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December 20, 2005

Blair Considers Revealing Details

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News about Ireland & the Irish

IT 12/20/05 Blair Considers Revealing Details On 'Spy Ring'
BT 12/20/05 Orde: There Was A Spy Ring
SF 12/20/05 Orde Deliberately Misleading On Stormont Raid
UT 12/20/05 Ahern Whole Truth On Spying Will Never Be Known
BT 12/20/05 Former Secretary Of State In No Doubt
IT 12/20/05 Ahern & Blair Plan To Revive NI Institutions
NH 12/20/05 No Objection As Family Return To Belfast
NH 12/20/05 Northern Narnia Full Of Tales Of The Unexpected
GU 12/20/05 Opin: Security Forces Subverted Authority
IT 12/20/05 Opin: More Spies Lurking In SF's Cupboard
BT 12/20/05 Opin: Stormont: A Hall Of Mirrors
II 12/20/05 Opin: Christmas Another Turkey For Sinn Fein
BT 12/28/05 Beach Streak Earns Pair A £150 Penalty
BT 12/28/05 McCartneys Meet Tony Blair
BT 12/28/05 Murdered Man's Father To Meet Hain
BT 12/28/05 Northern Bank Heist: One Year On


Blair Considers Revealing More Details On Collapsed 'Spy Ring' Prosecution

Frank Millar, London Editor

British prime minister Tony Blair has indicated an
apparent willingness to disclose some information about the
circumstances surrounding the collapse of the Stormont "spy
ring" prosecution.

While Northern Secretary Peter Hain yesterday ruled out the
possibility of a public inquiry, Mr Blair told DUP leader
the Rev Ian Paisley he personally thought "it would be
helpful if we were able to give more information" but
stressed it could only be done "if the consent of the
proper authorities is given".

Mr Blair was responding to an intervention by the DUP
leader during his House of Commons statement on the EU
budget deal agreed at the European Council in Brussels at
the weekend.

Dr Paisley spoke of a "tragic situation" developing in
Northern Ireland, regretted the issue could not be debated
on the floor of the Commons, and reminded Mr Blair of his
promise last Wednesday to check whether any additional
information could properly be made available about the
decision not to proceed against the three accused "in the
public interest".

Mr Blair said he was "looking carefully" at the issue to
see what more if anything could be said, again adding that
any disclosures would have to be "within the bounds of what
is legally proper".

At the same time he repeated his assurance to the House
that neither he nor the secretary of state, nor any other
minister, was involved in the decision arrived at by the
independent prosecuting authorities.

© The Irish Times


Orde: There Was A Spy Ring

Seized discs had details of Blair and Bush chat

By Noel McAdam
20 December 2005

PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde today said he had no
doubt a spying operation had been in place in Stormont.

And he confirmed that computer discs seized in the police
operation which led to the fall of the power-sharing
Executive contained details of conversations between Tony
Blair with the US President George Bush and Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern, and other sensitive information.

Speaking on the 'Stormontgate' affair for the first time
since charges were dropped against three men, Sir Hugh also
backed the decision against holding an inquiry into the

And he also made clear he supported the Director of Public
Prosecutions' decision to drop the charges "in the public
interest" against the three men charged, including former
senior Sinn Fein administrator, Denis Donaldson who has
been unmasked as a British spy.

As he prepared to face questioning by the Policing Board's
corporate policy committee today, Mr Orde said: "We have
hundreds of public inquiries in Northern Ireland. I'm not
sure that's going to move the world on."

Sir Hugh confirmed only two computer discs were removed
from a single Sinn Fein office at Stormont during the raid
in October, 2002.

Speaking on the BBC Today programme, he added the initial
search operation in west Belfast discovered hundreds of
pages of documents stolen from Stormont.

"They include deeply sensitive targeting information that
would have been useful to paramilitary groups - targeting
of prison officers, police officers, politicians, civil
servants, but also sensitive information relating to the
Prime Minister's conversations (and) minutes of meetings
with other political parties. That is what we discovered.
It exists. I have it in my possession as we speak."

His comments came as the SDLP accused Sinn Fein and British
officials of a "cover-up" and unionists continued to demand
a full inquiry.

Former Secretary of State Paul Murphy also said today he
had no doubts there was an IRA spy ring.


Orde Deliberately Misleading On Stormont Raid

Published: 20 December, 2005

Sinn Féin Assembly member Gerry Kelly today accused the
Chief Constable Hugh Orde of being deliberately misleading
in his comments concerning the British spy ring at

Mr Kelly said:

"In a number of media interviews this morning the Chief
Constable Hugh Orde has attempted to justify the Special
Branch operation which led to the collapse of the
democratically elected institutions. His primary defence
appears to be the allegation that the PSNI recovered
documents from a house in West Belfast.

"What Hugh Orde neglects to tell the public is that the
documents were recovered from the home of Special Branch
Agent Denis Donaldson. Denis Donaldson was at the heart of
a British spy ring and a securocrat conspiracy which
brought down the elected government. He was not acting on
behalf of republicans or our peace process agenda. He was
at all times working to the agenda set by the British State
who employed him.

"It is clear that the British State agencies who mounted
this entire operation knew that there was no value other
than political theatre to raid the Sinn Féin offices in
Stormont. No documents or evidence were recovered in that
raid. The two disks taken at random and removed were
returned to the party within days. Hugh Orde is unable to
justify the raid on Stormont because it was unjustifiable.
It was politically motivated and intended to

cause maximum political damage, a result which was

"Hugh Orde needs to face the reality of political policing.
Attempting to justify the raid on the Stormont offices and
the collapse of a democratically elected government will
not advance the agenda of creating an acceptable and
accountable policing service. Hugh Orde is being
deliberately misleading in his comments concerning this
entire episode." ENDS


Ahern 'Whole Truth' On Spying Issue 'Will Never Be Known'

The whole truth about the Stormont spy scandal which led to
a top Sinn Fein representative being unmasked as a British
agent will never be known, the Irish Government has

By:Press Association

Amid an unrelenting clamour for answers over Denis
Donaldson`s confession to being a Special Branch and MI5
mole, the authorities on both sides of the Irish border
rejected demands for a public enquiry into the affair.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain insists such a probe
into the latest revelations in a saga that brought down the
power-sharing Executive in Belfast would be a waste of

After talks between Mr Hain and Irish Foreign Affairs
Minister Dermot Ahern at Hillsborough Castle, County Down,
Mr Ahern backed his assessment.

Another tribunal to run alongside those which have been
running in both jurisdictions may not get the answers, he

"I don`t think we will ever find out what was behind the
whole issue in Stormont," Mr Ahern claimed.

"It`s mind-boggling as far as I`m concerned that a unit
like Sinn Fein have within their ranks someone that`s a
British spy for 20 years."

As both Governments urged all parties in Belfast to
intensify their efforts to get the devolved Assembly back
up and running during 2006, Mr Ahern added that Mr
Donaldson`s fate for being an informer would once have been
much more bleak.

Sinn Fein`s former head of administration at Stormont, who
was a key aide to party president Gerry Adams and once
jailed alongside republican hunger-strike icon Bobby Sands,
made his stunning confession on Irish television on Friday
after being thrown out of the party.

He had been acquitted eight days earlier of charges that he
was involved in the so-called Stormontgate espionage plot
along with his son-in-law Ciaran Kearney and civil servant
William Mackessy.

The Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland dropped
its three-year case against the men, claiming it was no
longer in the public interest.

That decision sparked an outcry, given that the original
allegations against the three men brought down the Northern
Ireland Assembly in October 2002. It also set in motion an
astonishing series of events that led to Mr Donaldson being

"When the word came through in relation to Stormont my
initial reaction was it`s curiouser and curiouser," said Mr

"Then my second reaction was somebody like Mr Donaldson is
a very lucky man.

"A number of years ago he mightn`t have been able to get in
his car and drive down with his solicitor to Dublin to make
a statement.

"There was a time perhaps that somebody like Mr Donaldson
would have been found along the border, perhaps even in my
own constituency, but it`s an extremely murky situation."


Former Secretary Of State In No Doubt

20 December 2005

Former Secretary of State Paul Murphy today insisted he had
no doubt a spy ring existed at Stormont.

Now chairman of the House of Commons Intelligence and
Security Committee, he said it had cost £35m to ensure
people named in recovered documents at the time were safe.

But Mr Murphy, who was Secretary of State when the police
raid on the Stormont offices lead to the collapse of the
Assembly and Executive, also said he believed the dropping
of the charges and revelation that senior Sinn Fein
administrator Denis Donaldson was a British spy would only
be a temporary problem.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Murphy said:
"It was definitely a paramilitary intelligence-gathering

"There were about 1,000 stolen documents discovered in
Belfast and 1,000 people had to be warned and it cost £35m
to make sure they were safe.

"That's unquestionably what was the case."

But he added: "In the weeks and months ahead, this is
obviously a temporary problem in terms of the peace
process, but I think the process is robust enough to be
able to withstand this and other problems.

"At the end of the day, I think that people in Northern
Ireland have come so far since the signing of the Good
Friday Agreement that they won't allow this issue or
anything else to stop the progress that we have seen."

His comments came as his successor Peter Hain spurned
unionist and Alliance Party demands for a full inquiry into
the 'Stormontgate' affair.

After talks with Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern, he
said: "Frankly, we have had inquiries galore in Northern
Ireland. They cost hundreds of millions of pounds."

Senior Ulster Unionist Assembly member Michael McGimpsey
said, however, it was unacceptable for Mr Hain to "hide
behind" the cost of an inquiry.

"A public inquiry is necessary in order to establish the
handling of the politics of this situation by the former
Secretary of State John Reid and the current Secretary of
State," he said.

"This is not about the police who did their job and did it
well, this is about the Northern Ireland Office and the
political handling that went with it. "

Mr Ahern said, however: "I don't think we will ever find
out what was behind the whole issue in Stormont. It's mind-
boggling as far as I'm concerned that a unit like Sinn Fein
have within their ranks someone that's a British spy for 20

"When the word came through in relation to Stormont my
initial reaction was 'it's curiouser and curiouser'.

"Then my second reaction was somebody like Mr Donaldson is
a very lucky man.

"A number of years ago he mightn't have been able to get in
his car and drive down with his solicitor to Dublin to make
a statement," Mr Ahern added.


Ahern And Blair Plan New Bid To Revive NI Institutions

Dan Keenan, Northern News Editor

The Taoiseach and the British prime minister will return
to Northern Ireland next month as a new intensive effort is
begun to re-establish the Stormont institutions.

The announcement was made in Hillsborough following talks
between the Northern Secretary and the Minister for Foreign

In an unusually strong show of unity following the so-
called Stormontgate revelations, Peter Hain and Dermot
Ahern said their governments were committed to establishing
political stability ahead of scheduled Assembly elections
in May 2007. Dublin and London believe there would be
little point in those elections if the Belfast Agreement
remains suspended.

Political trust between the parties crumbled further
yesterday in the aftermath of the spying allegations, with
the SDLP accusing Sinn Féin and British officials of a
cover-up. Unionists persisted in the clamour for London to
set its story straight.

Despite this, both ministers insisted they had faith in
each other, as did their respective governments, and
refused to dwell on the Stormont controversy.

They were at pains to make clear that their political drive
for progress in the New Year would go ahead despite the
turmoil over the unmasking of senior Sinn Féin official
Denis Donaldson as a British spy of 20 years' standing, and
the intense pressure for answers.

Mr Ahern said: "Nothing should allow us to be diverted from
what we are meeting here today about . . . and that is to
move forward as much as possible."

He said London had agreed a statement would be made
presenting as fully as possible the facts of the Stormont
spying affair.

"These events are fortunately the vestige of the past,"
said Mr Ahern. "We want to put these behind us as much as
we can. The important issue is where we move from here in
order to get the Assembly and the Executive up and

A meeting between the Taoiseach and the PSNI Chief
Constable, Sir Hugh Orde, will also be scheduled.

Next month's report from the Independent Monitoring
Commission, expected to confirm IRA inactivity, will
trigger a renewed push for progress.

Government sources indicated this would need to entail a
republican commitment to policing, as well as a change in
the DUP position on entering a power-sharing executive with
Sinn Féin.

The two governments want a re-established Stormont by 2007
or, The Irish Times understands, to be in a position to "go
live" immediately after the next Assembly elections in May
that year.

Earlier yesterday Mr Hain spurned unionist calls for an
inquiry into the Stormont spy ring allegations and warned
that no elections would go ahead unless suspension was
over. "What is clear, however, is that we cannot go into
elections for an Assembly in May 2007 that will not exist,"
he warned.

Speaking after a meeting at Stormont with Mr Hain, Sinn
Féin chief negotiator Martin McGuinness said the onus was
now on London to approach the peace process openly and

"It is now time for the British to answer questions about
their agents, about their agencies, and about their
approach to the process," he said.

"What we are calling on them to do is declare that their
war against republicans and the peace process is finally

In the House of Commons, DUP leader Ian Paisley pressed Mr
Blair for more information on the Stormont affair. "I want
to remind him of a promise he made to me on Wednesday last
that he would consider if more information could be given
to the House of Commons and I hope he will keep that
promise that he made," he warned.

© The Irish Times


Republicans 'No Objection' As Agent's Family Return To Belfast

(Barry McCaffrey, Irish News)

Members of Denis Donaldson's family are understood to have
returned to Belfast last night.

The 55-year-old former Sinn Féin official has been in
hiding since he admitted having worked as a Special Branch
agent for 20 years.

However, it is understood a number of Mr Donaldson's family
returned to Belfast at the weekend but have not returned to
the family home at Aitnamona Crescent in west Belfast.

It is unclear if Mr Donaldson intends to return to Belfast

Sinn Féin assembly member Gerry Kelly last night said that
republicans had no objection to Mr Donaldson's family
returning to his home city.

"The Donaldson family are as much victims in this whole
sordid affair as anyone else," he said.

Meanwhile, it is understood Mr Donaldson was given
permission by police to keep a shotgun in his house weeks
before he was arrested over the alleged IRA spy ring at
Stormont in October 2002.

The decision to issue Donaldson with a gun permit and the
fact that he was the first republican to be given increased
security at his home under the government's Key Persons
Protection Scheme (KPPS), is now being viewed by
republicans as an unforeseen indication that his life was
being safeguarded by the security forces.

It is understood Donaldson's licence was later revoked
following his arrest.

Donaldson admitted his role as a British agent on Friday
after allegedly being informed by his Special Branch
handlers that he was due to be 'outed' by the media.

However, no weekend newspaper claimed that it had prior
knowledge of his double life or that it had been preparing
to reveal his identity.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams will meet with Secretary of
State Peter Hain today to discuss the Stormontgate affair.

It is understood Mr Hain and Mr Adams already discussed
Donaldson's role as a double agent during a 'lengthy'
telephone conversation on Saturday.

Weekend media reports claimed that a second senior
republican 'mole' was on the verge of being publicly
identified, however, republican sources last night
dismissed the claims as 'mischief making designed to create

Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly last night rejected SDLP vice
chairman Eddie Espie's call that Mr Adams should resign as
Sinn Féin leader over the Stormontgate affair.

"I think it is a disgrace that the British government has
been found guilty of spying on Sinn Féin for 20 years and
all the SDLP can do is call for Gerry Adams to resign.

"British government securocrats brought down the power
sharing executive and all this man can do is call for Gerry
Adams to resign."

Reiterating his party's position that the British
government was solely to blame for the collapse of the
executive, Mr Kelly said: "The IRA stood down in July and
General [John] de Chastelain confirmed in September that
its weapons had been put beyond use, yet we now see that it
is the British securocrats who are still at war.

"They are either orchestrating what is happening or they
are out of control.

"Either way, Tony Blair needs to tell people what he is
going to do about it.

"Myself, Gerry Adams and hundreds of other nationalists
were only recently informed that our personal details had
gone missing from Castlereagh and are now in the hands of

"Why is the British government still spying on elected

Hain defends police action

Secretary of State Peter Hain has defended the police
operation against republicans which brought down devolution
three years ago.

Mr Hain told ITV's Jonathan Dimbleby programme: "This is a
turbulent event.

"Let us remind ourselves about what happened.

"Something like a thousand documents were stolen from the
Northern Ireland Office over which I now preside.

"They appeared in a west Belfast situation. They
disappeared. They were stolen.

"The police went in, praised by the Ombudsman [Police
Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan] by the way because this is the most
regulated, supervised police force now in the world.

"It's not what it used to be.

"The Police Ombudsman said they had done not only what was
justified but what was absolutely necessary.

"Then events unfolded and the prosecution felt that they
could not proceed in the public interest."

December 20, 2005

This article appeared first in the December 19, 2005
edition of the Irish News.


Northern Narnia Full Of Tales Of The Unexpected

(Tom Kelly, Irish News)

Well what a week! First the so-called Stormontgate case
fell apart. The explanation by the Prosecution Service for
the sensational collapse had less substance than a
stripper's G-string. Sinn Féin claimed vindication;
unionists alleged collusion; the police were unimpressed;
the NIO was in a state of flux and the men at the centre of
allegations protested their innocence. Then came the coup-
de-grace as Sinn Féin declared that Denis Donaldson, their
head of administration at Stormont and close associate of
Gerry Adams, was a paid British agent for the past 20

It would be nothing unusual for the Provisional movement to
discover an agent in their ranks but for the fact that the
same Mr Donaldson was the man arrested and charged with the
Stormont spy allegations. The unravelling of the dirty war
has begun in earnest and long may it continue. When
speaking about the odious 'on the run' (OTR) legislation,
Mark Durkan was right to say this was a case of collusion
between the government and the Provisionals to give mutual
cover to their heinous past activities. The unionists are
calling for a public inquiry and why not? Much has been
made about collusion between loyalist paramilitaries and
the security forces which led to the deaths of many
innocent Catholics and given the revelations about level of
infiltration of the Provisional movement by agents of the
security forces, it is reasonable to now ask if similar
ugly deals were done which resulted in the unwarranted
death of others.

For those in the Provisionals, the transformation from war
machine to political movement must seem less and less like
a road freely chosen by its members.

Some are no doubt asking how much guidance and influence
did high ranking informers play in that transformation?

In fairness, this is a fairly legitimate question given the
closeness of some informers to the leadership of Sinn Féin.
Many of those in the Provisional movement who lost family
members in the so-called struggle must be wondering if
their loved ones paid the price for the political ambition
of others. No matter how much they cry foul play by the
securocrats, the outing of Donaldson is deeply embarrassing
for the leadership of Sinn Féin. Thankfully, Mr Donaldson
escaped the fate of past informers and was sent to his
solicitor and not to a road in south Armagh in a black

From the public viewpoint trust has taken a severe blow. It
is clear that the government has absolutely no principled
plan for restoring devolution in Northern Ireland. They
have asked us to accept lower thresholds of democracy and
justice than would be acceptable in any other part of the
United Kingdom. They have gone further by insulting our

The pronouncement by Shaun Woodward that "the IRA was no
longer involved in organised crime" was akin to being asked
to believe in the Tooth Fairy.

How in all seriousness can an illegal organisation which
over 30 years has built up a multi-million pound business
through fuel and cigarette smuggling; counterfeit goods,
racketeering and protection disappear in four months? If
they have been able to completely privatise their entire
operations in such a short period of time, the government
should second the leadership of the Provisional movement to
the Strategic Investment Board to oversee the
implementation of its £16-billion investment strategy for
Northern Ireland.

If the government think that by a series of shabby back
door deals they can create political stability in the north
then they are gravely mistaken. Yet they don't seem to be
learning from their mistakes. The OTR legislation will
either be culled or dramatically changed. The recent
pronouncement by the NI Human Rights Commission on the
offensiveness of the OTR legislation is a welcome
intervention but will be of cold comfort to the government.
This group of ministers are using both carrot and stick
measures to lead us into devolved government but the public
is showing little appetite for the prize. However, we are
where we are because people chose two parties that require
these types of partisan trade-offs.

But after last weeks revelations what are we to expect
next? Will Hume be 'outed' as a Sinn Féin plant in the
SDLP? Was Trimble a DUP Trojan horse in the Ulster
Unionists? Will Rome reveal Paisley as a secret agent? Who
knows because here in Northern Narnia the truth is stranger
than fiction!

December 20, 2005

This article appeared first in the December 19, 2005
edition of the Irish News.


Opin: The Security Forces Acted To Subvert An Elected Authority

Stormontgate exposes the grip that espionage, double
dealing and dirty tricks still maintains on Northern

Niall Stanage
Tuesday December 20, 2005
The Guardian

When George Bush gets caught spying, at least he admits it.
The British state and its agencies in Northern Ireland do
not display even that limited degree of candour. The
revelation that a British spy was the central figure in an
episode that brought down Northern Ireland's devolved
administration has been met with evasions and dissembling.
Peter Hain, the secretary of state for Northern Ireland,
told Jonathan Dimbleby on his ITV show that the so-called
Stormontgate affair was "turbulent". But he failed to
answer any of the fundamental questions that it has raised.

The story has sparked doubt, confusion and rampant
speculation; some hard facts are worth emphasising. In
October 2002, about 20 police officers raided Sinn Féin's
offices at Stormont, which houses the Northern Ireland
assembly. The raid was part of a series of operations that,
it was claimed, uncovered a republican spy ring. The IRA,
it was alleged, had garnered confidential information that
could be used to target prison wardens, police officers and
others. Four people were charged, but that dropped to
three. When the case finally came to court less than a
fortnight ago, the prosecution declined to offer any
evidence. The three were acquitted.

Last Friday, a bombshell dropped. The key figure in the
trio, Denis Donaldson, who was Sinn Féin's head of
administration at Stormont, owned up to a double life. He
said that he had been a paid agent of British intelligence
and Northern Ireland Special Branch since the 80s. His
exposure turned the accepted version of events on its head.
As things stand, the only proven spying operation at
Stormont was run by forces of the state. And a paid agent
of the state had been pivotal in the unravelling of a
democratically elected administration. It is hard to
imagine a graver scenario.

The government has sought to ameliorate the fiasco by
claiming that the original police operation did indeed
uncover stolen documents and that the Stormont raid was
given a clean bill of health by Nuala O'Loan, the police
ombudswoman. Neither assertion counters the idea that
Donaldson could have acted as an agent provocateur.

Reaction to the disclosure of Donaldson's role demonstrates
the hypocrisy that pervades Northern Ireland politics. When
blame for spying was being placed at the republicans' door,
the mainstream press denounced Gerry Adams and his allies.
David Trimble, the Ulster Unionist leader at the time,
proclaimed that he did not need to wait for due process
because "the smoking gun was now evident"; the alleged
conspiracy was "10 times worse than Watergate".

Where is that outrage now? Who seeks to put Donaldson's
handlers in the dock for their disdain for democratic
principles? Trimble, who resigned last May, now struggles
to lay the blame anywhere but where it belongs. "There is a
spin going on here, and the spin is going on because
actually it's the republican movement that's in a crisis,"
he mused on Saturday.

There is no doubt that the Donaldson affair has left
republicans reeling. Rumours of another "tout" are rife,
and the moderate SDLP has called on Adams to resign as Sinn
Féin leader. But the most important aspect is the light it
casts on the dark heart of Northern Ireland. It shows that
factions in the security forces, so keen to condemn others
for subversion, have continued to act nefariously to
advance their agenda and that of their political allies, as
they did throughout the Troubles.

The Stormont raid took place at an amazingly fortunate
moment for the Ulster Unionists. Many believed that Trimble
was already planning a withdrawal from the devolved
executive under pressure from hardliners. The conundrum
Unionists faced was how to bale out without having to
shoulder the blame for collapsing Northern Ireland's
government - then allegations about the spy ring surfaced.
Bill Lowry, who was head of Belfast's Special Branch, left
the force only weeks after the raid. He later turned up as
a guest speaker at a meeting of Ian Paisley's DUP, where he
reportedly described Sinn Féin as the "devil incarnate" and
warned that if unionists were to lie down "with dogs", they
would "get up with fleas".

Espionage, double dealing and dirty tricks have been rife
on all sides in Northern Ireland for years. The murder of
the Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane in 1989 is only the most
infamous case in which very credible allegations of
collusion between loyalist killers and the security forces
have been levelled. The peace process did not bring an end
to the dirty war. Paramilitaries and police continued
intelligence gathering. The late Mo Mowlam authorised the
bugging of a car being used by Gerry Adams and Martin
McGuinness. The most recent revelations make clear why Sinn
Féin continues to be reticent about endorsing new policing
arrangements in Northern Ireland.

Back in 1999, Tony Blair insisted that "there can no longer
be a Northern Ireland based on anything but the principles
of justice, fairness and equality". Some members of his
security forces evidently had other ideas.

· Niall Stanage is a correspondent for the Dublin-based
Sunday Business Post


Opin: More Spies May Be Lurking In Sinn Féin's Cupboard

It would be daft to believe exposure of Donaldson marks
the end of Sinn Féin's spy problem, writes Anthony McIntyre

The year 2005, Sinn Féin's much-vaunted centenary year, has
proved to be the party's worst since the beginning of the
peace process. Assailed from every conceivable angle for
its duplicity and deceit, it took the first steps into the
new year to a cacophony of voices chorusing "lies!" at it.

Twelve months later, the phonetics have not changed all
that greatly, "spies!" now being the new buzz term of
opprobrium hurled in the party's direction.

It certainly takes something to give the peace process a
touch of élan. The bizarre Kafkaesque act being staged is a
good choice for those seeking some form of alternative
theatre to the Christmas pantomime circuit regaling
yuletide revellers.

Were it not for the periodic scandals that sprinkle the
peace process and titillate a long-suffering population,
our zest for life would be heavily compromised by those
insufferable advocates of the process who, with their
fluency in gibberish, have whipped us into a state of

Last week, which began with the usual Monday nonsense about
securocrats, showed all the promise of finishing in similar
vein until the Denis Donaldson defibrillator sparked and
shocked some serious life into an otherwise tedious seven

Donaldson, a senior and crucially positioned Sinn Féin
apparatchik, confessed to having been a British spy for 20
years. Give or take a year or two, he is hardly a member of
the lonely club.

When I first learned of this latest Sinn Féin security
debacle, my sole thought was, "and who else?" To think that
Donaldson draws the curtain down on Sinn Féin's spy
problem, one would need to be as daft as some Short Strand
mural artist who, so long as any Provisional leader
endorsed it, would readily paint the walls with "Denis,
revolutionary hero of the peace process, was only touting
for peace."

It is the sheer gullibility of large swathes of the
republican rank and file that has allowed the Sinn Féin
leadership strategy to last so long, with its persistent
affront to republican sensibilities, without any serious
questions being asked of it.

Agents have for long been central to British state attempts
to shape the IRA and in particular nudge it towards a peace

In 1983 the role of Bobby Lean was crucial. By turning
supergrass and securing the temporary imprisonment of key
IRA personnel, Lean changed the internal balance of power
within the IRA and allowed Gerry Adams to consolidate his
grip on the Provisional republican movement as a whole,
opening the way for the current strategy and the
abandonment of everything the Provisionals hitherto held

In recent years the role of Freddie Scappaticci, a central
player in the IRA's internal security apparatus, came under
sustained scrutiny. Scappaticci's purpose as a senior
British agent was to help render the IRA's military option
redundant, thus allowing the logic of a peace process to
take root.

But the peace process had to have some intellectual
autonomy rather than exist in a vacuum created by the
implausibility of continuing with an armed campaign. This
is where agents of influence came into play.

Peter Taylor details in his book, Provos, how British
military intelligence, working on the premise that "Gerry
Adams would do almost anything to further his political
career", sought unsuccessfully to turn Derry republican
Steven Lambert.

His role would be "to pass on information of the mood
within the party, attitudes of particular individuals to
particular policies and to implement and push policies"
devised by the British. Remarkably, those policies and the
core tenets of the peace process are not dissimilar.

It therefore comes as no surprise to find Martin Ingram, a
former British army operative, who co-authored a book
detailing the nefarious espionage record of Scappaticci,
writing on a website recently that he had one thing in
common with Gerry Adams: both set out to destroy the IRA
and both succeeded.

Consequently, it is even less surprising to trace the
lengths gone to by the Sinn Féin leadership to cover for
Scappaticci when he was eventually exposed.

For his part, Donaldson also functioned in the agent of
influence mode. Even if as a result of Stormontgate his
influence had declined, there was no unavoidable reason for
the British to out him.

Certainly there were strong suspicions and whispers that
the Stormontgate trial was aborted by the British to
protect a key informer.

Because Donaldson had been arrested and held on remand for
a period as a result of the Stormont spy ring being
collapsed in October 2002, most people not unreasonably
took the view that he was a victim of the informer rather
than being the informer himself. However, a search for the
informer increased the risk of an agent more important than
Donaldson being exposed.

Arguably, Donaldson was outed as a foil against further
investigation. The "tout has now been exposed" dismissal
"so let's get on with the business of the peace process",
as Gerry Adams called for last week.

In this perspective, the British give Sinn Féin wriggle
room so that it maintains some of its ring craft rather
than have it flail on the ropes, as well it might if
another informer was to be exposed who, this time, was much
more central in the public mind to the peace process than
Donaldson ever was.

On last night's Last Word programme on Today FM, Martin
Ingram confirmed to presenter Matt Cooper that there are
senior Sinn Féin household names at present working for the
British. Far from the British "securocrats" moving to
undermine Sinn Féin, they are seemingly striving to protect
it from serious investigation.

A particular irony in all of this for the voter in the
Republic is that after decades of being free from British
involvement in their part of the island, the dilemma they
face is that by voting Sinn Féin they increase the
likelihood of returning MI5 to the Dáil. Now that truly is
an appalling vista.

Anthony McIntyre is a former IRA prisoner and is currently
a writer.

© The Irish Times


Opin: Stormont: A Hall Of Mirrors

As the row over the Stormont spy affair continues,
Political Correspondent CHRIS THORNTON reflects on how very
little in this intriguing case is crystal clear

20 December 2005

Spyhunting inevitably leads, as the late CIA chief James
Jesus Angleton put it, into a "wilderness of mirrors".
Angleton, a poetry admirer, took the phrase from TS Eliot
to tellingly describe his counter-intelligence operations
against the Soviets: even when the Americans turned a
Soviet agent, they couldn't be sure if it was genuine. Was
his information true? Or were the Russians deliberately
feeding them in order to mislead? Or could he be genuine
but sacrificed in order to protect someone else? Was the
agent on a solo run? Or…

Somewhere now someone is conducting the sort of assessment
that is said to have driven Angleton into a permanent state
of paranoia, one that will attempt to sort the substance of
the Stormontgate affair from the flickers and reflections.
Whether that assessment is being conducted by MI5 or
republicans - or both - would determine who has gained most
from an episode that shows the undergrowth of the Troubles
is far from being clear.

But no one is saying, not least because the mirrors are
still being moved. Extraordinary statements last Friday
from Sinn Fein and Denis Donaldson, the party worker
expelled for being a British agent, followed by hints and
briefings from Government sources, have served only to
deepen the mysteries about the fall of an elected

It may be, as Sinn Fein alleges, that allegations of a spy
ring at Stormont were cooked up to bring down the power-
sharing Executive three years ago. Or that may be said
simply to gain advantage over the Government.

It may also be, as security sources say, that there is a
second informer - beyond Denis Donaldson - who told the
security forces about the Stormont spy ring. Or that, too,
could be a fiction, designed simply to sow the seeds of a
witchhunt within republican circles.

The way to go forward in these labyrinths is to look back,
to search for the information that is indisputably true.

And that's a lot harder than it sounds. In this case, it
may be that the starting point should be the thousands of
documents that are said to be proof that a republican spy
ring existed at Stormont.

The problem is that these documents have never been
publicly exhibited - say, for example, at a trial.

Do they exist? That seems likely, since Police Ombudsman
Nuala O'Loan said the PSNI was justified in carrying out
the initial raids that exploded the whole affair.

But even their existence does little to advance our
understanding. In his statement on Friday, Denis Donaldson
implied heavily - but never actually said - that he was an
agent provocateur. He met his Special Branch handlers two
days before the affair broke, he said, without revealing
what they spoke about. He said flatly that the spy ring was
a sham, without explaining how he could be certain.

So even the existence of documents may be tainted by the
motivation behind them. It is possible they were planted,
either as Donaldson suggests, to collapse Stormont or in
order to mislead the republican movement with a mixture of
true and false information.

So should the central point for consideration be that
Donaldson was an informer? That would suggest everything he
did - including his alleged central role in the spy ring -
was done with the approval of his handlers.

But again, other possibilities open from that point - could
Donaldson have been a double agent, used with or without
his knowledge, to send false information back to the

Sometimes it is possible to look behind the mirrors, to see
who gains most from their existence. So far in this case
that, too, is frustrating exercise: Donaldson's exposure
has powerfully reinforced the suggestion that intelligence
agencies undermined a democratically elected institution.

But it may also be seriously damaging for Sinn Fein. On the
back of the Stakeknife affair, which showed a British agent
in a central position in the IRA, republicans may well be
asking how hidden hands have guided their position over the
past two decades.

With £30 million or more spent on the security response to
original spy ring allegations and the Stormont institutions
still little more than political rubble, there have been
strong cries for a public inquiry to sort out the fact from
fiction. The Government, however, seems to have little
interest in shining too much light at this stage.

Long before Angleton's wilderness of mirrors, Socrates
concluded that the only thing anyone could know with
certainty is that they know nothing.

In the bewilderment that follows Stormontgate, it's an
attractive position to take. But Socrates was no spymaster.


Opin: Christmas Turning Into Another Turkey For 'Outraged' Sinn Fein

Alan Murray

FOR Adams and McGuinness and the Sinn Fein publicity
machine this Christmas has been another turkey. It rivals
last year's calamitous decision by the IRA to proceed with
the Northern Bank robbery.

As the Sinn Fein leadership cranked up a not-too-convincing
spin on the Denis Donaldson affair suggesting that it was
really his MI5 controllers who had planned the stripping of
Stormont of over 1,000 secret documents, North Minister
Peter Hain could not resist pointing out that those same
documents were recovered in West Belfast and not Whitehall.

Donaldson did not betray his fellow Stormontgate
conspirators - indeed the whole operation might have gone
undetected if it hadn't been for another mole on the
Special Branch/MI5 payroll. Nevertheless, the unmasking of
the little man must be sickening for the Adams and Guinness

However Sinn Fein's highest echelons attempt to spin this
one, republicans who eschewed the 'armed struggle' for
Gerry Adams's strategy know that Donaldson belonged to the
'leadership' and MI5. He was a key strategist and fixer for
Adams in Belfast and, as Martin McGuinness acknowledged
yesterday, his turning by MI5 has already been used to
"smear" the Sinn Fein leadership.

As fellow republican Anthony McIntyre caustically observed,
Donaldson glared at, sneered at, harangued and ostracised
those who had the temerity to question Adams' judgment. He
shared, McIntyre pointed out, the aim of both his masters
in MI5 and the SF leadership, the promotion of the peace
process and the undermining of those who challenged it.

Without the approval of Adams and Martin McGuinness,
Donaldson could not have been elevated to the position of
Sinn Fein's Head of Administration at the short-lived
Stormont Assembly. Sinn Fein's demand for an enquiry into
Stormontgate merely underlines the brazenness of Adams and

But the play acting is all part of the strategy. From gun
importations from Florida to funding from Farc, the
strategy has remained undiluted and unaltered. Deny, deny
and deny again.

But the reality is that the author of the current
embarrassment - and all the previous ones - has been the
IRA and its pursuit of power by any means.

The SF structure today is riddled with British agents. And
there is no insurance policy on the market that will
guarantee another Donaldson won't appear.

Only when Sinn Fein/IRA genuinely abandons military
adventuring will the other Denis Donaldsons in their ranks
be incapable of inflicting any more damage.


Beach Streak Earns Pair A £150 Penalty

By Claire Regan
20 December 2005

A former member of the notorious Shankill Butchers gang was
yesterday disqualified from driving for six months and
fined a total of £1,150 for motoring offences.

John Charles Doherty (42) and Brendan Watton (21) appeared
together at North Antrim Magistrates' Court yesterday where
they admitted to a charge of indecent behaviour each on
September 5 this year.

Watton, a former soldier, also pleaded guilty to a further
charge of disorderly behaviour arising from separate
incidents on the same day.

The court was told that Watton lived in a number of
different bed and breakfast addresses.

A Crown representative told the court that police were
called to the West Strand in Portrush after receiving a
number of complaints, including some from families with
children, that two men had been seen streaking across the

"On arrival, police saw one male facing the promenade,
completely naked. He appeared to be trying to put on his
boxer shorts," he said.

"The other was naked nearby and appeared to be asleep."

He said Doherty, an unemployed man from Rosemary Place,
Coleraine, told police had just been trying to go for a
swim and immediately apologised for the incident.

Doherty's solicitor told magistrate Richard Wilson that his
client had an extensive record which went back to 1978 but
said he had not offended since 1999 prior to this charge.
He said Doherty had suffered from "alcohol abuse over many
years", had gone through major surgery in December 2004 and
had continuing serious health problems.

"He realised he had made a complete fool of himself," he

The Crown representative also told the court that Watton
came to the attention of the police in a separate incident
the same day when he visited the home of his ex-girlfriend
and their child in a "highly intoxicated" state.

He said Watton was abusive to police on three separate
call-outs relating to his behaviour.

The solicitor said her client suffered from "on-going
alcohol dependency" and had been discharged from the Army
for having a personality disorder relating to alcohol

"He went to the home of his former girlfriend and their
child. He wanted to establish contact with the child and
the discussion became heated," she said.

Fining both men £150, Mr Wilson branded the streaking
"stupid behaviour".

Watton was fined a further £250 for disorderly behaviour.

"Your behaviour was persistent in the extreme, " the
magistrate told him. "You could end up in jail very


McCartneys Meet Tony Blair

By Linda McKee
20 December 2005

The sisters of murdered Belfast man Robert McCartney have
travelled to Downing Street to meet Prime Minister Tony
Blair today.

After Mr McCartney (33) was stabbed to death outside a
Belfast bar in January, his sisters and partner launched a
high-profile campaign to bring his killers to justice.

Two men have been charged over the murder.

The McCartney sisters' campaign has taken them to the White
House and has been backed by world leaders, including US
President George Bush.

But they say their year of lobbying has been marked by a
hate campaign of intimidation which has been orchestrated
by IRA members.

Paula McCartney recently became the last member of the
family to leave her home in the Short Strand area of
Belfast following continued threats.


Murdered Man's Father To Meet Hain

By Noel McAdam
20 December 2005

A murder victim's father was today due to hold his first
formal meeting with a Secretary of State - eight years
after his son's death.

Raymond McCord - whose son, Raymond Jnr, was battered to
death by loyalists - has been invited as part of an SDLP
delegation to meet Secretary of State Peter Hain face-to-

Mr McCord castigated the DUP who had "done nothing" for him
but praised the SDLP which has pointed out the Government's
Troubles-linked legislation will also apply to loyalist
killers, including those who murdered Mr McCord's son in
November, 1997.

"I class myself as a loyalist and Protestant, but it has
taken the SDLP to do this for me and I don't think it is
about their own agenda, in terms of collusion and so on. It
is about justice," he said.

"People like Nigel Dodds who is my MP should have more
concern for loyalist victims instead of focusing totally on

North Belfast MP Mr Dodds said today however: "It's
completely untrue we have done nothing for Mr McCord. I
arranged his first meeting with the former Chief Constable
Ronnie Flanagan, for example.

"We want to see justice done in this case, as in all

Awaiting the Director of Public Prosecutions' verdict on a
report into the murder prepared by the Police Ombudsman, Mr
McCord said he would be asking Mr Hain if he was prepared
to support the McCord family in their long-running

Mr McCord asked Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan four years
ago to probe the police investigation into his son's murder
and it is believed inquiries were widened to include other
murders linked to a UVF gang from the Mount Vernon estate.

It is alleged that police took no action over a UVF boss in
the estate because he was a Special Branch informer.

The question of whether criminal charges could be brought
against past or present police officers has been thrown
into doubt by the so-called On The Runs legislation now
proceeding through Parliament.

North Belfast SDLP MLA Alban Maginness said people should
realise that there are hundreds of loyalist killers who
will now not have to face a day in court.


Northern Bank Heist: One Year On

20 December 2005

It is one year ago today since the Northern Bank robbery
which shook Northern Ireland and created headlines around
the world. An IRA gang stole £26.5m from the vaults of the
Belfast headquarters of the bank after taking a bank
employee and his wife hostage. Twelve months on the story
retains its fascination for the public, with a bank
employee recently appearing in court charged with the
heist. Jonathan McCambridge and Lisa Smyth examine some of
the questions surrounding the world's biggest cash bank

Did the IRA rob the Northern Bank?

The PSNI and the Government remain convinced that the
Provisional IRA carried out the raid. Sinn Fein maintain
they did not.

The sinister efficiency of the Northern Bank raid meant
that suspicion fell on the Provisionals right from the
beginning and nothing has happened in the 12 months since
to change that widespread belief.

Earlier this year the Chief Constable said he was 99.9%
sure that the IRA robbed the Northern Bank and all police
investigations have pointed in that direction.

Police search and arrest operations have been concentrated
mainly in republican areas.

For detectives working on the case the main line of inquiry
remains that the IRA were responsible.

What have police been doing?

The PSNI launched one of its largest investigations
following the robbery and, despite early criticism of the
operation, arrests and charges have followed.

Originally there were 45 detectives working on the Northern
Bank team, although that number was reduced in August.

After a failure to make an early breakthrough, the police
began a painstaking process of forensic investigation which
included carrying out hundreds of interviews and viewing
thousands of hours of CCTV footage. The investigation has
also made financial checks all over the world.

Eleven months after the robbery the PSNI made the first in
a series of arrests.

Two men were arrested as part of a planned police operation
in Kilcoo, Co Down, at the beginning of November.

More arrests quickly followed and on November 4 the first
person to be charged in connection with the robbery
appeared in court.

Most recently, Northern Bank employee Chris Ward, who took
part in a television interview days after the raid and
spoke about his family's ordeal at the hands of robbers,
appeared in court charged with the robbery.

In total, 12 people have been arrested in connection with
the robbery and four have been charged in relation to the

However, the charges against one of the men who appeared in
court in relation to the raid were later dropped.

What happened to the money?

Despite checks carried out in banking institutions
worldwide, no Northern Bank money has found its way back
into the financial system.

Police have the serial numbers of the £16m of new notes
which are stolen and believe that if they turn up anywhere
in the world they will be able to trace them.

After the Northern Bank took the unprecedented step of
withdrawing all its notes from circulation, the Chief
Constable described the robbery as the "biggest theft of
waste paper in history". However, of the £26.5m stolen the
robbers still have £10m in untraceable notes, with at least
£4m from other banks.

In February, the Garda seized £3m in sterling notes in
Cork. It is believed this money was from the Northern raid.
Fifty-thousand pounds left at a sports club in south
Belfast was also from the robbery.

Privately, many police believe much of the money may have
been destroyed by the gang who stole it.

What have the political consequences been?

Before the Northern Bank robbery the DUP and Sinn Fein were
close to a historic deal. After the raid they were as far
away as ever and there is little evidence, one year on, of
any accommodation between them.

The Northern Bank robbery and the Robert McCartney murder
brought unprecedented pressure on the republican movement,
with many of their allies across the Atlantic turning
against them.

With the IRA being blamed for the robbery, unionists
refused to negotiate with Sinn Fein and there were
widespread calls from across the political divide, as well
as from Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, for an end to IRA
criminality to allow the faltering peace process to

The Independent Monitoring Commission, which carried out a
report into the heist, laid the blame for the robbery
firmly at the feet of the IRA and recommended sanctions be
imposed against Sinn Fein as a result.

In light of the IMC's findings, David Trimble called for
the Assembly to be recalled to vote on Sinn Fein's
exclusion from a potential Executive.

And in March this year the House of Commons voted to
suspend £400,000 worth of parliamentary allowances to show
their condemnation of the Republican movement in the wake
of the robbery.

To this day the Assembly remains suspended as unionists
refuse to negotiate with Sinn Fein.

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