The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Time for Truth is Now


Mick Hall • 2 April 2007

Those who write about the criminal underworld have often portrayed members of the police and security services who have responsibility for running informers and agents of influence within criminal or revolutionary organizations as being engaged in some sort of art form. 'If only', one is tempted to chime, for of late there has been an increasing amount of factual information on this subject coming into the public domain, and it is difficult not to conclude that if running informers is an art form, it is on the avant guard wing of artistic endeavors, and certainly not the carefully structured work of portrait painting, landscapes or orchestral music. Indeed, if we can describe running informers in artistic terms, Andy Warhol's 'Factory' springs to mind, with its collection of misfits and egotistical weirdoes, all willing to dance to ringmaster Warhol's imbecilic demands.

Far from the handlers of informants controlling their source and gleaning information from them diligently to keep them on side, it is becoming increasingly clear far too many of those who have held this responsibility have ended up colluding with their informants in criminality, up to and including murder. The unsavory enterprise of running informers appears in many cases to be more like a business partnership, albeit a corrupt one; insider trading with a sawn off comes to mind. From gangsters to international narcotics traffickers through to Irish paramilitaries there have been countless examples of informers either being give carte-blanche to commit crimes by those who employ them on behalf of the state, or, when these crimes have come to light, the handlers have displayed a willingness to not only pull strings so that their informer will quickly return to the streets, but they have also been known to perjure themselves before the courts in the hope of their tout gaining a 'not guilty' verdict or a lighter sentence.

It is no longer possible to see such criminal behavior when running informers as an aberration, but an essential part of the territory. BBC Radio 4's 'File on Four' recently looked at members of Turkish crime families who had settled in north London, often at the behest of the UK Customs and Immigration services who facilitated their UK citizenship and gave them immunity to commit crimes whilst registered as informers for the Metropolitan Police and UK Customs Service. The reasoning behind this was to allow the informants to build their cover within the Turkish underworld in north London. The outcome was somewhat different, as it gave these State approved criminals carte-blanche to eliminate with their touting any potential rivals in the illegal drugs trade, thus allowing them to rise to the top of this particular criminal enterprise without opposition from within the criminal fraternity and free from fear of arrest.

It seems, using police parlance, 'the result' was all that mattered. If an informer can send fellow members of the criminal fraternity down the steps, any collateral damage, whilst unfortunate, goes with the territory and is filed away in a draw marked 'never to be opened'. That this type of policing was first imported from the USA will be no surprise to anyone who is au-fait with how the FBI has historically operated. Indeed the 2007 Oscar winning movie, 'The Departed,' which won Best Director at this year's Oscars ceremony, was loosely based on the exploits of the Boston Irish gangster Whitey Bulger, who robbed maimed and murdered his way across south Boston whilst being run as an informer by the FBI. Bulger was especially useful to the Feds, not only due to his criminal connections within the Boston underworld, but also being an Irish-American, he was able to build strong contacts within the PIRA, from whom he could glean information about that organization's activities, personnel and links in the USA and pass it on to the FBI, whom undoubtedly traded this with the British security services.

It is however in the six counties of the north east of Ireland which are still under UK jurisdiction, where the reckless, criminal and murderous use of informers have recently come to light in all its true horror and criminality. During the PIRA 'long war', both Loyalist and Republican para-militaries were heavily infiltrated by the UK security forces. British Army Intel, MI5 and the RUC Special Branch all ran informers and agents of influence within these organizations (Philip Agee's book 'Inside the Company' reveals and explains the role an 'agent of influence' plays within an organization they have been infiltrated into), not only, as was once suggested by the media, within the lower ranks of these para-military organizations. We now know that the PIRA had been infiltrated with informers at all levels of the organization, right up to the most senior ranks. As to the loyalist para-military organizations the UDA and UVF, it would be far easier to say who was not an informer or British agent. It is possible to judge the extent of this infiltration if one considers that that both the UDA and PIRA security departments were infiltrated at the highest levels by informers: the reality of this is that those who were tasked to hunt out and kill informers within these two organizations were themselves informers or British agents. (Freddie Scappiticci, deputy head of PIRA Security Dept., was an informer and Brian Nelson, head of UDA Intelligence Dept. had been placed there by the British Army Intellegence Regiment's unit the FRU.)

Since this information came into the public arena and due to the fact that the UK State has absolutely no interest in washing its dirty war linen in public, this responsibility has part fallen to the Northern Ireland Police Ombudswoman, Nuala O'Loan, who has turned out to be a tenacious Public Guardian and courageous seeker of the truth. She has been requested by a number of the families whose loved ones were murdered by members of para-militaries, to look into whether any collusion took place between those who committed the murders and the RUC Special Branch who had part responsibility for running informers within the PIRA/UDA/UVF.

Mrs O'Loan, at the request of the victim's father, recently produced an explosive report into the murder of Raymond McCord by members of the Mount Vernon unit of the UVF. In this report she lifted a small corner of the blanket which encases the dirty war that took place in the six counties and by so doing she revealed a world of State collusion in criminality, between the RUC Special Branch and the Ulster Volunteer Force. On reading her report, few who have inside knowledge of this situation doubt the same level of collusion existed throughout the six counties between MI5 operatives, British Army Intel [FRU] and the RUC's Special Branch and leading para-militaries from within both communities.

The true level of the collusion between British security forces and leading para-militaries during the years of the 'troubles' is unknown, but the official response to Mrs O'Loans report into the murder of Raymond McCord has not been encouraging. The Police Federation for Northern Ireland has severed all links with Mrs O'Loan's Office and the attitude of the British government and the main political parties in NI and at Westminister has been little better. It is clear that none of them wish to see a Public Enquiry into the use of informers by the security forces and State collusion in criminality (let alone what is really needed, an Independent Truth and Justice Commission).

The Blair government was clearly hoping to put this matter to bed with a backstage deal with SF, which would allow PIRA 'On the Runs' to return home without charge or sanction. On the loyalist side this would have been accompanied with a sizable donation to the Loyalist paramilitary leadership; how much of this would filter down to the foot-solders would have presumable been left to a leadership which has had in the past notoriously sticky fingers.

Thankfully the SDLP put the block on this when they exposed such a deal as the nauseating sham it undoubtedly would have been. Although without a doubt some such deal will re-materialize some time in the future. Like the British State, the SF leadership are equally keen to stop any public enquiry for fear of what might be revealed about the level of British infiltration within their own organization. We know in the past the UK State has had informers/agents of influence operating within the upper echelons of the Provisional Republican Movement — the last thing Mr Adams wants publicly revealed is that one or more of these informers is still operating within the SF leadership of today. The last informer to be revealed within the SF leadership was Denis Donaldson, who ran the SF Office within Stormont, and prior to that was used by Mr Adams as his un-official point-man in the USA. (That Donaldson gained legal access to the US should alone have set alarm bells ringing within the RM, but apparently not.)

How any NI politician can look their constituents squarely in the eye whilst denying them a public enquiry into the criminal collusion of the UK State within the six counties beggars belief. The more so as the Unionist politicos, especially the DUP, have built their careers on the back of the rule of law, and the Republican politicians have countless constituents and former comrades amongst the families of the victims of any UK State collusion that has taken place.

If there had been the level of collusion that has been partially revealed in the McCord Report in any other part of the United Kingdom, the airwaves would be full of politicians and organizations such as Liberty demanding a public enquiry. That this is not occurring, just goes to show how NI is regarded as a political pariah by the rest of the nations within the UK where anything goes.

Future generations need to understand how within a Democratic State such as the UK, criminal collusion can became second nature for those who are tasked with that Nation's security. Even within the best of democratic societies mistakes happen, governments and their representatives fall below the bar set by the people through the law, often believing they are doing so for the best of reasons. But the difference between a Democratic State and a Dictatorship is that in the former, those who govern us are accountable, and not only at the bar of history but also under the law. It is time for the call to go out for an Independent Truth and Justice Commission which takes into account amongst other things the UK State collusion in criminality within NI during the period of the 'long war'.




Index: Current Articles + Latest News and Views + Book Reviews + Letters + Archives

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



There is no such thing as a dirty word. Nor is there a word so powerful, that it's going to send the listener to the lake of fire upon hearing it.
- Frank Zappa

Index: Current Articles

9 April 2007

Other Articles From This Issue:

Alternative Ulster
Gerard Gallagher

Back to the Old RUC Ways
Martin Galvin

Cross Border Co-Operation
John Kennedy

Statement from the Morley Family
The Morley Family

Time for Truth is Now
Mick Hall

Revising the Uprising?
Paul Maguire

Easter 2007 Oration
Francis Mackey

Stormont an Obstacle to Realising Ideals of 1916
Ruairí Ó Brádaigh

Destined for the Dustbin of History
Dr John Coulter

A Beginning Must Be Made
Fionnbarra Ó Dochartaigh

Vision for Northern Ireland
Ian Eggleston

House Trained At Last
Brian Mór

Bullies Top the List
Dr John Coulter

Niall Griffiths' antidote to the 'Vomit Novel'
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Two Looks Back in Time
Dr John Coulter

Blame It On The Shinners, Bono & That Freak Sir Bob
Brian Mór

Levi's Law
Eoghan O'Suilleabhain

Facing Up to Reality of Holocaust
David Adams

The Big Bribe
John Kennedy

Everywhere The Past
Anthony McIntyre

27 March 2007

Paisley and Adams: The Ghosts of Politics Past
Brendan O'Neill

Democractically Elected Musical Chairs
Mick Hall

John Kennedy

Bun Fights & Good Salaries
Dolours Price

No New Era Yet
Republican Sinn Fein

The Cul de Sac called 'Futility'
Anthony McIntyre

Pathetic Claims
Joe McDaid

Gerry McGeough
Martin Galvin

Gerry McGeough & Political Policing
Anthony McIntyre

Miscarriage of Justice
Helen McClafferty

Racism Bridging the Sectarian Divide
Dr John Coulter

The Prince of Darkness
Anthony McIntyre

What's All the Fuss About the Veil?
Maryam Namazie



The Blanket




Latest News & Views
Index: Current Articles
Book Reviews
The Blanket Magazine Winter 2002
Republican Voices