Half of all IRA leaders were government spies, report claims
December 26, 2011 1 Comment
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A report to be presented before an Irish government inquiry states that nearly half of the leadership of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) during the ‘Troubles’ of the 1960s and 1970s consisted of informants working for British or Irish intelligence services. The 24-page report is part of a larger dossier of evidence that is soon to be presented before the Smithwick Tribunal, a judicial inquiry into the 1989 killing by the Provisional IRA of two police officers of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (see previous intelNews coverage here). The evidence dossier has reportedly been prepared by Ian Hurst, former member of the Force Research Unit (FRU), a secretive body within the British Army’s Intelligence Corps, tasked with running agents inside militant groups. Hurst, who worked in the Intelligence Corps from 1981 to 1990, was responsible for handling informants and agents inside Irish paramilitary groups, including the Provisional IRA. He is believed to be the first-ever member of the FRU to have spoken publicly about his experience. In the report, which was leaked to The Belfast Telegraph, Hurst suggests that approximately one in every four volunteers of the Provisional IRA was an agent of an intelligence organization, and that among leading members this number increased to one in two. Among them was allegedly the British agent codenamed STAKEKNIFE, identified by some as Freddie Scappaticci, a senior member of the Provisional IRA Northern Command’s Internal Security Unit (ISU), tasked with counterintelligence operations (Scappaticci denies these claims). Hurst’s report also states that the Provisional IRA maintained an extensive network of informants inside government agencies in the Republic of Ireland, ranging from law enforcement to social security to vehicle licensing departments. It also claims that MI5, Britain’s counterintelligence organization, kept tabs on the Provisional IRA’s activities in Ireland by running its own network of informants inside Irish government agencies. Hurst concludes the 24-page report by stating that none of all this information “registered massively on the [FRU’s] Richter scale, it was just a fact of life, indeed it was well within the rules of our game”. Hurst was contacted by The Telegraph but refused to comment on the story, saying that he was prevented from doing so because of an injunction.