Securocrat theory becoming unhinged?

Jonathan Freedland adds to the insider dealing scenario when he argues that the strangest motif in the whole Donaldson affair is the way in which Sinn Fein seems content to blame faceless men, and let the Prime Minister off the hook:He asks why Blair has not been in Sinn Fein’s frame as Britain’s head man:

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..no one is really asking the question. And that is the strangest aspect of this strange saga. Sinn F�in, who should be climbing the roof of Belfast’s Waterfront Hall screaming their vindication, are oddly muted. Alone among Northern Ireland’s parties, they are not calling for an inquiry into the Donaldson affair. McGuinness has spoken of learning lessons, rather than pointing a wild, admonishing finger at London. The rhetorical dial has been set on cool.

Why might that be? A first explanation is embarrassment: it is mighty awkward for the Sinn F�in leadership that a traitor could have got so close for so long. It plays to the most toxic of republican hardliners’ accusations against the Adams-McGuinness peace strategy – that it’s all a British plot to still the IRA’s guns.

There are other reasons for republicans to be wary of delving any deeper into this murk. I’m told that, internally, Sinn F�in folk are asking the Donnie Brasco question. In that Al Pacino movie, about an FBI infiltrator in the mafia, the mole’s sponsor is told: “You brought him in here, you’re responsible.” Whoever initially brought Donaldson into Sinn F�in will be feeling the heat. [quotation removed, pending possible legal action]. Things could get very nasty.

Alternatively, it’s possible that the Stormont spy ring was not a fiction or even British-inspired, but a genuine IRA scheme – as Northern Ireland’s chief constable insisted yesterday – and that Donaldson had to go along with it in order to preserve his cover. Confirmation of that would also be a disincentive for Sinn F�in to seek any further inquiry, for it would vindicate their enemies.

Or, more complicatedly, it’s conceivable that Donaldson was a double agent – that he had “turned” back to Sinn F�in after his initial betrayal. Standard IRA operating procedure in the past was for an informer to receive a bullet to the head on a lonely country road – and then for an amnesty to be offered to any others. Message: come back to us, or you’ll get the same treatment. Donaldson may have been one to take up the offer. If he was, that would explain the tenor of his Friday statement, when he spoke in the language of an avowed, ideological republican rather than someone who had crossed sides.

No one, save a few key players, really knows what happened (and most I spoke to do not include Blair as one of those privy to the truth). But this episode does reveal three things quite clearly. First, that for some people the war in Northern Ireland has not ended. There are still more British troops there than in Iraq; and there are still “securocrats” consumed with fighting the IRA, even if that organisation has officially stood down. Second, that though peace has held, more or less, for seven years, self-government for the province has been thwarted time after time. And, lastly, that a strange kind of common interest, if not collusion, has evolved between Downing Street and Sinn F�in.

Please note, as noted in a later edition of the Guardian that certain details were incorrectly included in the original piece quoted here.

  • kate

    This is an excellent article. Freedland says Donaldsons interrogation was led by his own son in law, and that Donaldson went on to name others in SF who were ‘fellow British agents.’

    This is the crux of the matter. There is a real trust issue now between SF and its electorate. Trust is central to this. Even Adams and McGuinness now are being painted with the same brush as Donaldson- are they or aren’t they?? SF’s credibility as independent republicans free of influence by the British is in question.

    If they allow this to fester, and people to jump to their own conclusions-which they will- because of a lack of accountability to those who supported the struggle for over 30 years, then SF will have no one to blame but themselves.

  • Pete Baker

    Just one thing to add to Jonathan Freedland’s excellent article.

    That “a strange kind of common interest, if not collusion, has evolved between Downing Street and Sinn Féin” line should read –

    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.

    No more questions please?

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘This is an excellent article. Freedland says Donaldsons interrogation was led by his own son in law, and that Donaldson went on to name others in SF who were ‘fellow British agents.’’

    Except that Freedland has got his Kearney’s confused. Donaldson was questioned by Leo Green and DECLAN Kearney (no relation to Ciaran). So if such a fundamental piece of the article is wrong, despite the names being well publicised on Friday, then the rest of the speculation is just that, misinformed crap.

  • Kathleen O’Halloran

    Pat perhaps he has got his Kearneys mixed up, but can you answer the question posed ‘Why aren’t SF climbing the roof of the waterfront hall screaming their vindication?

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Kathleen,

    mu understanding is that they have been screaming their vindication. Gerry Kelly gave a very comprehensive rebuttal of Orde’s position on this whole affair at a SF organised press conference yesterday.
    Not one news programme carried it yesterday, instead we had a series of set piece affairs for Orde to give the PSNI line under the gentle questioning of Mark and Ken.
    Whenever the question of Donaldson was raised Orde used the tried and tested ‘we don’t discuss security agents’ etc etc.

    So the PSNI will not discuss the central character of this whole affair and are simple being allowed to make statements to the media that are being carried by and large without question.

  • Briso

    I saw the headline to this blog entry and was surprised to see it referred to the Freedland article I’d read earlier. I’d have titled it ‘Securocrat theory unexpectedly confirmed’!

    The whole first part of the article (not quoted) is along these lines.

  • Freddie

    Except that Pat McLarnon has got his Kearney’s confused. DECLAN Kearney is the brother of (no Ciaran. So if such a fundamental piece of Pat’s post is wrong, then the rest of the speculation is just that, misinformed crap.

  • Freddie

    Except that Pat McLarnon has got his Kearney’s confused. Declan Kearney is the brother of Ciaran. So if such a fundamental piece of Pat’s post is wrong, then the rest of the speculation is just that, misinformed crap.

  • Kathy_C

    Who is helped by the theory of ‘securocrats’…why the brits of course. That way Tony Blair can come across as the innocent PM who doesn’t control those faceless nameless wreckers of the peace process…and Tony blair is a good guy. And who promotes this “securocrat” theory more than anyone else…why SF. Makes me wonder…why they want to give cover to the british pm.
    There has been much written about PM blair being a control freak ….is into every bi tof planing in his gov’t…yet I’m suppose to believe SF that when it comes to the north of ireland…tony blair isn’t aware of what is happening and who is doing the dirty tricks…that it’s just those faceless nameless securocrates…. Not me…I say it’s blair…Blair’s ego would not ALLOW anyone to get away with going against HIS plan.

  • Crasher

    There seemsto be a lot of confusion here. On the one hand people are claiming the the “securocrats”, through their informants and spies, were whispering things in the ear of the Adams Think Tank group to propel SF/IRA toward the peace process and on the other hand people are claiming that these same “securocrats” are wrecking the peace process.

    It is very obvious that the British Government have for a long time wanted an exit strategy from Ireland. They see this peace process as that strategy. No British prime minister has ever serious attempted to confront the IRA militarily. With all their informers they could have effectively neutralised the IRA. The political aim, since Sunningdale, was to achieve a “peace process” and get to hell out of Ireland, with little regard for what theyleave behind.

  • Kathy_C

    Securocrats………….the word sinn fein loves to use….and the word that gives those in the british gov’t a mask to hide behind.

    I would think that sinn fein would be more interesting in exposing the truth and those behind wrecking the peace then giving them cover to hide behind….

    I have a question -did the british spy donaldson meet sinn fein’s definition of securocrat?…

  • Crasher

    Securocrats has a nice ring to it.

    Sinn fein have no real interest in the peace process – except as a publicity vehicle. As Anthony Mcintyre argues the longer the “process” continues without fruition the better SF like it as it continues to increase their profile in the compliant media. The last thing any megalomaniac wants is to be ignored and irrelevant.

    It we had true democracy SF would have been ignored and made irrelevant. Instead they have been allowed to subvert democarcy and are constantly given favourable publicity. This is reminiscent of the arsonist who starts fires for the glory of being on the scene to quickly extinguish the blaze.

    Genuine people, interested in forging cross community co-operation and eliminating sectarian bigotry, were sidelined, in favour of the war mongers. And ordinary people suffered the consequences while the thugs were acclaimed as statesmen.