fallibilist

"I may be wrong and you may be right, and by an effort, we may get nearer to the truth." (Karl Popper)

Friday, April 07, 2006

The strange case of the murder of Denis Donaldson

Over on Richard's blog, Sicilian Notes, a debate has followed a post of his, which quoted an Irish Times report to the effect that the garda's main line of inquiry into the murder of Denis Donaldson is that it was carried out by republicans, either Provisionals or dissidents. One commenter suggested the IRA leadership would not sanction such an operation, especially at this point in time. Here is my reply:
The Provos - as an organisation or members thereof - certainly can't be ruled out. To rule them out would make no sense. If as the Irish Times suggests the garda's main line of inquiry was that republicans were responsible, then it is correct and appropriate to consider what the ramifications ought to be if the mainstream IRA carried this out. That organisation has supposedly ceased all operations. It has supposed to be on ceasefire for most of the last 12 years. If they sanctioned this, then it is time to come down hard. Remember it's thought that they sanctioned robbing the Northern Bank. I'm also not convinced of the point of distinguishing whether the top brass sanctioned it (assuming it was carried out by a Provo unit/indiviudal). The point would be established that we are parlaying with an unreformed terrorist organisation, or an organisation containing unreformed murderers. Are we to continue treating the leaders of this party as democrats on the basis that "we didn't sanction it"? Why should anyone trust what Adams or McGuinness say on this? They've lied before. I need not mention all the examples.

It of course remains possible that this a non-political criminal incident. It remains possible that some murky element in British intelligence decided to conduct the operation. (Call it the "securocrat" argument.) I don't happen to think the latter is what happened. It just seems too brazen, especially since it was on sovereign Irish territory. But go back to when Donaldson admitted publicly to having been a British spy in Sinn Fein for 20 years. One theory at the time was that he was "outed" so as to prevent another British spy farther up in Sinn Fein/IRA from being exposed. If one reads Ed Moloney's Secret History of the IRA, it becomes clear that during the IRA's armed campaign, there was a British agent in a high position in the Provisional organisation. That much has been suspected by the leadership since at least 1987 when the Eksund, a ship carrying weaponry from Libya, was betrayed and intercepted. What if that agent is still in place and sanctioned a unilateral operation (i.e. without the sanction of British intelligence or of the Provisional leadership) to get rid of Donaldson, in order to avoid himself being exposed. I admit this suggestion can be criticised as being a conspiracy theory. And I admit I'm only hypothesising. But there is, I bet, a lot we don't know - and may never know - about the extent and consequences of British intelligence successes against the Provisional IRA.

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