WHOEVER buys this north Down house recently put on the market will probably want to sweep the place thoroughly before moving in – and I don’t mean the floors! Laneside, a 5-bedroom cottage in Craigavad will set you back a cool £895,000… and used to be the MI6 headquarters in Northern Ireland. Hopefully the new owners won’t encounter any spooks in the attic… or under the floorboards!It was also home to two secretaries of state, and was also the location for secret talks between the UDA and the Provisional and Official IRA 30 years ago. It was also used for clandestine meetings involving the security services when the government wanted to talk with republicans via links such as Denis Bradley.
According to Eamonn McCann, Howard Smith, a veteran spook of Lebanon who was based in Laneside in the early 70s, went on to become head of MI5.
The house was referred to in the Irish Independent last year when “former Irish ambassador to Washington Sean Donlon urged the committee [investigating allegations of collusion between the British state and loyalist terrorists in the 1974 Dublin-Monaghan bombings] to seek two sets of specific papers from the British as part of their probe into the bombings. He referred to the first set as the Laneside papers, which might indicate a pattern of communication between the British and the UVF and UDA.”
A real house with a history.