Nothing much to feign surprise about there. Every now and then the Andersonstown News provides a platform to my critics. In 2003 Freddie Scapatticci was allowed to have a pop and blame me for his woes in being unmasked as a British agent. This time the baseball bat has been passed to Storey so that he too might hand out a good hiding and seek to blame me as a means of deflecting attention away from the uncomfortable fact that the British police force he politically supports – and which I do not – arrested him.
I never like to see people arrested by the British police on foot of republican related activity. For that reason I dissent from Gerry Kelly’s endorsement of PSNI recruitment of informers for the purpose of furbishing the British with information about republicans, even when my views and those of the arrested republicans diverge quite sharply. Informing the British police about republican activity is instinctively a loathsome act and no republican could find themselves in agreement with Gerry Kelly when he views the recruiting of informers as a meritorious activity.
I am also quite uncomfortable when people are arrested ostensibly in relation to the Boston College project, whether it be Gerry Adams, Ivor Bell or Bobby Storey. It is not what the oral history project was about. Unlike Sinn Fein, I am never to be found in the line up calling for the British to be provided with the information they require in order to effect arrests of anyone involved in republican activity, past or present. No longer in possession of the slightest fidelity to armed republican activity it is just plain old fashioned conscientious objection.
The Storey conversation with his police hosts helps tease out a paradox at the heart of the Sinn Fein critique of the Belfast project. Storey, a prominent figure in Belfast Catholic militia circles, (Peadar O’Donnell once caustically observed ‘we don't have an IRA battalion in Belfast, we have a battalion of armed Catholics') claims to have been allowed by his hosts to either listen to tapes, or to the transcripts of tapes being read to him by detectives.
This makes something of a nonsense of the very public Sinn Fein smear campaign fronted by Danny Morrison which was designed to cast the Belfast project participants in the worst possible light as informers.
If the people on tape were regarded as informers by the cops their identity would not have been made known to Storey unless this is collusion peace process style, between London and the people to whom they have subcontracted out the administering of British rule in the North.
After all the British state demonstrated just what lengths it was prepared to go to in the Sandy Lynch kidnapping trial by quashing convictions rather than reveal the identity of their senior agent at the heart of the case. It was not Freddie Scappaticci they were covering for, given that his role in the incident is universally acknowledged.
This was not the only clumsy contradiction that came to the fore as a result of Storey’s arrest. Via his wooden discourse vented in the Andersonstown News, the chair of Sinn Fein in the North prised open a window through which the strains in his party's position on policing can be viewed.
He accused the PSNI of political policing and promised to work to make them accountable. Which amounts to this: Sinn Fein signed up to politically driven unaccountable policing and withheld that information from those they had endorse the decision at a special ard fheis. As Christopher Hitchens might have said, rightly are the simple so called.
On a less sombre note, Storey's comment that what the police shared with him during their chat 'was like listening to Walter Mitty and Billy Liar being interviewed by Lord Haw Haw' titillates the mind with the possibility of endless permutations: Danny Morrison interviewed an interchangeable Gerry Adams; Jim Gibney interviewed both Adams and Morrison. If Storey really meant Lord Hee Haw, we would just assume Tom Hartley had interviewed two of the other three.