The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist – Roger “Verbal” Kint, The Usual Suspects.
Kevin McGuigan was buried today in Belfast. Also at risk of being buried is the truth about who killed him if, as many believe, the Provisional IRA ensemble was responsible. Already it is easy to detect a high expectancy that at most, a fudge will be agreed with blame attributed to "ex-members".
This has added spice to the call by Catherine McCartney for an external police force to assume control of the investigation, touching a raw nerve within policing circles. McCartney doubts that the PSNI is fit for purpose when it comes to investigating certain types of murder and pointed to the farcical trial staged at the conclusion of a PSNI investigation into the murder of her brother Robert. Then the cops presented a man in front of a judge as the knifeman who stabbed Robert McCartney in 2005 when they were fully aware that he was most definitely not. For some reason, as yet unclear, the trial was designed to fail, while the cops could always say they tried.
For its part the PSNI has said it will conduct a proper investigation, although in citing the ludicrous Robert McCartney murder trial as evidence of its good intent, tongue-in-cheek comes to mind in the way that it does when the force claims it is moving as quickly as it can on the Gary Haggarty case which is only going on a brief five years now.
Catherine McCartney’s misgivings about the PSNI ability to properly investigate is based on her belief that the Provisional IRA was behind the killing of Kevin McGuigan. She is not alone in her take. “Nobody believes for a minute that the IRA was not involved in McGuigan’s murder.” A long history of dissembling by Sinn Fein has done little to attenuate the suspicion that the party is again lying when it disputes IRA involvement.
Once journalists were picking up that Kevin McGuigan was the man deemed by his former comrades as culpable for murdering Gerard Davison, it is safe to assume the PSNI had got wind of it too. The force advised McGuigan that he was under threat. It did not tell him who he was under threat from but it seems certain it was not those republicans frequently described as dissidents.
The PSNI, along with MI5 appears to have invested a lot of time and energy in the use of surveillance techniques in its bid to remove republicans Alex McCrory, Harry Fitzsimmons and Colin Duffy from the streets. Knowing that Kevin McGuigan was under threat - and given Gerard Davison’s seniority and popularity within the Provisional IRA, a serious threat at that - the force seems not to have applied anywhere near the required amount of due diligence toward protecting McGuigan. Perhaps protecting somebody deemed unhelpful to the peace process was not a high priority, suffice to tell him he was under threat and leave him to his own devices, and possibly allow the devil that does not exist to take the hindmost.
The shooting will be a test to the mettle of the recently appointed chief constable, George Hamilton, a reason perhaps for its sanctioning if indeed the Provisional IRA shadow structure was responsible.
Despite Sinn Fein’s vocal opposition to political policing, it was never any more than verbal. Its real problem with the last Chief Constable, Matt Baggott, was that he was not political enough. He failed to politically police the way the party wanted, hence its demonstrations at the arrest of Padriac Wilson in an attempt to subvert due process running its course.
Sinn Fein probably calculates that George Hamilton is a safer bet. Not because Hamilton is favourable to one community over another or that he is not committed to fair and impartial policing. He most likely just wants to get on with the job. It’s that whereas Baggott often seemed tone deaf to the wails of the peace process, the hope is that Hamilton has the requisite political antennae to avoid decisions not helpful to the peace process. He turned up at The West Belfast festival and shook hands with former IRA chief of staff, Martin McGuinness. Some now wonder if he was being played, being drawn in for the purpose of being locked in, making it harder to roll back the momentum by pesky things like investigations not helpful to the peace process. Certainly, as he spoke about peace, somebody, somewhere in the background was planning something more sinister.