“It was organised by Soca which is a front for the MI5..”

On the Politics Show today Sinn Féin’s John O’Dowd clarified his party’s position on the seizure of the assets of Sean Hughes and the previous comments by Northern Ireland Executive Ministers, SF’s Michelle Gildernew and Hughes’ “good friend” Conor Murphy.

[John O’Dowd] “The concerns around the raid on Sean Hughes house is this. It was organised by Soca which is a front for the MI5 and other organisations who still believe that they can defeat republicanism whether it be in south Armagh or across Ireland. They failed over these last three decades and they’re going to fail in the future.”

That would be the MI5 who have a new £20million regional headquarters at Loughside, Palace Barracks, Holywood, County Down, and who, under new chief Jonathan Evans, took over official responsibility for national security here in October 2007 – as the 35 MI5 officers seeking anonymity in a current RIRA trial demonstrates. What is to happen to those responsibilities, or rather the memoranda of understanding on them, remains to be disclosed. But if Sinn Féin really believe what John O’Dowd has said, why are they not calling for the police to stop co-operating with the Serious Organised Crime Agency?

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  • percy

    nothing to do with defeating republicanism,
    everything to do with “no-one is above the law”.

  • Peter Pan

    “everything to do with “no-one is above the law”.”

    Don’t be daft. This is the self styled UK you are talking about. The law has always been an instrument of coercion, nowhere more so than the occupied lands of South Armagh.

  • Seymour Major

    “It was organised by Soca which is a front for the MI5 and other organisations who still believe that they can defeat republicanism”

    Please Mr. O’Dowd, stop acting like a child and start behaving like a minister.

    Sinn Fein, instead of whinging about it would be better advised to be circumspect and let justice take its course. There will be opportunities for Mr. Hughes, through lawyers, to challenge the validity of the intervention and if there has been any misdemeanour by the state, he will be able to claim compensation. If that happens, that they will have the opportunity then to criticise the actions of the authorities.

  • barnshee

    I assume that SOCA (and the Revenue) have looked at his tax returns and they are not in accord with his asset position. If this is the case then he has questions to answer- mostly the “where did the funds come from” kind of question.

    If this is not the case then SOCA have the questions to answer.

  • Paul McMahon

    “There will be opportunities for Mr. Hughes, through lawyers, to challenge the validity of the intervention and if there has been any misdemeanour by the state, he will be able to claim compensation”

    True Seymour which leads me to think why there have’nt been calls, as there have with a notorious loyalist on child sex charges, to pull this and subsequent threads regarding Hughes as the matter is potentially sub-judice.

  • DC

    Perhaps if Republican democratic representatives would not utter such nonsense on TV then Paul McMahon you might have a very valid point.

    Think of it, the DUP say coming out in favour of that notorious loyalist saying it was a securocrat stitch up of an informer out of favour, and besides that the girl was perfectly happy with the contact – but the police weren’t – despite all of it being totally illegal. Just like this sound republican’s alleged activities are. Illegal that is.

    So yes if equivocation of this had happened on the unionist side of the house if you like, then by all means it would have merited a Sluggerfest; but SF hardly helps itself as it must be seen to ride two horses.

    That of protecting its old boys club (how very privileged indeed such old boys are) and of course that of playing the edifying democrats in favour of equality before the law for public and USA consumption.

  • Seymour Major

    Paul,

    What you seem to be talking about is publicity before a trial and its potential to prevent a fair trial.

    I would be more concerned about the impact of publicity before a rape trial, which will involve a jury, than I would in relation to a SOCA action, which is a civil action in the High Court before a single Judge.

    Now that the SOCA action is public news, it is vital, for the sake of Mr. Hughes and his human rights, that they get on with the High Court action with all due speed.

    From a taxpayer point of view, this is going to cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, if not millions. The decision to intervene would not have been taken lightly. They would have weighed up very carefully their prospects of successfully recovering the proceeds of crime before making the intervention.

    The implied slur being made by Sinn Fein is that there is something sectarian about the intervention. In the year 2009, I fully expect that the Agency would have acted professionally.

  • BonarLaw

    Now that the Sinn Fein mask (balaclava?) has slipped on this issue two thoughts come to mind: these people are unfit to be anywhere near executive decisions on day-to-day policing issues and they have given up on any prospect of the powers being devolved to an executive with the current political composition.

  • DC

    Bonar, on a point of principle you may well be right.

    But in politics you need to spot the right time to make a decision. A party that is upside down and inside out on things that seem clear cut and right to those outside of the SF coterie but totally wrong for those on the inside should not be confused with providing proper regional leadership. Leadership that shapes a better future for all our people here. And to be frank, the vast majority don’t vote for SF here, so that is why you take the hits on principle but also try and contain damage and move on further down the road of peace and prosperity.

    I think policing and justice powers ought to be devolved sooner not later and that with Sinn Fein the pragmatics of dealing with that will let people judge them alone on how well they take on such responsbilities.

    It’s the old adage of: how to ruin someone’s career / life – give them everything they’ve ever wanted.

    With this behaviour all you can do is ignore it in a contained way. In terms of strategy, using an old WWII analogy: Let this one run out onto the Russian Steppes and expend its energy there.

    Effective leadership comes from looking in the opposite direction (and letting others deal with it).

  • DC

    Are you talking about Rhino-hide, the only way to deal with him, and I know it’s difficult, is to become more thick skinned than him.

    Listen, that’s why I’m a fan of Blair because he suffered the insufferable and still made fantastic progress here when frankly I’d have seriously slit my wrists back in 98 in Castle Buildings.

    Smile – it’s the only way to deal with it and let SF’s electorate answer for such attitudinal problems and of course the social ills that stem from such predictable but blase stances on social order.

    And just whenever I thought the SDLP was an irrelevant concept too.

  • percy

    spot on DC esp. post no:10
    This kinda stuff is difficult for SF,
    however the necks will wind in soon enough!

  • Ulick

    Wee Jeffrey is fairly showing signs of straining under pressure. Another bad week could see him crack altogether.

  • igor

    Ah its dem pesky Securocrats.

    When they are not writing de Party Leader’s Speeches der they are, just trying to distroy the process agin and agin.

    And poor John O’Dowd believes that Republicanism hasn’t been defeated. Of course not. That’s why it gave up the fight in return for seats in a Northern Ireland Parliament under an act that makes it absolutely clear that NI is part of the UK. Dat’s why Marty is the DEPUTY Dawg.

    But I suppose we have to cut him some slack. Working with the Education Minster must be enough to turn anybody’s head and make them lose touch with reality. No there were no 11+ tests this week, none. And all those Grammar Schools didn’t come high up in the (UK) national league tables. No. Its not happening. Honest.

  • elvis parker

    To be fair at least O’Dowd realises that SOCA is not going to be locally controlled after devolution of policing and justice – unlike Michelle Gildernew!

  • Garza

    Igor

    ‘But I suppose we have to cut him some slack. Working with the Education Minster must be enough to turn anybody’s head and make them lose touch with reality.’

    I sprayed my screen with coke at that lol. Damn u igor.

  • Dave

    “That would be the MI5 who have a new £20million regional headquarters at Loughside, Palace Barracks, Holywood, County Down…”

    Which must be the first time in history that the losing side in a conflict built a new headquarters in the territory that it was routed from by the winning side…

    Securocrats with no sense of tact, eh?

  • Brit

    “the losing side”?

    IRA/SF said the “war” (killing kids in Warrington and blowing up pubs in Birmingham etc) will continue until the “British” pull out and the island is united.

    But it then surrendered and stopped the “war” despite not having acheived any of these objectives. Its defeat/surrender/change of policy is to be welcomed.

  • Red Diesel Republican

    Must admit I was a bit surprised when SOCA popped up last week. Our general understanding down here on the border was that the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) was closed down as part of a side deal with Sinn Fein at the St Andrews talks, and this stuff about SOCA taking over its responsibilities was a somewhat transparent fig leaf. Since then we have not heard a peep from this particular branch of securocracy. The word is that their reapparance has a lot to do with cross-border co-operation. Seems Brian Lenihan has ordered the Criminal Assets Bureau to take a look at all assets underlying loans being taken over by NAMA. Since there are between five and six billion euro of NAMA liabilities in the north, the presumption is that SOCA was asked to look at them and stumbled over something big and nasty. Even more surprising than SOCA’s sudden appearance was its action at the very top of the Provo food chain. You wouldn’t need to be paranoid to believe the asset-freezing must have been cleared with both MI5 and NIO.

  • Scaramoosh

    There are various ways of looking at this (as always).

    First, it is the spooks doing Sinn Fein’s dirty laundry for them; taking out the embarrassing players, before the devolution of policing and justice. This could be being done either as a favor to Sinn Fein, or indeed, to save their blushes, such that it is best that the likes of Hughes are dealt with before they are handed the reigns of policing and justice.

    A second school of thought may argue that this is the price that Sinn Fein must pay for being allowed to go straight. Two of the (alleged) most senior figures in the IRA are targeted for their criminal activities. A slight to Sinn Fein, and a reminder to them that nobody is above the law.

    In saying that it is an MI6 backed operation, the Shinners are of course inadvertently suggesting that the bold Mr Hughes, was indeed something more than just a “good republican” – whatever that entails. The likes of Murphy have no choice but to say that he is his friend, in much the same way that Gerry had no choice but to carry the coffin of the Shankill bomber.