Monthly Archives: November 2015

Blair Aide Jonathan Powell Discovers ‘There’s Gold In Them Thar Peace Deals!’

Powell’s NGO ‘works closely with MI6’, says Hillary Clinton email.

If, like myself, you were puzzled and even intrigued by the re-appearance in Belfast recently of Tony Blair’s ex-chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, and especially because he was in the company of Loyalist paramilitary leaders, then I may have an explanation.

But first a reminder of who Powell is and was.

A former journalist turned diplomat whose brother Charles, was Margaret Thatcher’s foreign policy adviser, Jonathan Powell teamed up with Blair in the early 1990’s after Blair ascended to the Labour leadership. And when Blair won the 1997 general election the new occupant of 10 Downing Street invited him to be his chief-of-staff.

Jonathan Powell, ex-Blair aide now runs Inter Mediate

Jonathan Powell, ex-Blair aide now runs Inter Mediate

It says a lot about Powell’s loyalty and value to Blair that he was the only one of his non-ministerial appointees to survive the often turbulent decade of New Labour in power. Not even Alastair Campbell could survive the machinations of New Labour, but Jonathan Powell somehow did.

In Ireland, of course, he will be remembered for his role as contact man between the IRA and Sinn Fein leadership and Downing Street during the seemingly endless negotiations that constituted the peace process.

Some of the other parties involved in the talks, many in Dublin but many more in Washington say that if the negotiations seemed to be unending then it was in no small measure down to Powell.

While the White House and the Irish Department of Justice believed, by the early 2000’s, that the time was ripe for playing hardball with the Provos, not least because Adams’ leadership was secure from dissident threat, Powell, supported by Blair, argued in favour of continuing the concession policy, presumably on the basis that the more the Provos were given, the more likely they would be to end their war and the less likely they would be shot in their beds by angry rivals.

The Powell/Blair approach also favoured turning a blind eye to continuing IRA activity – the December 2004, £26.5 million robbery of the Northern Bank in Belfast being a glaring example – in case hardliners took offense and turned against Adams.

The result was that the peace process became a world without end. And from the Provos’ point of view, why not? If Blair & Co were ready to give, give and give, why should they, of all people, call a halt?

The tensions between the three governments over the Blair/Powell approach to the IRA was, perhaps, best illustrated by the review of Powell’s post-peace process memoir, ‘Great Hatred, Little Room…’ written by the Bush ambassador to the peace process, Mitchell Reiss.

It contained this immortal paragraph, which succinctly summarised the Powell/Blair approach to negotiating with the IRA:

In July 2005, the IRA had finally agreed to decommission all its weapons. At the last minute, Adams called No. 10 to demand that some of the weapons not be destroyed so that the IRA could arm itself against possible attacks from dissident members. Unless this was allowed, he threatened, decommissioning would not proceed. The Blair government conceded, but wanted to check with Dublin. Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell refused to acquiesce in the backsliding, despite enormous pressure. Powell told Adams of the problem, and Adams gave way. Decommissioning took place as planned.

What exactly transpired during the conversation between Powell and Adams is not known, but whatever was exchanged, it seems to have mollified the Sinn Fein leader. Perhaps the recent report commissioned by the British government following the IRA killing of Kevin McGuigan which revealed that not all the IRA weaponry was destroyed in the decommissioning process, and that much of the IRA’s organisational structure is still in place, contains a clue to their conversation.

When Blair left office, Jonathan Powell departed too. But while Blair almost immediately cashed in on the Irish peace process, securing the job of Middle East peace envoy amongst other lucrative opportunities – Powell became a banker, joining Morgan Stanley for a couple of years.

But then in 2011, having published a memoir of his time peace-making in Ireland, he decided it was time to cash in on his own experience and set up something called Inter Mediate, which describes its mission thus:

Inter Mediate’s mission is to advance conflict resolution and reconciliation through dialogue and mediation with the aim of achieving lasting settlement to violent and complex conflicts.

In 2014, Powell was appointed special UK envoy to Libya to engage in dialogue with the various warring groups, activity that doubtless has been performed via the good offices of Inter Mediate.

Thanks to some smart sleuthing by Chuck Ross of The Daily Caller, a libertarian website based in Washington DC, we now know a little more about Jonathan Powell’s Inter Mediate and its links to the British foreign policy establishment, including SIS, the Secret Intelligence Service aka MI6.

The evidence comes in the form of one of the thousands of emails that Hillary Clinton has been obliged to disclose to a Congressional committee investigating the background to the so-called Benghazi affair.

Hillary Clinton, then First Lady, meets new British Labour leader Tony Blair (right) at a reception in the home of SIdney Blumenthal (left)

Hillary Clinton, then First Lady, meets new British Labour leader Tony Blair (right) at a reception in the home of SIdney Blumenthal (left)

This particular email unearthed by Ross is from a close buddy of Hillary Clinton by the name of Sidney Blumenthal who, if this Ken Silverstein profile is a reliable guide, is one of the most odious figures in American politics. Blumenthal and Jonathan Powell have been friends since the early 1990’s, when Powell was First Secretary at the British embassy in Washington.

Here is the email, which unashamedly touts business for Powell. ‘H’ is Hillary Clinton and ‘Sid’ is Sidney Blumethal. Note Hillary’s response: ‘I’d like to see Powell when he’s in the building’:

Hill_email

You will also, I hope, notice the line: ‘We work closely with FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office), NSC (National Security Council) and SIS in London…..’

So anyone dealing with Jonathan Powell and Inter Mediate should be aware that everything they do and say will probably make its way back to MI6 headquarters.

MI6 Headquarters on the south bank of the River Thames

MI6 Headquarters on the south bank of the River Thames

That now includes Jackie McDonald of the UDA and Billy Hutchinson, leader of the PUP, the UVF’s political wing who met with Jonathan Powell, in his Inter Mediate capacity, in Belfast in mid-October and agreed the establishment of a new Loyalist Communities Council.

JOnathan Powell meets Jackie McDonald (UDA) on the right and Billy Hutchinson (PUP) on left.

Jonathan Powell meets Jackie McDonald (UDA) on the right and Billy Hutchinson (PUP) on left.

Amongst the remarks made by Powell in Belfast was a warning that Loyalist paramilitaries should be allowed to survive, i.e. made legal, or they could be overtaken by dissidents. Which was strange because most of the Loyalist groups seem pretty calm these days.

A cynic might point out that guaranteeing the existence of paramilitary groups is not bad either for the income stream of outfits like Inter Mediate.

PSNI Wants To Hand Over Troubles Archive……

….yes, but where are the Special Branch files?

detail

Belfast Telegraph Publishes Martin Galvin Response to Ruth Dudley Edwards’ ‘Insult’

CORRECTION – Apparently the Belfast Telegraph’s decision to allow Martin Galvin a right of reply to Ruth Dudley Edwards’ article followed negotiations between the paper and Galvin after a complaint had been lodged with IPSO. It was an indirect rather than direct consequence of the complaint

Regular readers of this blog will know by now that thebrokenelbow.com does not have much regard for the integrity, independence and courage of IPSO, the post Leveson inquiry press ‘regulator’ whose job is to investigate readers’ complaints about low standards in high places in the British print media world.

Critics say that the Independent Press Standards Organisation, to give it its full title, is a creature of the press bosses and does not have the necessary power to punish erring newspapers with sufficient requital. My own experience with IPSO’s handling of a complaint about The Irish News’ fictitious coverage of the ‘Winky’ Rea case – read here, here and here – bore out that critique when it ruled against my complaint that The Irish News had invented a story about Rea’s oral history interview with Boston College.

So, it is a bit strange to report today that after IPSO ruled in favor of former Noraid publicity director Martin Galvin, the Belfast Telegraph has complied with an order to publish a right of reply to a quite extraordinarily hostile and venomous article about him written by that scourge of everything Irish-American and Irish Republican, Ruth Dudley Edwards and published in the same paper.

Even so, it took nine months for this to happen and Galvin was obliged to hire the services of Paul Tweed, a quite fearsome – and expensive – libel lawyer based in Belfast to achieve movement in his case.

I reproduce below the two articles, the first is Galvin’s reply which is due to appear in print sometime this week, the second is the Dudley Edwards’ article which sparked the whole thing off in January this year.

Martin Galvin

Martin Galvin

Reply to Ruth Dudley Edwards

RUTH DUDLEY EDWARDS-BELFAST TELEGRAPH COMPLAINT

A chara,

Imagine writing that British rule in Ireland was motivated solely by “hatred,” and Unionists supporting this “curse” could be labeled “ignorant, gullible or malign” or “typical of a particularly stupid strain”. Then claim that supporters of British forces “liked people to kill.” There would be a furious reaction to sentiments that seemed more bigotry than reasoned commentary.

Now apply those quoted words to the Irish leaders honored in 1916 commemorations, to American supporters of Irish independence or reunification from the mid-nineteenth century onwards, and then add Ms. Edwards’ insulting Irish-Americans while targeting me and readers may understand my indignation.

There is nothing new in British officials or apologists, blaming Irish Americans for civil rights protests or armed resistance to British rule. During my years as a National Director of the Irish Northern Aid Committee and Editor of the IRISH PEOPLE NEWSPAPER, British officials often resorted to this myth. It was designed to divert attention away from the inequities and injustices within British rule that were the real causes of conflict.

One typical illustration followed the murder of civil rights lawyer Pat Finucane in 1989. We charged British complicity and collusion in his murder in major protests and in Congress. The British Ambassador was outraged. He said the British government would never soil its hands with such misdeeds. Only misinformed Irish Americans would entertain such accusations. More than 20 years later, British secretary Owen Paterson apologized for collusion and the parts played in this murder by paid British Army and RUC agents.

Books and documentaries have exposed British collusion with loyalists in crimes back to the early 1970s, including 120 Glennane Gang murders and Dublin-Monaghan bombings. Irish-Americans were right, and decades ahead. British officials were misled or deliberately misled others.

Recently Martin McGuinness told reporter Eamonn Mallie, he had been “proud to be a member of the IRA.” Is it really plausible to suggest that those, including the Deputy First Minister of the British administration, who once fought to end British rule were not moved to do so by discrimination, or Internment or Bloody Sunday, but because Americans like me were aiding the families of Republican prisoners and highlighting injustice?

Ms Edwards takes this fiction to unprecedented extremes. Those who proclaimed an Irish Republic in her native Dublin in 1916 will be celebrated by millions for the Easter Rising which ultimately led to independence for 26 counties. Executed labour leader, James Connolly said of his British firing squad, “I will say a prayer for all brave men who do their duty according to their own lights.” Surely he and other leaders, who millions honour as patriots, deserve better than a sneering category “killed and died for hatred”

Ms. Edwards is correct that from the mid-nineteenth century onwards, there have been Americans who believed Ireland would be better served by independent Irish government than by British rule. Indeed she might have pointed to the beginning of that century and United Irishmen. They were proven right by British policies a half- century later, during the Great Hunger.

Their heirs in this generation marched the streets, flooded Congressional offices and Presidential forums until a Presidential candidate named Bill Clinton pledged in response to my question, that he would end visa censorship against Sinn Fein and put the north back on the American agenda. It is a proud legacy.

Certainly the commitment and contributions of Irish-Americans towards achieving a united Ireland may be unwelcome by some readers. I make no apology. Let us disagree in Connolly’s spirit, respecting others who do what they believe right according to their own differing lights. Would it not be “ignorant, gullible or malign” to do otherwise?
Slan,
MARTIN GALVIN

Ruth Dudley Edwards

Ruth Dudley Edwards

Belfast Telegraph

Martin Galvin: He may be older, but his hatred remains intact
By Ruth Dudley Edwards

Published
26/01/2015

Remember Martin Galvin, that attention-seeking Irish-American who liked people to kill for Ireland? Well, he’s announced that conditions don’t exist at present for “the continuation of the armed struggle”. Why?

Galvin came to prominence as the publicity director for Irish Northern Aid (Noraid), which from the early-1970s claimed to raise money for the families of republican prisoners. Of course, by taking a financial burden off the IRA, they freed up money for weapons.

They also, said Galvin, ran “educational programs in the US,” which is a nice euphemism for spreading hate-filled anti-British propaganda.

Among those who believed that Noraid also raised money for US arms shipments to Northern Ireland was the US Department of Justice, which took them to court to demand they register the Provisional IRA as their “foreign principal”.

The judge ruled: “The uncontroverted evidence is that [Noraid] is an agent of the IRA, providing money and services for other than relief purposes.”

Noraid continued merrily on, shaking buckets in Irish pubs and extracting donations from ignorant, gullible or malign Irish-Americans.

From the mid-19th century, the island of Ireland was cursed by the interference of bitter Fenian exiles and their followers, who fomented and financed revolution.

They sat in their armchairs exulting as people thousands of miles away killed and died for hatred. Without them, there would almost certainly have been no rising in 1916.

Galvin was one of their heirs. He explained once that, as a 20-year-old New York fireman’s son, he visited Ireland and discovered that, 60 years earlier, his grandfather had emigrated because “an English landlord had determined that he could get a higher price from the field that my family farmed to support itself”.

This “made me see that this system, which had oppressed members of my own family, is oppressing people today”.

Galvin is typical of a particularly stupid, tunnel-visioned strain in Irish-America, that finds a romantic vision that suits and never questions it.

The only time I lost my temper on the US lecture circuit was when two Noraid women, who had never set foot in Ireland, told me I didn’t have a single drop of Irish blood in my veins.

Galvin, however, liked a bit of action and did sometimes visit. In 1984, at a time when he was excluded from the United Kingdom, he snuck into Northern Ireland to appear on republican platforms.

Violence broke out when the RUC tried to arrest him at a rally outside the Sinn Fein Belfast offices and, in the ensuing melee, Sean Downes was killed by a plastic bullet.

The police reservist who shot him was cleared of manslaughter after the judge saw a video of events, but, of course, for Galvin and Sinn Fein, his death – which they called murder – was a heaven-sent propaganda opportunity.

Galvin fell out with Sinn Fein over the peace process and quit Noraid. He became best friends with the Real IRA and Michael and Bernadette McKevitt, becoming the US support group for their 32 County Sovereignty Committee.

His comment on the Omagh bomb was: “People have to not simply react to the immediate, but to look to the bigger picture.”

Galvin has adjusted his sights a bit, thrilled to have been nominated as an aide to the Grand Marshal in this year’s Ancient Order of Hibernians St Patrick’s Day New York shindig. The Grand Marshal is Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York.

Clearly, he had to make a big concession to avoid being blocked in the present climate, which is why he wrote an open letter to the AOH in which he said: “It is categorically untrue that I support armed actions today by any IRA, or as your writer puts it, ‘denounce the Sinn Fein leadership as traitors.'”

He’ll have his parade, but his hatred will remain intact. It’s clear from a recent interview that he hopes that politics will fail so “nationalist areas, or at minimum in republican heartlands” will give support again to violence.

As the Omagh relatives said in 2000 in a Press release after picketing a 32CSM fundraising event in which Galvin starred, he “is contributing nothing to the people of Ireland only misery”.

Expect no change.