book has been long awaited. Since 1999 when allusions
to a senior British agent operating in the highest
echelons of the IRA, began to filter into public discourse,
unease mixed with fascination has permeated the psyche
of the republican constituency. Many believed and
some hoped that once Stakeknife was unmasked it would
reveal a high profile politician. Uninformed critics
of the Sinn Fein leadership harboured hopes that from
within its midst a prestigious figure and formidable
advocate of the peace process would be dragged shouting,
screaming and lying into the public spotlight. Others
more inclined to read Ed Mooney, and therefore more
attuned to the background, appreciated that such a
sensational, if it were to materialise,
would be for another day. When the outing came last
May, name recognition for Freddie Scappaticci hardly
registered amongst the uninitiated.
the days following the public revelation Scappaticci
managed to beguile a sizeable section of republican
opinion. While assisted in this by some weak journalism,
a more substantial source of succour came from the
Sinn Fein leadership, which, in uncharacteristic fashion,
decided that those accused of working for the other
side should be provided with a solicitor rather than
a unit from the IRAs internal security department.
But as the months dragged by, and despite shrill attempts
by some subservient local hacks to bounce their readers
into believing the story had died within a week of
it first appearing, there were few prepared to wager
even a small bet that Scap was the innocent
victim of a securocrat conspiracy. What
residual sympathy remained for him is likely to be
torpedoed by the publication of Stakeknife.
written by The Peoples Northern editor Greg
Harkin and former British Army agent handler Martin
Ingram, the book sets out to chart Scappaticcis
career as Britains most important civil
servant in the North. It contains little that
is new. One of the authors, Greg Harkin, has extensively
covered the detail elsewhere. Ingrams imprimatur
is what lends the book its explosive authenticity.
Once the darling of elements within the nationalist
press for his exposure of British- loyalist collusion,
allegations by him of similar activity between the
British and republicans cannot be lightly dismissed.
immediate deficiency in the book is the lack of documented
evidence. Nothing that a forensic mind could work
with is forthcoming. Yet the authors provide an entirely
plausible explanation for this British security
personnel, out of pure self-interest destroyed anything
that could prove detrimental to their mans wellbeing.
And the circumstantial case against Scappaticci is
powerful. All the leads point in only one direction.
While the existence of taped recordings of the former
numero uno head hunter talking to journalists from
the Cook Report team do not prove Scap is an agent,
his denials that he ever met the journalists prove
that on the matter of compromising IRA security he
is unworthy of belief.
circumstances where the republican grassroots were
to behave as something other than blind adherents
to the leadership line, this book would lead many
of them to confront their leaders with difficult questions.
Not least of all why the leadership strata would seek
to cover up for one of its own, when it was clear
that all was not rosy in the garden husbanded by Scappaticci.
The most plausible reason for such a cover up is the
self-serving one of public-image. For decades the
leadership liked to cultivate the myth that it had
directed the most professional and efficient guerrilla
army the western world had played host to. And for
it to admit that the man it entrusted with the security
of its organisation and the lives and freedom of its
volunteers was a senior agent of the British state,
would leave it to carry the mark of Cain. That leadership
in suggesting Scap was a victim was not in fact covering
for him, but for itself, its incompetence and bungling
- which was anything but professional and efficient.
put to the sword on Scappaticcis watch
the book claims there were 35 can no longer
be regarded as the collaborators the republican leadership
alleged them to be. Undoubtedly some were, but an
army council that gave the nod for people to be killed
on the basis of information provided to it by a British
agent itself carries much more culpability than the
people it despatched to early graves.
still ask if Scap was so dangerous a tout why is he
still alive? That answer to that question will be
debated and mulled over for some time to come. But
what ethical justification would the republican leadership
have for doing to him what it and he colluded in doing
to so many others? After all, did he not hanker after
the very things the leadership sought? Affluence,
a house in another jurisdiction, divesting the IRA
of its guns, and the ultimate dissolution of the IRA.
No, Freddie Scappaticci should not be killed
he should be on the Sinn Fein negotiating team.
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