“We continue to work closely with our colleagues in the Police Service of Northern Ireland and in the Security Service…”

In addition to the weekend arrests and subsequent charges against members of still-violent republican groups there has been a seizure of weapons and explosives.

But, as Roy Greenslade argues at the Guardian, there are questions for reporters to ask

Some informed correspondents have been asking questions about this strange situation. But what is required is commitment from more newspapers to force the authorities to act more decisively and effectively.

Similarly, British readers need to be informed, so the popular papers need to start not only reporting events but also sending over reporters and photographers.

I was less than heartened to see the press response to another story that broke on Friday. Nine men were arrested by Irish police – six in Wexford, one Waterford and two in Louth – under Ireland’s offences against the state act.

This was reported the following day by several agencies, including AP and AFP, by Irish papers, such as the Irish Times and the Irish Independent, by the BBC and CNN, and online by only one British daily (the Daily Telegraph).

The story did not appear in the print editions of any London-based Sunday national. But it was reported by the Sunday Times’s Irish edition. It should have been in the British editions.

After all, the authorities have raised the threat level of a dissident attack from moderate to substantial following an MI5 assessment that the dissidents are improving their capabilities, and could even launch attacks in Britain.

It is no small matter, and the press needs to re-engage with the story, not least in terms of the politics of the Northern Ireland Assembly as it goes about its business in the shadow of renewed violence.

Maybe The Detail will start asking…

Or maybe, as in other circumstances, no-one will raise their voice…

Adds  Four arrested in County Tyrone.

  • “But what is required is commitment from more newspapers to force the authorities to act more decisively and effectively.”

    Firstly, the nine men referred to have not stood trial as yet so –maybe some or all of them might actually establish their case. Secondly, we have heard these calls from the English press before for ‘decisive and effective’ action, it was called Diplock Courts (non jury courts), removal of right to silence, extended detention, we still have those so what is left out –shoot to kill –here we go again, another British journalist trying to whip up a lynch mob.

  • Pete Baker

    “another British journalist trying to whip up a lynch mob.”

    You have seriously mis-judged Roy Greenslade’s point.

  • Alias

    “What we need to know, however, is why the authorities are having such trouble with the dissidents. Having so successfully penetrated the Provos – as we have discovered at regular intervals down the years – why do they appear so inept at dealing with these breakaway groups?”

    I wonder why indeed…?

    Anyway, Greenslade’s faith in the power of the British media to inform the wider British public about a region of the United Kingdom that they have little interest in or understanding of is touching but misplaced given that, as he acknowledges, they’ve been utterly useless at the task for the last 90 years.

    What does it matter if the British public understand NI or not? And does he really think them capable of such a feat given that few Irish even understand it? There is some hopeful belief there that all will be well when it is understood by the British public as if this benevolent nation has it within its power to make it well if only if could be its will, and that the noble media could play its part in brining all of this fancy to pass.

    That aside, the lack of interest doesn’t explain lack of investigative reporting by the media since even the NI media wherein public disinterest cannot be claimed does not engage in the type of investigative reporting that Greenslade is calling for – and neither does the Irish media. Are the Northern Irish and the Irish as disinterested as the English, Welsh or Scots? Why is there no foreign investigative reporting either? It seems that investigative reporting of any hue and from any source is discouraged, but by whom?

    Did the media expose that PIRA was state-sponsored? No, apart from hinting that they were infiltrated by touts when that is the propaganda that the state proffered via the servile media at any expedient time. Why then would it do other than suggest that CIRA and RIRA are infiltrated by touts but expose a single tout via investigative reporting?

    Perhaps the real story is that CIRA and RIRA are more than just infiltrated by touts but are like PIRA controlled by touts, and what state then would encourage investigative reporting that might uncover its repugnant role in state-sponsored terrorism via its proxies? If the British state ever does permit investigative reporting in that part of its sovereign territory then it will be the highly controlled form of it that is careful not to ask any “stupid” questions of the state or its puppets…

  • Alias

    And just to add that Chuck Feeney, a sponsor of the proposed investigative online journal, is pro-process (£1,968,000 donated to prisoner groups in NI; donating £720,000 donated for PSF office in the US, also giving them 230,000 in cash; £1,000,050 donated to CRJI groups; £926,000 to NIA (loyalist CRJ), etc) and its other sponsors are state-owned, so don’t expect that proposed journal to bite the hands that feed it either. Chuck Feeney in particular wouldn’t be sponsoring it if wasn’t pro-process or would rock the political boat in any way. And if you think otherwise, then I have squirrel that lays diamonds for sale…

  • And what is the point of you piece, Pete Baker, for the jumble of words that you have shared, do not actually say a great deal, other than hint at a lament on the pathetic state of state intelligence and its security apparatus/pawns.

  • Thanks for that Atlantic Philanthropies info/intel, Alias. Such rare gems as Mr Feeney, who might actually know what simple sincere acts driver life and the future, and also be fully cognizant of the perceived value in complicated diversions and excursions and experiments and programmes with the artificial baubles and beads of a supplied and manufactured, and even arbitrarily invented out of nothing, Quantitatively Eased and Ponzi wealth, a smart and willing accomplice to enable the acts, are unique and valuable stones without compare and peer equal….. and striding as a giant amongst men and mice on a par with Andrew Carnegie, who also realised the worth of wealth shared, with these two clear expressions of earnest belief and true fact …….“The man who dies rich dies disgraced” and “Surplus wealth is a sacred trust which its possessor is bound to administer in his lifetime for the good of the community.”

  • aquifer

    And I thought he had made a lot of money selling duty free booze

  • JAH

    Greenslade has been a boring Republican apologist for many a year. When the UK press does mention Ulster he immediately has a go at it:


    for an example, because it doesn’t fit in with his very green (no orange) agenda.

    Greenslade is a ‘one more push’ Republican and his views should be treated as such.

  • “another British journalist”

    CW, he spends his time in Brighton and Ramelton so, in a sense, he’s got a foot in both camps.

  • Neil

    why the authorities are having such trouble with the dissidents. Having so successfully penetrated the Provos

    Another mantra of the peace process: the dissers are riddled with touts.

    Don’t see it myself.

  • HeinzGuderian

    Doesn’t every nat/rep *uprising*,end with the lure of the Great British Pound ?? 🙂

  • Tony Blair spends time in the Middle East but he is still British.

  • joeCanuck

    I thought they usually ended in blood, too often the blood of the innocent.

  • pippakin

    It is beginning to look as though the dissidents internal security may not be as secure as they thought.

    What is it about this blood lust? I genuinely cannot understand how people who have seen violence fail, and that’s just the last forty years, can possibly think it will work now.

    It’s also glaringly obvious that the same people expect the British to care more about the well being of the Irish than they do, and complain bitterly if there is ever any hint that they do not!

    schizophrenic or what!!!

  • Alias

    And then gave a chunk of it to reward state-sponsored murder gang members in NI…

  • Alias

    Most of these American ‘Friends of Sinn Fein’ were introduced to them by the British agent, Denis Donaldson, that the leaders of PSF sent to America to promote British national interests under the pretext of promoting the interests of their own supporters. Since the British state was selecting the ‘friends’ you can be certain it was selecting the right sort of friends and sidelining the wrong sort. In fact, as with other agents who appointed to leadership positions by Adams and McGuinness, there were warnings given about the agents and they were duly ignored by Adams and McGuinness (see Martin Galvin). Chuck Feeney is the right sort of friend for PSF in that he promotes the agenda that the Briish state promotes through its puppets.

  • sammymehaffey

    Of course they are all innocent. there were no detonators or bomb making equipment found. It was all planted by the Garda!
    Get a life!

  • pippakin

    Christy Walsh

    I hate to be a pedant but the lying little toe rag referred to above may be British but he ain’t English. I think the Scots should keep their rubbish. Him and George Brown can argue the toss up there.

  • Alias

    Just to add that in addition to the British state selecting the American ‘Friends of Sinn Fein’ through its agent it was also selecting which members of PSF could have a career within the political wing via the same agent since that was one of the other key positions held by Mr Donaldson. The British state also selected all new members of the paramilitary wing via its agents (Freddie Scappiticci and JJ Magee) in that wing’s ISU who vetted all applicants, deciding who could join and who couldn’t. Likewise, its agent at the head of the Southern Command, Sean O’Callaghan, controlled all below him. Its agents could not have controlled the all-important American dynamic, the internal political dynamic and the internal paramilitary without also controlling those who appointed its agents to those key positions and duly kept them in place despite warnings about them. The murder gang and its political wing was state-sponsored, state-selected and state-controlled via puppets that pulled the strings of other puppets. And despite that, no media will go there…

  • Dixie Elliott

    “We continue to work closely with our colleagues in the Police Service of Northern Ireland and in the Security Service…”

    The Policing Board has something similar on their website, under the heading MI5…

    ” …Since the announcement, the Policing Board has received regular briefings from PSNI and the Security Services.”


  • Munsterview

    You do not obviously know how the Southern ‘Security forces’ work !

    Martin Ferris’s election agent, James Sheehan was arrested at a critical time for Kerry Sinn Fein as were many other members or supporters at the same period in an all out effort to stop the rise of Sinn Fein in the county.

    The’ branch’ claimed that they found ammunition during a search of James house……. all laid out in a neat row along his mantlepiece apparently in plain sight. James hired the services of Billy Flynn the Private Detective that broke the Donegall Garda Corruption case. That leveled the playing field somewhat.

    That as the saying goes took care of that ! Check out where the case is now and how long James has been trying to get Justice .

    Same tactics now being applied to this bunch !

    Things needed a show for the optics and a show for the optics was given. Simple !

    If smoke and mirrors are needed no better than Fianna Failure to give a ‘smoke and mirrors’ that would do credit to a U2 stage show!

  • Munsterview


    I am not for a moment attempting to minimize the impact of the British Security penetration of the Northern Command of the IRA or that Scappiticci long term head of the IRA ISU was their only important asset.

    In fact a general discontent in the IRA with the way things were done was one of the reasons why a significant number of IRA active to the ceasefire, while not actively opposing the GFA, did not never the less trust the remaining leadership to deliver the goods.

    Checks and balances etc, in politics when the collective collegiate leadership were able to act behind closed doors those who made mistake of omission or commission simply lost individual authority and influence proportional to their exposure. Because these things were not made public do not mean they were not dealt with.

    In the Northern Command Republicans active to the ceasefire who then went inactive also ‘examined their position’ and learned the necessary lessons.

    “……. Likewise, its agent at the head of the Southern Command, Sean O’Callaghan, controlled all below him…….”

    A gross over simplification : Callahan was more than a teaboy but nowhere as important as he made himself out to be. As you should appreciate, the more Brit intel could amplify his supposed importance, the more they could sow dispute and suspicion. Southern Command was mainly Dublin and these average Dubs were group into themselves with a culture all but closed to a culchie.

    Whatever attributes Callahan had, people handling skills were not among them and he got up the nose of quite a few people. There was also a whiff of suspicion about some of Cahallans relatives of another generation and this followed Callaghan through Kerry and Munster and to Dublin.

    The Southern command political area also had its reputed Donaldsons in some areas, Once the GFA was operational more than a few passed a verdict of what went on in previous years by voting with their feet. The fact that much of this ‘housekeeping’ never made the media do not mean that it did not happen.

  • Munsterview

    Should have read……Southern Command……. GHQ…… was mainly Dublin and these average Dubs…….

  • joan

    Mr Greenslade appears to be saying that the media should create the atmosphere within which some sort of security crackdown against dissidents becomes possible. It is difficult to read the following and come to any other conclusion: ‘But what is required is commitment from more newspapers to force the authorities to act more decisively and effectively.’ What does he mean by ‘more decisively and effectively’? Does he mean ‘shoot-to-kill’ operations, internment, return to Diplock courts, or what?
    Is this the same Roy Greenslade who used to write pseudonymously for An Phoblacht-Republican News in support of Sinn Fein policies and strategy and who would lambast the British and Irish governments for their heavy-handed assaults on Republicans? Here is a story about him that appeared in the Sunday Times a couple of years back:
    “Sunday March 16 2008
    HE is a former managing news editor of the Sunday Times, a staunchly anti-IRA paper — but while there, he was secretly writing for An Phoblacht, the IRA’s propaganda sheet.
    Roy Greenslade, who is now better known as a media commentator, has been outed in a new book entitled Flat Earth News, written by Nick Davies.
    The astonishing revelation is that — during his time with the Sunday Times at the height of the IRA campaign, and when several members of the paper’s editorial team had been threatened by the terrorists — Greenslade was occasionally writing for An Phoblacht under the pseudonym George King, a play on King George.
    Greenslade was supportive of the Irish cause and was immersed in a battle to uncover information about the SAS killing of three IRA members in Gibraltar.”
    At the very least when he writes about Irish matters, especially in relation to Republican politics, he should tell his readers that he is not exactly a disinterested party and that in respect of his advice on how to deal with dissidents, he may well be arguing on behalf of his old friends in An Phoblacht-Republican News.

  • joan

    correction – the article about roy greenslade appeared in the sunday independent not the sunday times