“nobody who knows the score is talking straight about..”

Via Newshound. In the Sunday Journal Eamonn McCann picks up on the same comments I noted here and asks

If the IMC is right, if members of the Provisional IRA are gathering information on people they believe to be in the Real IRA, the Continuity IRA or the INLA, to what use do they intend to put the information they manage to amass?

If they are fully signed up to policing, as they say they are, they must be passing the info to the PSNI? If they are not sharing the intelligence they gather with the PSNI, what’s the implication for their stance on policing? And what is the purpose of the intelligence-gathering in the first place?

As he goes on to say

I am not going to take Terry Spence’s word on the issue. And I wouldn’t believe the time of day from the IMC. But there’s something odd going on here that nobody who knows the score is talking straight about. I think we should be told.

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  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    *Yawns*

    Is it three weeks ago already?

    Maybe they are concerned that the same (dissident) republicans who were allegedly threatening the lives of leading IRA and Sinn Fein activists in the run-up to SF’s policing decision are still a threat. If my life was under threat, I might want to have information on who was going to do it, who they were and when they were near my home or place of work.

    I suppose given the Special Branch’s love of running (and covering up) the activities of serial killers and in the light of their piss-poor ability to prevent or even properly investigate events such as Omagh, republicans think it’s best to try and at the very least monitor their own security and threats to same.

    What are they going to do with the information? I’m not sure but at the very least they could, as as many might, use it to highlight the ineffectiveness of the cops. Then, perhaps, when it later transpires that the dissidents are riddled with informers and are under heavy surveillance republicans might use it to at least expose more hopeless (or political) policing. Yes? No? Who knows? Given Omagh, they probably aren’t relying on the cops to save them, that’s for sure.

    Most importantly, though. The claim comes from the IMC, so I maybe we should just laugh it all off and treat it with the contempt it deserves. After all, where do the IMC get their insights into the workings of the IRA from? Oh, Special Branch!

    Now, there’s a shadowy, sinister force with a vested interest in keeping the war going.

    It is clearly the done thing to wet one’s pants on this place if someone, anyone, no matter how thick supports any hopeless opinion one makes but McCann is often an arse. I know, I know. I couldn’t believe it either. Don’t feel bad.

  • Steve

    BJR

    Excelent job of taking the piss out of petey, keep up the good work

    code word: himself, sometimes computers just make you laugh

  • joeCanuck

    b-jR

    Very good analysis.
    Know your enemy.

  • David Meehan

    BJR

    Your point, “The claim comes from the IMC, so maybe we should just laugh it all off and treat it with the contempt it deserves” appears to be McCann’s starting point too. If the IMC is unbelievable on the reason why the IRA are still collecting intelligence, then his speculation IMHO is more likely than yours. But none of us know. I agree with McCann that we are entitled to know.

    Derry Wan

  • A return of Broy’s Harriers methinks?

  • jd

    Nice to see the SEA party hacks David,defending their gloriously leader small town demagogue McCann

  • Garibaldy

    Phil,

    I always found the P Specials accusation funny myself.

  • Rory

    Perhaps I should decare an interest here. I shamelessly admit that I am also amassing (?) information on the Real IRA, the Continuity IRA and the INLA (but mostly on the Truly, Madly Deeply IRA). The source of this information is a secret hitherto unknown site on the internet that cunningly attempts to disguise its nefarious activities under the seemingly harmless title of “Slugger O’Toole”, masquerading as an Irish boyo fun site for the “craic” (pronounced “crack” which may give a hint to its more sinister elements).

    My relentless enquiries have so far led me to conclude that there is indeed a Northern Ireland journalist who calls himself “Eamonn McCann”. It is however not considered that McCann or his opinions have ever represented any threat to anyone. Which is nice.

  • Pete Baker

    b-JR

    Mind-reading again? It doesn’t work, you know.

    But your speculation, and unless you unmask yourself it’s anonymous speculation, misses the import of Eamonn’s questions [“nobody who knows the score”] – in particular

    If they are fully signed up to policing, as they say they are, they must be passing the info to the PSNI? If they are not sharing the intelligence they gather with the PSNI, what’s the implication for their stance on policing?

    “Ourselves alone” could only be a possible defence of the reasoning you speculate about if the targets of such threatened violence was limited to “Ourselves alone”.

    It is clearly not.

    Although I would quibble with Eamonn’s identification of the PSNI as the organisation such information would be shared with. Clearly, on national security matters, it should be MI5.

  • Gonzo

    Pete

    Coincidentally, McCann touched upon that very subject in the Belfast Telegraph on July 31:

    Sinn Fein will be content that a political safety wall is already in place between itself in the Executive and the Defence of the Realm.

    In fact, the division between national security and policing and justice will not be as neat or complete as this might imply. Take 42-day detention. In many, if not most, cases the arrest of suspects later subjected to the measure would be carried out by the PSNI. The ‘robust judicial scrutiny’ of 42-day applications would be undertaken by Northern Ireland judges. Blair’s assurance to Sinn Fein in January last year that MI5 would be a ‘stand-alone’ body and would not become enmeshed in devolved institutions will, in practice, prove worthless. (No change there, then.)

    The demeaning and anomalous situation which will result had been signalled in an exchange between Alex Attwood of the SDLP and senior officials of the Northern Ireland Office at an Assembly committee inquiry into devolution of policing and justice in July last year. Seven MLAs attended: Jeffrey Donaldson, (DUP, chairman), Attwood (SDLP), Nelson McCausland (DUP), Ian McCrea (DUP), Alan McFarland (UUP), John O’Dowd (SF) and George Robinson (DUP). NIO representatives were Peter May and Clare Salters. The minutes show that only Attwood and McFarlane put questions to the officials. Procedural interventions by the chairman apart, none of the DUP/SF MLAs appears to have spoken.

    Attwood asked how the relationship between the local institutions and security operations would work under the proposed new arrangements. “There is a credibility gap between the proposals on national security … and the authority of those (devolved) institutions?”

    May: “National security is an excepted matter that will not be transferred to the devolved administration. Where the work of the devolved administration touches on matters that are national security-related, it will be necessary to consider whether devolved ministers require access to national security information and, if so, what level of that information they might receive … ”

    So, when there’s an overlap between policing and security operations, as in the instances mentioned above, the British Minister — advised, it goes without saying, by MI5 — would determine what information, if any, the imperial authorities would allow the provincial politicians to have sight of.

    Attwood pressed: “You have said that sufficient and appropriate information should be made available?

    Mr May: “Yes, that is the objective.”

    Attwood: “What does that mean and how will that be done?”

    Answer came there none.

    The result is that MI5, up to its neck in the dossier of lies which led Britain into the disastrous Iraq adventure, implicated in scandals in the North from the Kincora Boys’ Home to the murder of Pat Finucane, puppet-masters of the mass murderer and IRA leader Freddie Scappaticci etc, etc, the State body which, above all others, on the evidence, requires to be held to account, has been given free rein to operate across the North without scrutiny, much less control, by any local body.

    All with the endorsement of Sinn Fein and in the name of making policing and justice accountable to the people and giving local institutions control.

    Thus does the Belfast/Good Friday/St Andrews Agreement proceed.

    Tis curious how the Shinners have been so quiet on the whole issue of MI5 for a number of years.

    The Stoops tried to make some political capital out of SF’s apparent lack of willingness to address the issue before the last election, but the best they came up with was some silly stunt with a road sign pointing to Palace Barracks that had some reference to the spooks new home on it.

    But you have to admit, SF’s silence on MI5 in recent years has been deafing.

    You just gotta wonder why.

  • Damien Okado-Gough

    Gonzo,

    [i]But you have to admit, SF’s silence on MI5 in recent years has been deafing.

    You just gotta wonder why. [/i]

    Might it be that the new MI5 building and their whole apparatus in the north is intended for use against any Loyalist/Unionist backlash in the event of a British withdrawl?

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Errrr… “In the event of a British withdrawal” don’t you think that MI5 might be acting outside their jurisdiction?

    Unless you are arguing that MI5 has a role in a united Ireland, which is a plausible enough republican position I suppose.

  • Dave

    You can spin anything to the gullible, I suppose, even a process of integrating ‘republicans’ into the reformed British political system as being a process that is designed to dismantle the realm, but Damien is pushing it a bit.

    If the British declared their intention to withdraw (and did so against their solemn declaration that they would not withdraw without the consent of a majority of NI’s citizens and against the relevant treaty), then the shenanigans of loyalists would be of no concern to those who are charged with defending the realm – since, rather obviously, would no longer be part of that realm. It would become an Irish problem, and not a problem that would justify the loss of British soldiers.

    The Shinner leadership won’t upset their employers, knowing full well that that employer has outted close acquaintances of the leadership (McShane, Donaldson) just to show how many of them it controls and how ruthless they are prepared to be in ensuring that other agents within the Shinner leadership behave themselves and do what they are told or the same will happen to them. MI5 know they can take the piss and site their secondary HQ in NI, knowing that their boys in SF will not kick up any undue fuss.

    As for the rest of them, what do you think they are doing gathering information on their former comrades? They’re topping up Her Majesty’s dole payments with cash-for-touting payments from their traditional employers. They can’t be doing anything else since the IMC said that PIRA doesn’t exist in any organised manner with no command structure to gather or process intelligence; and, ergo, the only folks who can be organising the touting are the direct employees of Her Majesty’s government (i.e. the ones who are actually entitled to a British pension). 😉

  • Comrade Stalin

    It would become an Irish problem, and not a problem that would justify the loss of British soldiers.

    Why, then, did Churchill threaten to invade Ireland if Collins did not get the irregulars under control in 1922 ?

    If we got into trouble here I have absolutely no doubt that the army would have to step in. The Irish army would not be able to cope.

  • Damian O’Loan

    Pete,

    You say that:

    “Although I would quibble with Eamonn’s identification of the PSNI as the organisation such information would be shared with. Clearly, on national security matters, it should be MI5.”

    Although I do agree that MI5 need to be party to the information, if it were only available to them, there would be no way for the public to have any idea as to the nature, and so McCann’s argument wouldn’t be answered. The secretive nature of MI5, combined with the absence of real oversight, means “the targets of such threatened violence” would be left to the whims of those currently in question relating to Omagh.

  • Andy

    Peter
    Can you explain this to me in plain english – I may be stupid (always a possibility) but I cant understand it:


    “Ourselves alone” could only be a possible defence of the reasoning you speculate about if the targets of such threatened violence was limited to “Ourselves alone”.

    It is clearly not. ”

    Surely if PSF bods are being threatened by RIRA etc (something I’m not convinced of) it is understandable they may want to gather intelligence against that contingency. The fact RIRA may threaten people outside of PSF wouldnt negate that reasoning.

  • neil

    It is however not considered that McCann or his opinions have ever represented any threat to anyone.

    Except businesses, job stability and airports possibly.

    If I had to wonder why SF were gather gathering intelligence I would suggest that they now have a vested interest in keeping peace. What would another dissident bombing like Omagh do to the peace process? I believe that if a bombing of that nature were to be planned, that SF would be straight on the phone to shop the dissidents to the cops.

    Let’s not forget that the Republican movement has had a lot of experience in intelligence gathering and policing their own areas. At this point as has been mentioned they may be the only people with the know how, ability and competence to prevent another terrorist atrocity.

    As to what sensitive information relevant to national security has been passed on, well we can’t know that can we? Well Eamonn probably can, being god or whatever, but I mean the rest of us. People can accuse the republican movement of not sharing their intelligence, but if it were being shared we wouldn’t know and it would be in no-one’s interest to tell us. So he’s kind of pissing in the wind there.

  • Dave

    “Why, then, did Churchill threaten to invade Ireland if Collins did not get the irregulars under control in 1922 ?” – Comrade Stalin

    News flash for you: Churchill died in 1955. The function of MI5 is not subject to the whims of a rabidly anti-Irish bipolar alcoholic. MI5’s role in Irish affairs circa 1922 wasn’t exactly a spectacular success, with Michael Collins securing the identities of their agents and assassinating them.

    In modern times, the role of MI5 is an internal one of defending the UK from threats to its national security. They have scant interest in the loyalists beyond MI5’s new security role extending beyond national security issues to civil security issues. The loyalists are pro-state terror groups, not anti-state terror groups such as the spawns of PIRA (RIRA, CIRA, et al,). Now that MI5 have converted PIRA into a pro-state group, they rightly seek to use it as an intelligence tool to monitor the remaining anti-state groups. Naturally, the activities of this intelligence-gathering tool must be presented to the gullible as serving some other (non pro-state) function like PIRA monitoring threats to its members safety (hence the hype in the media surrounded such threats) and safeguarding the public from ‘deranged serial killers’ (i.e. from the same ilk as PIRA before they desisted from deranged serial killing).

    The only interest MI5 may have in an Irish base insofar as it involves a united Ireland is in ensuring that Ireland is united as part of the British realm, i.e. that the pro-British conditions of the GFA are extended to all of the island. If that isn’t their long-term agenda, then their role ends when the UK declares that NI is to exit the realm, since their role is not to defend foreign states from subversive threats.

    And we won’t be getting “into trouble here” because a majority will never for unity – on either side of the border. A process aimed at integrating nationalists in the UK will be successful.

  • Dave

    Err, the old black dog died in 1965, rather.

  • iberius

    The only interest MI5 may have in an Irish base insofar as it involves a united Ireland is in ensuring that Ireland is united as part of the British realm, i.e. that the pro-British conditions of the GFA are extended to all of the island. If that isn’t their long-term agenda, then their role ends when the UK declares that NI is to exit the realm, since their role is not to defend foreign states from subversive threats.

    Dave,

    give it up. you remind me of a battered wife going home to hubby for more of the same. britain doesn’t want you, never did. That must be awful to take.