Slugger O'Toole

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MI5 make conditional offer on Finucane – WikiLeaks

Mon 13 December 2010, 10:08am

Unless Iran is your patch, this is probably the most interesting Wikileaks outing to date.

The Security Service’s offer is revealed in a cable from June 2005, written by the US ambassador to Dublin, James C Kenny, which reported on a meeting between the head of MI5 and Mitchell Reiss, the US special envoy to Northern Ireland. In an account of the meeting between Reiss and Ahern, the ambassador wrote: “Reiss briefed him on his talks in London, including with the head of MI5 [Eliza Manningham-Buller], who committed to turning over all evidence her agency has to the inquiry, but she was adamant that the inquiry will proceed using the new legislation.”

Peter Madden, Finucane’s partner in the Belfast solicitors’ firm Madden and Finucane, said: “This might significantly change things. This is something new and unexpected. It will have to be considered by the Finucane family.” Madden said the family would proceed with care because MI5 said any inquiry would be carried out under new legislation, which allows for material to be withheld from the final report.

(Secretary of State Owen ) Paterson, who has met Finucane’s widow Geraldine, says he has an “open mind”. But in a letter to Mrs Finucane, he said that he would have to bear in mind a series of factors including “the current pressures on the UK Government’s finances”.

 It is  intriguing that whatever he put to her has not been rejected out of hand, whether or not it is a final position. The MI5 offer if true would appear to set a new precedent in MI5 disclosure and will heighten expectations of the Secretary of State’s statement on the Finucane case some time in the New Year.

In a separate leak the then taoiseach is quoted as having ” rock solid ” evidence that the SF leaders were still in the IRA at the tine of the Northern Bank robbery and therefore knew of it in advance.

The leaks reveal that then taoiseach Bertie Ahern was convinced Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness – whom he also believed to be IRA leaders – held critical peace process negotiations with him when they knew the IRA was planning the £26.5 million robbery.

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Comments (36)

  1. Rory Carr (profile) says:

    Having Bertie Ahern accuse others of complicity in bank robbery is rather what one imagines it might be like listening to Lloyd George lecturing John Major on the pitfalls of promiscuity.

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  2. another (profile) says:

    “In a separate leak the then taoiseach is quoted as having ” rock solid ” evidence that the SF leaders were still in the IRA at the tine of the Northern Bank robbery and therefore knew of it in advance.”

    Ok, begs the question; so why were they not put in jail …

    Second, I am sure that playing a knowing part in a pretty audacious, but meaningless raid on a British Bank, will not serve to deter Louth voters, when one considers the complicit role that many members of FF played in the robbing of the twenty six county state.

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  3. Cynic2 (profile) says:

    “Ok, begs the question; so why were they not put in jail ”

    …. because they are more useful outside

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  4. tacapall (profile) says:

    Another

    “In a separate leak the then taoiseach is quoted as having ” rock solid ” evidence that the SF leaders were still in the IRA at the tine of the Northern Bank robbery and therefore knew of it in advance.”

    Ok, begs the question; so why were they not put in jail …

    Maybe because –

    “The disclosure on the bank robbery also revealed the government believed British intelligence agencies had a senior informant at a high level within the republican movement”.

    Which begs the question did the British Government then know in advance of the robbery and allowed it to happen.

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  5. Cynic2 (profile) says:

    So Rory, how many people did the Irish Government under Bertie murder?

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  6. Cynic2 (profile) says:

    So MI5 agree that if there’s a statutory inquiry with powers to compel evidence they will co-operate. Shock, horror. How novel

    The question is will there be one? No there wont. Saville taught everyone a very expensive lesson

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  7. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    The former is way more interesting than the latter. It’s classic, well that’s exactly what the Taoiseach said at the time, so what’s new here folks? Simply, that Wikileaks has found the story for the first time outside and beyond the original context.

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  8. STG (profile) says:

    They’re all bank robbers at the end of the day.. How did the Bank of ireland run out of money one miserable Monday morning in 2008?
    Well it wasn’t the IRA and every dog in the street knows who is responsible.
    How they are still walking around like they own the place is beyond me.. they must be putting something in the water…

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  9. pippakin (profile) says:

    Interesting about MI5 and potentially more explosive but it appears its time is not yet.

    On the other hand Bertie Ahearn said he had proof that the righteous one, currently en-route from Belfast to Louth, was definitely in the IRA and that he and Martin McGuinness had known of the Northern Bank robbery.

    If there is proof the government should put up, regardless of any fallout from the British.

    And, is it possible Wikileaks are working for FF.

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  10. fitzjameshorse1745 (profile) says:

    The only person who seems to have any doubts that Gerry Adma was in the Irish Republican Army is Gerry Adams. Apart from all the circumstantial evidence including that old photograph, it seems obvious that he actually enjoys denying it.
    After all his former comrades are according to their Green Book, obliged to deny it. (By the way possession of that Green Book is against the law …..but not the book which publishes its contents). So in a peculiar way, Id take a constant denial as being an admission.
    Most people seem to think he was a member. I dont think it would surprise any of the 22,840 people who voted for him in West Belfast or the thousands who will vote for him in Louth.
    And dare I say it……surely the whole idea was to talk to and get the republican militants off violence even if it meant several elected in Government.
    Did we not know this in 1998?
    Was it not part of the whole Creative Ambiguity that we all signed up to in 1998. Like a non-amnesty amnesty.

    When the Finnucane case reaches its conclusions…..like Claudy, like McGurks, like Bloody Sunday……..(and like Birmingham 6 Maguire 7) a lot of people will agonise that “if only we had known”. Delusional. We “knew” then what we “know” now.

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  11. Rory Carr (profile) says:

    Cynic asks: “So Rory, how many people did the Irish Government under Bertie murder?” and I must confess that I do not have the figures to hand but perhaps he can tell me.

    Is it possible that Ahern, who claims to have had “rock solid” evidence that Adams and McGuinness were members of the IRA, a criminal offence in the Republic, could himself now be prosecuted for witholding such information from the Gardaí ?

    Tacapall raises the interesting question of British foreknowledge of the Northern bank robbery. It had always struck me right from the outset that they did and that the easy facilitation of this robbery was merely their way of providing the IRA with a pension fund for volunteers about to be stood down in order to keep them away from those naughty dissidents.

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  12. Nevin (profile) says:

    A little something that probably applies to the Lafia as well as to the Rafia:

    A cable from July 2005 shows that Gardaí believed that the IRA had diversified during the Celtic Tiger years from smuggling, robbery, and racketeering to investments in real estate ventures in Dublin, London, and Spanish resort areas, “handled by apparently respectable businessmen.”

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  13. DC (profile) says:

    Well at £25 million or so the IRA if it was bought off was done so relatively cheap.

    Relatively cheap because we have an assembly that costs £50 million a year – and the paid-up political cohort seems quite content in producing little of benefit to wider society!

    You still can’t even get an abortion on the NHS here. It should be renamed the RHS – regional or actually the Religious Health Service – where the dominant political class uphold the dominant religion – Christianity; the political class translate their beliefs into hard policy by unfairly blocking abortions in NI because they think this is doing God’s work; but, in doing so, they actually block operations sought by those who are non-religious and other minorities who have no such theological qualms or concerns about seeking out abortions.

    Prejudice is one thing in terms of having negative feelings and views about abortions, but another thing is whenever the government takes a form of *action* to support their own personal beliefs, it is this anti-abortion policy which is a form of political intolerance.

    Which given that we still live in a climate of political intolerance it is hardly surprising to hear about collusion and state murders and that of Finucane. Because intolerance is as intolerance does.

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  14. Brian, News of an offer to disclose even limited information by MI5 is not only significant but so to that Mr Finucane’s Family and Lawyers did not know of this –do you know who knocked the offer back and on what authority?

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  15. Alias (profile) says:

    What is the value of a promise from MI5 to the US official cooperate with the enquiry? Did he expect them to say that they wouldn’t cooperate or that most of their files would mysteriously vanish?

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  16. Carrickmoreman (profile) says:

    There was a piece in some news outlet regarding touts/Northern Bank. Apparently, the provos on the Brits payroll had been stood down by the Brits b/c they were no longer needed. When the bank was robbed, the ex-touts were contacted and responded with something like “X was seen walking around Belfast with his head/face shaved, everyone knew something was up.”

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  17. Pete Baker (profile) says:

    In relation to the Northern Bank robbery.

    From Mary-Alice Clancy’s Peace Without Consensus [p147]

    After the collapse of the proximity talks, British officials pursued a ‘bilateral approach’ wherein Sinn Féin and the British government would move the political process forward without the DUP or the Irish government. This approach, however, came to an abrupt end with the robbery of £26.5million from the Northern Bank in Belfast. For many Irish and British officials, it was apparent from the beginning that the operation was most likely the IRA’s work. According to a senior Irish official, in the three months leading up to the robbery, the gardaí had some of the individuals who are alleged to have been involved in the subsequent money laundering of the Northern Bank notes under surveillance. During this period, the guards are alleged to have witnessed meetings between the robbers, a southern businessman who allegedly laundered the money for the IRA and the republican leadership. As a senior Irish official argues, after the bank robbery the gardaí realised that these meetings related to the Northern Bank.

    And, as I’ve previously noted, there have been a number of subsequent convictions as a result of Operation Phoenix.

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  18. Munsterview (profile) black spot says:

    Pip, : “…….If there is proof the government should put up, regardless of any fallout from the British……”

    Pip, if we are to have openness and transparence on these matters, do that include the transition of Official IRA to IRA the Workers Party, The Workers Party to Democratic Left, Democratic Left to the Labour Party ?

    If so the very same questions arise ‘ who knew what, and when’ Who else back then knew of the Sticks ‘fundraising’ where moneys were regularly withdrawn from banks by armed republicans for political purposes. Who knew of the sources of this money in Official Sinn Fein, SF/WP, WP/Dem.L., and now in Dem.Left / Labour.

    What became of the Army, the guns, the munitions, how was the monies spend etc. Do you really want to go there ? Do not worry, once it seems that Labour will be the Senior Partner in Government, some of the “Sir Humphrey’ of the Permanent Government with their friends in the Park may brief a ‘Security Correspondent’ or two on these matters and Gilmore may have a few more questions to answer on matters other than the economy.

    As to Sinn Fein exposed by their connections to IRA and past activities, as bank robberies go they have been shown to be rank amateurs compare to what Fianna Failure and their ‘crony capitalist’ friends could achieve. Have they not just presided over a payout of 40 bloody million to bank officials that presided over systemic bank failure !

    Perhaps some sleeping dogs should be just left be?

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  19. fitzjameshorse1745 (profile) says:

    Did the Northern Bank robbery cost Sinn Féin a single vote?

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  20. pippakin (profile) says:

    MV

    As far as I am concerned it includes the whole lot. The upcoming election is in the south and for the south and imo the south has had enough of gombeen politics.

    I don’t want someone in power who owes his position to the British any more than I want someone in power who owes position to the bankers and the ECB.

    All the politicians are telling us what is best for Ireland. This time I would like to be sure I’m not just voting for what is best for the politicians and their, possible, masters.

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  21. Munsterview (profile) black spot says:

    Fitzj : “….Did the Northern Bank robbery cost Sinn Féin a single vote?…..”

    Probably not……. I would not be surprised to find that it got them more than a few tho’ !

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  22. Munsterview (profile) black spot says:

    Pip,

    We are where we are as the saying goes!

    The counter revolution of the Free State, or to use another term of one of it’s Judicial Apologists on the suppression of the Republican Courts the “Retreat from Revolution. ( Kotsonouris, Mary, Retreat from revolution: the Dáil courts, …) have left us in a situation of where for almost a hundred years the reality of Revolution 1916 / 22 and the continuing suppression and denial of the suppression of that revolution since have led to a distortion of Irish Politics.

    Bertie was able to point out that his own father regarded himself as an IRA man up to the day he died. That meant he did not de facto recognize the period 1922 to 1932 as having a lawful government and that Ireland de facto during this period was run by people who had sold out the revolution.

    The same anomalies are currently plays out in Nationalist Northern Ireland regarding De facto political legitimacy. We cannot have ‘clean sheet’ politics in this Island, Martin and his alleged Thompson gun during the early seventies and Peter in his romantic red berry, shotguns under the moonlight and the invasion of Clontribit are a reality as is the State sanctioned and operated assassination of Pat Finnucane. The operation of the ‘Heavy Hang’ down here who when they walked in a cell door, the rules went out the window, are still glossed over and the gross abuses of human rights are not acknowledged by the Irish State !

    There is no black and white in the politics of this Island where any organized grouping is concerned, ( Free Masons exempted of course) Just shades of grey. When a revolution is suppressed, you get half measures, compromises and temporizing with cronyism and ‘insiderism’ replacing democracy.

    The current election is just another installment in the whole sorry process. FF is finished, FG labour is in, will it change anything ? In the infamous words of Gogarty will it F***!

    It is said that a people will always get the kind of government that they deserve. Over the past month this sorry excuse for a government have done the equivalent of a financial ‘flaying alive’ of the poorest and most vulnerable of society. Where the Greek or Icelandic type protests ?

    The Irish general public have shown little other than they deserve this sorry, miserable excuse for a government and the fact that the upcoming election will probably see twiddle dum out and twiddle Dee in will be proof positive of this!

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  23. Mark (profile) says:

    Fitz / MunsterV,

    The Italian Job , Buster , Ocean’s 11 … robberies esp bank robberies appeal to people hence all the movies . From Robin Hood to robbing hoods , we all love a good robbery . Throw into the mix republicans robbing british money , what more do you want . Sure did your man from cork who washed the bread even get real porridge ? When’s the film coming out and who’s going to play who , whoever it was ?

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  24. The Word (profile) black spot says:

    MV

    “The Irish general public have shown little other than they deserve this sorry, miserable excuse for a government and the fact that the upcoming election will probably see twiddle dum out and twiddle Dee in will be proof positive of this!”

    With the clear implication of these gangster businessmen in the affairs of the Republican Movement at this time, I think that your idea that Sinn Fein give the people an alternative is highly optimistic. Even cynical. Hardly a party free from corruption and debts to the right.

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  25. pippakin (profile) says:

    FJH,Mark,MV

    The Northern Bank robbery did not cost SF a vote, but no one was maimed, no one died and it was of course in the north.

    The south is going through the trauma of discovering we had elected the worst bunch of politicians in the history of the state. I think there may be quite a lot of people who will be determined not to make the same mistake twice…

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  26. Brian Walker (profile) says:

    Christy, I don’t know what the Finucane offer is and therefore if or why it was ” knocked back”
    I’m struck that so much comment is about the NB robbery, well covered by Jonathan Powell etc., and looking backwards, compared to so little about Finucane etc., looking forward

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  27. Munsterview (profile) black spot says:

    I am just in and have just learned from the 9 O’C news that the Banks will not now pay the infamous 40 million € bonuses, the Government have intervened.

    Up to this afternoon the Government stance was that these monies had to be paid and that it was a contractual matter between the banks and their employees and accordingly the government could not intervene. The banks while also hand washing and hand wringing in public, were never the less adamant that their hands were tied.

    Stroke time again for Fianna Failure, you will have to hand it to them, the FF are going down fighting!

    The government are including the enabling legalization as part of the bill…..wait for it……. to make the ECB bail out Law! Anyone voting against the ECB is ‘de facto’ voting to allow the bank bonuses to be paid!

    Neat or what ?

    There was a head of steam building up over the gross unfairness of these bonus payments, the Government knew that it was building up to explosion level and acted. How much more of the budget provisions would they have caved in on if proper and realistic pressure was applied ?

    There are 50,550 Community Carers in Southern Ireland. My sister is one, last winter she and some other carers were actually purchasing items like carpet slippers and bathrobes for their clients from the carers personal financial resources. This is the other side of hidden Ireland where there are those always there to take care of the elderly here and step in where the Health Board steps out.

    There was a public carers protest called for the Dail Gates, fifty turned up ! That told Fianna Failure all they needed to know, if not even 1% turned out to protest it was even more financial cheese paring for the carers. That is how their generosity and dedication is rewarded !

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  28. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    I would probably be among the last to defend the Provos, and I believe they were probably behind the robbery. However, there is additional context here. In 2004/05, Sinn Fein seemed like a force on the up in politics on the southern side of the border and were widely touted as a major threat to FF. Sinn Fein politicians openly criticized and challenged the conduct of the FF government. It’s not surprising that Ahern seized upon any opportunity he got to squeeze them. I thought the tone of the Irish government softened quite noticeably towards SF in the period following the 2007 Dail elections.

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  29. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    MV:

    Up to this afternoon the Government stance was that these monies had to be paid and that it was a contractual matter between the banks and their employees and accordingly the government could not intervene.

    Where did you see this ? I never heard any government official saying that bonuses had to be paid. Sounds like you’re imagining things again.

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  30. Mark (profile) says:

    Pippakin ,

    ” Nothern Bank robbery didnt cost SF a vote , no one maimed or died , but it was of course in the north ”

    Not looking for a row , but what do you mean ? but it was of course in the north , what are you implying , lax security maybe ? inside job , please explain ?

    PS – that’s if you have nothing on ( obviously I mean if you’re not busy , not if you’re starkers ! ) M.

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  31. Munsterview (profile) black spot says:

    Comrade S

    Careless use of language I am afraid, I was just in, watching TV news, eating a snack and typing with one hand.

    You are of course correct, no one in Government actually advocated these 40 Million Euro bonuses be paid, collectively they may have an intelligence deficit and be truth challenged, but they are not yet suicidal!

    What the Government said up to this late afternoon is that they did not have any way to actually prevent the payment of these bonuses and they have stonewalled and held to this position.

    Yes they did not advocate payment but by constantly telling all and sundry that they were not in a position to prevent it, they were de facto signaling to their cronies and financial constituency that they would not intervene and prevent bonus payments.

    There may be a difference between advocating payment and deliberately continuing a position where payment could take place, but the nett result was the Irish Taxpayers were about to loose forty-million euros to a privileged, Fianna Failure, crony banker financial constituency. Same difference ?

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  32. pippakin (profile) says:

    Mark

    “but it was of course in the north ”

    Its different for the south this time. The south has already been robbed blind so to elect someone who it is alleged was involved in bank robbery could well be a step too far.

    Gerry Adams is in true opportunistic style catapulting himself into a relatively safe seat in the south. He will probably increase the margin but so probably would anyone in any party other than FF.

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  33. Brian. Yes it seems to have gone off course re: banks, bank robberies, elections, GA moving house, up north, down south… just about everything than the Finucane revealations.

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  34. Munsterview (profile) black spot says:

    Pip : “……Its different for the south this time. The south has already been robbed blind so to elect someone who it is alleged was involved in bank robbery could well be a step too far……”

    Oh I do not know Pip, perhaps having due regard to the fact that the banks have already been robbed and cleared out by bankers and their external Fianna Failure crony capitalists, he may not be the security risk he once would have been, even if the claims about the Northern Bank are correct.

    Mind you I am not thinking straight in this matter, following the documents release, I am still attempting to come to terms with the claims that Gerry may have been in the IRA all along ! And to think that he shook hands with me and looked me in the eye just a few weeks ago in Donegal….. what can I say?

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  35. pippakin (profile) says:

    MV

    “And to think that he shook hands with me and looked me in the eye just a few weeks ago in Donegal….. what can I say?”

    LOL…I just hope you went home with the same number of fingers and thumbs that you set out with.

    It is true that the cupboard is bare. But I don’t think anyone should should suggest robbing banks, anywhere, as a way of replacing the losses.

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  36. Mark (profile) says:

    MunsterView ,

    Have you still got your eye’s ? haha.

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