The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Britain's Dirty War in Ireland

The recent allegations, counter allegations and denials emanating from the British state, the Dublin government and Sinn Fein is stomach churning to say the least. Throughout the past 30 years the British Security Services (MI5) and British Military Intelligence have been involved in industrial/political espionage, bombings, and murder in different parts of this country. All of these activities were carried out at the behest of the British Government. Therefore British dirty tricks in Ireland should be of no surprise to anyone in Ireland.

However, one of the most disturbing issues about the whole "Stakeknife" affair is how Irish politicians in particular have tried to fudge the whole episode. During a recent debate on the "Stakeknife" affair in Leinster house on 14th May 2003, Bertie Ahern made the following disturbing quote. In relation to British-Irish intergovernmental conferences, Mr. Ahern stated "when I raise intelligence matters with the British I am usually less wise afterwards than before". At last an Irish Taoiseach has finally admitted how the British Government just disregards Irish politicians when they raise difficult questions concerning the behaviour of the British state in this country.

Perhaps this is a good indication of how successful Mr Justice Barron will be as he persists with his demands that the British state disclose all evidence into the Dublin/Monaghan bombings. If Mr Ahern's little slip of the tongue is a barometer to go by then Mr Justice Barron would be better off staying home and not continuing to waste his own time or participate in misleading the families of the victims of the Dublin Monaghan bombings. During the Barron inquiry it has also been very noticeable that there has been no input from Mr Liam Cosgrove Government, Fine Gael leader at the time, or his former Justice Minister, Mr Cooney. Surely these former politicians must have some helpful information in relation to the initial investigation which took place after the bombings?

This year is the 29th anniversary of the Dublin/Monaghan bombings and at a commemoration held in Dublin on 17th May 2003 the victims' relatives claimed that the British Government had broken its promise to co-operate fully with the Barron inquiry. Justice Barron is due to publish his report into the bombings in September 2003. The content of the report will be controversial - if it is published - because it will contain nothing new which can bring closure on the worst single atrocity of the troubles. We must not forget that Bertie Ahern gave a public commitment that all details would be made available to the Barron inquiry. He also stated that he had received a personal guarantee from Tony Blair that any relevant evidence that the British state has in its possession would be fully disclosed to the inquiry.

Mr Ahern should openly inform the Irish people if this is the same attitude Irish politicians have received when they requested information into all the other atrocities committed by MI5 agents against Irish citizens over the past 30 years. If full co-operation is not given to Justice Barron by September 2003 then the families of the victims are entitled to an explanation. Mr Ahern should also be called upon to make a public statement and explain to the Irish people why the British Government is withholding full disclosure from the Barron inquiry.

Although Mr Ahern's little outburst on 14th May went almost unnoticed, it is an indictment on the leader of any Government to make light of such serious matters. Wouldn't it be nice if we had a Government that was genuinely outraged that a paid agent of British intelligence murdered a citizen of this State and one that had the moral integrity to call the British government to account on the issue? If the British Government is not responsible for these activities then they should come clean and say so. Where would you find a Government who would tolerate a murderous campaign being waged against its citizens in their own country by foreign agents? Most Governments would do whatever was necessary to protect the rights and lives of their citizens.

Irish Politicians should cast their subservient attitudes to one side. They should demand an end to all illegal British interference in this country forthwith; they should also demand that those responsible for these murders and other atrocities in Ireland be held accountable. Over the past three decades we have had many Irish citizens murdered and maimed including the members of the Miami showband. We have had the Gibraltar killings, the murder of Seamus Ludlow, Tom Oliver, John Green, and many others, along with the bombings carried out by murder gangs operating on behalf of the British Security Services, MI5, FRU or whatever other convenient name they choose to hide behind.

Co Louth killings
The latest revelations that the British spy (Stakeknife) was someway involved in the killing of a Co Louth farmer raises further questions for the authorities in the 26 counties. These allegations concerning the murder of Tom Oliver should be investigated along with the murder of Seamus Ludlow. One disturbing fact which took place after each of these two Co Louth killings, and which was overlooked or deliberately ignored, was the sinister activities of some members of the Gardai who directed a campaign against local republicans and their families in the North Louth area.

The Ludlow family has confirmed on many occasions that they were informed by members of the Gardai from the North Louth area that local IRA activists were responsible for the murder of Seamus. The family discovered some years later that this Garda information was misleading and incorrect. In fact they discovered that it was a loyalist murder gang, directed by British intelligence, that was responsible for the killing of Seamus Ludlow. An inquiry should establish why the family of Seamus Ludlow were misinformed and misdirected by members of the Gardai immediately after the killing, when this was the most important time to gather vital evidence on the killing. Meanwhile the Ludlow family continues with their dignified campaign in pursuit of justice and closure into the killing of Seamus Ludlow.

The media reports emanating from British Military Intelligence suggesting that it was "Stakeknife" who killed Tom Oliver is a very strange but interesting revelation. At the time of the Oliver killing there was a campaign of hysteria whipped up against local republicans in the area and again it involved certain members of the Gardai who provided misleading information to the media and also to Mr Oliver's family, accusing local republicans of involvement in the killing. It was well known in the North Louth area at the time that MI5 was running at least 2 agents inside the Gardai whose identities were and are still well known although they have since left the force or retired.

When one observes the similar pattern, which took place after each of these killings, it is obvious that there was a deliberate strategy by sinister forces to turn the local community in on itself, and to isolated local republicans and their families in the North Louth area. This theory may seem outlandish to some individuals, but if this is so then why have these families been deliberately misled and misinformed for all these years and why has there been no inquiry into these killings. If someone took the time to ask the Ludlow family their opinion as to whether they feel that this analysis is correct, the family would without doubt agree that they have been badly misled and misinformed over many years.

The Ludlow and Oliver families along with the families of all those who have lost relatives as a result of the machinations of the British state in Ireland will only get satisfaction when we have an Irish government who does not feel intimidated by the British and is prepared to state unequivocally 'your agents have been involved in the murder of our citizens and we demand answers'. When one looks at the attitude of Bertie Ahern and his predecessors, with their mealy mouth attitude to the British, it is doubtful if answers will ever be forthcoming. In the meantime Britain will continue with their covert, dirty war in Ireland with all that this entails for Irish citizens.

Sinn Fein
The attitude of Sinn Fein is not much different to Bertie Ahern's. They have also shown in the past that they are afraid to rock the boat, although they have been playing to the media through Gerry (comical) Kelly with his dismissive spin on the "Steakknife" issue. Adams and McGuinness have been conspicuous by their limited public appearances since the "SteakKnife" revelations.

The "Stakeknife" revelations are without doubt a major embarrassment to the Provisional movement. This embarrassment may be intensified in the weeks and months ahead as difficult questions begin to emerge from grassroots activists about the roles played by certain individuals within the organisation, their activities and how they came to know so much detail on so many activists in what was supposed to be a secret organisation. The big question on everyone's mind is who is "Stakeknife" and how many other "Stakeknifes" exist within the Provisional organisation, especially at senior level. But the most obvious question will be, had another "Stakeknife" any input into the policymaking, strategy or direction of the organisation over the past 30 years?

Ed Moloney's The Secret History of the IRA details how the Eksund, carrying a massive IRA arms shipment from Libya, was alleged to have been compromised by someone holding a very senior position within the organisation. The capture of the ship had a devastating impact on future IRA strategy and dire consequences for the direction of the whole organisation. In the years ahead many more questions will come to the surface about the Adams/McGuinness stewardship of the organisation. One thing that must be firmly established is what were their exact long-term political objectives? Those within the organisation and the families of the dead IRA activists are entitled to know whether their objectives were similar to those of the many genuine young men and women who gave so much over the past 30 years.

Mistrust amongst activists
Whether the man accused is "Stakeknife" or not, these series of leaks have been a masterstroke by British intelligence. The media leaks have created a climate of mistrust throughout the ranks of the Provisionals and they have every Provisional looking over his/her shoulder. It has certainly created a state of paranoia amongst not only the activists but also their support base.

If "Stakeknife" is genuinely exposed at this time, it is highly likely that the Provisional leadership will do a deal or have already done a deal with him. This is a very delicate time in the Adams/McGuinness peace strategy and it would be disastrous for the Provisionals to contemplate anything other than make the whole episode disappear from public prominence. On the other hand the long-term effect of this saga could spell final demise of the Adams/McGuinness leadership.

There are those who will say that the Provisional movement would never do a deal with such a person, an agent of British Military Intelligence who was responsible for so much treachery. Many believe that the Provisional leadership would not accept or tolerate this. However it should be pointed out that if the Provisionals do a deal at this time, they would not be setting a precedent. This course of action has already happened in the past and was kept relatively quiet from activists within the organisation.

In the mid 90's a Sinn Fein councillor from Co Offaly was uncovered and subsequently admitted his role as an MI5 agent. He was also a senior IRA activist in the Southern Command at the time. It was discovered that while working for MI5 he had been briefing his handlers with details on the Provisionals future strategy and policy. Senior republicans debriefed the Sinn Fein councillor and he cooperated fully by giving full details on payments, holidays and his continental meetings with his MI5 contacts.

In the early 90's there was also the case of a Sinn Fein councillor from County Armagh who admitted meeting and supplying information to his MI5 handlers in London and Paris. He was interviewed by senior Republicans and cooperated fully by disclosing his involvement with MI5. He was then ordered to leave the country. However, he has since returned and is now living in the Dublin area.

A senior republican activist from Belfast, who it was believed had met with MI5 while on holiday in Barcelona, was also confronted but denied any wrongdoing and the matter ended. He is still a key figure and close to the Provisional leadership. Public exposure of Sinn Fein activists cooperating with MI5 agents would have created major problems within the organisation and for the leadership, not to mention the public embarrassment to the Sinn Fein party as they negotiated the Peace Process and embarked upon elections throughout the country.

If these double standards had become common knowledge within the organisation at such a delicate period, the consequences for the Adams/McGuinness strategy would have been grave and it is doubtful if some of their so-called allies within the movement would have remained so loyal.

Belfast Sinn Fein recently complained about being spied upon from the library on the Falls Rd. But as one Belfast republican quipped, "there is no need to spy on Sinn Fein as there is enough spies amongst them". This is now the perception that is being created and it will be difficult for the Provisionals to recover from it. What we are witnessing is the slow demise of the Provisional movement. The spy stories, allegations and counter allegations will increase and become more fascinating with time. Activists, former activists and imaginary activists will point the accusing finger for their own reasons. Bar stools in West Belfast will hear many a tall tale over the coming months. But for the moment with thanks to Gerry/Martin and co, it is game set and match to British Intelligence.



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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

30 May 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


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


23 May 2003


Lynch Pins
Eamon McCann


Send in the Sandbag
Anthony McIntyre


Trial By Media

British Irish Rights Watch


We Love the Andytout News Information Minister
Comical Livvy


The Letters page has been updated.




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