“Something, Something, Something, Dark Side…” – redux

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More sound and fury from Sinn Féin over the continuing, agreed, questioning of party president Gerry Adams, TD, about the abduction, murder and secret burial of Jean McConville in 1972.  This time the Northern Ireland deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, is recycling a 2011 phrase from his party chairman, Declan Kearney.  And, apparently, he has super-sekrit sources

Mr McGuinness, Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister, told a press conference at Stormont that the arrest of his party leader and “friend” was politically motivated.

He claimed Sinn Féin had been told by “senior” and “reforming” figures within the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) that “there was still a dark side within policing here in the north of Ireland“. [added emphasis]

“I think we have seen that dark side flex its muscles in the course of the last couple of days,” he added.

“We know who they are. The reformers know who they are,” Mr McGuinness told reporters.

[Sinn Féin are getting private briefings from people within the PSNI?! - Ed]  MI5…  [Sssh!!! - Ed]  Well, Martin may be…  [SSSHHH!!! -  Ed]

ANYhoo…  From the UTV report

Meanwhile the DUP leader and First Minister Peter Robinson has come out in support of the PSNI in the actions they have taken in the McConville murder investigation.

He explained: “I would suggest it would be political policing if the PSNI had not questioned those that were deemed to have been involved in any way.

It strengthens the political process in Northern Ireland for people to know that no-one is above the law, everyone is equal under the law and everyone is equally subject to the law.

I commend the police for the action they have taken. They must have known that by taking this step they would be criticised from some quarters but it is my duty as First Minister, as it is for others that have taken up ministerial office, to give their support to police and the rule of law.” [added emphasis]

The Guardian report adds

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said it was “frankly outrageous” that McGuinness was blaming the arrest on “the dark side of policing”.

Quite simply the police must be allowed to follow evidence wherever it leads them. It is a fundamental legal principle that justice and the due process of law must apply equally to everyone in a society,” Nesbitt added. [added emphasis]

Earlier on Thursday, a spokesman for the Northern Ireland Office rejected the suggestion that the arrest was politically motivated. The spokesman said: “This is entirely an operational matter for the PSNI.”

And, as the PSNI have reportedly said

In a statement, a PSNI spokesman said: “Police have a duty to impartially investigate serious crime including murder.

It is the police’s duty to make relevant enquiries, interview those with information, arrest and question suspects and, in consultation with the Public Prosecution Service (PPS), to either charge or submit a file to the PPS in relation to the investigation.

“This procedure is being followed in this case. As one individual has been charged with serious offences and files are being prepared in relation to other individuals, it would be inappropriate to comment further other than to reiterate the Police Service’s commitment to treat everyone equally before the law.” [added emphasis]

Back in August 2011, Liam Clarke spelt out the alternative

In a modern democracy, politicians are expected to allow the police the operational independence to follow up whatever leads come up – even if many of them turn out to be false.

The alternative would be for detectives to ring up senior politicians and to ask which suspects could be vouched for and which it would be wise to pull in for questioning.

That is just the sort of old boys’ network that republicans claimed operated between senior unionists and the RUC under the old Stormont.

Indeed.

Adds  From a further UTV report (1 May)

Dolores Kelly, SDLP MLA, said: “The police made it very clear during the Policing Board that they will go wherever the investigation leads.

“I believe that’s what they’ve done and I don’t accept the argument that it was political policing.”

Chris Lyttle, Alliance MLA, said: “I think if there’s a case to be answered to Gerry Adams has obviously approached the police and I think we need to see due process take its course now regardless of the time of the year that is happening.”

Mike Nesbitt, UUP leader, said: “Three things have happened – first of all Gerry Adams has said he’ll talk to the police about a very serious murder, secondly thinking about it the police say we would like to do that but then thirdly, the man’s best friend accuses the police of a conspiracy.

“What planet is Martin McGuinness on that he is accusing the police of doing something wrong when they’re simply accepting an invitation from Gerry Adams?”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD said: “This is still an investigation and what I can say is that I hope that that Mr Adams answers in the best way that he can to the full extent that he can about questions that are being asked about a live murder investigation.”

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  • Jagdip

    @Pete, are you not missing a wee word from your commentary

    “More sound and fury from Sinn Féin over the *arrest* [and] continuing, agreed, questioning of party president Gerry Adams, TD,”

    With the Shinners on the threshold of becoming Ireland’s biggest political party [by reference to the three candidates which opinion polling in the 26 counties say will be elected, plus the near dead cert of Martina Anderson in the 6 counties, so four out of 14] no wonder they’re sensitive to the *arrest* of their leader so close to polling day.

  • Morpheus

    I agree with PR, it would be criminal not to at least question GA. But once this is over we will know one way or the other if he has a case to answer in regards to this.

    If there is a ‘dark side’ to policing then it’s up to the Policing Board – of which SF are members – to weed them out so both communities keep the faith and we don’t go back to the old days

  • Charles_Gould

    SDLP not saying much at the moment.

  • Morpheus

    Do they ever?

  • Charles_Gould

    “We know who they are. The reformers know who they are,” Mr McGuinness told reporters.”

    Rather menacing sounding, that.

  • Charles_Gould

    Morph – I take it back. Here is highly-regarded Alban McGuinness’s take:

    https://audioboo.fm/boos/2121203-sdlp-s-alban-mcguinness-on-gerry-adams-arrest-not-political-policing

  • Son of Strongbow

    McGuinness has admitted receiving partisan political briefings by serving police officers (whom he dubbed “reformers”) who alleged serious misconduct by fellow officers, he called themuns the “dark side”.

    I hope PONI are taking note, McGuinness has made a defacto complaint against the police. Firstly the Police Ombudsman needs to seek information from McGuinness about the identities of his police informants for two reasons.

    To begin with their own breech of police regulations by selectively briefing politicians about the personal details of officers allegedly involved in internal police disciplinary matters.

    Once identified by Mr McGuinness (who’ll be no doubt keen to support the work of the Ombudsman) to have them identify those officers they have made serious allegations about (their failure to do so thus far is itself already a breech of the Police Code of Ethics).

    Once that is sorted the two ‘groups’ of police officers can be investigated by PONI.

  • Charles_Gould

    “Maginness” is his surname of course – Nolan spelt it wrongly and I repeated without correction!

  • Morpheus

    It was only tongue in cheek Charles – I have had a lot of time for the SDLP over the years, I have family members who are dedicated party activists, but it infuriates me that they handed over the middle ground to SF so easily through a series of talented but essentially ineffectual leadership. They should be in SF’s position

    I have been hearing a lot about a youthful, rejuvenated SDLP – especially in Tyrone – but I will believe it when I see it.

  • Charles_Gould

    Morph – it is a marathon not a sprint I think but I am optimistic for the long term.

  • Charles_Gould

    Newsnight, with Kirsty Wark, very interesting.

    *The victims commissioner Katherine Stone is very good. She is clearly yet sensitively articulating the victims view. Interesting how there is a sense that all victims do have a lot in common. She was quite clear that these wrong crimes of the past really have to be addressed.

    *Jean McConville’s daughter says she is ready to name names, and she really hopes that this moment is a turning point.

    *Jean McConville’s son also interviewed but he is not ready to name names – he is worried for his safety.

    *Peter Hain was also on, making his argument that people have to “move on”.

    *A sense that we are at a point where we are no longer willing to turn a blind eye for the peace process.

    *I hope that Jean McConville’s daughter is not let down this time.

  • Charles_Gould

    I have been saying this a lot in recent times: the victims are incredibly eloquent, they need more to be done for them.

    We really brushed them to one side in 1998 because doing so made life easier. But in recent years their voices seem more and more important. Their pain more unavoidable.

    I get the feeling (it may just be me but I think its wider) that we want to return to listen to the victims, to hear their demands for justice, and to do more to achieve truth and justice for them all.

  • son of sam

    Morpheus
    “I’ve had a lot of time for the S D L P over the years “—-Who’d have guessed from your Slugger posts?!

  • thisagain

    Yet again the Shinners blame everyone else but themselves. MMG & GA are forever bleating about the need for the Unionists to take ‘ownership’ and show ‘leadership’, how about they admit responsibility for their deeds and give the victims families some closure, and in the case of the McConville children maybe ensure they still do not feel intimidated to come forward with the names of the guilty parties?

  • Gopher

    My first thought when Gerry was detained was Pope Urban VIII famous words on hearing of Richelieu’s death

    “If there is a God, Cardinal Richelieu will have much to answer for. If not, he has done very well”

  • notimetoshine

    I don’t understand the big fuss with this, if the police have reason to arrest him fair enough. The way Sinn Fein talk with their ‘dark side’ and their ‘political policing’ anyone would think that SF politicians are squeaky clean and if they are not they are immune from any sort of police/judicial process. Pot, kettle and black come to mind when SF talk of ‘dark sides’, because of course there is no dark side in republicanism now is there?

    For once I agree with Peter Robinson, to not arrest GA if the police felt they had enough to do so would be a political act. Any policing matter involving a politician is going to be an intensely political act.

  • Politico68

    thisagain,

    what constitutes closure in the context of NI seems to be very subjective depending on who you are talking to. The Hass proposals seemed to offer an opportunity for all partys to come together and start dealing with the past but they were rejected by Unionism. It would be far more benificial if all deeds were either admitted to or dealt with in some form another in the context of a broad reconciliation and truth arrangement.

  • Dixie Elliott

    The Dark Side of Policing

    “Bring Gerry Adams in for questioning”

    “He’s already in Sir.”

    “Where I can’t see him?”

    “Thats because we’re being kept in the dark as to why we’re only allowed to arrest him now and not in the past.”

    “Always look on the Bright side of Life…De do.”

    “Who’s that?”

    “Thats Gerry singing.”

    “Where’s he singing?”

    “I don’t know it’s too dark to see anything!”

  • Charles_Gould

    thisagain – truth and justice for the McConville family. They deserve it.

  • Gopher

    Not just the McConville family Charles its for everyone including his own men.

  • Charles_Gould

    Yes – I am a believer in putting the victims demands for justice at the top of the agenda, and all the victims. But today it is about the McConvilles.

  • Pete Baker

    Adds From a further UTV report (1 May)

    Dolores Kelly, SDLP MLA, said: “The police made it very clear during the Policing Board that they will go wherever the investigation leads.

    “I believe that’s what they’ve done and I don’t accept the argument that it was political policing.”

    Chris Lyttle, Alliance MLA, said: “I think if there’s a case to be answered to Gerry Adams has obviously approached the police and I think we need to see due process take its course now regardless of the time of the year that is happening.”

    Mike Nesbitt, UUP leader, said: “Three things have happened – first of all Gerry Adams has said he’ll talk to the police about a very serious murder, secondly thinking about it the police say we would like to do that but then thirdly, the man’s best friend accuses the police of a conspiracy.

    “What planet is Martin McGuinness on that he is accusing the police of doing something wrong when they’re simply accepting an invitation from Gerry Adams?”

    Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD said: “This is still an investigation and what I can say is that I hope that that Mr Adams answers in the best way that he can to the full extent that he can about questions that are being asked about a live murder investigation.”

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    Do tell me, Mr Baker, that you inspired Dave Brown’s “with acknowledgements” magnificent (even Martin Rowson applauds) cartoon for today’s [London] Independent?

    That aside, it isn’t just the seamy side of NI politics that rumbles with conspiracist theory. I’m watching this from “old” York, and the vibes this side of the narrow waters are quite odd.

    I’m just reading Ben Brogan’s morning briefing, and I recognise the “Oh, gosh! Now it all comes back to me!” home truths in what he suggests:

    The continued detention of Gerry Adams on a possible murder charge continues to hang over Westminster, a huge story ticking away that no one quite knows how to approach. The Sinn Fein complaints about political motivation are a sideshow, not least given that those who have provided the evidence against Mr Adams are from the Republican side… For Number 10, though, the only issue is what it means for the Good Friday Agreement. Northern Ireland is not high on Mr Cameron’s list of interests, and the NIO is under-powered under Theresa Villiers. There will be anxiety about a possible SF withdrawal from the deal which would bring back direct rule… The failure of NI politicians to deal with the past, and specifically potential suspects in the province who have never faced justice, such as Mr Adams, is at the heart of it. Like Scotland after devolution, Northern Ireland since the GFA has ceased to matter at Westminster. A scramble to catch up is underway.

    Don’t cha just *lurve* that “under-powered”? The mark of a true word-master, subtly to omit the obvious adverb “seriously” in that.

    Sorry, can’t quickly find a html feed.

    Brogan also has a h/t for Nick Watt in The Guardian. Those of you “off-shore” [ahem!] might find it amusing, if not a bit scary, to read the “sophistication” of experienced metropolitan commentators explaining Northern Irish issues to their local audience. You will not be greatly informed, of course.

  • bigglen

    Peter Robinson has called on Sinn Fein to give information about the jean mcconville case,so will he give information about the people he knew in the third force who used the guns that he raised funds for that killed lots of innocent catholics

  • Mike the First

    Marty seems to have rather a lot of these private conversations with police officers and unionist politicians who tell him exactly what he wants to hear and repeat in public.

    It’s almost as if they’re just a rhetorical device that he thinks adds some weight to his pronouncements…

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Could some one explain to me (thicky AG) how this is in the interest of the British government if indeed it is the government’s doing?

    This hullaballoo is unlikely to harm SF’s vote, is it?

    If there is any hint whatsoever of it being the work of perfidious Albion then it’ll serve as a wonderful totem pole for shinners to dance & whoop around.

    If he gets charged, goes on trial and is found guilty, the effect could be amplified even further (different elections, obviously).

    Nothing short of a voice recording of the order being given, a confession, an array of accusers & witnesses with unblemished reputations in republican circles and a signed auto-biographical book entitled “why I had Mrs McConville killed, by G Adams” will be enough for some people.

    So really, if it is a political stunt, then what is the potential trophy?

    For as sure as the sun sets this won’t hurt SF in the forthcoming elections.

    Someone mentioned somewhere that it’s a shot across the bows, so, to what end?

  • tacapall

    “Someone mentioned somewhere that it’s a shot across the bows, so, to what end”

    Well if you could post up some evidence of the proactive investigations and arrests of any members of the security forces especially British soldiers who murdered Irish citizens on Bloody Sunday or Ballymurphy or all those British police officers who controlled and armed murder gangs that would be a pointer that this is not political policing or a shot across Sinn Fein’s bows not to rock the boat when it comes to historical crimes committed by state forces.

    For once Im in agreement with Sinn Fein and Mary Lou – Forget British elections or co-operation across the 6 British controlled counties of Ireland, pull out of anything the British are involved in and concentrate on getting into government in the 26 counties leave British elections for British people to take part in.

  • Jagdip

    Can anyone explain the legal position in Northern Ireland with respect of questioning under caution.

    According the Telegraph’s 2007 guide to such matters, under “Voluntary Attendance” (something which seems to accurately characterise GA’s attendance in Antrim)

    ” A person may be cautioned and questioned by the police without being arrested”
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1541359/What-it-means-when-you-are-quizzed-by-police.html

    Yet, Jimbo at the TUV says
    “of course, he couldn’t lawfully be questioned under caution without being arrested”
    Jimbo’s a barrister but criminal law wouldn’t be his forte, but this seems like basic stuff.

    So, can anyone clarify with a source: can you be questioned under caution in NI without being first arrested?

  • Jagdip

    Isn’t it cool that the CNR-hostile BelTel has the skinny on what is going on right now in Antrim

    “Mr Adams is being questioned largely regarding claims made in the so-called Boston tapes, although police sources told this newspaper the arrest followed additional intelligence being brought to the attention of the PSNI..it is believed a number of recent newspaper reports were presented to Mr Adams during his questioning.”
    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/gerry-adams-arrest-the-day-the-rift-at-heart-of-stormont-grew-deeper-30237154.html

    Presumably it’s not the “bright side” of the PSNI that is leaking such details, and no surprise the Irish News isn’t a recipient of the leaks.

  • zep

    “Well if you could post up some evidence of the proactive investigations and arrests of any members of the security forces especially British soldiers who murdered Irish citizens on Bloody Sunday or Ballymurphy or all those British police officers who controlled and armed murder gangs that would be a pointer that this is not political policing or a shot across Sinn Fein’s bows not to rock the boat when it comes to historical crimes committed by state forces.”

    Tapacall, if and when people are arrested for the crimes you mention , were I toI pipe up with ‘Well what about La Mon” or some other horrendous act, you would treat me with the contempt I would deserve.

  • tacapall

    Zeb someone was arrested and charged with La Mon, he was acquitted because RUC officers used torture to extract a confession out of him. – At least someone was arrested and brought before the courts even though the person was innocent. Now back to the point which Am Ghobsmacht was making and I was answering about political policing and selective investigating of historical crimes.

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    Morpheus[7.50]
    ‘If there is a dark side to policing….?’Peter Robinson knows very well why McGuiness is querying elements in PSNI but doesn’t want the 2002 spyng ring allegations brought up as he knows the fake claims were the work of those against even the Trimble/Mallon Stormont even though SF weren’t at the top table then. Robbo can rely on the pathetic BBC and UTV to keep schtum as well and not ask why those PSNI ‘forces who succeeded in ending 2202 Stormont setup, wouldn’t feel free to have another go at sabotaging the SF/DUP setup as well.

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    Don’t talk about Gerry — or there’ll be consequences, students warned

    http://www.thejournal.ie/gerry-adams-text-ucc-1446206-May2014/?utm_source=shortlink

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Tac

    With respect, that doesn’t answer my question.

    I asked what is the advantage to the British government, you named groups of people who are aggrieved.

    So again, if it’s politically instigated then who stands to win from this situation?

  • TwilightoftheProds

    AG

    arrest has nowt to do with elections. What is it to the British government if SF get 10000 votes more or 10000 less?

    I think the ‘shot across the bows’ angle is that the message being sent is:

    ‘Dear Republicans…this is what dealing with the past could look like. The spotlight will fall on people who took decisions to do very nasty things. Endless rounds of your political elite being asked damning questions under the public gaze. Invoking human rights and dealing with the past will not just foreground the actions of the state, it’ll throw a lot of light on the personal responsibility of those in the Republican chain of command. So think on.’

    But I’m doubtful if this was a straight political move…although the arrest will send the message as above regardless.

    The real political signalling on dealing with the past was a few days ago – ‘no more inquiries’.

  • tacapall

    On the ball Twilight thats what happens when you bite the hand that feeds you.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Thankyou Twilight, that’s what I wanted to know.

  • Pete Baker

    Twilight

    You’re looking for a conspiracy where none exists.

    In relation to the arrest of Gerry Adams – Occam’s razor .

    They’ve followed the emerging evidence to the suspects that they wish to question.

    Check out when the Boston tapes became available…

    That’s as complicated as it gets.

  • TwilightoftheProds

    Pete

    I don’t think its a conspiracy. But thats the message on the past many Shinners will likely ‘receive’.

    “But I’m doubtful if this was a straight political move…although the arrest will send the message as above regardless.”

    Now, who is the blogger always telling us to read posts to the end?

    …and clearly Gerry Adams has never worn a beard; although he would never dissociate himself from one. So no Occam’s razor needed.

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    Bbc:
    Last month, Ivor Bell, 77, a leader in the Provisional IRA in the 1970s, was charged with aiding and abetting the murder, and there have also been a number of other arrests recently.

    The case against Mr Bell is based on an interview he allegedly gave to researchers at Boston College in the US.

    The Boston College tapes are a series of candid, confessional interviews with former loyalist and republican paramilitaries, designed to be an oral history of the Troubles.

    Is Bell’s case solely on the tapes? If so, then surely Gerry is likely to be charged? If not, then there may be indeed dark forces at work…

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    One of the best pieces i have read on this:
    http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/revealed-photos-link-gerry-adams-to-jean-mcconville-kidnap-gang-30242059.html

    ‘McGeown, who died in October 1996, was a 17-year-old member of the junior wing of the IRA at the time. He subsequently became a Sinn Fein councillor in Belfast.

    McGeown and Adams are together with a group of Sinn Fein leaders after the count in the May 1996 elections to the Northern Ireland Peace Forum. Adams and McGeown were close associates and shared the same prison hut in the Long Kesh internment camp outside Belfast in the early Seventies.

    Republican sources in west Belfast say it was the 17-year-old McGeown who shot Mrs McConville through the back of the head as she knelt in front of her burial site on Sheeling Beach in Co Louth.

    On his death the Sinn Fein newspaper An Phoblacht reported McGeown “was a political prisoner in the infamous Cage 11 along with such notables as Gerry Adams and Brendan Hughes”.

    Brendan Hughes was the first IRA man to publicly name Gerry Adams as his “officer commanding”, alleging that he was the one who gave the order for Mrs McConville’s murder and disappearance. Adams continues to deny this.

    McGeown was one of the republican hunger strikers in the Maze Prison in 1981 and spent 47 days without food before it was called off. His period of starvation led to ill-health and his early death at the age of 44 from a heart attack. After his death, Sinn Fein launched a community endeavour award in his name and Adams described him as “a modest man with a quiet, but total dedication to equality and raising the standard of life for all the people of the city”

    A decision was made not to kill any of the young Catholic women, many of whom were driven out of the area, because of their local family connections. But according to local sources, Mrs McConville was sentenced to death because she was a Protestant who had married a Catholic, Arthur, who had died in 1971 leaving her alone to bring up their 10 children. She had no family connections in the Falls area.

    Mrs McConville was allegedly targeted because she gave a cup of water to a soldier who had been injured outside her maisonette in the Divis complex in the lower Falls. A gang of up to 20 male and female IRA members abducted and murdered her.

    The intention of the IRA leadership was to ensure that there was no relationship between the local community and the soldiers or police. The tarring and featherings and finally the murder of Mrs McConville ensured this.

    Sunday Independent