republicans actually be less enthusiastic about
a genuine and transparent investigation into all
aspects of collusion than they would have us believe?
could well be the case.
their public stance, in the comparative privacy
of recent discussions with the two governments,
Sinn Fein seems to have been happy enough to tiptoe
around the subject.
the run up to this weeks agreement-that-didnt-happen,
Sinn Fein elevated to potential deal-breaker its demand for the early
release of the men who shot to death Detective Garda
Gerry McCabe and critically injured his colleague,
Detective Ben OSullivan, at Adare, Co. Limerick
its own, theres nothing remarkable about that.
However, it does lead one to wonder why they didnt
attach the same import to the British governments
continued failure to make good on its Weston Park
commitment to hold a proper public inquiry into
the conspiracy that led to the murder of Belfast
solicitor Pat Finucane.
all, in the public arena, Sinn Fein has been unrelenting
in its demand for just such an inquiry.
unlike their requirement on the McCabe killers,
this markedly more palatable issue was never granted
the lofty status of potential deal-breaker.
mind the government, this calls into question Sinn
Feins own depth of commitment to a Finucane
inquiry. Suspicions are reinforced, when one considers
that the nailing-down of clear and acceptable government
pledges on public inquiries is now a matter of real
Fein and all of the other parties are fully aware
that if the government has its way, a fully
independent public inquiry anywhere in the United
Kingdom will very soon be no more than a fond memory
of how things once seemed to be.
Thanks largely to the war on terror
(or, more likely, the excuse it provides), soon
there wont even be a pretence of openness,
accountability and transparency on the part of government.
Proposed new legislation, The Inquiries Bill, is currently
being pushed through Westminster (with exceptional,
if not quite indecent, haste) and is due its final
reading by Christmas. It will, amongst other things,
give a relevant Minister the power to determine
when an inquiry must sit in private and, more disturbing
still, to place on the slightest of pretexts, investigative
restrictions upon its inquiries. Self-evidently, this will render the term public
inquiry even more a mere titular appellation
than already is the case.
put, very soon government ministers will be able
to determine into what areas any inquiry may or
may not go, and have the ability to limit the extent
of its probing even into matters that have been
deemed appropriate (not to mention, determining
how much of its findings it can share with the public).
well as Finucane and the like, such legislation
would, for example, allow government to draw a veil
of secrecy around the alleged abuse and suspicious
deaths of young army recruits at Deepcut training
barracks and to suppress any awkward little details
concerning its Iraqi adventure that might still
make their way onto the radar screen of public concern.
prospect of this bill becoming law should galvanise
everyone who cares in the slightest about government
accountability never mind those, like Sinn Fein,
who, ostensibly at least, have a particular issue
of real concern.
the face of it, an extensive and forensic public
examination of the circumstances surrounding Pat
Finucanes death should hold no fears for republicans.
then, Sir John Stevenss investigation into
the activities of UDA double-agent Brian Nelson
shouldnt have either: but, ultimately, it
proved to be the source of a great deal of republican
probing of Brian Nelsons activities led Stevens,
via. the Nelson-directed killing of pensioner Francisco
Notorantonio, directly to the person whose identity
Notorantonio had been sacrificed to protect - Freddie
Scappaticci, code-named Stakeknife, the most senior
British agent yet uncovered within the IRA.
inquiries, by their very nature, tend to wander
where they will and where they must: the possible
fall-out from that approach can never be predicted.
can possibly predict where a full-scale, transparent
investigation into all aspects of the killing of
Pat Finucane might lead, let alone the possible
implications of a similar inquiry into the entire
cesspit of collusion.
it might become glaringly obvious within a short
space of time, that many senior and influential
paramilitaries on both sides colluded with agents
of the British and/or Irish state(s) at various
times throughout the conflict.
the Finucane family, the SDLP and a myriad of human
rights activists have all held firm to their demand
for a solid date and acceptable terms of reference
and scope for a public inquiry into all of the circumstances
surrounding the murder of Pat Finucane, Sinn Fein
has, to put it mildly, become far less strident.
than open Pandoras Box, a safer bet for them,perhaps,
is to let remain imprinted in the public mind, the
notion that collusion was, by definition, shadowy
figures from British intelligence agencies meeting
only with moronic loyalists in the back-seats of
cars to plan and direct the murder of innocents.
published in the Irish Times and carried here with
permission of the author.