While most coverage of Secretary of State for NI and Wales, Peter Hain’s end of year interviews, of which there seems to have been many, focused on the main point in his official statement – to paraphrase, ‘Move along now *waves stick*’ – the Guardian’s Angelique Chrisafis took the opportunity to ask him directly about the spy-ring at Stormont. Hain’s reported response suggests the British Government are more than content to continue to allow the conflicting narratives to be argued through the media.. without answering any further questions. This despite the fact that there are conflicting narratives emerging from Government itself, as I noted here.From the Guardian report on Dec 30, 2005 –
Mr Hain refused to open up intelligence files to clear the air after the Stormont affair or to give a full public explanation of who was spying on whom and why.
“There were lots of James Bond type stories around it,” he said, “which gets everybody excited, but there isn’t really anything more to say from the government’s point of view unless people want to dwell on the past forever.”
He denied there were any rogue elements at work in the security services and said the police had been fully reformed.
“Nothing more to say” suggests that the public statements by Prime Minister Tony Blair were nothing more than a stalling tactic.. and then there is the conflicting narrative from the Attorney General
The other interesting aspect from the interval is the change in emphasis from the Irish Government.
Initially, just after the prosecution case collapsed, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern declared himself somewhat confused about the spy-ring. But more recently, following the briefing on 22nd December by Chief Constable Hugh Orde in Dublin – described by Sinn Fein MEP Mary Lou McDonald at the time as “an insult to the people of Dublin” – the Taoiseach issued a statement calling for more information to be shared with the public – a more detailed report from the BBC is here – And more recently he has joined Peter Hain, et al, in focusing away from the spy-ring scandal.
Which does beg the question – Does Bertie now understand?
It’s not an entirely new stance on the spy-ring, mind you. It’s eactly the same line that was being promoted by both governments, et al, back on the 20th December, before Sinn Féin’s former Head of Administration in Stormont, Denis Donaldson, revealed his other role.