Monday, May 29, 2006


McGuinness a British spy?

Is this a spy?One of the big stories doing the rounds right now concerns the claims made by former British army intelligence officer Martin Ingram that Sinn Fein’s chief negotiator and former Provisional IRA chief-of-staff, Martin McGuinness is a British spy.

The claims have been circulated in a number of sunday newspapers. As the Sunday Times reports:

"All the newspaper allegations, however, were based on the transcript of an alleged conversation between an MI6 handler and an agent known as “J118”. The provenance of the transcript document was explained by only one newspaper, the Sunday Tribune, which said that the intelligence officer, who uses the pseudonym Martin Ingram, was “circulating” it.

"The document records a brief conversation which, according to Mr Ingram, alludes to an imminent Provisional IRA attack, which took place on the Coshquin checkpoint on the Irish border between Londonderry and Donegal on October 24, 1990.

"Five soldiers and Patsy Gillespie, a civilian who was forced to drive a van containing a bomb, died in the explosion. According to the reports, the MI6 agent encouraged his handler to “push this along as quickly as possible”.

"Mr Ingram told the Sunday World: “It has been confirmed to me that J118 is Martin McGuinness. The most significant thing for me . . . is the fact that McGuinness’s handler is the driving force between the human bomb campaign.”

"Mr McGuinness refused to comment on the reports yesterday, but a Sinn Fein spokesman dismissed them out of hand:

"We have heard this all before.

"It is rubbish. It is nonsense. Anybody with half a wit will treat it with the contempt it rightly deserves."

"Two years ago Mr Ingram claimed that Freddie Scapp- aticci, a Belfast republican, had been an army agent at the highest levels within the IRA who was codenamed Stakeknife. Mr Scappaticci denied the allegation before fleeing his home in the west of the city."

This is no doubt an explosive claim (no pun intended) but can it be taken seriously? I'm not so sure. The boys over at Balrog certainly don't think so.

With that being said, no one would have predicted that Denis Donaldson was a British spy and yet it transpired that he had been one for a number of years. There have been widespread claims since then that there is at least one other senior figure within Sinn Féin who has been secretly working for the British.

To be honest I wouldn't have trouble believing that...but Martin McGuinness? I'm not sure about that.

My gut feeling on this is that it's a lie or at least a claim based on misinformation, but who knows?

What do you think?


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