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The Tartan Army
Chapter 8


All was quiet for the rest of 1974. Meanwhile Don and Gerry tried to figure out what the opposition were doing. Why was it that the Edinburgh police had suddenly taken an interest and what was a retired policeman from the Isle of Skye doing on the scene? "X" of the C. I. A.  had told them that the chief of Edinburgh city police had specific orders from the British Cabinet to catch the Tartan Army and implicate the leaders of the S. N. P. These orders would put him outside the normal police work of the Scottish force and give him a free hand. He was probably working hand in glove with English Special Branch who had no authority at all in Scotland. Robertson had been seconded as it were by the English to a Scottish police force. It was also apparent that the rank and file of the Edinburgh police were not enthusiastic about this set up. They had in effect become part of the English legal system and part of the English police force. They knew that their colleagues in other Scottish police forces would take a dim view of this. It might be the beginning of the end for Scots Law and the Scots police. What would happen to their promotion prospects if the news got out? It was common knowledge that the Scottish police were concentrating all their efforts on the A. P. G. , the boys who were making so much noise and nothing else from Aberdeen to Inverness. Gerry's former boss in Inverness had hinted that the police had told him that someone had gelignite and the police were making enquiries about McGuigan. They had also been making enquiries in Glasgow to "X" of the C. I. A.  Had George Ronald, failing to make any impression on the Scots police, gone to the English police? Had the English police taken Ronald's word for it that the 100 Organization and the Tartan Army were the same? The theft of the Sword and the bombings had one thing in common; perfection.  It was time to go to ground. Discretion was now the better part of valour and anyway it seemed that the White Paper was on course. 

Northumbria and Cumbria were once part of Scotland. The Romans had built wall across the North of what is now England and this defined the "true" border. However the German invaders had snatched Nothumbria and The Lothians on the Scottish "side" of the border and eventually the Scots had surrendered Northumbria for The Lothians. Northumbria is a wilderness and is now a National Park. Carlisle, the principal town of Cumbria was once the capital city of Scotland, but Cumbria had been handed to England by James the sixth of Scotland when he became king of England in 1603. Unlike the rest of England, neither of these counties play cricket but they do play the bagpipe and roll eggs on Easter Monday as do all the Celts. They also share the predominant "O" blood group of their Scots, Welsh and Irish cousins and wear the Scottish police cap and not the usual helmet of the traditional English bobby. Incidentally the main city of Northumbria shares with Scotland the highest crime rate in the United Kingdom.  In February of 1975, two electricity pylons were blasted, one in Cumbria and one in Northumberland. Now who did this is still a mystery. Shortly after the blasts, Gerry received a message through his door that a note had been found at one of the blasts, [it eventually transpired that it was in Northumbria], which had read "An t-Arm Breacan". The Tartan Army had a rule that it would not venture into England for various reasons. They wanted all the publicity to be centered on the highly sensitive North Sea Oil. By staying on the Scottish side of the border they could come only under the eye of Scots Law and the Scots police. They didn't want the English to have any excuse to get in on the act. Should they get caught then they might,  having done their time in a Scottish prison,  come out only to be arrested again by the English. The oil facilities were all within easy travelling distance of their homes and they always had an excuse ready for any vigilant cop who might stop them and ask them where they were going. What could they say to an English cop if they were far from home up some English country lane?

The news went out from the media that the Tartan Army had struck again. Nineteen months later at the "Tartan Army" trial the farmer who owned the field had told others in the witness room, [he didn't actually appear in court as a witness], that the same pylon had been blasted in 1951, the same year that the Stone of Destiny had been retrieved by the students. Also at the trial,  a reporter, [a Scot],  of the "Guardian" newspaper in Manchester England had received a phone call from a woman who claimed that the Tartan Army had done the job. The Tartan Army's spokesman was Gerry and he always used the "Scotsman" newspaper. Moreover, not only did the Tartan Army never put anything in writing, the Gaelic used was English Gaelic and bad grammar. Incidentally, that other book, "Britain's Secret War" states that a "Scottish newspaper" received a "warning of the explosion". No, it was an English paper,  the "Guardian", and according to the evidence at the trial, it was not a "warning" but a claim that the bombing had been completed. Who done it? The same students perhaps, now a bit older,  who done it in 1951? Or the A. P. G. ? Not the I. R. A. ; they never bombed in the Celtic countries.  Perhaps the English Special Branch, the dirty tricks brigade, in order that they could bring the Tartan Army under English Law? The reporter at the trial was obviously afraid. Was he part of the English plot? On the morning after his arrest, McGuigan was visited in jail by two nice young men from the Northumbria police force. They didn't ask him if he had blown the pylon, they merely asked him if he spoke Gaelic and could he spell out Tartan Army in Gaelic. Looking them straight in the face McGuigan spelled out the ungrammatical An t-Arm Breacan. The police left without further question. Eventually the charges of bombing Cumbria and Northumbria were dismissed by Lord Stott for lack of any evidence.  The false police evidence in this matter is dealt with in a later chapter. 

At this time the Tartan Army only knew that two pylons had been blasted by "person or persons unknown" Yes they could see that the authorities were in their usual panic;  but was this the preliminary to a frame up? Yes they reckoned that they should still keep a very low profile. It was February 1975. 

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