Irish Republican News · March 9, 2006
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Establishment be warned - the truth will out

By Danny Morrison

You might think that it would be to the advantage of Tony Blair and incumbent prime minister Gordon Brown to expose the involvement of their main opponents - the Conservatives - in murder. They certainly have the information and power to do it - but not the will or inclination.

For there are some things bigger than party politics and that thing is the untouchable body politic and its keeper, the British establishment, guided not by integrity but by the cardinal rule - “our country, right or wrong”.

We got a glimpse of this mentality at work in the infamous, injudicious comments of the most celebrated English judge of the twentieth century, Lord Denning. For him to quash the convictions of six Irish people in relation to the Birmingham bombings would mean finding that prison warders had lied, senior detectives had lied and that law officers had maliciously pursued a false prosecution. This was an “appalling vista” which he could not contemplate and so Denning had no hesitation in jailing the innocent to protect the guilty, to protect the establishment.

Of course, it is not just former Conservative government ministers who have blood on their hands. This current prime minister started an illegal war and then expresses fake shock when his squaddies behave illegally - filmed practising on Iraqi youths, one of them a child, the unchanged human rights’ skills for which the British army is renowned, from engagements in Kenya, Aden and Ireland, to name but a few.

At Westminster there is all-party consensus: soldiers should not be caught beating civilians, should not be caught torturing prisoners, should not be caught murdering enemies and critics of the state.

This is what the Finucanes and other families, whose relatives were victims of collusion between state forces and loyalist death squads, are up against. It explains why, in the Finucane case, the campaign has gone on for 17 years. It explains all the procrastination, the feints of pretence about wanting to give the family justice, the censoring of the Stevens Report and the carefully fashioned Inquiries Act of 2005 which is designed to facilitate the withholding of sensitive information and to control what appears in any published report.

It explains why the British government slipped a virtual amnesty for its forces into the proposed legislation which was originally to cater solely for republican ‘on the runs’. Over-sensitive souls in both the Conservative and Labour parties took umbrage at the inclusion. Their boys could do no wrong, were above the law, and they felt there was an equivalence being made between the IRA and the British army, as if there had been a war going on between the two.

Britain’s first priority isn’t getting at the truth but in covering it up. It has to protect its own operatives because of what they can tell about the chain of command which reaches right up into the cabinet, implicating ministers in the dirty war.

Much of the media and the political opponents of republicans gloated at the embarrassment caused by revelations that British agents had infiltrated the IRA. We know that certainly, during the conflict, agents could only survive and maintain credibility by carrying out bombings and shootings, including killings. Ultimately, every ‘outed’ agent is of more embarrassment to the British government than to republicans and implicates the government further in the dirty war, as organising and directing ‘terrorism’, to use its terminology.

The former security correspondent of the BBC, Brian Rowan, in an article about the outing of loyalist informers, recently remarked about the willingness of intelligence officers to tell their ‘war stories’, which has, inevitably, involved compromising agents on both sides.

In the midst of this there will, of course, be much mischief-making, rumours and false allegations aimed at demoralising or dividing mainly the Republican Movement.

The Republican Movement is more than resilient to absorb a Donaldson or Scappaticci here or there, and I think it is ironic that the Branch and Brits are naming touts. After all, the IRA can no longer unearth informers and somebody should do it. I welcome it because it demonstrates how truly stupid these intelligent people are and, I repeat, it helps clarify who caused and stoked the violence - the handlers of the agents and the handlers’ superiors.

It is so stupid that it reminds me of the loyalist poster campaign of the early 1990s. Loyalists were smarting at accusations that their campaign was sectarian. So, in order to prove that they were targeting the right people they released thousands of RUC security files which contained the names and addresses of republicans. This led to an outcry which forced the RUC to make arrests in order to demonstrate that it was impartial. Scores of loyalists ended up in jail and one of them, Brian Nelson, then began spilling the beans on his handlers and their involvement in the murder of Pat Finucane.

On this, the seventeenth anniversary of the death of Pat Finucane, relatives seeking justice can take heart. In the end, Lord Denning could not shore up the establishment in relation to the Birmingham Six.

The failed attempt, but an attempt nonetheless, to include state assassins in an amnesty for ‘on the runs’ shows an increasingly apprehensive British government which recognises that exposure is more likely than ever. More details of Special Branch collusion with UVF death squads are expected in an Ombudsman’s Report, and the Public Prosecutions Office is running out of time and excuses in its avoidance of Sir John Stevens’ recommended prosecution of up to 20 soldiers and policemen.

In the end, the British government, the Houses of Commons and Lords will not be able to shore up the establishment in relation to Britain’s dirty war in Ireland. It is so explosive a subject that when the truth emerges - thanks largely to the persistence and drive of campaigning relatives - it has the potential to undermine and defeat the very cause the British and its agents murdered for.

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© 2006 Irish Republican News