Why suffer allegations of involvement with the nutting squad? Because you’re worth it.

I don’t pretend to be able to follow the tortuous complexity of “Stakeknife” and Freddie Scappatacci, assuming they are entirely one and the same. Danny Morrison who has a deep personal interest in these matters, seems to want us to believe Stakeknife might be part of a huge British security blind double blind and claims he barely knew the actual Scap – in spite of that notorious overturned conviction. I only know that the whole cat’s cradle of allegation and murder  is getting more expensive  by the day, The DDPs’ decision to reopen the entire Scappaticci file won’t make it any cheaper. See today’s  Times (£) for the latest. Stand by for the  inevitable public row.

Seven men and a woman convicted of being part of an IRA execution squad will each receive hundreds of thousands in compensation because the evidence used against them was based on information from Freddie Scappaticci, allegedly the double agent known as Stakeknife.

The eight, who include Danny Morrison, a former IRA commander and ex-director of publicity for Sinn Fein, were convicted and jailed in 1991.

Their convictions were overturned on appeal in 2008 and 2009 after it emerged that police did not disclose the role in their cases of Mr Scappaticci, a former IRA head of internal discipline.

The Northern Ireland Office confirmed yesterday that the eight would receive payments. “We fully understand and share the public concern and anger there will be over this,” it said.

The Northern Ireland Office said that the payments had to be authorised because the cases fell under legislation that was found not to be fit for the purpose of defining a miscarriage of justice by the Court of Appeal in 2008 and a Supreme Court judgment in 2011.

“This is why the government acted decisively last year to tighten the law to make it more difficult for these cases to succeed in future. The law now makes very clear that only in cases where newly discovered facts show beyond reasonable doubt that the person did not commit the offence will an applicant be eligible for compensation,” it said.

It is understood that the Northern Ireland Office is close to settling a separate case with James Martin and his wife, Veronica Ryan, who were the occupiers of the house where Mr Lynch was found.

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  • MainlandUlsterman

    theirs is a topsy-turvy world. I think Danny Morrison probably watches Twin Peaks box sets for a breather from it.

  • Ulick

    That NIO statement is outrageous and a gross violation of the principle of presumed innocent until proven guilty.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    in the world of secret underground organisations though, there is a huge space between the reality of what they do and the narrow legal ground of what the courts can convict on. Question for us is, what have we to say about everything in between – nothing at all? The information from police and the security services is crucial here only because of secrecy and dishonesty of the paramilitaries themselves. You’re right, it is a tricky area. But the NIO needs to reassure the public the world hasn’t gone mad when senior terrorists are able to sue the State. It is kind of insane.

  • chrisjones2

    Yes…they were all there for afternoon tea

  • Zeno

    Now that we know the IRA exists and have an Army Council who have all been named, are we going to have thousands of people sue them in the courts? Looks a penalty kick to me.

  • David Crookes

    Anyone who is interested in this murky area of history may like to read Robert Ramsay’s novelistic book CALLING THE SHOTS, which is available from Amazon and costs £7.99.

    Jeremy Granville (Security Services Director and Coordinator of Intelligence) is the British government’s most important man on the ground in Northern Ireland.
    Granville takes his orders from Sir Julian Beardsley in London. When we
    meet Sir Julian in the fourth chapter of CALLING THE SHOTS, we hear him telling
    Granville about a change in Britain’s Northern Ireland policy. Up to now
    it has been generally assumed that HMG’s intention is to bring Sinn Féin into
    the political process, in return for a package of goodies, and to create a new
    democratic framework that will benefit both the Ulster Unionist Party and the
    SDLP. The new policy involves helping a peaceful democratic Sinn Féin to
    become top dog, in electoral terms, on its own side of the political fence, and
    allowing Ian Paisley’s DUP to become a mirror-image top dog on the unionist side
    of the fence. If both lots of ultras are assisted to win in the endgame,
    and if violence comes to an end, a reasonably durable solution to the Irish
    Question will have been achieved. It goes literally without saying that
    for the sake of this solution, the Ulster Unionist Party and the SDLP must be
    sacrificed. Sir Julian – the driver if not the main creator of HMG’s new
    policy — is perfectly ruthless.

    So is his chief executant. In chapter 42, when the head of Special Branch
    asks whether it is possible to be ‘happy about the moral aspects’ of a decision
    to sacrifice a particular tout, Granville replies impatiently, ‘Happiness and
    morality don’t come into it. This is the Joint Security Committee, not
    the Synod of the Church of England.’ Not long afterwards the tout is
    murdered, and becomes one of ‘the disappeared’. His police handler sobs
    when he hears the news.

    Granville calls the shots. The apparently big players of whom ordinary people are
    more or less aware – the Chief Constable of the RUC, the GOC, the Head of
    Special Branch, and the Permanent Undersecretary of State – represent sections
    of an orchestra which Granville conducts with great skill. The brass
    section, represented by General Chesham, the GOC, often wants to blare out fortissimo at times when a mezzopiano is required. Some members of the
    orchestra have full confidence neither in their conductor nor in each other:
    thus the woodwind section, represented by the Head of Special Branch, has its
    own important tout in the front desk of the civil-service violas.

    The deliberate creation of history is a complicated business. Politicians
    sign treaties, shake hands for press photographers, and get most of the
    credit. Diplomats swim unseen in all kinds of waters, become experts in
    relevant areas of marine biology, and point the way towards a sea-change that
    will be good for everyone in the long run. Intelligence services do most
    of the dirty work. They hunt down particular swordfish, and arrange for
    intransigent sharks who oppose the sea-change to be eaten by their
    fellow-sharks. Sometimes they even torpedo ships full of more or less
    deserving people, and guarantee safe passage to Barbary pirates.

    CALLING THE SHOTS is, in the author’s words, ‘partly a work of fiction, based on
    unpalatable facts’. What people call ‘the peace process’ was and remains
    a tapestry of many coloured strands, involving characters at every level of
    society. Robert Ramsay describes not only these characters,
    but also the particular environments or spaces in which they exist, with
    irreproachable accuracy. He can move (for example) from low-life
    shebeenery to Poussin and Mahler with a mercurial balletic assurance.
    Ramsay is a stylist with a finely tuned ear. The different languages that
    his low-downs and high-ups speak all come across as being authentic. He
    knows exactly how a general, a bureaucrat, and a paramilitary thug express
    themselves in English. Let me add that the forty-nine short chapters of
    CALLING THE SHOTS contain a multitude of brilliant authorial flashes.

    To speak in vulgar language, CALLING THE SHOTS is a thundering good read, not
    lacking in romance. The partly fictional nature of the book will be seen
    as little more than a gossamer garment by readers who are acquainted with any
    of Ramsay’s characters. Last Saturday, when I read the book for the first
    time, I found myself gasping in amazement every few minutes. By contrast,
    mainland-British or American readers, who tend to regard Northern Ireland
    either as a complete bore or as a pain in the neck, will discover that CALLING
    THE SHOTS is a meticulously crafted thriller in its own right, as good as any
    spy novel, and much better than most.

  • aquifer

    Innocent until proven guilty is fair enough for ordinary criminals, but proving members of a murderous criminal conspiracy innocent must be well neigh impossible. The first thing they learn is how to defeat prosecution by the law.

  • Zeno

    “Seven men and a woman convicted of being part of an IRA execution squad will each receive hundreds of thousands in compensation because the evidence used against them was based on information from Freddie Scappaticci, allegedly the double agent known as Stakeknife.”

    For all you people who vote. This is your reward.

    Stop voting and propping up this sort of nonsense.

    http://media.iwm.org.uk/iwm/mediaLib/192/media-192901/large.jpg

  • paulgraham7567

    Irrespective of the obstacles the security services face, in order for the justice system to function (and for the public to respect it), certain basic principles, such as the presumption of innocence, have been enshrined in UK law for centuries.

    We as a Nation have faced bigger foes than the IRA. If, like the USA we over react and set our standards as low as our opponents, then we remove our Moral superiority. We are a great nation because of our high standards, not despite them.

    If we do not defend those principles, who are we???

  • Nevin

    Perhaps you should have got out more, David; I doubt if I would be crying in amazement; it sounds rather like the picture I’ve been painting using actual people, events and documents.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thank goodness, David, that this is simply fiction and that no responsible Westminster Government would ever have been foolish or cynical enough to attempt such a misguided solution to a complex historically rooted problem. Put the extremists in power, and expect them to learn the virtues of a truly Democratic system, indeed………….

  • MainlandUlsterman

    or vote for parties who oppose it – there are some

  • MainlandUlsterman

    can I sue them for all the hours I’ve had to spend arguing with their apologists on Slugger?

  • David Crookes

    Many thanks, Nevin. You haven’t understood what I’ve been gasping about, and you’ve no idea how much some of us have actually got out. In your spectative place, I should make my ‘picture’ into a book and have it printed by a respectable academic publisher. But that’s only what I should do.

  • David Crookes

    Bless you, Seaan, but be careful with irony, because not everyone gets it. In some ways the Post Scriptum of the book (pages 315-318) represents the most devastating part of the author’s tale.

  • Zeno

    There were found guilty and then acquitted on a technicality. I don’t think we can go back to presuming they were innocent in the real world.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Certainly I’ve occasionally found others on Slugger taking some of what I’ve said entirely at face value, David. However, I find that I naturally fall in behind Jane Austen in the queue to register opinions, and alas, I find I can do no other, although in this case Jane has quite correctly chided me herself for engaging in such leaden sarcasm……..

    I will put down Adrian McKinty’s detective fiction for a while and check the book out myself.

  • Zeno

    Who opposes it and what are they doing about it? I would imagine that the will of the people is not to pay huge amounts of compensation to terrorists yet the will of the people is ignored. What next? Compo for the Shankill Butchers or the Greysteel murder gang?

  • aquifer

    But these young men, god have mercy on their souls, signed up for a self-styled “army”, and all that kill or be killed stuff. An “army” that did not pay much attention to the Geneva conventions. Is the manner of their departure any more squalid than having their entrails scattered by explosive shells?

    The responsibility for all this rests with militant Irish separatists, who decided that the republican disciplines of non-violent direct action were not fast and effective enough for them, thought at the time they seemed to be working, with the case for civil rights rapidly conceded with the support of british parliamentarians.

    The Catholic and conservative Provos thought that they knew better than the Official IRA socialists, and could successfully prosecute a sectarian war of seccession with the help of Brit haters everywhere.

    Morally they deserved to lose, but mercy awarded them a draw.

    There are often differences between justice and the law.

  • Jack Stone

    So the rule of law applies equally to everyone unless they are accused of Terrorism? (or just Republicans accused of Terrorism?)

    Also too bad the Provos who executed Paddy Joe Kerr on the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral didn’t know that they were only supposed to kill Protestants … Seems if that were the case than many people like Michael Cassidy, Magistrate Thomas Travers and Hugh McCormac wouldn’t have been targeted because they were Catholic?

    Now, that is not to say that members of the Provisional IRA haven’t been guilty of sectarian attacks, it does call into question the definition of a “sectarian war” when the IRA targeted members of both sects.

  • Gingray

    For all you people who want to remain part of the UK – this is what the British Government and Army thinks of you. Happy to run agents in senior positions within the assorted terrorist groupings which did less to stop the conflict and more to stop it reaching GB.

    Very few in England gave a damn about a dead Paddy on the streets of Belfast. Some Brits will always be more equal than others.

  • Nevin

    As ‘spectative’ has disappeared into the realms of obscurity, David, perhaps I can be excused if I’ve misunderstood your ‘shock and awe’ reaction.

    I don’t know how much Robert Ramsay got out but he doesn’t appear to have been impressed [2004] by the actions of MI6:

    Second, the lesson of Northern Ireland is that “dealing” with terrorists eventually undermines the moderates. I write as a former Principal Private Secretary in the Northern Ireland Office. The political communities there are now polarised as never before and no amount of hype and spin can disguise that uncomfortable fact.

    The original mistake was made by William Whitelaw, on the advice of the intelligence colleagues of Mr Crooke. Once he allowed covert contacts, and met the terrorist leaders himself, Sinn Fein/IRA knew that the Government would at some point do a deal with them – and that the more pain inflicted by the bombers and gunmen, the keener the Government would be to buy them off.

  • David Crookes

    Thanks, Nevin. I contributed to the present thread so as to direct the attention of readers to an interesting book, and not so as to generate a jejune game of shove-ha’penny. Please allow me to stop there. People who want to know what an author thinks will read his book.

  • Zeno

    So it wasn’t a sectarian war but both sides carried out sectarian attacks as some sort of sideline?

  • Zeno

    Republicans good Unionists bad………… just type that every time and it’ll save you a lot of time.

  • Jack Stone

    I would define it as a primarily political insurrection. It isn’t a war, rather a rebellion or even the nurtured term “Conflict”. it was not a sectarian religious conflict. You could try to define Irish Republicanism as ethnonationalism but, historically, there is a religious plurality within Irish Nationalism and, to a lesser extent, British Imperialism. Irish Nationalism does not, in and of itself, require a common faith (unlike membership in a group like the Orange Order).

    That is not to say that some groups (like some Loyalist paramilitaries) or members (within the PIRA) held an ethnic nationalist viewpont but rather the aims of the conflict as a whole was primarily a political outcome.

  • Nevin

    Sure, David. Just a final thought: that snippet I’ve quoted also tells you what the author thought and may well be more relevant than a blend of fact and fiction.

  • Zeno

    You know what we really need ? Some English bloke trying to drag us back 93 years when the vast vast majority of us have moved on.

  • Zeno

    I can’t remember who it was, but did a well known IRA not complain about the sectarian attitudes of the Belfast IRA? Possibly the same person also complained about the lack of Republicans in the IRA.
    I know Belfast well and a very large number of attacks by both sides were tit for tat. In Belfast it was a sectarian slaughter. The noble values of Republicanism didn’t come into it.

  • Zeno

    Sorry…….

    You know what we really need ? Some bloke who is confused about who he is trying to drag us back 93 years when the vast vast majority of us have moved on.

    By the way I’n not a Unionist. I’m one of the huge majority who are neither.

  • Alan N/Ards

    I’ve been watching a programme (Nurses on the Frontline – BBC NI) for the last forty minutes. It’s about a group of nurses who were working at the start of the troubles. Take a look on IPlayer. If you look at it, come back and tell us if you think that there were good terrorists and bad terrorists.

    One of the stories is about the no warning bomb which devastated the Abercorn, in Belfast city centre, in 1972. A family friend was in it. A totally, decent Christian guy. He has spent the last 43 years in pain. This bombing like many others, was done in the name of Ireland and freedom. You may think that he deserved it because he is a unionist and the provos were justified in doing it, but you are in a minority.

    Once again somebody gets Craig’s speech totally wrong. ” a Protestant parliament for a protestant people”.

    Here’s what he said in the parliament: “Hon. Members must remember that in the South they boasted of a Catholic state.
    They still boast of Southern Ireland being a Catholic state.
    All I boast of is that we are a protestant Parliament and a protestant State.”
    This speech was in response to de Valera. The great leader of the South who wouldn’t have a Protestant librarian about him. That same person said that he was catholic first, and that Ireland was a catholic nation.

  • Zeno

    Who am I? I’m in the majority. 23% describe themselves as Nationalist. 28% describe themselves as Unionist. I’m in the 49+% who are the biggest group. You’re some guy who has never lived here and never seen the horror that the “Freedom Fighters” inflict on men women and children. You get you’re “knowledge” from Wikipedia. You know nothing about us, yet you spout your wisdom. You obviously have a little thing going for the IRA. If you were a different persuasion , you would have the same little thing for the loyalist paramilitaries.

  • Zeno

    Wiki is just great for you Guys.
    Who murdered the most men women and children from 1969 to the end of the sectarian squabble?

  • Jack Stone

    Really? So you do realize that the commander of B Company of the Provisional IRA Belfast Brigade grew up Protestant (I don’t know if he was still practicing or what he identifies with now) right? The guy who was, for a time, Chief of Staff of the Provisional Irish Republican Army with a seat on the Army Council? You do know that the only person charged with aiding and abetting the killing of Jean McConville and of IRA membership came from a Protestant background? Ivor Bell’s family wasn’t Catholic. His Grandfather was a strict Protestant. Another i read about recently was David Russell, He was an 18 yr old IRA volunteer who was killed when a bomb detonated prematurely in Derry in 1975. He was a Protestant. And if we look at the larger conflict and include groups like the INLA, It’s leader for a time was Ronnie Bunting who came from a prominent Protestant family. While it wasn’t a huge number, to describe the entire conflict as a “sectarian slaughter” I believe is wrong. Are you disputing that the IRA targeted Catholics? Are you disputing that both the INLA and the PIRA had members of Protestant backgrounds? If that is true, then the conflict itself could not be considered purely sectarian (Due to those members not being part of the sect and the groups targeting members of it’s own sect). It is hard to wrap your head around, I understand. What helped me grasp it was I wrote a paper comparing the IRAs to the Haganah, Irgun and Stern Gang. One grouping is clearly sectarian while the other is not.

  • Hexenductionhour

    “well neigh impossible”

    Straight from the horse’s mouth…

  • Hexenductionhour

    You’ve named a handful of protestants involved in Republican activity. That’s all accurate and correct. It doesn’t mean there weren’t sectarian “tit-for-tat” killings during the troubles.

  • Zeno

    “Given the complete and total inability of the people who live in Northern Ireland to behave in a civilized and decent manner with one another in the same way that people living in England, Scotland, …………………”

    Again you are exposing your ignorance. Almost all of us do get on and live together quite happily.

  • Zeno

    “Of course you do, it’s all just a total misconception on the part of the rest of us.”

    Exactly.Your impression of what life is like living in Northern Ireland bears no resemblance to reality. It’s like judging London by what happens in Peckham or Brixton. Northern Ireland is a great place to live.

  • Jack Stone

    If you read the entire thread, that isn’t what I said. If you read the posts, Zeno said “In Belfast it was a sectarian slaughter. The noble values of Republicanism didn’t come into it.” so I pointed out that one of the leaders of the Belfast Brigade (according to Brendan Hugues) came from a Protestant background. My point was that the Troubles were primarily a political conflict and that the aims of the Provisional IRA were primarily political in nature. Earlier in the thread, I highlighted that members of the PIRA were involved in sectarian attacks but It was not primarily sectarian because The IRA and the INLA recruited and targeted people of both sects.