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1994

Searchlight set-up

FOR THE PAST DECADE or more there has been concern in political circles across the whole spectrum of opinion that there is more to Searchlight magazine than meets the eye. Searchlight purports to be an 'anti-fascist' magazine and research group. Certainly it does monitor and interpret the activities of various ultra-right wing parties and groups, loyalist support groups and anything else it regards as tainted with any suspicion of 'fascism' or 'nazism'. As MI5 boss Stella Rimington admitted in her Dimbleby lecture address last June, the extreme left and right are both targets for penetration and disruption by the covert forces of the State. In fact any group, no matter how moderate, which questions the democratic credentials of the status quo will become a target of the Secret State.

Searchlight is an ideal vehicle for this purpose as it is widely read by many among the left for information on their political enemies. It can set up rightist people for attack by leftist extremists and can manipulate the right into unwise actions through the use of such agent-provocateurs as Ray Hill and Tim Hepple. However, in Great Britain the worst that normally happens is that an individual is beaten up and possibly hospitalised or perhaps his home is trashed. Here in Ulster the consequences can be fatal. Searchlight could be setting up people for murder.

The June 1994 issue carries this gem:
Seasoned political observers in Northern Ireland say that the UDA and parts of the IRA are jointly controlling some of their criminal activities and use the same drug traffickers. Now they are exporting their money-spinning activities here [ie Great Britain] through people like Charlie Sargent and his closest associates in C18. Those in the know say that the row between the BNP and C18 has little to do with ideology and is more about organised drug dealing.

If Sargent is such a teen Loyalist; why is he using a Catholic, who has posed as an anti-fascist researcher, as a courier to Ulster for meetings with a key Third Positionist who straddles both communities? Our view is that his beliefs take second place to the potential profit from drug taking.

According to inside sources, the war between the BNP and C18 will move into a new dimension shortly, turning into a war between those who support the UDA and those who follow the UVF and are taking a strong line against the politics of drugs being brought to the mainland by Charlie and his crew.'

When the RUC recently carried out simultaneous raids in conjunction with the Gardai and English police forces to wipe out paramilitary fundraising - the so-called 'Operation Madronna' they found no evidence to substantiate allegations of collusion between the main loyalist and republican groups in drug-dealing. There was a lot of police-inspired speculation at the time, but in the end all persons arrested were released quietly without charge. It would be most interesting if Searchlight could produce hard evidence that Mr Sargent is dealing in drugs for this alleged UDA/IRA cartel. I suspect that such evidence will be slow in appearing. This is not a genuine news story but an evil piece of despicable pot stirring designed to make life very difficult for Mr Sargent and two other individuals who are not named in the article. The 'seasoned political observers' must be the RUC special branch or the security services as no serious political commentator believes this nonsense.

The two persons alluded to appear to be Larry O'Hara. a left wing political researcher and member of the Green Party whose work has recently upset Searchlight, and a contributor to this magazine. He would not describe himself as a 'key Third Positionist', but Searchlight has long sought for its own political reasons to blur the distinction between the Third Way and the extremist sect known as the International Third Position, often lumping both together as 'wings of the Third Position group'

The facts are that Mr O'Hara came to Ulster and interviewed our man in October 1992. These interviews were recorded on tape by both parties. O'Hara also interviewed two members of the Ulster Independence Committee and a member of the Young Unionist Council. Extracts from some of these interviews were used and credited in footnotes to a recent article by O'Hara in Lobster magazine. For the record, our contributor has never met Charlie Sargent nor has he ever had any political contacts with him.

So, who has been set up in this article? Charlie Sargent, who leads a neo-nazi street gang, has been accused of dealing in drugs, working with 'a UDA/IRA cartel, using a Catholic courier and being more interested in drug profits than his political beliefs. Larry O'Hara, who has been branded as 'posing' as an anti-fascist researcher, a Catholic (and therefore untrustworthy in loyalist eyes. Isn't it interesting that the 'anti-fascist, anti-racist' Searchlight doesn't mind stirring up religious bigotry when it suits?), and a drug courier. Our man, whose local contacts in 'both communities' are presumably useful for distributing the drugs for the above mentioned UDA/IRA cartel. Just to complete the mixture the UDA and the UVF are to be provoked into internecine conflict on behalf respectively of Mr Sargent's group and the British National Party.

This shows the totally unscrupulous nature of Searchlight and its editor, Gerry Gable. At one stroke he will have removed a rival leftist anti-fascist researcher, disrupted the mainland activities of the UDA and UVF and bracketed a contributor to this magazine with a neo-nazi leader, drug-dealing, the UDA and the IRA. Not bad for a couple of poisonous paragraphs! All Gerry needs now is for the assassins to play their part.

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