Securocrats have the least to fear from police - By Gerry Kelly MLA
The SDLP's Alasdair McDonnell's platform piece in the Irish News of March 26th, under the headline "Only the paramilitary criminal fears police" was dismissive of whole sections of our community. The unfortunate fact is there is a fear and mistrust of this police force, which is deep-seated both in the past and the present. Members of the RUC and PSNI have been involved in a campaign against nationalists and Catholics for generations. More importantly members of that force still run unionist paramilitary agents who have been involved in every conceivable crime including the killing of citizens. Since the setting up of the PSNI this partisan political agenda has continued. For example, in the Abernethy case the forensic scientist involved stated under oath that systematic attempts were made to interfere with evidence.
In the recent investigation into Sean Brown's murder members of the PSNI acted to conceal two critical pieces of evidence from the Ombudsman's office. Also, for more than a decade the RUC has refused to give information in their possession critical to the inquests of 10 Tyrone people including Roseanne Mallon even though the Coroner demanded the evidence be produced. The latest refusal to comply was by the present Chief Constable of the PSNI, who sent documentation that was censored. The Coroner ruled all the information should be made available to him.
This is the tip of the iceberg.
Judge Cory's report has been published. At least some of it has been published. A large part of the section on the Special Branch has been censored by the very people Judge Cory was tasked with investigating or held back from the public gaze by other devices. Despite this, from what has been published of the Cory Report the public now know that what Sinn Fein and others have been saying all along is true.
The Cory Report shows that there is clear and strong evidence that British military intelligence, MI5 and Special Branch were involved in collusion with unionist paramilitaries. Hundreds of nationalists and Catholics died as a result. The report shows that:
- Special Branch and MI5 officers from the joint security service knew as far back as 1981 of a plot to kill Pat Finucane and did nothing about it. They acted likewise in 1985 in respect of a second plot
- seven weeks before Pat Finucane was murdered MI5 became aware of the plot to kill him but did nothing to prevent it
- Special Branch, both in 1981 and five days before his killing in 1989, had information on these plots but did nothing
- Special Branch, despite being informed by William Stobie about the murder weapon 3 days after Pat Finucane was killed, did nothing to trace it
- documentary evidence indicates that Special Branch did not take steps to prevent UDA attacks or to warn those who would be victims. This had fatal consequences
- Special Branch frustrated the RUC investigation into Pat Finucane's death by withholding information about Nelson, FRU and Stobie.
- a senior government official, in November 1990, asked for information to be supplied to him which could be used with the Attorney General to persuade him that FRU agent and UDA intelligence officer Brian Nelson should not be prosecuted
- that the British defence secretary wrote to the Attorney General in the terms provided in the information brief on Nelson asking him not to prosecute Nelson
- the British Attorney General allowed bogus testimony favourable to Brian Nelson to go unchallenged at this trial
- military intelligence, senior British government officials and the British defence secretary were all implicated in attempting to keep a lid on collusion by seeking to halt the prosecution of FRU agent and UDA Intelligence officer Brian Nelson
- multiple impediments were placed in the path of inquiries into these matters by FRU and the RUC
Despite, or perhaps because of, these findings the British government has refused to act on Judge Cory's recommendations even though Tony Blair gave a public undertaking to do so.
The excuse is the "sub-judice" rule which the same British government is ignoring in another case presently going through court by pushing the International Monitoring Commission to publicly report on this case in the next week or so!
Alasdair McDonnell's colleagues in the SDLP have spent the days since the Cory Report was published avoiding attacks on the Special Branch involved and attacking republicans! While most nationalists were appalled at the Special Branch activities the SDLP diverted attention onto republicans.
The Cory Report is as much an indictment of the SDLP as it is of British policy. Instead of acting as a catalyst for change within the policing system and on the policing board, the SDLP has become part of the system. It has failed to hold to account those human rights abusers who moved from the RUC directly into the PSNI. It has failed to advocate or demand the expulsion of human rights abusers from the PSNI. It has failed to challenge the structures, individuals and continuing culture of collusion.
Many of those who ran and carried through this strategy of administrative collusion and state-sponsored killing still serve British interests in the Special Branch, in MI5 and within the political and bureaucratic structures which established and protect those involved.
The SDLP made a fundamental mistake three years ago of signing up to these policing arrangements. By its policy the SDLP is failing all of those who supported the demand within the Good Friday Agreement for a new beginning to policing.
When Alasdair McDonnell writes in the Irish News under the headline "Only the paramilitary criminal fears the police" he unintentionally highlights the reality, thus far, that Special Branch, MI5, British military intelligence and senior British government officials -- all of whom were involved in collusion or attempting to cover it up -- have nothing to fear from the police. And isn't that the problem?
I have continually said that those nationalists in places like north Belfast who have suffered from bad policing over the years want proper policing most. However, they are not naive. Sinn Fein is striving to achieve a politically neutral, civic policing service, which will be representative of all sections of the community. The SDLP jumped too soon and accepted too little. We will not.