23 December 2005

Whatever you believe, believe nothing

Daily Ireland

GEARÓID Ó CAIREALLáIN

If I had been a British spy for over 20 years, I would have been loathe to take the chance that my former comrades had really and truly forsaken the sort of activity for which they had previously been renowned vis a vis dealing with informers.

The one thing I cannot understand about the Denis Donaldson saga is why did he run to Sinn Féin in the end?
If we are to believe that Denis Donaldson was a British spy who, for over 20 years of his life, grafted consistently to thwart the Republican project and advance the British cause in Ireland by touting whatever information he could to his British paymasters, why did he throw himself at the mercy of those he had betrayed when he was unmasked?
Murky is not the word for all this. Dark and dangerous barely convey the half of it either so, like everyone else, I am flaying around in the abyss of ignorance here. But let’s say that Donaldson was a British spy. I think we can all agree on that.
I believe he was outed in the hope that the IRA would kill him, thereby causing a crisis in the peace process, given that Gerry Adams and the IRA told us last July that all such activity had ceased.
Or else he would go to ground and his family would mysteriously disappear from West Belfast, allowing the PSNI to advance their thesis that his life was under threat. Under threat from whom? The IRA, of course. The PSNI, apparently, did tell Donaldson that he was about to be revealed as an informer and that his life was under threat. Why did they even bother to tell him?
Because Gerry Adams and the IRA told us last July that all such activity had ceased. So if someone’s life was under threat from the IRA, even if that someone was a long term and committed informer, bang goes the dump arms order and the new scenario heralded so boldly by last July’s IRA statement. Holding threats is part of the activity that we were told had ceased.
If I had been a British spy for over 20 years, I would have been loathe to take the chance that my former comrades had really and truly forsaken the sort of activity for which they had previously been renowned vis a vis dealing with informers.
When Freddie Scapaticci was outed he also ran into the embrace of former comrades in Sinn Féin. But Scap denied all accusations of touting at first. He held his press conference and appealed to our sense of outrage and decency because he was originally hoping to deny all and brazen it out.
Whenever it became obvious that he had indeed been an informer then he disappeared. I suppose as the reputed former head of the IRA’s nutting squad he knew only too well that taking a chance with these people – even in times of ceasefire – could prove to be both foolhardy and hazardous. So why did Denis not cut and run?
Is there any chance that Denis Donaldson had already been turned by the IRA and that during his time as an informer for the British within the Republican movement he was actually acting as an agent for the IRA and Sinn Féin? Was he passing on information that the IRA and Sinn Féin wanted the British to have. No, I don’t know either, and it does sound more than a little fantastical. But the only way to deal with all this spooks and spies stuff is to think outside the loop.
Going to Sinn Féin following his outing was a pro-Sinn Féin act. It helped the Republican position and tended against the British, who would much preferred to have been able to point to his dead body found in a ditch along the border or his disappearance as proof that the IRA have not gone away, you know. So why would Donaldson choose to help those whom he had betrayed?
Perhaps a note of reconciliation, perhaps a deal was done to allow his family remain in West Belfast and he quietly slip away. Or perhaps he had been previously turned and was really working for the Republicans during the time that the British thought he was touting on their behalf. Or perhaps not.
There really seems to be only one of two possible scenarios likely. On the one hand, perhaps Denis relished working for the British over all those years because he just hated what the Republican movement were trying to achieve.
Or could he have been a reluctant spy to begin with? What if the Brits had caught him, I don’t know, having it off with another woman, or another man, or something like that. And they told him to forget if he could just confirm that a particular car was seen in the Short Strand area last week. Or if he was to stick this phone number in his pocket, and just give Trev a ring next Friday. Or whatever.
Because as soon as he would have done something small and inconsequential like that, then he was in.
The next time they requested information it would be under threat of telling the IRA that he was a tout.
Could he have cut a deal with the IRA to tout for them in order to save his life?
Following the outing of Freddie Scapaticci the Brits put out the names of two other stalwart Republicans who they claimed to have been informers. People made up their own minds. Already one of those two and a third man – a senior Sinn Féin figure in Belfast – are being mentioned as touts this time around. People will make up their own minds.
Whatever the truth of the matter, it seems to me that the purpose behind it all is to counter the strength of Sinn Féin and to stymie their advancing support among the voters North and South. And the best way for Sinn Féin to fight back is to increase support at the polls and take up positions of power in government North and South.
But this business in based upon lies and deceit. Its modus operandi depends upon lies and deceit and making people believe they know the truth when in fact they are hearing only lies and deceit.
Newspapers, television and radio are the perfect media for spreading lies and deceit, because we tend to believe most of what we are exposed to in the media.
But don’t believe it, don’t believe a word. Whatever you believe, believe nothing and you won’t go far wrong.
Agus Nollaig Shona daoibh go léir…

Comments:
Interesting article, but mindreading is always a bogus evidence-gathering exercise - and a very poor substitute for the missing information. Donaldson, a classic sociopath, wouldn't even know why he acted as he did. That aside, you answered your own question:

Your question: "The one thing I cannot understand about the Denis Donaldson saga is why did he run to Sinn Féin in the end?"

Your answer: "I believe he was outed in the hope that the IRA would kill him..."

The likely reason why he ran "to Sinn Féin in the end" was to seek assurances that the IRA wouldn't "kill him." Who do you think wrote that confession he broadcast? The "I was paid money" add-on was a nice touch. He was savvy enough to grasp that he had propaganda value to Sinn Féin; and that putting himself into the public spotlight in that spectacular manner would be his guarantee that he and his family would be safe from sanctioned and non-sanctioned, lethal and non-lethal, paramilitary justice/outrage.
 
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