A story of conflicting stories…

NIall Stanage believes the Donaldson affair casts light on the dark heart of Northern Ireland. Former Secretary of State Paul Murphy however points to the indisputable fact that someone was gathering material up at Stormont. Pretty much everyone else is pointing at Sinn Fein. Damien Kiberd argues that the next move must come from the British to reign in its intelligence forces. Hugh Orde denies the Stormont shutdown was anything to do with the Police, rather it was “people stealing documents from government offices”.

  • jake the peg

    with a rogue element suceeding to destroying
    all chances of any work being done at stormont
    it just goes to show these puppetmasters are
    wining ever presently

  • seabhac siulach

    What our friends Mr. Orde, Mr. Murphy, etc. say is that documents were recovered, but they are strangely neglectful to say where they are found. These ‘documents’ were recovered from a house in West Belfast, far away from Stormont. In fact, they were discovered in Denis Donaldson’s house, the British agent. Orde makes some comment about two disks being taken from Stormont as a result of searches undertaken after these documents were found. This is a covering-his-ass smokescreen from the ‘impartial’ Mr. Orde. It is my understanding that all materials taken from Sinn Fein offices at Stormont were later returned, including some harmless blank computer disks. So, then, one may ask what are Orde, Murphy, etc. talking about? It is obvious that something underhand was/is going on. The police ombudsman, on seeing evidence of the documents discovered in Donaldson’s house had no choice but to declare that there was ‘spying’ taking place. She, after all, relies on information supplied to her by the police. However, this is not to say that spying was taking place in Stormont. From what we know, the only spying being done at Stormont was by Donaldson (against Sinn Fein!) and the documents found were in his house.
    Should not sanctions therefore be applied to the Brit. Govt. in this case, as they were so freely applied to Sinn Fein? Or is Sinn Fein the only ‘bad’ one in all of this…

    The PSNI, Murphy and others cannot just wash their hands of the whole affair just like that. They are responsible for the whole political mess we find ourselves in at the moment. Were the PSNI being played by MI5? Is nobody responsible for the collapse of Stormont in an obviously stage-managed exercise? Should someone (Orde?) not be sacked?

    Perhaps, in future Unionists and others will take a moment to think before pointing fingers at Sinn Fein. The real dangers to peace are not on the Republican side.

  • jake the peg

    There is no point getting worked up mate
    the fact is these people are free to do what ever
    they want and I must say I do not support them
    but you have to say they suceed in doing this kind of thing very well for they have plenty of experince in doing it this is a P.R exercise

  • Pete Baker

    Unless the British, and Irish, governments shift from their current position of ‘let’s move on’.. a position that, despite their outrage, Sinn Féin are also adopting.. Gerry Moriarty summed up the problem very well in the Irish Times yesterday

    Republicans will believe the Sinn Féin scenario; unionists won’t: the rest of us will have to decide for ourselves which is the most credible.

    Moving on isn’t very likely if that situation is allowed to continue.

  • Briso

    I just don’t get it. How can any fair minded person think there is anything here?

    A British spy took a load of sensitive documents which could be useful to terrorists home. As far as I can see, end of story bar rampant speculation based on absolutely nothing?

    I would love to know the whole truth of this episode, but there is nothing to justify the huge raid and destruction of Northern Ireland power-sharing. Please, can someone explain to me what evidence I’m missing?

    My overriding feeling as someone who was desperate to see power-sharing work is that I’ve been shafted.

  • JD

    Another point that people are missing here is that Donaldson admitted in his public statement that one of his latest contacts with PSNI Special Branch was two days before his arrest, obviously to warn him that he was about to be arrested and to sit tight as nothing would come of it. If you knew you were to be lifted and raided why then would you have a rucksack load of incriminating documents under your bed when the event happened unless you were told to do so, or given the rucksack in order that it could be found in your possession and therefore give some credance to the TV raid at Stormont.

    Hugh Orde or Hain cannot use the fact that there was documents found at an agent of theirs house as evidence that there was a spy ring.

  • DK

    Why are people assuming that the documents were recovered from Donaldson alone and not the 2 other arrested? Sources please.

  • Briso

    DK said:

    >Why are people assuming that the documents were
    >recovered from Donaldson alone and not the 2
    >other arrested? Sources please.

    Does it matter? If Donaldson is a spy, what have you got?

  • JD

    The only documents that were found were from Donaldsons’ home, the allegation and charges against Ciaran Kearney was that his fingerprints were found on one of the documents and the allegation and charges against Willaim Keesy is that as a civil servant he may have access to the documents.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    JD and others have raised pertinent questions about the behaviour of the PSNI and their agent that mainstream media outlets are failing to ask. Surely with an inquiry ruled out the set piece press conferences given by Hain and Orde are areas where the media could at least appear to want to get at a semblance of the truth and do the job they are paid to do.
    Once again today Orde was allowed to make statements to the media and the questions put to him were pretty tame to say the least.

  • Paul

    Can anyone give any explanation as to why Donaldson had these documents at his home? Was he instructed to take them there by his MI5 handlers?
    If so, why? If that was the case, didn’t his possession of the documents, raise any suspicions in SF? Or do SF expect that kind of thing from their party apparachiks? If, as is being floated, the whole peace process was set up and managed by Brit intelligence, then why would they now try to collapse the whole thing? Was there, indeed, an IRA spyring with Donaldson at it’s centre,collected sensitive material – that wasn’t really of any use to anybody and which noone was going to act on anyway, but Donaldson just forgot, or couldn’t figure out, who he was really working for? Who’d blame him? I’m totally confused.
    In the words of the Kursell Flyers, “Little does she know that I know that she knows that I know she’s two-timing me.”
    It might be a good alternative to Monopoly this Xmas, get all the family round the table and try to figure out what the fuck was going on (role-playing optional).

  • crusty monkey

    How an incident which brought down a power sharing govt cannot be investigated independently reeks of massive cover up. It’s something that needs to be addressed before we can move on with responsible governing

  • spartacus

    both the main points made already are the important ones: hain cannot possibly think people will accept that documents found at his agent’s home prove the existence of a republican spy-ring; and second, this stinks to high heaven of massive coverup, involving governments north and south and apparently involving sf. if they allow this to happen, they will pay for it very heavily at the polls. no one is particulary excited about the prospect of getting stormont up and running again, as if that is an end in itself. but that seems to be what we are being asked to bury this for. rotten to the core, all of them.

  • JD

    Paul your first assumption is that he had MI5 handlers, Donaldson has said himself that it was PSNI Special Branch that he was in contact with. Bill Lowry was in charge of Operation Torsion and the documents were possibly handed to Donaldson at the meeting with his PSNI handlers two days before the raid on his house. The purpose of this was in order to be able to point to the existance of a spy ring and along with the TV raid in Stormont the objective would be undoubtedly achieved. Bill Lowry left the PSNI after Operation Torsion and turned up at a DUP rally were Paisley made his sack cloth and ashes speech. In my view this was a political conspiracy who succeeded in bringing down democratic institutions which have been down ever since.

  • seabhac siulach

    JD
    “Donaldson has said himself that it was PSNI Special Branch that he was in contact with.”

    Donaldson’s statement said that he dealt with RUC/PSNI special branch and also the British secret service…not particularly emphasised in his statement but there…
    It suggests that this Stormontgate business was a collusion or a simple mix-up between the PSNI and MI5. Donaldson had many masters, it seems.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Orde has defended the raiding of the SF office at Stormon, but has not given any reason for the raid.

    The documents seized had been recovered from the home of his agent. That very same agent would have been able to confirm what was present in the SF office. This was proven by the recovery of only a Microsoft disk.

    Was the raid mainly for the optics to very overtly put SF in the frame from the off. Not one journalist has had the wit to demand an answer from Orde, pathetic.

  • JD

    SS,

    He specified that his most recent contacts in relation to Stormont had been with PSNI Special Branch. It could be that MI5 recruited him in the eighties and ran him for many years to their own agenda, however it is clear that PSNI Special Branch became aware of his existance and when the political cabal that exists within and without the PSNI got there hands on him a decision was taken to burn him in an effort to discredit Sinn Fein and bring down the institutions. Hugh Orde was a spectator in all this as he was very wet behind the ears at the time and is now closing ranks to protect his force rather than exposing the people that he has already accepted are resistant to change and are still at war with republicans.

  • topdeckomnibus

    Perhaps MI5 wanted to collapse the Peace Process because they found out that it was them that got shafted these thirty years ?

    The threads seem to credit MI5 with more ability than civil servants actually have ?

  • JD

    Hugh Orde has been doing set piece interviews all day in an effort to demonstrate that he feels there was a spy ring. His whole case is that documents were found in a house in West Belfast. Not one interviewer has felt the need to ask him to confirm that the house in question is Denis Donaldsons’, his agent. He claimed that all documents definately exist, of course they do, your man and his handlers ensured that they would be there. On BBC Newsline he also alleged that there were loads of figerprints on them, if so, why is Ciaran Kearney the only person charged or being sought for in relation to fingerprints. Could the other fingerprints be Special Branch fingerprints, God forbid.

  • Paddycanuck

    I do not see the conflict – stolen documents found in the house of a british agent – only the office of british agent raided at stormont.

    Seems like a pretty clearcut case – There was a British Spyring at Stormont, aimed at toppling the Structures of the Good Fiday Agreement.

    Are there any journalists worth their salt in Northern Ireland?

  • Speaking of the PSNI, did anything ever come of the raid on Michael Copeland’s office before the last Westminster election?

  • Reader

    JD: He specified that his most recent contacts…
    saebhac siulach: Donaldson’s statement said that…
    Personally, I don’t trust Donaldson – how about you guys? He has now decided who he is going to appease – SF. I think it’s a misjudgement.
    And tell me – Did SF think his collection of documents was for their benefit for the last few years? And what about Ciaren Kearney’s fingerprints – is he on the other side too?
    At least some of the time wasn’t Donaldson working for SF? I think that the police pulled in an MI5 agent while he was spying for the republican movement. No massive conspiracy at all.

  • double agent, yes.

  • micktvd

    Reader says: “At least some of the time wasn’t Donaldson working for SF? I think that the police pulled in an MI5 agent while he was spying for the republican movement. No massive conspiracy at all.”

    This (convenient?) view is based on several unlikely premises:

    (1) Donaldson, in spite of his his role as MI5/PSNI/SB/ mole was also conducting his ‘day job’ spying for SF. That the police and MI5 knew little or nothing of Donaldson’s SF spying, or that MI5 did know, but didn’t tell the police in order to protect their asset.

    (2) Donaldson thinks there is good reason in trying to appease SF by lying about his ‘day job’ to let SF off the hook.

    There are good reasons for doubting that (1) is true. What’s the point of a mole if they don’t tell you the most important things they are doing? MI5 are either incompetent or were taking a huge security risk in letting Donaldson continue his ‘day job’.

    Assuming (1) is true, what has Donaldson to gain by pissing off his erstwhile handlers who he may well need to arrange and finance his security. What possible benefit can he gain by protecting SF from (truthful) spying allegations?

  • oceallaigh

    Surely it must be obvious to all by now that MI5 and the Special Branch were never on the same page when it came to dealing with Donaldson and the PSNI just weren`t aware of his traitorous ways.Did anyone ever ask Donaldson what it was that “compromised him at a vulnerable time” .Donaldson was a British agent before he met his chef friend in New York (who later worked at Castlereagh).Donaldson may have helped him get his job there through his MI5 connections and set him up in a flat close by .The chef was always suspected of being part of the Castlereagh break-in probably because of his “relationship ” with this fellow but was later allowed to leave the country and was never charged .It`s obvious Donaldson would have had to go to jail to complete the spy case against Sinn Fein and save the PSNI from embarrassment which he obviously balked at so his handlers then decided to hang him out to dry .Donaldson`s choices were either a few years in some Republican wing in prison where he would have been sussed sooner or later or exile in some sub-tropical paradise living off the avails of his treachery .Which ever way you look at it the British Government had a hand in subverting a democratically elected Government by the people of the north of Ireland reminiscent of CIA activity in South America where they would keep manipulating the whole democratic process until the got the government that they wanted .

  • Crataegus

    Imagine you were the Secretary of State; either you and your predecessors knew exactly what is going on (as has been claimed) or you don’t. If not you would want to know with clarity the who, what, where and when!! In addition you would, or should, have a political nose and realise the consequential ramifications of this affair. So;

    • Bearing in mind the obvious political cost if it was in the public interest to carry out the raid why is it no longer in the public interest to proceed? Why did the PSNI carry out this raid and who authorised it given the sensitivity? What has changed?

    • If we had a spy in the middle of this what purpose were the raids expected to achieve? Was the potential cost worth the potential gain? As agents go was this one reliable? What if anything was gained that was so important?

    • Because many are smeared by innuendo and association, if this was a screw up one would think there would be some acknowledgement or signs of action being taken to ensure that it never happened again?

    • With calls for an inquiry why is the Government stone walling? Why fear an independent Inquiry? Nothing to be gained or something to hide?

    • Hugh Orde’s statement, “nothing to do with the police,” is laughable, as is Murphy’s, “I think the process is robust enough to be able to withstand this and other problems.” It is all about LACK OF TRUST and denying either there is a problem or that you have a role doesn’t help. They are not dealing with the nub of the problem but are instead staking out their defence (Orde innocent gov.) or waffling and minimising (Murphy tis nothing really). Plainly this is an important issue so why behave in this manner?

    • Why are we not being told the simple truth? If it was a mistake then why not admit it and do something about it.

    • If there is adequate evidence to proceed then say simply that.

    • If there is adequate evidence, then given that the spy has been outed why not proceed?

    • What does Hain regard as the public interest, is that the same as the interest of New Labour or different?

    Sorry I don’t think this adds up, the Government is acting like it has something to hide, and given we have a peace process isn’t it time for ALL to question the role of the spies and intelligence gathering? Are they there as monitors or to shape, manipulate and even subvert a process? Something is very wrong.

    Also as Pat McLarnon has already mentioned the press and reporters really do need to raise their game and effectively call the Government, PSNI etc to account.

  • Crataegus

    Sorry ABOVE inadequate evidience in the first and adequate in second Obviously

  • DK

    micktvd,

    You actually just strengthened readers arguments!

    “This (convenient?) view is based on several unlikely premises:

    (1) Donaldson, in spite of his his role as MI5/PSNI/SB/ mole was also conducting his ‘day job’ spying for SF. That the police and MI5 knew little or nothing of Donaldson’s SF spying, or that MI5 did know, but didn’t tell the police in order to protect their asset. ”

    This is not at all unlikely. In fact it sounds more likely than the above 3 departments managing to co-operate. Remember that from MI5’s point of view there are a lot of potential SF agents in the PSNI with the 50:50 recruiting – so it is very likely they will not tell them. Most likely is that MI5 knew about DD and the PSNI didn’t.

    “(2) Donaldson thinks there is good reason in trying to appease SF by lying about his ‘day job’ to let SF off the hook.”

    I am sure there are several pressures that they can bring on him that MI5 can’t. How about your family have an accident………

  • Crataegus

    DK

    Yes agree screw up is the most likely reason. A few problems;

    1 Why doesn’t Hain simply admit to a breakdown in communications?
    2 If we were not proceeding because we did not wish to implicate a spy, now that he is outed then why not now proceed?
    3 Why did SF decide there must be a spy? If you are an innocent party why would you assume that the dropping of the case was because the government wished to protect the identity of a spy? If there was nothing there then the reason could as easily be a lack of evidence.
    4 The timing and manner of the Police raid seemed heavy handed, who approved that? How can we be sure that this sort of episode does not happen again?

    Can’t be left like this as the PSNI, MI5, SF and HM Gov are being branded guilty by association and supposition. We can’t let it sit like a loaded gun with the potential to derail future negotiations. Etc etc etc

  • Briso

    Crataegus asked:

    1 Why doesn’t Hain simply admit to a breakdown in communications?

    They will never talk about agents under any circumstances.

    2 If we were not proceeding because we did not wish to implicate a spy, now that he is outed then why not now proceed?

    Because part one of your proposition is incorrect. The reason the prosecution didn’t go ahead is because once DD is a spy, THEY HAD NOTHING!

    3 Why did SF decide there must be a spy? If you are an innocent party why would you assume that the dropping of the case was because the government wished to protect the identity of a spy? If there was nothing there then the reason could as easily be a lack of evidence.

    Indeed. However, the known facts are: Case dropped in ‘public interest’. Many incriminating docs were found in DD’s house. His prints were all over them. Name the plausible explanations other than DD is a spy…

    4 The timing and manner of the Police raid seemed heavy handed, who approved that?

    The officer in charge of the investigation.

    How can we be sure that this sort of episode does not happen again?

    Don’t make me laugh….

  • DK

    Crataegus:

    Attempted answers:

    “1 Why doesn’t Hain simply admit to a breakdown in communications?”

    Because he is a politician & it would look bad.

    “2 If we were not proceeding because we did not wish to implicate a spy, now that he is outed then why not now proceed?”

    Maybe he was not the only spy. Or perhaps he has done a deal with HMG via SF. Maybe it will proceed and it all just takes time.

    “3 Why did SF decide there must be a spy? If you are an innocent party why would you assume that the dropping of the case was because the government wished to protect the identity of a spy? If there was nothing there then the reason could as easily be a lack of evidence.”

    Maybe they aren’t an innocent party. So they smelled a rat when the case was dropped. Possibly they had already turned DD, who told them it was being dropped to save him (& others?)

    “4 The timing and manner of the Police raid seemed heavy handed, who approved that? How can we be sure that this sort of episode does not happen again?”

    By either the police and MI5 constantly cross-referencing their operations with one another. Very unlikely to happen due to security implications. Or else by MI5 ceasing surveilance – which will only happen if their is nothing that they need to keep an eye on for national security. Again unlikely. The police were probably heavy handed because they were delighted to have got such a coup for the force. Pity MI5 had to spoil their day in the sun.

    I don’t see any way forward except for some trusted 3rd party to cross reference the activities of the security agencies to avoid conflicting agendas. Or the police to tell MI5 everything they do in advance – something MI5 will be unable to cope with without major staffing increases and costs which they are unlikely to get approved. So we will see these again.

  • Crataegus

    DK & Briso

    Thanks interesting replies.

    Posed with the questions I asked both of you draw different conclusions. Basically it’s as clear as mud to me, and I would be loath to accuse anyone, hence I think an independent inquiry is needed. If SF are guilty then I would like to know, if not I would like some sort of an acknowledgement and apology from the Secretary of State. There are times when politicians simply have to bite the bullet it SHOULD go with the job.

    Trust is in short supply and someone must start to raise the standards here. Would it hurt either SF or the British Gov to say look we got it wrong, sorry it won’t happen again? Perhaps naive of me but I think it would be refreshing and be to the long term credit of those who do. We must move from self interest to wider considerations of general public interest, they are all there to represent everyone not merely a faction.

    What is happening now just isn’t good enough. Any wonder politicians here are viewed with odium?

  • Briso

    For once I think the politicians here are coming out of it rather better than the perma-tanned reptile and his collection of lickspittle nonentities.

  • Crataegus

    Briso

    I’ll drink to that, and long may it continue. Need unity of purpose here for the onslaught to come.