Feature: Open letter to Tony Blair
The following is a letter to British Prime Minister Tony Blair,
signed by a number of Irish-American political leaders
The Rt Hon Tony Blair, PC, MP
10 Downing Street
London SW1A 2AA
Dear Prime Minister,
In October of 2002 your government closed down the Northern
Ireland Assembly, charging three people including Denis
Donaldson, then Sinn Fein'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
representative 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 Fein. 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
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 after 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
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 in 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
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
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