Michael McDowell Silent As British Duplicity Exposed

Posted By: February 06, 2006

Michael McDowell Silent As British Duplicity Exposed

by Eoin Ó Murchú
Village. Ireland’s Current Affairs Weekly
Thursday, December 29, 2005

As our political parties jostle each other to show who is the
most anti-Sinn Féin of them all, in the real world the battle is
being lost. The Good Friday Agreement is going under.

Wasn’t it curious that Michael McDowell, the stalwart defender of
the state’s integrity and self-proclaimed champion of its
republican ambitions, had nothing to say about the Stormontgate
affair, an episode that shows the British government as
hopelessly duplicitous or haplessly unable to control their
security apparatuses?

This is not a clever point: it’s a very serious issue. How can
the British be trusted if this is the way they behave?

Of course, Sinn Féin have been hammering this point for three
years, denouncing the securocrats, as they call them. And the
more they have denounced them and called on the British
government to impose control over them, the more have Sinn Féin
been derided, and the more stentorian has become Michael
McDowell’s bark in blaming the republicans for all the problems
of the peace process.

On top of that, there is the current US administration urging the
British and the unionist parties to refuse to re-establish the
institutions until Sinn Féin accept the “legitimacy” of a police
force that behaves in such a partisan political way.

Does it really matter that there’s a feud going on between the
RUC Special Branch and the MI5 intelligence service? Does it
matter that Hugh Orde is outside the loop? But surely it matters
when the normally voluble Michael McDowell gives Hugh Orde a
polite hearing for his ridiculous efforts to justify the

We do know that if a republican agent in the ranks of British
intelligence had been unmasked, the heavens would be shaking
still with Michael McDowell’s denunciations.

The question is what is more important to Michael McDowell – to
see Government policy on the establishment of the Good Friday
institutions brought to fruition, or to wage his own private war
against Fine Gael for the anti-Sinn Féin vote?

And even still, despite these revelations that show that Britain
has not played with a straight deck, none of the parties can
bring themselves publicly to denounce this perfidy, while all are
at pains to insist that they won’t share coalition power with
Sinn Féin after the election.

Sinn Féin’s policies are certainly more radical and leftwing than
Labour’s, but it’s only a matter of degree – and perhaps of
integrity in being willing to insist on them. Their policies on
liberal issues are indistinguishable from those of the liberal
wing of Fine Gael. Yet both Fine Gael and Labour have
categorically ruled out Sinn Féin as potential government
partners. They have not so ruled out the PDs, a party with less
than 40 per cent of the support that Sinn Féin enjoys, a party
that puts party before country, as their reaction to the
Donaldson revelations show, that squeezes the poor to make the
rich better off, and that openly boasts of its Thatcherism.

Meanwhile, as the parties jostle each other to show who is the
most anti-Sinn Féin of them all, in the real world the battle is
being lost. The Good Friday Agreement is going under.

Bertie Ahern still insists that he has a special relationship
with Tony Blair, and that, angry as he is about the Donaldson and
Stormontgate affairs, it would be foolish to place that
relationship in jeopardy.

But a cursory examination of the unionist position shows that for
them Blair is already yesterday’s man. They are preparing their
positions for the advent of Gordon Brown, and where will he

It’s wishful thinking on their part to imagine that Brown, as a
dour Scottish Presbyterian, is inclined the unionist way. He is
more likely to be tired of paying these ingrate spongers for a
higher standard of living than they earn themselves. It’s very
easy to see Brown pulling the financial plug on them, though the
unionists are so sunk in sectarian hatred of Catholics that even
that might not concentrate their minds.

But if Brown is to play a more positive role, and be an active
proponent of a way forward that culminates logically in a British
withdrawal from Ireland, then we will have to work for that, and
our political parties will have to start arguing for it.

For Gordon Brown can recognise hypocrisy and political humbug as
well as the next, and he will only get interested in the Irish
question if he has no choice. For Brown has always asked one
simple question: do the Irish people want reunification, and are
they prepared to pay for it? I believe the Irish people do want
reunification, but I don’t believe that the parties, apart from
Sinn Féin, do. And I certainly don’t believe that either the
Government, or Rainbow options, are willing to pay for it.

But when Brown succeeds Blair, Britain is going to slowly start
turning the tap off. Already under Hain, Britain is trying to
shift more and more of the costs of running the North away from
the British Exchequer to the people of the North. Superficially
this looks like privatisation; in fact it’s an “Ulsterisation” of
policy that has profound implications for all the people of
Ireland, North and South.

But our political leaders can’t see that. They are too busy
attacking Sinn Féin.

Eoin Ó Murchú is the Eagraí Polaitíochta of RTÉ Raidió na
Gaeltachta. He is writing here in a personal capacity

Father Sean Mc Manus
Irish National Caucus
P.O. Box 15128
Capitol Hill
Washington, D.C. 20003-0849