#ShinnersList: “I have never heard an explanation as to why Operation Rapid as a term, was never made clear to the board.”

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So the Policing Board eh? Not exactly a paragon of the protestant (or even Catholic) work ethic, yet it exploded into life last night with even the normally mild mannered Chief Constable telling his interlocutors:

“Can I caution the member that under the code of conduct that he does not have the right to question the integrity of the members of the command team or myself.”

Erm, now I know these guys have been conspicuously missing in action up to now Matt, but, erm, I think they do have the right to question you to within an inch of your professional life. The fact they’ve not been doing that up to does not make it a breach of conduct.

So, what brought on the storm? It was this unambiguous statement:

Screen Shot 2014-03-07 at 11.49.22

What Baggott is referring to here is that now famous briefing from ACC Drew Harris. Now, before we look at the detail, it’s worth noting that this appears to be the only post-Operation Rapid briefing the Policing Board got on the matter. As such the CC is putting a lot of weight on just one meeting.

Aside from observing just how poor the Policing Board has been generally in doing its job of putting the CC through his paces, it is also clear that the 2010 briefing was a less than complete piece of work, if that is ACC Harris ever intended to appraise them to the actual facts of the matter.

The process described is the same one that was in place before the failed NI Offences Bill collapsed after an under pressure Sinn Fein withdrew its support from victims groups when the SDLP made it apparent this would entail a general amnesty.

None of the critical changes put in place from July 2007 were alluded to.

There’s no reference to:

One other point worth making (which is a reflection perhaps of just how lax matters are in the Policing Board), is the presence and participation of Gerry Kelly, a man for whom the words ‘conflict of interest’ clearly have no meaning:

“To sit here and talk, simply because you have never heard the word ‘rapid’, that you didn’t get any information is utter nonsense.

“There was information given. You may dislike the amount of information that was given but, then be honest enough to say that.”

I’d say Mr Craig has detected a long since dead rat in the ‘clean’ laundry, and he’s not too pleased about it.

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  • cynic2

    Baggots petulance may have been intensified by being rush out the door by the DUP with no contract extension but his approach is unedifying.

    I understand that he doesn’t like his integrity challenged but its right and proper that the Board do so where they reasonably think (rightly or wrongly) that its in doubt. That is democracy and accountability

    The reality is that the existence of the scheme was plastered over and concealed. No matter how thick or thin the plaster.it was hidden. “You were briefed” doesn’t cut it

    I can understand his frustration too that his force ended up taking the blame for a scheme that they were bit players in and perhaps did not even understand all the machinations of. When you shake hands with the NIO check your watch.

    But in that bigger picture can he explain why his force became a patsy in a sordid little one side political deal that subverted the justice system? . The fact that HMG wanted it that way or that he inherited it is no excuse

    So its time for a “Hutton” as Tony might say.

    No doubt then the judge will tell us in due course – if they ever find one to take it on – its been very quiet on that front hasn’t it

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    So the briefing said: “We have been working through this process over the last number of years and it continues still to be available.”
    Was this what our representatives were supposed to twig was a major new announcement?
    Am I wrong to think “there was information given” a woefully inadequate response? I’d have been hoping for the whole truth, not the shard of vague waffle that was provided, which completely omitted the most salient fact: the existence of this extraordinary arrangement between the government and SF, which it is clear none of the other parties knew about until this all came out at the Old Bailey.

    But really the NI police were put in an impossible position by the government. It was the government’s catastrophic failure of judgment. The forthcoming inquiry needs to look in depth at how and why ministers seem to have believed secret deals were acceptable. Hain is even now still trying to justify this as a modus operandi in Northern Ireland. Durkan’s comments about the corrupting of the peace process are apt. It has been badly corrupted.

    The other guilty party is of course SF – but then in the scale of their crimes, this barely merits a mention. To say they are unfit to govern would be a statement of the obvious, but it is another glaring truth from this that can’t be ignored.

  • IanR

    MU, if as you say SF are unfit to govern, then no doubt this will be reflected in a dearth of votes for them at the next elections.

  • Turgon

    Purely on Baggott’s claim “under the code of conduct that he does not have the right to question the integrity of the members of the command team or myself.”” I cannot find any such statement in the Policing Board Standing Orders

    Indeed as a senior police officer it is probably safe to presume that Mr. Baggott has been in court giving evidence which is a similar sort of enviroment where his integrity will undoubtedly have been questioned frequently.

    Of course it is the job of the Policing Board to question Baggott et al. and if necessary indeed to call him on any misleading, inaccurate or incomplete answers.

  • ArdoyneUnionist

    Let us put this knowing business in some context.

    Unionists, SDLP and Alliance said they didn’t know about the shinner/provo OTR process.

    Why shouldn’t republicans not believe them, we are constantly told that Gerry Adams was never in the IRA even when former provos Billy McKee, his best mate Brendan “Darkie” Hughes and Dolores Price all said he was. So if republicans can continue to spout that Gerry was never in the IRA and expect the rest of us to believe this. Then they need to get their heads around the fact that Unionists, the SDLP and Alliance did not know about their secret deal in “operation rapid”!!!

  • Neil

    The reality is that the existence of the scheme was plastered over and concealed. No matter how thick or thin the plaster.it was hidden.

    If by hidden you mean that it was openly spoken about a number of times and was featured in a book, then you have a point. But you’re going to have to stretch the meaning of the word hidden by a country mile.

    “You were briefed” doesn’t cut it

    It’s true. They were briefed. As such it cuts it.

    But in that bigger picture can he explain why his force became a patsy in a sordid little one side political deal that subverted the justice system?

    How so? Informing people who weren’t wanted that they weren’t wanted, while informing others who were that they were doesn’t seem to be much of a subversion. The justice system is free to punish the guilty, and restrained from punishing the innocent.

    Look I know you boys are desperate for this to be damaging to SF, it’s an obsession not only of Slugger but of many commentors, but it just isn’t. Sorry. This one’s going to be filed under the ‘SF is permanently damaged in the South because of the shared loins from which Gerry sprung’ column, regardless of how many threads of fantasy are created. Missed your thread on that recent poll in the South there Mick btw.

    No amnesty. No GOOJ free cards. No relevance to the paras. No nothing. But you may want, if you can bypass the old shinner obsession at some point, query why your reps – the ones you vote for – didn’t ask the pertinent questions, and how believable you find it that not one man jack of em read Powell’s book, and maybe query whether or not they knew all along. Now I know that doesn’t damage SF, so it’s kind of dull for you, but then neither do a hundred Liam Adams style threads fantasising about how damaging this should be for SF if only everyone would wise up and realist you were right.

  • Morpheus

    Hilarious. First Manual knew nothing and now it changes to ‘OK we knew something but just not enough’

    As for the term ‘Operation Rapid’ then I haven been through the PB minutes looking for the other briefing that Denis Bradley said was given prior to Operation Rapid commenced – that was fun – and I cannot recall a single operation referenced by name. But lets be honest here, they were clearly briefed

    The worst conspiracy in the history of crap conspiracies continues to unfold

  • Morpheus

    Hilarious. First Manuel knew nothing and now it changes to ‘OK we knew something but just not enough’

    As for the term ‘Operation Rapid’ then I haven been through the PB minutes looking for the other briefing that Denis Bradley said was given prior to Operation Rapid commenced – that was fun – and I cannot recall a single operation referenced by name. But lets be honest here, they were clearly briefed

    The worst conspiracy in the history of crap conspiracies continues to unfold

  • Mick Fealty

    IanR.

    Research suggests its less of a factor for Nat voters Alan posted on it early last year). And guess what? Unionist pols are more match fit!!

  • Morpheus

    So far the myth that these letters allowed Down to walk away has been debunked. The myth that it was an amnesty has been debunked. The myth that it was secret has been debunked. The myth that it was a deal between the Shinners and The Government has been debunked. The myth that it was a #ShinnerList has been debunked.

    What’s left?

  • Mick Fealty

    For you, maybe.

  • stewart1

    Still trying to work out why politicians didn’t question/query Gerry Kelly on the Downey letter when he talked about it openly to news outlets early last year?

  • cynic2

    Neil

    “How so? Informing people who weren’t wanted that they weren’t wanted, ”

    Its very simple

    Stage 1 Punter or his solicitor writes to PSNI. PSNI check and write back All simple and kosher and legal

    BLACK HOLE

    Stage 2 SF take over. Answers are sent by PSNI to NIO who doint pass them to the Punter but to SF to brief the individual

    Why was PSNI then feeding a political process rather than a legal one?

    Why were are so many old cases where persons who were wanted suddenly reclassified s ‘not wanted’

    If you doubt me have a read of the Downey Judgement about the misgivings expressed by law officers about what was being done and why

  • Skinner

    That briefing makes for very interesting reading. A person coming new to the whole subject, as I think the unionists on the policing board were, would have taken a very different view of it than the reality. It reads very much like the scheme was part of a PSNI operation to try to apprehend OTRs. In reality it was a scheme called for by Sinn Fein in order to give ‘reassurance’ to OTRs. I have no idea whether it was deliberate but subtle differences in language hide the real intent behind the scheme, which is actually what is causing so much angst now.

  • cynic2

    “MU, if as you say SF are unfit to govern, then no doubt this will be reflected in a dearth of votes for them at the next elections.”

    Ha!!! Look at North and West Belfast as examples. These are two of the poorest Boroughs in the UK and Ireland. Highest on all the deprivation indicies and SF have done bugger all except erect memorials, oppose OO parades and fund ‘community groups’ for the last 20 years. Yet every election they get back in with massive majorities. And its the same in the East, North Down etc.

    They may be crap incompetent dishonest or sectarian ….they are OURS

  • Mc Slaggart

    cynic2

    “These are two of the poorest Boroughs in the UK and Ireland.”

    My god how did that happen? I

    “The Three Important Sentences:
    Cover for me.
    Ooh, good idea, boss!
    It was like that when I got here!”

    HS

  • Mick Fealty

    would point out we do pay these people to look after the farm on our behalf!!

  • Mc Slaggart

    Mick

    “would point out we do pay these people to look after the farm on our behalf”

    When they set up the new arrangement you think someone would have read the Bible:

    “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
    KJB

  • Mick Fealty

    Which would be different of course from Wilson’s “two horses”? Where are going with that?

  • sherdy

    ‘Let me be clear. You were briefed’.

    And indeed DUP member Tom Buchanan queried Drew Harris on the scheme at that PB meeting. He was sitting with two other DUP members.

    But we are expected to believe none of them were told ‘anything’ about it!

    UUP were also present, one heard ‘nothing’ but Basil McCrea ‘knew all about it’. And of course Alex Attwood was there also. Was he sleeping as well?

    When are we going to get some honesty in this ‘peace process’?

  • Mc Slaggart

    Mick

    I do not know of a wilson who has a famous quote about two horses?

    Unlike Robert Collier:

    “One might as well try to ride two horses moving in different directions, as to try to maintain in equal force two opposing or contradictory sets of desires.”

  • Mick Fealty

    It was a Labour backbencher talking to Harold Wilson:

    “Harold, if you can’t ride two horses what are you doing in the circus?”

  • Mc Slaggart

    Mick

    “Harold, if you can’t ride two horses what are you doing in the circus?”

    As anyone who knows anything about horses will tell you its not two horses one rides in the circus its a pair of horses.

  • cynic2

    It was like that when I got here!”

    But you helped create it through 40 years of violence and then you have been in power now for 7 years and its not much better. So what’s the point?

    SF look more and more like the Unionist P{arty circa 1963 – “you may be deprived but themuns is more deprived than you are so its all ok ….just tick here and I will see you in 4 years”

  • Mc Slaggart

    cynic2
    “you helped create it through 40 years of violence”

    You do know the British army came into Northern Ireland to protect Nationalists.

    BTW:

    “The vector sum of the forces F on an object is equal to the mass m of that object multiplied by the acceleration a of the object; thus, F = ma. Force and acceleration are both vectors (as denoted by the bold type).”
    Newton

  • Morpheus

    Mick, if I wrote a blog on the original DUP statement showing their ‘outrage’ and then showed how all their BS has been subsequently and easily proven to be just that, complete BS, then what are the chances of it getting published on Slugger for disection?

  • 241934 john brennan

    In the introduction to this subject the reference to a ‘dead rat’ is very apt. The death of rats is usually an invisible process – until the unmistakeable stench requires a further and more permanent cover up.
    Sinn Fein is quite adept at invisible processes and continuing cover-ups. Just look at records from the disappeared, to side-deals with the Brits, and on to the OTRs.
    If the ‘truth can set us free’ why does this not also apply to Irish freedom? – so why the lies and concealment?

  • Comrade Stalin

    McSlaggart, I see we can now add GCSE Physics to your astonishing repertoire.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Comrade Stalin

    “McSlaggart, I see we can now add GCSE Physics to your astonishing repertoire.”

    Newton’s laws of motion do have political aspect. North and West Belfast are the product of the pressures and constraints imposed on it.

    Someone once told me that the positioning of the west link had as much to do with keeping people isolated from the rest of Belfast as the movement of cars.

  • cynic2

    Westlink – wasn’t it seen as a peace wall of a kind?

  • Mc Slaggart

    “Westlink – wasn’t it seen as a peace wall of a kind?”

    Orwellian way of looking at it.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    REVIEW OF INFORMATION HELD BY THE NORTHERN IRELAND POLICING BOARD [PDF file]:

    3. Review findings thus far
     The review identified a number of documents referencing briefings and meetings between the Board and senior officers on the role and work of Crime Operations Department and the function of the Branches within its remit (the OTR Unit falls within the structure of COD C2 Branch). It is not possible from minutes** to determine the level of detail provided to the Board and whether the work of the OTR Unit was specifically discussed during these sessions.
     The review also established that the Board agreed to a mechanism which provided for the former Board Chair and Vice Chair to receive confidential briefings on matters relating to the implementation of recommendations relating to the reform of Crime Operations Department. Again within the parameters of this mechanism it is evidenced that briefings on the reform and work of the COD were provided to the then Chair and Vice Chair by the Chief Constable and ACC Crime Operations. It would appear that the Chief Executive was not present at those briefings.
     As part of Board discussions on the introduction of the NI Offences Bill meetings were convened to consider the response to this draft legislation and there are a range of papers in relation to this.
     The minute of April 2010 details questions from two Board Members to the Chief Constable in respect of OTRs and a follow up letter from ACC Crime Operations to the Board records information on the number of cases reviewed by the PSNI.

    ** Worth noting that Board minutes are not searchable, a seeming and not uncommon breach of Model Publication Schemes.

    This isn’t the first time that the Chief Constable has reacted badly to challenge – as long term and perceptive observers of Slugger will have noted.

  • cynic2

    “Orwellian way of looking at it.”

    …but accurate