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Turning up the Heat: MI5 after the Cold War;
Larry O'Hara Phoenix Press, London. £5.00 plus postage ISBN 0 948984 29 5
"Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of any of the following groups: far left, far right, not-so-far-left, antifascists, anarchists, greens, animal liberationists, Irish nationalists, Ulster loyalists, Scots nationalists, Welsh nationalists? if so, MI5 have got plans for you. Enquire within." Such is the inviting blurb on the back of Larry O'Hara's latest work. It has already been dismissed as rubbish by Stephen Dorrill's breakaway Lobster 94 magazine, (not to be confused with the real Lobster published by Robin Ramsey). However, Dorrill may not be impartial in this regard given his contacts with Searchlight magazine, a journal which O'Hara believes is an MI5 listening post and agent provocateur. This reviewer is no great lover of Searchlight seeing as it sought last summer to paint me as a drug dealer in complicity with the neo-nazi C18, the UDA and the IRA using O'Hara as a courier.
The author believes that it is MI5's aim to draw the British extreme right into providing arms for the loyalist paramilitaries and the British far left to do the same for the IRA and INLA. Such an arrangement would justify MI5's interest in such groups in the general public's eyes. The MI5 Director General, Stella Rimington has sought to prove that there is still a need for her secret organisation despite the end of the Cold War and the demise of the Soviet Union. She wants to 'defend democracy' and has targeted all so-called 'subversive' groups. As the author points out, her definition of subversion is so widely framed that it could even include the vapid liberal Guardian readers of Charter 88.
Obviously, political activists must be careful but avoid paranoia. If we start believing that everyone else is an MI5 mole we will never get anything done. Trust will rapidly break down and cause serious damage to any group. O'Hara has no advice for activists in such a potential situation but vigilance is vital. People in legitimate political organisations of whatever persuasion should be very suspicious of those shining-eyed members who are keen to involve comrades in activities which are illegal, especially if violent or dangerous. This could be MI5 entrapment.
What are we to make of Tim Hepple, who was involved in an anarchist grouping, animal rights activities, the BNP, The ultra-racist Church of the Creator and who worked for Searchlight all at the same time? Closer to home, O'Hara mentions the case of Stuart McCullough, a former political colleague of mine who in his short career disrupted the old Ulster NF, went off with the extremist 'TTP' sect and was involved with the Belfast Animal Rights group and the Animal Liberation Front in Ulster where he also allegedly incited violence and caused a lot more disruption. According to O'Hara, Stuart McCullough, through his post office box number in Belfast, set up a dummy mailing address for the `deep green' organisation the Earth Liberation Front and even went so far as to produce bogus ELF leaflets. To what purpose? Nobody knows. O'Hara believes it is intended to entrap prominent political activists as has happened to Earth First! activists in the United States. Stuart McCullough no longer appears to be living in Ulster and is not available to answer these questions. During his time in Ulster Mr McCullough managed to annoy virtually everyone from the IRA and the Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association through to the anarchists, the far-right, Ian Paisley and the Mid-Ulster UDA.
The whole question of MI5 involvement in Ulster's political affairs is a major thread running through this book, although it is mainly related to political activities in Great Britain itself. Nevertheless it should be required reading for all Ulster patriots. I wish that the author had taken the trouble to include an index into this short work. In the course of this review, I found it infuriating in trying to find again passages which had caught my eye on the first reading. Any prospective reader would be well-advised to invest in a set of highlighter pens!
David KerrHome page
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