SDLP and Sinn Fein have demanded that the Dublin Government
take a tough line with Tony Blair over the activities
of British spies in Ireland. Bertie Ahern has agreed
to do his best. Answering a question from Joe Higgins
in the Dail, however, in the week after the Steak
Knife/Scappaticci revelations, Ahern sighed that he
had frequently pressed Blair on this very issue but
had never gotten satisfaction.
was a very unsatisfactory answer. The record shows
that Fianna Fail in government has consistently collaborated
with the British intelligence services in their Irish
adventures and covered up their criminal activities.
last month---using documents recently obtained from
the Public Records Office in Kew by British-Irish
Rights Watch---I described the response of the Government
of Jack Lynch in the early 1970s to the clear subversion
of the Irish State by a British espionage operation.
This gist was this.
December 21st 1972, a MI6 officer operating under
the name "John Wyman" was arrested in a
hotel in Dublin in the act of receiving a dossier
of documents from garda sergeant Patrick Crinnion,
private secretary to the head of the Special Branch,
Chief Superintendent John P. Fleming. The Irish Government
assessed the material as being "of a critical
incident came at a tense time in Anglo-Irish relations,
at the close of the worst year of the Troubles and
just three weeks after two people had been killed
and more than a hundred injured in bomb blasts in
Dublin. The bomb attacks came as the Offences Against
the State (Amendment) Bill, described by Justice Minister
Des O'Malley as "draconian", was being debated
in the Dail. Opposition to the measure instantly collapsed.
It was widely speculated that British intelligence
agents had had a hand in the attack. Now, a British
agent had been captured in an act of subversion against
the Irish State.
days later, Lynch told British Premier Edward Heath
that the incident need have no effect on relations
between the two countries.
a document dated December 23rd and marked "Top
Secret and Personal", Heath's private secretary,
Robert Armstrong, recorded a meeting at Downing Street
with the Irish ambassador to Britain, Donal O'Sullivan.
It told that, "For public relations reasons his
(O'Sullivan's) Government would have to oppose bail
(for Wyman): but the strength with which they would
do so was another matter." As for the possibility
of a lengthy jail sentence: "He had the impression
that this was unlikely: indeed he said there might
be no sentences at all."
the Special Criminal Court on the following February
27th, Wyman and Crinnion were each sentenced to three
months and immediately released. Neither has surfaced
added that "Mr. Lynch was very anxious that his
own relationship with the Prime Minister should not
in any way suffer as a result of this incident."
Nor did it.
forward three decades to October last year and another
case at the Special Criminal Court.
man Michael McKevitt, charged with membership of the
(Real) IRA and with directing terrorism, was seeking
production of documents which he hoped would undermine
the credibility of the key witness against him, an
American called David Rupert who, it is not denied
by any party to the case, was working in Ireland for
both MI5 and the FBI.
failed in the action. His trial is set to go ahead
on June 16th. However, it emerged during the October
hearing that he wasn't alone in worrying about Rupert's
the second day of the action, McKevitt's lawyers questioned
a British Government barrister, Simon Dennison QC,
about a document produced in February 2001 by MI5
referring to a problematical telephone conversation
between an unnamed MI5 officer and Garda Assistant
Commissioner Dermot Jennings. The conversation had
concerned copies of e-mails which might have to be
entered in evidence at McKevitt's trial, between the
witness Rupert and his intelligence handlers. The
problem was that in one of the e-mails Rupert was
recorded alleging that Jennings had shown himself
indifferent to terrorist acts in the North. The e-mail
predated Omagh. But to put this allegation into the
public arena in the controversial aftermath of the
atrocity, and in the context of a trial in which Omagh
was sure to be on everybody's mind, would be extremely
damaging to Jennings and to the Southern security
passage in the MI5 operative's document read: "I
told Jennings that it might help me to understand
what we are trying to do regarding e-mails if I read
to him an extract of one of them sent in 1998. I then
read the extract which alleged Jennings expressing
indifference to terrorism in NI and only being interested
in illegal activity ROI (Republic of Ireland). Jennings
was shocked. He expostulated that the statement was
untrue and that he would never have said any such
thing. I responded that the problem was that the allegation
was there in the e-mail and we now had to decide what
to do about it. If the Defence got hold of it and
Jennings denied the report's veracity, that would
make Rupert an untrustworthy source. Jennings urged
that the report would be removed. I said I felt strongly
this was a matter of liason sensitivity that justified
redaction." (Redaction means to edit or censor.)
the face of it, here we have a very senior Garda officer
discussing with a member of a foreign intelligence
service whether and in what form relevant evidence
might be presented to a trial touching on the security
of the Republic. The document was revealed in the
course of proceedings on October 9th last. An afternoon
spent trawling through the Irish newspapers of the
days following yielded not a single editorial comment,
much less expression of outrage or alarm.
that's not the heart of it. The sharp point is that
the document was dated February 8th 2001---before
McKevitt was arrested, much less charged. That is,
MI5 was pro-actively engaged with a senior garda officer
in manipulating in advance the evidence which might
be presented by the gardai to the DPP to justify McKevitt's
arrest and arraignment.
the third day of the hearing, a FBI officer called
Krupkowski was being cross-examined about a schedule
of documents referring to meetings between Rupert
and his handlers. At one point, a Garda Detective
Superintendant O'Sullivan brought a folder into the
court and handed it to the witness. Krupkowski referred
to the folder but didn't quote from it. A discussion
ensued about how this material had come to be in the
possession of the gardai. O'Sullivan was called to
the witness box to explain.
documents...were in the possession of the BSS (British
Security Service, MI5) in a room at the back of the
court and they are at all times controlled by these
people. I merely brought them from that room to the
Court, my Lords....I handed one of them to the witness
without ever examining or looking what the contents
MI5 operators were stationed in a room off the court
holding documents which might be required by a FBI
officer in the witness box, and a senior garda detective
was on hand to act as a runner between MI5 and the
FBI, apparently on the proviso that he wouldn't try
to sneak a glance at what he was carrying.
in coverage of the hearing suggested concern at this
strange sequence of events in an Irish court.
says that he shares in the widespread anxiety about
collusion by British intelligence agents with subversive
and criminal elements in Ireland. But this doesn't
seem to have dissuaded the Irish State, with the support
of Fianna Fail in government, from colluding with
the same British agencies over a period of 30 years.
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