William Johnstone waxes sceptical about the credentials of some Sinn Fein leaders. William Johnstone is a Ballymoney unionist with an interest in history and politics.
Forgive a sceptical observer and pardon me for maybe stating the obvious but is it not worth considering how much in terms of time and resources has the government spent protecting key people in Sinn Fein? It goes without saying that people holding key positions in the party today have, at the very least, lived charmed lives.
Martin McGuinness, the suspected Fisherman of Spookology, has moved through life with a bulletproof aura that has prevented bullets from being fired, never mind penetrating his invisible shield. A hate figure for Loyalists throughout most of his adult life, McGuinness has been blessed with an unknown, unseen force that has prevented a hair on his greying head from being moved. His amazing prowess even protected him from lengthy imprisonment. A slap on the wrist for membership and out in time for his strawberries to have ripened. Amazing, gifted individual!
Gerry Adams competes for the title. A few brief spells in jail aside, Adams has been the great survivor. Shot by Loyalists in the 80s, his saviour became flesh in the form of undercover police who hastened to his aid. Deafening roars of collusion at the time masked the fact the Adams was under the protection of the state.
So why would the state protect McGuinness and Adams? Some stout Unionists will cry in indignation that they wouldn't and the state of course would never admit it. The naive would contend that the state would have no truck with terrorism. Like I say, only the naive would contend that .....
Legend has it that the Dynamic Duo came to prominence when they joined the Republican leadership for the ill-fated talks in the early 70s. I have often wondered if the Republican leadership asked for their inclusion at that time or were they manouvered into including them.
Let's look at the time in question ... the heady days of the early 70s. The 'troubles' were in their infancy and it was a bloody baptism of fire . There was little by way of order, there was a distant Southern leadership, sectarianism was rife and the Provos were giving it their all.
Reading accounts from that era gives the impression a gung-ho organisation that did not have a strong or cohesive leadership. Did government see something different in Adams and McGuiness ? Did these two young clean cut volunteers of a younger generation seem more appealing than the allegedly emotionally charged Twomey and the dour uncompromising MacStiofan? Did Adams and McGuiness, hailing from their respective cities, give the impression that they were men the state could deal with?
Time has proven that they were all of that. The Provos never regained the momentum of those pre-75 days. Before the 70s were out, Adams and McGuiness were more often seen in tweets and loafers as opposed to balaclavas and boots. By the early 80s, they had taken the onus from militarism to the politicization of Republicanism that saw the departure of Ivor Bell et al. By the mid 80s, the charmed alliance had attracted a clique of their like-minded that saw out the last of the Old Guard who headed off with O'Bradaigh to form Republican Sinn Fein. The movement was theirs ... almost.
The ceasefire of the mid 90s must have raised a self congratulatory chuckle from the aging securocrats who had seen this day coming 20 years beforehand. Dissenters were again purged .... exit Mickey McKevitt et al. Now, a further 20 years later, Adams is the granda figure of the Dail, all smiles and sound bites and McGuinness pats babies on the head and wrestles with political issues such as Welfare Reform and protocol required when meeting Royalty.
They probably can't be described as Informers but would it be unreasonable to refer to them as Agents of the State? The line that exists between them is a very fine one indeed ........