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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Defeating the Enemy Within


Mick Hall • 21 December 2005

Oh, Dear, Oh, Dear. No matter how often one's intellect tells one's self an organization like Sinn Fein must be thoroughly infiltrated at all levels with touts, due to it having in a previous incarnation challenged with arms one of the more powerful, economically and militarily nations on earth, it still comes as a shock when the tout takes human form and is laid out bare before us. The more so when they turn out to be an actor on the main Republican stage, and not some desperate corner boy who has been bullied, bribed and threatened by Betty Windsor's finest to sell their friends, families and fellow countrymen for pennies or freedom from jail which in reality is no freedom at all.

The fact is, ever since Philip Agee broke with the CIA in the late 1960's and published 'Inside the Company, A CIA Diary', in which he cataloged the names of the touts the CIA ran in South and Central America within the region's political parties, business organizations, trade unions and the revolutionary left, it has been public knowledge the security services of all major powers behave in a similar manner throughout the world. (Touts: these days the security services call such people 'agents of influence', which is how Mr Donaldson described himself in his Dublin statement, perhaps giving us some idea as to who actually wrote it.)

That the Provisional Republican Movement has been and still is a prime target of infiltration by the British security services surely surprises no one, nor that these spooks use this leverage to push the political agenda of their master in Whitehall. Whether this should continue well after the military wing of SF has declared the war is over and stood their volunteers down is another matter.

What appears to be happening is whenever SF refuses to go in the political direction the British government wish it to, or when it starts getting uppity, the British expose an agent within their midst to throw SF into temporary turmoil and remind them who is master of the peace process. We saw this when Freddie Scappaticci was first exposed at a time when PIRA were refusing to move fast enough for the Brits on decommissioning and standing down. Now we have the British desperate to get SF to accept the PSNI, coupled with fears about its growth electorally.

Whatever the reasoning behind the latest kerffufle, is it not time the British State recognized SF as the legal political party it has become and treated it as such?

Whilst as I have already said, all governments attempt to recruit sources within political parties the world over, indeed it is one of the main functions of embassy staff. However, to continue to run touts who were first recruited during the PIRA military insurgency is not only unethical, it must also surely undermine any pretense of building a normal democratic society within the north of Ireland and indeed hinder democratic accountability in the Republic of Ireland.

What role touts played within the PRM, at leadership level, in enabling the political agenda propagated by the Adams leadership faction, is for those who may have been victims of such manipulation and for history to decide. Today's political activists must deal with the world as it is, not as it was 15 to 20 years ago, nor as we wish it to be.

Thus we must ask ourselves a number of questions, not least what benefit will it bring to the nationalist/republican working classes if SF implodes or fails to gain ground. Is their another political party as ready to argue on the behalf of its working class constituents? If so, fair enough, but if not, it will not be the suits who suffer if the party implodes or is further discredited en masse, as such people always find a safe bearth. But what of millions of ordinary workers north and south who will have no political representatives to fight their corner when central government, their local authority, landlords, etc has done them an injustice?

On the national stage, it would do no harm to ask ourselves if there really is another political party which is putting re-unification as vigorously as SF onto the national agenda.

As to Sinn Fein's rank and file membership, they have an enormous responsibility here, and it is high time many of them took off their rose-tinted spectacles. When their leadership demands of them, as they will, that they must put all the brouhaha about Mr Donaldson behind them and again circle the wagons and show loyalty to the leadership, the membership should refuse and question those who are pushing this agenda, and demand of them: Why?

Now is the time to cease treating the leaders of Sinn Fein as if they were an Army Council, worthy of military discipline and automatic respect due to their rank. This leadership needs to be told there are more important things than political office in the northern statelet. To have directed all political activity to attain this, as the current SF leadership has done, has resulted in mantraps, pitfalls and disasters.

What SF needs to do now is to open itself up democratically. The era of the leadership plotting against internal critics and deciding party policy in secrecy, which is then handed down by their minions as if from on high, needs to be brought to an end. This inevitably gives an advantage to touts and those they serve. It also gives touts the opportunity if they are highly placed to manipulate party policy without the mass of members being aware from whom party policy or strategy emanated. Thus, every failure becomes an orphan and all success is laid at the feet of the leadership.

Sure, if SF goes down the democratic and open road there will be arguments, disagreements, defections, disappointments, and, yes, more touts will emerge, but that is life. Any democratic party worthy of the name should reflect such goings on within its ranks, not be some sort of cabal whose rank and file is forever on group-speak.

In any case, what is the alternative, if SF carries on as it has? The British State will be able to reduce it to crisis and turmoil whenever it so wishes simply by outing one of its touts within SF, or by getting them to act as agent- provocateurs and carry out some despicable act which will reflect badly on the party in the Public eye.

There is every thing to gain from an open and democratic turn and little to lose, as Mr Donaldson must already have passed on the majority of the inner-most secrets of the current leadership to the British State.

The problem is, not only does SF's secretive and undemocratic nature make it an unattractive place for gobby youngsters first entering the political fray, especially if they have no Republican history within their families, it also all but encourages the British State to recruit disaffected or vulnerable individuals within SF as touts.

In a 'normal' democratic party, what goes on behind the scenes is an open secret to the media, thus eventually the public. All this secrecy on the part of the Adamsites leaves them wide open to be infiltrated. What is the good of Security Services running touts if the info they gain is common knowledge to the general public?

For Sinn Fein, democratic accountability and openness is the only way they can successfully defeat this problem. If the party does not recognize this fact, it is finished as a vehicle for progressive change within Ireland. Sinn Fein must move beyond being little more than a political replica of Oglaigh na hEireann if we are to live to see and hear the laughter of all of the nation's children.




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Index: Current Articles

24 December 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

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
Anthony McIntyre

25 November 2005

Political Policing
Willie Gallagher

One Sweet Deal for Some, but for The Rest of Us?...
Mick Hall

Who's In Charge Around Here, Anyway?
Eamonn McCann

Playing the Game
Anthony McIntyre

Dr John Coulter

RSF Presidential Address 2005
Ruairi O Bradaigh

To Go On: Irish Travellers meet Academia
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Genius decommissioned while Stupid keeps the guns
Tomas Gorman

Cut Off Aid to Regime in Uganda
David Adams

Sticks and Stones
Anthony McIntyre



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