Southern Securocrats?

Both the Sunday Tribune and the Sunday Independent carry an embarrassing story for Sinn Féin.

SF man linked to IRA ring spying on TDs

It concerns the relationship between SF TD Aengus O Snodaigh and SF’s Niall Bennett/Binead, who was convicted of IRA membership on Thursday. This came about after the arrest of men in connection with a planned lorry hijack. During the course of this investigation an IRA Dirty Tricks operation against members of the Dáil was uncovered, details of which seem similar to activities in NI that, in part, led to the collapse of the Stormont executive.

It certainly helps explain the exchange below as reported in the Sunday Independent.

It would also appear that by at least May of last year, the Minister for Justice was aware of Bennett’s relationship with Aengus O Snodaigh.
During a Dail debate on policing in the North on May 15 last year, McDowell had a sharp exchange with O Snodaigh during which the Minister referred to “certain company” kept by the Sinn Fein deputy.
O Snodaigh called on the minister to “withdraw the aspersion”.
To which Justice Minister Michael McDowell replied:
“I am talking about the people with whom the Deputy is closely associated and he knows very well that I am talking about them. He knows exactly what I mean. I say again, if everybody was choosy about the past associates of everybody that they did business with, very little business would be done. I am saying that the Deputy, personally, should bear this in mind.”
O Snodaigh: “I ask the Minister to withdraw the aspersion against my character that I keep bad company. That is what he said. He stated that the company I keep is unsuitable. I ask him – if he has information about which I do not know – to explain who those people are so that I might not keep bad company.”

  • Davros

    Have to say, The pictures of Aengus on the SF website News feature are very different from the picture in this week’s an Phoblacht and on the front page of The Sunday Tribune 🙂 Digital air brush ?

  • peteb

    I think the highlight of the story, for me, is the detail that, after the initial arrests of the five men attempting to hijack a container on its way to Dublin, “two calls were made [to Bray Garda Station] by a senior Sinn Fein figure inquiring if Niall Bennett was [one of those] under arrest” – to which the answer can only have been, “Not yet. But, thanks for the tip.”

  • Davros

    Another interesting story in the SI – SF and Green Support is stagnating and Gerry Adams is now the 4th most popular party leader in the republic according to poll.

    Sinn Fein will hold balance in ’07 election

  • George

    Off topic but interesting alright Davros,
    It’s not surprising that the Greens are sinking like a stone. They are the weak link in any potential opposition coalition and the section of the Irish electorate desperate for a change of government know this.
    People will move towards FG and Labour.
    In fact, and as hard as it is to believe, don’t be surprised if the numbers permit it, if we don’t have a FG, Labour and PD coalition in 2007. Personally I can’t see Enda making it but FF have been power for soooooo long I’d nearly vote the Natural Law Party in for a change.

  • J Kelly

    One mans spying is another mans leak or research. Every political party trys to find what their opponents are up to. Politics is a dirty game.

  • Davros

    Politics

    Careful JK. The fuss isn’t that it was a political party doing the spying, it was PIRA doing the spying- or are you saying they are one and the same after all ?

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Spying my arse. One TD goes to the bookies here and another one for a drink there. If that counts as spying with some tiny minds all well and good.

    It was the same sort of evidence we have had in the non jury court for decades. It was the word of a Garda Chf Supt. No amount of spin can change that.

  • Davros

    On Planet Pat doubtless the 5 men were only going to ask the Lorry Driver directions ….

  • James

    So the dead really do play a part in Irish politics after all. They collect welfare, they vote and they even show up on Provo hit lists. (subs required: nee ner, nee ner, NEE ner)

    Jimmy Breslin should write about these guys. These rocket scientists were relying on intelligence that was over two years old.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Davros,
    There were only two people up in court not five. That is the alleged spy ring i’m referring to. I’ve read the information allegedly supporting the spy ring allegations and to be perfectly frank it is quite timid. Remember try and stick to the facts the information was not illegal. They were convicted of IRA membership solely on the basis of a Garda. As stated spy ring my arse.

    This is of course in stark contrast to the information unionist liars (sorry politicians) bleat about under privilege in the House of Commons. But then again they have their own private police force and army for that sort of thing. Terrible isn’t it the police and army leaking information to unionists in a partisan manner.

  • Davros

    There were only two people up in court not five.

    where did I say that there were 5 in court ? 😉

    really Pat, you shouldn’t take yourself so seriously- the rest of us don’t….

  • peteb

    You’ve read all the information, Pat?.. that’s strange, because some of the documents involved were not made public.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Davros,
    Try at least to behave civillised and stick to the points. The thread is about an alleged spy ring. I merely point out that once again Unionist bigots read the headlines without taking account of the content, typical knee jerk reaction of people in search of a good mope. There was no spy ring
    The TWO men arrested were not charged with possessing any information that could be of use to terrorists. Simply IRA membership. The good Garda could at any time charge hundreds in the 26 counties with such an offence if they so choose.
    It was YOU who mentioned FIVE men in connection with this thread. Perhaps you could explain why.

    Pete,

    ALL information held on the TD’s was put before the court. The documents looked at in camera referred to the Special Branch files on the accused.

  • Davros

    The thread is about an alleged spy ring

    No Pat , YOU are trying to confine discussion to an alleged spy ring 🙂 Big difference!

    Ambrose started this thread. Suggest you read his post and then apologise for your boorishness.

  • Davros

    It was YOU who mentioned FIVE men in connection with this thread. Perhaps you could explain why.

    From the linked article Pat…

    ” A TELEPHONE call from a senior Sinn Fein figure to Bray Garda Station after the arrest of five men suspected of hijacking a container lorry led Special Branch detectives to uncover an IRA spy ring aimed at politicians in Dublin, it has been learned. The plot involved both Government and Opposition politicians. “

    a simple apology will suffice, I don’t expect grovelling 😉

  • Davros

    and needless to say … the first poster to mention FIVE men was pete 🙂

  • Henry94

    It’s no wonder there is confusion between the two men and the five men. This article is designed to covey impressions rather than information. What is the substance of it?

    Does anyone really find it credible that the IRA were spying on Jim McDaid because his marriage was in trouble? Do people think there would have been some advantage to be gained? That is absurd. What advantage?

    Can anyone read that article and come up with a single verifiable fact that we should take seriously?

  • Davros

    Now Henry, let Pat apologise, don’t lay smoke down for him.

    Mick has blogged Kevin Myers Irish Times article.

  • Davros

    Can anyone read that article and come up with a single verifiable fact that we should take seriously?

    That one of your TD’s political allies and friend is an IRA man ?

  • peteb

    That’s a lovely tale Pat (and now henry too)

    But as the article points out “During a search [of Bennett’s house] they found a briefcase with a number of documents including detailed notes with names, addresses and movements of politicians, criminals and members of the rival republican terror group, the Irish National Liberation Army.”

    Not simply collecting intel on politician’s private lives.. for the purposes of… potential blackmail perhaps? – just a guess you understand.

    As I recall it was some of those documents were ordered by the judge not to be made public.

    Oh and as for the connection to the five men.. well, as I pointed out earlier, that was confirmed by the senior SF member in Dublin grassing bennett up – oops I mean of course mistakenly asking if he had been arrested as one of those five… in addition to the van being ‘lent’ to SF for ‘election purposes’ that is.

  • Henry94

    peteb

    Oh and as for the connection to the five men.. well, as I pointed out earlier, that was confirmed by the senior SF member in Dublin grassing bennett up

    Confirmed? What the article said about that wes “It has been learned” There is no basis for believing it. No source, no name, no nothing.

    “During a search [of Bennett’s house] they found a briefcase with a number of documents including detailed notes with names, addresses and movements of politicians, criminals and members of the rival republican terror group, the Irish National Liberation Army.”

    I have a book at home with the name address and phone number of every TD. I bought it in Easons in Dublin.

    I would also consider it unremarkable if a political activist kept information about criminals in an area.

  • Davros

    Come on Henry. Why not smile and say “it’s a fair Cop, they got him bang to rights ” ? It’s more dignified than this flat earth approach.

  • Henry94

    Davros

    Fair cops and fair trials. Wouldn’t it be lovely.

  • Ringo

    Henry –

    Does anyone really find it credible that the IRA were spying on Jim McDaid because his marriage was in trouble? Do people think there would have been some advantage to be gained? That is absurd. What advantage?

    Maybe in the course of the spying they might come across something that might be useful as blackmail?

    This is not to say that the notion of spying on TD’s isn’t absurd, but the wannabees down south want to play grown up games like their nordies comrades too, no matter how daft it seems.

    Once Aengus O Snodaigh (who seems to be a very likeable politican in general) refuses to make phone calls to ‘fix things’ for criminals who just happen to share his views on the National question then Henry and Pat won’t have to waste energy seeking to portray the Ford Transit 5 as in some way the victims of a conspiracy.

    Anyway as for convicting them on the basis of the Garda Supers word – I don’t see too many people sent down for membership protesting their innocence when they end up in Portlaoise or wherever. Instead they just report to the OC?

  • peteb

    The question now is – who will SF anoint to front the “Welease the Dublin 2” Campaign?

  • Henry94

    Ringo

    You are also confusing the 5 with the 2. The 5 were the guys in the van. The 2 were the guys convicted of IRA membership.

    The two cases are being thron together in order to construct an attack on a Sinn Fein TD who had nothing to do with any of it.

  • Davros

    Mitchell links SF to disappearance of mail

    It never rains but it pours 😉

  • Ringo

    Henry –
    The court was told that the two men were arrested after gardaí arrested five men following suspicious activity around a number of vehicles in Corke Abbey, Bray on October 10, 2002.

    Seeing as they are linked maybe we should just refer to them as the 7 men so?

    And if the SF TD had nothing to doo with any of it, what was he doing ringing the Guards?

  • Henry94

    Ringo

    Seeing as they are linked maybe we should just refer to them as the 7 men so?

    These cases are not connected in any way other than by media speculation possibly based on Garda briefings and possibly not.

    And if the SF TD had nothing to do with any of it, what was he doing ringing the Guards?

    What basis have you for believing he did?

    It is important to remember that on other occasions when republicans have refused to accept media speculation as fact they have subsequently been thoroughly vindicated by events.

    Those (and I don’t know if it includes you) who have believed what they read in the papers were left with their langers hanging out as they say in Cork

  • Ringo

    It is important to remember that on other occasions when republicans have refused to accept media speculation as fact they have subsequently been thoroughly vindicated by events.

    You can’t be serious. How selective does your sense of recollection have to be to stand over that statement?

    Here’s one for you: The media have speculated that Gerry Adams was a member of the IRA. Republicans (him) have refused to accept this. Can you point me to the through vindication of this by events?

    These cases are not connected in any way other than by media speculation possibly based on Garda briefings and possibly not.

    No, the have been connected in a statement in a court of law and by Garda investigation.

    Those (and I don’t know if it includes you) who have believed what they read in the papers were left with their langers hanging out as they say in Cork

    There is nothing wrong with a little bit of well directed skepticsm, but I’m finding it very hard to swallow the idea that:
    a) the national press is having the wool pulled over its eyes on this by the Guards
    b) the national press is complicit in the conspiracy

    Ok you explain what the lads in the van were doing seeing as I’ve go it so wrong ..

  • Henry94

    Ringo

    The media have speculated that Gerry Adams was a member of the IRA. Republicans (him) have refused to accept this. Can you point me to the through vindication of this by events?

    Has he been charged with that offence? If he was charged and the State dropped the charges for lack of evidence or he stood trial and was cleared would you accept that as vindication.

    If so copy for the Colombia Three and the “Stormont Spy-Ring”

    a) the national press is having the wool pulled over its eyes on this by the Guards

    It is not unusual for the Guards to mislead the press. If you think it is then you are naive.

    b) the national press is complicit in the conspiracy

    Certainly the Independent Group are willing to print stories about Sinn Fein that are not true. I have given examples here before.

    Ok you explain what the lads in the van were doing seeing as I’ve go it so wrong ..

    I have not contested any statements about the lads or the van. My point was about attempts to implicate a Sinn Fein TD who to be fair was not in the van and had nothing to do with the van.

    So how is he linked with the van? Through a different arrest of two people one who is a member of Sinn Fein and one who is not(neither of whom were in the van!)

    We are told with no evidence whatsoever and no source to question that an unnamed Sinn Fein person rang the Gardai to enquire about a person in custody (except that person was not in custody at all!)

    I don’t believe a word of it and you shouldn’t either.

  • Davros

    What is the republican equivalent for the Nelsonian placing of telescope to blind eye ?
    I suggest ‘doing a Henry’ 😉

  • Ringo

    Has he been charged with that offence? If he was charged and the State dropped the charges for lack of evidence or he stood trial and was cleared would you accept that as vindication.

    If the courts find him not guilty then that is a vindication. If charges are dropped due to lack of evidence that doesn’t equate to vindication.

    And if he’s found guilty its a conspiracy, between the national press and the Guards.

    Back to the Van. So we’re agreed that on balance the lads the the van were up to some sort of criminal activity.

    And the other two people picked up by the Guards in the follow up were convicted with an offence.

    So without splitting hairs, all 7 were either about to break the law or had broken the law. Which is why they were arrested. Any problems so far with this? No room for conspiracy to this point.

    Which leaves Aengus O’Snodaigh and the phone calls.

    What about this. As their local TD and election assiociate he was just doing some parish pump politicking in making the calls. Until the documents on the TD’s appeared and then that didn’t reflect well on him. Or the fact that associates of his in the republican movement are active in a way that couldn’t be described as political activism.

    So the republicans go into shutdown, declaring everything to be a conspiracy and saying nothing else.

    Your postings are a case in point. You can manage to write reams on how the information in the public domain is incorrect and malicious, but you provide not one line to help us put the record straight.

  • Henry94

    Ringo

    The cops and the papers have form on this. Before the last General Election Martin Ferris was arrested in connection with an alleged assult. The Independent was full of it of course and we were assured that charges would follow.

    All that followed was that Ferris took Dick Spring’s seat and their was never another word about charges.

    Which leaves Aengus O’Snodaigh and the phone calls.

    Does it? Where are you getting that from?

    You can manage to write reams on how the information in the public domain is incorrect and malicious, but you provide not one line to help us put the record straight.

    It is for people making accusations to prove their case.

    Back to the Van. So we’re agreed that on balance the lads the the van were up to some sort of criminal activity.

    That’s not the issue I’m raising.

    And the other two people picked up by the Guards in the follow up were convicted with an offence.

    So where’s the link?

  • Ringo

    I’m not sure of whether you know anybody in Tralee, but if you do, you’ll know that Ferris’s Sinn Fein has ‘form’ as you put it. And we’re not talking about gun-running. Just because there was no case doesn’t mean the story was made up.

    It is for people making accusations to prove their case.
    This is pure rubbish. You are not in a court of law, the case is open for discussion. This is exactly what I was on about, the typical sinn fein stonewalling stance. ‘You’re wrong, we’re being victimised and we’re saying nothing’. Yawn.

  • Henry94

    Ringo

    I know a lot of people in Tralee. They all voted for Martin Ferris who topped the poll.

    The issue here is not Sinn Fein but the media.

  • peteb

    Actually, Henry, the issue would apppear to be Sinn Féin’s attitude to the Gardai and the Irish judicature.