I apologise for the slightly flippant title, but it is really not easy to follow the logic of Gerry Kelly’s statement this afternoon.
“The whole issue of MI5, and these security services are also in the south of Ireland, is that if they act illegally then we have a PSNI which is not signed up to MI5 and which will hold them to account.We want MI5 out of Ireland, there`s no place for it north or south. This gets us a very major step closer to that.” [my emphasis]
He seems to be arguing that the substantial beefing up of MI5 and making it unaccountable to local politicians, and particularly Republican politicians, takes us closer to getting rid of it.
Beyond this deal, Sinn Fein have little bargaining power that would push it out of Northern Ireland, never mind any other part of the island. Indeed it could be argued that the party’s bargain has enhanced locally unaccountable British power in Northern Ireland. More plausibly it means that the PSNI cannot no longer be held directly accountable for intelligence gathering or anti terrorism.
Which sets MI5 up nicely to be an Aunt Sally that gets the party off the responsibility for any future counter measures against former Republican colleagues.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty