Spy agency advertises for first time in Northern Ireland…

IT’S a far cry from those enigmatic job ‘ads’ in the Sunday Times classifieds of old, as MI5 advertise in the three Northern Irish regional newspapers today for IT professionals and foreign language transcribers – though I can’t imagine there being too many local Arabic speakers end up in Palace Barracks (pictured). Nor – despite continuing controversy over the security service’s history and role here – are they seeking Irish or Ulster-Scot speakers(!) The News Letter reports that a senior Whitehall source said the translators in the Belfast HQ “will listen live to intercepted telephone calls from anywhere in the UK”. He added: ‘They will be transcribing the conversations of international terrorist targets and sending the transcripts back to intelligence analysts in Thames House (London MI5)’ – handy, as this is also the NIO’s London base. But don’t bother applying if you’re an Irish passport holder, it’s Brits only. One out-of-work Brit who probably won’t be applying, but who has more experience of both spooks and the Sunday Times than most, is the newspaper’s former NI editor, Liam Clarke. Today, he recounts some of his run-ins with spies, terrorists, politicians and the police as he looks back at two decades of reporting the Troubles from the front line.

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