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Just a little enquiry enquiry

By Squinter

MAYBE Squinter’s just thick or something. Okay, let’s rephrase that one. Squinter’s thick, he freely admits it. But it can’t be only his lack of mental acuity that has him all worked up about the latest achievement of the PSNI’s Historical Enquiries Team (HET). Let’s just go over it for the benefit of anyone who hasn’t been paying attention this week…

The HET has finally got round to looking into the frankly rather worrying case of the Co Armagh republican Sam Marshall (right), shot dead by the UVF outside a police station in Lurgan in March 1990. The case has long been dogged by claims that the loyalists who killed the Sinn Féin man acted in cahoots with British security forces.

The new HET report confirms that the case does indeed stink to high heaven. Not only was the mysterious red car spotted in the vicinity of the shooting at the time proved to have belonged to British military intelligence, there was much more than a single family saloon involved in the British operation that day. In fact, eight armed and undercover soldiers were in the immediate area when Mr Marshall and two friends were shot and a ninth coordinated the operation from another location. Six vehicles were involved, including the red saloon of 22-year notoriety. And yet the UVF gang was able to shoot the three men and escape. Go figure.

Just what the spy operation was intended to achieve the report doesn’t touch upon and we will probably never know because – get this – the HET didn’t interview the nine British intelligence operatives involved in the operation. In fact, what the HET did was to pore over RUC statements taken at the time. Which means what? Well, just this: the HISTORICAL ENQUIRIES TEAM held a HISTORICAL ENQUIRY in which the TEAM didn’t bother enquiring of anyone whether what was said or done in 1990 was accurate, fair, balanced, true, dodgy, shifty, tainted or rubbish.

Which is to say that anyone possessed of the ability to read could have carried out thE investigation.

HET HQ, 9am, morning of launch of Marshall enquiry.

– Right, boss, I’ve got the numbers of all the spooks that were sitting watching the shooting with binoculars and automatic rifles. I’ll call them this morning and ask them what time suits them for us to come over and have a word.

– No, detective, that won’t be necessary.

– Oh, right, you want me to do it this afternoon?

– No, I don’t want you to do it at all.

– Um, give me a second here. We’re holding an enquiry into the shooting of three men and we’re not going to talk to nine men who had the victims under surveillance at the very time they were shot?

– Yes, that’s right.

– Why?

– Because I said so.

– Okay, so what are we going to do?

– You see all those files over there with the dust on them, the words ‘RUC’ stamped on the front and covered in chocolate and coffee stains?

– Yes.

– We’re going to give them a really good read.

– Because…

– Because we’ll be able to find out what the RUC found out.

– But the only reason we’re doing this job is because the RUC were no good at their job.

– Don’t be clever. Just put your reading glasses on and go to work.

– Technically speaking, are we allowed to call that an enquiry?

– What did I tell you about being clever?

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