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Why prevention was nobler option than collusion

Published 26/06/2015

The recent upsurge in interest around collusion has me thinking about the claim from the securocrats and their apologists that the agents they controlled were actually saving lives and that the ends justified the means.

This means that these agents were given carte blanche to carry out whatever criminal acts they desired so long as their cover was not blown. This was the thinking that led to so many deaths and injuries; this we know. What we don't know is how many lives were saved.

However, this is not the point. All of the potential lives saved cannot justify the lives that were ruined by the actions of those who were supposed to be protecting us.

Maybe the powers-that-be should have taken a lesson from their predecessors in the Royal Irish Constabulary. I am reading a book at the minute (Irish Conspiracies, Frederick Moir Bussy, 1910) which chronicles the life of John Mallon, a senior detective in the RIC at the end of the 19th century.

He controlled a network of informers within the secret societies of Ireland - societies like the Fenians, the Invincibles and the Land Leaguers.

Mallon had a more unconventional way of doing things. He preferred to "nip things in the bud". He was " ...ever keen to preserve the life and liberty (…) of the would-be felon".

"His first consideration, however, was to spare innocent persons and families the bitterness and pain of personal injury and bereavement." His primary objective was the prevention of crime.

Mallon chose to "prevent outrage and social convulsion by timely warning - in contradistinction to the laying of traps for intended criminals". He even tipped off a potential plotter that he knew of a conspiracy to kill Mallon himself. He wanted to save the "evilly-inclined from wrongdoing".

If only our protectors had followed the Mallon route and prevented crimes instead of directing them. If only.



Belfast Telegraph

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