11 September 2003 Edition
MI5 Takeover Bodes Badly For Policing
SPECULATION that `intelligence gathering'in the Six Counties will, in the near future, be handed over by the PSNI Special Branch to their superiors in MI5 offers no assurance that the policy of collusion that has operated in the state for the last two decades - and been sanctioned at the highest levels - will be abandoned.
Indeed, this development suggests that the British Government has learned little from its mistakes in this regard and that it is again determined to ignore the concerns of nationalists and republicans.
Any attempt to put MI5 in charge of `intelligence gathering' is merely a smokescreen to deflect attention from the record of Special Branch in killing members of the nationalist and republican community. To suggest that MI5 were not aware of - and not integrally involved in - the handling to Special Branch agents in the UDA such as Brian Nelson, William Stobie and others, is preposterous. To suggest that MI5 will not do the same in the future if handed this brief is equally absurd.
Collusion is the abuse of power by the state. Cosmetic changes, name changes do not alter the fact that a specific policy of collusion between British state forces and unionist paramilitaries has resulted in the murder of countless nationalists and republicans. MI5 was and remains a part of the architecture and the policy of collusion.
The prospect of their continued involvement in this, of their lack of accountability to people living in the Six- County state and the threat of their continued willingness to engage in acts of state terrorism bodes badly for the chances of resolving the issue of policing in the near future.
No-one will be fooled into believing that any change has taken place within the architecture of British counterinsurgency - involving British securocrats from a number of agencies - until and unless the British government acknowledges its role in the deliberate policy of collusion and the murder of citizens. It is time to open up the files.
The British government needs to tell us how it intends to bring real accountability to the heart of all policing operations carried out in the North.