Britain’s intelligence services have always acted in the shadows, unscrupulously. Turning people tout, or planting their own in target groups, have been the lighter side of their activities. Running public-facing organisations to coach the media and massage a narrative on whoever is the popular target of the regime on a given day, is rather innocuous compared to the underhanded, and downright abhorrent practices they otherwise engage in.
In “Intelligence, Statecraft and International Power,” Alastair MacDonald argues that Britain’s intelligence apparatus throughout the Middle Ages is what gave them an edge over both Scotland and Ireland, and in outmaneuvering their continental peers. “The English State, though, had an altogether more sophisticated and extensive intelligence network at its disposal. It is unsurprising that we have much more evidence of English intelligence successes than Scottish ones and that the quality of English intelligence seems on the whole to have been much better. Intelligence, then, would seem to have been a force tending more towards the destruction of the independent Scottish State than its survival.” Though the passage refers to England in the 14th century, one could just as easily apply it to the modern day, as English intelligence services penetrate the world around, rivalled only by the Americans and perhaps the Russians and Chinese.
Included in the piece are examples of England’s efficacy in finding foreign agents (or at least people they were willing to execute and portray as foreign agents), and in recruiting their own to spy abroad. “The English Crown also seems to have had advanced and successful mechanisms for gathering information on a continental scale. Intelligence coups from European sources frequently yielded valuable material relating to the Scottish theatre of war […] The quality of intelligence suggests an informant in French government circles.”
Britain, it seems, pioneered many of the regular tactics employed by governmental agencies today – attaching intelligence operatives to diplomatic corps, bribery and intimidation, and low-level harassment to make uncomfortable the lives of those that they consider targets.
It is with that legacy of Britain’s security apparatus in mind, that we come to consider the continued two-facedness of Britain’s Deep State.
A barrister for dissident Republican Paddy McDaid, who was arrested as part of an MI5-led investigation into the New IRA, sought disclosure on any statements by Denis McFadden, the well-known tout who rose to a prominent position within the republican group, and whether or not he was a State agent. “It seems a gentleman called Dennis McFadden is the very enthusiastic promoter and organiser of the meetings, arranging locations and apparently having them recorded. We asked for his statements and if this was a honeytrap. Is he a state agent and was he infiltrating these people? The answer is, ‘we neither confirm nor deny.’” The Court ultimately refused to grant the order.
McFadden, for those unfamiliar, is alleged to have become Master-at-Arms for the New IRA owing to his ability to access cars and provide a (bugged) pub for meetings and tickets to Celtic FC matches.
In any other jurisdiction, the planting of a Government agent who then took active part in cajoling others to attend events and discussions, would be considered entrapment. Not so for Britain it seems.
Nor does Britain’s tendrils stop there – a few days ago, videos and pictures were posted online by a young woman in Lurgan whose partner is serving time in Maghaberry prison. The woman claims that she was continually harassed, with unexplained payments deposited in her bank accounts, Amazon gift cards from people she believes to be members of the intelligence services shoved through her letterbox.
It came to a head when she was visiting her grandfather in a nursing home where she was approached and an attempt to initiate contact was made. In the video seen by this author, Ms Duffy records the encounter of an adult female with blond hair and an adult male with a shaved head walking off and pulling up their hoods to cover their faces before a car pulls up for them to get in and take off in. Ms Duffy took down the registration number of the car, and some checks by individuals on social media revealed that the car reg came back with a “does not exist” result.
This low-level harassment would put anyone on edge, but it should be considered in the fullness of the people that Ms Duffy would be familiar with – everyone knows what happens to informants caught by republicans, and by making unsolicited deposits into her account, approaching her in public, and attempting to bribe Ms Duffy with Amazon vouchers, one could very easily see a ploy in which the State agencies have sought to paint Ms Duffy as a tout in the first instance, to force her to become an informant with a threat to leak the information to other republicans that Ms Duffy took payments from the intelligence agencies which she would be unable to explain.
If that was the plan, it is not only immoral, but evil to put at risk the life of this young woman.
Lest we delude ourselves into believing that this is confined to the North, we have seen the heavy handedness and the willingness to turn a blind eye of An Garda Síochána ourselves – such as the proposed extradition of Liam Campbell to Lithuania for the same alleged crimes that saw his own brother’s conviction overturned. Michael Campbells’ defence at the time had argued it had been a case of entrapment by Mi5 agents.
At the time of writing, Commissioner Drew Harris (formerly of the RUC/PSNI) is under pressure due to the callous cancelling of domestic abuse calls by members of the force under his watch, and its blatant covering up for a period of six months. Gardaí, it seems, are more concerned with ensuring the gay flag can be flown in Waterford Garda Station, than in aiding victims of domestic abuse. GSOC revealed data that 3000 complaints were made against Gardaí, a force of only 14,000 officers, implying that one-in-five Gardaí had complaints lodged against them, and of those nearly 600 resulted in the opening of a criminal investigation by GSOC.
Sinn Féin, the historic political-wing of the Provisional Movement, the other day dropped their concerns with the Special Criminal Court and left the chamber, having already long turned their backs on Republican prisoners.
We may disagree with some republicans on social and cultural issues, but we are a mere stones’ throw away from the organs of the State bearing down on us for “wrong-think” with just as much acrimony and venom. We must strive to oppose the irreverence with which the State’s intelligence services treat our fellow Irishmen.
My enemy’s enemy is my friend, or something to that effect.