“once a state finds it needs a power, it doesn’t surrender it lightly”

Via Newshound. In yesterday’s Sunday Times Liam Clarke pointed to one or two items which could be described as the hangover from Operation Banner.

In one respect, these residual powers illustrate Northern Ireland’s isolation as a region. They are the price being paid for the slimmed-down and highly regulated force that constitutes the PSNI.

Barring some new arrangement with the Garda Siochana, which would be difficult between two sovereign states, the PSNI cannot call on the help of neighbouring police forces in an emergency. It is natural, therefore, that the garrison is there for backup in the event that bombs need to be disposed of or to contend with a sudden security crisis.

One of the lessons of the recent conflict is that once a state finds it needs a power, it doesn’t surrender it lightly. Another is that the price of transparency and accountability is the availability of another option that is not quite so transparent or accountable.

And he identifies one of the less-easily transferrable lessons

In a sense, these hidden arms of the state are the trade-off for the transparency and accountability that was negotiated by the Good Friday agreement and recommended by Chris Patten. That deal was accepted, if not enthusiastically agreed and endorsed, by Sinn Féin in its dealings with the British government and the Democratic Unionist party at St Andrews.

Over the years of Operation Banner, the interests of the British and Irish states and Sinn Féin have gradually converged. Captain Fred Holroyd, one of the first British intelligence whistleblowers to emerge in the Troubles, once recalled being told by an older officer at the Joint Services School of Intelligence in Kent, “to defeat the enemy you must first become the enemy”.

It was, Holroyd was told, a lesson of Aden and other colonial trouble-spots that you must not only learn how your opponent thinks but also control his structures, shape his thinking and determine as much as possible who rises in his ranks and who dies.

By the time all the papers are released and the definitive history of Northern Ireland can be written, we will all be long dead. British intelligence and its army still guards the secret identities of agents codenamed Chalk and Granite who infiltrated the Irish Volunteers in 1916.

There are enough hints to suggest that sections of the apparently warring factions had a good deal more in common than they admit. We know of the MI6 line of contact to the republican leadership that existed since the early 1970s; we know about high-level agents such as Freddie Scappaticci and Denis Donaldson. We know too that lower-level ones, like Willie Carlin in Derry, pushed Sinn Féin’s strategy towards elections and away from violence. We also know of the many British army officers and intelligence figures, like the senior MI6 analyst Michael Oatley, who came to empathise with the peace strategy of the republican leadership and to support their efforts.

Given that we know this much, we may guess that even greater levels of co-operation and collusion lie beneath the surface.

Some of those points we have seen made before by Liam Clarke et al

Still, food for thought for those on the March for Half-Truth…

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  • heck

    does’nt it make you wonder what sort of antics these people are up to in Iraq today.

    Might they not be supporting shite death squads to undermine sunnis. (not our brave boys!!LOL)The Americans, being more open that the Brits, have already admitted arming sunni insurgents to fight Al Qaeda and funding fundamentalist sunnis inside Iran. Are british soldiers being killed by british agents inside the militias?

    Think also of how the state controlled the media in Norn Iron over the last 30 years. It makes me sceptical of media reporting about brave squadies keeping the peace… blah blah blah.

    Or their control of elections, firts gerrymandering, then banning some canditates from standing for election (after bobby sand’s victory) and honest tony’s attempts to call elections only when he could control the outcome.

    The next time some British politican, media hack, or church man condemns “violence” in iraq it might be a good idea to bash him over the head.

  • Heck, it hasn’t actually stopped, I’m afraid – http://observer.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,2141943,00.html

  • The Dubliner

    “Think also of how the state controlled the media in Norn Iron over the last 30 years.” – Heck

    Yup, and the Irish and British media’s partisanship prolonged the conflict by purposefully obfuscating the public’s understanding of it. The public cannot properly resolve that which it has not been permitted to properly understand; and, ergo, the public’s moral imperative thusly dissolved into impotence, stagnation and despair. Essentially, that form of media control allowed the state to engage in criminality free from public scrutiny. Those media partisans who facilitated the state’s directive are no better than de facto collaborators in state terrorism, despite their self-reassuring smugness about “behaving responsibly.” There is never any justification for perpetuating ignorance via the dissemination of misinformation and disinformation or censorship of information which conflicts with the official propaganda from the vested interests. Truth is indeed the first – and the last – casualty when the state’s pimps turn the media into cheap whores. No wonder then that the great Harold Evans claimed that the British so-called ‘free press’ is only “half free.”

    And in Ireland, a billionaire brothel keeper was born…

    “It was, Holroyd was told, a lesson of Aden and other colonial trouble-spots that you must not only learn how your opponent thinks but also control his structures, shape his thinking and determine as much as possible who rises in his ranks and who dies.” – Liam Clarke

    PIRA promoted a key component of that strategy as being its greatest strength when, in actuality, it was its greatest weakness: ourselves alone, i.e. listen only to the voices within; and within, listen only to the voices at the top. The voices at the top deliberately marginalised and censored dissenting voices by scaremongering that dissenting voices would lead to splits and splits are Perfidious Albion’s ‘divide and conquer’ modus operandi – essentially, debate equals a sinister British Intelligence plot to “undermine the movement.” Well, not quite that paranoid, but distrust of outside voices led PSF/PIRA members to blindly follow the leadership wherever it led them (and part of that distrust was a justified distrust of the media and Intelligence disinformation campaigns). So, with that tight shepherd’s control of the sheep, whoever led the leadership led the members. The big question is who led the leadership? As Clarke says, we’ll probably never know for sure in our lifetimes. Suffice to say that tightly knit cults such as PSF/PIRA (that are encouraged to trust the leaders implicitly and the leaders alone) are most vulnerable at their weakest point: the top.

  • Dewi

    “once a state finds it needs a power, it doesn’t surrender it lightly”

    I wonder, if, sometime in the not too distant future that statement could apply to Sinn Fein @ Stormont ?

  • sportsman

    ROI Coastguard, Air Corps and naval service frequently cross the border to assist in rescues and so on. One a few days ago in Fermanagh. Dont suppose Garda would be an issue if the need was great enough. Do the fire brigade cross border either way? Must do.

  • lib2016

    Another ‘silly season’ story suggesting that the Brits were running the IRA while they bombed London. It’s almost as credible as the idea of 30% of MI5 taking up residence in Holywood.

    Are we going to have a decade of this sort of misinformation while H.M.’s government does a runner?

    Face it, lads. There are two counties out of thirty-two with a small unionist majority. No-one in Britain cares any more and the European mainland has been embarrassed long enough by Britain running a widely publicised mini-police state here. As for the Yanks…….!

    The UUP may still think that being ‘simply British’ has a future but the DUP know the truth. The Ugandan Asians and the Hong Kong Chinese were just as British as yer average loyalist while the middle class is becoming ever more internationalised.

    I hope they fix the road at Clohogue up quick, there are going to be a lot of jobs depending on it soon.

  • John East Belfast

    lib2016

    I am happy for you to be content with your own Lord Haw Hawesque propaganda but unionists arent listening.

    The biggest laugh will be you silently changing your non de plume as 2016 fast approaches

  • the European mainland has been embarrassed long enough by Britain running a widely publicised mini-police state here

    Nope. They don’t give a tinker’s.

  • The Dubliner

    “Another ‘silly season’ story suggesting that the Brits were running the IRA while they bombed London. It’s almost as credible as the idea of 30% of MI5 taking up residence in Holywood.” – lib2056 (if you’re lucky)

    Who claimed that British Intelligence approved every PIRA murder? No-one, so that puts that little jack back in its box. Who helped the ‘good’ PIRA defeat the the ‘bad’ PIRA (Eksund, Loughgall, etc, compromised weapons, bombs, operations and compromised no-compromisers – hello Morrision) and kept the leaders of the the ‘good’ PIRA safe from harm (with Gerry Adams being one of only two people that the Stevens Inquiry identified as being saved by the British Army’s FRU operative, Brian Nelson)?

  • aquifer

    “once a state finds it needs a power, it doesn’t surrender it lightly”

    Nor should it. The state needs a near monopoly of force to be a state worthy of the name. If it can manage to legally sanction that force and maintain some semblance of human rights for those within its territory, so much the better. None of the parapolitical gun gangs came close.

    The real arrogance, or idiocy, in all this, was going behind the backs of elected representatives, nationalist, unionist, and other, to negotiate with juvenille revolutionaries in circumstances that indicated that their ideas should be taken seriously.

    The English though they could brow beat a horribly mistaken gun gang, the gun gang felt flattered and confirmed in their belief that the brits were bumbling patronising fools and eminently beatable.

    All the English really said by meeting PIRA in those fine private rooms in London was, ‘the bodies do not really matter’. As mood music for a murder campaign, Mozart could not have done better.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Aquifer: “Nor should it. The state needs a near monopoly of force to be a state worthy of the name. If it can manage to legally sanction that force and maintain some semblance of human rights for those within its territory, so much the better. ”

    You could not be more wrong. The shortest route from citizenship to slavery involves a disarmed populace in a state has a monopoly (or near monopoly) on the tools of force. An armed populace is no threat to democracy or social order within a state — the Swiss, for example, does not merely have an armed populace, they are, by dint of law, required to practice and maintain their competence in the employment of the same.

    Your recipe is for a de-facto police state, from which it is a short step to a de jure police state.

  • Prince Eoghan

    >>We also know of the many British army officers and intelligence figures, like the senior MI6 analyst Michael Oatley, who came to empathise with the peace strategy of the republican leadership and to support their efforts.<< Shit! Seems like all those doomsday Unionists are right (howdi Turgon) There WAS collusion after all, the Brits were/are conspiring with the Ra to sell you all down the river. Dub Unusually for you these days good points re the media, they have got off far too lightly. I would expand on that to criticise how they were only too happy to legitimise the Unionist bogeyman ideas about the Republican movement. No wonder ordinary Unionists are confused that an organisation, so bastardised by the media and politicians are now in government from top to bottom in their backyards. Oh and you are obviously desperate to point the elbow at the Republican leadership, why fuck about? Just do it!

  • lib2016

    Sammy Morse,

    You really think that the people in Brussels don’t care? That’s almost as funny as all those unionist posters who used to claim that the Americans didn’t know what was happening here because they (shock! horror!) had a very different perspective from the BBC.

    The world knows which side the British Government very openly sided with in South Africa, right up to the point where Canada and Australia had to threaten to throw Britain out of the Commonwealth to shake some sense into them.

    The rest of Europe watched while the British Establishment protected Pinochet, and while Britain transformed itself into a rogue state over it’s illegal war in Iraq. They are watching now as the real government on the Thames extends it’s power in all directions.

    You may even have noticed the complete distain with which Brown’s accession to power was greeted by the rest of Europe.

    Britain’s ‘dirty war’ would be overlooked if Britain had friends internationally. Sadly that’s not the case and the demand for a proper inquiry of the Finucane case is only the beginning. Europe will not sit by forever and Irish Republicans will use that to the full – that’s what politics and networking are all about.

    The Brits have lurched too far to the right and embarrassed the rest of the EU for long enough. Time for payback.

  • Cruimh

    All the ould blarney about the Briish Army being gone Lib – Who pulled the local’s chestnuts out of the fire after a huge explosives find in Craigavon ….

    British Army experts

    And were the riff raff grateful?

    Were they hell.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/6934949.stm

  • Turgon

    lib 2016,
    You really really hate the British don’t you? Are you by chance actually Robert Mugabe?

    Do you not see that your constant attacks on the British are attacks on unionists.

    I mean in a way Dewi is British (sorry Dewi), even Prince Eoghan lives in Scotland. Oh yes I forgot there are only a few hateable Brits, the ones who are part of the conspiracy (does that include NI Prods) or is it only a small shaddowy group of conspirators? You may have a lot in common with Trowbridge. The British establishment (or actually the twevle foot tall blood drinking lizard aliens) they are the enemey aren’t they.

    Britain is not a perfect state nor are its politicians perfect. It is, however, not North Korea. Grow up.

  • andy

    Dub et al
    I think Hecks point was that there was enough action by PIRA to mean that the british forces could not have infiltrated them to the extent sometimes claimed – ie PIRA committed more thant the “odd murder” – big bombs in the city etc.

    Also I think Morrision was in favour of an electoral strategy so would not really fit in with the idea of non-compromisers being compromised (Loughgall would though).

  • flyer

    “Another ‘silly season’ story suggesting that the Brits were running the IRA while they bombed London. It’s almost as credible as the idea of 30% of MI5 taking up residence in Holywood.

    Are we going to have a decade of this sort of misinformation while H.M.’s government does a runner?

    Face it, lads. There are two counties out of thirty-two with a small unionist majority. No-one in Britain cares any more and the European mainland has been embarrassed long enough by Britain running a widely publicised mini-police state here. As for the Yanks…….!

    The UUP may still think that being ‘simply British’ has a future but the DUP know the truth. The Ugandan Asians and the Hong Kong Chinese were just as British as yer average loyalist while the middle class is becoming ever more internationalised.”

    Away and live in a dreamworld. I am half “immigrant” and half “prod” and I am a unionist. You want immigrants to be on your side then you’ve got to make your case. The case was made to me and I support the union.