Are we seeing Increasing frustration from old securocrats or mounting pressure against the former IRA leadership?

Eamonn McCann gives an absorbing analysis in Counterpunch, co- edited by Alexander Cockburn the Independent’s highly critical reporter of “the war on terror,” of the linkages between the Omagh bomb and the Boston College tapes.

A key figure is former Chief Superintendent Norman Baxter, who is now one of a number of former RUC and PSNI officers working for Col Tim Collins’ New Century security consultancy in Afghanistan. Others will know much more about Baxter than I. Since his retirement he has been a vocal critic of the “creative ambiguity” of the GFA, especially with regard to the pursuit of the old republican warriors. I notice he flirted with unionist politics and attacked the UUP for their ineffectiveness in the Newsletter last year.

Does McCann’s piece suggest that elements associated with the PSNI are trying to wreck the peace process? Or can it be read as describing how the police are getting on with the  job of bringing the former IRA leadership to book, in the absence of a  formal amnesty?

Who understands the present state of policy in this area? Governments cannot hide indefinitely behind the operational independence of the police, as the political implications could be serious if the PSNI’s trawling ever amounted to anything. Comment from Mc Cann is restrained, as it is – more surprisingly perhaps – in Ed Moloney’s post in his own website.

As he looks back on more than 30 frustrating years policing in the North, even as he assumes his new and more wide-ranging – and enormously more lucrative, one imagines – role in the global war on terror, Baxter may take grim satisfaction from the fact that he has some of his old enemies still in his sights. He may be cheered, too, by the thought that he won’t be confronted by the same defeatist attitudes and dark maneuvers in the freewheeling fight in Afghanistan as he faced in the constrained circumstances of Northern Ireland, that this time the good guys will get to win. Of course, he could be wrong about that.





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  • Mick Fealty

    Eamonn Maillie’s interview with Keiron McEvoy is worth listening too from about 13/4 mins in on the bigger issue of how to deal with the past..

  • cynic2

    Isn’t Northern Ireland Politics strange.

    Two weeks ago I listened to Baxter on the TV commenting on the way that so many ex RUC Special Branch members appear to have colonised parts of PSNI working as ‘support staff’ on lucrative contracts that seem to be freely handed out with no need for any nasty application processes or fair employment rules.

    This week suddenly Baxter comes under personal attack in the media from a range of different sources, broadly on the nationalist side of politics.

    I am sure that this is all completely co-incidental of course – or perhaps they really haven’t gone way you know

  • cynic2

    Given where we are on the peace process and dealing with the past – a position actively sought by Adams and Sinn Fein – can anyone explain to me why, if there is evidence on Adams or anyone else who may have done things- they shouldn’t face the legal consequences?

    I just simply, really don’t understand how any commitment to ‘justice’ should exclude action against those who may have committed terrible crimes. Yes, that action may be difficult but frankly, so what?

  • Neil


    @comment 2 above, you’re saying Baxter attacked the head hunting of former RUC in the press and so is now a target for those on the ‘nationalist side’, but surely he’s attacking the same thing we’re attacking and as such is actually in agreement with nationalists. I really don’t get where you’re coming from.

    Regarding comment two, no-one can be immune from prosecution, should enough evidence exist (and I’m of the opinion that no one is). However the cops will plainly have to be careful about arresting people where insufficient evidence exists, like for example, the uncorroborated word of a dead man (who I respect, and have no reason to doubt, just drawing attention to the likely failings of that particular testimony).

    Unfortunately that kind of uncorroborated evidence exists about people on both sides of the political fence so they’d want to make sure that if acting on, say the uncoroborated word of a dead man that they also took into account the uncoroborated words of other dead men, implicating Unionists, Republicans, police and army.

  • “the pursuit of the old republican warriors”

    Sinn Fein has rejected claims that one of its representatives in the Irish parliament was linked to 50 murders.

    The party said the allegations against, Dessie Ellis TD, were “unsubstantiated”

    According to the Irish Independent newspaper, a secret British file released under the 30-year-rule, said: “We understand that Ellis is linked by forensic evidence to some 50 murders in Northern Ireland and the Republic.”

    Sinn Fein said the claims had been made by “faceless securocrats”.