On Adams and collusion

Like you I read Smithwick last night, and a lot of today. It’s a fascinating read, and Smithwick is comfortable in drawing conclusions on the validity of evidence.

He is clear in his assessment, and why he decided there was collusion, “on the balance of probabilities”. I don’t seek to dispute this, though it’s undoubtedly true that a different conclusion can be drawn on the basis of that evidence.

This is exactly what Gerry Adams did today. He doubted collusion, essentially on the basis that it was within the capability of the IRA to undertake such an operation without collusion being necessary. This (predictably) is the tone of the IRA’s own submission in evidence.

What happened today though when Adams suggested this? He was roundly condemned by the media, by politicians (witness the joyful accusations thrown by the DUP and the SDLP) and generally on Twitter. No one on Twitter (both SDLP) who I engaged on this with replied.

There was some suggestion that Adams was besmirching the good name of the dead, that he shouldn’t pass comment on their actions. To say this is to miss the point. Smithwick wasn’t investigating their good character, he was investigating collusion. You can agree with Smithwick that there was collusion, or agree with Adams. If you agree with Adams pointing out that the actions of Buchanan aided the IRA in their task is an obvious point. It isn’t to say he deserved to die, it isn’t to cast an aspersion that it was somehow his fault, it is merely to apply a bit of Occam’s Razor, that if Buchanan had a predictable routine, and eschewed tried and tested evasion techniques (the licence plates) then it wouldn’t be outwith the capability of the IRA to observe and target him on that basis. As an argument that could be made to sound more likely than that of an unidentifed collding Garda communicating a message or messages to persons unknown in an unknown format.

The internet loves to shut down debate in this way, picking out individual words and throwing them back in the speaker’s face. It was added to the Guardian speak of “blaming the victim”, usually associated with rape cases. Adams never said he was asking for it, but that wasn’t the question anyway.

Smithwick quoted Harden as giving four possibilities, and they seem reasonable to use. Two were quickly discounted. The remaining were Collusion and Observation. Adams pointed out how observation could (and undoubtedly did) occur.

Gerry Adams may be blamed for many things, and many people may be itching to take him down, but this was a totally unfair way to go about it. He should be debated on the merit of his argument


On Thomas Begley

Is Gerry Kelly some sort of  sacrificial lamb?  Or more likely  sacrificial wolf in Gerry’s case. Either way he’s doing a prolonged lunatic solo run,  or SF are prepared to use him solely as a counterpoint to every offensive and hare brained PUL initiative. 
Is there a more totemic figure of hatred in the loyalist community than Thomas Begley? I can’t think of one. Indeed it almost seems like he’s used his trump card in this escalating nonsense too quickly.
That aside,  we need to be clear on the facts. There isn’t a parade. There’s simply an unveiling of a plaque.  No loyalist will be in sight or earshot of the whole thing. I’m sure a few local residents will be annoyed by it,  but we tend not to think of them (and we should).
On Begley himself,  well,  there isn’t a logical reason for Provisionals not to commemorate him. He was,  as they say,  following orders. The guilt of the act belongs to his leaders. If he’d  blown himself up while making a bomb in his shed he’d still probably get a plaque (are all dead provos to get one?).
I think Gerry Kelly called him a victim today. He is a victim. A victim of the PIRA.

On Richard Haass

The Belfast Telegraph opened its article on the return of Richard Haass thus:

It is often hard to believe that the peace process is two decades old, the Good Friday Agreement was forged 15 years ago and the power-sharing Executive, spawned by the St Andrews Agreement, has six years under its belt.

And that, more or less, is my problem with it.

The Exectuive and the Assembly have had their grace period. People expect their 108 MLAs to deliver. Trite words, but there frequently seems scant evidence of real action,and real decision making, ultimately lending the whole affair the “glorified county council” vibe.

The return of Richard Haass, whatever he may have achieved last time out, hardly excites the public. It could be argued I suppose that the process and structures set up to resolve the marching issue won’t excite the public either, merely the outcome. That could be true.

For my money though the return of Richard Haass serves merely to make the Executive feel special again, that a Special Envoy holding their hands will enable them to make the leap from their ministerial cars to a marching solution.

I think it’s a sign of a lack of leadership. More than that, it’s especially weak from Sinn Fein. they shouldn’t entertain the notion that there is an issue that required outside help to resolve, to deal broker between warring factions. They should lay out their support for the Parades Commission, when dialogue fails (or doesn’t even occur). The marching problem isn’t society’s problem, there’s a right and a wrong, there’s consensus and agreed parades, or there’s a statutory body.

A meeting with Richard Haass implies Orangeism has a legitimate leg to stand on. In this case, it doesn’t.

A new venture


I’m totally new to this, so I thank anyone for taking the time to read.

I’ve a linked twitter account (@frwhiskeyblog) , but I’ve decided that Twitter (and indeed my own personal account) was limiting what I felt comfortable reflecting on. Not that it was anything offensive, it just feels odd spouting off on politics to 100s of your closest friends. So instead I’ll write it here, to nobody.

Expect politics, and expect it sober and drunk. Expect typing mistakes. Expect poorly sourced information. Hopefully though you’ll at least find it thought proviking in some small way