Army/Garda were British intelligence sources, says agent
BRITISH INTELLIGENCE agents operated across the 32 counties and received information from politicians, members of An Garda, the Revenue and the Army, the Smithwick Tribunal has heard.
Former British army intelligence officer Ian Hurst also repeated allegations that Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness had authorised lethal IRA operations – including sanctioning the use of “human bombs”.
However, doubt was cast on the veracity of much of Mr Hurst’s evidence by his former intelligence unit superior, identified only as “Witness 82”, who said he believed Mr Hurst was motivated by a new career and by “making money”.
Mr Hurst, who is also known as Martin Ingram, said during his career in the intelligence services he was aware members of the Revenue, the Army and the Garda were intelligence sources. He said his unit called the Force Research Unit had bases across the North, as well as in Donegal and Sligo and operated across the 32 counties.
He gave an example of one unnamed member of a Garda force from Donegal who travelled to Ballymena to provide information and was paid about €60 a time.
He said he believed British intelligence agents had tapped his phone when he was living in Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary, in 2000, as he was subsequently shown transcripts of his calls when detained by British police in Liverpool when on a visit to Britain.
Expanding on earlier claims that Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness had authorised the killings of two RUC officers in March 1989, Mr Hurst said Mr McGuinness also authorised “human bombs”.
The human bomb was a tactic in which the IRA was alleged to have forced people – usually either security force members or security force employees – to drive car bombs to British military targets.
Mr Hurst repeated earlier assertions that Mr McGuinness authorised IRA killings.
He said: “McGuinness controlled [IRA] northern command. He controlled it for the vast majority of the time, contrary to what he would have you believe that he left the IRA in the 1970s. That is not true. He was a member of the northern command of the Provisional IRA council, responsible for controlling people like Scappaticci.”
The tribunal has already heard claims from Mr Hurst that Freddie Scappaticci was the deputy head of the IRA’s internal security unit while also passing information to the British military intelligence services.
However, little of what Mr Hurst said was corroborated by Witness 82, who told the tribunal he could not see how Mr Hurst could make such claims.
Witness 82 said he had not, as Mr Hurst claimed, said Mr Scapaticci was the agent known as Stakeknife. Nor had he said this agent was in turn the secret informer working for the British army intelligence, codenamed Stakeknife.
He said he had not given Mr Hurst information that Det Sgt Owen Corrigan of Dundalk Garda station was being “handled” by an IRA agent, because he had no such information.
Asked as to the motivation of Mr Hurst, Witness 82 said Mr Hurst “has made a career out of it. I can only assume that is it. He is making money out of it.”