Security chiefs admit lack of preparedness

An interesting piece by Dean Godson , Conservative guru and author of the monumental biography of David Trimble, in this week’s Spectator. The piece seems informed by a high level security briefing, (though he’s under the misapprehension that British welfare payments are higher than the Republic’s). Godson is reluctant to state outright that it was wrong to dismantle so much of the security system – and that applies to the IRA of Adams and Mc Guinness as well, which might have been expected to bear part of the load of neutering the dissidents. Like much recent comment in Slugger, the piece reflects the understandable degree of uncertainty about how big a task lies ahead. No doubt the ultra-pessimists will relish his criticism of Eames/Bradley’s line on informers.GODSON QUOTES
Were too many senior Special Branch officers, especially agent handlers, let go too quickly
under the Patten report of 1999? Is it right that they be left to face the
music before a set of costly inquiries? And were too many informers let go
in the reviews of the early to middle years of this decade? Will any
intelligence officers take the same kind of risks for state security that they
did during the last round of Troubles?

The Joint Intelligence Committee recently discussed whether
this was the start of a major new campaign or the death rattle of
irredentist republicanism and the balance of opinion came down more on
the side of the latter. Senior officials on both sides of the Border reckon
the dissidents might manage a few more attacks, but are still very far from
panicking. Neither the scale of the raids, nor the technology employed, is
yet deemed serious enough to warrant a major reversal of security
?normalisation?.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London