The Real IRA: MI5
For more than 30 years, Catholics and Protestants have fought bitterly over whether Northern Ireland should belong to Ireland or to Britain. The conflict has left 3,600 people dead on both sides and more than 30,000 injured. There was hope in 1998, when the landmark Good Friday peace agreement was reached. The agreement created a government in which both Protestant and Catholic representatives could share power in Northern Ireland. But tensions continued to grow between Catholics and Protestants, especially after the IRA refused to destroy or surrender its weapons.
The Real IRA is a hard line group of between 70 and 170 members dedicated to an armed campaign aimed at driving the British out of Ireland. Its members see themselves as Irish republican purists, accusing the Provisional IRA of selling short republican ideals.
Since its founding in 1997, the Real IRA has been fully infiltrated by British intelligence - MI5. The first double agent to infiltrate the Real IRA on behalf of the British government was David Gary Rupert, an elusive loner born in Madrid, New York State. Rupert first surfaced at an Irish Freedom Committee meeting in Chicago in 1997. Eye Spy Magazine reported,
He was a well-known figure at meetings and became the talk of the IFC. Many believed he had contacts that wended their way to the very top of organisations like Sinn Fein and the IRA.
MI5 had successfully tracked US fund-raising efforts to certain US citizens and groups through bank accounts. But they needed more information. Together with the FBI and Irish security police, they spoke to Mr Rupert who agreed to work for them as a double agent. It was a major coup.
Throughout the last four years he has supplied intelligence on fundraising, bank accounts, and recruiting campaigns. He "networked" between various rival factions and was so trusted he eventually befriended members of the Real IRA and several political organisations, such as the 32 County Sovereignty Committee. Similarly, he was befriended by Martin Galvin, a New York lawyer and the head of Noraid, the American fundraising arm of the Provisional IRA. Rupert was given codes and access to various associated groups and learned of leading personnel on both sides of the Atlantic. As Rupert forwarded donations to Ireland and elsewhere, MI5, the FBI and the Garda were carefully following the transactions, collecting details of every bank account the money was channelled through. In 1999 Rupert met with Michael McKevitt, who MI5 believe is the head of the Real IRA. Mr McKevitt is said to have introduced Rupert to other leading players in the group. And, according to sources, he handed over a £10,000 donation to ‘cement relations’. Rupert told the Garda that the organisation was planning a series of top-level meetings at a certain location. The Irish security services planted listening devices and surveillance equipment in the room. Much evidence was apparently acquired and then the Garda asked MI5 and the FBI if it was time to act. The agencies mind was made up for them when Rupert said McKevitt had allegedly asked him to participate in a terrorist act. The Garda said that if they arrested McKevitt, Rupert would have to testify and this meant blowing his cover. MI5 knew they were about to lose one of their most important agents, but the prize they believed was worth it. Rupert agreed to testify for a massive sum of money and a new identity. He was also relocated. (16)
Twenty-nine people were killed and 200 badly injured, when a 500 lb bomb exploded in a busy shopping street in Omagh, Northern Ireland, on 15 August 1998. The bomb was planted by the dissident republican group, the Real IRA, although at the time of writing only one individual, Colm Murphy, has been formally charged. The tragedy claimed nine children as victims.
MI5, along with the Royal Ulster Constabulary, knew at least two days before the attack not only that an attack would take place, but also the name of the bomb maker and his car registration. If they had placed this terrorist under surveillance, the horror of Omagh would have been prevented. British intelligence had a reason for allowing the bombing to go forward. One of the terrorists in the bombing team was a double agent. He was working for MI5.
This damning information was released by Kevin Fulton (a pseudonym), another British double agent in the IRA. Fulton was an ex-British army soldier and one-time member of the army's covert Force Research Unit. Fulton says he was recruited by the secret service to inform on the activities of the IRA in the 1980s. He claims to have been an informer up until the IRA cease-fire in 1996. Included in a whole raft of separate allegations is Fulton’s contention that MI5 and the FBI helped him travel to the United States and buy state of the art infra-red equipment for the IRA so that they could trigger bombs from over a mile away. (17)
Fulton was also involved in the process of actually mixing explosives to make new types of bombs. He also coordinated political assassinations and robberies to help finance the IRA. This policy came directly from the very top; then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher received a weekly briefing on Fulton’s activities. Fulton states,
“I was told 'there'll be no medals for this, and no recognition, but this goes the whole way to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister knows what you are doing.” (18)
Fulton had to slip into the role of a terrorist to prevent his cover from being blown. He helped plan murders and torture innocent people with the backing and encouragement of the Prime Minister and MI5. When Fulton had outlived his usefulness he realized that MI5 and military intelligence were fully prepared to leave him to be killed. It was at that point that he distanced himself from both the IRA and British intelligence and began a whistle-blowing campaign.
Fulton alleges that 48 hours before the Omagh bombing he met with a senior member of the Real IRA in a pub in Dundalk. The man was covered in dust and gave off a strong odor of fertilizer sediment. He had obviously been making a bomb. The man told Fulton “there’s something big on.”
Within hours, Fulton informed his handler, telling him the name of the man and his car registration number, along with a description of the vehicle. The sensitivity of the information would have meant that Fulton’s RUC handler immediately pass it on to higher authorities. Any information portending to an immediate threat to British national security is subject to a ‘FLASH’ classification of urgency, meaning it instantaneously receives the attention of MI5 and MI6 counter terrorism agents. Another ex-informer, Willy Carlin, said of the Fulton allegations,
“I would believe that the officer put it in the system, and it would have immediately been shared by the security services, by MI5 and MI6. It would definitely been shared with the Chief Constable, no doubt about it. And it would have been shared with the Garda [the police in the Irish Republic]. And the question is, if it was shared, what happened? And why didn’t someone turn up in Dundalk and watch this man for 48 hours?” (19)
British intelligence sat back and did nothing as the bomb traveled from Dundalk to Omagh in a vehicle they could easily have identified and apprehended. It has now been confirmed by the Sunday Herald that MI5 allowed the bombing to take place because one of its own double agents had successfully infiltrated the Real IRA and his cover would have been blown if the bomb plot had been exposed. Of course, this in itself is a whitewash. The agent, code named ‘Stakeknife’ had managed to tap the upper echelons of the terrorist group and MI5 valued the continued position of him as a key informer over and above the 29 lives that were suddenly ended on that hot August afternoon. The Sunday Herald source stated,
“The only reason the RUC would not act on a tip-off which stated a bomb was in the offing is if a member of the bombing team was a highly-placed agent and they needed to keep him in place. If the operation was allowed to go ahead then the agent would be seen as a good guy by the Real IRA; but if it failed, he could have come under suspicion of being an informer and been killed.” (20)
How can the MI5 and the RUC justify allowing a terrorist bombing to proceed to simply keep an agent in place? An informant is supposed to have the rationale of warning his superiors so that they can take action to avert such a catastrophe, as mentioned earlier in the circumstances surrounding the infiltration of the Real IRA by David Rupert. This wasn’t the case in Omagh. So why did the British government authorize the bombing?
Just weeks after the bombing, the Irish and British parliaments were recalled early to pass anti-terrorism legislation openly described as “draconian.” (21)
Despite Prime Minister Tony Blair’s assertion that the Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy) Bill was not a ‘knee jerk reaction’ – MP’s were not even given time to thoroughly read it. The bill was passed within 24 hours of its proposal. Former Prime Minister John Major gleefully admitted that the new laws were a response to “the public mood for action following the atrocity at Omagh” without consideration of how the wider legal implications could effect that very same emotionally manipulated public who had just been bombarded for two weeks with horror stories about blood soaked babies and missing limbs.
The new legislation enabled the government to prosecute any group they defined as an ‘active paramilitary’ as a terrorist organization and deny them the right to legal counsel. The mandate of the bill, ‘intended to catch the Omagh bombers’ can only be considered to have been a complete failure, as to this day the individuals responsible for the Omagh bombing are still at large.
Again we see the Hegelian dialectic at work. Create the problem (allow the bombing to take place), apportion blame (the Real IRA), get the desired reaction (shock, revulsion and a desire for vengeance) and then hurriedly offer the solution (draconian police state laws) that do nothing to stop real terrorists and only strip innocent people of fundamental human rights.
The final word on Omagh will be left to Lawrence Rush, the husband of one of the victims,
"Tell me, are you a completely incompetent force, that in Great Britain they can pick up lone murderers out of a population of 59m? Do you recognise that we have a population of 4m and you cannot pick up over 100-odd people? My dear sir, this is a conspiracy. This will come out like the Derry Thirteen (a reference to the Bloody Sunday massacre by the British army in 1972). Why did Sinn Fein close their office the day before the bomb? Why was the army confined to barracks? Why sir, did the RUC have only three men on the streets of Omagh and 24 men in surrounding areas? Tell me that. This is a conspiracy by the British government and by everyone involved in the administration. This is an example of administrative terrorism.”
Mr. Rush’s wife died in the blast. Victims of both the bombing and the suffocating legislation introduced shortly afterwards were the only victims of Omagh. The perpetrators in both cases were the British government, MI5 and MI6, Her Majesty’s terrorist network.
16 ‘MI5 Infiltrate the Real IRA’ – Eye Spy Magazine – August 31 2001 - http://www.eyespymag.com/features/mi5ira.html
17 ‘Ulster spies to blow MI5 cover' – Rosie Cowan – London Guardian – July 6 2002 - http://www.guardian.co.uk/military/story/0,11816,750427,00.html
18 ‘The army asked me to make bombs for the IRA, told me I had the Prime Minister's blessing ... then tried to kill me’ – Neil McKay – Sunday Herald – June 23 2002 - http://www.sundayherald.com/25646
19 ‘Northern Ireland: Allegations of British collusion in Omagh bombing’ – Robert Stevens - World Socialist Web Site – September 4 2001 - http://www.wsws.org/articles/2001/sep2001/ire-a04.shtml
20 ‘British double-agent was in Real IRA’s Omagh bomb team’ – Neil Mackay – Sunday Herald – August 19 2001 - http://www.sundayherald.com/17827
21 ‘Irish anti-terror measures become law’ – BBC – September 3 1998 - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/events/northern_ireland/latest_news/164405.stm