Why did Toby Harnden refuse to attend the Smithwick Tribunal?

I missed the most direct accusation against securocrats this week, by Paul Larkin, a Dublin and Donegal based freelance, in the Guardian. Focusing on the Smithwick tribunal, he criticises journalists for accepting British Army Force Research Unit ( FRU)  “spooks”   versions of infiltration into paramilitaries too readily and claims that the unexpected refusal of journalist Toby Harnden to testify throws the future of the  inquiry into doubt.

The repeated (and incorrect) assertion that MI5 was running the IRA and pushing the peace process feeds the ire of armed groups in Ireland who oppose the Good Friday agreement. A headline that says “IRA riddled with spies” is, in that sense, an incendiary device and undermines our democratic all-Ireland decision to try another, unarmed, way to find justice and peace and ultimately end partition.

A reading of the Cory report into the Breen- Buchanan murders shows that Harnden was prepared to discuss the type of sources he used. Cory report   ( 2.68 i ).  There will be much more about this I suspect. Larkin’s conclusions are also sure to be contested. If it was all got up by the FRU, why did Cory recommend a public inquiry?

Adds 16 February I’m  grateful  for this comment  which I couldn’t acess on Facebook

Intelligence Insider (profile) says:

Toby Harnden released a statement on 7th February which answers Brian’s question.

“My book ‘Bandit Country’ speaks for itself and I stand behind everything in it. I now live in the United States and am covering the Republican primaries, three of which are being held today. The decision not to appear before the Smithwick Tribunal is mine and mine alone. I note that the Tribunal has heard evidence from former members of the RUC and Garda Siochana and has also been supplied with intelligence information. This evidence and information adds to and significantly backs up what I wrote more than 12 years ago when ‘Bandit Country’ brought the issue of collusion between individual Garda officers and the Provisional IRA to public attention.”

Perhaps in a gap in the primaries, Toby could attend and make himself available for questioning?

 

 

 

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London