“He was sidelined to the point of being removed from any work.”

Roy McShane carrying the coffin of an PIRA member killed by the SAS in Gibraltar in 1988.Following on from yesterday’s MI5 protective custody for Adams’ driver story there are a couple of reports worth noting. In the Irish Times, Gerry Moriarty notes, “Sinn Féin Assembly member Alex Maskey said he and other senior republicans were disappointed but not terribly surprised by the news.” While in the Guardian Henry McDonald reports that –

“It is understood MI5 advised him to leave his west Belfast home after it emerged that an internal IRA investigation found he had been working for the British for more than a decade.”

Which would raise the question – who exactly was conducting that investigation? And, with McShane reportedly already ‘sidelined’, to what end? This Irish News report may point to a possible answer.. [subs req] Updated belowAdds Also in the Irish News [subs req]

In February 2006 Sinn Fein unexpectedly replaced all its Belfast-based drivers and bodyguards for Mr Adams and other senior republican politicians. It is unclear if this decision was linked to suspicions that McShane was working as a spy.

Originally from Lurgan in Co Armagh, he had lived in west Belfast from his early teens, sharing a house in the lower Falls with IRA leader Billy McMillan in the mid-1960s.

He is understood to have been a member of the Territorial Army for a time during this period.

Throughout the Troubles McShane worked as a cabinet maker in west Belfast.

It is understood he served little or no time in prison.

However, he was implicated in one of the worst murders of the Troubles when West German industrialist Thomas Niedermayer was abducted and killed in December 1973.

In the 1980s McShane is known to have been a member of the IRA ‘nutting squad’.

As a member of that unit he was close to Freddie Scappaticci and, ironically, would have had the task of exposing agents within the IRA.

In 1989 that internal security unit was stood down over concerns that it had been infiltrated by the British intelligence agencies.

In what would prove to be a crucial mistake the IRA moved many of those involved in the ‘nutting squad’ into protection and driving roles for the Sinn Fein leadership.

For more than 20 years McShane was regularly seen driving the Sinn Fein leadership to and from meetings.

Following the decision to bring an end to McShane’s role as a Sinn Fein driver he is understood to have been working as a taxi driver in the lower Falls where he had been living in recent years.

Republican sources last night recalled that McShane had shown strong contempt for Sinn Fein administrator Denis Donaldson after he was exposed as a British agent in December 2005.

And from another Irish Times report by Gerry Moriarty [subs req]

A senior Sinn Féin spokesman yesterday suggested that in recent years, at least, the party suspected McShane was an informer. “He was sidelined to the point of being removed from any work.” Nonetheless, while he did not have a strategic role in the party, he was physically close to those who did – and at important times in the long negotiating process that finally led to the May 8th, 2007, powersharing deal. He’s been around a long time.

This will hardly be the last such revelation, which has caused quite an amount of shock in west Belfast and other republican areas. When Lord Eames and Denis Bradley and other members of the commission on the past travelled to London to examine the Stevens papers on collusion, they were said to be shocked by how deeply the IRA and Sinn Féin were infiltrated.

If MI5 could land catches such as Denis Donaldson and McShane, it follows that it is likely it netted other senior figures. It is likely that if McShane was outed, others too will be exposed, perhaps on a drip-drip basis to cause continuing embarrassment to Sinn Féin. This latest revelation should not destabilise the current regime at Stormont, but it will upset ordinary republicans, causing them to wonder what the “war” was about, was the IRA leadership really in control, who was genuine, who was a “tout”. That must be uncomfortable and annoying for Adams and other leaders, but it is just something they must live with it and manage.

Republicans said McShane could return to west Belfast if he makes peace with his family and his community and that he was under no threat from the IRA. But McShane will be mindful that Denis Donaldson, in whose company he was often seen at Stormont, had similar assurances, and yet ended up gunned to death in a cottage in Donegal.

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  • Reader

    Mick Hall: As their first duty to the community or class they serve, when an informer is revealed, is to the whole community, who should be told about the tout so they can guard against them.
    Nonsense. Just pawns in the game. Plenty more where they came from. Anyway, what secrets does the community have these days?

  • reader

    What I was trying to write in my dyslectic way was that as the PIRA claimed they were fighting for the nationalist people in the north, when they found an informer in their ranks they had a responsibility to name them, not keep it secret as it might portray SF leaders in a bad light.

    To say nothing and allow the informer to live their life within the community, as if they had done nothing wrong was asking for a disaster to occur. Not least because it allowed the informer to go about their wretched business, true they might not be informing on the Provos any more, but maybe they moved on to reporting their neighbors to the taxman or the brew ect.

    We recently had a case where a former provo who was stood down by that organization but went on to sucker gullible members of the RIRA.

  • Wilde Rover


    “Nor am I convinced that QE was one of the handlers, or the author of the Brit Cunning Plans.”

    Of course not. There are people for that.

    After all, it is better to be the Handler than the handler.

  • lib2016


    Neither Sinn Fein nor the IRA were or are fascist or mafiaist. Don’t mistake me – the IRA especially were involved in all sorts of corruption simply because that’s how revolutionaries fund themselves but needless over the top jargon won’t get us anywhere. Pointing out that the British security services used similar tactics doesn’t solve anything or advance the debate in any useful way, or are they also fascist and mafiaist?

    Mick Hall,

    By the mid-eighties everybody,including the British had accepted that there could be no return to the status quo. Hume managed to do the necessary networking abroad, as De Valera did in the Nineteen Twenty’s and the Adams/McGuinness leadership were able to deliver an end to republican violence. Integrity in this context means making a deal and delivering on it. Clinton would not have imperilled Britain’s relationship with America unless he thought that, like Hume, they were men of their word.

    The British have had to make real moves rather than shallow gestures, though they have certainly dragged things out. Now it’s up to the politicans and the Establishment behind them who want stability above all else and since the only stability possible here is Irish reunification it’s in everybody’s interest that it comes.

  • The Devil

    hey lib2016

    your keypad put a 2 where a 3 should be…..

    just thought you’d like to know

  • lib2016

    You are seeing this situation through your own rose tinted Adamsite spectacles, for the British there has been a return to the status quo. Since post WW2 they have never given a shit who ran the north, just as long as the locals controlled it at no extra cost, and the place was not a thorn in their side and it was not part of a United Ireland. So the current situation suits them just fine, as I said as far as they are concerned it is a return to the Status quo.

    The only difference today to that which went on prior to 69, is that the place is run jointly by tame republicans and unionists, both of whom are willing to administer the statelet on London’s terms. Whereas in the past the British could only rely on unionists to do so. For the nationalist people this is a far better situation, or so it seems to date. But it is still as far as London is concerned a return to the status quo.

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    Gas, that Ireland was only ever considered by England as an obstacle to a Spanish, French or German incursion. And that’s what people are thought as part of a British/English education; disregarding the sad human consequences, the suffering, the misery, the meagre lives of a broken people. Such are the war games of rulers and it’s still happening today.

    Imagine never realising being a mere pawn in the whole set-up but gladly holding on dearly to what you think is right, coz god and those in authority says so, as they fully reap the rewards; maintaining the colonial outpost for your once political masters even when it no longer matters to anyone anymore.

  • lib2016

    Mick Hall,

    My children and their children’s children have the freedom to get jobs and houses where they never could before. To me that’s what politics are all about, equality and peace. I’m a constitutional nationalist and proud of it. There are new political battles for the younger generation to fight – the anti-Muslim madness which has replaced the Cold War for a start, the need to build a decent health service, North and South and many more besides including making sure that the disadvantaged and the New-Irish get the same acess to education as everybody else.

    Arguments about the tactics of an occupation which is finally ending seem pointless to me, as pointless as the efforts of others to ‘spin’ that there wasn’t spying on all sides. We can only tackle each other’s ideas if we start with the premise that people mean what they say though we may have our doubts. Endless negative propaganda doesn’t work in the long run and Adams etc have to fight where the political battles are now not where they were in 1969.

  • Lib2016

    I am not saying you are wrong to welcome the fact that your children and their children’s children have the freedom to get jobs and houses where they never could before. All I was saying is that the British have returned the north to the status quo. [as far as they are concerned]

    Your also correct in that there are new political battles to be fought, I became angry and desperately sad when I read the RIRA spokesperson the other week saying in an interview, in I think the Sunday Tribune that their strategy was to force the British government to over react and return to the streets, as it will turn the nationalist people against them and open up a vista of war. [OK he never said the vista of war bit, but that is what he meant]

    His remarks told me that for him the struggle in itself was all that mattered and any hard ship and suffering the nationalist community experience in the process is collateral damage, to be used to the advantage of those fighting militarily for a united Ireland. Desperately poor stuff.

    Good luck to you and your family

  • F. A. Provies

    “My children and their children’s children have the freedom to get jobs and houses where they never could before.”

    This is no thanks to the killers, bombers, mutilators and paid informants of PIRA/PSF. Bernadette McAlliskey and her generation got to unversity without the bombs, bullets and Brits of PIRA. PIRA derailed NICRA; PIRA was a Brit/Branch operation from start to finish. The Bearded One still walks.

  • “Neither Sinn Fein nor the IRA were or are fascist or mafiaist.”

    lib, SF is the PRM’s political wing and fascist and Mafiaist are apt labels for such a barbaric organisation. Those who think otherwise are IMO deluding themselves. London and Dublin have been quite prepared to sacrifice ordinary decent folks here in order to protect their own interests.

  • PaddyReilly

    PIRA derailed NICRA; PIRA was a Brit/Branch operation from start to finish.

    SF is the PRM’s political wing and fascist and Mafiaist are apt labels for such a barbaric organisation. Those who think otherwise are IMO deluding themselves

    Some contradiction here. Let me follow the logic of these two posts through. PIRA is controlled by MI5 and the Special Branch. PIRA is a barbaric organisation. Therefore, MI5 and the Special Branch are barbaric organisations. Therefore, we’re all as bad as each other, so the fact that SF is the largest party in Belfast and 2nd largest in the rest of the country means it should be accorded the respect due in a democratic system.

    So shut up then seems to be the obvious rejoinder

  • Realst

    The bearded one appears to be coming out of this
    informer saga a lot more battered in all aspects due to most reports of his personel friendships with all exposed to date.
    In contrast the fisherman has come through this patch relatively unscathed.
    Some time ago I think it was the Irish news carried an article written by Brian Feeny in which the jest appeared to be that, an interesting phase lay ahead which would see one man coming out on top to gain overall control as both men are quite the same nature.
    For the last 25 to 30 years both have joined forces to dominate control of the leadership removing opponents at will and having final say on just about any decision making from issues A to Z
    However as the bearded one has been in receipt of the most recent flak could this be the final push by the fisherman and MI5 to send the bearded one into retirement as we can not deny there have been recent whispers that have not gone unnoticed.

  • lib2016


    The amazing thing is that Nevin still doesn’t understand that he has just destroyed his own case.

  • Belfast Gonzo


    I think the ‘blue skies of Ulster’ quote is from Edward Carson, father of unionism.

    gareth mccord

    I’m working on the assumption that Bunter is the one that Brian Rowan keeps referring to mysteriously in his UVF articles of late.

    Graham’s name has popped up frequently in the past over suspicions of being an SB agent, most recently in relation to the Haddock affair, but nothing ever seemed to happen.

    Presumably when he met the Eames-Bradley group the other day, it was about seeing how much his ass was going to be exposed than about freeing the truth.

    Questions might also arise about why an SB employee would be pushing the UVF to hold onto its weapons.

  • Lib, perhaps you can point out what case I’ve lost.

    All the paramilitaries are fascist and mafiaist outfits.

    The two Governments have been strong on appeasement and their ‘acceptable level of violence’ here, in order to protect their strategic economic and other interests, has inevitably meant that innocent folks have become victims. The need to use and protect informers has also meant that the risk to life was a bit like a lottery. It would also appear that some of the paramilitary godfathers were immune from prosecution.

    Those who promoted street confrontation in the late 60s (and later) played a significant part in creating the mess and ought to share some of the blame, including the need for informers.

  • “an SB employee”

    Hardly, BG …

  • lib2016


    “an acceptable level of violence” is a phrase attributed to Maudling very early in the conflict here. That was where the problem began not as you claim where it ended with the current crop of politicans.

    As for who gets the blame for all this? Nationalists tried democratic means of redress and were denied them, then tried civil disobedience and were murdered by the security services. After that what happened was probably inevitable and the blame could possibly be shared by all participants but to condemn the Civil Righters and their marches is to go against the grain of history. Was Martin Luther King guilty of KKK violence? It was the authorities who refused to introduce reform who are invariably blamed.

    The later marches in the early 70’s became more militant and could be considered to be a response to the sectarian Orange marches of the past century. As an attempt by republicans to take back the streets they were inevitably provocative but by that time the British were already talking of ‘acceptable levels of violence’. Again I would contend that the authorities bear the guilt and the responsibility.

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    “Edward Carson, father of unionism”…… and not forgetting a dirty Dub too from Harcourt Street.

  • Reader

    lib2016: but by that time the British were already talking of ‘acceptable levels of violence’. Again I would contend that the authorities bear the guilt and the responsibility.
    As I am sure you realise, Maudling was trying to get the level of violence *down*, in the face of terrorist groups that were trying to increase the level of violence to achieve their aims (a United Ireland from one side, and goodness knows what from the other). In the face of a republican position based on “Ireland unfree shall never be at peace”, what else should Maudling have aimed for? The authorities deserve a lot of credit for getting us from there to here – but it was bound to be a long game.

  • lib2016


    Even the republicans had recognised that there was no support for violence by the mid-60’s.If reasonable reforms, as promised by Wilson before the election had been delivered by the British, or even if O’Neill had been able to make a start on his ineffectual reforms there would have been no support for a campaign by any of the IRA’s.

    It was the refusal of British politicans to imtervene which gave the British Army the opportunity to try for a military solution. Even then it has taken them so long to face unionism down that they have made the worst of a bad job.

  • joeCanuck

    Someone asked today in a letter to the Irish Times as to whether McShane was fully qualified or only held a provisional licence.

  • Reader

    lib2016: If reasonable reforms, as promised by Wilson before the election had been delivered by the British, or even if O’Neill had been able to make a start on his ineffectual reforms there would have been no support for a campaign by any of the IRA’s.
    Electoral reform was on the statute book by 1968. Housing Executive Act in 1971. A string of anti-discrimination measures in 69, 70, 71. That’s more than just a start. Other reforms came through before e.g. Enniskillen, Teebane. The IRA were fighting for a United Ireland – there’s no point in suggesting otherwise. That they were able to capitalise on communal conflict to gain support isn’t to their credit – they went out of their way to feed that conflict.

  • harpo

    “I know its been said many times and in many different forums, but doesn’t the fact that the British Gov’t has informers/colluders in all these para groups make THEM look worse?”


    No, not at all.

    This is classic counter-insurgency tactics. You place people in the enemy organizations, or recruit existing members. Police and security agencies do it all over the world.

    I see some are all upset again about the supposed British dirty tricks/tactics, but really. What would anyone have expected them to do?

    If you aren’t fighting a conventional enemy, you use unconventional means. Agents and informers.

    It’s time for all the naive SDLP types to suck it up and accept that this sort of tactic was the obvious one that would be used.

    I assume they accept it wasn’t a conventional conflict where one set of people in uniforms took on another set of people in uniforms.

  • harpo

    “As a republican, I state that this man has giving up his right to be called Irish and would not recommend that he associates with Irish people anywhere around the world.”

    The watcher:

    Who died and put you in charge of who gets to be called Irish and who doesn’t?

    As a republican you are out of touch with 95% of the people on the island of Ireland. If you are a true republican, you don’t even see the Provos as being true Irish people these days.

    I doubt the real Irish people give a fig for what some mouthy snotbox self-proclaimed republican on a message board says.

  • harpo

    “well there be or has there been the same outcry about the British secret service, leading, directing and controlling the UDA, UVF, RHC, LVF, etc, etc, etc…”


    Outcry? What outcry?

    The security forces used informers/agents?


    It was a non-conventional conflict?


    I think the security forces release the name of one of these guys every once in a while just to keep the pot boiling. To keep the Provos continually looking at themselves.

  • harpo

    “As an IRA Volunteer on a training camp over eight or nine years ago we were told about this guy. Army training has always been based on secrecy and ‘need to know’.”


    So much for the famous cell system. Why would a bunch of trainess ‘need to know’ that this guy was an informer? What about this secrecy?

    I thought you volunteers were all in your little cells, cut off from everyone else, with instructions not to talk to anyone else in your lives about anything. It isn’t as if you would be shooting the shit about your latest operation with soem PSF driver is it? If things were done on the cell system as claimed, he would never know you were a volunteer, and you would never say anything to him about what you did. So why would you be warned about him.

    Either you are making this IRA volunteer stuff up, or you were an IRA volunteer and it isn’t all as secretive as you folks like to make out. Maybe it is the cowboy outfit that we have come to know so well. The cowboy outfit where you all talk about everything.

    Is the tale now that you all knew about him all along and he was deliberately left alone to feed disinformation back to his masters? Spooky stuff, except that it is claimed he was only suspected for the last 2 or 3 years.