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.'
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.
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.'
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.