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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Whatever Happened to... 'er, You Know... Whatshisname?

Tom Luby • 2 October 2005

Call me a party pooper if you like but watching the back and forth between the Brits and the Provos recently I was struck by an intriguing thought. In return for its July 28th statement promising to be peaceful democrats from now on and then decommissioning its guns, the IRA and Sinn Fein leadership got all sorts of goodies in return from Tony Blair. But there was one big item missing. Why, I wondered?

The scrapping of the Royal Irish Regiment, a free hand to defraud the electoral register, the dismantling of British Army observation posts in South Armagh and West Belfast were all there in the list. So too, by the absence of any message to the contrary, was perhaps the sweetest sweetener of all - the IRA could keep the twenty-six million quid it stole from the Northern Bank.

But where was the Pat Finucane inquiry? Whatever happened to the Republican demand that this seamy example of British collusion with Loyalist killer gangs be exposed to the healthy light of proper public scrutiny?

Now Luby may be jumping the gun here and there is a part of the deal between P O'Neill and Downing Street yet to be announced and that a British promise not to gag the Finucane inquiry will be in it. But if it is then it is being kept as tightly guarded a secret as the methods used by General de Chastelain to put the IRA's Semtex beyond use.

Now if I was Gerry Adams and I had managed to screw a proper inquiry into the Finucane killing out of Tony Blair and had, in the process, delivered a sharp kick between the legs to all those nasty securocrats in MI5 and British Military Intelligence, I wouldn't be slow in making sure that my people knew all about it. Especially if I was about to decommission all those piles of AK-47's and heavy machine-guns that I'd told them I would never, ever, ever, ever let go.

But there hasn't been a peep out the Great Bearded One, nor from any of the legion of spin-doctors who faithfully churn out the party message week after week in places like The Irish News, Andytown News and Daily Ireland. Not a peep.

In such circumstances it is difficult not to conclude that the reason they are all so quiet is that there is no deal on the Finucane inquiry and that if there ever is a tribunal it will be the truncated and emasculated one which suits MI5 and all the spooks who were party to the recruitment and deployment of Brian Nelson, the UDA intelligence chief and double agent.

Now call me a party pooper if you like but why do I have a nasty suspicion that this suits not just British Intelligence but also our friend P O'Neill and his colleagues?

Well one reason is explained by some of those who are involved in the campaign to expose the truth about Pat Finucane's killing. These people say that if you want something done, say pressure put on this or that bureaucrat to meet someone, then you are wasting your time asking Sinn Fein to do it. Far better, they say, to go to the SDLP. Sinn Fein's rhetoric about Pat Finucane is as strong and stirring as anybody's but their delivery....well it just isn't there when it should be.

Another reason why the dark thought occurs is because of some interesting coincidences and inconsistencies that crop up in the story of Brian Nelson and his role as a double agent.

The first is that the Force Research Unit (FRU) which, with MI5's assistance, recruited him and then propelled him speedily upwards to the top of the UDA intelligence tree brought him back from Germany to Belfast in 1987 to begin his work. That just happened to be the year in which Gerry Adams began reaching out secretly to the British and Irish governments with startling proposals, put together with senior Catholic Church clerics, for a peace process that bore a striking resemblance to the peace process that actually took place a few years later.

The public was given two stories to explain why British Intelligence had recruited Brian Nelson and neither added up. One was that Nelson and 'D' Coy of the UDA, armed with all the intelligence on the Provos sitting in FRU and MI5 filing cabinets, would cut a swathe through the IRA's upper reaches in a campaign of devastatingly accurate assassination.

Well the track record shows something very different, if also depressingly and squalidly familiar. Instead of targetting IRA leadership figures, Nelson and the UDA settled for mostly ordinary Catholics, only some of whom - as many working class Belfast Catholics do - had family links to the IRA or INLA. Indeed the killing of Pat Finucane, a high profile defence lawyer specialising in IRA clients who had brothers in the Belfast and national leadership of the IRA was the only Nelson-FRU operation that came near a top target.

The other explanation for Nelson's recruitment, given by the FRU CO, Colonel 'J' at Nelson's trial, was that his job was to save lives. Well that doesn't stack up either. Col 'J' claimed scores of people had been saved by Nelson's information but the various inquiries into collusion have concluded that in actual fact only two people can thank Brian Nelson for saving their lives. The identity of those two may give a clue as to why a beefed up Finucane inquiry was noticably absent from the list of recent British concessions to the Provos.

One of those spared was Freddie Scappaticci the now notorious double agent who worked inside the Provos' spycatcher unity, the Security Department. When Brian Nelson told his handlers that one of their most precious assets had been targetted they discreetly steered him and the UDA away from Scap and towards a hapless and elderly ex-IRA man, Francis Notarantonio (a coincidence that he also was of Italian background?) who was duly shot dead in his bed.

One of the real purposes of the operation then appears to have been the need to get advance knowledge of any UDA plans to bump off valuable spies working for the British inside the IRA. (One can only speculate as to whether a similar arrangement had been contrived inside the UVF)

The other person who lived on thanks to Nelson was Gerry Adams. Now no-one has ever suggested, least of all Luby, that Adams was also an informer but there were very good reasons nonetheless why British intelligence would rather keep him alive than see him dead.

British intelligence must have known about the Adams peace process approach to Secretary of State Tom King. While the British were in two minds about Adams' real intentions it would have been surprising had the spooks in FRU and MI5 not decided that it would be in their interests to see where he was going to go with all this peace stuff - all sorts of interesting and intriguing possibilities might open up.

So when Nelson told his handlers of a UDA plot to kill Adams by planting a limpet mine on the roof of his car - the only non-armoured part of the vehicle - as Adams left the Housing Executive's offices in downtown Belfast the Brits intervened to save him and the limpet mine was discovered in a British Army/RUC raid. Adams lived on to deliver the ceasefires and ultimately full IRA decommissioning.

It is inconceivable that any proper and thorough investigation of Pat Finucane's death and Brian Nelson's role would not only have to explore the Scappaticci affair but also why Adams' life was spared and that of Pat Finucane was not. Remember as well that Finucane's brother would later become a key member of a group of senior Belfast Brigade staff officers, which included OC Brian Gillen, who would oppose Adams' peace strategy.

It is not difficult then to work out why it is not just MI5, the FRU and the rest of British spookdom who want only a castrated inquiry into Pat Finucane's death but also the IRA. The affair also sheds a new and different light on those hoary Sinn Fein allegations of British securocrats working to undo Gerry and the lads. The truth might well be a lot different.



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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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Index: Current Articles

6 October 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

A Bleak Future
Anthony McIntyre

Provos Censor de Chastelain in Bid to Lie About Guns
Tom Luby

Taking Politics Out of the Gun
Brendan O'Neill

Sinn Fein - The Shark's Party
Mick Hall

Live From Hollywood: The IRA Disarms
Harry Browne

Show Us the Money
Dr John Coulter

Doris Dead
Anthony McIntyre

Whatever Happened to... 'er, You Know... Whatshisname?
Tom Luby

The Dirty War Goes On
George Young

Reject All British Institutions
Kevin Murphy

Capitalism Vs Socialism
Liam O Ruairc

Apology to Dr Dion Dennis and CTheory website
Carrie Twomey

27 September 2005

Analysis: Seconds Out — Round 2005
Anthony McIntyre

Reflections: British Victory at Culloden
Anthony McIntyre

Decommissioning Will Reveal Real Problem
Fr. Sean Mc Manus

Inclusive Republicanism
Maire Cullen

Wish List for Unionist Leadership
Dr John Coulter

Sunday World vs. Thugs
Mick Hall

Real and Relative Poverty
David Adams

How the Poor Live and Die
Fred A Wilcox

Poverty — Do You Get It?
Jan Lightfoottlane

Defending Multiculturalism
Anthony McIntyre



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