Special Reconnaissance Regiment return to NI service

The MI5 [added link] assessment of the threat of attacks by republican paramilitary groups has been upgraded to “severe” and the UK’s Intelligence & Security Committee Report for 2007/8 has revealed that MI5 allocated 15% of its resources in 2007/08 to countering “Irish-related terrorism”. Full report here and the UK Government response [both pdf files]. Meanwhile, BBC NI home affairs correspondent Vincent Kearney reports that members of the Special Reconnaissance Regiment have returned to service in Northern Ireland. Adds At the Policing Board today, Chief Constable Hugh Orde responded to claims by Sinn Féin’s Alex Maskey that the threat was “being overstated” – “I’m not in the business of talking anything up. I say it as I see it, I have consistently done that for nearly seven years. Currently, I think the threat is high.” Update As Mark notes in the comments zone, Vincent Kearney’s online report seems to have disappeared.. And An updated version of Vincent Kearney’s report is now back online. Adds Chief Constable Hugh Orde on the deployment of SRR members

“MI5 lead on intelligence-gathering nationally now, and what I have asked for is no different from what any other chief constable would ask for facing the current terrorist situation here. “We are talking about a very small number of people who increase my technical capacity. They have no operational role. They support my policing operations, which are undertaken by my police officers.”

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  • IRIA

    Who will be the next Jean Charles de Menezes?

  • wild turkey


    Hmm, what does it all mean? Any SF comment on this yet?

    The wiki link to SRR is interesting… as you can than follow a link to 14th Intelligence Company.

    ‘SRR is the newest Special Forces regiment in the armed forces, announced by the then Secretary of State for Defence Geoff Hoon in 2004. The regiment was formed around a core of already existing assets, thought to be the Joint Communications Unit (Northern Ireland) (JCU(NI)), known in popular culture as 14 Intelligence Company
    14 Intelligence Company is alleged to have been an element of the British Army Intelligence Corps which operated in Northern Ireland from the 1970s onwards. The unit conducted undercover surveillance operations against suspected members of Irish republican and loyalist paramilitary groups. Allegations of collusion with loyalist organisations were made against the unit.

    14 Int was accused of acting in collusion with loyalist paramilitaries by former intelligence personnel Fred Holroyd and Colin Wallace around the death of senior Provisional Irish Republican Army member Francis Green, the Miami Showband killings and the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings. ‘


    The claims made by English prime minister Gordon Brown in Washington that “Ireland is now at peace” are bizarre given the revelation that the Republican threat to English rule was, on the same day, reclassified as “severe”.

    A spokesperson for Republican Sinn Féin said:

    “Whilst Gerry Adams and his cheerleaders were quick to make ludicrous claims that the opening of an MI5 centre in Hollywood, Co. Down, constituted a positive move towards the introduction of accountable civic policing, it has now been admitted that at least 15% of MI5’s resources are dedicated towards targeting those with whom Mr. Adams disagrees. The RUC, of course, retain executive powers in enforcing the will of MI5.

    “Following repeated attempts by Adams to label Republican resistance to English rule as criminally-inspired, it has emerged that MI5 are dedicating ever more resources in their war against the Irish people.

    “The true criminals are those who support the enemy in their attempts to subvert the expressed will of the Irish people for the freedom and unity of the Irish Nation.”


  • Mark McGregor


    Looks like the piece mentioning the SRR has been pulled.

  • Pete Baker


    It does seem to have disappeared online. But it was broadcast.

  • fin

    “The RUC, of course, retain executive powers in enforcing the will of MI5.”

    what a wonderful use of words, what you are actually saying is that the RUC are in complete controll of doing what MI5 command

    The truth is the ‘War on terror’ has run out of steam, hence a lot of civil servants need to make themselves useful, the bloke who didn’t get the met job will run out of steam soon, after all, if there’s a threat there needs to be prevention, resulting in arrests and convictions. They’ve tried this malaky in GB and fell apart by not been able to produce convictions. New chief constable by 2011 anyone

  • Mark McGregor

    Here’s the text:

    Members of the Army’s special forces are back in Northern Ireland to help gather intelligence on dissident republicans, the BBC has learned.

    Special forces, such as the SAS, operated throughout the Troubles, but left after the 1997 IRA ceasefire.

    Members of the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, which has been at the forefront of the intelligence war in Afghanistan and Iraq, have returned.

    They will not be on the streets, but will work behind the scenes.

    The regiment specialises in surveillance and intelligence gathering

    The move is a response to growing concerns about d******t republican activity. The security services have raised the official threat level to severe – meaning they believe an attack is highly likely.

    It is understood that the Army has also deployed additional bomb squad officers to Northern Ireland in recent months.

    Operation Banner, the Army’s role in security operations in Northern Ireland, ended almost two years ago – so the deployment of special forces – even in very small numbers – is likely to cause controversy.

    We’ll have to see if the broadcast bit goes online before entering conspiracy theory mode.

  • Mark McGregor

    Sorry, lifted the text from a republican forum which censors the word ‘dissident’ but put the text in google and it matches with the original story which didn’t get to a google cache stage so no link.

  • Mark McGregor

    D-notice? Or just a lost story?

  • Peoples Liberation Front of Judea

    “It is understood that the Army has also deployed additional bomb squad officers to Northern Ireland in recent months”

    Spooks planning another McGurks Bar / Omagh?

  • jone

    Could be a D Notice; this from the D Notice site

    Information falling within the following categories is normally regarded as being highly classified. It is requested that such information, unless it has been the subject of an official announcement or has been widely disclosed or discussed, should not be published without first seeking advice:

    (a) specific covert operations, sources and methods of the Security Service, SIS and GCHQ, Defence Intelligence Units, Special Forces and those involved with them, the application of those methods*, including the interception of communications, and their targets; the same applies to those engaged on counter-terrorist operations;

    Rationale. Identified staff from the intelligence and security services, others engaged on sensitive counter-terrorist operations, including the Special Forces, and those who are likely targets for attack are at real risk from terrorists. Security and intelligence operations contacts and techniques are easily compromised, and therefore need to be pursued in conditions of secrecy. Publicity about an operation which is in train finishes it. Publicity given even to an operation which has been completed, whether successfully or not, may well deny the opportunity for further exploitation of a capability, which may be unique against other hostile and illegal activity.


    If it is a D Notice issue it’s a bit of a mess as the cat is well and truly out of the bag. The TV version of the story is still available if you go to the Newsline site and click onto the 1830 programme


  • jone

    And the BBC story is back. Curious.

  • borderline

    Richard Walsh,

    I think you’ll find it was Bertie Ahern who claimed that Ireland was now at peace to the US HOR. GB claimed Northern Ireland was at peace. Which proves, of course, that neither place is.

    You quote Pearse at the grave of O’Donovan Rossa and I agree with you. The Brits don’t get it, never did, the fools.

    Untrained, no electoral mandate, no money, next-to-no arms, and riddled with informers. Young and enthusiastic though.

    The only way is up.

  • Driftwood

    What’s the story? SF have accepted British rule in NI and that Defence of Northern Ireland is a matter for the MoD and the 5000 strong garrison here. Whether that includes Special Forces is neither here nor there for SF or Stormont. It is a matter for the Sovereign parliament at Westminster. Adams and McGuinness, both Crown servants now, know this.
    Move along please , no story here…move along

  • Jump’in Jack Flash

    Untrained, no electoral mandate, no money, next-to-no arms, and riddled with informers. Young and enthusiastic though.

    The only way is up

    Aye but only after the young and enthusiastic lives by the needless deaths or thee hundreds of years in jails though.

  • how telling

    How telling that the SDLP have responded to this, while no doubt the Shinners were on the blower to their Whitehall handlers trying to get the kibosh put on it. SAS-esque units back on Irish soil, supporting the same police SF call on nationalists to inform on their neighbours to. Quelle surprise.


    Where does this leave Hugh Orde? Are he and PSNI now admitting that policing here is too much for them? It would appear so, if they can’t get a grip on your average barcode moustache scumbag who robs shops how can they expect to sort out the dissidents? However there is more to it than that. When the British Intelligence Agencies are mentioned I smell nothing but sh*te and know there are sinister things going on. MI5, MI6 & the British Army spooks are all operating on massive budgets and need the public to perceive that something is going on. If the Omagh fiasco is anything to go by Smileys People probably know the name of EVERY dissident Republican in Ireland as well as their Loyalist friends in the Unionist death squads. This crowd tried to bring Harold Wilson’s government down and operated double agents during the Miners Strike of 1984. They are a parallel government with the REAL power because Labour and Tory administrations come and go but these headbangers remain in their posts for decades. The SDLP are quite right to raise this matter because Sinn Fein weren’t going to blow the whistle on OR speak out against their speechwriters.

  • Comrade Stalin


    You need to keep up with the times. Counter-intelligence work is being taken off the PSNI Special Branch and has been handed over to MI5. This is all part of the move towards devolved policing and justice powers. I can see why; there’s no way that the British would allow a devolved NI government, no matter how “loyal”, to see the interior of their intelligence-gathering machinery.

    I’ve no reason to doubt the claims about the dissident threat. They’ve made several attempts to kill police officers recently, and they left a bomb near a school a few weeks ago.

    If the Omagh fiasco is anything to go by Smileys People probably know the name of EVERY dissident Republican in Ireland as well as their Loyalist friends in the Unionist death squads.

    They almost certainly do. What do you want them to do, go around the country and intern them all ?

  • Yea Gods

    FFS are you people for real? There ain’t any great British plan to do down the Irish.

    The reality is that they would be happy to be out of Ireland if they could and are only held by international agreements that guarantee change only by consent.

    Wake up, get over yourselves no one cares that much about you.

    Concentrate your ire on the loons that are threatening violence and come out with statements that a fourteen year-old would be embarrassed by; and no they are not British spooks just sadly home grown idiots

  • borderline

    Jumpin JF,

    don’t confuse my observations with support.

    I don’t support the dissidents like I didn’t support the Provos before them. Or even the Rising if it came to that.

    Just a student of history….


    Well Ye Gods you obviously care enough to post a comment on here. No one has said it’s all a big British plot to ‘do down the Irish’. Unionists by the way won’t like your sweeping cultural identity generalisation there but that’s how most people outside Ireland see them, i.e. IRISH. Back to the point this is ALL about control from Britain’s Intelligence Agencies. They want to control how the public view them and any scaremongering nonsense usually puts people on the defensive and makes them wary SO that they don’t even question the spooks, their budget or any accountability. MI5 & MI6 are living in their own wee paranoid world of smoke and mirrors where the general public MUST be kept frightened at all times. They lied about Weapons of Mass Destruction which led to the War In Iraq, they lied about their role in subversion of British parliamentary democracy in trying to bring down Labour governments and they have lied about murder gangs they have operated in Ireland since 1968. In short they are a shower of lying, murdering, unaccountable, evil, sinister bastards who should be in a court in the Hague for their crimes in Ireland AND Britain.

  • Driftwood

    Comrade Stalin
    Army Special Forces are not connected (directly anyway) by MI5. They have their bolthole (The Hollow) at Ballykinler Camp. And will jump out if need be. Hugh Orde probably has seen what he needs to see, referring to the safety of his officers.
    That anyone else – surprised that the SAS and their intelligence gathering units are still active in NI? Why not write to your SF MLA? Their response-probably scripted at Thiepval- will be pure Jonathan Powellesque waffle.
    Faugh A Ballagh


    Off subject but talking of the Hague; while not undermining the attempts by the International Courts to bring the Sudanese President to boot haven’t the Sudanese every right to put 2 fingers up to the UN while the US, Britain and Israel continually carry out Human Rights Abuses, kill innocents in Palestine and operate torture chambers in Guantanamo Bay? Hypocrisy how are ye?

  • fin

    Or possibly its put in the public domain ahead of devolving P&J;to prevent any issues later. Most things in NI are choreographed and planned well in advance.

    Also where do they start gathering their intelligence, from MI5 and PSNI files, that lot has pretty much failed to find any loyalist arms, catch any dissidents or solve the NI bank robbery.

    Could it be the govt. now feel that Orde is not interested or not capable of doing the job so need an organisation ‘onsite’ for a bit of continuity.

    At the end of the day the easiest excuse is to say they’ve been brought in to deal with dissidents, and an excuse had to be given, what they actually do is a different matter, only time will tell…………..

  • Greagoir O’ Frainclin

    Special Reconnaissance Regiment return to NI service. Did they ever leave?

    It is rather sneaky that Policing Board members were not informed by the chief constable.
    Echoes of the bad old days of withholding information.

    But nobody wants another Omagh bombing!

    Idiot “dissidents” acting the bollocks encourages the interest and covert operations of the British security forces in NI. NI became a great training ground for British agents. “Dissidents” acting the bollocks keeps the British security forces eyes focused on NI, and rightly so too I suppose, because who wants another Omagh bombing, where all those people were murdered, blown to bits one Saturday afternoon whilst out shopping.

  • cynic

    Poor Martin seems to be sufferening from memory loss. This time he didn’t realise that the deal the Shinners cut on policing and justice meant that they had no control on the role of MI5 which is accountable nationally to NIO not via PSNI or the Policing board or any new Justice Department. This has damaged his confidence in Hugh Orde and the Army Special Forces ‘are a threat’ – well that’s a surprise then and may be why they are deploying them.

  • 14th Int fan

    the only reason they (SRR) are here is because the RA can’t control their own dissidents and the PSNI is too incompetent…..the PSNI’s failure to catch and convict those responsible for Omagh, Robert McCartney, Northern Bank robbery etc. hardly gives anyone confidence in their ability to cope with dissidents…..ask the prods who play bowls in Rosslea what they think of the PSNI’s ability to deal with dissidents!!….

    if Sinn Fein don’t like the SRR then please inform everyone how they intend to wipe out dissident acitivity…..

  • P O’Neil

    I am surprised that no one has mentioned that last year Martin stated that all dissident activity was being controlled by the spooks in Hollywood.

    Typical British playbook, create a ‘threat’ then deal with the problem which you created. I think the last 40 odd years is pretty good example of that.

  • Driftwood

    Martin has gone crying to Gordon Brown and the RoI PM about an internal MoD matter. As if they could give a fuck right now. If SF wanted the removal of the British Army from this part of the UK, they never factored it in to any agreement.
    As a crown servant administering her Majesty’s rule here, he should keep within his remit.

  • Dylan

    The British Government uses media oppourtunities like this to reassure Unionists that they are still protected by the state and that the big bad republican bogey men arent going to get them. Usually to soften the blow of some controversial issue they may have to deal with in the future, or simply as a means of asserting power. What a joke that 12% of M.I.5’s manpower and resources are being spent on “policing” dissedent republicans, whom, we were told a few years back are made up of approx. 80 die hards! It should be blindingly obvious to anyone with half a brain cell that the deployment of covert recon operatives is a nightmare scenario for this country waiting to happen. Either we end up with another shoot to kill controversy ( victory to the diisidents in terms of martyrdom propaganda) or we end up with dead security force members ( destabalisation of the process, Unionist ire.) Or maybe thats what certain people in M.I.5 want now that there little adventure in Iraq is over?

  • Max

    Thank god someone is taking steps to try and keep the peace. No one wants a military prescence here but at least they have legitimacy rather than a small group of people, intent on sending us back to the seventies, legitamising their own acts of violence and bigotry with nothing more than homespun rhetoric to appeal to those who think shooting a peeler or burying a Prod would be a cool thing to boast about on their Bebo page. I can understand SF and the SDLP having to huff and puff but they were a lot quieter about the level of sectarian activity around the 6 counties in recent months.

  • danielmoran

    to pete baker….. hugh orde has, whether on purpose or not, exposed the policing board for the piece of absurdist theatre it is. samuel becket or kafka would be proud. the policing boad might as well diband and be done with it. after hours of being ‘held to account’ the announcement is made. priceless.

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