Cosmetic Exercise

William Johnstone asks questions about yesterday's arrest of three Belfast Sinn Fein members as part of a PSNI inquiry into the murder of Kevin McGuigan. William Johnstone is a Ballymoney Unionist with an interest in history and politics

Question: Were Bobby Storey, Brian Gillen and Eddie Copeland arrested today because they were featured in last night's Spotlight programme or were they featured in last night's programme because they were going to be arrested today? One has to wonder.

Cosmetic exercises are the order of the day, as we all know, so the lifts today can be regarded as more of the same. Certainly it is a marked contrast with the NIO ban on arresting Martin McGuiness for the Enniskillen massacre but the policy of arresting Republicans seems to have no rhyme nor reason.

Bobby Storey was televised last night mouthing a not-so-veiled threat after the arrest of the Teflon Don, Gerry Adams. Did this prompt his arrest or were the PSNI forced to make the arrests because of this televised reminder of Storey's threats?

When Adams was arrested, it was in connection with the murder of Jean McConville. He was released shortly thereafter to no one's surprise. Ivor Bell was not so lucky - he was arrested and charged with the murder though some reckon the decision was made more because he had split from mainstream Republicans than due to any proof the police had connecting him to the murder.

The charmed lives of senior Mainstream Republicans has long been a source of wonderment to us outsiders. The most honest and candid account last night came from Anthony McIntyre who spoke clearly as one with a unique insight into the workings of Republicanism over a few decades. The fact that he's not part of the in crowd leaves him vulnerable when he speaks out but it doesn't stop him. Kevin McGuigan clearly knew who had it in for him and what his end would be. He probably also knew that he was expendable and that few eyebrows would be raised if and when they came for him. Internal housekeeping is an acceptable part of society today. Republicans will contend that he must have deserved it, Loyalists will say, "Well, sure he was one of them".

I doubt that the Assembly will fall. After the hue and cry dies down folk will have trouble remembering who Jock Davidson and Kevin McGuigan were. That's the peace process and that's how the untenable became acceptable.


  1. Indeed William, Anthony is worthy of respect for his courageous contribution to this programme.

    And yes, your question about the timing of the programme is legitimate enough too. Though one would have to wonder too if the 'peelers' didn't pursue this line of enquiry. Maybe the 'cosmetics' are in place to allow for more 'plausible' deniability by SF/IRA. Something like this 'The PSNI have fully investigated this crime, and yes they have interviewed members but no charges have followed'

  2. William/Henry Joy,

    Thanks you both for the generous comments. Rather than it being a question of courage in doing it I think for me it would be a shirking of responsibility not to do it. I have the opportunity and a certain profile that affords some cover. Others do not have that to the same extent and they might risk a lot more were they to take a similar course.

  3. Alan,

    thanks for the comment/message. We had no clue. Sorted now.

  4. WEE, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie....

    In relation to the McGuigan killing and subsequent developments, I listened to the various media interviews, as well as the political observers - who seem to be rather unobservant when it suits - and the above line from Robert Burns poem 'To a Mouse' came to mind.

    It could be ascribed to most of those learned personages...

    I've listened to the likes of Gerry Kelly and John O'Dowd refer to the killers of McGuigan as killers and criminals yet not one question was asked of them as to why only members of Sinn Fein were arrested while not one person from any of the other groups were questioned.

  5. 'The PSNI have fully investigated this crime, and yes they have interviewed members but no charges have followed'

    That sounds entirely plausible. The standard Sinner response now when someone points out that SF and PIRA are wings of the same movement is to cry "prove it".

    I concur about the risks Anthony takes and I would just add that if a stand isn't taken when the Provos murder people there will be more to follow. Everything that is being done now should be all about preventing that from happening. They have to know that there is a huge price to pay when they murder people, because the PSNI are obviously completely incapable of doing anything about it. Can anyone recall when was the last time a Pro SF republican was sent to prison for a terrorist related crime?