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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Balderdice

 



 
Eamonn McCann • 5 February 2006

Martin McGuinness had the bon mot for the IMC debacle when he referred to its latest report as “Balderdice.”

But it wasn’t only the Independent Monitoring Commission which deserved derision last week. If the credentials of the querulous quartet are questionable--- and they are---the Canadian general who stepped back into the limelight to question the IMC assessment is just as dodgy a customer. Or even dodgier.

What strange bed-fellows are created by the Peace Process that Passes All Understanding! Paisley’s crowd now apparently believes that a group including the former boss of the Free State Justice Department is the bees’ knees when it comes to objectivity. This after some DUPers have spent a political lifetime denouncing the same Dublin Department for refusing to render wanted Republicans to the Northern courts.

Meanwhile, Provos promote an ex-NATO general as a reliable witness to their own bona fides.

I learned from Daily Ireland on Thursday that Balderdice and the Spooks are paid £625 a day (each) for their “professional services” to the IMC. Double the weekly wage of a nurse, North or South, every DAY. Weird.

Alderdice is a former leader of the political party, Alliance, which regularly reminds us that, originally, the IMC was its idea. Alderdice himself regularly reminds us what a fine fellow he is. “I am widely regarded as having played a key role in the negotiations (on the Belfast Agreement) and in their successful outcome,” he remarks in his House of Lords pen-portrait. “In December 1998, I was awarded the prestigious Averell Harriman Democracy Award....I was also jointly awarded the John F Kennedy Profile in Courage Award...In September 1999, (I) was awarded the Peruvian Medal of Congress.”

A gesture of modesty from Alderdice is as rare these days as a good word about him from a former Alliance colleague.

Having been elected as Alliance leader to the Assembly in 1998, Alderdice dumped the party when Blair offered him the job of Speaker. After the Assembly collapsed, he accepted Blair’s invite to trouser three grand plus a week (assuming a five-day stint) for the IMC gig.

John Grieve, former head of the Metropolitan Police Special Branch and then “national co-ordinator” of Britain’s Anti-Terrorist Squad, Richard Kerr, a former director general of the CIA, and Joe Brosnan, ex-secretary general of the Department of Justice, are the spooky trio alongside Alderdice.

Neither individually nor collectively can these four operators reasonably be presented as an untainted group coming to their task with an open mind.

As to whether they are right of wrong about the IRA, I wouldn’t know. But I know enough not to take their word for it.

The IMC verdict was followed by the intervention of General de Chastelain to cast doubt on their verdict and, in effect, to back up the Provos.

De Chastelain has been parading around Ireland for a number of years as if he hadn’t been discredited, some would say disgraced, in his native Canada. Anyone tempted to take this man’s judgments seriously should sit down and read the report of Canadian Federal Court Judge Gilles Letourneau into the circumstances surrounding the death of Shidane Arone at the hands of Canadian paratroopers in Somalia in 1993.

“It sounded like the noises of an ineptly butchered animal,” said a soldier who had heard the death cries of the tortured teenager from across the Canadian compound.

The Canadian Airborne Regiment was in Somalia as part of a UN-flagged “peace-keeping” force. Outrage at the slow murder of Shidane forced a public inquiry, its proceedings broadcast daily across Canada in both official languages. Photographs and home videos of paras gloating at their own brutality were produced. The unit which had tortured Shidane had the Confederate flag flying over its compound outside Mogadishu. One trooper had been filmed saying, “We ain’t killed enough niggers yet.” Others were shown performing Nazi salutes in front of a Swastika. One picture featured a black man naked on his knees with a dog collar and a leash, his back smeared with excrement reading “KKK.”

It emerged that the paras had a long-established reputation throughout the armed forces for brutality, racism and indiscipline, and that senior officers had expressed concern in advance about their deployment to Somalia. It also emerged that planning, command and control of the Somali operation had been not so much deficient as non-existent.

The Letourneau Report was so damning, the Airborne Regiment was disbanded. The soldier singled out for the most scathing criticism was chief of the Defence Forces, de Chastelain. He had “exercised poor and inappropriate leadership...non-existent control and indifferent supervision...failed in his responsibility to the government...a failure to act, to direct, to command...He allowed monetary and political considerations to motivate important decisions regarding the Canadian contingent...” And so on and on, page after page.

One Canadian newspaper described the response: “After riding out the storm of editorials and commentaries demanding his resignation, de Chastelain retired...and was rewarded with another government appointment...(as) a member of the Northern Ireland Disarmament Commission, taking home a six-figure salary in addition to his six-figure pension.”

Between the IMC and de Chastelain, whom are we to believe?

What I believe is that anyone who accepts these characters as arbiters of their behaviour demeans themselves and all those in whose name they purport to act.

 

 

 


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Index: Current Articles



5 February 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

Murder in the Street
Anthony McIntyre

The Murder of Brian Stewart
Marie Duffy

Balderdice
Eamonn McCann

President Reinventing Our History
David Adams

End Coalition with US
Michael McKevitt

"Do Not Become Recruiting-Sergeant for PSNI", Reiss is Advised
Sean Mc Manus

An Endless Circle
Mick Hall

The American Dream – Camp Sister Spirit Mississippi
Sean Mc Aughey

Call Centres
Liam O Ruairc

Reaction to GEM Article
Pascal Stil

More Spies May be Lurking in Sinn Féin's Cupboard
Anthony McIntyre


30 January 2006

One Year On
Anthony McIntyre

SF's Support 'Lay With the People Involved in Robert's Murder'
K Quinn

Our Fenian Dead
Brendan Hughes

Murky Maghaberry
Anthony McIntyre

Rebutting a Defamatory Article
Declan Carroll

Getting the Facts Right
Statement from McKevitt & Sands Family

"Close Enough for Government Work"
Chris Fogarty

Boxing Shadows
Dr John Coulter

When is Enough, Enough?
Mick Hall

Serving the Agenda of Two Masters
Anthony McIntyre

St Pat's Day
Niall Corey

The Letters page has been updated.

 

 

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