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Boxing Shadows

Exploring the theory it is the British intelligence services who are controlling the peace process, not unionists or republicans.

Dr John Coulter
• 27 December 2005

As republicans prepare to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the '81 hunger strike in a few months' time, they do so under the shadow that IRA and Sinn Fein strategy and tactics may have been heavily influenced by the work of British spies in their ranks.

It will be no comfort to the relatives of the 10 republicans who died in the Maze if they suspect their loved ones died as as result of British intelligence policy dictated by the activities of informants and spies within Irish nationalist circles.

How many of the 10 could have been saved from the agonising death which a hunger strike inflicts upon the human body? More significantly, how many of the 10 were deliberately sacrificed to ensure the republican movement turned away from violence and firmly onto the road of pure political activity?

And unionism should definitely not dance about with joy at Sinn Fein's acute embarrassment the republican peace policies were conceived by paid agents of MI5 and the police Special Branch.

If informers can bring republicans into a power-sharing partitionist parliament at Stormont as well as bring about the decommissioning of the most powerful terrorist group in Western Europe, then the Brits have enough brains to heavily infiltrate Ian Paisley's DUP.

Just as republicans are asking – does a mole exist even higher up in the movement than Denis Donaldson, their sacked Stormont head of administration, then unionists must address the question – has the DUP's modernising wing which came so close to sealing a deal with Sinn Fein in November 2004 been influenced by MI5 agents?

During the talks at Castle Buildings, Stormont, in the run-up to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, and later in the discussions which spawned the power-sharing Executive, there were unwritten rules within the then ruling Ulster Unionists that there were certain rooms where it was "dangerous" to air your true opinions.

If you wanted to hold some really indepth talks, unionists used a certain staircase rather than the allocated party rooms; you did not discuss confidential business on particular telephone land lines – and certainly never over a mobile phone.

And even when the first Assembly was up and running, there were two influential UUP men you were told never to hold confidential discussions with because it was alleged they worked for MI6.

Even in some UUP personnel's homes, discussions were held in scenes more reminiscent of the famous Mafia movie, The Godfather, with the telly or radio blaring in case the room was bugged.

It makes intelligence gathering sense British spooks would want to know not just the thinking and reactions of republicans, but also of the two unionists parties, the SDLP, and the centre Alliance.

But the real bugging question is – did the British not simply stop at intelligence gathering; did they progress their operations by using their paid plants to influence and implement policy?

If this is the case, then British spook hands are dripping with blood because the peace process did not come together overnight. To do that could have meant suspicions being aroused and the identities of agents like Denis Donaldson and Stakeknife being compromised.

The British would need to have resorted to a policy of "an acceptable level of violence" until a deal was hammered out. It also begs the question if the British knew about murder attacks, but let innocent people be murdered simply to protect their informants and the development of the peace process.

Will we see hurriedly arranged Press conferences in unionism where key personnel confess to being British spooks?

Just as the intelligence community has pawed over the private lives of republicans to find suitable candidates to turn into paid informers, how many unionists and loyalists have MI5 or the Special Branch recruited because they were caught in a compromising situation regarding their domestic arrangements, sexuality or financial affairs?

Makes you wonder that all of the Troubles were simply a big melting pot to test British agents for the eventual global war with an emerging militant Islam and that the North was simply a convenient back yard training ground.

Indeed, Stormontgate, the ongoing saga around the Colombia Three, and now the expose over Denis Donaldson have left Sinn Fein's centenary year ending on a bit of a bum note.

Founder Arthur Griffith must not just be spinning in his grave with rage, but puking up in his coffin with enbarrassment.

And if that's not enough egg on the faces of the republican movement, there's a new rumour doing the rounds of unionist circles Sinn Fein has adopted a new buzz phrase for 2006, the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising.

Joining 'Our Day Will Come' is the battlecry 'The Unfinished Revolution', which should go down a bucketful with the Shinners' communist pals in Cuba and Zimbabwe. The war may be over, but the revolution is still running – next target, the South of Ireland.

If you want more proof, just read the Proclamation of the Provisional Government signed by Pearse, Connolly and Co in 1916: "Until our arms have brought the opportune moment for the establishment of a permanent National Government ..."

And this all leaves a few unanswered questions for the remnants of the feud-torn republican socialist movement – when will it be its turn to enter mainstream politics? If Sinn Fein is planning to realign itself in terms of ideology to make to more acceptable as a coalition government partner in the Dail with Bertie Ahern's Fianna Fail, surely the niche will exist on the Irish political spectrum for a democratic socialist labour movement?

Where do committed republicans go when they see Sinn Fein reforming itself as a dark green SDLP? If the Irish Republican Socialist Party could dump the INLA, there may be a democratic home for those republicans who feel Sinn Fein has become too Anglosised by the peace process.

Its time for Sinn Fein to grow up and for the IRSP to wise up. The 1981 H Blocks campaign proved there were enough nationalist voters to get IRSP candidates elected. Like Sinn Fein, the IRSP must come to recognise that democratic mainstream politics is the only path for the future.

Its model should be the former Irish Independence Party created by the late Protestant nationalist, John Turnley, who was murdered by the UFF in Carnlough in 1980. The real question is, does the IRSP have the political guts to take that all-important first step and disband the INLA and decommission its arsenal?





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Index: Current Articles

30 January 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

One Year On
Anthony McIntyre

SF's Support 'Lay With the People Involved in Robert's Murder'
K Quinn

Our Fenian Dead
Brendan Hughes

Murky Maghaberry
Anthony McIntyre

Rebutting a Defamatory Article
Declan Carroll

Getting the Facts Right
Statement from McKevitt & Sands Family

"Close Enough for Government Work"
Chris Fogarty

Boxing Shadows
Dr John Coulter

When is Enough, Enough?
Mick Hall

Serving the Agenda of Two Masters
Anthony McIntyre

St Pat's Day
Niall Corey

The Letters page has been updated.

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A Perfect Spy
Tom Luby

Anthony McIntyre

Spies and Lies in 2005
Eamon Sweeney

Defeating the Enemy Within
Mick Hall

SF Tinker, Tailor Their Spy Story
David Adams

Language: The Means of Creating Realities
David Kirk

Mebyon Kernow & Cornish Nationalism
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Timetable for Change
Dr John Coulter

CRJ — New Name for the IRA?
Anthony McIntyre

GEM, A Story of Global Exploitation and Misery
Morten Alme

First International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners and POWs
Irish Freedom Committee

Brian Campbell: A Captivating Voice
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