An open letter to Tony Blair

Irish-American groups call for an open and transparent inquiry into the role of the British intelligence services in the collapse of the power-sharing Stormont assembly and for the immediate reinstatement of the Good Friday institutions

Dear Prime Minister,

IN OCTOBER of 2002 your government closed down the Northern Ireland Assembly, charging three people including Denis Donaldson, then Sinn Féin's head of administration at Stormont, with running an "IRA spy-ring".

On 9 December, 2005, the "Stormont spy-ring" case ended at Belfast Crown Court when your government directed that all charges be dropped.

Seven days later, Denis Donaldson admitted having served as a paid agent for the British Security forces for 20 years. The British government has not disputed his claim.

The Assembly, despite its limitations, provided the people of the North of Ireland with their first opportunity for democratic debate and self-government on a genuinely representa! tive basis since the partition of Ireland 85 years ago. It was a remarkable achievement for tolerance and fairness by all the parties involved in reaching the Good Friday Agreement.

However, successive British Secretaries of State have twice acted unilaterally to shutter the gates of Stormont and shatter the aspirations of people of all political and religious persuasions in the North of Ireland.

Each time they have cited information from the British security services of foul play by Sinn Féin. Once again, this 'information' has been exposed as a fabrication. In this latest debacle, the only "spy-ring" at Stormont was that orchestrated by the British security services themselves.

The implications are serious in the extreme. British officials promised devolved government; British officials have violated that promise and manipulated the fragile institutions of power-sharing. The result is that, nearly eight years af! ter the Good Friday Agreement, those institutions have been in operation for only 20 months, with direct rule from Britain for the overwhelming majority of the time.

Your government bears the responsibility for bringing down the freely and democratically elected Assembly. If this happened in any other part of the world, a British Prime Minister would be first in line to condemn such police state misconduct.

The peoples of Ireland and Britain are all stakeholders in the peace process. The United States, through President Clinton and his special envoy, Senator Mitchell, played a vital role in building cross-community confidence and securing the Good Friday Agreement.

That confidence has been betrayed and all concerned have the right to demand a thorough and transparent investigation into the conduct of those responsible. Unless British security services are operating without control and accountability, senior persons i! n your government must have known throughout that 'Stormontgate' was a fraud and that Donaldson was working for your own security services.

The tragic irony is that while the devolved assembly was allowed to run, it worked better than anyone had reasonably expected. With cross-community confidence now at an all- time low, your government bears the responsibility for restoring hope and breathing new life into a moribund peace process.

At the very least, all stakeholders in the peace process have the right to an open and transparent inquiry into how and why Britain's intelligence services brought the Assembly down three years ago. Just as importantly, the British government has to show the resolve necessary by immediately reinstating the political institutions and make the Good Friday Agreement work.


Frank Durkin, Chairman, Americans for a New Irish Agenda

Ned McGinley, President, Ancient Order of Hibernians

James Cullen, Patrick Doherty, Steven McCabe, Esqs. Brehon Law Societies

Robert Linnon, President, Irish American Unity Conference

Joe Jamison, President, Irish American Labor Coalition

Paul Doris, Chairman, Irish Northern Aid Committee

Sean Cahill, Irish Parades Emergency Committee

Edmund Lynch, Lawyers' Alliance

Julie Coleman, Secretary, Irish American Action Committee

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This document was last modified by David Granville on 2005-12-31 17:33:18.
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