Satellite views of MI5’s new Northern Irish base…

THANKS to Microsoft’s Virtual Earth, Alan Turnbull has been able to trace the development of MI5’s new base at Palace Barracks (pictured), just outside Holywood, Co Down. This aerial view from 2005, according to Turnbull, shows where the ground was cleared in preparation for building, while this one shows the Portakabins for the construction workers. This image from Google Maps in 2003 shows the old building being demolished for the new base (yes, that was 2003… three years before we even heard about it.). Cryptome purports to show the layout of the base (MI5 building site at top) complete with some guesses at what some of the areas are.

  • The Dubliner

    Gee, I’d hate to own any of those little terraced houses beside their new HQ – just in case a Ryan Air jet crashes into it!

    Isn’t that too near a public road for a high security building? And how exactly is that modest office building costing several hundred million to build?

  • Belfast Gonzo

    At a guess, I’d imagine there’s a substantial complex underground. Costly, but worth it if London is hit with a dirty bomb?

  • Jim Kemmy

    Good to know Paddy is in the direct line of Islamic fire. Can we thank the Peace Process for this?

  • mojo

    Jesus, I’m not sure if a good solid turd could be thrown across that lot from the trees on the right even if me and all the brothers gave it a good heave at the same time. The commandant is probably safe.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Will SF be having their Ard Comhairle meetings here?

  • Yokel


    I bet the meeting rooms in that place will be terrific. I hear MI5’s budget is big enough to include indivudally foil wrapped chocolate biccies with the tea as well.

  • Yokel

    I do have to say though, those pics on Cryptome are really informative.

    Its the way they point out ‘Electrical sub station’ and a prison that may also hold guns in it…

    I think they should put a reference of ‘house’ to one of the properties around the base, just keep everyone informed.

    Whoever the geek was that put those up, yeah you are really revealing almighty secrets and tweaking the nose of the British government there. And there was them thinking they had cleverly disguised the sub station as a children’s playground…..

  • Nice piece of sleuthing: kudos etc.

    Surely most of the “investment” would be in electronics and communications? Now, if someone can track the microwave nets, it would be possible to see how this little lot ties into Sigint, GCHQ (now, helpfully recruiting on line at and further afield. reminds me that Duncan Campbell did articles for the New Statesman back in 1988. These tried to explain the ECHELON network. I believe he showed that the mainland UK linked to NI via Suffolk Street in Dublin. He suggested (and again I am prepared to be corrected) there was a NSA facility in the Mount Gabriel tracking station, at Schull, Co. Cork (but see for a less paranoid explanation).

    Everything would point to the Irish G2 being cheek-by-jowl with whatever is going on, though obviously excluded from the inner circles of the NSA/UK Military Intelligence nexus.

  • Yokel


    G2 know only what they are told, end of. They are not players at all and no amount of conspiracy is going to get anywhere near proving otherwise.

  • Yokel @ 11:17 AM:

    Indeed, indeed. I accept that I am paranoid in the neighbourhood of spookery.

    However, …

    If the main axes of ECHELON still include Dublin, one can surely guarantee that there is some form of rental income, and paid in kind. As for “not players at all”, that denies everything we know (know, not guess or assume) going back to the Emergency years.

  • Yokel

    G2 have a specifc set of tasks. Its strategic role in any sense beyond its own borders is minimal because a) it doesnt need to have a big role and b) it has resource constraints.

    Any interest in NI is expected given the ROI’s position and also provding intellignce regarding overseas deployments and crsis issues affecting Irish interests. Most of its role is in fact domestic and in particular counter intelligence work because Ireland has had a fair number of overseas agencies with representatives running round Ireland over the years.

    Whilst they may provide and receive information fron the likes of the UK & US, its simply sent via the usual channels and where relevant only as would be expected of any western nation apparently co-operating with others. Ireland has no special status as regards intelligence feeds simply because it doesn’t need to have one. Any positioning of a component of the global big ears networks of the NSA & GCHQ in Ireland wouldnt lead to any greater status or access for G2.

    In addition much of the liasion regarding relevant information that may be gleaned via those big ears would actually be carried out via the Garda’s Branch and not G2 at all.

    To provide an example Garda branch would be leading out much of the monitoring of radical Islamisist activity in Ireland and would be the agency directly contacted by its counterparts in the US & UK etc.

  • In the matter of rental payments and how the system works, by another of those amazing coincidences that probably aren’t, we see:

    Gardai have seized £135m of cocaine from the sea off the south-west coast of Ireland.

    A man has been arrested in connection with the haul – thought to be the largest ever seized in the history of the Irish Republic.