conspiracy theory suffers from fundamental flaw

In the Belfast Telegraph, Ed Moloney argues that “Not only does the Sinn Fein conspiracy theory not hold water, but the evidence about securocrat behaviour is strongly to the contrary.”

Boiled down to essentials, what the Sinn Fein leadership is saying amounts to this: in an attempt to prevent Sinn Fein staying in government, and as part of an effort to kill off the peace process, MI5 and the PSNI leadership conspired to subvert the policies of their democratically elected Prime Minister, Tony Blair by inventing a spy ring at Stormont, thereby ensuring the collapse of the Executive.

If this is true, and the spooks had managed to get away with it, then Stormontgate would represent one of the most audacious anti-democratic plots in British history – one that dwarfs the allegations of spookish dirty tricks against Harold Wilson in the 1970s.

Common sense suggests that in such circumstances, amounting to a grave constitutional crisis, Tony Blair would have to move quickly to crush such dangerous dissent or see his authority fatally eroded. But he hasn’t. And that is because he knows Adams and McGuinness are playing politics and that what they say is so much eyewash.

The Sinn Fein conspiracy theory – that the spooks are out to destroy the peace process – suffers from a more fundamental flaw. Not only is it rubbish, but the exact opposite is the truth. The peace process represents the wildest fantasies of the security establishment come true and the last thing the spooks want is to see it destroyed.

The peace process has enabled MI5 and the PSNI Special Branch to achieve something that very few if any security forces have ever accomplished: to see their enemy defanged by its own leadership and led out of violent revolutionary ways into constitutional politics and a world where the principle of consent overrides the Armalite.

MI5 and the PSNI know they could never have done this themselves, that they needed people like Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness to do it for them.

  • Betty Boo

    It would have been shorter und less painfull to say; Martin, Gerry, you never get a christmas card from me.

  • spartacus

    Can anyone provide the exact quotes from Joe Pillings’ widely cited speech in the US in which, according to McGuiness and others, he describes the emergence of SF as the biggest nationalist party at the ‘worst-case scenario’? I see it widely cited by SF but have never actually read Pilling’s words. This would help clarify whether he is so squeaky clean and earnest as Moloney makes him out to be.

    Moloney conflates two different ‘stages’of the ‘process’ here to make his case, and misrepresents SF’s argument about ‘sections’ of security working to undermine their strength. One doesn’t have to go all the way with the SF line to see the holes in Moloney’s account, and I am unpersuaded. Of course the NIO, Lowry, others–including ‘securocrats’–much preferred that Adams and the GFA supporters come out on top in the internal debates (though I hadn’t known previously that Special Branch took steps to ensure that dissenters were physically unable to attend the SF discussions). And of course they would have been realistic that an agreement that demanded surrender of arms upfront without anything to show for it was off the table. But their support for an agreement at this stage does not mean that they (or Blair, or Ahern) were happy to see SF emerge as the largest of the nationalist parties. The whole thrust of mainstream commentary over the past three years has been a collective whinge over the collapse of the ‘centre’, by which they mean isn’t it horrible that the SDLP, UUP have fallen apart. Are we to believe that this is not a perspective shared, and actively promoted by the NIO? There is plenty of circumstantial evidence to suggest that they have done all they could to undermine SF’s electoral strength, and to support the argument that elements in security are working at cross-purposes.

  • Henry94

    The phrase he is looking for is “appaling vista”.

    It couldn’t have happened because it would be terrible if it did. Much easier to blame the usual suspects.

    To flog the Watergate analogy a bit harder it’s just as well it wasn’t Woodward and Moloney. Because Presidents don’t do that kind of thng do they?

  • pete,
    as you said in the other blog:
    a strange kind of common interest, if not collusion, has evolved between Downing Street and Sinn Féin.. and Dublin.. oh, and the Guardian Leader writer from a couple of days ago
    The same applies here I suggest.
    If I may, I see things in pictures:
    SF and Brit Gov’t are in the deep jungle trekking and trying to capture the wounded but roaring lion Ian Paisley. Suddenly SF men and MI5 bump into each other accidently..very tense… but rather than shoot each other.. they grin…and signal safety to each other.. as they realise they’re both on the same mission.
    They agree not to expose each others position, and work together to set the traps needed to haul in Mr.Big, the wild one. They’ve agreed that this crazy guy is the threat and therefore the real Kurtz in this heart of darkness.
    Wish I could draw cartoons 😉

  • Fenian Bastard

    A very very weak argument by Moloney. As I see it it is not unlikely that people employed in the security apparatus conspired in an act of political vandalism (note not a conspiracy) to F.U. the assembly. The motive may have been nothing more than anger, revenge or both.

    No one really doubts Blairs commitment, it is the commitment and professional detactment of the security services that is in doubt. After all if a friend of colleague of yours was killed or injured by the provisionals I think it would be very difficult to have the necessary professionalism to resist the temptation of political vandalism if the opportunity arose.

    The appaling vista is very much a probabilty and done once and unchecked could well happen again.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘but evidence about securocrat behaviour is strongly to the contrary’

    The evidence is provided by an NIO Official, ex Branch man Lowry and a mixture of Brian Nelson and Gordon Kerr. Rock on Ed you’ve really got your finger on the pulse there.

  • Brian Boru

    This seems a very vague rebuttal to me. I believe this was Political-Policing by the PSNI and MI5. The entire Stormontgate case was based on Denis Donaldson – a British agent – possessing thousands of documents. I rest my case.

  • Oilbhéar Chromaill

    The reason the securocrats get away with “ one of the most audacious anti-democratic plots in British history – one that dwarfs the allegations of spookish dirty tricks against Harold Wilson in the 1970s” is that Blair is in hock to them to his tonsils over the WMD in Iraq issue.
    They know what he did to sidle up to Bush – he joined an unjustified military invasion of Iraq, murdering thousands of unarmed civiilians in the process and sacrificed his own soldiers in the pursuit of a ‘grand political adventure’. And if they tell tales – and we know that they have their pet journalists to tell their tales for them – then the New Labour project would be fatally holed below the waterline.
    The problem with the likes of Ed Moloney is that his analysis is predicated on one point: his personal animus towards Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness. That very point undermines the analysis of others too – has anyone read the ad hominem attack of Kevin Myers on Gerry Adams in today’s Irish Times. Some people are glorying in the Donaldson revelations as indicative of some lack of judgement. Perhaps Denis Donaldson was a master of deceit?
    Those who are putting this line forward are trying to obscure the real issue which is how can Hugh Orde and whoever try to portray this as a SF spyring when the only SF link to it was a British agent?
    Another question which should be asked: Did the Ombudsman know about Denis Donaldson and his role when she issued her report last year, a report which is now being disingenuously used to give the PSNI a ‘clean bill of health’ on SF’s allegation of political policing.

  • Brian Boru

    Didn’t Rowan, a former Special Branch detective, tell RTE that he thought Stormontgate was a plot by securocrats to collapse the Executive?

  • crow

    The Ombudsman will have known nothing about Donaldson at anytime previous to his recent unmasking.

  • Common sense suggests that in such circumstances, amounting to a grave constitutional crisis, Tony Blair would have to move quickly to crush such dangerous dissent or see his authority fatally eroded. But he hasn’t.

    Bill Lowry is no longer head of Belfast Special Branch is he? He himself claimed that he was ousted by MI5, and that they had put him under pressure to leave Sinn Fein a way out in Operation Torsion.

    Lowry’s appearance at the DUP annual dinner last year, suggests there was at least one key ‘securocrat’ who wasn’t signed up the official agenda if it meant power-sharing with Sinn Fein.

    By constantly referring to “MI5 and the PSNI” as if they were a monolith, Moloney elides all of this.

  • Ringo

    OC –

    The reason the securocrats get away with “ one of the most audacious anti-democratic plots in British history – one that dwarfs the allegations of spookish dirty tricks against Harold Wilson in the 1970s” is that Blair is in hock to them to his tonsils over the WMD in Iraq issue.

    a) the unjustified military invasion of Iraq took place in 2003.

    b) The raid on Stormont took place in 2002.

    A leading to B would require a Delorean, a diminutive high school kid and a mad professor. Congrats on proposing the most laughable conspiracy theory in the face of very stiff opposition.

  • Dualta

    I’m not a SF supporter. I consider the party’s project to be underpinned by sectarian rabble rousing and I think that they are, therefore, making the case for an island wide nation harder to argue. So I’m not about to jump slavishly to their defence on this.

    That said, I’m not convinced by their many enemies, who are lining up to take a swing over this one, that Sinn Fein are at fault.

    Ed Maloney’s assertion that the ‘securocrats’ wouldn’t want to thwart Sinn Fein’s project holds water only up until the decommissioning and emasculation of the IRA. Once that process was finished, do they really need them any more?

    Would they rather not deal with the SDLP, who from their formation campaigned on the basic principles which have been fundamental the peace process?

    Republican militarism is in tatters, both in terms of its physical ability to wage war and its morale. The Reals and the Conties can barely lift their heads without the Brits pouncing. The Provos have left the stage. There will not be a return to the really bad old days in the forseeable future.

    The rise of Sinn Fein may be seen as a threat to stability here with Unionists lurching to the right in response. It is a matter of fact that levels of sectarianism have increased since the peace process began. The creation, and exploitation of, Ethnic tensions are the weapons of choice in the electoral war.

    This process is not about real peace. It is, to a large extent, parties playing the zero-sum game without the bloodshed.

    I think Sinn Fein were shafted at Stormont.

  • Oilbhéar Chromaill

    Ringo
    If that’s your best shot, then you’re pitiful.
    1) the intelligence provided for Iraq was being concocted around the same time or before Stormontgate
    2) Either way the intelligence services such as they are probably have plans and operations on the go all the time – when one comes to fruition has no bearing.
    So no time machine is necessary for such theories.
    It may seem fantastic to you, given your limited intelligence, but imagine how plausible it is in comparison to the theory being put forward by Hugh Orde that there was no political motivation for the policing operation to shaft Sinn Féin even though the only documents discovered were at the home of a PSNI agent!
    In the field of competitive and laughable theories propulsion, I bow to Sir Hugh as being an undisputed champion. The likes of Ed Maloney and co are only snapping at his heels.

  • Baluba

    Congrats to Maloney on an insightful piece.

    ‘The Sinn Fein conspiracy theory – that the spooks are out to destroy the peace process – suffers from a more fundamental flaw. Not only is it rubbish, but the exact opposite is the truth. The peace process represents the wildest fantasies of the security establishment come true and the last thing the spooks want is to see it destroyed.’

    Where have you been during the dirty war Ed? Under the bed? Pillow over head?

    Some of them are fairly violently opposed to SF and any political project they attempt (emphasis on V-I-O-L-E-N-T-L-Y).

    The stolen docs (if they were stolen and not provided) were in the hands of someone on the payroll of those who carried out the raid – wakey wakey!

  • Baluba

    I see Tones is meeting woth the Mc Cartneys today.

    “Quick, quick, this smear’s going sour, the Mc Cartney bull£@*t still has legs – wheel that one out!”

  • DK

    Oilbhéar,

    I would have thought it was very different departments looking at Iraq vs. NI. The former would be MI6 (foreign) and the latter MI5 (internal), so unlikely to have a canny year-in-advance plan to somehow blackmail blair.

  • Henry94

    Irish Times online poll.

    Do you believe the PSNI raid on Sinn Féin’s offices in Stormont three years ago was politically motivated?

    78% YES 22% NO

  • martin ingram

    The question that has not been asked todate is this:

    Did Dennis have Police participant informer (PI Status)if he did not, then not only is he liable to prosecution his Handlers would also if they were involved in the criminal act.

    Before an Agent can legally be involved in the comission of a criminal act the police if he was a PSNI source must apply for it. This status is not open ended and should be applied for on each occassion required.

    If he was a BOX 500 asset which is likely post Patten then he is OK, the Ombudsman would have no right to have any input into any investigation if one was to be established because she cannot investigate either the Army or the Security Services.

  • Crataegus

    Dualta

    “This process is not about real peace. It is, to a large extent, parties playing the zero-sum game.”

    I agree, in the dim and distant past we had an agreement that was overwhelmingly supported. There was a desire to move on, for leadership and vision, but instead and our political classes dug deeper trenches. They played the process for self interest without regard to the ethics of what they were doing. Deals on deals, progress based wringing painful incremental concessions from each other, whilst all the time monitoring their own opinion polls or reflecting on past dark deeds and the need to cover up. Mean while the thugery continued, in many communities amid rumours of collusion and deals. Any wonder the support collapsed.

    Now we are at the dying end of a fading Labour government, with 4 years to linger on, an administration without coherent vision, a government of expediency, a Prime Minister who no one trusts and no one here willing to take the high ground and do what is necessary and put their own house in order. It is a disgrace.

  • Henry94

    Did Dennis have Police participant informer (PI Status)if he did not, then not only is he liable to prosecution his Handlers would also if they were involved in the criminal act.

    You’re asking us? Silly ####

  • slugger reader

    Have to say, fair play to all the Shinners who have taken over the Slugger O Toole airwaves in recent times. You’re devotion to duty is truly awe inspiring.

    I wonder how many of you lot are all the payroll of SF MLAs MPs etc.

    (A payroll BTW paid for by us British taxpayers)

  • Ringo

    Every card that has been played in this game from the moment the media was tipped off about the raid to Donaldsons outing, has been made by players who SF opposes – the PSNI, British Intelligence, state prosecutor, the High Court etc. Normally there is a bit of to-and-fro, with one side reacting to the other, but in this situation it has been all one way traffic. SF are ‘unarmed’ in this game. It has nothing of substance to counter with or force the situation.

    So they resort to the usual ‘victim’ mode (and I don’t doubt they are the victims in this case, but we don’t know of what), and adopt ‘political policing’ as the mantra. SF didn’t, as Gerry Adams momentarily suggested, ‘uncover’ Donaldson. He was handed to them by the other side. SF are playing with a hand of cards that their opponents have conciously dealt them.

    If you spread meaning of the phrase ‘political policing’ wide enough it can encompass anything. But finding common ground between this and the arrest of Francie Brolly a couple of weeks back is stretching it too thin.

    The fact that they were involved in an intelligence gathering operation against TD’s around the same time would suggest that the claims that they weren’t spying in Stormont sounds very hollow. Why not? Last week there were no documents in West Belfast – now there are loads of them because the circumstances around the person in possession have changed. It all smacks of desperation, and the hopeless certainty, as best displayed by Oilbhéar Chromaill’s 12.27 above, just goes to show that despite all surity that is on display, that nobody has the slightest clue as to what it was all about.

    We know that the IRA and SF’s explicit aim is a UI. We don’t know what the aims of the various intelligence services aims are. There is plenty of theory going around, but without that fundamental bit of information it is impossible to determine their motivation, and consequently, the reasons behind the minute fraction of their actions that come into the public domain.

  • spartacus

    incisive contribution slugger reader. hard to know how to come back after such a devastating blow…

    are you concerned about all your taxes wasted moving people around to give credibility to a an elaborate security scam, or to carry out war crimes in iraq, or do you whinge and moan only selectively?

  • whitewash

    Slugger Reader,

    Number of pro SF posts = (level of guilt x assessment of political damage) to the power of ego factor (which is always somewhere in the stratosphere and because of this the response like a lie detector is swift and immediate).

    It is a simple mathematical equation that helps us gauge their integrity.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Pat McL writes:

    The evidence is provided by an NIO Official, ex Branch man Lowry and a mixture of Brian Nelson and Gordon Kerr. Rock on Ed you’ve really got your finger on the pulse there.

    Pat, who is your source ? A self-confessed British tout who will say anything to save his skin. Reliable ? I don’t think so.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    CS,

    I don’t have a story on this, so in effect I don’t need to back anything up. Moloney has made a quite specific point on the securocrats actually defending SF. I am simply pointing out the calibre of people used to give substance to his allegation.

  • Would you believe…..

    It has all the elements of an episode of Get Smart. The wacky, loveable CIA operatives stage a raid on the nefarious blackguards perverting the very bowels of sacred, elected government. Our heroes storm in accompanied by fearless woman reporter, Lois Lane and boyish cub reporter Jimmy Olsen, cameras blazing ala Mike Wallace. As soon as the smoke from the stun grenades dissipate they find that they all met at the last CIA Christmas party when Max Smart was dancing around with a lampshade over his head and Agent 99 did a strip tease. Oh gosh, Max, the Chief is really going to be steamed about this one…….

    All the necessary elements, that is, except for the much needed CONE OF SILENCE to shut out the constant Norn Iron black propaganda and the din of grinding axes.

    OK Sluggiepoos, call the bet.

    If there really was a republican spy operation at Storemont and if the charges were dropped to protect the Shinner tout, then there is no reason not to reinstate the charges now that the tout is out and the issue is mooted. Proceed with the prosecution. Book ’em all Dano & throw away the goddamn key. Good riddance.

    But first follow Ray Nagin’s advice: Shut up, focus and do something.

  • Henry94

    Ringo

    Last week there were no documents in West Belfast – now there are loads of them because the circumstances around the person in possession have changed.

    But of course that makes sense. If Sinn Fein knew they weren’t running a spy-ring they would have not believed that one of their members could be in posession of such documents. But if that member turns out to be a British agent then the documents make sense as part of the plot to bring down the institutions.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I don’t have a story on this, so in effect I don’t need to back anything up.

    Pat, correct me if I’m wrong, but haven’t you been claiming in other posts that the PSNI must have known what was available in Stormont on the basis that Donaldson would have told them ? Given that you made that point, don’t you think it is inconsistent that you would choose to take Donaldson’s position on face value given your concerns about the sources other people are using ?

  • Padraig

    Unionists control website. Give Unionnist zeitengeist.

    Sinn Feiners respond.

    Unionist web site runners despair that their website is not more open and liberal.

    A Christmas story of partition.

    Norn Iron is great.

    No its not.

    Yes it it is.

    ect ect

  • Crataegus

    Padraig

    The problem is we are stuck with the ghost of Christmas past; keeps hogging the show.

  • abucs

    We know that the storming of the SF offices uncovered nothing and was covered right on queue by the nightly television news. We know that it happenned right before David Trimbles sliding timetable for withdrawing from shared governmemt.
    We know that it brought down that government and increased the issue of Sinn Fein acceptability to Unionist politicians which became the new excuse for not sharing government.

    We know that the alleged spy documents recovered all came from the home of a British intelligence operative.

    We know that the new police chief of the time, Hugh Orde, apologised to Sinn Fein straight afterwards and was criticised for doing so by Unionist politicians.

    We know that the police inspector responsible for the raid was ‘seperated’ from his position soon afterwards not by his choosing.

    So it seems that at least, somebody on the British establishment side was playing by their own rules.

    That said, i find it amusing that both Sinn Fein and the British government are both wanting us to believe how infiltrated they were.
    Sinn fein says that Mr Donaldson was a spy for 20 years and would have compromised their position, the British Government suggests Republicans infiltrated their ranks and had sensitive correspondence between themselves and the US government and other unionist and nationalist Irish parties. If both of their preferred spins shows how infiltrated they both were i can only imagine that what they are both trying to cover up must be ‘off the scale’.

  • Betty Boo

    Whose interest has been served best in all of this?

  • Moloney’s central point remains untouched though: ciu bono? What’s the point? What does MI5/the Army/the NIO/Tony Blair/Uncle Tom Cobbley stand to gain from all this? It is in the direct financial, political and security interests of these actors to have a functioning all-party devolved administration.

    More broadly, my eyes glaze over at the very mention of the word “securocrat”. It’s an all-purpose evasion. Who shot McCartney? The securocrats. Who’s responsible for falling out with the Unionists in 2002? The securocrats. It’s nice because it delivers irresponsibility, the greatest currency in NI politics. For the (Dis)Loyalists, it’s all themmuns’ fault. Typically, Sinn Fein’s version is more intelligent, but the same principle applies. D’you think, if you say “I do not believe in securocrats” one of them dies, like fairies?

  • Ringo

    Henry

    But of course that makes sense. If Sinn Fein knew they weren’t running a spy-ring they would have not believed that one of their members could be in posession of such documents. But if that member turns out to be a British agent then the documents make sense as part of the plot to bring down the institutions.

    Isn’t that a bit too naive? But, if you want to run with it in that direction it still leads you into the same cul-de-sac – that SF are in the dark.

    They didn’t believe that one of their members could have sensitive information regarding political opponents or the security services? It is hardly the first time is it?

    Surely they have sources that, over the course of 3 years, could have checked the veracity of the claim that the documents were real, and that they did come from his home -Jeffrey Donaldson seemed to see a lot of them? If they had done so and found what appeared to be Dennis Donaldson on a solo run they clearly didn’t take any action to distance themselves from what was a major issue.

    If you are suggesting they didn’t know anything for over three years (totally implausible really), then how do you accept any of their denials, considering how murky the waters are now?

    Even taking your (extremely) benign theory, one way or another their apparent statements of fact on this cannot be give credence. Either they are lying or, as you suggest, they aren’t/weren’t in possession of enough of the facts to know what is going on. Or most probably, both.

  • Ringo

    Whose interest has been served best in all of this?

    It impossible to answer that unless you know what everyones interest is. And quite clearly, we don’t.

  • Henry94

    Ringo

    All good points but my own assumption before Donaldson’s duplicity came to light was that the documents if they existed had either been planted or were old stuff and not really that important.

    It is all too murky to know anything for sure but the key question is how this is going to impact on the talks.

    Irrespective of who did what the reality is that it all belongs to the era we are leaving behind.

  • Ringo

    It is all too murky to know anything for sure but the key question is how this is going to impact on the talks.

    Agreed. I might be underestimating it, but I can’t see it having that big an impact – really it has added nothing new to the DUP’s list, or SF’s for that matter. The spying and the political policing allegations were there already.

  • Betty Boo

    Rephrasing: Who comes out best? Or, who is gaining anything from it?

  • Henry94

    Ringo

    The problem for the talks, as I see it, is that republican support for the institutions is now in question.

    Why should we go in when the system that brought it all down and pinned the blame on Sinn Fein still exists.

    That is a very big problem. For example when the Paisley era passes I expect unionism to go into political convulsions. Will pulling out of Stormont again become an option and will blaming it on republicans be the easy way out.

  • Crataegus

    Ringo

    It does damage to public perception of everyone’s credibility and coupled with the OTR legislation helps illustrate the seedy nature of politics here. The PSNI, the Government, SF and MI5 come out of this with damage. However this incident caused a democratically elected government to collapse and for that reason alone it cannot simply be swept under the carpet. We do need to know why. Somebody does need to be held to account.

    SF uncovered a spy, why if totally innocent did it believe there was a spy involved?

    Now that the spy is uncovered why not proceed with the case? Either no evidence or something to hide.

    My view of this sorry mess is, SF were collecting some information, now it may be at the behest of the spy, but I think it has been blown out of all proportions and is probably not worth a hill of beans.

    I think there was probably some breakdown in communications between the various Government Agencies, but what bothers me is what was the information that initiated the police raid and did nobody in the PSNI realise the likely consequence of what they were doing? I find all this hard to believe.

    The fact that the Government is hell bent in burying this (a bit like their subtle drafting of the OTR legislation) they have something to hide. As a result many who may be innocent are damaged. Also it would seem that the Government believes it should have a different code of conduct to everyone else and rather than being a facilitator in helping people here arrive at an agreed way forward it is up to its neck in political engineering. It’s not good enough.

  • Betty Boo

    I read it somewhere here just recently, that no one expected Sinn Fein to become the second largest party in NI, never mind in such a short time.
    If someone who tries to throw me out would become increasingly stronger then I most likely would do more then worrying.

  • Crataegus

    Betty Boo

    SF’s rise is due to its very solid support base and its presence on the ground in its core areas. There is no taking away from the dedication of its core support. It has been able to build on this as it has successfully managed the peace process to its own advantage and been given massive press coverage in the process. It has wrung concession after concession out of the process in exchange for incremental progress towards what so many voted for all those years ago. It is a well funded organisation which enables it to compete more effectively than its competition. It seems relevant because it has the resources and supporters to make its presence felt. Its election machine goes beyond mere efficiency. All sorts of claims are made by its opponents.

    Can it move beyond 12% in the South? Will it expand its base here? I can only see future progress being less swift and if it fails to deal with the hypocrisy of many of its positions in the long run it will decline. If it does progress it will morph into a different creature than we see today, something along the lines of FF. The real test for SF will be when it is part of a Government in the Republic and that won’t be after the next election. The other problem they will have is political drift. In the long run it has to deliver solid benefits for its supporters.

    SF’s rise has been assisted by what could at best be seen as the utterly inept antics of the British Government. Accidental or deliberate, who knows?

    By comparison the SDLP were thrown to the wolves by the British government, they went out of their way to made them seem irrelevant. It was disgraceful.

    I have no doubt that the British Government has an agenda the question is what exactly is it? What is their priority? Ensuring no bombings on the ‘mainland’, an agreed Ireland or off load?

  • Moloney’s central point remains untouched though: ciu bono? What’s the point? What does MI5/the Army/the NIO/Tony Blair/Uncle Tom Cobbley stand to gain from all this? It is in the direct financial, political and security interests of these actors to have a functioning all-party devolved administration.

    What about Special Branch, which was affected by the Patten Report in a way the other agencies weren’t and would probably face more changes if Sinn Fein had its way?
    Bill Lowry’s own statements after his removal seem to me to be the elephant in the room here?

  • JD

    The SDLP will learn as Denis Donaldson has that when you have served your purpose you are expendable.

  • TAFKABO

    Judging by the comments made by Gerry and martin, who both seem almost obscenely keen to give Tony Blair a clean bill of health in this affair, it wont affect any upcoming talks one bit.

    Now, since we are on the subject of conspiracies, this leads me to conclude that a deal has already been struck, with just the facade of consulting their respective electorates to be gone through.

    Sinn Fein to make encouraging noises about proposed changes to policing in the next couple of weeks……

    Any takers?

  • Betty Boo

    Crataegus ,

    Thanks for that. Although I’m not sure that the SDLP has been willingly sacrificed by the British Government. I remember 10 years ago, no one saw the rise of Sinn Fein coming, not even Sinn Fein themselves. And I am quite certain that any British Government would have preferred to negotiate with SDLP as spokesperson for the catholic/nationalist/republican (this is getting silly) community with Sinn Fein being just a little more then audience. That Sinn Fein would be in such strong position was not intentional.
    Whatever one’s opinion is about Sinn Fein and you are right, they are mind boggling efficient as you are properly right about its future, at the moment they are seen as unwanted players and treated as such.
    If you look back what has been thrown at Sinn Fein just over the last year and I’m not saying that the blame lies exclusively with securocrats, but you have to give them credit that they still keep doing rather well.

  • Ringo

    Henry

    Why should we go in when the system that brought it all down and pinned the blame on Sinn Fein still exists.

    That doesn’t sound very different from the sort of mistrust that the pro-agreement unionists have been expressing for a few years. Why should they go into a system where SF are involved in activities like as spying/information gathering that bring the devolved administration into disrepute? You might disagree with the basis for the mistrust, but you have to acknowledge that it is not contrived.

    I take your point that this is a new issue for republicans. The only answer is for everyone, as you said earlier, to leave that stuff in the past. Between this and decommissioning, it may be that both sides are going into the talks on a much more level playing field than would have been possible a few months back.

    Crataegus

    On the whole I agree with you – no one came out clean. But I think that is no bad thing. These things need to be sorted out. I doubt very much that Tony Blair was behind a plot to bring down the very institutions that Tony Blair invested so much time in setting up. Beyond that I don’t know whether this all occured because of a conflict within British political and security services, or if it is exactly what they wanted for some reason that isn’t clear to us mere mortals.

  • Crataegus

    Betty Boo

    More than ten years ago I warned some SDLP types that John Hume’s strategy would be at the eventual expense of the SDLP. Anyone with any contact in strong Republican areas could plainly see that SF had a very solid base on which to build and in many ways their ‘hold’ on these areas was much stronger than that of the SDLP. Their election machine then could be seen to have the potential to be brutally efficient.

    I readily acknowledge that SF has played its cards with consummate skill, non better, but in so doing and enforcing a their painfully slow timetable they have hindered overall progress and helped to collapse a very fragile trust. What cards has it left to play?

    A lot has been thrown at them and much of it ill considered and counter productive. Much has simply kept them in the lime light and all publicity is good publicity. Before attacking people should first check the substance and facts and ensure they have the ability to wound otherwise it is counter productive.

    Another reason for SF’s growth is the presence on the ground and whilst its supporters continue to help organise on a local basis it will be difficult to eat into that base. SF’s biggest problem in the years to come will be itself and the potential for disillusionment and possible division.

    Soap box and victim politics is easy. Reaching the compromises needed to be in government much more difficult and inevitability with power the street politics will be left behind. Also the more successful a political party the more it attracts career politicians those motivated more by self interest and less by idealism.

    Common sense would say that the British Government would prefer to negotiate with the SDLP and UUP as the prime parties, but the past actions of HM Gov on occasions had the opposite result. It could be that imported advice simply does not grasp the psyche of this place and the nuances. Perception is everything and to understand how actions may be perceived requires very sound impartial local advice. More worryingly is the attempt by the British Government to portray itself as a neutral broker when plainly it is not. You can’t be referee and player at the same time.

    Who knows what the future will bring, let’s hope we have a good Christmas and next year surprises us.

  • Crataegus

    Ringo

    Like you I am mystified, but no matter what way I look at this it doesn’t quite gel. At best somebody made an awful mistake.

  • Betty Boo

    Crataegus,

    Good post and well thought through therefore much appreciated. Have a good one. I’m looking forward to more in the new year.

  • Crataegus

    Betty Boo

    Likewise, let’s hope the weather is good.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    CS,

    I don’t and haven’t put any great store by what Donaldson has had to say.
    I am working on the very real assumption that Donaldson was an agent of some kind for the Special Branch. From what I have read so is every other poster on this site.
    Given that accepted ‘fact’ I would have thought that Donaldson would have kept his handlers aware of his activities. This would have included what was in his possession at his office at Stormont. Therefore the PSNI knowing that there wasn’t anything of importance in that office decided to raid it for other reasons.

    Moloney has a theory that the security agencies were able to guide SF along to where we are now by careful interventions at various stages. I think it is only fair and reaonable to cast a wary eye over the three instances of ‘evidence’ to this theory.
    One is Piling, I know little of him, therefore cannot comment at any great length. Suffice to say that I always assumed that the highest ecelons of the NIO were intelligence driven.
    Second is Lowry, a SB commander and a person central to the whole saga.
    Thirdly is ‘how we saved Adams’, from the axis of Gordon Kerr and Brian Nelson.

    These people seem to be central to the Moloney theory, personally I believe this weakens and not strengthens the Moloney argument.

  • Hard to admit that Moloney has gotten it more or less right all along, and that those seeking to discredit him over the years were the ones with the real British agenda, isn’t it?

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    How is attempting to find a lasting peaceful and democratic solution a Britsh agenda?

  • Well, for starters, your lot started out for a United Ireland, to secure a British withdrawal, and had very clear goals and ideas regarding such. The British, however, wanted what you articulate, a lasting democratic solution, otherwise known as the principle of consent. So the metamorphis from your starting point to your ending point, however nice it sounds, very much dovetails with the British agenda.

    Agents of influence within the republican movement have helped shape this change, and part of that help has been to attempt to discredit those like Moloney who were asking awkward questions about the Emperor’s clothing. Why? Because it would upset the process if the British were exposed too soon. You see what is happening within republicanism now. Had this happened years ago?….

    This also leads to the question, could Sinn Fein have become as popular without the support of the British?

    It makes one think, or should.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘Well, for starters, your lot started out for a United Ireland, to secure a British withdrawal, and had very clear goals and ideas regarding such.’

    How have these very clear goals and ideas changed? The GFA is recognised by the supporters of SF as an interim solution. A fact recognised by the unionist leadership who keep referring to the it.

    ‘The British, however, wanted what you articulate, a lasting democratic solution,’

    No, the British have moved from an internal solution to the interim 3 stranded approach. This has unsettled unionists who feel unloved and unwanted. The completion of the UI project will be an act of completion and the recognition at last that the British want democracy and peace in Ireland.

    ‘Agents of influence within the republican movement have helped shape this change,’

    An allegation that relies a lot on the belief placed on the writings of Moloney. His attempt to prove ‘evidence’ is dubious to say the least.

    ‘This also leads to the question, could Sinn Fein have become as popular without the support of the British?’

    Sf have become popular on the back of the sacrifices of it’s supporters and membership, a lot of whom died at the hands of the collusion supported by the Security people who Moloney alleges were there to protect them, quite bizarre?

    No doubt we will soon be told that the details of the 400 people stolen by the RIR from Castlereagh last year and handed to loyalists (despite the initial lies of the Security Minister and the PSNI) was another plot to protect them and their families, even more bizarre.