20/09/2016 Spotlight


20/09/2016

Hard-hitting investigations. Jennifer O'Leary investigates a clash between the state and the IRA in the intelligence war.


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Transcript


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Several months ago, I was contacted by a man who said

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The details, he said, would take me into a world

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For months now, I've been in contact with a man referred to in this

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Our meetings have always been discreet and carefully planned.

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Because Martin was a spy who brought Special Branch deep

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The IRA has issued a statement announcing what it calls a complete

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The IRA's guns were officially silent ? but a secret

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Around this time, Martin, an IRA and Sinn Fein member,

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says he contacted the RUC's confidential telephone service.

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He's agreed to exclusively tell his story to Spotlight

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He can't be identified because he fears for his safety.

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I did it to prevent another outbreak of violence along the lines we've

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Don't want to go back there and because of that, any

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3,000 people killed - one life saved it would

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A meeting was arranged and that was the start of regular

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Usually the means of arranging a meeting were a phone

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they would suggest a rendezvous point to which I would drive

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to and then I would park the car and go somewhere with them

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in their car and basically that is the way it happened all the time.

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Few agents within the IRA have ever stepped forward to tell

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In 2006, Denis Donaldson, a former senior Sinn Fein official

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was murdered just months after admitting that he had been

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I was recruited in the 1980s after a particularly,

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after compromising myself during a vulnerable time in my life.

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Since then, I have worked for British intelligence and the

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Denis Donaldson's confession went beyond the personal.

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His admission went to the heart of the secret intelligence war

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Tonight, we examine the influence well-placed agents, like Donaldson,

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We reveal what he did not tell his spy masters.

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And new allegations as to who sanctioned his murder.

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In talking to Special Branch, Martin was following in a long line

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of informers and agents within the Republican movement.

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For decades, the IRA dumped the bodies of suspected

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The body was found in the back of a Peugeot 305 van.

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In 1987, Belfast taxi driver Charlie McIlmurray was murdered

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They'd claimed he'd been a paid RUC informer since his

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His local priest said the IRA had made itself

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If Charlie McIlmurray had been abducted by the security forces

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and left dead with a hood over his head and his hands bound,

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there would have been a mighty hue and cry.

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The criticism was met with a defence of the IRA's

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I think Mr McIlmurray, like anyone else living in west

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Belfast, knows that the consequence for informing is death.

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During the conflict, the IRA murdered over 60 people

:05:18.:05:19.

it accused of secretly working for the Army, the RUC

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IRA claimed he had been an informer since 1981...

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Claimed he had been passing information to the police...

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This morning, he was found dead here...

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The IRA claimed she had been working as an informer

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By 1997, some may have thought an IRA ceasefire ruled out any

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But Martin and his handlers were fully aware of

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My handlers would have given me good advice and a bit of training

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but it's just basically, be very careful with yourself and how

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I would have been nervous driving to public places for fear someone

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would see me there and wondering what I was doing well away

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from the normal places I would go to and that would perhaps make them

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I was always very cautious and strict about security. The places we

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would've met at would've been picked.

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For decades, agents and informers undermined the IRA from the inside.

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But the scale of infiltration has rarely been acknowledged.

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In 2008, Denis Bradley and other members of the commission

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on the past travelled to London to examine an archive of classified

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It's an archive of most of the, of our Troubles, particularly

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And it's an archive also of that world of intelligence

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and who was running intelligence and who were the informers,

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and who was in charge of it, and so forth.

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At any one time, the security services were running

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At any one time, throughout the Troubles.

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Now, that's a lot of people within a small community of people.

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In fact, security sources have told Spotlight that the figure of 800

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is an underestimate, and is closer to the total number

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of Special Branch informers and agents in Belfast alone.

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The overall assumptions is that loyalism was easy.

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That, you know, the loyalists kind of signed up, that there

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What was surprising is that there appears to have been,

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actually, a very large number of people who were informants.

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Were being paid, or were giving information, erm,

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And that the infiltration in the republican and the IRA,

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was much greater than most of us had known.

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Despite its tight cell structure, informers were rife within the IRA.

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I do think that Sinn Fein, the IRA, created a myth.

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That they were a group of people who were Republicans,

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different from anybody else, they were a group unto themselves.

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They were people with human flesh, with weaknesses,

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and I think that the intelligence service has used those weaknesses...

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now, looking back to, to a degree greater than,

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Agents and informers provided a window into the IRA's internal

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It, too, for decades was using intelligence to gain

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As part of its counterintelligence strategy, the IRA targeted

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and blackmailed people in positions of authority

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We did see indicators at times, as it were,

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of individuals coming under pressure to pass on information or attempts

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Those that we did identify most within the civil service,

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the Prison Service, the police service, the military even,

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as I say, those people were all taken out of

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Some were dismissed, others were, a limited number may be went forward

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for prosecution but sometimes you, by prosecuting, then educate

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the opposition too much as to what you know about them

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and those people were quietly side lined and put into different

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positions and jobs or else out of the job all together.

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In the shadow of the peace process, the IRA's intelligence gathering

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capabilities came under the spotlight.

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A case in the late 1990s gave Special Branch an insight

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into a particular IRA intelligence gathering strategy ? the use

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of so called "clean skins" - persons with no apparent

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militant Republican connections recruited to collect

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In 1998, a young school teacher was convicted of spying for the IRA.

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Rosa McLaughlin was just one part of a much bigger IRA spy-ring that

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targeted key RUC personnel and police stations.

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But she wasn't known to the police - until she was spotted in the company

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Bobby Storey is one of the most prominent individuals

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At a protest against Gerry Adams's arrest two years ago,

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he paraphrased the Sinn Fein president's famous remark

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We have a message for the British Government,

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for the Irish Government, for the cabal that is out there,

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In 1979, he was arrested in London for trying to break out the previous

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leader from prison. He was of the -- sentenced to 18 years after a gun

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attack on two British soldiers. He was credited for playing a crucial

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role in the 1983 present escape. After his final release from jail in

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1998, he became the IRA's Director of intelligence.

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Known as 'Big Bobby', his activities and associations

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were of huge interest to Special Branch.

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Martin was one of those they used to spy on his activities.

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What did you understand Bobby Storey's role was at that time

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Oh, I knew what his role was - his role was director

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In Northern Ireland, Martin says he was always

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looking over his shoulder, and to minimise

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the risk of exposure, he says he was often debriefed

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Procedure would be that you would fly out to one

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They would ring you and they would talk you into,

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say central London, for example, you would get another phone call

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to say, now I want you to go over and buy a paper.

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And then when you got to that point you would notice a Special Branch

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officer on the side of the road and he would tell you to follow him

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He would walk you into some hotel and walk you into some room

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where Special Branch were waiting for me.

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At this stage, Martin was no longer an informer -

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in a passive sense - he was now an agent.

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He targeted specific individuals at the request of his handlers

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Special Branch would always have half a dozen points to give me

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whenever I would meet them, and these would have

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You know, had I seen them, was I speaking to them,

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what was I saying - that type of thing.

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I would be fortunate enough to talk, to bump into the right people,

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Denis Donaldson was also in the so-called inner circle.

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Denis was a warm and friendly person, he was cheery.

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He was very loyal and very trusting and very intelligent person.

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Denis Donaldson earned his IRA credentials in 1970

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during the so-called Battle of St Matthews in the Short Strand,

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regarded as the IRA's first major engagement of the conflict.

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He was interned along with figures like Gerry Adams and Bobby Sands.

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He later served time for IRA bombing offences and spoke

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about his experiences in this 1977 documentary.

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It's a political war and the men are political prisoners,

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Any of them that are in there are guilty.

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They are in there because of their actions,

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What does any young man who is 16, 17, or 18 know?

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They don't normally read as a pastime, but whenever they come

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into prison it encourages them to read, probably because there

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Obviously, they come under the influences of others

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who are probably more aware of, if you like, the political causes.

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Donaldson went on to travel the world for the IRA - he built up

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links with foreign revolutionary groups which could supply the IRA

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In the late 1980s, he was dispatched to New York to work with

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A leading member in the American group Noraid, which raises money

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for Irish Republican causes, has been arrested and flown out

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Noraid's former publicity director says he suspected Donaldson was not

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He would answer the phone, use his own name, and talk

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Would attract attention from the FBI or from anybody who might be

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I complained a number of times to high ranking people in Ireland

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and was told, try to get along with him.

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Denis has impeccable army credentials.

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And the more things I told about him, they were, look,

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you have to work with him, trust him, for our sake,

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for Ireland's sake, for the movement's sake,

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try and get along with him and work with him.

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Denis Donaldson later established a US branch

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of the fundraising group Friends of Sinn Fein.

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Sinn Fein's new office in Washington will consolidate their presence

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here and act as a launching pad for their political advancement.

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On his return to Belfast, he worked closely with senior IRA

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A party insider told Spotlight that he was a fixer - someone

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He also actively recruited on behalf of the IRA.

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And all the time, he was also an agent of British intelligence.

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Denis Donaldson was an agent of influence.

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His key value as an agent was not the secrets he disclosed,

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but the subtle influence he could bring to bear when key

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decisions were being taken by those at the top of the IRA and Sinn Fein.

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And agents of influence were among the most valuable assets of

:18:18.:18:20.

The IRA was broken up into about nine different

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So agents had to be selected and, if possible, placed or manipulated

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into certain positions and allowed to develop and grow.

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A well-placed and long-term agent could silently damage the IRA

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If you looked upon agents and those, there's sort of a cancer within.

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They can, they can sort of infect, as I say, other parts of the system.

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Long-term agents of influence, like Donaldson,

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were the state's foot soldiers in a counter-insurgency strategy

:19:13.:19:14.

that some believe contributed to the strategic defeat of the IRA.

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The intelligence world played an immense part in bringing

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about, shall we say, a realisation within the Provisional

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IRA that they had passed the post in terms of the armed conflict.

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The war we lost was the propaganda war.

:19:37.:19:42.

The propaganda side, we lost in the sense that a lot

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of what is mythology now about, you know,

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But there are many who believe that it was a dirty war,

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it happened in the shadows and it contains many more secrets

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Well, it happened in the shadows, but we operated as a police force

:20:03.:20:10.

If there had have been a dirty war, then ask

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yourself a simple question - if you're fighting a dirty war

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with no restrictions, who would you be tackling?

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The entire Provisional Army council basically came

:20:23.:20:24.

But as a counterintelligence strategy, was it important

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that the Army council and its membership, although fluid,

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remained generally intact so that those individuals or people

:20:37.:20:40.

close to those individuals could be

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When that sort of certainty was there in relation to it.

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The Army council was made up of people who, shall we say,

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of varying ability, or varying influence.

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And once you knew those abilities and influences,

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then obviously you're quite right, those that sort of moved

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in their midst or, as I say, attended to their needs,

:21:08.:21:13.

or were able to sort of make commentary in their presence -

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all those things have a collective influence over a period of time.

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They encouraged ideas that were, shall we say, more of

:21:24.:21:31.

a political desire as opposed to a military desire.

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For decades, the RUC Special Branch, the Army, the security services,

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as well as the Gardai, and at times the FBI,

:21:46.:21:49.

all ran agents within the IRA and the Republican

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Security sources have told Spotlight that, by 1994, a majority

:21:53.:21:59.

of the seven-person IRA Army Council were effectively compromised

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because of their proximity to high-level agents.

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The Army Council's decisions were, they said, influenced by IRA

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insiders who were also secret agents of the state.

:22:17.:22:24.

Lord Alex Carlile most recently served as the Government's

:22:25.:22:26.

independent reviewer of national security arrangements

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It's very common for good security services and good police on special

:22:30.:22:38.

operations to achieve high levels of infiltration.

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I wasn't surprised at the level and success

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We have been able to move to constitutionalism in a shorter

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time than I expected when I first became involved in these issues

:22:56.:23:00.

in '01 as Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation.

:23:01.:23:04.

I think Northern Ireland represents a political success.

:23:05.:23:07.

I think the effectiveness of the intelligence services may

:23:08.:23:11.

have been a factor in moving former terrorists to a constitutional path.

:23:12.:23:19.

Lord Carlile also encountered Denis Donaldson,

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who was then Sinn Fein's Head of Administration in Stormont.

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I first met Denis Donaldson when he was effectively the manager

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of the Sinn Fein parliamentary office in Stormont.

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I visited him, I had a conversation with him and he helped me with one

:23:33.:23:39.

or two journeys that I made in Northern Ireland in my role

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of Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation.

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I didn't know that he had any other role.

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He says he had no idea that Donaldson, like him,

:23:52.:24:00.

you about anybody being an informer, they would never tell

:24:01.:24:08.

you anything about that, that's how they operate.

:24:09.:24:13.

You'll never know who the other informers are.

:24:14.:24:22.

Denis Donaldson was paid to betray the Republican movement - but he

:24:23.:24:24.

He did not tell them about a chef he befriended in New York

:24:25.:24:31.

and helped move to Belfast, Larry Zaitschek.

:24:32.:24:33.

Larry had worked in some of New York's best restaurants.

:24:34.:24:37.

In Belfast, he ended up working in the canteen of

:24:38.:24:40.

Spotlight understands that Denis Donaldson encouraged him

:24:41.:24:45.

In Castlereagh, the man who became known as Larry the Chef

:24:46.:24:58.

was so popular that he catered for parties at the homes

:24:59.:25:00.

He also used the gym in Castlereagh, close

:25:01.:25:06.

At times he even used the photocopier in that office.

:25:07.:25:16.

2-20 was a hub for Special Branch operations - a round-the-clock

:25:17.:25:21.

On St Patrick's night 2002, three intruders raided

:25:22.:25:32.

Dozens of highly sensitive documents were stolen -

:25:33.:25:50.

including the codenames of paramilitary agents,

:25:51.:25:52.

their handlers, as well as a Persons of Interest register.

:25:53.:25:59.

Castlereagh Police Station was sealed off all day after last

:26:00.:26:02.

Alan McQuillan was then an Assistant Chief Constable.

:26:03.:26:10.

It's hard to understand the blow this was, how bad it was,

:26:11.:26:13.

Not only that we'd been burgled, but Special Branch had been burgled.

:26:14.:26:18.

Pretty soon it became clear who was involved.

:26:19.:26:20.

We had various sources reporting, and as a result of the information

:26:21.:26:24.

that was coming in to us, we knew with absolute clarity

:26:25.:26:29.

Bobby Storey, the IRA's Director of Intelligence, was identified

:26:30.:26:39.

by police as the so-called mastermind behind

:26:40.:26:41.

Larry the Chef, police believed, was the IRA's inside man.

:26:42.:26:53.

They had spent a huge amount of time developing this over

:26:54.:26:56.

a period of time, you know, with the chef, getting the chef

:26:57.:27:00.

in, and he was allowed to bring guests into the premises,

:27:01.:27:03.

and we believe that he arrived at the premises with people who were

:27:04.:27:07.

Larry Zaitschek had returned to New York.

:27:08.:27:13.

But investigators uncovered what they believed was evidence

:27:14.:27:17.

connecting him to an IRA Intelligence Gathering Unit.

:27:18.:27:23.

The PSNI began to make a case for extradition.

:27:24.:27:29.

In New York, Larry Zaitschek always protested his innocence.

:27:30.:27:34.

I was falsely accused of taking part in the break-in in Castlereagh.

:27:35.:27:38.

The break-in took place at the office that housed

:27:39.:27:40.

the Special Branches 24hr hotline for the informers

:27:41.:27:42.

It was a highly political act and one that had absolutely

:27:43.:27:47.

So I have become the PSNI's scapegoat for their

:27:48.:27:51.

Special Branch uncovered Donaldson's connection to the American chef

:27:52.:27:57.

after the break-in - their agent was the very man who had

:27:58.:28:01.

brought Larry Zaitschek to Belfast in the first place.

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It cast doubts on Donaldson's reliability and whose agenda

:28:12.:28:13.

he was ultimately working for - his spy masters or the IRA.

:28:14.:28:20.

Larry Zaitschek wasn't the only secret Donaldson kept

:28:21.:28:24.

He knew about an IRA spy-ring at the heart of Government -

:28:25.:28:30.

but for reasons that remain unexplained, he again failed

:28:31.:28:33.

However, Special Branch had another agent who did.

:28:34.:28:43.

The most striking information, out of all the information that

:28:44.:28:46.

I would have got from Denis Donaldson, was

:28:47.:28:54.

in connection with the so-called Stormontgate spy ring.

:28:55.:28:56.

As a member of Sinn Fein, I would meet Denis from time to time

:28:57.:28:59.

and during those conversations, Denis let the cat out of the bag,

:29:00.:29:03.

so to speak, and he told me about the documentation

:29:04.:29:06.

Denis told me that they were stealing sensitive documents

:29:07.:29:12.

from the NIO office at Stormont and that it had been

:29:13.:29:15.

He didn't specify what kind of material they were taking.

:29:16.:29:22.

All I know was what he said was that they were taking

:29:23.:29:26.

Crucially, it was Martin who told his handlers about an IRA

:29:27.:29:37.

The common belief is that Denis Donaldson gave Special Branch

:29:38.:29:47.

the information about the spy ring up at Stormont.

:29:48.:29:50.

I was the person that tipped the police off about

:29:51.:29:58.

Can you recall the reaction of your handlers when you told them

:29:59.:30:05.

They got very excited from being laid back and dead casual,

:30:06.:30:15.

all of a sudden when I mentioned that and got very enlivened

:30:16.:30:22.

and excited about it, and that was that.

:30:23.:30:25.

That was the start of finding out more that was the start

:30:26.:30:30.

of concentrating on one subject from then on.

:30:31.:30:34.

For the next twelve months, I seemed to work entirely on that and nothing

:30:35.:30:39.

else but that subject, and what was happening in Stormont.

:30:40.:30:43.

Based on source information, the police began a major

:30:44.:30:47.

investigation into an IRA intelligence gathering operation.

:30:48.:30:54.

We had identified that there was a major spy-ring.

:30:55.:30:57.

And we had identified that they had managed to penetrate

:30:58.:30:59.

Um, various other Government agencies and bodies

:31:00.:31:05.

They were stealing large amounts of information.

:31:06.:31:15.

Um, to catch them with that information and to bring

:31:16.:31:18.

as many of them to court as we could.

:31:19.:31:22.

Particularly the director and controller of

:31:23.:31:23.

Bobby Storey was the main target of a major covert

:31:24.:31:29.

surveillance operation - codenamed Operation Torsion.

:31:30.:31:34.

Special Branch and MI5 bugged a laptop computer and a rucksack ?

:31:35.:31:38.

and tracked both as they were moved between IRA safe houses.

:31:39.:31:46.

We were throwing everything we had at this.

:31:47.:31:48.

Um, I mean, we knew, for example, that they had stolen the entire HR

:31:49.:31:56.

So, there were 3,000 prison officers and they'd got their names

:31:57.:32:01.

We knew that they had other documents.

:32:02.:32:06.

We didn't know the full scale and scope of it.

:32:07.:32:10.

For months, Special Branch and MI5 were watching and listening

:32:11.:32:12.

to the IRA - and receiving updates from their inside man.

:32:13.:32:22.

I reported regularly over months and I know why

:32:23.:32:26.

they waited so long ? one, hopefully to catch those involved

:32:27.:32:34.

red-handed, but more importantly they wanted to arrest Bobby Storey

:32:35.:32:37.

in the act of carrying some of the stolen documentation.

:32:38.:32:39.

By early October, the PSNI were on the brink

:32:40.:32:41.

Whose call was it to move at the particular time

:32:42.:32:51.

Having looked at everything and said, "No, we can't

:32:52.:32:57.

I then went and saw the Chief Constable and I explained

:32:58.:33:04.

to him where we were and what we were going to do, and the possible

:33:05.:33:08.

And Hugh's position was quite simple.

:33:09.:33:14.

This is going to have big political ramifications.

:33:15.:33:16.

Hours before the raids, Martin says he met his handlers.

:33:17.:33:36.

The night before the police raided the homes of Denis Donaldson

:33:37.:33:39.

and others and Stormont, I met my handlers, just to confirm

:33:40.:33:42.

Donaldson was on the brink of arrest ? something that

:33:43.:33:51.

could jeopardise his status as an agent.

:33:52.:33:53.

But Spotlight understands that he was now considered

:33:54.:34:00.

to be a 'rogue' agent - he had not told his handlers about

:34:01.:34:03.

the spy-ring ? and the relationship was about to be terminated.

:34:04.:34:06.

At first light, the PSNI made their move.

:34:07.:34:09.

The rucksack, which had been bugged, led the police to

:34:10.:34:12.

The satchel was in his house was the target.

:34:13.:34:24.

Unfortunately for Denis, he was holding the parcel when we moved.

:34:25.:34:29.

Computer disks the PSNI had expected to find were missing.

:34:30.:34:35.

And a decision was then made to search Donaldson's

:34:36.:34:38.

I phoned Hugh and said, "Look, this is the situation.

:34:39.:34:42.

"We have to search the office at Stormont.

:34:43.:34:46.

"I am going to instruct them to do that as a gold commander.

:34:47.:34:50.

"We do what we have to do but we'll do ? let's do it lowkey."

:34:51.:35:04.

So I went back and sent out a message to them to say, right,

:35:05.:35:07.

I need this done in a very low key way.

:35:08.:35:10.

I want some non-uniform officers to go up and search the office,

:35:11.:35:13.

and I wanted them on this basis so we do the minimum

:35:14.:35:15.

The search at Stormont was anything but low-key.

:35:16.:35:23.

This is a Sinn Fein minister and these are the police who have

:35:24.:35:31.

just finished raiding her party's offices at parliament buildings.

:35:32.:35:33.

I had forgotten that the only search trained officers

:35:34.:35:40.

Another commander in Belfast said, I can't do this because it's

:35:41.:35:44.

So he sent uniform officers to do the search.

:35:45.:35:56.

And I didn't find out about that until it was too late.

:35:57.:35:59.

I feel bad about that because I should have

:36:00.:36:01.

The so-called Stormontgate scandal ultimately changed the course

:36:02.:36:15.

of politics in Northern Ireland when, just a week later,

:36:16.:36:18.

the Assembly was suspended and direct rule re-imposed.

:36:19.:36:26.

Sam Pollock, a former chief executive of the Police Ombudsman,

:36:27.:36:29.

is one of many who believe that the raids were

:36:30.:36:31.

deliberately calculated to collapse the institutions.

:36:32.:36:37.

The timing of Stormontgate, the encouragement, the advice,

:36:38.:36:44.

and the civil service, erm, Northern Ireland Office,

:36:45.:36:46.

Trimble had, in a sense, passed his 'sell by' date.

:36:47.:36:58.

And senior civil servants were being encouraged to

:36:59.:37:04.

quote/unquote "bring the DUP and Sinn Fein in from the cold".

:37:05.:37:07.

But Alan McMullan insists that the police operation was not

:37:08.:37:09.

I was quite aware that this, that it was likely that this might

:37:10.:37:16.

precipitate a collapse of the Assembly because that

:37:17.:37:18.

would be the impact of it on unionist politics.

:37:19.:37:22.

But the line that we'd agreed was, look,

:37:23.:37:24.

There's serious unlawful activity going on here.

:37:25.:37:27.

We're going to address it, and as I said, Hugh was very firm

:37:28.:37:34.

that the politics aren't a matter for us.

:37:35.:37:37.

The material recovered gave the PSNI a remarkable insight into the IRA.

:37:38.:37:49.

You had a huge mix of documents here.

:37:50.:37:51.

You had Government documents that had been stolen by the IRA.

:37:52.:37:54.

You had material generated inside the IRA, their

:37:55.:37:56.

They required all their intelligence units in the different areas

:37:57.:38:03.

in Northern Ireland to type up a report every month

:38:04.:38:06.

and send it in to the centre, summarising what they'd been doing.

:38:07.:38:11.

And these were all kept in a folder in the rucksack.

:38:12.:38:15.

So you pull out a little folder in relation to say, Fermanagh,

:38:16.:38:18.

and there was all the things they'd been doing for the last 12 months,

:38:19.:38:22.

It was shocking in terms of the scale and extent

:38:23.:38:26.

The haul included a map and codes of the entire

:38:27.:38:30.

security system at the Northern Ireland Office.

:38:31.:38:34.

Personal - including sexual - details about Unionist politicians.

:38:35.:38:45.

The IRA's own documents showed that it had its own live network

:38:46.:38:50.

of so-called friendlies - people working in a wide range

:38:51.:38:54.

of Government departments and public bodies, all feeding back information

:38:55.:38:56.

I do recall being briefed that this had caused absolute consternation

:38:57.:39:06.

within the whole Republican movement.

:39:07.:39:08.

I mean, we came within an ace of arresting exactly who we wanted to.

:39:09.:39:13.

We didn't quite get there, but it was very shocking

:39:14.:39:16.

Denis Donaldson and his son-in-law Ciaran Kearney were

:39:17.:39:26.

However, the target of the operation, Bobby Storey,

:39:27.:39:33.

You have to play a long game in these things.

:39:34.:39:42.

It's not just about prosecuting people - it's about stopping

:39:43.:39:51.

In a solicitor's statement, Bobby Storey refuted

:39:52.:39:56.

all the allegations in this programme.

:39:57.:39:57.

Denis Donaldson, Ciaran Kearney, and another man were later charged

:39:58.:40:00.

with having documents likely to be of use to terrorists.

:40:01.:40:03.

Gerry Adams and supporters gathered outside the court.

:40:04.:40:10.

I'm sure that, in the fullness of time, when all the dust

:40:11.:40:13.

settles down, that Denis Donaldson will walk free.

:40:14.:40:15.

Gerry Adams' prediction proved correct.

:40:16.:40:20.

In late 2005, the so-called Stormontgate case collapsed.

:40:21.:40:21.

Ciaran Kearney, Denis Donaldson and another man

:40:22.:40:23.

Full disclosure in court would have compromised Denis Donaldson.

:40:24.:40:36.

Spotlight understands that the case collapsed in order to keep his role

:40:37.:40:39.

But Donaldson gave nothing away and stuck to the Sinn Fein party line.

:40:40.:40:57.

We were looking forward to a trial because, we were confident

:40:58.:41:00.

from the outset that even if the case had gone to a full

:41:01.:41:03.

trial, we would have been found not guilty.

:41:04.:41:05.

Would you be happy to come back here and work after what happened?

:41:06.:41:08.

I'd work anywhere that the party asked me to work, doesn't matter

:41:09.:41:11.

whether it's Stormont or the Falls Road Sinn Fein office.

:41:12.:41:16.

But Donaldson's secrets were about to be his downfall.

:41:17.:41:21.

The next evening, uniformed PSNI officers visited Donaldson's home

:41:22.:41:24.

to deliver a threat notification message -

:41:25.:41:25.

It reportedly stated that members of the media believed

:41:26.:41:34.

The police had a statutory duty to report such a threat.

:41:35.:41:44.

In this case, they also had a duty of care towards their agent.

:41:45.:41:47.

It must have been very difficult for the, erm, police,

:41:48.:41:50.

or the security services to know what to do.

:41:51.:41:54.

In any situation where there's a risk to an informer being exposed

:41:55.:41:57.

then the police would be very proactive in moving that person

:41:58.:42:00.

to secure to a safe place probably out the jurisdiction,

:42:01.:42:02.

and giving them lifelong protection and support.

:42:03.:42:16.

I would have apprehensions as to how quickly they cut

:42:17.:42:26.

clean from Dennis and left him in a situation that was

:42:27.:42:31.

He was completely vulnerable from whatever, it doesn't

:42:32.:42:43.

matter who killed him, and it was almost predictable.

:42:44.:42:52.

The Police Ombudsman is reinvestigating a number of issues

:42:53.:42:54.

relating to Denis Donaldson's case ? including the background

:42:55.:42:57.

to the threat message and how he was warned that his cover

:42:58.:43:00.

We simply don't know and may never know why he didn't seek

:43:01.:43:14.

Instead he turned to the republican movement ? the people he had

:43:15.:43:22.

In a meeting two days later at this Sinn Fein office,

:43:23.:43:31.

he was asked directly if he was an agent of the State.

:43:32.:43:36.

Gerry Adams was in the same building that day.

:43:37.:43:38.

The Donaldson meeting had been arranged at the request of the IRA,

:43:39.:43:41.

which planned to interrogate him at another location

:43:42.:43:43.

Four days later, Gerry Adams publicly announced that Donaldson

:43:44.:43:53.

He described the revelation as a scoop.

:43:54.:44:00.

You'll know that our party has expelled Denis Donaldson,

:44:01.:44:09.

who's a long standing member, after we uncovered and he admitted

:44:10.:44:12.

that he was working as a British agent.

:44:13.:44:25.

The Sinn Fein President continued to deny there had ever been

:44:26.:44:29.

There was no Sinn Fein spy-ring at Stormont.

:44:30.:44:36.

And then when we saw different people being arrested and charged,

:44:37.:44:38.

I certainly instinctively knew that there was somebody wrong

:44:39.:44:41.

Hours later, Denis Donaldson, accompanied by his solicitor,

:44:42.:44:47.

I worked as a Sinn Fein Assembly group administrator in parliament

:44:48.:45:05.

buildings at the time of the PSNI raid on the Sinn Fein offices

:45:06.:45:08.

in October 2002, the so-called Stormontgate affair.

:45:09.:45:10.

Denis Donaldson, Martin says, had signed his own death warrant.

:45:11.:45:21.

As soon as he uttered the words, I knew that he would be killed

:45:22.:45:25.

because that's the only, that's the only sentence or penalty

:45:26.:45:27.

Donaldson also denied there had ever been an IRA spy-ring.

:45:28.:45:40.

I was not involved in any Republican spy-ring at Stormont.

:45:41.:45:44.

The so-called Stormontgate affair was a scam and a fiction,

:45:45.:45:48.

it never existed, it was created by Special Branch.

:45:49.:45:51.

I deeply regret my activities with British intelligence

:45:52.:46:00.

I apologise to anyone who has suffered as a result

:46:01.:46:05.

of my activities, as well to my former comrades and especially

:46:06.:46:08.

to my family who've become victims in all of this.

:46:09.:46:11.

Donaldson's statement sent shockwaves throughout

:46:12.:46:12.

Even Martin, his IRA and Sinn Fein colleague

:46:13.:46:19.

and fellow State agent, was taken aback.

:46:20.:46:23.

Denis would have been one of the least people you'd ever

:46:24.:46:29.

I don't know any informer that was ever spared,

:46:30.:46:33.

they were all executed and I think regardless of whatever speculation

:46:34.:46:36.

you might have heard about Denis, they always intended to kill him

:46:37.:46:41.

and for what he'd done and to set an example to other informers

:46:42.:46:44.

Denis Donaldson moved to Donegal, where he continued to be debriefed

:46:45.:46:58.

by Republicans about his role as an agent.

:46:59.:47:02.

He never returned to Belfast, despite public assurances

:47:03.:47:05.

from senior Republicans that he was safe to do so.

:47:06.:47:14.

He can do whatever he wants, frankly, and that's something

:47:15.:47:17.

But Donaldson's admission had angered many within the IRA ?

:47:18.:47:29.

Donaldson helped to set up Sinn Fein structures in South Armagh.

:47:30.:47:41.

At times, he was also an intermediary between IRA leaders

:47:42.:47:44.

there and the Republican leadership in Belfast.

:47:45.:47:46.

Few outsiders were ever trusted by the IRA in South Armagh.

:47:47.:47:51.

But Donaldson was on the word of senior Republicans in Belfast.

:47:52.:47:56.

Sources told Spotlight that, following Donaldson's admission

:47:57.:48:00.

that he was a British agent, the IRA in South Armagh began

:48:01.:48:05.

to blame him for operations that had been compromised.

:48:06.:48:10.

It's claimed that they also suspected that he had planted

:48:11.:48:14.

a number of covert listening devices that they had uncovered

:48:15.:48:17.

Both Republican and security sources told us that the IRA in South Armagh

:48:18.:48:25.

was pushing for action against Donaldson.

:48:26.:48:30.

In Donegal, Donaldson was living on borrowed time.

:48:31.:48:36.

For almost three months, Donaldson remained

:48:37.:48:40.

Until the Sunday World journalist Hugh Jordan tracked him down to this

:48:41.:48:45.

cottage and secretly recorded their conversation.

:48:46.:48:50.

I was thinking that the press conference in Dublin was so short

:48:51.:48:53.

that you never got a chance to say too much.

:48:54.:49:08.

Well what holds for the future for you now then?

:49:09.:49:12.

How did you find out that Denis Donaldson was

:49:13.:49:17.

I met a man in Belfast, who I knew for many years.

:49:18.:49:21.

No, it was - it wasn't, it was, erm...

:49:22.:49:26.

A man with a very Republican ideas I drove from Gweedore down

:49:27.:49:29.

to Glenties and was snooping around, not really getting very far.

:49:30.:49:33.

And I was sitting reading the Irish Times in my car,

:49:34.:49:38.

and I suddenly glanced up, and down the main street

:49:39.:49:42.

in Glenties was Denis Donaldson, crossing the road.

:49:43.:49:45.

Denis Donaldson told Hugh Jordan that now his whereabouts were known,

:49:46.:49:52.

Well, I'll not be staying here too long now.

:49:53.:50:02.

Hugh Jordan was accused of setting Donaldson up for murder.

:50:03.:50:11.

The responsibility for Denis Donaldson's death

:50:12.:50:15.

lies solely with the people who pulled the trigger

:50:16.:50:18.

Do you think that your article may have focused the minds

:50:19.:50:25.

The article may just have been the catalyst that

:50:26.:50:31.

Looking back, I think his fate was sealed.

:50:32.:50:39.

It was a question of when were they going to do it.

:50:40.:50:45.

Two weeks later, Donaldson was murdered.

:50:46.:50:51.

Sinn Fein official Denis Donaldson, has been found shot dead

:50:52.:51:00.

In a statement days later, the IRA denied any involvement.

:51:01.:51:05.

But security sources told Spotlight that intelligence received,

:51:06.:51:08.

after Donaldson's murder, from covert surveillance and agents

:51:09.:51:11.

Spotlight understands that the South Armagh IRA

:51:12.:51:34.

Thomas "Slab" Murphy insisted that

:51:35.:51:35.

And that the IRA in south Armagh commissioned the operation that led

:51:36.:51:42.

What's less clear, according to sources, is who carried out

:51:43.:51:46.

the operation that resulted in his death.

:51:47.:51:47.

Martin says he also told his Special Branch handlers what he had

:51:48.:51:50.

Not too long after Denis was murdered, I was told

:51:51.:52:11.

the IRA had killed Denis not anybody else.

:52:12.:52:16.

I gave that information to the Special Branch.

:52:17.:52:18.

What was your handler's reaction to that information?

:52:19.:52:19.

They were just totally mute, there wasn't any acknowledgement

:52:20.:52:23.

of what I'd said, subject was changed to something else.

:52:24.:52:26.

they and the whole status quo had seen Denis' death as internal

:52:27.:52:43.

housekeeping, and they were happy enough to put up with that.

:52:44.:52:45.

I believe that they acted on some information and didn't act on other

:52:46.:52:49.

information because it was too politically sensitive to do so.

:52:50.:52:51.

Martin believes that the shooting of Denis Donaldson was sanctioned

:52:52.:52:58.

by the man at the top of the Republican movement - Gerry Adams.

:52:59.:53:03.

Spotlight understands that by 2006 Gerry Adams had stepped aside

:53:04.:53:08.

But Martin claims that Adams was consulted on all matters.

:53:09.:53:16.

I know from my experience in the IRA that murders have to be

:53:17.:53:19.

They have to be given approval by the leadership of the IRA,

:53:20.:53:23.

the political leadership of the IRA and the military

:53:24.:53:26.

Who are you specifically referring to?

:53:27.:53:32.

In a statement, Gerry Adams' solicitor said his client

:53:33.:53:38.

had no knowledge of - and no involvement whatsoever -

:53:39.:53:42.

He added his client categorically denies he was consulted

:53:43.:53:51.

about what he describes as an alleged IRA Army Council

:53:52.:53:53.

decision, or that he had the final say on what had been sanctioned.

:53:54.:54:00.

In 2009, the dissident Republican group the Real IRA

:54:01.:54:03.

claimed responsibility for Donaldson's murder.

:54:04.:54:06.

But Martin is dismissive of the claim.

:54:07.:54:14.

I believe the Real IRA, who claimed it three years later,

:54:15.:54:20.

and repair a tarnished image which has evolved.

:54:21.:54:31.

Denis Donaldson's death is the subject of an ongoing murder

:54:32.:54:35.

In July, a 74-year-old man was charged with withholding

:54:36.:54:40.

information in connection with his murder.

:54:41.:54:53.

Spotlight understands that the Garda investigation is focused

:54:54.:54:56.

on a separate individual, originally from County Donegal, now

:54:57.:55:00.

based outside the Republic, who has been described as sympathetic

:55:01.:55:04.

14 years on, no-one has ever been prosecuted for the break-in

:55:05.:55:14.

The case against Larry Zaitschek, accused of involvement,

:55:15.:55:19.

He continues to strongly deny his involvement

:55:20.:55:26.

We chased bout traced Larry to his own restaurant business. He declined

:55:27.:55:42.

to be interviewed on camera. He said what had happened

:55:43.:55:46.

was a long time ago and he has He says he stopped working

:55:47.:55:49.

for Special Branch in the years I stopped because I didn't feel

:55:50.:55:54.

there was anything left They were quite happy about that

:55:55.:55:59.

and thanked me for years of service. I've absolutely no regrets

:56:00.:56:11.

about my time working as an agent Denis Donaldson took his secrets

:56:12.:56:13.

about his double life to his grave. A journal that he was encouraged

:56:14.:56:23.

to write by Republicans as part of his debriefing process

:56:24.:56:28.

is being retained by Gardai. Spotlight understands that Donaldson

:56:29.:56:32.

wrote about himself and others - as well as what he did

:56:33.:56:37.

as an IRA man and as an agent Spotlight also understands that

:56:38.:56:40.

relevant information from Donaldson's private journal has

:56:41.:56:47.

been made available to the Police Ombudsman's

:56:48.:56:51.

investigators. Their report is expected to be

:56:52.:56:54.

published later this year. Denis Donaldson openly

:56:55.:57:01.

admitted his role as an agent. But the identities of other

:57:02.:57:05.

Republican informers and agents during the decades of conflict

:57:06.:57:09.

remain highly classified. Denis Bradley says that full

:57:10.:57:16.

disclosure would come at cost too When I and others were involved

:57:17.:57:18.

in doing the past, there was strong representation that all these files

:57:19.:57:28.

should be thrown open. It's an argument we

:57:29.:57:35.

heard and rejected. We think that the hurt

:57:36.:57:37.

of that is too great, and that it should not be inflicted

:57:38.:57:40.

on this society. You're talking about

:57:41.:57:42.

a lot of families. And you bring more and more,

:57:43.:57:44.

more and more pain Britain's counterterrorism

:57:45.:57:47.

strategy in Northern Ireland was so successful, some say,

:57:48.:57:49.

that it forced the IRA In a sense, the intelligence war

:57:50.:57:53.

brought the protagonists They applied all the technology

:57:54.:58:03.

that was at their disposal. They gave it, as they would see

:58:04.:58:08.

it, their best shot. And I think that realisation

:58:09.:58:22.

came home to the IRA leadership in the late

:58:23.:58:26.

70s, early 80s. So the security side won,

:58:27.:58:28.

in that respect. Thereafter, politics,

:58:29.:58:30.

in a sense, took over. Informers and agents not only

:58:31.:58:31.

betrayed the IRA's secrets, but some were used, over decades,

:58:32.:58:34.

to influence its strategy For Republicans, the scale

:58:35.:58:37.

of infiltration within the IRA Was the IRA rendered

:58:38.:58:43.

ineffectual by many of its own? Members who were also informers

:58:44.:58:50.

and agents of the state? Did the secret intelligence war

:58:51.:58:54.

force the IRA to renounce violence? Did spies within its own ranks bring

:58:55.:58:59.

the IRA in from the cold?

:59:00.:59:05.

Hard-hitting investigations on the stories that matter in Northern Ireland.

Jennifer O'Leary investigates a clash between the state and the IRA in the intelligence war.


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