nature of Freddie Scappaticcis relationship
to the British state security services remains a source
of contention. Whether agent or victim the debate
rages on. For the most part, only those who handled
the man that penetrated the IRA on behalf of the British
state and those they reported to, know for certain
the identity of the agent. Unless of course the IRA
already knew his identity, debriefed him some time
ago and have remained silent since - a bit like the
British did in the case of Anthony Blunt. The rest
of us can merely speculate on the identity. And regardless
of what position we may take on the issue, ultimately
the debate is largely generated and continues to be
fuelled by promptings, leaks or briefs from British
security personnel. As a measure of our continuing
uncertainty on the matter the journalist Ed Moloney
has today reminded us that even the commonly used
spelling of the agents codename S-t-a-k-e-k-n-i-f-e
is incorrect, it in fact being Steak Knife. Until
such times as proven otherwise, Freddie Scappaticci
- like anyone in a similar predicament - may, formally
at any rate, be given the benefit of whatever doubt
media, so confident that they had their man, zeroed
in on their quarry with a gusto. At times it seemed
they had thrown caution to the wind and were prepared
to risk their insurance against libel in an almost
frenzied onslaught. While Sinn Feins Arthur
Morgan alone seemed to believe that Freddie Scappaticci
was at his home on Monday evening eating dinner, the
appearance of the alleged agent at his solicitors
office yesterday afternoon in full view of BBC cameras
has, in the words of David McKittrick, 'confounded
those who thought he had been spirited to Britain
by the authorities to escape a vengeful IRA.
It has helped persuade many that the British military
sources informing some journalists have been lying
through their teeth when claiming that Scappaticci
was in a secure military base in Britain. In turn
those eager to rubbish claims that Stakeknife is Freddie
Scappaticci are able to point to the claims that he
is in fact the spy at the heart of the IRA, as having
their origins in the same dubious sources.
of this should be allowed to infringe on public debate.
It merely underlines the need to approach the matter
with prudence. Getting the core but tripping on the
peripherals provides the blur which compromises the
clarity. While I do not know for certain the identity
of Stakeknife there is little doubt that such an agent
does exist. We can afford to ignore the nests of self-important
liars who infest the British security services - Thiepval
barracks did not acquire its status as the Lisburn
Lie Machine on the basis of its reputation for honesty.
These barroom braggers seem more concerned with inflating
their own standing in the eyes of journalists as men
at the epicentre of great system shaking events rather
than being the purveyors of mess hall tittle-tattle.
persuasive than anything the spooks may float is the
following: Geoff Hoon the British Defence Secretary,
for the past three years persistently pushed a series
of extraordinary gagging attempts on media
exposure of the Force Research Unit and its agent
in the IRA. Hugh Orde, boss of the renamed RUC, has
informed the Notorantonio family that Stakeknife exists.
John Stevens had stated that he intends to interview
the agent. Martin Ingram, who recently gave evidence
to the Saville Inquiry that would have been beneficial
to the position of Martin McGuinness, has long confirmed
the existence of Stakeknife. Bertie Ahern told the
Irish Dáil, I am afraid to say it but
there appear to be two individuals with similar titles."
can be assured that every possible angle was considered
by the British state in order to find a way to deny
the existence of the agent and ultimately it was impossible
to square the circle. The Stevens inquiry has met
serious obstacles along the way, so it is unlikely
that Stevens or Orde are going to add insult to injury
by burning their own office containing files on the
matter as a means to retrieve the situation for Stakeknife.
British state has many questions to answer arising
from the events of the past week. But to allow this
line of investigation to become the sole narrative
would be as disingenuous as it would be self-serving
for those who wish to avoid accountability and responsibility
for their own shortcomings in this affair.
Sinn Fein do not want to talk to Freddie Scappaticci
- a man described by David McKittrick as a stalwart
of the Republican Movement - defies credulity.
When did the party ever accept willy nilly a mans
word that he was not an informer? That party leaders
are not to be seen flanking him as he denounces British
dirty tricks invites many questions, not least of
all when did they first become aware of the allegations
against Scappaticci? Those commentators who at present
are trying to publicly distance the republican leadership
from the Stakeknife saga may themselves have questions
to answer at a future date, if it transpires that
they were consciously part of a cover up.
republicans on the ground are not happy with the manner
in which the republican leadership has responded to
the events of the past week, something underlined
by an event today. Three media figures - Greg Harkin,
Rosie Cowan and Derek Henderson - made a spirited
defence of the accuracy of the medias claims
on BBCs Talkback this afternoon, making todays
lame critique of their position in a West Belfast
newspaper look pathetic. Republicans on the ground
who heard their account and with whom I spoke described
it as brilliant, powerful,
compelling. They want answers and the
longer they go without them on a nudge nudge wink
wink basis, the more their suspicions are roused.
Kelly is to be supported in his call for British military
intelligence to release all the files they contain.
These files pertain to the deaths of nationalist and
republicans. But even if the British were to respond
positively, they alone can not provide the answers.
The gaps, of which there may be many, need to be filled
in by republicans. There is little appetite for yet
another fudge of the type embedded in the logic of
Jim Gibney who proclaims:
me the language of ambiguity. It has served the
people of this country well over the last ten years.
It has oiled the engine of the peace process. Long
may it continue to do so.
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