Where does ‘Guns and Government’ leave victims of the Peace Process’s ‘self regulation’?

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Seems to me there’s a lot of unpick from last night’s Spotlight, but I think this from Catherine McCartney on Facebook is worth sharing more broadly…

Ingram’s comment on ‘self regulation’ encapsulates the government’s covert policy re paramilitary criminality. I have said this over and over, this policy led to Robert’s murder, (who wasn’t a member of any group, ‘self regulation’?) and that of dozens of men.

Spotlight confirmed what I and others already knew but our voices didn’t fit the message and were ignored. My hope is that the families will get proof that their loved ones were denied a proper investigation and potentially, protection of life guaranteed by Article 2 [of the Human Rights Act].

A lot of Twitter comment was dismissive of claims made by Logan around the IRA’s continued gun running at a time it was negotiating decommissioning of the weapons it had.

But it may be the allegations of state collusion in murders undertaken in the Peace Process™ era that prove to be the most damaging.

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  • cynic2

    The most shocking issue was the almost open acceptance of (and collusion by) the Governments in murder. That created the culture that led to Castlereagh, Stormontgate and the Northern Bank. At one point it brought down the Assembly and still persists today

    Why is this not being taken up by PSNI? Either we have the rule or law or we don’t. And if we don’t is Stormont worth it?

  • tacapall

    “But it may be the allegations of state collusion in murders undertaken in the Peace Process™ era that prove to be the most damaging”

    Mick catch yourself on, Mark Haddock and his band of RUC controlled agents were allowed free reign to murder over 20 innocent people, anyone who has the slightest interest in victims or the rule of law should be asking themselves “Who are these police officers” and why are they not being arrested along with Haddock and others.

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/ fitzjameshorse1745

    No…its not worth it.
    There are victims of the “conflict” and we are maybe entitled to say that we are not responsible for those acts.
    But if we are NOT …then we are certainly responsible for the victims of the “peace”.
    If the previous Spotlight on OTRs made us uncomfortable, then last nights should make us more so.
    What we now know is that the good guys….Ingram, Hain, Mowlam…and the rest (not all Labour) were not so good after all.
    A Dirty War and A Dirty Peace (Mark Durkan).
    But is it any dirtier because the “wrong” people are in charge.?
    Or any dirtier because it all stalled and lost momementum to some airy fairy land?
    Governments bought off the paramilitaries on both sides.
    Adams DOES have a point about enemies of the Peace Process but that doesnt make them wrong.
    The Hypocrisy stuns.
    Public criticism and routine condemnations but that footage last night at the Big Banquet was revealing.
    White tie and tails…Cameron, Kenny and McGuinness seemed to be getting on rightly.

    You really dont have to be a “victim” to be offended by that.
    Nor do you have to be an opponent of the Peace Process.
    Nor do you have to be an uber-loyalist or ultra-republican.
    “Clean Guns”….just when you think youve heard it all.

    But two decades too late…or maybe just one decade.
    Was it always the case that the NIO and others conspired with extremists?
    Why are we only being told this now.
    Certainly when we are told that the NIO phoned RUC or PSNI stations to make requests…
    We need to join the dots here.
    We are either part of this ….and tainted.
    Or we can redeem ourselves by saying that “enough is enough”.
    But we just cant go on wringing our hands until the next Spotlight.

  • Barnshee

    “What we now know is that the good guys….Ingram, Hain, Mowlam…and the rest (not all Labour) were not so good after all.

    Who ever thought they were?

    Its a small satisfaction to see the scum squirm

    “Who are these police officers” and why are they not being arrested along with Haddock and others.”

    Why –not lets –get them at least named and shamed for a start.

    And to those “Denied a proper investigation and potentially, protection of life guaranteed by Article 2 [of the Human Rights Act].” Lets see the behaviour of Blairs Hains etc fully exposed to the light of day

  • Mick Fealty

    tac,

    Did I draw distinction?

    I think the chronic state of clientelism on both sides of the working class divide is testimony to an at times very crooked game on both sides.

    Why do you think it took so long to subdivide the Social Investment Fund often with new capital going projects which duplicate the functions of rival projects for reasons best known to the local ‘organisations’.

    It’s no easier for the victims whether their loved ones were shot by forces allied to the then Stormont administration or local loyalist hoods. But the Police Ombudsman office seems to think there is something to investigate.

  • streetlegal

    Throughout the peace process, British Intelligence developed a very close working relationship with the Provisional IRA Army Council. Basically the over-riding concern from Downing Street was that the Provo leadership should be kept on board with the peace process, no matter what had to be done to keep them sweet. British Intelligence took pretty much the same line in their relationship with the UDA and UVF commands during this period. Some of this involved substantial financial inducements, paid to individuals and ‘community groups’, some involved grants of immunity from future investigation or prosecution, some involved active collusion by British Intelligence in assisting against anti-agreement dissenters.

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/ fitzjameshorse1745

    Mick,
    Id go further.
    A lot of people have been bought off.
    Its not just all those community workers in East and West Belfast.
    There is arguably a lot of other Quango, European, Research and Victims money around.
    If that money was cut off….we would have a very different landscape.

    It is a disgusting situation but I dont see anybody actually DOING anything, other than wringing hands and shrugging shoulders or having a seminar.
    With six weeks to go to a council election….is there any party-parties, media group, organisation strong enough to organise a total boycott.
    Of course, even on a 25% turnout we get eleven councils …but is it not time that we withdraw consent from the farce.

    Victims, Justice, Decency….does anybody really care….enough?

  • tacapall

    Mick no you didn’t draw distinction in murder but you portrayed the murders of some victims, those carried out post 1998 as possibly being the straw that broke the camels back in that closer scrutiny would be more damaging to the peace process than some yarn by a Walter Mitty drug user and alcoholic about Spike Murray being a gun runner yet Slugger and the various media outlets that bombard us daily about the rights of victims can ignore the blatant disregard for the rule of law by ignoring or brushing under the carpet the fact that the PSNI dont seem to be in any hurry or have any interest in bringing to justice Haddocks accomplices, those RUC officers who not only controlled murder gangs but protected them and allowed them to commit over twenty murders. Should those twenty odd victims not have the right to the same recognition as the McCartney sisters, Ann Travers or the Birmingham pub bombings,

  • Mick Fealty

    Yes. Michael Shilliday writing on Slugger a few years back:

    http://sluggerotoole.com/2011/12/03/can-we-get-some-things-straight/

    What’s anyone got to lose, but a couple of years in jug?

  • megatron

    probably in the same place as everyone else…

    Was spotlight seriously relevatory for anyone last night? Like any of these shows the sharp focus on victims families is devastingly tragic but that applies to all victims of the conflict.

    Those arguing for government etc to take a different path need to articulate why it would have been better. Nobody is happy that the policy led to 10 (or however many) deaths but what if the alternative was 20?

    I can understand that people want to preserve the principles at stake but how many extra deaths is that worth?

  • Master McGrath

    FJH your’e right – we can’t just go on wringing our hands until the next….- but that is what will happen.
    Too much money is simply disappearing it would seem into projects that are designed primarily to maintain the staus quo in terms of a process that delivers no progress on anything except the erection of new dividing walls.
    The process seems to have a life of its own and works to perpetuate its own existence and not a resulting peace.
    Who do you trust and what can you believe in seems central to progress and the notion that individuals from Republican and Loyalist backgrounds can sit on bodies that have a real effect on peoples’ lives while all the time they have real questions to answer about their involvement in many things that are not put to them gives no confidence to the many who will simply not vote or become involved in politics.
    The rule in engineering is that form follows function – the politics of Stormont and Northern Ireland has that axiom the wrong way round, with probable long-term disastrous consequences I suspect.

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/ fitzjameshorse1745

    To be fair …Im making the point that a lot of “middle ground” types are also beneficiaries of the New Order.
    It is “Ulster Tatler” politics….photographs with the DUP and SF Ministers at the French Consulate on Bastille Day or the opening of a Museum Exhibition.
    Do you really think any self respecting social climber would turn down at invitation to network?
    Has anybody EVER said “no way…I have principles”

  • cynic2

    “Was spotlight seriously relevatory for anyone last night? ”

    Whats revelatory is that the evidence is there and has never been acted up. Why?

  • Granni Trixie

    FJH
    Funny enough I was talking to a few people (“types” to you) today who said they were choosing to miss the launch of an event tomorrow as they couldn’t face having to sit there and listen to MMG pontificating. I suppose it’s what my granny used to express as “I wouldn’t go to the back door to see him”.

  • tacapall

    “Whats revelatory is that the evidence is there and has never been acted up. Why”

    What evidence would that be Cynic. The claims of an alcoholic, drug user/dealer who can hardly be lauded as someone of either good character or mentally stable.

  • cynic2

    ” an alcoholic, drug user/dealer ”

    Isn’t it amazing how many people associated with PIRA are labelled that way.

    And how precisely do you know that please?

  • Granni Trixie

    Funny that any republican with narratives which do not fit in with the SF version is either mentally ill ,has a drink problem or is involved with drugs. Change the record.

  • cynic2

    ” an alcoholic, drug user/dealer ”

    Isn’t it amazing how many people associated with PIRA are labelled that way.

    And how precisely do you know that please?

    And which former Minister are you referring to?

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/ fitzjameshorse1745

    Granni,
    It strikes me that we might have the same grandmother.
    I am also in the “I wouldnt open the door to a canvasser” if any of those types (“people” as you call them) if they showed up.
    If you are supporting the notion that those “types” have less to do with our current disgraceful arrangements …then I heartily endorse the notion.

  • tacapall

    “The evidence from Mr Logan contradicts the US Government position. He said that the American administration knew exactly what was going on, despite its statement.

    Mr Logan has seen his life implode in recent times, struggling with alcohol, drugs and ending up in prison for several months. The former stockbroker, who at the time of the gun-running lives in a million dollar house, said he was speaking out now because he now had nothing to lose”

    http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/regional/post-ceasefire-and-agreement-senior-sf-figure-imported-guns-used-to-kill-1-5989232

    Dont be letting the truth get in the way of your assumptions Granni.

    Cynic what former minister are you talking about ?

    I dont either like Sean Murray nor support him but no-one should either be arrested nor found guilty without a trial on the word of a person like above. Is there not more of a possibility that Logan is making these allegations for financial gain ?

  • Politico68

    It seems to me that people have pretty short memories when it comes to the past in that they seem to forget the shocking bloodshed of the war and the overall effect of the conflict on the country as a whole.
    Given this, I am not in any way surprised that there were all sorts of backroom deals and sneaky rule bending in order to shore up support for peace and deliver a transformed social environment that we now seem to take for granted.
    For sure it is understandable that many people will be shocked and outraged in the face of revelations that suggest the concept of justice has been turned on its head in order to facilitate the overall process. But this shock and outrage would be more appropriately suited should they be a reaction to the above events taking place in a polity that was mature, settled and generally rational.
    This was not the case with the North, there was always the possibility of a slow, slide back into chaos and it seems absurd to think that we should now expect to get straight disclosure on events and actions that were born of a desperate situation in a twisted society. It appears as if some people are more interested in a ‘sacrifice’, somebody to nail to the wall in the hope that it will somehow prove that we have a society that not only follows the rules of justice and due process today, but can also apply those standards retrospectively.
    Well it can’t, and it never will. Such is our addiction to division and conflict that no matter what is declared as the ‘public’ interest somebody somewhere will be offended or feel betrayed. If people don’t vote they do so because they are sick to death of the constant revisions of the past; politicians and media obsessed with hysterical theatrics over what was a seriously sick political society that has taken time to heal and in the process needed some unusual medical intervention to keep the blood flowing.
    The normalisation of northern society needs to be nurtured by mature social politics and civil personnel concerned with the welfare of citizens in the context of a modern economic and political economy. But for many civic and political leaders in the North, that is not an option simply because it is the more difficult of the two options. Rather than focus on the tricky process of building a prosperous future for citizens; easier to bitch about the past and distract from political incompetence.
    The government and officials broke a few rules, turned a blind eye and cut a few corners in order to drag a stinking decrepit mess of a statelet out of the sewer.
    Big Deal, get over it. And if you can’t get over it, get out of it.

  • Barnshee

    ” government and officials broke a few rules, turned a blind eye and cut a few corners in order to drag a stinking decrepit mess of a statelet out of the sewer.”

    Facilitating the murder of citizens is hardly turning a blind – eye -however for a start let’s identify the owners of these ” eyes”

  • Politico68

    Barnshee,

    “For a start”

    Therein lies your problem because there is no starting place to truth after a conflict that has ended in stalemate. With no one surrendered group, there is no victors momentum to discovery. What you have are combatants defensively protecting themselves against disclosure. And the reality is, the bigger the push, the deeper the truth gets buried until it is eventually destroyed.

  • Charles_Gould

    I thought it was a really excellent documentary. Very well done and worth watching.

    SF put this guy Murray on their Haass “truth process” team – stinks.

  • GEF

    One of the best spotlights I have seen. One wonders if the PSNI knew much about this as they were only formed in 2001.
    The first investigation was probably by the RUC and as they were being disbanded probably left it all to the US side.

    Provisional IRA gunrunning from Florida to be re-investigated by PSNI

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/provisional-ira-gunrunning-from-florida-to-be-reinvestigated-by-psni-30172148.html

  • Morpheus

    Makes you wonder why we even have detectives in the PSNI when we can simply wait for the next Spotlight before investigations are opened.

  • Charles_Gould

    GEF – I agree. I thought it was a very good documentary. We do need investigative journalism of this quality. Its very important in a democracy.

  • megatron

    Mick:

    “But it may be the allegations of state collusion in murders undertaken in the Peace Process™ era that prove to be the most damaging.”

    Damaging to who? The state? unlikely. Sinn Fein? This story doesnt even register in the south.

    The process? Given that change is coming anyway I am not sure this will damage it in the true sense of the word.

  • Granni Trixie

    In the face of pressure on journalists not to rock the peace process with all that nasty stuff from the past,this is a brave programme to make and transmit. That said, ought we not be concerned if in a see no evil culture this kind of investigation is left to journalists to uncover piecemeal rather than arising from an agreed comprehensive approach to the past.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Catherine McCartney, her sisters and Robert’s fiancée are some of the bravest women anyone is ever likely to encounter. They took on and stood up to the IRA for what they did, spoke the plain truth, took incredible risks and paid a heavy price. Robert McCartney ultimately was a pawn in the process that led to permanent peace and IRA disarmament, but neither he nor his killers knew it at the time.

    I’m still working my way through Ed Moloney’s detailed, and quite heavy going, history of the IRA. It notes, during the stages of the process, that Adams and his faction used the IRA’s worst excesses against them. On several different occasions, unrestrained IRA murdering (for example civilians forced to drive car bombs to their targets with no time to escape before detonation) was supported by Adams and co, knowing that the public backlash would strengthen their hand in trying to get the IRA ceasefire instated, and then ultimately completely disarming the organization.

    Having watched the documentary I was struck by the demands coming from the IRA in the later stages of the Florida gun running exercise to increase the amount of guns coming in. The sloppiness of the “volunteer” sent to Florida to do this ultimately led to the whole thing being blown wide open. Did someone in the Adams faction order that the throughput be increased, knowing that this would increase the prospects of it being exposed ?

  • Politico68

    Comrade

    “I’m still working my way through Ed Moloney’s detailed, and quite heavy going, history of the IRA.”

    You would get more out of reading a copy of the Beano mate !

  • cynic2

    Makes you wonder why we even have detectives in the PSNI when have to wait for the next Spotlight before investigations are opened.

  • cynic2

    Tacapall

    My point is that it was the Ministers who were the most revealing

  • Mick Fealty

    You had me up to the Beano quote there P68… which, oddly, put me in mind of Lady McBeth (“a little water clears us of this deed…”)

    Out, damned spot! Out, I say!—One, two. Why, then, ’tis time to do’t. Hell is murky!—Fie, my lord, fie! A soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account?—Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him.

    Emphasis is mine, of course.

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/ fitzjameshorse1745

    Yes….
    But what exactly is anybody going to do about it.
    is anybody actually going to walk away from it?

  • GEF

    The spotlight programme and Logan, has certainly blown a big hole in lies told by the IRA in this Guardian article published back 15 years ago. For someone who was never in the IRA Gerry Adams has a lot to say on behalf of the RA.

    IRA denies sanctioning US gun plot
    http://www.theguardian.com/uk/1999/aug/07/northernireland.jamiewilson

  • Mick Fealty

    Why rush to the end of the story?

    I can understand that you might want to skip from chapter three to the end to skip the tedium you suspect lies between, but isn’t this a book still to be written?

    If the British had the Provo’s back all through the process we need to know how whom it affected.

    We also need to know whether in in brokering the peace, the state afforded licences to kill to certain elements within that government in order to keep that peace.

    Suddenly, almost out of nowhere it seems, it’s not quite as acceptable as it was to tell victims they must just get over it and move on.

    If there’s going to be a moving on (and I think there should be) we need to know:

    1, what we’re all actually moving on from;

    2, what we’re expected to move on to.

    We’ve been trying to solve the past whilst people in the know were not being truthful with victims and the rest of us about the whole picture.

  • Gopher

    If there were any convictions would it be full sentence because its after 1998?

  • aquifer

    “we need to know:

    1, what we’re all actually moving on from;

    2, what we’re expected to move on to.”

    We are moving on from a situation where the authority of the state was in question, and have arrived at a place where there is no substantial challenge to the writ of the state and a broad acceptance that the state can impose legally validated sanctions including force. We have also achieved a rights culture in policing and governance.

    What we are moving on to is in dispute, and also depends on interpretations of a past that is regrettable for people who have been brutalised, and often distressing to people who have been hurt or disadvantaged.

    Our past is overrated and I could hear less about it, especially if we had leadership less invested in it.

  • zep

    “The government and officials broke a few rules, turned a blind eye and cut a few corners in order to drag a stinking decrepit mess of a statelet out of the sewer.
    Big Deal, get over it. And if you can’t get over it, get out of it.”

    Shockingly callous. I daresay the Finucanes or McCartneys would disagree with you on how much of a ‘deal’ it is for the state to ‘break a few rules’. Alan Shatter probably would too, given the grief he is coming in for.

  • cynic2

    “government and officials broke a few rules”

    where is a Human Rights Lawyer when you need one?

    Has the Pat Finucane Centre or British Irish Rights Watch taken up any of theses cases? Will they?

    Where is the Human Rights Commission? Surely if they aren’t of use in this what are they for?

  • tacapall

    “The government and officials broke a few rules, turned a blind eye and cut a few corners in order to drag a stinking decrepit mess of a statelet out of the sewer.
    Big Deal, get over it. And if you can’t get over it, get out of it.”

    Thats the typical colonial mindset that festered divisions in Ireland since the plantation. The law either applies to everyone or it applies to no-one at all, that’s the difference between democracy and tyranny the coloniser and the colonised. It is easy for people who lost nothing nor experienced the effects of governments and their agents breaking a few rules and turning a blind eye to those who were employed to protect the innocent and enforce the rule of law being directly complicit in murder and terrorism. We all want to move forward and put the poast behind us but we also have to learn from the mistakes of the past and right the wrongs that happened. I certainly dont want to be governed by people like McGuinness or Adams but equally I dont want to be governed by people who think just like yourself.

    “And If you cant get over it get out of it”

    Can you bring the dead back to life ? Get out to where ?

  • Politico68

    Zep – in an ideal world I would like everybody to get the answers they want and the peace of mind they deserve. But I dont live in an ideal world, I have to accept the reality of ‘what is’ rather than ‘what I wish for’. The multifaceted nature of the conflict means we either draw a line now and move on or we potentially risk creating the circumstances for further conflict.

    Cynic – even human rights lawyers are fully aware that states ‘suspend’ their commitment to human rights when they believe circumstances require it, especially in the context of conflict.

    Tacapall – you have a very black and white view of the law and how it operates. Unfortunately the law is not always used efficiently in conflict contexts. Thats not an excuse its simply a statement of reality. If you think u will learn from the mistakes of the past by hunting people in the now in order to pin a badge of blame on, you are sadly mistaken.U can chose who to be governed by through the ballot box. We now know what the price of peace is, if you are not prepared to pay it are you prepared for the consequences?

  • zep

    ” If you think u will learn from the mistakes of the past by hunting people in the now in order to pin a badge of blame on, you are sadly mistaken.U can chose who to be governed by through the ballot box. We now know what the price of peace is, if you are not prepared to pay it are you prepared for the consequences?” – Except that the point of unpicking state collusion in crimes and attempting to prosecute those resonspible isn’t about ‘learning’, or ‘hunting people down to pin badges of blame’, is it? It’s about holding people to account for their crimes, no matter who they are or were

    As for ‘the price of peace’ – what are you saying? Do you think the PSNI, PPS, Garda, CPS etc etc should operate with a gun to their heads? That the criminal decides whether or not he or she should be pursued, and if they don’t like the decision, they engage in more criminality?

    “The multifaceted nature of the conflict means we either draw a line now and move on or we potentially risk creating the circumstances for further conflict.” – How?

  • tacapall

    “Tacapall – you have a very black and white view of the law and how it operates”

    What other way would any sane person look at the law. Are you suggesting there is a grey area where the rules can be manipulated to suit a particular policy or action, a policy or action that if carried out by others would lead to prosecutions and convictions but because it is being carried out by the state the same rules dont apply. Using murder to supposedly stop murder, arming murder gangs, allowing innocent civilians, fellow officers, soldiers and whoever to be murdered all supposedly for tactical advantage in the interests of saving life. Call me old fashioned if you like but in my mind the law applies to everyone or no-one at all surely you must understand – When those who make the law break the law then there is no law, conflict or not.

    Yes I think we can learn from the mistakes of our past by righting the wrongs that were made like naming those police officers who controlled murder gangs or naming those officers who armed murder gangs – Were these officers disciplined or promoted. Were these officers even reprimanded. Are these criminals still serving police officers and why does the rule of law not apply to them but applies to all others who carried out actions outside the law during the past conflict.

    “We now know what the price of peace is, if you are not prepared to pay it are you prepared for the consequences”

    Another armchair general telling us what we better do, like I said its easy for those who lost nothing to forgive. I’ve lived at the coalface all my life friend and I’ve seen what justice is like from those you are telling me I must accept as peacemakers and lawmakers, it is not me who is blind nor is it me wishes to brush the truth under the carpet.

    By the way what consequences might arise if some victims dont accept the murderers of their loved ones being given immunity for their actions ?