11 January 2006

Bizarre events and dirty tricks

Irish Examiner

11/01/06

THE release of Irish and British State papers of 30 years ago points to useful lessons for contemporary Irish politics.

Over the Christmas period there was much speculation about the fall-out from the collapse of the Stormontgate spying case and the outing of the man at the centre of it as a British agent. Some commentators have claimed the proposition that the whole episode was an attempt by elements of special branch and British intelligence to undermine the Good Friday Agreement was not credible because it would need a huge conspiracy between policemen, intelligence agents and prosecutors.

But there are several precedents for such conspiracies, as the State papers reveal.

In 1975, six innocent Irishmen were sentenced to life for the Birmingham pub bombs after ‘confessions’ were beaten out of them and false forensic ‘evidence’ was presented. At a later hearing Britain’s top judge, Lord Denning, said if the appeal was to succeed, it would mean the police were guilty of threats, violence and perjury.

Learned prosecutors and judges were either gullible or dishonest and this was such “an appalling vista” that the men would have to stay in jail, which they did for over 16 years.

Back in the 1970s, allegations of collusion between loyalists and British forces in the killing of Irish citizens was dismissed as paranoid conspiracy theory or republican propaganda.

These murders included bombings in Dublin, Monaghan, Dundalk, Castleblaney and Belturbet, as well as dozens of shootings in the ‘murder triangle.’

Now it has been revealed that British forces and their weapons were used in many of these attacks. Recent books and articles by former RUC and British intelligence members confirm that such collusion had gone on throughout the Troubles and even into this decade.

Perhaps the most relevant example, in the light of current events, is the role of shady agencies in the undermining of the power-sharing executive in 1974 and the IRA ceasefire of 1975/6.

Then the RUC and British army refused to move against loyalist paramilitaries who were blockading streets and workplaces. It was then that the worst ‘sectarian’ killings of the troubles occurred, including the Dublin/Monaghan bombs, the Miami showband massacre and the gun attacks on the Reavy and O’Dowd families, which killed six innocent people whose 30th anniversaries occurred recently.

Peter Wright, former assistant director of MI5, and Colin Wallace, former MI5 agent in the North, both claimed elements of British intelligence were trying to wreck the Sunningdale agreement and Merlyn Rees, who died last week, has said he suspected he was being undermined.

Bertie Ahern described recent events as “bizarre”.

He is correct, but he needs to learn the lessons from 30 years ago and stand up to those who are trying to undermine what the Irish people voted for - the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

Dr Sean Marlow
90 Willow Park Road
Dublin 11

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