Mitchell Reiss: “Governments often have information about illegal activities that they decide not to prosecute…”

The Irish Echo reports comments from then-US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland, Mitchell Reiss, on the Wikileaked US Embassy cables from 2005.  From the Irish Echo report

“I believe the taoiseach believed what he told me,” recalled Reiss in the interview.

“This was the taoiseach speaking. The cable doesn’t give you my opinion. I certainly had no evidence whether these men were complicit or not.

“Governments often have information about illegal activities that they decide not to prosecute for a variety of reasons. Many is the time you have certain individuals who are in a peace process, therefore you decide not to pursue these issues. It could be, in some cases, that they’re actually on the payroll as we know some senior IRA people were. There’s no evidence that Adams or McGuinness was, but we know that others were,” Reiss said.  [added emphasis]

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  • “certain individuals who are in a peace process, therefore you decide not to pursue these issues”

    Adams and McGuinness appear to have had immunity in 1972 when paramilitary violence was probably at its worst. Many other paramilitaries, the ‘good paramilitaries’, don’t even have their feathers ruffled.

  • Pete Baker

    Let’s not make this too general, too quickly.

  • Brian

    “Adams and McGuinness appear to have had immunity in 1972 when paramilitary violence was probably at its worst.”

    For the negotiations with Downing Street yes, but they were both arrested after being on the run in 1973. Later on they were too far removed/too useful to the Peace Process that it would be counterproductive to take them out.

    With Gerry gone, there is no way the militant wing of the Republican army would have given up violence (even temporarily) before the millenium.

  • Brian, had they been far removed from PIRA AC they would have been of no use to London, Dublin and Washington; they had to be on the AC or be represented by nominees. Ed Moloney creates the impression that though some AC folks were just militarists whilst there were others who favoured what came to be known as the ‘armalite and ballot box’ strategy. This spread of opinions also means that the Adams faction would not always have had control of AC sanctioned actions; it also means that some actions could have gone ahead with the AC only being informed when it was too late to stop them.

    The Irish Echo is a SF mouthpiece so it’s hardly surprising that there are gaps in the account. For example, what did Kenny do with the alleged ‘rock solid’ evidence provided by the Irish government official? Was it not forwarded to Washington?

  • Pete Baker

    “what did Kenny do with the alleged ‘rock solid’ evidence provided by the Irish government official?”

    Nevin

    Nobody said anyone provided evidence to the US Embassador. Just that the Irish Government had that evidence.

    And credit to the Irish Echo for providing Mitchell Reiss’ accurate description of the machinations of The Process™

    “Governments often have information about illegal activities that they decide not to prosecute for a variety of reasons. Many is the time you have certain individuals who are in a peace process, therefore you decide not to pursue these issues. It could be, in some cases, that they’re actually on the payroll as we know some senior IRA people were. There’s no evidence that Adams or McGuinness was, but we know that others were”

  • The Court will set a date for Judicial Review in a case against the Justice Minister, David Ford for his failure to ensure an investigation into serious criminal conduct within the Crown Prosecution Services. I stole one of the Prosectors files from the courtroom back in March 2010 –been a cover-up in place ever since. The implications go far beyond my own case as there is no knowing if the same kind serious malfeasances are involved in any other case handled by this same Prosecutor or indeed if he is still doing them in current cases. A brief idea of the facts and copy of evidence can be read here; http://www.christywalsh.com/html/prosecution.html

    This is not something of the past but a whole new era given the novalty of David Ford’s new position as Justice Minister.

  • I should have said the date for Judicial Review will be sometime in January 2011.

  • Perhaps the following is just poor transcription by the Irish Echo, Pete: Stated the cable: “He said the GOI (Government of Ireland) has no smoking gun or hard evidence but that the GOI considered it 99 percent certain that IRA conducted the robbery,” and that there was ‘rock solid’ evidence that McGuinness and Adams knew of the heist in advance.”

    Inside Ireland phrases it differently: “According to the cable, the official told the ambassador “that the GOI (Government of Ireland) does have ‘rock solid evidence’ that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness are members of the IRA military command and for that reason, the taoiseach is certain they would have known in advance of the robbery.”

    Does ‘military command’ mean Army Council?

    “On the payroll” is a very vague term. Some might take it to mean that such people carried out the orders of London, Dublin or Washington whereas they could just as easily be double agents.

  • Pete Baker

    “Perhaps the following is just poor transcription by the Irish Echo”

    Don’t get fixated on it, Nevin.

    It’s just not that important.

    As I said, the significance is in the description of The Process™.

  • Pete, I’m not fixated on the process – whatever that is. Reiss isn’t saying anything different to what I and others have been saying for quite a long time. Turning a blind eye to the nefarious activities of certain Rafia and Lafia godfathers has been going on for well over thirty years and it continues still.

  • Pete Baker

    Nevin

    And when have you seen someone who was involved in The Process™ here acknowledge that point?

    As Mitchell Reiss has said

    “Governments often have information about illegal activities that they decide not to prosecute for a variety of reasons. Many is the time you have certain individuals who are in a peace process, therefore you decide not to pursue these issues. It could be, in some cases, that they’re actually on the payroll as we know some senior IRA people were.”

  • Pete, I can’t produce a quote but I should imagine many Unionist politicians will have commented on what’s been known to the dogs in the street for well over thirty years.

  • Pete Baker

    The former US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland is not some “Unionist politician”…

  • Nevin “Turning a blind eye to the nefarious activities of certain Rafia and Lafia godfathers has been going on for well over thirty years and it continues still.” The same could be said for Security Forces. Informers, and many of those said to represent or act on behalf of of The State. Generally when referring to ‘cover-up’ implies some kind of official sanction.

  • Pete, Reiss is just one of a number of people who played important roles alongside our local politicians. He makes a general statement about some unspecified governments and he has nothing much to say about Adams and McGuinness, two key members of the Rafia.

  • Christy, UK and Ireland state forces are not in the same league as the Rafia and Lafia. The most useful informers will have been those who were embedded in these paramilitary organisations. Both state forces were unable to act positively on all of the information made available to them; to have done so would have identified their sources.

  • Nevin so there is a ‘league’ or ‘ranking’ in regard to “Governments often have information about illegal activities that they decide not to prosecute…”. You focus on, (I presume your jargon is intented to mean republican/loyalists?). Governments which do not act on information of illegal activity is usually because it is easier or suits their purposes at the time –if even as a lesser of two evils. But Republicans or Loyalists are not the only ones who have acted outside of the law –even up to and including “nefarious activities” which have resulted in death/s.

  • Nevi. In otherwords the UK Government may find it easier to turn a blind eye to paramilitary activity for a number of pragmatic reasons –in NI one cannot rule out the possibility of one thing leading to another and State represenatives being found to have played a role outside of the law –thus the Gov. is not so much wanting to turn a blind eye to criminal activity but rather more concerned about how up the tree it goes?

  • Christy, I’ve often expressed the view that London and Dublin acted (individually and collectively) to protect their main institutions; even in the 1998 Agreement more attention appears to have been paid to the demands of the paramilitaries than to the needs of victims.

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some senior figures in the London and Dublin establishments did indeed involve themselves in nefarious activities. I still wouldn’t rule out sabotage pertaining to the crash of the Chinook helicopter in June 1994, a few weeks prior to the paramilitary ceasefires.

    Mayhew misled folks about who was talking to paramilitaries in late 1993 and who made decisions about parades in Portadown in 1996 so what else have London and Dublin ministers misinformed us about? I’ve published online some details about the Hurd visit in 1993 and the Dick Spring briefing in 1996. I’ve also described some of the roles that London and Dublin civil servants have played in policy and day-to-day decision making, roles that go well beyond published inter-government agreements. There’s a bit more meat in those than in Reiss’ ‘revelations’.

    There was also a flow of information from public servants to the paramilitaries which have have led in some cases to the deaths of work colleagues.

    Then there are those on both sides of the constitutional divide whose words and actions indirectly led to mayhem, murder and destruction. Not much is said about their culpability.

  • Nevin in the settling of any conflict the protangonists/combatants would hold more leveage over any settlement than victims would (though protagonists can also be victims). It is only after the conflict that real attention can be focused upon the victims –when a final tally can be put on them and then sorting them out in terms of dead, wounded, or whatever other form of suffering was caused. For families which suffered loss of one or more family members, many have come to terms with inclusion of paramilitaries from both communities in the GFA.

    If sections of paramilitary organisations are involving themselves in activities more akin to that of organised crime in absence of any real political ideology behind it then I am sure that makes former ‘comrades’ comfortable as well as everyone else –and to come down heavy upon them might be the right thing to do it might also not be the best thing to do. So that is one pragmatic reason why Governments appear to excuse illegal activity because like them, or not, former paramilitary associations could become more unmanagable.

    Whether anyone thinks that the use of ‘dirty tricks’ were necessary, or were underhanded sculduggery or just cute war games for the boys, they come at a price –especially to what was legal and what the Government permitted or turned a blind eye too –regardless of any Truth Commission, Legacy Commission or simply trying to bury the past –revealations will for many years come to light of what the Government sanctioned, condoned, or encouraged –and none of it was ever likely to have been legal.

  • Christy, our conflict isn’t settled, it continues at a lower level and there may well be a major flare-up again in the lead-up to the next ‘constitutional’ anniversary: 2016.

    Revelations of what agencies of three Governments in London, Dublin and Belfast got up to, nefarious and otherwise, will probably surface as the years go by.

    Some families who suffered loss will get a measure of support in their search for the truth, others will be ignored.

    All of the paramilitary organisations were and are involved in organised crime; some may attempt to hid behind a political fig-leaf. Assistance from developers, lawyers, accountants and other ‘professionals’ will also be revealed.

  • Nevin “All of the paramilitary organisations were and are involved in organised crime; some may attempt to hid behind a political fig-leaf.” And why would those you predict ‘might’ be involved in any “major flare-up again in the lead-up to the next ‘constitutional’ anniversary: 2016”, not be?

  • Cynic2

    Surely to not prosecute individuals committing crimes in these circumstances would be perverting the course of justice – just like not prosecuting paedophile priests because it would damage Mother Church. It would also be a political perversion of the roles of the DPPs North and South

    So was Ahern right? If so, who are the protected species given a licence to commit crime generally (or even murder, perhaps)? And were they all from one side of the community or are some prominent Loyalist drug dealers included too?