Contradiction in McGuinness advice to informers between 1986 and 2011?

There was a wall of ‘criticism’ (simmering outrage might be a better description) in the southern papers… In the midst of it all buried within a suite of articles on the torture and killing of IRA informer Frank Hegarty there’s an interesting snippet worthy of further consideration.

Upsetting detail aside there’s an apparent contradiction in Martin McGuinness’ own account of what happened:

‘I said to that member that if Frank Hegarty was guilty of being a British agent, then my advice would be that he should not go and meet the IRA.’

At the time however, he told the press:

The only out that I can offer people who find themselves being recruited would be to contact me or any member of Sinn Féin who would only be too willing to provide assistance.’

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  • Count Eric Bisto von Granules

    I don’t see the contradiction. In one scenario he advises that a confirmed british agent should not make themselves known to the military arm of a movement that he has been spying on. Eminently sensible advice I would have thought. In the other scenario he advises that people who feel that they are in the process of being recruited should approach the political wing of the military arm for advice. Once again, that seems pretty sensible. There are 2 distinct and separate circumstances in this piece.

  • derrydave

    Don’t really see the contradiction here either. The advice for people approached to tout has always been to go to Sinn Fein.
    The first piece of advice (whether or not it was given) is simply that someone who’s been touting and then does a runner after their info led to major arms finds, would prob not be well advised to steer clear of the IRA for the rest of their lives. Common sense.

  • derrydave

    prob would be well advised

  • Alias

    The Hegarty case reveals a lot about how extensively the British state infiltrated PIRA and how the ‘agents’ it used were regarded as expendable pawns in a long game aimed at checkmating those who opposed British sovereignty and national interests.

    Frank Hegarty was a petty crook and suspected police informer who was appointed to the role of PIRA’s quartermaster in Derry by Martin McGuinness against the advice of other PIRA members a short time after the FRU set him up in Derry’s PIRA.

    To his co-hander, ‘Martin Ingram’, the purpose was to get Hegarty close to McGuinness so as to gather intelligence which could be validated with other intelligence. The speed of Hegarty’s promotion surprised Ingram but he didn’t at that time suspect that there was another reason for that success other than what could be acomplished by a slow-witted tout and his inexperienced handler.

    Aside from his function of monitoring McGuinness, Hegarty’s new role as Derry’s quartermaster meant that he had information about the storage of imported of arms from Libya. Hegarty might have duly informed his handlers about those arms and the arms duly seized except that Martin Ingram never claimed that Hegarty ever told him about them. Instead, Martin Ingram said that personal circumstances meant that he was not involved when Hegarty was taken out of NI to a safe house.

    However, whether or not Hegarty revealed the location of the Libian arms cache isn’t the key issue. He was certainly the most likely suspect, being a suspected police informer (Ingram confirms that he had a long record of informing) with knowledge of the location, and that is what is key. In other words, he was a cert as the fall-guy.

    That could answer the question as to why Martin McGuinness would appoint a suspected police informer as quartermaster at a time when arms were being imported that were supposedly vital to the PIRA campaign: he appointed Hegarty for the purpose of betraying the arms. It also explains why McGuinness was so keen to have Hegarty murdered as an informer: he didn’t want him to figure out the real reason why McGuinness had promoted him up the PIRA ranks to quartermaster so rapidly.

    Hegarty was murdered by a British agent, Freddie Scappaticci, on the orders of Martin McGuinness, as the PIRA AC who authorised ISU ‘executions’. Here you have PIRA leadership, PIRA’s ISU, PIRA informers, and the security services all tangled up one bundle. Essentially, you have one tout using another tout to tout, and you have more touts murdering that tout as a tout on the orders of touts.

  • I wondered from the start of MMG’s entry into the presidential election how long it would take before the allegation that he was a UK agent would be resurrected. I’m surprised that it took so long but not surprised that it is Alias who brought it up.

  • BluesJazz

    It will all come out eventually. At least Kurt Waldheim never commited any actual crimes.
    It would be good if the Republic elect this person as head of state. Slab Murphy would have been better, but someone similar is fine.

  • andnowwhat

    Watched Tinker Tailor today.

    Intrigue is a murky world where contradiction and and even hypocrisy is just is just the way things are.

  • derrydave

    I have to say that if the media really do want to scupper MMG’s attempt to win the race for the Presidency, then the whole MMG-is-an-agent route would be much more successful than the big-bad-IRA-man attacks they are now focussing their efforts on. What would spook people more than having a paid British agent as the President of Ireland ?

    As a Derryman and SF supporter, I am 100% behind MMG, however I have to admit that the circumstantial evidence as outlined by Alias (added to the lack of any serious convitions, and the bigging-up of MMG by British sources over the years) is enough to make plenty of people have doubts. Personally I don’t think it is true, however the truth is often the first casualty of war (and election campaigns) as they say ! This is probably a whole other thread mind you 🙂

  • Alias

    Well, if Marty isn’t a protected species then he’d have to be a genius to have escaped prosecution for so long given the amount of crime he was involved in and the amount of informers and surveilance involved. And given that he appointed a known tout to the role of quartermaster, he is clearly no genius.

    Lucky for him then that the Security Services never thought of getting Hegarty to wear a wire or of gathering any evidence that didn’t depend on witness statements from compromised sources. Oddly enough, they did think of this in other cases.

    Lucky too that Scappaticci never pointed them toward evidence against McGuinness given that Scappaticci had access to all of it.

    But luckiest of all that even when the “good” security services gathers damning evidence against you that the hidden hand of the State doesn’t proceed with it.