Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Denial by association

The Smithwick Tribunal has found that there was a mole in the Irish police in the 1980s whose information led to at least 2 murders and probably more. The specific incident being investigated happened in 1989, but unfortunately that's about the time lag involved in finding the truth about anything in Ireland. Among the issues discussed by the judge is the culture of denial at the top levels of Irish politics. One example cited followed a 1987 case where again there was circumstantial evidence of a mole. The government's policy was to say that anyone making such an allegation was trying to disrupt cooperation between the police forces north and south of the border (page 46):

In regard to the allegations of moles for political advantage, on 28 April 1987, the late Mr Brian Lenihan T.D. standing in for the then Minister for Justice in reply to a question on the Gibson murders said in the Dáil;

“Allegations of a leak to the IRA from within the ranks of the Garda Síochána by those who could have no evidence to support them are regrettable for several reasons, one of them being that they play directly into the hands of those, like the IRA, who would wish to reduce the level of security co-operation between the two forces.”

Nobody, of course, can fully disprove an allegation of this kind unless the people actually responsible are detected. What is quite clear, as I have said, is that the allegations were made without a shred of evidence. Accordingly, the least that can be said about them is that they reflect seriously on the judgment of those who made them.

That last sentence could be applied to all of Official Ireland, and not just about mole-hunts, but on the broader diseases of insiderism and corruption.