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SF Tinker, Tailor Their Spy Story



David Adams • Irish Times, 23 December 2005

Early last week, SDLP leader Mark Durkan and senior party colleagues met the British attorney general, Lord Peter Goldsmith, to ask serious questions concerning the sudden collapse of the Stormontgate spy ring case.

After the meeting, the delegation told a waiting media posse that Lord Goldsmith had been emphatic that lack of evidence was not the reason that charges against Denis Donaldson and his two co-accused had been dropped.

For all the difference it made, Durkan and his colleagues might just as well have passed by without saying a word.

Despite the fact that the British attorney general's assertion contradicted everything that Sinn Féin was claiming at the time, it barely got a mention on Northern Ireland television and radio news bulletins. Apart from a few notable exceptions in the print media, most commentators continued to treat seriously, and give virtual blanket coverage to, the republican contention that the dropping of the Stormontgate charges proved beyond any doubt that no spy ring had ever existed. This despite the fact that, even before Goldsmith's intervention, the Sinn Féin claim had already stretched credibility beyond breaking point.

In order for it to be true, a British prime minister, at least a couple of Northern Ireland secretaries of state, a PSNI chief constable, a police ombudsman, a British attorney general, a regional prosecution service and God knows how many associated departmental underlings must all, either through naivety or deliberate intent, have helped to cover the tracks of a group of unidentified British "securocrats" who had maliciously brought down the Stormont executive.

Within a few days of the SDLP claim, and after a reported 36 hours of being "interviewed" by his erstwhile party colleagues, Donaldson publicly confessed to having been a British agent for some 20 years.

Sinn Féin quickly changed tack and, again without much serious questioning, the critical mass of the media sailed in behind.

The republican story now is that Donaldson, at the behest of his British masters but without the knowledge of his party colleagues, did indeed steal sensitive documents - but only so that faceless British securocrats could ensure that Sinn Féin took the blame for bringing down the assembly.

This slight variation on the initial republican claim still depends for veracity on the active and illegal participation, or barely credible gullibility, of a large number of people.

On that point, with an eye to the future and no doubt cautious of destroying a carefully-cultivated relationship, Sinn Féin has been at pains to make clear that they consider Tony Blair to be among the innocently gullible as opposed to having wilfully colluded with his own security services in the destruction of a democratically-elected institution.

The media do not seem interested in giving any real consideration to the full implications of what republicans are alleging. Central to their claim is the charge that many people at the very highest echelons of the United Kingdom's legal, political and policing professions were so driven by a thirst for revenge on Sinn Féin that they were willing to set aside all personal integrity to pursue or conceal an illegal course of action which included the destruction of a democratically-mandated assembly.

Further, that they were prepared to risk reputations, careers and, undoubtedly in some cases, long prison sentences, despite the involvement of so many people in this vast conspiracy, virtually guaranteeing that it would eventually be uncovered. And, finally, that numerous others who had no malicious intent were easily duped into helping these conspirators.

Instead of anything even approaching serious analysis, large sections of the media continue to present this latest republican fiction as something worthy of serious consideration.

Although Donaldson's career as a British agent is now over, he at least continues to be of some use to republicans.

The media are now faithfully reporting Sinn Féin claims that, as part of the ongoing campaign to smear republicans, he (and, of course, his securocrat handlers) concocted the break-in at the Belfast headquarters of the PSNI at Castlereagh in 2002, when hundreds of special branch files were stolen.

What next from Sinn Féin? That Donaldson orchestrated the Northern Bank robbery, set up the "Colombia Three" and stage-managed the murder of Robert McCartney? Many journalists seem to ignore the fact that Sinn Féin have already shown that they are not above abusing the democratic process to collect information and spy on those they consider to be their enemies. In 2002, Dublin Sinn Féin member Niall Bennett was found to be in possession of notes detailing the names, addresses and movements of many politicians in the Republic.

Perhaps, with the help of such a compliant media, republicans might yet be able to shift the blame for that spy ring on to Denis Donaldson and his British paymasters as well.

Reprinted with permission from the author.




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Index: Current Articles

24 December 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

A Perfect Spy
Tom Luby

Anthony McIntyre

Spies and Lies in 2005
Eamon Sweeney

Defeating the Enemy Within
Mick Hall

SF Tinker, Tailor Their Spy Story
David Adams

Language: The Means of Creating Realities
David Kirk

Mebyon Kernow & Cornish Nationalism
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Timetable for Change
Dr John Coulter

CRJ — New Name for the IRA?
Anthony McIntyre

GEM, A Story of Global Exploitation and Misery
Morten Alme

First International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners and POWs
Irish Freedom Committee

Brian Campbell: A Captivating Voice
Anthony McIntyre

25 November 2005

Political Policing
Willie Gallagher

One Sweet Deal for Some, but for The Rest of Us?...
Mick Hall

Who's In Charge Around Here, Anyway?
Eamonn McCann

Playing the Game
Anthony McIntyre

Dr John Coulter

RSF Presidential Address 2005
Ruairi O Bradaigh

To Go On: Irish Travellers meet Academia
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Genius decommissioned while Stupid keeps the guns
Tomas Gorman

Cut Off Aid to Regime in Uganda
David Adams

Sticks and Stones
Anthony McIntyre



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