the murky Northern world of spies, agents and informers,
the brutal slaying of Sinn Fein super spook Denis
Donaldson cannot be conveniently dismissed as a
mafia-style grudge killing.
would be all too easy to close the Donaldson file
as the tout who confessed, but got murdered by his
own before he could escape Ireland.
this respect, we would compare the Donaldson killing
to that of former INLA Chief of Staff Dominic 'Mad
Dog' McGlinchey, shot dead in similar mysterious
circumstances in Drogheda in February 1994.
as McGlinchey had murdered his own kind to enforce
his rule over the INLA, Donaldson must have condemned
fellow republicans to capture or death by the security
forces or loyalists.
Fein had nothing to gain and a lot to lose by sanctioning
Donaldson's death, and the finger of suspicion points
firmly in the direction of disgruntled republicans
rather than dissidents or mainstream elements.
there's a long-term question - who will benefit
most from Donaldson's horrific demise? Put in this
light, the faceless figures running the British
intelligence community begin to emerge from the
was Donaldson sacrificed by his British handlers
because he knew too much; could he possibly identify
other agents within the republican movement, or
did he know the identities of informers who were
being transferred from mainstream republicanism
into the growing dissident movement?
many security forces personnel and former touts
have made lucrative book deals by writing 'kiss
and tell' accounts of their activities and experiences?
Donaldson blockbuster could have really blown the
lid on how deep British intelligence had infiltrated
the IRA and Sinn Fein.
historical clocks have to go back to 1916 to witness
Dublin Castle's extensive network of spies within
SF, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, Irish Citizens
Army and the Irish Volunteers. Is it any wonder
the Easter Rising was a flop?
the number of Provo spies who have been unearthed
since the Good Friday Agreement, again the haunting
question returns to plague Sinn Fein - who is really
running the republican agenda, the Army Council
or British intelligence?
Donaldson deliberately sacrificed to protect a 'deep
throat' informer even higher up in the republican
echelons? Does British intelligence even have a
direct line to the Army Council itself?
have reacted with their usual scepticism about IRA
denials of involvement in Donaldson's killing. His
death has been a timely God send to dissident anti-Agreement
unionism, especially within the DUP's fundamentalist
was Donaldson deliberately murdered before the Blair
Ahern blueprint to ensure a 'No' reaction from hardline
as the Maryfield Secretariat near Stormont was the
cross-border lynch pin of the '85 Anglo-Irish Agreement,
so the cross-border institutions set up by the '98
Belfast Accord would be a vital springboard to any
future joint authority of the North should the Assembly
London and Dublin governments learned one vital
lesson from the late 1980s. Tens of thousands of
Unionists tramped Northern streets for months with
Ulster Says No rallies.
formed various groups such as Ulster Clubs, Ulster
Resistance, United Unionist Action Committees, and
the Movement for Self-Determination.
embraced equal citizenship, devolution, integration
and even the idea of an independent Ulster - but
nothing even rattled Maryfield.
cross-border bodies was the swot to take the sting
out the tale of unionist and loyalist wasps.
death may have thrown cold water on the long-term
success of a voluntary coalition, shadow assembly
or even a power-sharing Executive involving Paisley
and Sinn Fein.
his murder has ensured in the event of the Assembly
falling, the cross-border bodies based in Armagh
will go from strength to strength.
Donaldson lay dying in a bleak Donegal cottage,
did he have time to ponder if he was merely the
victim of a vendetta, or the sacrificial pawn in
a much larger political chess game controlled by
prickly question which must be finally answered
by 24 November is whether the DUP can actually create
an Executive within the Blair and Ahern time frame
otherwise thousands of pounds of MLAs' salaries
and expenses will be permanently axed along with
the Assembly itself.
this respect, the two premiers have a moral imperative
to do whatever they can to support the modernising
wing of the DUP reaching an agreement with the republican
hard reality which DUP modernisers must face is
that to preserve the Union after 24 November, they
must form a United Unionist Coalition in the Assembly
with the UUP.
modernising wing could probably count on the support
of about half of the DUP's 32 MLAs, which along
with the UUP's 24, David Ervine of the Progressive
Unionists and possibly Newry and Armagh Independent
Unionist Paul Berry would give the UUC a considerable
power block of more than 40 MLAs enough to
outvote hardline fundamentalists who want no deals
with Sinn Fein.
the coming weeks, especially after the Assembly
is recalled on 15 May, all eyes will be focused
not so much on Ian Paisley, but on the speeches
and statements of his deputy Peter Robinson, who
could become First Minister in a UUC/Sinn Fein Executive
along with the republican movement's chief negotiator
Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister, with
Empey holding the crucial post of Finance Minister.