18 December 2005

Serving the agenda of two masters


(Anthony McIntyre, Irish News)

Denis Donaldson was a stalwart defender of the peace process. Closer to the Sinn Féin leadership think tank than Freddie Scappaticci aka Stakeknife – very close in fact – Donaldson was never slow to berate those who dissented from the leadership.

While in Maghaberry on remand as a result of Stormontgate, both as a leading Sinn Féin activist and a long- term British agent (the difference is sometimes blurred) a Real IRA prisoner offered him Ed Moloney's book A Secret History of the IRA.

Donaldson reacted as if he had been scalded, declined to take the book, muttering that it was unhelpful to the peace process and that it undermined the credibility of the Sinn Féin leadership.

A number of months ago as I walked my young daughter into her school, Donaldson looked at me with something close to hatred.

Seemingly, I too was not helpful to the peace process.

Frequently, Donaldson would seek to demonise me and vilify my writing on the grounds that it was disloyal to the leadership.

With him as part of that leadership I shall proudly wear my disloyalty like a badge of honour.

And part of that leadership he was.

Early in the peace process and shortly after he was sent out to take charge of the party's New York operation, he began to undermine anyone thinking along traditional republican lines.

Martin Galvin became a casualty in that exercise. According to Galvin, the orders from the Sinn Féin leadership in Belfast were that all vestiges of the old order be purged and replaced with others who would be acceptable to the US political class.

Sinn Féin in New York was to be such in name only.

Operationally, under the guidance of Donaldson, it was to function much the same as Fianna Fail.

Whether in south Down or Antrim town, the role of Donaldson as leadership enforcer remained as it was in New York. Any republican who asked a question about the strategic direction of the party was removed by him and expelled from the movement. Solid republicans such as Paddy Murray and Martin Cunningham were ambushed by this agent of the British state.

While Donaldson did all of this at the behest of the Sinn Féin leadership, it is inconceivable that his 'securocrat' handlers also did not approve of his activities.

His role was to implement the shared agenda of two masters.

The Sinn Féin leadership, shaken less by the fact that it appears agent-penetrated and more by the revelations of how closely its own agenda and that of the British state overlap, has resorted to abandoning Donaldson in a manner that Scappaticci escaped.

Gerry Adams has sought to construct the fiction that there was no Sinn Féin spy-ring at Stormont; that the only spy-ring there was, in fact, one operated by the British intelligence services.

This would be all very well were it not for the fact that the person operating the same spy-ring happens to be a senior elected Sinn Féin politician.

Scappaticci certainly provided his British handlers with an inordinate amount of information about the same person in a bid to make him more susceptible to "being turned" through blackmail.

Is Mr Adams telling us that this politician is the third 'horseman'?

What a complex web we weave when first we practice to deceive.

It is too early to say that there are sufficient horsemen within the Sinn Féin leadership to make a cavalry regiment.

But, as Oscar Wilde might have said, one tout, Mr Adams, is misfortune, two is carelessness.

December 18, 2005

This article appeared first in the December 17, 2005 edition of the Irish News.

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