New research has shown the depth of US anger with the British and Irish governments handling of the peace process on the issues of criminality and recognition for policing (Hat tip Nevin). US officials believe that they played the more significant role in SF moving on these issues and thus achieveing a deal acceptable to the DUP. Unsurprisingly it was the 911 attacks that led to the first shift in attitudes towards the republican movement but the Northern Bank robbery and McCartney murder reinforced a tougher line. One US official complains that:
“…elements of the Irish Government, the British government appeared rather blase about IRA criminality. This was the biggest irritant between us and the Northern Ireland Office. I don’t believe that they had ever issued a policy statement to the police to tell them to ignore IRA criminality as long as it did not turn into bombs on the mainland, but I believe that many, many police thought they operated under those rules. And the explanation we got quietly when we asked about a well organised £1.5 million robbery was: ‘If we were to say it was the IRA, we’ll be accused of interfering in the (June 2004 European election, in which Sinn Fein gained two seats) outcome.'”
In a recent RTE interview former Irish Minister Liz O’Donnell accepts that the handling of the process involved:
“taking risks with democracy…There had to be a suspension of critical faculties”
A ‘suspension’ the McCartney family believe is continuing with interference in the PSNI investigation with some of the family considering emigration.