Muddied waters after the Ombudsman’s report

Most of Northern Ireland’s commentariat was in uproar yesterday at the publication of the Police Ombudsman report into the circumstances around the killing of Raymond McCord junior. Yet, as Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has rightly argued on CIF this morning, it was anything but a shock.It should be understood however that this inquiry would never have taken place had it not been for the dogged efforts of McCord’s father (also Raymond). The awkward truth is that no one in the political establishment (not even Sinn Fein) particularly wanted it to take place or, more problematically, for the enquiry to produce actionable results.

Indeed, the most remarkable aspect of this report is just how little it actually has to tell us.

Certainly we know that members of Special Branch systematically destroyed records of their day to day handling of their many spies and informers, across the sectarian divide. And we know that that the Police Ombudsman faced official obstruction from both former and serving members of the former RUC and PSNI. We know also that one spy, widely reported as Mark Haddock, was probably responsible for at least ten murders: six before the UVF’s ceasefire in October 1994; and four afterwards, during Northern Ireland’s transition from low level war to approximate peace.

But she also tells us that her inquiry failed to produce sufficent evidence to convict either Haddock or anyone else who may have been complicit in the beating to death of young McCord, or the shooting of Catholic taxi driver Sharon McKenna as she cooked for an elderly Protestant neighbour. Nor would any of the Policemen she interviewed tell her why they kept a multiple murderer in place within the organisation for so long.

Now, with any conclusive paper trail gone up in smoke, I doubt we will ever get the answer to that crucial question.

The moderate nationalist SDLP are calling for the sacking one of those allegedly unco-operative senior officers, the recently appointed head of the UK’s Police Inspectorate, Sir Ronnie Flanagan. But the Home Office was exceedingly quick to come to Flanagan’s defence (subs needed), which might suggest doubt over any British political will to go back and clean out the Augean Stables of our pre 2002, realpolitik arrangements with paramilitaries of all stripes.

On the BBC’s World Tonight programme last night Unionist commentator and blogger David Vance noted that there were more than thirty murders connected to the IRA, which according to the PSNI’s own figures, resulted in zero convictions. Over on RTE shortly afterwards, Brian Feeney picked out a probable chain of command, right up to the Secretary of State.

In the uncertain flux left in the wake of this controversial report, the most discomfiting possibility is that what we are actually seeing a snap shot of a government driven policy of deference, not to Special Branch, as noted in the report, but more generally to all local paramilitaries, Loyalist and Republican.

For now, it seems that most parties to this peace process are happy to throw a Cordon Sanitaire over a shared Faustian past. Given we are moving towards a situation where most now accept they have to move inside the big tent of regulated policing, it may be a price most are prepared to pay.

But if that is to be the case, that ‘Cordon’ will likely mean that victims of both State and paramilitary violence are likely to get left behind.

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  • Sean

    Hopscotch

    then your basic arguement is that because the RUC/PSNI broke the law with the republicans it cancels out the laws broken with the Unionists?

    seems to me more of a case for twice the prosecutions!

    And as for the contention that a certain amount of illegal activity is allowed by police informants all over the word, I contend that the only place that murder would be considered a certain amount of illegal activity is in the third world. is it therefore your contention that the RUC/PSNI are a third world police force? I mean i could certainly agree with that but i find it odd that you would be arguing this.

  • Hopscoth

    Sean,

    I never made that contention. Abuse of power by state forces, not unique to NI – have a small look across the border to Donegal, is reprehensible. But I would make the point that the focus on collusion is deliberately diverting attention from the murderous campaign that left over 3500 people dead and countless others scared for life. Even by the figures of that bastion of impartiality, the Finucane Centre, the number of murders involved with specualtion of “collusion” in 74. Who speaks for the other 3400 people and their families – who will be held accountable. When will Mrs O’Loan or her ilk investigate these murders and point the finger at the terrorist thugs dressed in suits who grace out televisions daily with platitudes about accountability of “crown forces”.

    Dread, I again reiterate I do not condone the nefarious activities of RUC SB or FRU or MI5. But realistic views of siutations are required and it is unavoidable that in some instances, even murder has to be let go unprosectuted to preserve useful informants. It occurred in all terrorist organisations.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Hopscoth (sic): “But I would make the point that the focus on collusion is deliberately diverting attention from the murderous campaign that left over 3500 people dead and countless others scared for life.”

    Nothing to see here… move along…

    *snicker*

    Hopscoth (sic): “But realistic views of siutations are required and it is unavoidable that in some instances, even murder has to be let go unprosectuted to preserve useful informants. It occurred in all terrorist organisations. ”

    As usual, its only “a war” when the state find its tit in the wringer. Hint: If it was a war, then the other 3400 deaths mean as little as the ones you would like swept under the rug… but that would require intellectual consistency, rather than ham-handed efforts to rationalize police misbehavior.

    I would also return to my generic question — how many deaths prevented would *your* loved one’s be worth, to you? Its easy to disregard / rationalize when its someone else’s family, but, honestly, would you be willing to walk away if it was one of yours killed by an informant “for the greater good?”

  • Hopscotch

    Dread

    What do you call it if not war ?

    Your generic question is just plain silly and childish. (snigger). Hard cases make bad law. Governance has to take a macro picture and the problem today is that media elements with nothing better to do focus on the inevitable hard case. Obviously nobody want their ‘loved’ ones killed. But equally we all want the most expensive medical treatment for our loved ones but objective decision making cannot be done by those who have ‘loved’ ones involved. that is why doctors are ethically prohibited from treating their own family.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Hopscotch: “What do you call it if not war ? ”

    I never said it wasn’t. Unionists and the British government, on the other hand, tend not to be so candid.

    Hopscotch: “Your generic question is just plain silly and childish.”

    No, it is not. You put forth the ghoulish notion that police collaberation with and protection of murderers can be “for the greater good.” I am interested in just what you consider “the greater good.” Personally, I think it’s just cheap rhetoric meant to give a fig-leaf’s worth of cover to the police, but I was interested if you had anything in mind. Apparently not.

    Hopscotch: “Governance has to take a macro picture and the problem today is that media elements with nothing better to do focus on the inevitable hard case.”

    It’s a recurring theme in the British policy in Northern Ireland, be it the UDR, the SB, the B Specials, et al and ad nauseum. What you call “the inevitable hard case” would appear to occur with disturbing frequency.

    Hopscotch: “Obviously nobody want their ‘loved’ ones killed.”

    Ah, but I did not ask you did you want your loved one killed, I asked what would you consider to be sufficient good for you to simply shut up and walk away from their death at the hands of a police “asset.”

  • Hopscotch

    Dread

    Your condescending and denigrating tone adds nothing to the validity of your arguments. infact it hightlights a failure of argument. (perhaps your should read Schopenhauer).

    The greater good is the ability of ordinary people to conduct their lives without the subversion of their way of life by thugs who’s only aim is stoking of their egos and personal enrichment. I never said, implied or would think that the activities of the Mount Vernon RUC SB in their dealings with informant 1 bears any relationship to this goal. As I stated earlier, even by the figures of the Finnucane Centre the murders ascribable to “collusion” represent less than 2% of the deaths in the murderous campaign. It does not make these deaths right but there is an obvious agenda when this 2% is the sole focus of the opprobrium of all the concerned citizens. Why is that the death of Mr Finnucane seems to be more important than the death of any other person. Will a commission of enquiry examine the activities of Mr Finnucane, his family and his colleagues that might have contributed to his demise ?

  • Aaron McDaid

    Hopscotch: ‘there is an obvious agenda’

    Eh? what’s the agenda of the SDLP and now the UUP (who are accepting this as a pretty fair report)? Are you honestly saying the SDLP and UUP are now covering up for the IRA, having spent all their existence loudly demanding the IRA halt violence?

    There has been a huge amount of really badly aimed whataboutery in recent days. What next – if Paisley condemns collusion you’d say “Paisley is only saying that because he’s a Shinner” !

    Another empty argument(*) seen recently is the refrain that “the vast majority of the RUC were good people”. Republicans would do well to 100% accept that and watch the collusion-apologist struggle to maintain their facade. 15% of the UDR were loyalists who supplied arms to loyalist paramilitaries and so on. So 85% of UDR did their best to do the right thing? True. But 15% sectarian infiltration, enough for a network throughout the UDR, still means the institution was fatally undermined. At the very kindest reading, those in charge should be sacked for the grossest incompetence. Imagine if 15% of teachers in a big school were paedophiles, the head teacher would be sacked without question.

    * It does no harm to mention it to keep things a little in perspective, but there should be no suggestion that it actually contradicts the allegation of widespread collusion, infiltration and an organisation being out of control. For example, it’s quite plausible that some RUC officers, with good records, will also be calling for Ronnie Flanagan to be sacked.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Hopscotch: “Your condescending and denigrating tone adds nothing to the validity of your arguments. ”

    Neither does your inability to following bouncing ball and stay on point.

    Hopscotch: “The greater good is the ability of ordinary people to conduct their lives without the subversion of their way of life by thugs who’s only aim is stoking of their egos and personal enrichment.”

    Ah, but it is the informants, as starkly illustrated by Haddock and those of his ilk, who are doing the subverting, ego-stroking and personal enrichment. One does not cure the disease with the disease. Ironically, the SB *paid* for the honor of protecting the operations of Haddock.

    Hopscotch: “As I stated earlier, even by the figures of the Finnucane (sic) Centre the murders ascribable to “collusion” represent less than 2% of the deaths in the murderous campaign. It does not make these deaths right but there is an obvious agenda when this 2% is the sole focus of the opprobrium of all the concerned citizens.”

    When the state gets into bed with the criminals / terrorists, then there ought to be an uproar. A civil society requires functioning law enforcement, from police to lawyers to judges. When the police get involved in murder, deciding who lives and who dies, who gets punished and who gets a pass, you are undermining one of the foundation stones of society.

    Likewise, given your argument that it was a war, then none of the deaths should bother you, since that’s what happens in a war. People die. It is, in fact, the Unionist / British argument that this was *NOT* a war and that collusion did *NOT* occur that causes this to be an important matter.

  • Sean

    hopscotch the very heart of this matter is that if the RUC/PSNI were the force for law and order then no amount of collusion is acceptable.
    not in 50% of murders, not in 2% of murders the only acceptable percentage is 0. Allowing for the fact that they tend to be poorly educated thugs 1 or 2 deaths in 30 years may have been explainable 2% is completely beyond the pail. and judging from this report the 2% is grossly under reported

  • URQUHART

    Sean: “if the RUC/PSNI were the force for law and order then no amount of collusion is acceptable”

    I agree 100%, which brings me back to my original point – when are we going to see an investigation into the level of collusion between RUC/SB and IRA/SF?

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Gareth, Gareth, Gareth!!!

    1) “i could tell you so much that is in the secret report but her intel provided by POLICE who did co operate and HANDLERS who did co operate is being carefully used in new investigations.”

    And how may I ask are you privy to this “sensitive” intel?

    2) “you are a complete non loyalist”

    And what evidence do you have to substantiate this slur on my character? You know nothing about me. The only thing you may have picked up upon on previous threads is that I support the work of the Ulster Political Research Group. Does that infer to you that I’m a “non loyalist”?

    3) “needs slapped so many times but would be a waste of time doing so.”

    I never assume the role of a keyboard hardman, unlike yourself, so I won’t take the bait. Talk is cheap my friend…

    4) “Remember so called loyalist”

    First I was a non loyalist, now I’m a “so-called loyalist”! What next, “The artist formerly known as a loyalist” or “Continuity Loyalist”?

    5) “WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COLLUSION!!”

    Convince me. I believe the 3rd Battalion of the UVF in Mount Vernon was compromised, but not to the extent inferred in O’loan’s so-called investigation.
    I also believe there was low-grade intel passed on by the security services to many different units of paramilitaries on both sides of the divide.
    I would go as far as to say I am 99% sure in my mind that there was high-level collusion in the following cases;
    1) The Gardai/Provos murdered RUC officers Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan along the border.
    2) The NIO/INLA murdered LVF leader Billy Wright in HMP MAZE.
    3) The NIO/Provos murdered UFF volunteers Joe “Chinky” Bratty and Raymie “Snowy” Elder in South Belfast.

    In otherwards I believe collusion did happen, but if you believe it was as institutionalized and widespread as O’Loan fantasises, you are just duping yourself…

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Sean: “if the RUC/PSNI were the force for law and order then no amount of collusion is acceptable”

    URQUHART: “I agree 100%, which brings me back to my original point – when are we going to see an investigation into the level of collusion between RUC/SB and IRA/SF? ”

    And when did SF become a “force for law and order,” Urquhart? When did they get deputized to keep the peace and enforce the law?

  • immune

    Well said Concerned!! It’s about time ppl stopped pussy-footing around the McCords, OK, I pity them & commend Raymond Snr 4 all his work to expose Haddock as an informer but sumtimes they go 2 far, it takes ppl like u 2 keep their heads where they’re meant 2 b, instead of in the clouds (u r not celebs, although u may hav made a small fortune on the back of young Raymond’s death) or as I would argue, up their own arses! If u do not agree with them, u r WRONG or worse, u r a tout! (beware Concerned…ur next lol)

  • gareth mccord

    immune(to the facts) so called loyalist
    were do i begin lets start with the loyalist or i mean BIGOT.
    your answers to number one are simple
    from meetings with ruc cid s.b both current and past and more importantly current and past members of the uvf uda lvf who for their own agendas im sure have provided and told us of certain drug dealers extortionists murder attempts and murder details of which not all but some have been reliable. also details from the ombudsmanm inq from interviews and tapes provided by angry ashamed and let down police and sercurity personnel to get rid of the officers who let them down. NO your wrong decissions have not been finalised on prosecutions. I know you know about the agents who sell drugs murder intimidate for the uda who are still in pay of the s.b.
    which leads me onto your character (2) you are a BIGOT as you some how FORGOT to mention any catholics being murdered by loyalist informers with help from udr ruc or fru s.b . Or maybe it was all one sided as many SO CALLED LOYALISTS FOOLS BELIEVE. what about the u.p.r.g./uda a simple question of which answers yes or no but im sure you will not admit ARE THEIR ANY INFORMERS WHO HAVE MURDERED STILL IN THE UDA UNDER PAY OF THE S.B.? now tell the truth!! question no 2 WHAT ARE YOU LOYAL TO MONEY POWER OR INTIMIDATION OF THE PROTESTANT COMMUNTY? the truth hurts but admit it!!
    my reply to your number 3 is simply why is it that the uda uvf ira lvf all need to be in a gang to kill beat up or intimidate one man, woman or child? simple BULLIES WHO CANT DO IT OWN THEIR OWN. by the way im not your friend but please feel free to call for tea were im sure i can behave and talk openly but tell the rest of them to wait outside!
    most important of all number 5. why was stobie murdered why was doris day why was jim craig roy the cat mawhinney and many more murdered by the uda uff. THATS RIGHT IS IT ALL COMING BACK FLANAGAN DO YOU NOW REMEMBER!
    Lets stop the bull and admit it was rife on all sides police were allowed to be shot by s.b. to protect informers. IF the uprg want to get votes they have to stop being in denial because you are fooling nobody .JUST LOOK AT YOUR VOTES.
    AS FOR IMMUNE(TO THE TRUTH)
    WE DONT NEED PITY OR WANT IT!
    HOW FAR CAN SOMEONE GO TO EXPOSE AND GET JUSTICE FOR A MURDERED LOVED ONE. WERE SHOULD WE HAVE STOPED IN YOUR VIEW?
    CELEBS YES HAPPY DAYS WE ARE LOVING IT BEING RECONISED FOR HAVING A LOVED ONE MURDERED AND FIGHTING FOR JUSTICE ITS ALL OUR DREAMS COME TRUE . WHO NEEDS TO PLAY FOR MAN UTD AT OLD TRAFFORD WHEN WEVE GOT THIS. WE DO COUNT OUR BLESSINGS? YOU MUPPET.
    AS FOR MONEY ASK ANYONE IN THE MEDIA, WE HAVE RECIEVED NOTHING AND REFUSED ALOT. WE DONT WANT BLOOD MONEY. but what sort of person thinks of getting money from a situation like ours? YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED. read the mirror today and then give me a message to pass on to my mother or better still you can meet her and give her your shameful views .YOU HAVENT THE GUTS YOU RAT!!
    NOBODY IS A TOUT OR ANYTHING ELSE WRONG UNTIL IT IS PROVEN . WE HAVE PROVEN IT AND THEIRS MORE TO COME!!

  • Sean

    if the government wants to run an investigation into collusion bertwee the RUC/PSNI and any of the IRA’s i say more power to them!!!

    I just suspect that the results will prove a whole lot problematic for them because it will strip special branch of their support in the unionist community

    Its one thing for the Dupers to rubbish collusion between the RUC/UDA/UVF/UFF or any of the the other alphabet killers. It is quite another for them to deny collusion with the IRA alphabet killers. as they live for shouting about the IRA

  • Hopscotch

    Dread

    SF are set to become officers of government, the people who will have oversight of the forces of law and order, hence the exploration and exposition of their nefarious activities is very valid.

  • SM

    1) The Gardai/Provos murdered RUC officers Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan along the border.

    This has been proved to be rubbish.

  • Sue

    How many of the murders took place after the first IRA ceasefire?
    What would the special branch have to gain by fomenting trouble that would lead to its breakdown?
    If they were not interested in defeating terrorism what were they doing?
    Qui Custodiet Ipso Custodes?

  • Concerned Loyalist

    immune(to the facts) so called loyalist
    were do i begin lets start with the loyalist or i mean BIGOT.
    your answers to number one are simple
    from meetings with ruc cid s.b both current and past and more importantly current and past members of the uvf uda lvf who for their own agendas im sure have provided and told us of certain drug dealers extortionists murder attempts and murder details of which not all but some have been reliable. also details from the ombudsmanm inq from interviews and tapes provided by angry ashamed and let down police and sercurity personnel to get rid of the officers who let them down. NO your wrong decissions have not been finalised on prosecutions. I know you know about the agents who sell drugs murder intimidate for the uda who are still in pay of the s.b.
    which leads me onto your character (2) you are a BIGOT as you some how FORGOT to mention any catholics being murdered by loyalist informers with help from udr ruc or fru s.b . Or maybe it was all one sided as many SO CALLED LOYALISTS FOOLS BELIEVE. what about the u.p.r.g./uda a simple question of which answers yes or no but im sure you will not admit ARE THEIR ANY INFORMERS WHO HAVE MURDERED STILL IN THE UDA UNDER PAY OF THE S.B.? now tell the truth!! question no 2 WHAT ARE YOU LOYAL TO MONEY POWER OR INTIMIDATION OF THE PROTESTANT COMMUNTY? the truth hurts but admit it!!
    my reply to your number 3 is simply why is it that the uda uvf ira lvf all need to be in a gang to kill beat up or intimidate one man, woman or child? simple BULLIES WHO CANT DO IT OWN THEIR OWN. by the way im not your friend but please feel free to call for tea were im sure i can behave and talk openly but tell the rest of them to wait outside!
    most important of all number 5. why was stobie murdered why was doris day why was jim craig roy the cat mawhinney and many more murdered by the uda uff. THATS RIGHT IS IT ALL COMING BACK FLANAGAN DO YOU NOW REMEMBER!
    Lets stop the bull and admit it was rife on all sides police were allowed to be shot by s.b. to protect informers. IF the uprg want to get votes they have to stop being in denial because you are fooling nobody .JUST LOOK AT YOUR VOTES.
    AS FOR IMMUNE(TO THE TRUTH)
    WE DONT NEED PITY OR WANT IT!
    HOW FAR CAN SOMEONE GO TO EXPOSE AND GET JUSTICE FOR A MURDERED LOVED ONE. WERE SHOULD WE HAVE STOPED IN YOUR VIEW?
    CELEBS YES HAPPY DAYS WE ARE LOVING IT BEING RECONISED FOR HAVING A LOVED ONE MURDERED AND FIGHTING FOR JUSTICE ITS ALL OUR DREAMS COME TRUE . WHO NEEDS TO PLAY FOR MAN UTD AT OLD TRAFFORD WHEN WEVE GOT THIS. WE DO COUNT OUR BLESSINGS? YOU MUPPET.
    AS FOR MONEY ASK ANYONE IN THE MEDIA, WE HAVE RECIEVED NOTHING AND REFUSED ALOT. WE DONT WANT BLOOD MONEY. but what sort of person thinks of getting money from a situation like ours? YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED. read the mirror today and then give me a message to pass on to my mother or better still you can meet her and give her your shameful views .YOU HAVENT THE GUTS YOU RAT!!
    NOBODY IS A TOUT OR ANYTHING ELSE WRONG UNTIL IT IS PROVEN . WE HAVE PROVEN IT AND THEIRS MORE TO COME!!

    Posted by gareth mccord on Jan 25, 2007 @ 06:14 PM

    Thank God I managed to come through that interrogation, name-calling and whataboutery without confessing to being paid by the Branch as a double-agent within the UFF!

    I’m glad I don’t vote for the PUP, the party that speaks for the UVF who killed Raymond McCord Jnr or I could have been in for more moral teachings from Gareth up there on his lofty perch looking down on me…

    Mate, I’ve just turned 22 years old. I have never been an active member of the UFF – the CLMC ceasefires were in October 1994, at which point I would have been 3 months shy of my tenth birthday! I do support the UYM/UDA/UFF and the UPRG who provide political analysis for the Association but I am not going to disclose whether I am a member or not as the Association is proscribed.

  • Sue

    cover of The Phoenix.

    Sir hugh Orde “Glas to see that you support law and order”

    Gerry Adams “I hope your lost start soon”

  • Concerned about concerned

    Mate?? Y even waste ur breath on Gareth McCord? Yeah yeah, he deserves a little pity but he brings all this crap on himself by acting the ‘hardman’. Threats r gr8 over a computer eh?
    U don’t need 2 explain urself 2 him!!

  • gareth mccord

    what do you call a person who stands up and speaks out and faces any paramilitary scum,both on and of a keyboard and doesnt hide his identity?

  • Ulster4Ever

    Well said Gareth McCord!

    You have more courage in your big toe than that shower knuckle-dragging braindead “concerned” Loyalist scumbag maggot pussies…

    Hey lads, you think the UFF are so great then? They’ve probably murdered more “concerned loyalist scumbags” than anything else, so read your history, if youse can read that is. Give a good price for E-tabs do they? F*ing wankers

  • concerned about concerned

    Gareth………………get over urself SON!!

  • gareth mccord

    leave me out of this one someone else has reacted i wouldnt waste my time !!

  • Nevin

    It looks as if neither Hugh Orde nor the friends of Sinn Fein in the US Congress got much publicity in the Washington press!!

    http://www.house.gov/list/press/nj04_smith/finucanehousepassage.html