Questions for Tommy on that Afghan Mission

John Hedges at An Phoblacht has listed some questions for SDLP MLA Thomas Burns regarding his recently declared pom-pom waving trip to “observe military operations” in Afghanistan. The issue was brought into the public domain (and, apparently, that of his party leader) by Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams during the UTV Leaders’ Debate.

Here’s what is declared in the MLA’s Declaration of Interests:

In September 2008, I visited Afghanistan on a fact-finding trip to observe military operations and reconstruction efforts in the region. The cost was met by the Ministry of Defence.

Not surprisingly, the Sinn Fein organ has delighted in pursuing this matter (all fair being love and war, of course.)

But the questions posed by Hedges will make interesting reading if and when they are answered. Here they are:

What are the details?
•    Who proposed the visit – the SDLP or the British Army?
•    Who else was on the trip?
•    What was the duration of the trip?
•    What exactly did it entail?
•    Who did the SDLP man meet in Afghanistan?
•    What were Tommy’s arrangements with the British Army?
•    Which “military operations” did he observe?
•    Which “reconstruction efforts” did he observe?
•    What was the benefit of the trip?
•    What has happened since as a product of the trip?
•    Why is the SDLP so coy about this?
•    Will it need a Freedom of Information Act enquiry to find out what Tommy did with the British Army then and since?

  • Socaire!

    I know what its about, and the answer, notwithstanding the fact that they are all politicians, and I dont trust any of em: is yes.

    Remember, Collins, De Valera and Bernadette Devlin all swore the same oath, so when nationalists take the oath they are in the company of people who gave a great deal and made a real difference to Ireland.

    My solemn promise is to harm none.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Great to see that this thread showed nothing but sinn fein hypocrisy. They continue to show themselves up. They are gonna get a wake up call this election. The juggernaut is coming to a halt and may even go backwards

  • Seosamh913

    Sinn Fein has questions of its own to answer with regard to Afghanistan, among them why it opposed regime change there and its unwillignness or inability to recognise the entirely imperialist and fascistic nature of the Al-Qaeda project and its variety of unlovely allies in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

  • Michaelhenry

    IRELAND withdrew its claim, jesus wept alias did you even read the good friday agreement, articles 2 and 3 are on page 4, unionists were going to walk out untill they seen how much that they were going to be paid, rather that than no peace process.

  • John O’Connell

    Socaire, you really are beneath contempt. Who cares about the oath. Are they portraying themselves as loyal citizens of Her Majesty? No, they’re doing what’s in the interests of all their constituents. You really are stuck in the 16th century.

  • medillen

    Great to see the SDLP stalwarts especially Lionel join the discussion. We will see on the 7th of May. In regards to Seosamh I do not believe that an imperialist war that is killing thousands of civilians in Afganistan will address the issue of Al-Qaeda. It is the policies of the US and Britain abroad that is fueling resentment in the muslim world, particularly in palestine, a change in these policies is where the solution to the some of these issues lie.

  • Michaelhenry

    your going to eat your words come friday, take a big cup of tea afterwards.

  • Lionel Hutz

    We will see. I don’t expect a big shift. Sinn Fein will probably get more votes in F/ST, I know many who will ‘loan’ their vote. Incidentally, I know quite a few who were going to ‘loan’ theirs prior to SFs own attempted pact but have since decided that they are just the same- I do believe however that the move in SB will benefit them but will be more than offset by the loss in SB itself. There will be little movement in SD or Foyle and the only chance for SF gains in terms of votes will be in strong unionist seats. You’re right though, we will see. The big change will be the loss overall in turnout.

    But this story is disgusting. What possible muck is there to rake here? – do you think he was on a covert operation to help British kill the helpless afghans. Give me a break.

    The only reason these questions are being asked is because Mr Burns is in no position to answer them. Gerry Adams used a families difficult circumstances for cheap electoral gain. And no one in Sinn Fein has shown any tact in bringing the spotlight to him.

  • I completely agree with you. This has been a low blow, even by SF standards.

  • medillen

    The question was not asked of Thomas Burns, a man I also respect, and few knew of his personal circumstances, it was asked of his party leader and she has yet to provide an explanation. So it seems to me that it is the SDLP who are using the personal circumstances of Thomas Burns to avoid the question.

  • To demand privacy and exemption from awkward questions due to your own ‘family traumas’, and then to deny that privacy to another on the grounds the leader of the party can answer? well, in that case no doubt Mr McGuinness or Ms Gildernew will present the answers most of us seek. Or heres a good one, why not let Ms Ruane give the answers. She can say it in Irish if she promises to memorise it carefully first and get the pronunciation right.

  • socaire

    Oh, patience, I wasn’t aware that you were a fluent gaeilgeoir. I look on you with new eyes!

  • Socaire!

    Fluent? no, learning, very slowly. Sure chara its a beautiful language and I hate to hear it gargled. I do that enough for everyone. Our native language has been used as a political tool for too long. The miracle is that between the Brits and some republicans its managed to survive…we must love it.

  • old school

    So now you’re telling us members of the Resistance groups were in Helsinki as well as the Green Zone.
    The only photos I have seen of the “peace talks” showed members of the puppet Iraqi Government.
    It was taken at a time they were carring out daily killings via their death squads.
    As phony as the Irish peace process in that respect.

  • Michaelhenry

    as phony has the dissidents war.

  • Alias

    “jesus wept ”

    Not as bitterly as your poor longsuffering parents…

  • old school

    “Are you, or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party.”
    Thank Mr Mc Carthy. You’ve heard of the Special Criminal Court I’m sure. I’ll take the Fifth on that one.
    Read from that what you will.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Medillin,

    look at this blog, the article and tell me that these are questions for Margaret Ritchie or the SDLP. These are questions only Mr Burns can answer.

    Sinn Fein will stoop to anything.

  • ranger1640

    During the UTV Leaders’ Debate last week, Gerry Adams asked SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie about SDLP MLA’s Tommy Burns visit to Afghanistan.

    Below are the questions the republican news wants answers to.

    So these questions remain unanswered by Tommy Burns and the SDLP:–
    • What are the details?
    • Who proposed the visit – the SDLP or the British Army?
    • Who else was on the trip?
    • What was the duration of the trip?
    • What exactly did it entail?
    • Who did the SDLP man meet in Afghanistan?
    • What were Tommy’s arrangements with the British Army?
    • Which “military operations” did he observe?
    • Which “reconstruction efforts” did he observe?
    • What was the benefit of the trip?
    • What has happened since as a product of the trip?
    • Why is the SDLP so coy about this?
    • Will it need a Freedom of Information Act enquiry to find out what Tommy did with the British Army then and since?

    http://www.anphoblacht.com/news/detail/39833

    As Sinn Fein Deputy leader Martin McGuinness was on a visit to Iraq in July 2008. I would like a few answers from Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein Deputy leader, Deputy First Minister and
    Minister of the State, Martin McGuinness.
    • Was Martin McGuinness’ visit at the behest of the British Government, MI6, the American Administration or the CIA?
    • Did Martin McGuinness receive a pre visit security brief by the British Government, MI6, the American Administration or the CIA?
    • Did Martin McGuinness get his expenses paid by the British Government, MI6, American Administration or the CIA?
    • Did Martin McGuinness use British Army, Royal Air Force, MI6, US Military or CIA transport to travel to the flight base?
    • Did Martin McGuinness use a Royal Air Force or US Military base to fly from?
    • Did Martin McGuinness use Royal Air Force, MI6, US Military or CIA transport to fly to Iraq?
    • Did Martin McGuinness use British Army, SAS, Royal Air Force, MI6, US Military or CIA transport to travel to the green zone?
    • Did Martin McGuinness use British Army, SAS, Royal Air Force, MI6, US Military or CIA body armour while in the green zone?
    • Did Martin McGuinness have British Army, SAS, Royal Air Force, MI6, US Military or CIA protection while in Iraq?
    • Martin McGuinness’ visit was to meet Iraq civilians and Iraq politicians, are these the same Iraq civilians and Iraq politicians who are being paid by the British Government, MI6, American Administration or the CIA?
    • Did Martin McGuinness use British Army, SAS, Royal Air Force, MI6, US Military or CIA transport to travel to the Iraqi airport?
    • Was Martin McGuinness debriefed by the British Government, MI6, American Administration or the CIA upon his return?
    • What has happened since as a product of Martin McGuinness’ trip?
    • Why are Sinn Fein, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, so coy about this visit?
    • Has Martin McGuinness been back?
    • If Martin McGuinness has been back are the arrangements as described and set out above?
    • Will it require a Freedom of Information Act, enquiry to find out what Martin McGuinness has done since ether overtly or covertly with the British Government, British Army, MI6, American Administration or the CIA?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1912171/Martin-McGuinness-will-lead-Iraq-peace-mission.html

  • Seosamh913

    medillen

    So your respone to the jihadists is to give the brutal stone-age imperialist caliphatists everything they want and then just sit back, let them oppress their ‘own’ people while we turn a blind eye and hope that ‘we’ don’t offend them any more ?

  • medillen

    What?

  • medillen

    Margaret Ritchie is the leader of the party, one of her MLA’s participated in this excursion, why should she not answer questions on it, you all seem quite touchy on this subject, I wonder why?

  • Lionel Hutz

    How can she answer the questions above. They are clearly directed at Tommy. Ritchie wasn’t leader at the time anyway and this is of no importance as this is a Westminster election and tommy isn’t even standing.

    The SDLP have closed the door on Sinn Fein again and it’s hurting the latter.

  • medillen

    This is a question of lack of integrity and hyprocisy from the SDLP, they claim to be opposed to the war in Iraq and Afganistan yet they support the party that launched both invasions and now have a senior member visiting to observe military operations as guests of the MOD. Surely this is a relevant question to ask of a leader who is seeking election to Westminister.