of birth, address, family members, place of work, distinguishing physical characteristics, photograph, etc. Often this screening process was conducted on a large scale with scores, or sometimes hundreds, of Catholic men between the ages of 16 and 60 being 'lifted' during raids on their homes and taken to a British Army barracks where the information was collected and recorded. Information was also gathered at static and mobile checkpoints, and through observation at particular locations by soldiers in watchtowers. Military Intelligence also used informers who were active in paramilitary organisations as sources of information.
Within Military Intelligence there was a special unit known as Military Reconnaissance Force (MRF) (also called Force Research Unit; FRU) which conducted covert operations involving undercover soldiers during the early 1970s. Another role of the MRF (/FRU) was to recruit Republican and Loyalist paramilitary members to work as double-agents for Military Intelligence.

Taylor, Peter. (2001) Brits: The War Against the IRA.
(See also: Force Research Unit, FRU; Mobile Reconnaissance Force, MRF; 14 Intelligence Company.)

[Entry added by Martin Melaugh, January 2002]

Military Reaction Force (MRF)
synonyms: Military Reconnaissance Force (MRF); Mobile Reconnaissance Force (MRF)

The Military Reaction Force (MRF) was a special unit within Military (Army) Intelligence based at Palace Barracks, Holywood, County Down. The unit was probably set up during the summer of 1971 and consisted of approximately 40 British soldiers drawn from various regiments. The unit mainly conducted undercover (plain clothes) operations. It is believed that soldiers from elite regiments, including the Special Air Service (SAS), were members of the MRF. The unit was involved in a number of controversial incidents where Catholic civilians were killed.

During 1972 undercover soldiers were operating in west Belfast using techniques that appeared to have based on 'counter gangs' (Kitson, 1960). A former member of MRF described the role of the unit as both 'defensive' and 'offensive' (Taylor, 2001; p129). The 'defensive' operations were intended to try to prevent the IRA from carrying out attacks. The 'offensive' operations appeared to be wide ranging. For example, on 12 May 1972 an MRF unit approached a checkpoint being operated by the Catholic Ex-Servicemen's Association (CESA) which was checking cars entering the Andersonstown area. The MRF car stopped and then reversed a short distance. One of the soldiers opened fire from the car with a Thompson sub-machine gun [at the time this was a weapon usually associated with the IRA] and killed Patrick McVeigh (44), a Catholic civilian, and wounded four other Catholic men. None of the men who were shot were armed and none of the soldiers were ever prosecuted.

In another MRF operation on 22 June 1972 an MRF unit opened fire with a Thompson sub-machine gun on a group of Catholic men standing at a bus terminal in the Glen Road in Andersonstown, west Belfast. Four Catholic civilians were injured.

Some of the operations of MRF were highly unusual. During the early 1970s the unit set up the Four Square Laundry in Belfast which offered a cheap cleaning service but was intended to collect information about Irish Republican Army (IRA) activities in west Belfast. Clothes sent for cleaning were routinely checked for traces of explosives or lead residues from bullets. The IRA subsequently found out about the MRF operation and on 2 October 1972 attacked a laundry van being used to collect and deliver clothes. An undercover British Army soldier was shot dead in the attack.

It is believed that the unit was wound up in 1973 after being in operation for some 18 months. Records related to the unit were destroyed.

On 21 November 2013 a BBC Panorama programme entitled 'Britain's Secret Terror Force' was broadcast, on BBC One at 2100 GMT, which included interviews with former members of the MRF. In the programme it was claimed that members of the unit killed unarmed civilians in drive-by shootings. Following the broadcast of the programme the Northern Ireland Director of Publlic Prosecutions asked the police to investigate the claims made. In May 2014 the family of one of those killed was informed by the DPP that the PSNI had decided not to proceed. The family said it would ask the Police Ombudsman to investigate. On 10 June 2014 the PSNI announced that it had appointed an officer to review the evidence. On 1 December 2015 the PSNI issued an appeal for information about 9 shooting incidents, two of which were fatal.

Taylor, P. (2001) Brits: The War Against the IRA.
(See also: Military Intelligence.)

[Entry added by Martin Melaugh, January 2002; minor updates November 2013, December 2015]

Ministry of Defence (MOD)
The British government department with responsibility for supplying the armed forces that are deployed in Northern Ireland.
[Web Site]

Mobile Support Units (MSU)
synonyms: Headquarters Mobile Support Units (HMSU)
Also known as Headquarters Mobile Support Units (HMSU) these were special units formed within the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) to handle incidents such as widespread public disorder and to act on information relating to suspected paramilitary activity. This latter activity gave rise to allegations from republicans that in certain incidents, instead of attempting to arrest and bring before the courts those apprehended, members of the MSU resorted to 'shoot to kill' tactics.

(xx)     Indicates that an entry is being prepared.
(?)     Information is a best estimate while awaiting an update.
(??)     Information is doubtful and is awaiting an update.
[Main Entry]     Indicates that a longer separate entry is planned in the future.

For related and background information see also:

  • The list of acronyms associated with 'the Troubles'.
  • The glossary of terms related to the conflict.
  • The biographies of people who were prominent during 'the Troubles'.
  • The chronology of the conflict.

The information in the abstracts has been compiled from numerous primary and secondary sources. The best general sources for additional information are:

initial letter of the name of the organisation

CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within Ulster University.

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