The only conclusion so far coming out of the Billy Wright Inquiry has been a little surprising. The Inquiry was set up to determine if state agencies had a part to play in Wrights death.
However, the sole organisation to reach a judgment based on the evidence presented thus far has been the Irish Republican Socialist Movement (IRSM). They have concluded that a former leading member and current member of the Republican Network for Unity (RNU), Kevin Bap McQuillan was a British agent due to, at least in part, transcripts coming from the Inquiry.
Addition: A member of the RNU Ard Chomhairle has commented – his statement at the end As reported by the Irish News:
Last night a spokesman for the republican socialist movement said: The INLA leadership of 1997 and indeed the current leadership are convinced Kevin McQuillan was working for British intelligence during the period of interest, namely during the period under scrutiny by the Billy Wright inquiry.
While this is not in itself damning, the INLA has claimed that more evidence of informant activities by Mr McQuillan exists.
However, a spokesman for the paramilitary group said it could not make any further details public due the risk of compromising methodology and personnel.
Some of the elements that lead to their conclusion McQuillan was and/or is an agent were elaborated on the IRSM forum by IRSP member Willie Gallagher:
When an MI5 handler gave evidence http://www.billywrightinquiry.org/transcripts/62/ in March of last year he claimed that he got a phone call from his agent on the 28-04-97 about a hostage situation as it was happening live. This was supported with intelligence documents, verified by independent database experts, stating the same. According to INLA sources this baffled the then leadership as they were not aware this was happening at that time.
Then later when Duncan McLauglan gave his evidence from the 21-10-08 to 03-11-08:
He claimed that he phoned an IRSP contact during the hostage situation. It has been claimed that this contact was Bap whose ‘memory’ can’t recall this. Bap has claimed that he is not disputing he did indeed get this call but that he can’t recall it due to ‘memory’ lapses which conveniently occurs since a beating he received in 1998. Furthermore he can’t explain why he didn’t relay this information on to senior members of the RSM who he met with less than an hour after he got the phone call. The only one in the RSM on the outside who had knowledge of a live hostage situation was Bap who kept that between he and his handler.
It is impossible to draw any conclusion on who is correct from what is in the public domain. Indeed the Republican Network for Unity of which McQuillan is at least an acting PRO has supported his position.
Members of the network met the Irish republican socialist movement leadership on a number of occasions.
After examining the information and after consultation, the position of the RNU is that the information presented was not found to be compelling and Kevin McQuillan remains a member of the RNU.
The RNU even permitted a press release to be issued in McQuillans name on an incident involving members of the IRSP and the PSNI while this was bubbling under, something that caused a lot of irritation to members/supporters of the IRSP.
McQuillans story has interesting side bars his claim to have left the IRSP in 1992 during a court case to have an exclusion order lifted, his denial he had joined the IRSCNA after leaving the IRSP for what seems like a 2nd time and there are also claims he applied unsuccessfully to join both Sinn Fein and éirígí before being accepted into the RNU.
It remains to be seen if this will impact on the Irish Republican Forum for Unity (a group compromising the RNU, IRSP, 32CSM and independent republicans) but it seems the IRSP may have already withdrawn and before this story broke the 32CSM rejected a motion at their Ard Fheis calling for their withdrawal.
32. To break contact from the IRFU – Irish Republican Forum for Unity as it is nothing more than a talking shop. As we believe it is to poach and usurp the 32csm membership into the thinking of other groups that do not support armed struggle at this time. Fermanagh 32CSM
Of course it is beyond doubt that the British state has agents in every Republican organisation and they will be trying to reinforce the Peace Process and/or British interests by their use. Even SF claimed this week that state agencies were still being used against their supporters.
Undoubtedly many people will see a more sinister hand behind the SOCA operation this morning. SOCA is based in and run from London. As in the past when political unionism gets itself into difficulties, as the DUP have in recent weeks, the faceless opponents of Irish republicanism who are still in prominent positions will seek to come to their rescue with operations like we have witnessed today.
Although I’ve also heard some republicans suggest the Provisional movement has placed its own operatives within dissenting Republican groupings. While of course this is possible and logically it has never been supported with evidence.
Agents are undoubtedly out there, doing the bidding of their masters (whoever they are) and attempting to direct republicanism firmly into Stormont and full participation in democratic structures within the British state or just plain bring about its downfall. McQuillan may or may not be one but his story and his membership of the Republican Network could just be the death bell for the Republican Forum for Unity.
Now that is something that would keep more than one establishment grouping happy.
Addition: RNU Ard Chomhairle member has give the following statement on the RSM forum:
As a member of RNU’s Ard Chomhairle, I can confirm that the RSM agreed that they would not issue a public statement about the allegations about Bap. I can also confirm that after the TSG statement from Bap that this whole situation developed differently.
I agree with Willie, when he says Bap was not questioned in a hostile enviroment etc…
As I’ve said before, its a terrible situation for both the RSM and RNU but we’ve all faced worse and lived to tell another tale….I just hope the mutual respect both groups have had will continue..
At present the RNU L/Ship are still seeking concrete answers and hopefully we’ll get them. Until then, we’ll continue our strategy to rebuild republicanism and links with like-minded groups and individuals such as, the IRSM.