The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

We Believe Freddie McGuinness

Nobody believes the official spokesman...
but everybody trusts an unidentified source

- Ron Nesen

Anthony McIntyre • 30 May 2006

Martin McGuinness an agent for the British! A few years ago the accusation would not have been entertained or discussed for any longer than the seconds taken to level it. In our changed times it is worthy of discussion only because Sinn Fein have lied so often that the incorrigibly faithful alone are prepared to believe the party. Even the dullard, with what few thoughts he has, can't go back to sleep easily at four in the morning when the haunting and taunting tone of the news reader tugs at the eyelids and announces yet again: 'Gerry Adams who denied that Freddie Scappaticci was a British agent also denies that Martin McGuinness is one.'

Many would find it crushing to discover that McGuinness is a tout, particularly those to whom the Derry nationalist represented armed struggle par excellence. I have no idea what his relationship with the British was other than that he worked for them as a minister. That does not make him an informer. Nor has anything been presented in the past week that would lead me to conclude that he is one. Contrary to popular myth there are more reasons for smoke than fire.

That said, it is impossible to give a clean bill of health to any of the leadership that brought republicanism to the abject state it is in today. How the death defying radical spirit of 1981 has morphed into a retrogressive snivelling plea for Ian Paisley to become first minister is mind boggling. Moreover, every single person involved in covering up for the British agent Freddie Scappaticci must have serious question marks over them. McGuinness can hardly carry that cross on his own. There were plenty of knowledgeable participants in the Scappaticci scandal all too willing to shout 'securocrat plot.'

Sinn Fein is hoist on the petard of its own duplicity. Consequently, it is instructive to observe just how many of its grassroots are diffident in their response to the latest episode in the party's long running spy saga. Their dismissal of the allegation is much less robust than it was in the case of Scappaticci, almost weary in its application. The denials seem to come tinged with hesitancy. Verbalised for brevity they would sound like 'we believe Freddie McGuinness.' Yet, paradoxically, the evidence against McGuinness, unlike Scap, is so weak that were it to be thrown up in the air it wouldn't have the strength to make its way back down.

Many of McGuinness's republican critics have not yet learned the virtue of patience. Circling their intended prey in the hope of sharing the spoils of the anticipated kill, they have over-egged the pudding. Were the same standards of evidence to be presented under the Diplock system, there would be protests to the European Court of Human Rights. When in the 1970s, Superintendent Fleming of the Garda Siochana would step into the witness box of Dublin's Special Criminal Court to offer an opinion that the person in the dock was an IRA member, there was a republican outcry. Yet the rope being weaved for the neck of McGuinness has been fashioned from little more than opinion.

The current evidence against McGuinness is a transcript of an alleged conversation between someone referred to as J118 and another person, G. There is nothing that proves the authenticity of the transcript. People quite capable of counterfeiting high definition bank notes would find forging the transcript less than challenging. There is nothing whatsoever in the transcript to identify McGuinness. It appears to be undated. And while the reader of last Sunday's newspapers is assured by former FRU agent handler Martin Ingram that the conversation pertains to the human bomb attacks of 1990, there is little that would allow us to conclude that the conversation necessarily took place prior to the bombings that resulted in deaths rather than after them.

Ingram has relied on his history and integrity to bolster his claims against McGuinness. It is true that he has a verifiable past. In terms of honesty it compares very favourably to both that of Sinn Fein and McGuinness. But neither a past integrity on the part of Ingram nor previous dishonesty on the part of McGuinness should be acceptable as evidence of guilt.

Unlike in the case of Scappaticci who was an agent handled by the FRU, of which Ingram was a member, McGuinness is alleged to have been an agent of MI6. Ingram can plausibly argue that he had first hand knowledge of Scappaticci's role. But no such claim can be made in relation to his knowledge about McGuinness. For Ingram to claim he is 100% certain is misleading. He can claim that he has 100% trust in the source who supplied the document. But this is not the same thing. Like beauty, trust resides in the eye of the beholder and not necessarily anyone else. It is up to the source to prove the claim, not McGuinness to defend his character against it.

Ingram has said that the killing of Frank Hegarty in 1986 proves his point; the evidence was there to prosecute McGuinness for his alleged role in Hegarty's death. But this is a misunderstanding on the part of Ingram about the peace process. Keeping McGuinness out of prison did not mean he was an informer but rather that for the British he was someone that would prove a strategic asset in their drive to defeat the IRA; what ultimately became known as the peace process. The British have previously spoken of those Sinn Fein leaders with whom they knew they could do business. That business did not have to be carried out through agents.

It was easy to detect a note of nervousness in McGuinness's tone today as he spoke from the steps of Stormont. Such a disposition is not proof of guilt but evidence of the effects of accusation. Few would fail to feel shaky when to a blaze of publicity they find themselves having to answer the charge of informing. It is being alleged throughout the internet that McGuinness's Stormont appearance came only a day after he spent some time in the 'Denis seat' at Sinn Fein's Sevastopol Street offices in 'conversation' with people not remotely interested in what way Michael Oatley or John Deverill liked their tea. Not the type of exchange conducive to a relaxed demeanour and hearty smiles.

There is little doubt that the Provisional movement at all levels has been and continues to be penetrated. Finding the bad apples takes more than looking at the first surface blemish. Gerry Adams, meanwhile, is doubtless hoping no one comes up with the theory that McGuinness is only being exposed to cover for somebody higher up.

 



 

 


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Index: Current Articles



6 June 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

We Believe Freddie McGuinness
Anthony McIntyre

Under Scrutiny
John Kennedy

Unionism's New Puppetmasters
Robert Matthews

Omens
Dr John Coulter

Two Peace Processes
Mick Hall

'The Beginning of the End has Past …'
Davy Carlin

How Many Grannies?
Dr John Coulter

Even the Dogs Bark in Irish?
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Bards for St Brigid's
Paul Dougherty

USA v Iran
John Kennedy

Threat to Iran Based on Duplicity
David Adams

Manifesto of the Third Camp against US Militarism and Islamic Terrorism

Profile: Bernard Henry-Levy
Anthony McIntyre

BHL: Bernard Henri-Levy
Liam O Ruairc

Freedom of Speech index


28 May 2006

Humpty Dumpty
Anthony McIntyre

1981
Eamon Sweeney

Political Status
Geoffrey Cooling

Enough, Enough of Stormont
David Adams

Joined at the Hip
John Kennedy

Loyal to What
Fred A Wilcox

No Rest In Peace
John Kennedy

'Penetrated' Has Become the Sinn Fein Brand Mark
Anthony McIntyre

Code Red
Dr John Coulter

Review of the Field Day Review 1: Debut Issue, 2005
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Profile: Salman Rushdie
Anthony McIntyre

Freedom of Speech index

 

 

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