‘I am not a victim of crime’ – Schiller’s new memoirs
NEWCASTLE, Northern Ireland (Reuters) – A memoir that portrays former British army commander Bernard Schiller as a “victim of crime” in the 1980s is being released on Wednesday.
The memoir, titled “The Good Soldier,” by Schiller, which is due out on Tuesday, was written by his lawyer, Patrick J. Flanagan.
Schiller, who is in his second decade of retirement from the British army, was a commander of the Northern Ireland Task Force, which fought the loyalist paramilitary group Ulster Defence Association.
The book, written with British journalist Ian Burrows, recounts how Schiller was among those who took on loyalist paramilitaries during the 1980’s and 1990s in Northern Ireland and was a member of the unit that took over the town of Londonderry, which was later overrun by loyalist violence.
Schill was shot dead in 1993 by a member the group, known as the Ulster Defence Battalion, while leading a task force into the city of Lissack.
The new book includes accounts of his time as commander of a special forces unit called the Stryker, which consisted of former soldiers and civilians, and his time at a base in Ballymun in the 1970s.
He says the book is intended to tell a story that was suppressed.
The story of Bernard Schill and the Styrker is being told by the author’s lawyer, Pat Flanagan, at the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) headquarters in Belfast.
Flanagan told Reuters he was not aware of Schiller and the book being released.
The Ulster Defence spokesman said: “This is not the first time that Bernard has spoken about the events of the 1980-90s and we are delighted to see that his story is being put to the people in the public eye.”
A spokesman for Schiller told Reuters the author had been approached by the RUC and was due to give a statement on Tuesday afternoon.
“The RUC have been very keen to speak to the author and are delighted he has agreed to speak on behalf of the organisation.
The author has made a commitment to make a statement in the coming days and that commitment has been honoured,” the spokesman said.
He declined to say when the statement would be made public.
A book release is not uncommon in Northern Irish political and military circles, and a number of political parties have issued statements condemning the book and demanding it be removed.
The loyalist group Ulster Republican Army, known by its Irish acronym URA, is the main political force in Northern England and Wales and has been accused of killing hundreds of civilians and soldiers during the conflict with loyalist forces in the region in the late 1980s.
Flánagan said he believed Schiller would be willing to give an account of the events.
The former commander was awarded the Victoria Cross for Valour, the British military medal for valour, in 1998 for his role in helping the British and Irish forces in their campaign against the loyalists.
In his book, Schiller says he was sent to Lissak on July 30, 1981 to help the URA attack the town, which had been captured by loyalists in the previous day.
“My first thought was that it would be a good idea to go up there and attack it,” he wrote.
“When we arrived, it was already clear that the town had been taken.
There was nothing left to do.
There were no roads, no water, nothing.
I had to go and find it myself.”
A number of British soldiers were killed in the attack, Schill wrote.
The army later claimed it was responsible for the deaths of up to 2,000 civilians.
The URA claimed Schiller had taken part in a gunfight with the British, and accused him of leading an attack on loyalists from the back of a lorry.
Schilling has previously told the BBC he believes the Ulster Republican was killed.
“I don’t know the details,” he told the programme in 2015.
“It was not a friendly encounter.
It was an attack.”
The RUIA has said it has no record of Schill being involved in a URA raid on a village in the Ardoyne area of the region.
Schills account of his role has been published by his former lawyer, Flanagan who said it was a story the book could not be told without it.
“We were aware that the story was coming out and were happy to be part of the process of getting it published,” Flanagan told the Irish broadcaster RTE.