Saturday, 11 June 2016
INQUIRY INTO MI5 DEATH SQUADS IN NORTH OF IRELAND
AN INVESTIGATION is being launched which will examine the activities of an MI5 agent known as ‘Stakeknife’ who has been linked to 50 murders during the war against Sinn Fein in the north of Ireland.
The investigation will be led by the chief constable of Bedfordshire Police. The chief constable said the team would consist of between 50 and 70 investigators. The investigation will also examine crimes carried out by other MI5 agents, the army and police handlers.
‘Stakeknife’ is believed to have been one of the highest ranking secret agents embedded within the IRA. The undercover MI5 agent is believed to have led the IRA’s internal security unit, known as ‘the nutting squad’, which was responsible for identifying, interrogating, and executing suspected informers.
The media identified ‘Stakeknife’ as Freddie Scappaticci in 2003 after which he fled West Belfast, where he lived. During a press briefing yesterday, Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Chief Constable George Hamilton said the investigation team would not include any current or former members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), PSNI, Ministry of Defence or MI5.
Hamilton also introduced chief constable of Bedfordshire Police, Jon Boutcher. Boutcher said: ‘My principal aim in taking responsibility for this investigation is to bring those responsible for these awful crimes, in whatever capacity they were involved, to justice.
‘As soon as officers and staff are in place, the investigation team will begin reaching out to victims, victims’ families and all interested parties to receive information.’ The new investigation was forced on the authorities after an official report on Thursday confirmed collusion between police and loyalist gunmen in the massacre of six men in a County Down pub in 1994.
The report carried out by Northern Ireland’s Police Ombudsman said police knew the names of suspects within 24 hours of the attacks but delayed making arrests. The Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, said: ‘I have no hesitation in saying collusion was a significant feature of the Loughinisland murders.’
Dr Maguire confirmed that an assault rifle used in the attack was part of a huge consignment of South African weapons brought into Northern Ireland by loyalist paramilitaries in the late 1980s. Other weapons from the shipment were used in at least 70 murders and attempted murders.
The report raised questions about why all the weapons were not intercepted as police ‘informants were at the most senior levels within loyalist paramilitary organisations’. For the past 22 years, the families of the victims have alleged that the police failed to investigate the killings properly because they were protecting informers.
The first person to arrive at the scene of the massacre, Kevin Gordon has said he is still having counselling after what he saw. Speaking from the Heights Bar in Loughinisland, where loyalist gunmen carried out the murders, Kevin Gordon said what he found ‘never leaves you’.
The Catholic victims were in the bar watching the Republic of Ireland play a World Cup football match against Italy on 18 June that year, when two Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) members walked in and opened fire indiscriminately. The six men who died were Adrian Rogan, 34, Malcolm Jenkinson, 53, Barney Green, 87, Daniel McCreanor 59, Patrick O’Hare, 35, and Eamon Byrne, 39.
Emma Rogan, daughter of Adrian Rogan, said: ‘I’m thinking of my daddy and all those others who died. This report has vindicated our long-held suspicions.’ She told the BBC ‘Today’ programme the collusion ‘goes right to the top of the British government’.
• Undercover police spies from the London Metropolitan Police operated in the north of Ireland in the 1990s without the knowledge of local police, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has confirmed.
The undercover unit, called the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), infiltrated protest groups. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton told the Policing Board nobody in the Royal Ulster Constabulary or the PSNI was aware of them. He said they were ‘completely blind to their activities’ and their presence.
‘In October last year, the Metropolitan Police advised us that there was a potential that the SDS, as it was then known, had operated in Northern Ireland, unknown to us,’ said Hamilton.
‘We can’t find any record that anybody in the Royal Ulster Constabulary or the PSNI were aware of the presence of these officers in Northern Ireland. Nor were we aware of any information gathered being passed back to us for our use. We appear to be entirely blind to this.’
One of the undercover officers for whom Scotland Yard apologised for tricking women into sexual relationships carried out surveillance in Northern Ireland, say environmental campaigners. Campaigner Kim Bryan said one of the officers spent some time in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
She said she went to Belfast in 2005 with Mark Kennedy at his suggestion. ”Mark Kennedy organised the travel, he paid for the trip and we went in his vehicle so he drove us around Ireland when he came to visit,’ she said.
‘We did three events in total when we were in Belfast. I don’t know exactly what he was doing, but I suspect he used the opportunity to spy on activists in Ireland – in Belfast and Dublin and in County Clare where we were.’
It is only now 18 years after the signing of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that the UK ruling class’ murder machine in the north of Ireland has begun to be unmasked.