Nothing could better call attention to a person than to have that person followed about by a television crew. The reporter, the producer, the camera man, the sound man....it's a crowd, and too many people to go unnoticed.
A man suspected of being a top dog in the Real IRA was taken into custody yesterday in Donegal, near the border. Him and several BBC journalists, that is.
The gardai were busy with an investigation into paramilitary activity in Donegal. That's code for probing the activities of Real IRA members who are making money by the gallon along the border. They take cheap diesel meant for farm machinery, wash it up, and sell it on as more expensive motor fuel. It's been going on for a long time and the governments of both the Republic and Great Britain would like to stop it. They're losing money on the deal, and the fuel laundries are causing tremendous pollution problems.
There was the BBC crew, doing their reporting on paramilitary activity and fuel laundering, and didn't the gardai get a bead on their man when they saw the lights, camera, action. Everyone got brought in, swept up together with the criminals they were examining.
Gardai have confiscated the day's filming as well. That should provide all sorts of interesting facts for the courts to hear. The journalists are expected to protect their confidential sources, while gardai will be seeking to identify the same, with an eye to making more arrests and putting a crimp in the diesel laundry business.
The National Union of Journalists is waiting by the phone, in the event that the BBC reporters need legal aid. They are, after all, British citizens and they were lifted in Ireland, so the whole Offenses Against the State Act could cause them a bit of confusion.
The Real IRA operative? He's wishing he'd kept a low profile and not gone after his fifteen minutes of fame on the telly.