Half of all IRA leaders were government spies, report claims

Ian HurstBy 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). Read more of this post

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Suspected IRA militant charged in undercover agent’s killing

Robert Nairac

Robert Nairac

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A man suspected by British authorities to be a former member of the Irish Republican Army has been charged with participating in the killing of a British army undercover agent, who tried to infiltrate the IRA in the 1970s. Robert Nairac, a captain of the British Army’s Intelligence Corps, was among numerous British government agents who attempted to infiltrate the IRA from the 1960s onwards. Although educated at Oxford, Nairac studied Irish republican culture and put on a convincing Northern Irish accent in order to carry out the infiltration. His activities centered on patronizing various pubs in Catholic stronghold areas of Belfast, using the cover name “Danny McErlaine”, and pretending to be a member of the Official IRA (an IRA splinter faction) from north Belfast. But on May 14, 1977, a group of IRA members abducted Nairac from a pub in South Armagh and drove him to a remote location, where they interrogated him prior to executing him. Read more of this post

Analysis: Real IRA Attacks Part of Broader N. Ireland Military Buildup

RIRA gunman

RIRA gunman

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
On Saturday, March 7, two unarmed British soldiers were executed and two others seriously injured when three guerillas opened fire on them with semi-automatic weapons outside the British Army’s Massereene Barracks in Northern Ireland. Two nights later, a police officer was shot and killed in Craigavon, County Armagh, as he investigated reports of “suspicious activity” in the area. Northern Irish politics entered a new phase after these strikes, which have so far left three people dead and at least two seriously injured. Yet the attacks, which have been attributed to Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA) paramilitaries, were hardly unexpected; on the contrary, they are part of a broader pattern of intensification of covert military and paramilitary activity in the troubled region. Read article →