Amidst persistent rumours of yet more informers to be exposed (“3 are to be named soon”, “One has already left his home”, etc., etc.), the World Socialist Web Site examines what is most worrying about the whole charade of informers, agents, and responsibility.
A number of very serious questions arise.
It now seems that for a long time, counted in decades, the British government not only had a window into the IRAs internal discussion and organisation but the means to pull levers and eliminate opponents within it.
It is also clear that the military disasters suffered served to strengthen the influence of the leadership around Adams and McGuinness, who were advocating a constitutional settlement with the British government.
However, Britains spies would not have simply been used to thwart IRA operations. They would have colluded with many of them and allowed them to be successful if this was considered to be politically expedient.
While immediate damage is done to groups whose ranks are exposed to be filled with informers, and it can be uncomfortable and squeamish for those left behind (especially if they are inclined to cover up versus coming clean), the real damage of the business of informers is done to the British government. How much does the excuse of fighting a war that you won’t admit to having fought cover for an abuse of trust and responsibility that with hindsight appears to have contributed to prolonging the war and some of its worst excesses?
Informers, in general, are a murky, sticky business. By their very nature they are criminal, involved with activities beyond the norm; from a law enforcement perspective they are useful, but can they be effective and not cross the line from informant to participant? And when they do cross that line, is it tolerated? When it is tolerated, does that up the stakes? Will the truth out?
Many families across the spectrum suffered as a result of the actions of informers or their handlers choices to protect them. Do they not deserve the truth of the matter?
Many murky, dirty issues to be unraveled. What hope the so-called “Truth Commission”?
Sidenote: Yesterday’s Irish News flags up the difficulties in getting to the truth without transparent co-operation: when the coroner can’t even get ahold of Mi5 and the PSNI won’t give relevant information to him, what hope the rest of us at getting to the truth of anything?
Mr Leckey expressed irritation that he could not avail of the luxury of picking up the telephoneҒ to quiz MI5 chiefs over their failure to provide the court with the threat assessments.
PSNI barrister Bernard McCloskey said he would contact certain quartersҒ to address the concerns.
When Mr Leckey questioned whether he will be allowed to share correspondence received from MI5 with the Jordan familys legal representative, Mr McCluskey assured the coroner that the suggestive limitation of dissemenationҒ would be explored in due course.
In an unusual move the coroners own legal representative, Nicholas Hanna QC, raised concerns over the PSNIs apparent inability to provide the Jordan familys legal team with proper disclosure of intelligence material.