Crucial court ruling today on Loughinisland report will have a major impact on dealing with the past

Mr Justice McCloskey is due to rule today  on whether the police ombudsman’s  findings of  police collusion in the Loughinisland murders should be quashed. His earlier ruling that the findings  were “ careless, thoughtless and inattentive . . . in . . . language and structuring” and “quite unacceptable by any standard” was greeted with satisfaction by the retired police officers’ association which had brought the action,  but dismay among human rights activists and not least, the Loughinisland  relatives. Belief … Read more

The reception for the Loughinisland documentary No Stone Unturned shows that legacy issues will stay marginalised

The low key reception given to the documentary No Stone Unturned, the film documentary on the UVF  murders  of six  randomly selected Catholics in their local Loughinisland  pub in 1994 which is currently being  given a brief screening at the Queen’s Film Theatre, is the latest example of how presumed familiarity with the underlying problems of  Northern Ireland has produced if not quite contempt, at least widespread deadening  indifference. Warm congratulations nevertheless go to The Detail team especially their reporter … Read more

Moving the IRA to peace: limitations of the agents of influence theory…

There’s a fine line to be walked in judging the influence of largely unaccountable state actors and historic corollaries. Both Mark Devenport and Jen O’Leary today ask the question of whether state agents of influence were critical factors in moving the IRA to peace. The question is easier to ask than to answer. Devenport cites two conflicting academic sources which take opposite views on the matter. He quotes Bew and Frampton and Gurruchaga saying “the role of state actors, intelligence agencies, … Read more

“as head of British intelligence, you would be derelict in your duty if you did not do everything in your power to assist that process…”

Via the Pensive Quill.  In this transcript of a discussion on Radio Free Éireann in New York, with John McDonagh (JM) and Martin Galvin (MG), veteran journalist Ed Moloney (EM) has some “stupid” questions for the leadership of Sinn Féin, British Intelligence Services, and the local media.  From the transcript EM: There’s a whole untold story of the peace process in the latter years of the IRA’s existence in relation to the influence of British intelligence – to what extent that was … Read more

Nigel Dodds Calls For The Truth Over Shankill Bombing

In a statement regarding Allison Morris’s Irish News story of prior police knowledge and inaction of the Shankill bombing, Nigel Dodds MP, DUP deputy leader, said: “The mass sectarian murder of the Shankill Bomb was one of the most heinous acts perpetrated by the Provisional IRA. It was a premeditated slaughter of innocents, an event that stands out amongst the PIRA’s more than 1800 bloody murders. Recent newspaper claims have refocused attention on this horrific act. Some of what has … Read more

After RTE’s Prime Time on collusion, will the Irish government dare to put pressure on the British?

One of the frustrations of the TV market in these multichannel days is that we’re a long way from “open skies” broadcasting for viewing on demand. This applies to BBCi Player if you live in the Republic and the RTE Player if you live as I do in Britain. This means I don’t get to see the RTE Prime Time documentary on Collusion.  People in the Republic are much more likely to access the two BBC documentaries on Britain’s Secret … Read more

Stakeknife is in the Police Ombudsman’s frame, but has he the tools to do the job?

One of the casualties of the failure to implement the Stormont House Agreement is I presume, the extra £150 million due to have been allocated over five years for dealing with the past. Although I know of no details of how the funding was to be shared out, some of it would have been apportioned to the Police Ombudsman, an office whose reputation has been revived by the redoubtable Dr Michael Maguire.  He issued a warning last year of the consequences of budget … Read more

O’Loan calls Stormont House Agreement ” an insult” as Labour promises a Pat Finucane inquiry

Amnesty International are not alone in finding the resources allocated in the Stormont house Agreement inadequate for dealing with the past. At a meeting of RightsWatch  in Westminster last night,  the first Police Ombudsman  Baroness Nuala O’Loan  was scathing, describing the allocation of £150 million over 5 years to deal with all the issues of the past, as “a joke and an insult to the people of Northern Ireland.” The Historical Investigations Unit was “totally inadequate”.  She also said Attorney … Read more

Martina Anderson: The days of the British State granting impunity to its own are coming to an end

Following on from a conference organised by the University of Ulster on victims and dealing with the past, Sinn Fein’s MEP, Martina Anderson writes for Slugger arguing for a new focus on the British states involvement in the Troubles and how it deals with victims. On the 27th and 28th Feb 2014 I invited a delegation of victims of state violence to Brussels to discuss with MEPs the impact of state collusion under the heading ‘Britain’s Dirty War in Ireland’. The deep … Read more

NI Police Ombudsman: “It’s very easy to raise allegations – I think the important thing is whether there is any evidence behind it”

Having investigated a complaint from the Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams – following newspapers reports in 2006 which alleged that members of the RUC knew of a 1984 UDA gun attack on Adams in advance, or were themselves involved – the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman, Michael Maguire, has published his conclusions. Dr Maguire has said he has found no evidence that police knew of, or were involved in away way, in the attack on Mr Adams: “We have talked to all the people involved in the events … Read more

Smithwick debate: “it calls into question Sinn Féin’s professed commitment to open and transparent truth-telling”

A  minor detail from yesterday’s debate on the Smithwick Tribunal worth rescuing from the NI’s political press spike. It’s the SDLP’s Patsy McGlone speaking in favour of his party’s amendment (defeated BTW) : Sinn Féin is alone in its denial of the findings of the Smithwick tribunal, but that denial echoes the denials of those who have rejected findings of collusion in the North by elements of the RUC, the UDR, and the British Army and its agencies.  There are many victims of collusion, … Read more

Judge Smithwick finds there was indirect evidence of collusion between Garda(i) and the IRA

So, Judge Smithwick resisted any political pressures to wind up his inquiry early. The BBC provide a summary of his conclusions: Collusion: Peter Smithwick said that while there had been no “smoking gun” he was “satisfied” that there had been collusion by one or more Garda officers in the murders Former garda sergeant Owen Corrigan: “I also find that what may have started out as a professional relationship with subversives for the legitimate purpose of intelligence-gathering ultimately developed into a … Read more

A touch of state collusion with the Provisionals for the greater good?

Useful insight from Ed Moloney who discloses one of no doubt many secrets of the clandestine peace process. This one concerns the late Father Alec Reid, on the day the two corporals were murdered at Casement Park, and an interesting take on the collusion of the state in the ‘interests of the peace process’: Knowing that the police would want to question him and that he if told the truth and identified the soldiers’ assailants his usefulness as an intermediary … Read more

#Panorama to show absence of very good tools to critique the state

Tonight’s BBC Panorama programme will detail allegations about the operation of the Military Reaction Force, or MRF, and how it killed unarmed civilians as part of its work up until 1973. The programme has identified ten unarmed civilians it believes were shot by MRF members operating undercover. It also will include a claim that a Ministry of Defence review concluded that the MRF had “no provision for detailed command and control”. As with so much reportage about ‘the past’, they aren’t particularly new … Read more

#Lethal Allies: this is not collusion.

This is much worse. The publication of Ann Cadwalladers Lethal Allies last month by Mercier Press was always going to have a relatively predictable reception. In many ways, nationalists and republicans have largely accepted that there was participation by members of the security forces in providing intelligence, weapons and targeting information to loyalist/unionist paramilitary groups from the late-1960s onwards. In some cases, it was even clear that either officially or unofficially, security force members and agents being run by the security services directly … Read more

Westminster not Stormont has the power to answer the collusion charges and should use it

When Alastair Campbell issues a warning people should sit up and take notice, even today. You do get this sense across the spectrum that it is not a priority. They have got to be careful about that. “[John] Major made it a priority, Blair made it an absolute priority. He was like a dog with a bone. I do get a sense that it is not on the current government’s radar. British policy on Northern Ireland is to stay as … Read more

The Glenanne story proves the time for frank admissions is overdue: further prevarication over collusion implies Briitsh government cover-up

Like most of the atrocities of the Troubles the story of the Glenanne gang isn’t unfamiliar  Suzanne Breen for one gave a detailed account of the 1976 Kingmills and Reavey brothers  massacres in January 2011 based it would seem on  “ imminent” HET reports. Of the Reavey murders she stated as a matter of established  fact: The attack was carried out by the UVF’s infamous Glenanne gang, which operated in a murder triangle between south Armagh and mid-Ulster. Made up of … Read more

Collusion: Whitey Bulger and the FBI’s international trade off for domestic information

Fascinating piece by Ed Moloney on Whitey Bulger, an Irish Boston gangster who was ‘turned’ by the FBI relatively early in his long career of domestic crime, was later allowed a little international sideline: In 1975, Bulger agreed to become an FBI informer and was largely left alone by the authorities, who were mostly interested in what he knew about rival Mafia gangs. In 1994, his FBI handler tipped him off about an impending indictment and he fled Boston. For … Read more

Finucane: facts we need to know updated

    In the light of David Cameron’s statement, to keep my head above water in the flood of information and angry comment   I itemise questions of fact I‘d like to keep sight of. Perhaps others can add to them.   Update I intend to add to the list myself as I plough through the review and  review comment. I’ll add  convincing answers as they emerge. The Q&A will not all be about new material but will also  include matters which deserve repetition … Read more

De Silva report reveals that 85% of UDA intelligence in late 70s sourced in state material.

Cameron’s just delivered the headline findings of the Finucane inquiry. Some of it is frankly, shocking. The details of the killing itself is less shocking (only because we’ve become so familiar) than some of the wider contextual information. The thing that stunned me was the fact that 85% of the intelligence held by the UDA in the 1970s was sourced within the state and that de Silva is “satisfied that this proportion would have remained largely unchanged” by the time … Read more