Conflicting narratives of spy-ring allowed to continue?

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.

  • Which begs the question, who else are the covering up for?

  • Crasher

    Why would one expect a government to comment on a situation like this – it is an on-going anti- subversive operation. There are still many deep informants in all the “retired” paramilitary organisation. There function is to help defend what we call democracy and prevent its subversion.

    Perhaps people should be asking SF/IRA about their knowledge of the events. Why did Mr. Donaldson suddenly feel the conpulsion to “out” himself ? Was it politically expedient for SF at this time ? Was he ever really a spy or was this a ploy to reinforce the rhetoric that there was never any SF/IRA spy ring and it was all the work of the “securocrats” ?

  • Pete Baker

    Because the Government seems to be contradicting itself in the statements it apparently has made, crasher.. see links in original post.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Crasher: “Why would one expect a government to comment on a situation like this – it is an on-going anti- subversive operation. There are still many deep informants in all the “retired” paramilitary organisation. There function is to help defend what we call democracy and prevent its subversion.”

    Well, Crasher, for starters, given the conflicting tales, there is a fair-to-middlin’ question which party is being subversive. How is democracy defended if, as seems the open question, a paid agent of the Crown created a spying ring so as to derail the ascendancy of Sinn Fein within the Nationalist community? As an ideal, democracy is damaged if this is the case.

    Crasher: “Perhaps people should be asking SF/IRA about their knowledge of the events. Why did Mr. Donaldson suddenly feel the conpulsion to “out” himself ? Was it politically expedient for SF at this time ? Was he ever really a spy or was this a ploy to reinforce the rhetoric that there was never any SF/IRA spy ring and it was all the work of the “securocrats” ?”

    For starters, Mr. Donaldson did not, as you imply, simply wake up one morning and decide to accounce to the world he was a paid informant of the British government. Likewise, given other harangues on this blog, it was not “politically expedient” for the information that a 20 year veteran of the party was working for the Crown. Its amazing how the Unionist crowd can blow hot and cold with the same breath, first snickering at the gullibility of SF for having a informer in their highest circles for a couple of decades, then questioning the veracity of that statement, when it suits their agenda. Riddle me this, Crasher, if Donaldson was not an informer, then why quash the prosecution? If he were not a spy, then why the pregnant silence from Hain, etc.?

  • Shore Road Resident

    I don’t see it, I’m afraid. Uncovering the spy-ring scandal suited nobody’s agenda, unless you accept the existence of “anti-peace process securocrats”, which is difficult when every intelligence operation that has ever come to light here indicates that furthering SF’s peace process agenda was the number one priority of all agencies, with all other considerations expendable.
    The simplest explanation is that Donaldson wasn’t turned the whole way. In the absence of any other explanation that adds up, from either the government or the Shinners, then that one pretty much stands.

  • Crataegus

    Crasher

    “Why would one expect a government to comment on a situation like this?”

    The problem with this is that the raid brought down an elected Assembly. We know the government was up to its neck in it so what we should try to unravel is what exactly the various government agencies were up to and was the consequence intended? Was this a deliberate attempt to undermine a democratically elected Assembly. If so this is extremely serious and goes well beyond nudging paramilitary organisations in the right direction or thwarting their intent. The government is not being either frank or sincere and its various statements contradict.

    It is time for the government to stop the machinations and leave the parties here to sort themselves out without interference. If they don’t the electorate will eventually turn nasty but all the confusion simply hides the real issues and sows mistrust, it is counter productive.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    SRR: “I don’t see it, I’m afraid. Uncovering the spy-ring scandal suited nobody’s agenda, unless you accept the existence of “anti-peace process securocrats”, which is difficult when every intelligence operation that has ever come to light here indicates that furthering SF’s peace process agenda was the number one priority of all agencies, with all other considerations expendable.”

    Right… and if you believe that, I has me a bridge to sell you. Do you honestly believe that it is wholly coincidental that the man chosen to head this Stormont spy ring just happened to be paid informant of the security apparatus? Things happen for reasons, SRR — there is no such thing as coincidence. Similarly, matters could well be small “p” political, rather than some grand design. Given the transfer of confidential material from the security apparatus to the Unionist paramilitaries, this could have been an effort to create a lot of smoke without much risk of fire.

    SRR: “The simplest explanation is that Donaldson wasn’t turned the whole way. In the absence of any other explanation that adds up, from either the government or the Shinners, then that one pretty much stands. ”

    Doesn’t scan, SRR… again, its one hell of a coincidence for the man leading the spy ring to just happen to be a British “asset.” We can presume he is a spy, primarily due to the lack of response from Hain and the quashing of the prosecution as being “not in the public interest.” I will concede there are a few other things that don’t scan… f’r’instance, if, as you claim, the whole of the intelligence communities effort has been pro-Sinn Fein, why out a spy in their ranks, to SF’s embaressment? How does this little stunt further the peace process, since, as you seem to believe, was their whole and undivided goal at the time? Are you telling me there are no Orangemen or Unionists in the police force / security apparatus that wouldn’t mind seeing SF brought down a few pegs? None at all?

  • Crasher

    Is there any proof, other than his own admission, that Donalson was working for the British ? The fact that the procesution was not proceeded with “in the public interest” proves nothing.

    And we can go round and round in circles about who is subversive but using massive, economically damaging car bombs as a bargaining chip in negotiations seems pretty subversive to me.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Crasher: “Is there any proof, other than his own admission, that Donalson was working for the British ? The fact that the procesution was not proceeded with “in the public interest” proves nothing.

    And we can go round and round in circles about who is subversive but using massive, economically damaging car bombs as a bargaining chip in negotiations seems pretty subversive to me.”

    Tell ya what, Crasher — try to prove to me he wasn’t, then we can talk. After you get tired of trying to prove a negative, we can start again. As you said, we can go round and round, argue a couple centuries of history as to who was the bigger bastard or more subversive.

    The fact of the matter is is that there is *SOMETHING* politically dirty in this. Admittedly, once you get beyond the basic broad outline of “something political,” it gets a trifle hazy. However, SF / Donalson provides a tidy answer, one which no one has seriously tried to rebutt. Were Donalson not an informer, then why else would the prosecution be quashed, given the timing and manner in which is was quashed? Given history and social conditioning, unless there was a major benefit in the offing, what Nationalist would voluntarily take on the mantle of being a tout?

    Its easy to say y’all don’t believe it — but your belief doesn’t matter — far weirder things have crawled out of the Troubles than this.

  • Crasher

    Dread

    There was a political correspondent on RTE news the other evening giving an insight, from her sources in SF, into the spy ring in Stormont and Donaldson was in incidental to it all. It was a SF assembly member who was key to the spy ring and feeding the information to IRA Director of Intelligence (the target of the police undercover operation.

    The dropping of charges against Donaldson proves nothing. Prosecution services drop charges for all sorts of reasons, even in juridictions and cases with no subversive involvement. (The case of Sr Nora Wall in the Republic is an example – it transpired that one of the state witnesses later admitted to lying which undermined the case). They are also precluded from giving explanation of the reasons for dropping or failing to pursue a prosecution.

    I believe it is encumbent on those who believe Donaldson was a British agent to prove their case – it is not possible to prove a negative. His own say so wouldn’t exactly stand up in court – he wouldn’t make a very credible witness. How was he “out-ed” other than his own admission ?