Spotlight on Donaldson shows much of the public narrative around dealing with the past is utterly fake

Every time a new story comes out of the spy woodwork it is like a walk 0n the weird side. What was interesting about last night’s Spotlight was how calmly it was received on social media.  You quickly get to understand why everyone chooses to believe the version they want to hear.

I still struggle to believe that Alan McQuillan didn’t know his cops would turn up in force that day, or that Hugh Orde (a politicians cop if ever there was one) left the final say to one of his deputies. Peppering the story too are cases that according to the official version, were abandoned.

Consider not simply the subsequent events which came to pass after Stormont slowly imploded (and I thoroughly recommend reading Slugger’s archive from start to end of the month of October 2002 to get a genuine sense how it occurred), but on the 1st Robert McMillan observed:

DUP agus Sinn Fein chun leas a bhainfidh as

It’s clear from the archives that, just as stated in last night’s programme, both the Irish and British governments were planning to cut the UUP and the SDLP loose as the lead parties in the new settlement. If the outing of the spy ring looked anti-SF there’s no doubt they became ultimate beneficiaries.

Without going into the individual cases mentioned, and talking to some of the participants involved, it’s hard to know what’s true and what’s not. The other question that always comes up is why did the agent concerned choose to speak out now?

One of Dan Gillmor’s golden rules for good journalism is to never to deal in or with anonymous sources. The overall effect is to leave everyone to their own biased reading of events that none of the main players are willing or able to play ball on.

The Donaldson episode makes for a water tight case that agents, particularly as prominent as this one purports to be should stay anonymous. Any ambiguity about a tout’s status has been squeezed out after his killing on a lonely Donegal mountain.

The whole episode once again leaves the long-time leader of the Republican movement denying allegations of responsibility. But as one wit pointed out on Twitter this morning, that hardly matters when he’s on record of approving of it in principle:

Mr Adams is not the only one who can be plausibly accused of lying about their role in the dirty war. The files Denis Bradley refers to, and which he says should never be opened suggests that as a society NI cannot handle the truth about the past.

The British know a lot more than they can or ever will tell: despite the fact they have the written records that apparently the Provisionals and the Loyalists don’t.

The nature of the settlement (those poisonous foundations) required many compromises between old enemies which mean that much of the public narrative around dealing with the past is itself utterly fake.

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  • mac tire

    So were all touts killed, Mick? The answer is no.

    Did Gerry make a decision on those, too?

  • AntrimGael

    I watched the programme and came away thinking it had very little substance and was based on a lot of rehashed rhetoric and same old, same old nudge, nudge, wink, wink stuff. Now I am no defender of Adams or the current Shinner elite BUT how can anyone throw out such serious accusations about people based on a nameless, faceless voice in the shadows? I don’t doubt Spotlight’s integrity but how can you verify if a guy who contacts you out of the blue is a British Agent, informer, tout call them what you will? Do you look up the Yellow Pages under ‘MI5/PSNI nark’? To put out an hour long programme based on this guy’s rantings smacks of sensationalist and pretty poor journalism in my opinion.
    Furthernore how can we, or Spotlight, be sure that ‘Martin’ wasn’t sent out by Smiley’s People to do a hatchet job and muddy the current political waters? There is the NAMA episode going on, and a lot of people are probably feeling the heat, so why not do what the usual suspects do, and throw out an oul ‘Gerry Adams’ headline to deflect away from NAMA? It all seems a bit coincidental and convenient to me.

  • Jollyraj

    Mr Adams is perfectly entitled to sue, isn’t he?

  • notimetoshine

    They made a classic mistake, quoting a well known historian. One can easily mash the words of someone less prominent. Not that I ever did :-p

  • mickfealty

    We don’t and we can’t. But nor do I buy a Nama conspiracy line. This non or partial disclosure is the calumny problem in NI politics I’ve written about before: https://goo.gl/5J5GlV.

    But there is still some useful re-capitulation in the piece.

  • mickfealty

    I’m not saying he did. We still don’t know who did, or why if they were Provos they would have the left the journal behind. But that’s the soggy territory we’re in when we talk about our compromised and compromising past. In any case what sort of odd fish would advocate the killing of touts and then not be prepared to order it himself?

  • Thomas Barber

    Well we know who tortured and executed most of those victims accused of being informers Mick and that would be British agent Freddie Scappaticci AKA Stakeknife. Who give the orders for him and his internal security unit to torture and murder those victims, most of whom, like most of their victims were also British agents is the subject of a now ongoing external investigation led by Chief Constable Jon Boutcher of Bedfordshire Police.

    According to Spotlight and others on this thread there’s obviously no need for that investigation, apparently and according to the UK Armed Forces sponsored and financed BBC anonymous source it was Gerry Adams who is ultimately to blame it was Gerry Adams who personally ordered the British agent Stakeknife and his gang of other British agents to weed out, torture and execute all those other British agents within the IRA.

  • Gopher

    The Adams interview when he was denying the link (has he sued yet ? ) is interesting as his responses are now getting almost pre programmed. Interestingly he seems to have lost that much faith in the “it’s the Brits” and “Gerry Hero of the peace” as people have in his credibility he more and more resorts to name dropping. Usually when in a bind Marty gets mentioned a lot ( poor Marty) but even Arlene Foster gets a name check this time. It’s as if the man is devoid of personality and has four rehearsed answers for these situations. It is looking more and more like watching a train wreck.

  • NMS

    He could also have gone for an injunction to stop the broadcast, if he thought it was going to spread lies about him.

    No doubt, the BBC’s lawyers have had a very good look in advance and are not worried about Adams’ empty threats. Here is one person, who will happily help him to “manage his reputation”, for a fee of course! http://johnsonssolicitors.com/who-we-are/partners/paul-tweed/

  • Redstar

    It’s hard to stomach the bleating of Shinners re informers/ alleged informers and their lies/ true revelations.

    SF tell us now it’s right and honourable to be an informer so what’s their problem?

    Indeed MMG says bizarrely to be a good Irish Republican you should work for British security forces.

    The only question many have for him is EXACTLY how long have you personally believed working for the spooks is the way to go……..

  • chrisjones2

    Godwins law in action.
    Your own lack of perspective says it all.
    There are lots of allegations but when you set up an independent body charged with investigating this and not a single case has been proved after almost 15 years you do have to ask were any laws actually broken by these cops? Or is the Ombudsmans Office fit for purpose?
    Indeed the only significant case I can recall them bringing was against Detectives in Derry who were alleged to have corruptly lied in a major terrorist case. The police officers’ trial collapsed when the defence showed that the Ombudsman’s staff had deliberately suppressed evidence that showed they were innocent of the charges! Last I heard the Ombudsman’s staff were under investigation.
    Then there was the strange case of the Investigator who seized a police gun then kept it in his desk for 7 years. It wasn’t an exhibit so why did he have it? We will never know because he immediately retired and there has been no investigation? Why not?

  • chrisjones2

    My apologies …I forgot the ducks ….I had tried to remove from my mind the image they conjured up but you have brought it all back. Its not pleasant

  • chrisjones2

    1030 Tuesday
    Great to see SF preparing the way for the NHS to move into Ireland as well post Brexit. I assume that we will have reunification with Ireland voluntarily moving back into the UK to facilitate this. Then we can all put the last 100 years of nonsense behind us and move on

  • chrisjones2

    I agree re Donaldson ……. all in all he did great service to the UK and to the whole community and its awful that he met that end …something ignored by so many posters above

  • Katyusha

    If you wanted a national health service, why would you want to join the UK where the Tories are busy dismantling it?

  • Jarl Ulfreksfjordr

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

  • Jollyraj

    “Instead, the GFA has enshrined that NI can leave the UK if it wishes to so, which was not the case beforehand. Why would a victorious force grant such a concession to a defeated insurgency?”

    And NI hasn’t left the UK, because we don’t want to. That would seem to me to rather the end of the matter. The right to leave is there, we have never exercised it, likely never will. Seems fair enough to everybody.

  • chrisjones2

    Dont quote Latin at them …they have enough problem with English

  • mac tire

    It is “Don’t”. You should also have typed “enough problems”, not “problem”. There should be a full stop at the end of your sentence.

    Apart from that, I’d say you’ll be fluent soon enough.

  • Reader

    Katyusha: Instead, the GFA has enshrined that NI can leave the UK if it wishes to so, which was not the case beforehand.
    Actually, it was the case beforehand – Northern Ireland could have left the union based only on a vote in Stormont. Following the GFA, that will no longer be enough

  • chrisjones2

    Yes dismantling it by pouring £9bn more into it

  • chrisjones2

    Funny that, elsewhere here, republicans scream that Gerry has never been charged and there is no evidence then in one breath you try and convict Scappaticci. Some mistake surely?

  • chrisjones2

    Repeatedly on slugger it seems

  • AntrimGael

    I have no doubt the Republican movement was infiltrated at all levels by the British but so was every facet of this society. We know they virtually controlled the Loyalist death squads and they also had a strong grip on political Unionism (Kincora, Tara etc for example) so people in glass houses and all that. This is also not a historical narrative. Britain’s security agencies still have a very active presence in the North and be under on illusions that also includes other political parties and elements of the media who have been a propaganda tool for them for decades (that is NOT an accusation against Spotlight by the way). Anyone interested in this should read Liz Curtis’s book Ireland and The Propaganda War. There’s also NO doubt that Britain also has it’s agents well established in Southern political and media circles who do their bidding with relish.

  • billypilgrim1

    So, when you talk about soldiers and policemen being denied the presumption of innocence, what you’re referring to are comments on the internet?

    Okay…

  • Thomas Barber

    Chris here’s another slap in the face for you and the man that gives you loads and loads of rope.

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/donaldson-murder-police-say-provos-not-to-blame-genuine-surprise-at-bbc-allegations-35072008.html

    “Donaldson murder: Police say Provos not to blame – ‘Genuine surprise’ at BBC allegations”

    “The repetition of this position yesterday by security sources raised questions about the claims of the former IRA man and British agent who told the BBC the IRA killed Donaldson. One garda source described it as “a pile of c***”.

    “No one, and I mean no one, on either side of the border believes this claim has an ounce of truth in it,” he added. “The guards say it’s nonsense and the PSNI believe the same”

  • the keep

    I am not interested in what he didn’t do just in what he did do surely you wouldn’t have a problem with that?

  • the keep

    I for one would love for him to sue it would get very interesting

  • chrisjones2

    You usually get medals following personal valour or great victories

    Can you give examples for Gerry?

  • chrisjones2

    I have a form of dyslexia that I fight to control

    What is your excuse?

  • chrisjones2

    That’s very interesting that both the Garda and PSNI are alleged to have leaked this to Journalists and thereby taken the heat off Gerry. Very odd

  • chrisjones2

    NO i am specifically referring to comments on slugger which assume that all allegations against police army and the UK Governmnet are proven and all against SF are untrue. Read the thread above and you will see

  • chrisjones2

    Which ones are those?

  • mac tire

    “What is your excuse?”

    Reading your posts.

  • Skibo

    Consider the scenario, Vichy France during WW2, the French have agreed terms with the Germans and are governing Vichy France. The French Resistance realise one within their organisation is giving information to the Vichy government and one of their units have been executed, do they have the right to execute the informer?

  • Skibo

    Would it not have something to do with the parameters of her investigations being set by others?

  • Skibo

    Isn’t it interesting that you and Jarl rubbish the fact that there are implications of Police officers being involved in collusion and say they are bogus bogus as there are no court proceedings yet you believe the GA is guilty of running the IRA and ordering murders yet can point to no court proceedings for anything!

  • mickfealty

    Not if you are a politician embedded within the Vichy regime you don’t.

  • Skibo

    Mick, have you read the post in BelTel where PSNI and Garda confirm that the Real IRA were involved in the killing and were surprised at the Spotlight story.
    Makes me think Martin was either an Army tout or a special branch tout not required anymore and was trying to reinstate a monetary stream!

  • Redstar

    Is that the same queen Marty is proud to be associated with????

  • Skibo

    The point is the level of support for reunification of the island is under question. To hold a poll would give definition to the issue and would either put it to bed for a generation or make Unionists realise it is far closer than they realised and the time has come for some difficult discussions and negotiations.
    If Unionism waits too long, their negotiating strength will be gone.

  • Thomas Barber

    According to Chris and his band of collusion deniers this never happened –

    “15 murders linked to police collusion with loyalists”

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2007/jan/23/northernireland.topstories3

    Apparently never happened either –

    http://www.thedetail.tv/articles/now-betting-shop-atrocity-failings-come-to-light

  • Jollyraj

    “If Unionism waits too long, their negotiating strength will be gone.”

    Meaning what? If we were in the minority we wouldn’t be treated fairly?

    I’m intrigued as to what your last line actually means.

  • Jollyraj

    “And would either put it to bed for a generation”

    Really? And what about the promised ‘every 7 years until we get our way’ that seems to be favoured by the very vocal Republican minority.

  • John Collins

    It appears John Stalker might have charged them, but he never got the chance.

  • John Collins

    And so were the Free Presbyterian Church. SF and the FPC had big posters announcing there presence at the event, within yards of each other, on the way into the event. How ecumenical.

  • John Collins

    Chris
    Well we down are glad we have the previous ‘long century (1801-1922) behind us, an era when our population dropped, in what is the ROI, by about 40% and we encountered really massive emigration and famine. I can guarantee you that we have no intention of ever re-joining the nonsensical arrangement, for us at least, that existed in that period.

  • John Collins

    I have worked in different Health Services. I doubt very much that throwing money at them is always the answer.

  • John Collins

    Well Chris, after his cover was blown there was a full two weeks when he could have been relocated to some place safer. It was obvious he was in huge danger if he was left where he was. Yet he was calmly discarded to his fate by all sides.

  • John Collins

    It is actually the largest show of its type in Europe, although the fact that a ROI organisation is capable of running it so well, might sicken some people.

  • Jarl Ulfreksfjordr

    Oh FFS! Get off the MOPE train!

  • John Collins

    Struck a raw nerve. I was expecting a more eloquent response perhaps with a quaint Latin phrase thrown in, Reps ipsa loquitor. Fagaimid siud mar ata se.

  • Jarl Ulfreksfjordr

    Happily not. The jangling nerves vibrate within those who regard any reference to Ireland as an attack and feel compelled to kneejerk a ‘defence’.

    I’ll not bother to ask why you suppose anyone would find it ‘sickening’ that a country with a very significant agricultural industry would be unable to run successful agricultural shows. Of course a rather blinkered partisan mindset on your part might explain your reaction.

    Btw, best to get the spelling correct when using Latin. Stick to Irish is my advice.

  • John Collins

    My advice would be let everybody stick to English. the language we all have a good grasp of. I speak Irish for about an hour most weeks and Latin, which I studied fifty years ago, not at all. However your original point that ploughing gets little attention may appear to be accurate, but it should be realised that over 64 years the main competition at the World Ploughing Champions, has been won by men of this island on no less than thirteen occasions, with a whopping 9 being won by NI men and on 10 occasions the runners up award has been achieved, with 8 of those resting south of the border.