11 December 2005

PSNI muscle used in coup d’état: the same old story…

Daily Ireland

BY Gearoid O Caireallain

I had just finished watching the television news reports when a colleague from Galway rang.
He was in a quandary over the RUC raids on Sinn Féin offices at Stormont, the allegations that the IRA had been caught in the middle of the biggest political spying operation since Tinker Tailor, and the arrests of two Sinn Féin workers – one of whom was a former prisoner and current head of the party’s operation at the seat of government.
Because my bemused friend had worked in Belfast and knew the lay of the land here, punters were looking to him to explain what was going on.
On the face of it, the Provos had got nabbed red-handed, Sinn Féin were in the thick of it, all this take about going political was just baloney, there was no difference between the party and the volunteers, Sinn Féin/IRA, Trimble was right all along, Paisley was right all along, it’s all just a big conspiracy, they never meant a word of the Good Friday Agreement and the unionists had no choice but to pull out and let those lying, republican so and sos stew in their own fat.
So I advised him to look again, closer this time. There may have been 100 Land Rovers roaring up past Carson’s statue, they may have confiscated computers and disks and a million pieces of paper. They may even have raided houses all over the place and taken suspects in for questioning, but what was their evidence?
Nothing, I said. The only conspiracy here is the one that the police themselves are taking part in, aimed at discrediting Sinn Féin and stalling, yet again, the progress towards equality and justice that the party has been spearheading.
Okay, he retorted. But what about the two boyos they have lifted? What are they going to do, just let them out again on the QT when no one is looking?
Well… yes, I replied.
As it turned out, Stormontgate stormed in the media for weeks, months, even. The unionists walked out and the political institutions were collapsed by the British government for the third time. Over three years later they still have not been recalled, with the Assembly and the power-sharing Executive lying idle and the political institutions in the North of Ireland once again run by absentee overlords.
And what was the cause of it all? Not a master spy operation, anyway. Not political espionage.
The PSNI yesterday were still insisting that the IRA were involved in all this John Le Carré stuff but, despite all the arrests, the raids and the confiscations of documents, their investigation has come to what it was always going to come to: nothing.
‘Stormontgate’ was more than a conspiracy, it was a coup d’état. Elements within the British security services, operating on behalf of, and in conjunction with unionist and pro-British elements within the political and civil service sectors, and with the strong arm of PSNI muscle, conspired to bring the government of the North of Ireland down, and they succeeded.
Their aim was to give Trimble an excuse to walk out and to have the political institutions here set aside, and the British government – functioning as usual as the behest of the unionists – were happy to oblige. As this column has pointed out on numerous occasions, a majority of unionists would prefer to languish under direct rule than to have to share power with Sinn Féin.
There is, of course, no chance of getting an official inquiry set up into Stormontgate. The PSNI stated that they acted on foot of allegations that the IRA were engaged on a spying mission.
Who made those allegations? What were the nature of those allegations? What evidence was presented to convince Hugh Orde that the allegations should have been acted upon as they were?
There is no chance of getting a public inquiry into ‘Stormontgate’ and even if one was set up, it would probably last ten years, cost €20 million and tell us nothing in the wind up.
Ciarán Kearney was right on Thursday when he said that it is of the utmost importance that the police can never be used again for political purposes. What kind of society would we have if the police force was at the beck and call of politicians and warlords every time they decided that the government should be brought down?
Well, actually the answer to that one is simple enough – the kind of society that existed in the six counties since the formation of the state.
We might get at the truth when the responsibilities of justice and policing are devolved from the British overlords to local, Irish politicians. When elected representatives can walk into the vaults of their own departments and instruct the civil servants – including the police – to show them the documentation, the memos, the instructions and the orders that led to the ‘Stormontgate’ raids, then we might get at the truth.
When our own people can sit down with representatives from Daily Ireland and other media and piece together the timeline of events that resulted in the collapse of government, then we might get to the truth.
When elected representatives from the Falls Road and Crossmaglen, from south Derry and west Tyrone, when the elected representatives of the oppressed are actually in charge of the police service, then we may well be able to make sure that political policing in the North of Ireland becomes a thing of the past.
‘Stormontgate’ is now over, but the team behind it is still alive and kicking. Well alive and kicking.
The startling similarities between ‘Stormontgate’ and the investigation into the Northern Bank robbery are there for all to see. Yet again the PSNI declared the IRA to be the guilty party. Yet again they have conducted raids and carried out arrests and confiscated computers and documents to back their case up.
Again the amount of actual hard evidence amassed amounted to diddly squat.
For almost a year now, the PSNI have been spearheading the campaign to hinder the progress of Sinn Féin.
The Irish government and various pro-unionist elements in the North are on the bandwagon and laughing their heads off.
No one could be expected to do business with bank robbers. Sinn Féin are not fit for government.
How long do you think it will be before all charges against everyone held arising out of the Northern Bank heist will be dropped?
Dropped quietly, dropped suddenly, and dropped after the damage has been done…

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