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More Claims

Martin Ingram • 9 June 2006

Editor's note: The Blanket is pleased to publish the following article by Martin Ingram. However, we must respond to certain claims he is making elsewhere. Please see Editor's Note

Thank you for this opportunity to respond to a Blanket article dated 30 May 2006. I would like to make a number of points, which I believe will clarify aspects of the case against Martin McGuinness. The case does not rest upon the J118 document or indeed the sources who provided that material. It rests in part on 35 years activity, which no sensible person could argue with. The only other senior person who fits a similar IRA career profile is Freddy Scappaticci, who, like Martin McGuinness, was never charged with any terrorist related offences which led to a conviction in the North of Ireland. This man was the executioner for the IRA for a very, very long time and yet was allowed to operate free from prosecution in exactly the same way Martin has for over 30 years. Some have said they had a mutual protection racket.

The case against Martin McGuinness is in many ways similar to the case against the IRA internal security unit, and in particular the case against Mr Freddie Scappaticci. At the time of the exposure of Mr Scappaticci, an organised and sustained defence was mounted by all the leading lights within the Sinn Fein political party. Gerry Adams, Gerry Kelly, Martin McGuinness were the principal defenders of Mr Scappaticci. They held numerous press conferences where they denounced those involved in the exposure of “A Reliable Republican Activist” as securocrats and agents of the state. The well known pocket journalists wrote articles attacking both the notion that the IRA was penetrated at a high level and that Republicans would be silly and misguided to believe the word of a self confessed intelligence operator.

'Martin Ingram' was the focal point for much of that hatred and frustration, indeed contributors to this paper made much the same points as did the Sinn Fein leadership and accused me of lying, working towards an agenda, etc. The sad and almost inevitable conclusion that I personally drew from that experience was that Republicans were unwilling or unable to genuinely engage with an open mind to fully examine the activities of those charged with running the affairs of the Republican movement and the peace process.

That was to change some six months into the Scappaticci affair when I received a communication from individuals connected to the Republican movement, who through an intermediary, explained that an on-going IRA internal inquiry was being carried out and that elements of the “Old Guard” were believed to be already aware of Scappaticci`s role.

At the same time, Mr Scappaticci was taking legal action against me. In that legal claim he maintained that he was not the Agent Stake Knife, yet he further argued that I owed a duty of confidentiality and that I should be arrested for breaches of the British Official Secrets Act (OSA). To summarise that argument, Scappaticci was arguing that the British state should go to the courts and seek an injunction in respect to the book Stake Knife and that I be prosecuted for breaches of the OSA. At the same time Sinn Fein, principally Adams and McGuinness, were desperate to keep the truth from the grass roots. The attitude was, 'treat them like mushrooms. Keep them in the dark and feed them on shit'.

I maintained my position and waited. The inevitable pressure built upon both Freddie and the movement and the rabbit broke cover and ran. Freddie had in his very long career come into contact with many Republicans through his role within the Security Department. Some took his betrayal personally.

He had himself come under suspicion on a number of occasions; on all occasions he was given a clean bill of health and retained the confidence of his employers within the senior IRA command. Those employers were principally GHQ staff and Northern Command. I do not need to identify to Republicans who essentially was Mr Scappaticci's boss or indeed who left the entire security department in place for over 20 years without rotating staff. Of course, there were many within the IRA who identified the security department as the No 1 key vulnerable area of their organisation. They made the point that the British Intelligence Service would make a sustained attempt to infiltrate this vital area of their movement. Those concerns were dismissed, once more, Republicans know principally by whom.

At this point we should remember the case of Franko Hegarty (3018). Hegarty was in my own words a nice fella but not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Eamon McCann on American radio agreed with me that Franko was a nice man but not very bright and that he had shared a pint and the odd bit of gossip with him over the years. Franko had confirmed to Eamon his role within the IRA. Eamon made the point that it was common knowledge in Derry that Franko had been an ex-stickie and that he had previously been caught by the Republican movement passing information to the Army. Eamon clearly thought it was strange that a known former British Agent would be allowed to become involved in the IRA. Eamon made the point that Franko was not a discreet man. I would agree with that comment.

For my part I was part of a FRU team that was involved in running Franko Hegarty as a Source of Intelligence. He was at the time a low level eyes and ears source within Derry city. He had little chance to progress beyond that role, given his past admitted guilt of passing information to the Army and the obvious suspicion certain leading Republicans showed towards him. A well known gambler and greyhound man, he was generally liked for his affable charm; to view this man as a dedicated IRA man was like saying Graham Norton is a SAS trooper.

I remember clearly the day the boss called the team into his office and out of the blue suggested to the handlers that Franko should be encouraged to get alongside Martin McGuinness. Well, if you could have seen the lads faces! It was a mixture of bewilderment and anger. The general consensus was the boss (John Tobias, who has since died on the Chinook crash) was either pissed or on drugs.

It was a great source of humour for weeks within the small tight knitted FRU office. The humour was briefly interrupted when Franko was asked to get alongside Martin McGuinness as instructed by the boss. Franko looked perplexed with this request but in his own unique way he nodded in agreement but not before he said something to the order of, "Are you lot fecking mad, McGuinness will not have anything to do with me, I know him of old but we are not mates or anything like that, you know that."

The handlers just gave a nod and a wink. They were just playing the game.

Franko did as instructed over the weeks and months like he always did. He reported back to his handlers that he had bumped into McGuinness in the local streets as instructed and had struck up a conversation about local issues. McGuinness appeared warm and appreciated that Franko had taken the time to approach him. Franko genuinely seemed pleased McGuinness had shown an interest in him. This courtship lasted a few months. The handlers were genuinely surprised that McGuinness had shared any time with their agent, let alone suggested times and places when the two could meet further.

The handlers were pleased and prepared to pat the boss on the back for an astute piece of man management; he had the foresight to suggest a means of increasing the agent's coverage which the handlers had not seen. One to the Boss.

Over the coming months Franko was developed into a major source of Intelligence within the IRA in Derry City. He was given responsibility for hides and the safe custody of IRA equipment. I do not want to labour this point but let me just say our man went from Agent Zero to Agent Hero within weeks and months of coming into contact with McGuinness.

It is true to say that Martin McGuinness was challenged by Republicans over the sudden promotion of Franko to both a fully pledged Ra man and, incredibly, with the custody of a large amount of arms and munitions. The concern expressed, could be summarised: “Why are you employing a known British Agent of Stickie origin that is, frankly, as thick as a plank?”

McGuinness in his usual bullish ignorant manner dismissed those who raised concerns and resisted all attempts at reigning in Franko Hegarty's role as an IRA Quarter Master. The development of the case was to suddenly escalate to the point the handlers thought they had won the pools. Franko explained that Martin McGuinness had informed him that he was to take custody of a large shipment of Libyan arms. Hegarty was instructed to make preparations for a number of short-term hides. Hegarty complied with this request and of course the rest is history.

At the time the hides under direct control of Hegarty were the largest ever find of arms on the Island of Ireland. The finds made front-page news North and South with pictures of the Gardai stood proudly over the caches. Politicians on both sides suggested the recent signing of the Anglo Irish agreement showed that through co-operation terrorism could be defeated.

The end result was the two Governments were happy, the handlers and the FRU were ecstatic, and, generally speaking, the mood in Republicanism was down-beat, especially in Derry where the two super-grass cases had devastated the IRA to a point that the rest of the 31 counties would not work with them. Except, of course, Martin McGuinness.

Martin McGuinness on this occasion did come under pressure to account for his decisions and it would be fair to say that questions were being asked within the IRA. Martin for the very first time was coming under suspicion.

Franko Hegarty was safe in England under the control of L branch of SIW. Franko was genuinely home sick for both Derry and his family. I have no intention to go into the sequence of events here because space is limited and the story is well known. Suffice to say that Martin McGuinness made contact with Franko and reassured him and his family that if he returned he would be safe. Those calls were taped. The testimony of Rose Hegarty in this matter is chilling. Eamon McCann confirmed to me on the radio debate last weekend that he would prefer the testimony of Rose Hegarty to Martin McGuinness. I have to agree.

The FRU lost Frank in southern England and he avoided all checks at the ports. The FRU surprisingly made no attempt to block his escape or indeed visit him in his hideout within his mother’s home in Derry, although they knew his exact location. The FRU & Branch had been informed of the exact IRA intentions in respect of Hegarty by a number of agents but specifically in relation to Where, When and How he was to be murdered by Scappaticci.

We all know what happened next and we all know who profited from his death, certainly not the FRU and most certainly not Franko or his family. Indeed both Scappaticci and McGuinness benefited from the execution of the FRU agent Frank Hegarty. Credibility restored.

I have tried to be brief yet give an insight into just one aspect of the McGuinness story. In conclusion, shall we just quickly analyse his lucky charm IRA career?

  • Never interned.
  • Never charged with any terrorist related offence which led to a prosecution in Northern Ireland in his entire IRA career leading from the seventies to 2006.
  • Lived the vast amount of time, as Eamon McCann said, in the Bog Side of Derry within a two street radius. Never had to move from one safe house to another in the evening, unlike Mr Adams and other similar leading Republicans. He remains at home in his Derry City Northern Command Bunker free to run the IRA war in the North of Ireland.
  • Never been attacked by Loyalists.
  • Survived two super-grass trials when the majority (over 50) of Derry City PIRA are rounded up and taken off the streets of Derry for involvement in terrorism. The two super-grass witnesses are prepared to give evidence against not only the fifty IRA men but also Martin McGuinness but they are not allowed to.
  • Hegarty, well documented.
  • Operation Taurus. No prosecution in the public interest.
  • Becomes involved in the secret peace process, in a realisation that hard line areas such as South Armagh and Tyrone will need to be either reassured about the politics of peace, or, in the alternative, will have to be persuaded to comply with the Leadership's chosen direction.

Ed Moloney makes an interesting point about this era, both in relation to McGuinness but also the development of IRA tactics and the impact upon both the secret and open peace initiatives.

just before the death of Seamus McElwaine, killed by the SAS in county Fermanagh in April 1986, northern command got permission to vet most IRA operations in northern Ireland in a bid to forestall further electoral damage, ‘there had been some bad operations, politically bad operations, and this was done to correct that, recalled one activist. ‘McGuinness, the northern commander got authority from the army council to vet operations. Before that area commanders would run through their plans in very general terms, for example, ‘I have a policeman or a British patrol,’ with the chief of staff or director of operations. Now people had to go into the detail of the operations. (A Secret History of the IRA, page 317)

This period really was the defining period of this conflict. Loughall and the killing fields of Tyrone would significantly reduce the numbers of IRA volunteers who genuinely wanted to throw Britain out of Ireland by force.

Here is an extract from a Republican writing for this publication back in 2004. He makes a number of very good points.

The Loughall massacre certainly throws up a range of challenges. But unionism is not alone in facing them. One avenue that will never be fully explored, no matter how many meetings take place between Mairead Kelly and Hugh Orde, is the possibility that IRA volunteers were deliberately targeted at Loughall after the British Government was made aware by a key element within the republican leadership that it was willing to parley and settle for considerably less than those who died that night were intent on securing; something that they might have revolted against had they not have been slain; something which in order to succeed necessitated their removal. Whether the British killed those volunteers to facilitate what later became known as the peace process may by the real story of the Loughall massacre

I remain confident in the case against Martin McGuinness, as I did with Freddy Scappaticci. The Sinn Fein leadership lied not only to the press pack over Freddy Scappaticci but also to its own members about the knowledge that it had about the infiltration of the IRA and the broad Republican Movement since this campaign began. Today is no different; they continue to lie. The case against McGuinness does not rest upon the J118 document, which to my mind says more about the mind set of his handlers than it does against Martin McGuinness. It rests, as far as I am concerned, upon my experience, knowledge and belief that senior IRA operators do not enjoy 30 years of constant luck. Life is not like that, especially when you live in the big lion's den.

I have deliberately avoided the issue of the Cook report and the subsequent RUC investigation into McGuinness because few doubt that the leaked secret document specifically instructing the police that they cannot charge Martin McGuinness with any offences is authentic. In essence, the State argued any prosecution would not be in the State's interest. There is no doubt in that. There are some who would argue with some merit that the decision to not allow the police to move against Martin McGuinness at a crucial time of the peace process was a move made of necessitation. That can not be said of the super-grass periods of 82/84 when the conflict was at its height. I can see no explanation for not using the material the security forces had to hand to remove a pivotal figure in the IRA during this extremely active IRA period, nor for facilitating the murder of Franko Hegarty.

As Gail Walker of the Belfast Telegraph said recently in her regular contribution to the paper regarding the McGuinness exposure.

The sheer volume of information coming out about McGuinness's career as a Chief of Staff of the IRA - his flawed management style, if you like, as he appointed acknowledged touts to senior positions - can only fuel the paranoia in the ranks of the IRA.
The organisation believed its own propaganda about how noble it was. Yet republicans, it turns out, were just as keen on the brown envelope stuffed with fivers as their loyalist counterparts.
But it was republicans who harped on and on about the collusion between elements of the security forces and loyalist paramilitaries. They knew very well that the British aim was to infiltrate and eradicate those gangs

Eamon McCann on American radio made a very telling comment when asked by me last weekend on American radio, "Could you ever believe Martin McGuinness, the man he had seen grow and develop within his own neighbourhood into the so called IRA hard man of the seventies, eighties and nineties would ever accept or indeed negotiate a deal which included partition and a role within a paid British Administration?" The answer was one word, and it said everything. The answer was, NO.


 

 

 

 


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Index: Current Articles



14 June 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

The Mark of Cain
Anthony McIntyre

Debris of the Dirty War
Mick Hall

More Claims
Martin Ingram

Case Unproven
Anthony McIntyre

Chain Gang
John Kennedy

Better to Put the Past Behind US
David Adams

The Gamblers
Dr John Coulter

Diarmaid Ferriter's The Transformation of Ireland
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Profile: Caroline Fourest
Anthony McIntyre

Le «manifeste des douze» fait réagir
Caroline Fourest

Reaction to the Manifesto (English Translation)
Liam O Ruairc

Freedom of Speech index


6 June 2006

We Believe Freddie McGuinness
Anthony McIntyre

Under Scrutiny
John Kennedy

Unionism's New Puppetmasters
Robert Matthews

Omens
Dr John Coulter

Two Peace Processes
Mick Hall

'The Beginning of the End has Past …'
Davy Carlin

How Many Grannies?
Dr John Coulter

Even the Dogs Bark in Irish?
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Bards for St Brigid's
Paul Dougherty

USA v Iran
John Kennedy

Threat to Iran Based on Duplicity
David Adams

Manifesto of the Third Camp against US Militarism and Islamic Terrorism

Profile: Bernard Henry-Levy
Anthony McIntyre

BHL: Bernard Henri-Levy
Liam O Ruairc

Freedom of Speech index

 

 

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