Who’s spinning whom?

Eamon McCann’s article from today’s Derry Journal (written and submitted before last night’s killings) reminds us of three important details. 1 just how much energy Sinn Fein and ‘mainstream Republicans’ were putting into trying to dismiss dissident Republicans as mere Criminals. 2 That the party’s argument that an ‘Irish’ Justice minister would keep British troops out of Northern Ireland. And 3, Hugh Orde neglected to tell the Policing Board on Thursday of his deployment of Special Reconnaissance Regiment at it meeting on Thursday.By Eamon McCann

The main reason Sinn Fein is so angry about the deployment of British Army “special forces” in the North is that the move contradicts the party’s insistence that “dissident Republicans” are mere criminals.

If they are criminals, it’s not “touting” to provide the PSNI with information on their activities, has been the recent Sinn Fein line.

But if the British Government recognises the “dissidents” as a political rather than a criminal threat, it follows that to support a crackdown, particularly one involving a special forces regiment, is to take a political stance on the side of the British.

Sinn Fein sold its acceptance of the PSNI to rank and file Republicans by assuring them that control of policing would be in the hands of an Irish—albeit, initially, a Northern Irish—authority in which Sinn Fein itself would have a powerful voice. These new policing structures, the argument continued, were part of an arrangement which would lead on to a united Ireland. Therefore the policing deal could be seen as part of a strategy for ending Britain’s role in Ireland.

It was for this reason that SF leaders have for months been involved in a propaganda blitz designed to strip the “dissidents” of any claim to a political role. That’s now at risk from the action of the PSNI leadership in summoning help from a regiment set up specifically not to combat criminality—the regiment would be insulted by the suggestion—but to defend the British State.

The formation of the Special Reconnaissance Regiment was announced by Defence Minister Geoffrey Hoon in the Commons on April 5th 2005. Recruits would be drawn from serving members of all three armed services. The regiment would be based in Hereford, home of the SAS. “The creation of the Special Reconnaissance Regiment demonstrates our commitment to shaping our armed forces to meet the ongoing challenge of tackling international terrorism.”

(Hoon, incidentally, announced at the same time that a separate “Ranger” unit was also being formed to support special forces. This was to be recruited from members of the First Battalion of the Parachute Regiment. There was no indication from Hugh Orde last week that the “Rangers” had been or would be used here. But the principle of deploying the new forces to support policing having been established, from Orde’s point of view there is no reason why not.)

These developments have to be seen in light of the briefing last month by “senior Republican figures” in Belfast attacking the “dissidents” as criminal enemies of the Catholic community whom it was the duty of the community to help the PSNI root out. “This is a straightforward criminal matter,” a senior PIRA figure told trusted journalists.

Former Belfast Telegraph security correspondent Brian Rowan reported (February 2nd): “Extortion, robbery and drug trafficking…(are) the real stock in trade of terror gangs who won’t admit the war is over. Drug dealers are increasing their trade to meet protection payments demanded by dissident republicans…

“The senior republican sources…said they wanted to ‘lift the lid’ on the groups….The Real IRA, Oglaigh na hEireann and the INLA were accused of a range of criminal activities including extortion, robberies and involvement in punishment shootings over personal disputes….

ӑYou have groupings using republican clothes to carry out criminality,’ one of the senior sources said… ‘We are looking to de-mystify it, so we can address it as criminality.’ Another source said: ‘We are trying to create a context in which co-operation (with the PSNI) improves and increases…’”

The briefing followed fierce condemnation of the “dissidents” a fortnight earlier by Gerry Adams, who put his considerable moral authority behind calls for cooperation with the PSNI in hunting them down. Commenting on an “increase in criminal actions by a number of organised criminal gangs who claim to be Republican organisations”, the SF president declared that, “Their actions are not about furthering the republican goals”, but were “creating a fear of criminality” in Catholic communities.

Rowan commented: “The community is being told from the very top of the Republican Movement that it is okay to talk to the police about this—that it is okay to provide information. The message is that this is not touting, or informing or any betrayal of republicanism.”

That’s what’s undermined by Orde’s action in not only calling in the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, but in neglecting to inform the Policing Board of the fact.

The ominous question looming over all of it is, Did he do it deliberately? And if he did, what was his purpose?

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  • alan

    Orde was preparing us for something. I think what happened surprised even him

  • alan

    Orde was preparing us for something. I think what happened surprised even him

  • Chris Donnelly

    Mick

    An interesting piece by McCann, not least for outlining very clearly how you are mistaken in another thread for suggesting Sinn Fein have been vaccilating in their approach to dissident republicans.

  • alan

    Surely the hope was that if anyone was going to be killed it would be a psni person. The critical wounding of a Polish worker must be a nightmre. Of course condemming the killing of british soldiers is much more difficult for Adams and co to deal with. clever stuff

  • Pete Baker

    Odd use of “deliberately” in the sign-off question in Eamon’s otherwise very good analysis.

    The obvious answer to the question posed is that the Special Reconnaissance Regiment were requested by Orde because he needed their specialist counter-terrorism knowledge since his own police service has been reduced in its own capability.

    And he didn’t tell the Policing Board because he either didn’t trust them not to leak that information and/or he knew that if that information was made public it would undermine Sinn Féin’s efforts to portray those other republican paramilitary groups as criminal.

    He’s canny, politically, like that.

    And from what we can tell, if Vincent Kearney hadn’t reported it, no-one would have known about it.

    That Sinn Fein want to portray those other republican groups as criminal, in order to justify their opposition to them, is merely another attempt at revisionism on their part.

    Not to mention part of an ongoing battle for control..

  • ed

    to be that self loathing to ones own roots must cause an extreme personality schism

  • Gregory

    To be opposed to Gerry, is to be a criminal of some kind. It is purely coincidental that killing the soldiers of HMtQ is a crime of statute.

    There is a Kafkaesque symmetry going on there, and you can tell that the bloodshed, which is pointless, is the lesser of any wickedness being contemplated by SF.

  • kensei

    Pete

    That Sinn Fein want to portray those other republican groups as criminal, in order to justify their opposition to them, is merely another attempt at revisionism on their part.

    Nah. It’s driven far more by current realities. It is also a fair shout that the GFA marks a significant turning point, given it was ratified by the entire populace, all be it in two separate referendums.

    Not to mention part of an ongoing battle for control..

    Battle for control? RSF ranting about names is about as meaningful as the DUP going on about the UUP name change.

  • Dave

    “It is also a fair shout that the GFA marks a significant turning point, given it was ratified by the entire populace, all be it in two separate referendums.” – Kensei

    Well, you might want to check who spun those two ‘facts’ to you. In regard to the former, the PoC, which the Shinners tout (no pun intended) as the turning point was, in fact, part of the constitutional framework of NI since partition. In regard to the latter, the GFA was not ratified in the Republic of Ireland. We voted on the 19th Amendment to the Constitution which amended Articles 2 and 3 to remove the Republic’s territorial claim to Her Majesty’s sovereign territory of Northern Ireland.

    The spinners might be the same folks who are now spinning the line to the muppets who support them that the dissidents are criminals but the Shinners weren’t, so it’s okay to inform on the dissidents but it wasn’t okay to inform on the Shinners – which is why the Shinners don’t have to apologise for all those their ISU killed as informers (under the direction of British agents, John Joe Magee and Freddie Scapaticci). See, that level of control over the muppets is why the Shinners were worth their handlers’ investment in them.

  • dissh

    Orde bringing in British special forces, regardless of the awful events on Saturday night, could spell the end of republican involvement on policing boards further down the line, if British military involvement in policing isn’t severed. Orde knew it was a political gamble and hopefully it will not wreck the political process.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Pete

    Your analysis is, from what I tell, spot on. Orde is angry about the leak about the SRR, although apparently it did emanate from the Board. Hope that person is happy with the subsequent chain of events.

  • Dave

    How is that possible when, according to one of its members, Alex Attwood, the Chief Constable did tell the Policing Board about it until after it came into the public domain via the BBC?

    It sounds like the NIO is trying to spin it that Orde had good reason to keep the Policing Board in ignorance, thereby trying to get him off the hook.

    Perhaps someone should inform the Chief Constable that it is not his prerogative to declare that he has no confidence in the Policing Board but, rather, it is the proper function of the Policing Board to declare that about the Chief Constable.

    It seems that the State and its puppets believe that the problem is not deemed to be that the State is lying to its own citizens and their elected representatives, the problem is only deemed to exist when the State is caught lying to them.

    The level of contempt that the NI Statelet has for its citizens and for public scrutiny is simply staggering. And it futile to think that a Statelet when a secret agency controls the media and the democratic process with massive-scale bribery and blackmail (300m worth of it per year) could ever deliver a democratic process.

    It is one thing to ask the nationalists to give their support to a British police service in the interests of maintaining a ‘shared’ communal order but it is quite another to ask them to give that support to the British army or to expect that support for the police service to hold if “assets” of the British army should become inextricably interlinked to it.

    Now, I don’t hold that it is impossible to do that since it is part of the long-term agenda that those nationalists were hoodwinked into supporting, but it’s all about timing, incremental steps, and top-down management. For example, see how easily they accepted that MI5 should be inextricably interlinked to the PSNI when the sheep were properly led by their shepherds, despite MI5 being as big a gang of murdering blackguards as the 14th Company, who are now integrated into the SRR.

    [i]”I firmly believe that the purpose of running agents is not only to prevent terrorist killings, but also to bring about the arrest of terrorists.” – Gordon Kerr

    “I give, of course, considerable weight to the fact that he passed on what was possibly life-saving information in respect of 217 threatened individuals.” – the Judge at the trial of British agent and mass murderer Brian Nelson, imposing a lenient sentence after being told by Gordon Kerr, 14th Intelligence Company, that the acts amounting to state-sponsored terrorism had saved more lives than it had taken

    “I could only find maybe two cases where the information given by Nelson may have been helpful to the Security Forces in preventing attacks.” – Nicholas Benwell of the Stevens Inquiry, expressing incredulity at the claims made by Gordon Kerr

    “I cannot think of one occasion where the information provided by Nelson led to any of the activities you describe.” – Nicholas Benwell of the Stevens Inquiry, when asked by Panorama Nelson’s activities had led to terrorists being arrested or guns recovered[/i]

    The question that nationalists should be asking themselves is just how far they want to be integrated into the British system by this process, because the State is intent on taking them all the way. It isn’t just the violent means to a republican end that they are being led to abandon but the republican end itself.

  • The question that nationalists should be asking themselves is just how far they want to be integrated into the British system by this process, because the State is intent on taking them all the way. It isn’t just the violent means to a republican end that they are being led to abandon but the republican end itself.

    Posted by Dave

    Good post Dave.

  • kensei

    Dave

    Well, you might want to check who spun those two ‘facts’ to you. In regard to the former, the PoC, which the Shinners tout (no pun intended) as the turning point was, in fact, part of the constitutional framework of NI since partition. In regard to the latter, the GFA was not ratified in the Republic of Ireland. We voted on the 19th Amendment to the Constitution which amended Articles 2 and 3 to remove the Republic’s territorial claim to Her Majesty’s sovereign territory of Northern Ireland.

    The 19th Amendment was the Constitutional fallout of said treaty. When the principle was introduced is not relevant to the point. The fact that the entire populace upheld it is.

    The spinners might be the same folks who are now spinning the line to the muppets who support them that the dissidents are criminals but the Shinners weren’t, so it’s okay to inform on the dissidents but it wasn’t okay to inform on the Shinners – which is why the Shinners don’t have to apologise for all those their ISU killed as informers (under the direction of British agents, John Joe Magee and Freddie Scapaticci). See, that level of control over the muppets is why the Shinners were worth their handlers’ investment in them.

    Yeah Dave, we are all just dumb Nordies up here. Northern Nationalism did not accept anything that was not a fact on the ground. Chances of a United Ireland without a 50%+1 vote here: 0. Usefulness of claims to the NI, of prior sovereignty or roughy anything else: 0. Usefulness of you repeating the same line endlessly: 0. We are quite prepared to ride the SF horse as far as we think it can take us, just as we were happy to ride the SDLP horse.

  • DC

    “because the State is intent on taking them all the way.”

    Where to exactly?

    The republican end, which is where exactly? Bunch of qualified lawyer-types in the Dial who run for democratic office?

    Sounds great. Here’s me thinking something magical was on offer.

    It’s quite clear the state is not taking anyone anywhere and patently obvious that the power to change liberal democratic administrations from a Stomont sub-governance to a Dublin republican one can come about via politics.

    Perhaps you should focus on politics Dave rather than engage in the sentimental aspects of republican heart tugging which doesn’t really mean anything to people with Ipods and X boxes and cushy public sector jobs.

  • danielmoran

    mick. how can anyone, in the wake of last weeks farce over orde’s announcement, take seriously the policing board?. When you look at the sequence of events. orde manages to sit for hours being ‘grilled’ by it’s members, leaves without even mentioning the special forces and then goes to the media and blurts it all out. i think the n.i.o. might be trying to tell our pols something; like, for instance, you can have all the window-dressing you like, but we’ll only tell you what mi5 wants us to. nothing more, nothing less.

  • dub

    Dave,

    you have truly hit the nail on the head, excellent post

  • ??

    The fact that the entire populace upheld it is. ………….

    actually over 44% of the Irish electorate didnt even vote, and of theose that did (56%) 6% said no.

    So only about half of the populace voted for it

  • Mick Fealty

    Chris,

    I owe you a proper response to that comment of yours… been up past my eyes in the last 24 hours with tech stuff and a couple of MSM commissions…

    Kick me if I’ve not come back by this evening… It could be another long day though…