19 December 2005

SF: We won’t lie down

Irelandclick.com

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Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness says that his party will not lie down in the face of continuing attempts by the enemies of republicanism to undermine the peace process.

In a wide-ranging response to the revelation that a veteran party member, Aitnamona man Denis Donaldson, had been working for the British as a spy for 20 years, the senior Sinn Féin figure said his party would learn the lessons, face the disappointment and work on.

"This isn't the first time a Brit agent has been uncovered and just like in the other situations we have had to deal with over the years, we pick ourselves up and we obviously learn the lessons and face the disappointment of what has happened over the last while.

"We have huge responsibilities and we have to go on and we intend to go on. The Sinn Féin leadership is not going to lie down."


SF come out fighting
Policing spotlight is now on the British: McGuinness


Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness has come out fighting after the party was rocked by the revelation that its head of administration, West Belfast man Denis Donaldson, has been working for the British for 20 years.

Mr McGuinness said that while republicans were disappointed, it was always the case that their enemies have been working diligently to undermine them.

"Republicans are obviously very disappointed that someone like Denis Donaldson would effectively betray his community and betray republicanism in the way that he did," Mr McGuinness said last night. "I am around the struggle long enough to know that you always have to work on the basis that opponents of the process will continue to beaver away to undermine those who are spearheading the struggle to bring about fundamental change in our society.

"I am also around long enough to know that the vast majority of republicans are good and decent people who under no circumstances would choose to go down the road that Denis Donaldson chose.

"So I am conscious that opponents of the process – and of course there are journalists also who are opponents of the process and we can see some of their contribution over the course of the last couple of days – will continuously try to undermine those of us who work for change within our society.

"This isn't the first time a Brit agent has been uncovered and just like in the other situations we have had to deal with over the years, we pick ourselves up and we obviously learn the lessons and face the disappointment of what has happened over the last while. We have huge responsibilities and we have to go on and we intend to go on. The Sinn Féin leadership is not going to lie down."

Mr McGuinness said that the party faces a battle to ensure that those who are working to bring the peace process to a halt are defeated.

"It’s whether or not we are going to let those people succeed and whether or not we are going to continue with a process that is designed to defeat them and defeat their opposition to change and I am convinced we are going to defeat them. I think that flowing from all of this are a number of situations.

"The British establishment and British Prime Minister in particular have huge questions to answer about the activities of these people and whether or not they are going to bring the activities of these people to a halt. And that's a big challenge, particularly at a time we have seen all of the different pressures being applied to Sinn Féin in terms of the issue of policing in recent times. Thank God we didn't kneejerk like the SDLP did and jump on to the Policing Board. I think they are in a particularly difficult situation, a situation of their own making now.

"But I certainly think that it is quite clear that many questions have to be answered and I am clearly of a view that the British government have to answer many serious questions about this process and the activities of elements within their intelligence services that are hostile to the process and how they are going to be countered.

"Others too are going to have to answer questions about the fact that these intelligence services are effectively trying to run rings around the entire peace process and all of the key players within that process. For example, I listen to Alex Attwood in the aftermath of people in the Short Strand being told that their names were on a list stolen out of Castlereagh by a member of the RIR and handed to loyalist paramilitaries. And I hear Alex Atwood saying he is going to get to the bottom of that. I would very interested to hear the outcome of Alex's deliberations and as a key member of the Policing Board, I will be very interested to see how he intends to deal with that and get answers to these types of questions. That's quite apart from the Stormont affair which many people are now asking very serious questions about – what are these intelligence services, so-called, and Special Branch actually doing vis-à-vis the peace process?"

Turning to widespread weekend reports that other high-placed Sinn Féin agents may be uncovered soon, Mr McGuinness said that it was strange that Sinn Féin had fared so well politically and electorally if it was, as is being claimed, riddled with informers at the highest level.

"You would be very foolish to ignore the possibility that the Brits have got other agents working right through the entire process. I have always worked on the basis that they are trying to recruit people all the time but I do know that within republicanism, for every informer or agent that turned up over the years, there are thousands and thousands of people who aren't and thousands and thousands of people who would never contemplate putting themselves into the type of situation that Denis Donaldson got himself into.

"So from our perspective, what is important to say is that if the British had infiltrated the leadership of republicanism then republicanism wouldn't be as strong as it is today. Republicanism would have been defeated an awful long time ago and I think that clearly shows that these people haven't got the level of infiltration that they would like to have within the leadership of Sinn Féin and generally throughout the organisation.

"The simple message for everyone is very clear. There are hostile forces within the PSNI and others who were probably members of the PSNI and the RUC who are still very close to the PSNI. The sort of people who make speeches at the type of dinner organised by Ian Paisley Jnr in Ballymena who are absolutely dedicated to the destruction of the peace process and the GFA because they believe that if they can destroy that they can set back the day when citizens have equality, rights, justice, freedom and peace."
Mr McGuinness said that events of recent days have turned the spotlight back on to the British in relation to the question of policing.

"It's a very simple scenario, which the British have to deliver on. They have to face the type of challenges that we have had to face and give answers to them in the same fashion we have had to in recent times.

The entire debate around policing in recent times has centred on the efforts that have been made by the British government supported by others to put pressure on Sinn Féin in terms of Sinn Féin delivering on policing. It will be quite clear to most people, it's certainly very clear to us in Sinn Féin as a result of the debates and discussion that we have had with the British government and the need for example of the transfer of power, particularly as a result of the events of recent days – the people who now have to deliver on policing are the British government."


Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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