Double Dealing – D.D.

Great surprise has been expressed in response to the statement by one of the ‘Stormontgate Three’, Denis Donaldson, a Sinn Féin official, that in the 1980s, under pressure of a personal nature, he had been recruited as a spy inside that party by the security forces.

In his public confession he claimed that the police raid and the suspension of the Northern ireland Assembly three years ago was a politically motivated scam designed by those in the intelligence services who were opposed to the Belfast Agreement of 1998.

The consternation of people in general arises from the fact that only a week previously it was announced that the charges of running an intelligence collecting unit for Sinn Féin in their Stormont offices were being dropped and that no evidence in support of the charge was being offered.

We have had the usual uproar from Unionists complaining that such events get in the way of a return to devolved government. The DUP especially, conveniently forgetting that the suspension of the Assembly helped them in their refusal to serve with Sinn Féin in the Joint Executive and their success in the 2005 elections. There is a strong smell of hypocrisy and concealed delight in their reaction to these events.

With the IRA committed to the end of military action and Sinn Féin also committed to strictly democratic politics, Denis Donaldson should be safe, else the report of the Independent Monitoring Commission, due in January 2006 might be an adverse one. However, a dissident group might be tempted or a Loyalist group might fake some kind of punishment and blame the IRA. Also, an undercover intelligence unit might perhaps get rid of the embarrassment in a the same way and another possibility is that they could spirit him away like ‘Stake Knife’ to a new location with a change of identity.

Politicians on all sides should be cautious and not be precipitate in their response and remember that what is at stake is the whole peace process – we should not return to the pre-agreement mayhem for although the self confessed spy says that he has been a paid government agent for 20 years who can say whether his presence in both camps has obstructed or assisted the progress towards that accord on Good Friday 1998.

The British government is being pressed to agree to an inquiry in public into the whole affair including the role of the police and security services and whether these services acted without government authority or knowledge. So, with Unionists demanding this and Sinn Féin, via Martin McGuinness, saying that they have no objection as well as the Irish government having been kept in the dark, the ball is in Tony Blair’s court.

The DUP’s motives are suspect in that they have all along wanted to rubbish the Belfast Agreement and any stick to beat it with makes them happy. They will no doubt, hoping to get his support for their agenda, have spoken to the new Tory leader, David Cameron, on his recent visit to Northern Ireland.

With all this confusion, political posturing and turmoil the return to devolved government in 2006 is problematical and supporters of the 1998 Agreement will have to patiently hold their ground for some time yet.

Crucially, a joint power-sharing community government in Northern Ireland should not become dependent on the relative strength of the parties in the Westminster parliament.

The Secretary of State, Peter Hain, is meeting Sinn Féin leaders today 19th December and I understand he will also be meeting the Taoiseach and some members of the Irish government. He will need to do a lot of explaining and give satisfaction if the expected effort to reactivate the Assembly is to have a hopeful start next year.

Neither ‘putting the boot in’ or ‘putting one’s foot in it’ is an acceptable way of making peaceful progress.

I said in my previous article that something might be happening under the surface – and look what surfaced!

A confession of a double agent and what a book that would make, plus film rights. Trouble is that keeping a diary would be dangerous for a spy, it would be evidence to convict him in any sort of court, so we can only believe that John Le Carre has a script which could substitute.

©: Samuel H. Boyd, Cwmbran, Wales, 19 December 2005.

Samuel H. Boyd