New Informer Claims Denied
THE murky world of Northern Ireland politics just got darker this past
holiday season with a splurge of stories about new informers in the higher
echelons of Sinn Fein.
One newspaper, the Irish Sunday Times, even went so far as to print two
names of well known Sinn Fein activists, though hardly leader potential, who
the paper claimed had been visited by the Police Service of Northern Ireland
(PSNI) and told they were about to be outed.
The British-based Sunday Times has long been a conduit for British security
services to ply their trade, so it is hardly surprising that it would be the
first to publish names.
The Sinn Fein reaction was speedy, with stories about lawsuits being filed
against newspapers that named anyone as being an informer.
The party recognizes clearly that the aim of all the speculation is to
destabilize Sinn Fein at a critical time, just as the two governments are
about to begin new talks aimed at restoring the Assembly.
Why the British security services would be working so hard to prevent that
is a question only British Prime Minister Tony Blair can answer. It seems
more and more that the securocrats are running the asylum, instead of being
Where Is Donaldson?
THE whereabouts of Sinn Fein spy Denis Donaldson are still a major mystery,
with some reports that he is still in the Irish Republic being debriefed by
former colleagues in the Republican movement.
What Donaldson’s ultimate fate will be may never be known. Having refused
British protection he is dependent on the Republican movement he betrayed to
sort out his future — hardly an enviable position.
There is little doubt, though, that Donaldson struck a deal with Republicans
before he came clean that he would not be killed or injured in any way if he
revealed all. The fact that leading lawyer Peter Madden (former partner of
the late Pat Finucane) appeared with Donaldson at his press conference in
Dublin was surely a strong indication of that.
A life abroad, living anonymously, seems to be Donaldson’s best bet, though
there is speculation that his wife and family are seeking to stay in Belfast
where they have their home.
However, one can only imagine what their lives will be like given the
hostility to Donaldson by many who believe that his information may have led
to the death of their loved ones.
WHAT makes someone like Donaldson betray everything he knows and turn
informer? It is a question that has long baffled those who study the mind of
Certainly, there is no doubt a financial incentive, but it cannot be the
only reason a person turns on his colleagues. Donaldson claimed in his
statement that he had been compromised in some way in the 1980s, but there
was no further explanation.
He was known as a womanizer, but it hardly seems — even if he were caught in
some compromising position — that it would be sufficient to make him turn on
his colleagues. Perhaps we will never know his true motivation.
UP until Donaldson the most famous double agent was Freddie Scappaticci, a
senior member of the IRA’s internal security staff, known as the Nutting
Scap’s role was to essentially to force suspected informers into confessing
before he or someone else shot him. Scap was widely known for his brutal
methods in winning confessions from suspected informers, some of whom in
retrospect were undoubtedly innocent.
The irony of a paid British agent murdering other paid informers was not
lost on many people. But what convinced Scappaticci to turn in the first
Martin Ingram, a former member of the Force Research Unit, the secret
British army counter intelligence division who knew Scappaticci, had a
definite opinion on the matter.
Ingram (real name Jack Grantham) co-wrote a book in 2004 about British dirty
tricks. He believes Scap was turned in large part because of his irrational
hatred of Martin McGuinness, the Republican leader who is probably the most
admired man in the movement.
Scap even went so far on one occasion to grant an interview anonymously,
pointing the finger at McGuinness, so deep was his hatred.
Of course Scappaticci, like Donaldson, tried at first to brazen out the
accusation that he was a secret agent for the British, when he was revealed
as the legendary “Stakeknife,” the long suspected senior spy at the top of
the Republican movement.
Eventually, however, the evidence was overwhelming.
Scap Vs. Donaldson
HOW big was Scappaticci in comparison to Donaldson? Very big indeed.
As Ingram reported, Scap had an entire wing of the Force Research Unit
devoted to the monitoring of his activities and the tip-offs he gave. Scap
was the one who tipped of the British in October 1987 to the huge arms
shipment from Libya bound for Irish shores.
His tip led to the dramatic arrest on the high seas of the crew of the
trawler Eksund, who were bringing the arms to Ireland.
It is hard to imagine that Donaldson was anywhere near that vital. He was an
important operative, but he never really penetrated the senior levels of the
movement according to reliable sources.
That seems about right. While the Donaldson outing was in particularly
dramatic circumstances, the Scappaticci one was the more significant in the
Another difference is Sinn Fein leaders such as McGuinness and Gerry Adams
were pictured with Donaldson just a week before the outing, while
Scappaticci had begun to be suspected for some time before he was finally