The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
The Chessboard: Another Great Game


Davy Carlin • May 03

Being someone who was born into the seventies like many other such persons watching the Stakeknife revelations unfold brings closer to one's understanding the reality of the ‘Dirty War’. I have long been intrigued while reading many books over the years on republicanism, loyalism and of the state's role within the North, and of Ireland as a whole. At times though the historical content of some recent books seemed to place our situation solely within that historical context thus perhaps unknowingly for some lending a perception of the ‘Dirty War’ being abstract from today’s developing peace process.

In reality the ‘dirty War is far from over within the mindset of many within both the states ‘hidden’ agencies and indeed large elements of the visual side of the State. The state and its agencies have long worked outside their own definitions of their own laws and both inside and also outside its own jurisdictions (within other states and against International laws) in its war against the IRA. Albeit with the usage of loyalist paramilitaries and other such playthings of those agencies, directed against not only republicans but in many cases the broader Nationalist community. Looking at the direction of the British strategy over the years has seen it develop various policies in relation to the ‘containment’ of the situation in the North. There has been much evidence produced as to the illegal, brutal and indeed murderous activities of the state and its agencies directed and implemented towards its citizens. For many years calls have went out from various quarters regarding the treatment from the state to its citizens, taken even to the European Court of Human Rights, yet it mattered little (to the state) as they continued their activities outside the definition of their own state defined as well as international laws.

And their activities continue today. The recent allegations in relation to the IRA about Castlereagh, Colombia, gun running etc and thus its possible ramifications within the wider political picture, was a tactical move by the state, timed well and provided with the opportunity had a strategic reasoning behind it. Similarly, one needs to look at the bigger picture here. The revelations of the informer codenamed ‘Stakeknife’ seen differing aspects of the British state both ‘hidden’ and visual have a different take as to the best recent usage of this person, who does in real terms seem to exist or existed. Would it be better to attempt to fight harder to keep his/her/their identity hidden or would it be better at this period to bring the/an identity out into the open? Whatever the case an identity is now out in the open and we can clearly see various agencies at their works to further attempt direction and to sow the seeds of confusion albeit at times with the usage of large sections of the media.

Although there was aspects within the British state who believed that the IRA could be defeated militarily the case was that the IRA were not defeated militarily, as were not the British. So for those who still wished to secure the defeat of the IRA they use both the politics of revisionism coupled with that of an agenda of again increased IRA attempted internal dissent and division, while helped externally with an agenda of fracturing the ‘movement’ as a whole, with a view of achieving eventually widely acknowledged defeat and humiliation, in relation to the outcome of the war. Although some believe that the Republican Movement was defeated when it signed up and compromised on many of its core traditional principles by signing the Good Friday Agreement, the activities by various agencies amongst others are attempting to hammer the nail right through for that initial backroom call of victory. Yet the state is ‘wise’ enough to ensure that such dissent does not move to huge splits as it would not be in their interest for a larger layer returning to war, yet they of course will use their usual methods to monitor this situation.

So now we can almost see here a two tier approach by the various aspects of the state attempting to move increasingly both against the IRA and Sinn Fein, (the Republican Movement) as a whole during this phase of the peace process. Although it was obvious that David Trimble was not going to agree on elections, republicans nevertheless gave several clarifications of statements in the space of days. With that even more was asked for. So with those clarifications pocketed then followed the denying of democratic rights of all peoples including the right to the electoral process, (this at the whim of the Ulster Unionist) a call back then to the ‘old days’. So with the democratic process closed down and change held back until demands were met, called by the Ulster Unionist and the British Government, with that we then quickly had Stakeknife on the scene (And there will no doubt be other such situations coming to the fore in times ahead.) So while then attempting to increasingly limit Sinn Fein’s room to manoeuvre the attempts also of then sowing those seeds of confusion and division within IRA ranks are intensified and indeed one may say ‘progressively developed ’ through various tactics from various quarters.

Yet the whole whataboutery of 'is it him, is it not?' did the Republican movement have a good notion of a possible identity or not? Is this to protect some one else or not, would it be for them better even if they knew not to let this come forth, etc etc, while vitally important questions for many, but especially to Republicans, I believe overshadows the fundamentals of the bigger picture. While the massive media attention was directed towards the Stakeknife saga I found it interesting (putting aside the continuing activities of the state agencies) that while many talked of the way that Stakeknife in the past had worked outside the bounds of our defined laws and democracy with the knowledge and direction of the state, that we presently are seeing the Ulster Unionist and again the British Government working both outside the bounds of defined laws and the now withholding of democracy.

Yet if one tends to look at part similar situations in a developing post-conflict situation, various state mechanisms in some cases have been provided to air aspects of the ‘truth’ about their specific regional conflict. Situations where this is not available, as I have stated before, 'elements of the truth’ will come increasingly from various quarters where questions will first be mumbled, then increasingly asked by growing numbers of people within their specific conflict related organisations and louder still within society as a whole

Yet when I look at it all, the informers, the attempted (and successful) mainstream media manipulation of some, the state sanctioned murders of its own citizens, agents etc, they are all but part characters in aspects of state strategy in the continuing dirty war, some pawns, others playthings, while others just manipulated. In cases some can live others cannot, some are steered others directed, innocents targeted, innocents murdered - all have been done under the direction of various wings of the state. Yet this matters little though to the state, as all that simply matters to the state, is the state itself. So if that means directing organisations to kill its own citizens, if that means to go within other nation states' jurisdictions and direct similar then it will be done, if that is what is within the perceived interest of the state at the time.

While whatever wing of the state is doing this the state will also give a veil of democracy and provide such ‘democratic process and the rule of law’ when forced to deal with such issues. Yet their agencies and the state itself will work again in many cases outside its own definition of the rule of law to attempt to provide an acceptable outcome (acceptable to itself being the priority). But if they can do it by holding back, frustrating, tactically using laws, or finding a few scapegoats (within that perceived ‘rule of law’) then that would be their preferred option.

So here we are today seeing the mindset of the dirty war still continuing throughout many aspects of the state and its agencies, so the ‘democracy and rule of law’ long denied still being denied, the right to vote once denied being denied, and an old Unionist veto becoming a new Unionist veto. I suppose it is with a sense of irony in which David Trimble the Ulster Unionist leader who won the Noble Peace Price is in effect taking away my and all other citizen’s democratic right to vote albeit with the aid of the British Government. For a new generation therefore it is easy to see how hard it is to get but equality, justice and democratic rights in this small patch of earth. I personally have no illusions in the state and how much they will afford or not afford us various rights, yet when a state in effect directs the murders of its citizens, when in a ‘democracy’ we are not being allowed the democratic right to vote, when a Unionist veto is allowed to take precedence over an agreed process, when the hidden agencies of the state who long used murderous activities continue their new agendas of old from their shadowy rooms, many questions should and will be asked by many citizens across society.

For me though even though I was at my latter years in school when the embryo of what is now called the peace process was just developing I would have no doubt that much of the British State's Dirty War was known about at the top of the British establishment and by successive governments. With that then I initially have but one point to make in relation to the British establishment their agencies and their allies against change for equality and justice, which is quite simply: is their war also, their dirty war, their filthy war, over? And are they going to attempt to deny us still our democratic rights? For a new generation watching this situation unfold we know of a situation that we are not going to go back to. There are those with an ‘old dinosaur’ mentality whom are fighting both tooth and nail against change and for the revisionism of the recent conflict. Whatever their mindset, from the sixties this recent conflict brought forward many who stood firm against discrimination, injustice and inequality, it is those people that a new generation will stand with and will be inspired by, for our basic, civil, democratic and fundamental human rights. Those hiding in their dark rooms or those more obvious and vocal against that change (those rights), should know that we ain’t going back only forward, and that change no matter how hard you dig in, no matter what obstacles you attempt to put in the way, it’s a coming and it’s a coming this way to our wee patch of earth here in the North of Ireland.




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



I have spent
many years of my life
in opposition, and
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Index: Current Articles

2 June 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Nameless, Faceless
An Apology to Our Readers

Carrie Twomey


Hypocrats Accuse West Belfast Man of Being RUC Tout
Anthony McIntyre


Connolly and the First World War: Political Lessons for Today

Liam O Ruairc


I Got Your "Stake Knife"
Brian Mór


Hey, Fugheddaboutit
Brian Mór


It Wasn't Me
Brian Mór


The Chessboard: Another Great Game

Davy Carlin

The Last Time I Saw Mu`ab
Annie Higgins


30 May 2003


Andersonstown News Moves to Censor The Blanket
Anthony McIntyre


Security Lapse Endangers Republican Prisoner

Martin Mulholland


Britain's Dirty War in Ireland

Irish Republican Information Bureau (IRIB)


Story with rusty British blade has Irish adherents
"Adam O'Toole"


Wishful Thinking

Liam Clarke


Shade of 1984
Kathryn Johnston


Stop Attacks on Bus Drivers

Sean Smyth


Spooks are not so easy to spring from their closets

Eamon McCann




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