Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Irish intelligence

Daily Ireland comments on the quality of the Irish intelligence services:

It’s not yet twelve years since Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams carried the coffin of IRA man Thomas Begley, whose bomb took nine lives as well as his own in October 1993. It seems for some the lessons of the past have been very quickly forgotten – or perhaps they’re just being ignored.

When Mr Adams turned up at a republican commemoration in Strabane he was photographed with a large number of people in paramilitary uniforms.

Inevitably, he’s been excoriated for it. But had Mr Adams not turned up, or had he walked away, the outcome would have been considerably more damaging than a few hostile pictures in the press.

Those republicans in Strabane who dressed in full paramilitary uniform could just as easily have turned up in white shirts and black ties.

That they did not is a small but telling indicator of the mood of the hardline republican rank and file – they were more interested in sending out a defiant message than they were in making life easy for Gerry Adams.

Meanwhile, the Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, turned up the heat again with his assertion that Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and Martin
Ferris are all on the IRA Army Council, although Taoiseach Bertie Ahern declined to go along with him on that particular one.

Mr McDowell claimed that as the Minister of Justice he has access to particular information that other members of the government do not necessarily have access to.

Of course the intelligence services in the Republic will have excellent intelligence linking the senior Sinn Féin members to the IRA because those Sinn Féin members meet the IRA on a regular basis to discuss peace process matters.

That’s hardly a big secret, but if that intelligence is good enough to indicate what the Sinn Féin leadership and the IRA talk about when they get together – as Mr McDowell’s latest claim clearly implies – then it’s strange that it wasn’t used to stop the Northern Bank raid, the money laundering and the multiple acts of criminality that the Dublin government claims Sinn Féin and the IRA are involved in.

It’s long been a source of wonder that intelligence on both sides of the Border is so accurate and trustworthy when it comes to making deeply damaging claims about groups and individuals, but so totally lacking when it comes to stopping those groups and individuals from carrying out the criminality that they're said to be involved in.


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