Clarification Sought

What exactly are former IRA volunteers to do when it comes to the Historic Enquiries Team (HET), asks Brian McFadden in today’s Irish News. His query is straightforward:

“As an ex-IRA volunteer, I would like to ask Martin McGuinness – British MP, future second minister for the occupied six counties and ex-IRA volunteer – and P O’Neill IRA, are they asking all ex-IRA volunteers to give their full cooperation to the RUC/PSNI?
“Should we provide the historical crime unit with information about others and their own past activities that this unit would deem to have been illegal?’’
“A prompt and public response would be appreciated to avoid confusion about what is expected of all ex-volunteers and ex-PoWs”.

The response, not so much:

“Brian McFadden does not take his direction from Sinn Fein any more. Let him go to those who are giving him his advice. He does not support us or listen to us; why would he take direction from us?” [a spokesman for Sinn Fein said to the Irish News].

Looks like they have taken the needle since the last time Brian McFadden had questions for them. Last year, the Irish News reported,

Mr McFadden said he felt compelled to speak out after Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams called on four republicans who failed to turn up at court to be sentenced for the abduction of Belfast man Bobby Tohill to give themselves up.
“I am worried Sinn Féin is determined to join the Policing Board and they have not realised that 25 years after the Hunger Strikes they still have not got the British government to admit we were prisoners of war,” Mr McFadden said.
“And those who are on the run still cannot come home.
“My four brothers were all in jail; my father was interned. Did we go through all that to make Sinn Féin a good political party? Where is the united Ireland?”

Mitchel McLaughlin answered for Sinn Fein back then:

Sinn Féin general secretary Mitchel McLaughlin insisted there was no question of the party moving away from its roots.
“Brian is entitled to his opinion, the same as anyone else. If he has questions he can ask them of the party. A number of the leadership live in Derry and if there are concerns they are available to deal with them,” he said.

Looks like Mr McFadden is persona non grata with the party these days.

When asked about cooperating with the HET by Irish News, “a spokesman for Sinn Fein said only that the party’s position on policing was “very, very clear” and had been highlighted on numerous occasions by leading party figures.”

So we are none the wiser to what former IRA volunteers should do in regards to the HET; Sinn Fein’s position on policing (a wide concept) may be “very, very clear” but what is the position on the specific point? Anyone know?

  • Dec

    I thought the policy was very clear. IRA volunteers should only speak to the police about specific cases when the leadership specifically asks them to(á la McCartney murder). That way only those deemed expendable by others will end up in the sh*t.

  • It does raise a valid point- does this ‘clear’ position mean that provisional members should withhold information about unlawful activities until such a point that they’re asked for it by the HET? If that’s the case, and the goal being an ‘Ireland of Equals’ for SF, should the same rules not apply to everyone? Is it similarly ok for Special Branch, members of loyalist paramilitaries, the British Government etc. to withhold knowledge they may have of attrocities until they are asked for it? Now it may well be the case that those organisations do withhold evidence, but that certainly doesn’t make it right, and the risk is that SF’s ambiguous position serves to endorse Crown force and loyalist reticence to reveal the truth by mimicking their policy of obfuscation.

  • Fulbert

    This amounts to little more than SF double-speak…

    “Let him go to those who are giving him his advice.” = “Feck him!”

    “A number of the leadership live in Derry and if there are concerns they are available to deal with them,” = “We can make them an offer they can’t refuse.”

    Looks like the SF position is only “very, very clear” to SF and nobody else!

  • EyeSpy

    Another good spot Rusty.

    The words of Paul Travers – brother of murdered Mary Travers – can be seen on another post from Sunday Life at the weekend. (Informer re-revealed).

    This is yet another example of why we need a Truth Commission as supported by other bloggers like Mick Hall on this site.

    It is unfair for one side to the conflict to hold their hands up to something. All sides in the conflict must be held to account. Paisley and McGuinness cannot be allowed to swan off into the sunset without dealing with the past.

    The fools, the fools….

  • Token Dissent

    Dec,”IRA volunteers should only speak to the police about specific cases when the leadership specifically asks them to.”

    The above is a neat summary of the morally bankrupt position the Shinners hold. Despite the clear commitments to follow democratic and legal norms, psychologically Sinn Fein still have strong urges to hold on to what they consider to be their’s, and consequently to act as an autonomous filter for the legal system.

    The principle behind this is basically that those republicans who come with the Shinner seal of approval are expected to place ‘loyalty’ to the party above the greater good of society, and in return will receive the protection of SF, ie. the political establishment. As El Matador states, if the Provisionals can operate in this way, why not loyalists, or dodgy elements of the state?

    I love the doublespeak employed in this case. For “take direction”, read “follow orders”.

    In their Ireland of Equals, some are more equal than others…

  • Boys of the Grudge Brigade

    Mr McFadden is perfectly entitled to ask the questions he does. As someone who is an active and prominent( or as prominent as its possible to be in a micro grouping) in the Ex POWs and Concerned Republicans/Former Combatants Against PSNI/RUC/MI5/Sinn Fein and all the non 8,000 voters who share his analysis, he makes a very good point.

  • harpo

    Why is Provo Sinn Fein replying to him on behalf of the PIRA people he directed his question to?

    Does the PIRA not speak for itself any longer? Do they now just give the job to some Provo SF flunky who comes out and gives one of those vague answers that they are experts in giving?

  • cynic

    Isn’t witholding information about a serious crime itself a crime?

    So if IRA members refuse to answer questions they must commit a crime. That in itself is a breach of Sinn Fein’s committment that IRA members will not engage in any criminality.

    The only solution is for them all to resign from the IRA immediately.