[back] Northern Ireland
The Sunday Herald
Byline Investigation by Neil MacKay
Photograph Caption: Former IRA member Willie Carlin
AT least 16 British Army officers, who are currently working undercover as spies within the ranks of the IRA, carried out a series of terrorist bombings and shootings to preserve their cover as leading Provos.
The British government is thwarting all efforts by the agents to come in from the cold and has abandoned the soldiers because of the offences they carried out while army agents.
The MoD is refusing to pull them out of Northern Ireland and give them new identities to protect them from republican reprisals.
Three senior MPs are to raise the scandal with the government. They are Michael Martin, the Scottish speaker of the House of Commons; the campaigning Scottish Labour MP Tam Dayell and the Shadow Ulster secretary Andrew Hunter.
The Sunday Herald has spoken to the most senior British army soldier currently working undercover as a republican terrorist - a highly-placed Provisional, who can only be identified as ''Kevin''.
An Irish Catholic from Northern Ireland, he served as a British soldier before being recruited by military intelligence to work undercover. He spent a number of years trying to get into the IRA and was eventually accepted after carrying out fundraising robberies for republicans.
All agents were recruited by the Force Research Unit, the British Army's most shadowy intelligence outfit. It allegedly provided information to loyalist hitmen to facilitate sectarian murder attacks. The FRU, which was commanded by Brigadier Gordon Kerr, an Aberdeen man and former Gordon Highlander, is under investigation by Scotland Yard for loyalist collusion.
Former FRU officers confirmed that the unit placed British soldiers in the IRA. The FRU also admitted the agents carried out terrorist offences which claimed the lives of civilians and RUC and army personnel.
Kevin said he was revealing his role as an agent in order to shame the British government into getting him out of Northern Ireland. ''I agreed to go undercover, was given a false discharge and returned home with a mission to become an IRA man.''
He has spent 13 years in the IRA. Security sources claim he was responsible for a number of deaths, including RUC and army staff.
''I can't reveal exactly what I did or didn't do,'' said Kevin. ''I will say that many people suffered. I could not have lasted as an agent if every operation I touched had failed.
''However, my work as an agent saved many lives. A lot of my job entailed 'frustrating' IRA operations, but some had to go ahead or else I would have ended up dead. I gave 20 years of my life to Britain, and the fight against terrorism. Yet now, I am trapped. I have made repeated calls to my military handlers to get me out of Ireland. Nobody is listening.
''I have nothing. I have a criminal record so I cannot get a job. When I move around Britain I'm constantly stopped by police who see me as a terrorist. I just want a normal life back. I want to be relocated, I want a job and I want a legal firearm so I can protect myself.''
Kevin is not currently receiving any payment from the British government, nor a pension for his time served as a soldier. He and three other army/IRA double agents have sought out another former army mole to speak for them - the former high-ranking Sinn Fein member, Willie Carlin, who is now in hiding in Scotland with his partner Colette. Carlin is also a former British Army soldier who, because of his Irish Catholic background, was chosen by military intelligence to penetrate the republican movement.
He became the right-hand man to Martin McGuinness and passed top secret information on the political thinking of Sinn Fein to the FRU.
He was exposed as a double agent in the mid 1980s and relocated by the FRU in mainland Britain. Carlin is co-ordinating the political support for the agents, and has been in contact with Michael Martin, Tam Dayell and Andrew Hunter, who plans to raise the issue in the Commons.
British military intelligence operations are increasingly under scrutiny. A long-running Sunday Herald investigation has revealed how the army conspired in the deaths of more than a dozen civilians.