Courtesy of Newshound, Newton Emerson has an intriguing theory about the new MI5 building in Holywood – originally published in the Irish News. Difficult when, as he acknowledges, so many facts are unknown, not least the actual cost involved. But he has some facts to work with in assessing MI5’s role in Northern IrelandFrom Newshound
Both Sinn Féin and the British government now discuss MI5’s role in Northern Ireland in terms of ‘civic policing’. This phrase is so absurd that it is unlikely to have occurred to both sides independently. There has never been any suggestion of a role for MI5 in routine law enforcement. Holywood was not chosen for MI5’s largest base of operations outside London so that bored spooks could set up speed-traps on the Bangor dual-carriageway. However, the site is right beside an airport, a port, a railway, the hub of the motorway network and the seat of Northern Ireland’s civil administration. Can this be a coincidence?
Here are a few more facts which may cast some light on the mystery. Eliza Manningham-Buller, the outgoing director general of MI5, says that a chemical, biological or radiological attack on London is “only a matter of time”. MI5 has been closely involved in drafting Operation Sassoon, the evacuation plan for London in the event of such an attack.
The plan calls for 300,000 people to leave the city, but only because this is the largest number that can be evacuated without the resulting chaos costing more lives than it saves. Everyone else will be “invacuated” ie told to stay at home and tape their windows shut.
As a result, even a small dirty bomb will paralyse London for weeks and there is no prospect of the British government invacuating itself for the duration.
Most official buildings in London are connected by a network of tunnels 30 metres below ground leading to war-rooms and ‘citadels’ from which the country can be run in an emergency. In 1955, scientists from the Ministry of Defence’s Porton Down research centre released harmless spores into a section of the tunnels beneath Whitehall to see if they would spread. The classified results, leaked to Channel 4 News in 2001, found that the spores had “readily penetrated” supposedly secure areas, leading to “extensive contamination of many Whitehall buildings”. Further experiments concluded that the rest of the tunnel network was equally useless.
So here is an explanation that might make sense of all these facts. Belfast has been chosen as an alternative site for national MI5 operations and related government functions in the event of a catastrophic terrorist attack. It was chosen because it is the UK’s most remote and ethnically homogeneous major city, making it easy to secure against follow-up attacks. Mindful of local sensitivities, the Sinn Féin leadership was kept informed and language was agreed to neutralise the issue, leaving an uninformed SDLP standing on the Bangor dual-carriageway waving placards. Unionism neither knows nor cares.
How ironic that London is threatening Belfast with a Plan B.
Belfast is London’s Plan B.