DPP decision on Stakeknife a profound and welcome move

Posted By: October 28, 2015

Jim Gibney.Irish News(Belfast). Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Last week’s decision by the director of the north’s Public Prosecution Service, Barra McGrory, to ask PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton to investigate the activities of the British Army’s alleged agent inside the IRA, Stakeknife, is the most profound, far-reaching and most welcome decision the director has taken since he came into office.

More importantly, the director has not just called for Stakeknife’s possible role in the killing of at least 24 people to be investigated but that his accomplices, his handlers in the British military, (whose names are known) who directed and resourced his murderous activities are also investigated.

McGrory’s decision carries the full authority of his office and comes directly from the work carried out by The North’s Police Ombudsman Michael Maguire.

The ombudsman, acting on behalf of some of the relatives of those allegedly killed by Stakeknife – reported by the media as Belfast man Freddie Scappaticci who denies the claims – carried out his own investigation. The Ombudsman has publicly expressed his concerns that Stakeknife’s accomplices in the state intelligences agencies are every bit as guilty as he is.

McGrory’s decision highlights the importance of having a prosecution service which is independent of the state and political parties and which is capable of holding the state to account for its role in the armed conflict.

In the context of the conflict the prosecution service was viewed as a partisan agency, with a British-unionist bias, a player so to speak, which used its position to assist and protect Britain’s crown forces rather than serve the interests of those on the receiving end of the state’s violence.

And to this day lawyers representing the state are regularly in court in Belfast blocking attempts by relatives to get information about the true circumstances surrounding the death of their loved ones.

In his statement announcing his decision McGrory correctly identified the issue of public confidence in achieving justice as being an important element in him making up his mind.

There is little public confidence among nationalists and some unionists whose relatives were killed by loyalists, that the justice system will produce the truth as to why their relatives died and what role the British Army or RUC played in the deaths.

This is hardly surprising given the long list of investigations carried out into the British government’s policy of killing its own citizens in its efforts to defeat the IRA – an objective it failed to achieve.

The investigation into the British agent Stakeknife has been preceded by publications during the early 1970s about the sectarian killings carried out by the UDR; Stalker/Sampson; Stevens 1, 2, and 3; the previous ombudsman Nuala O’Loan’s investigation, ‘Operation Ballast’ into the collusive relationship between the RUC Special Branch and the north Belfast UVF; Judge Peter Corey and Desmond de Silva’s investigations into the killing of Pat Finucane and the book, ‘Lethal Allies’, by Anne Cadwallader about the ‘Glenanne Gang’, now a best-selling account of the scale of collusion across Mid-Ulster.

Truth campaigning organisations like Relatives for Justice are keen to ensure that this new inquiry into state killings speedily concludes its deliberations and that it does not end up being added to the ever-growing list of investigations which the British government have so far being able to block from getting at the truth about the military and political chain of command which presided over a state-sponsored reign of murder.

Those in the crown forces who ran Stakeknife thought they were untouchable; that they could plot murder with impunity. But the decision by McGrory has firmly put the spotlight on their nefarious activities. There is no hiding place for them now.

It has not been missed by nationalists and republicans that the media, with a few exceptions, tried to relegate the importance of the decision.

For most of the media, Stakeknife was an ‘IRA double agent’. In fact he was a British Army agent in the pay of the British government. The pompous Nolan show on Radio Ulster was more concerned about tickets for a ‘One Direction’ concert.

Not a word either from unionists or the British government about the investigation into Stakeknife and his military handlers.

For them there is only one enemy and it is republicans.