‘Ingram’ claim leaked: Half IRA leadership were ‘working’ for the British?

So the Belfast Telegraph’s front page splash is finally available online. It’s based on document allegedly to be (h/t @faduda) presented to the Smithwick Inquiry by Ian Hurst (aka Martin Ingram), a former intelligence operative for the British in Northern Ireland. Liam Clarke reports:

It claims the IRA ran agents in the RUC and also that Dundalk Garda station was regarded by British intelligence as “a nest of vipers”, with at least two officers actively assisting the Provos.

Clarke bullets Hurst’s major claims here:

  • The shadowy Force Research Unit (FRU) had a file on suspected rogue gardai prepared to pass information to the IRA and act as its agents. MI5 also had a network of agents with the Garda.
  • The IRA had a network of informants in public agencies such as social security offices and vehicle licensing departments.
  • One in four IRA members was an agent, rising to one in two among senior members.
  • Martin McGuinness was involved in all strategic military decisions taken by the IRA.
Intriguingly Hurst/Ingram also claims:

…he assisted John Stevens’ inquiry into security force collusion with terrorists in Northern Ireland. The document states Lord Stevens told him that of 210 terrorist suspects he arrested, only three were not security force agents, and some worked for several agencies.

As Clarke later notes, Hurst has a record of getting things right… The paper leads with his allegation that up to fifty per cent of the leadership of the IRA were actively working with the British… If the IRA played the long war tactic, it would seem that the British also played a long game of infiltration…
Perhaps the most shocking claim is that a rogue Garda Sergeant leaked intelligence to Stakeknife. Stakeknife has been identified as Freddie Scappaticci, a veteran Belfast republican.

It all gives the term collusion a very strange and bizarre twist…

  • RepublicanStones

    Christ in Allah’s sandals…all im expecting now is some video to surface where they’re all writhing around in some big mess on the floor like at the end of that 80’s B movie trash horror classic ‘Society’.


    Not for faint hearted…

  • michael-mcivor

    Wonder what the percentage was of r.u.c members who worked for the Provos-

  • redhugh78

    ‘Ingram’ claim leaked: ‘ Freddie Starr ate my Hamster ‘.

  • TwilightoftheProds

    This is food for thought.

    If true, I think lots of people will start wearing little brussel sprouts in lapels for remembrance.

    ….my God, what must penetration of Loyalism been like?

    Thiepval must have been using Mad magazine’s Spy vs Spy as a military strategy.

    .. I seem to remember Peter Brooke in the early 90s saying that half of all Provos arrested had no previous terrorist trace…you could believe it at the time because of the level and persistence of their attacks….so I’l take Ingrams bean spilling with a pinch of salt. I can see spooks letting the demolition of a woolworth’s go ahead to protect a source – but mortaring Downing street? Bishopsgate? Large scale attacks on barracks?

    …still the geographic spread of touting must look revealing. East Tyrone and South Armagh stripping rifles whilst Belfast and Derry were taking notes on Her Majesty’s Service.

  • Alias

    Rather than re-type some relevant points, here’s a re-post of one from 14 October 2011:

    The real issue of contention is not whether the State was colluding with the murder gangs (not in dispute as fact) but whether the State was controlling them and, if so, for what purpose.

    Very little of Stevens 3 made it into the public domain but Lord Stevens recently let it slip that the scale of state control of the murder gangs goes far beyond anything that can be described as mere collusion:

    “When you talk about intelligence, of the 210 people we arrested, only three were not agents. Some of them were agents for all four of those particular organisations, fighting against each other, doing things and making a large sum of money, which was all against the public interest and creating mayhem in Northern Ireland.”

    He arrested 207 agents of the state during his enquiry. Given that reports of particular arrests often made it into the media, there is a 99% probability that any person so arrested was an agent. Those arrests included the leadership of loyalism.

    The same control of republican murder gangs is apparant. The FRU handler, Martin Ingram, who revealed the identity of Stakeknife has stated to the Swithwick Tribunal that:

    “1. As a rough guide you should expect 1 in 4 PIRA volunteers to be Agents of one agency or another.”

    “2. As a rough guide you should expect 1 in 2 PIRA officer class to be Agents of one agency or another.”

    Ingram’s agency had circa 100 active agents on its book but only one of them was loyalist. Given that there were circa 300 active PIRA members, that is a far higher percentage than Ingram’s estimates. And that is just the PIRA agents on the books of one state agency, excluding those on the books of Special Branch, MI5, MI6, HM Customs, and excluding those on the books of the agencies of other states such as Ireland’s G2 and C3.

    And a more recent one from 17 December 2011:

    Former FRU handler Ian Hurst (Martin Ingram) claims in his submission to the Smithwick Tribunal that “Freddie Scappaticci was Mr Owen Corrigan’s handler.” He also claims that his “friend and colleague”, FRU handler David Moyles, was Scappaticci’s handler.

    If true, that inverts the focus of the Smithwick Tribunal and makes the murders of the two RUC officers an issue of collusion between the British state and PIRA.

    He also claims that it was a regular practice for FRU agents to use PIRA’s intelligence gathering capabilities to obtain information about people rather than to use orthodox channels, as PIRA would get the information much more quickly:

    PIRA would be able to obtain information from driver licensing, social security, councils, utilities far quicker than the FRU – To provide one example – If we wanted to check a southern vehicle owner we had to submit a written request via Military Intelligence Liaison Officer to obtain this information from the RUC – that process could take a week or more? PIRA could do that within hours – Obviously FRU handlers would with one eye on source security request our PIRA agents to obtain this information privately rather that play the long game with the RUC.

    In effect, PIRA’s intelligence/security unit was operating as an adjunct of the British Army; and any Gardai moles or other state employees who were providing information to PIRA were in actuality providing that information to the British state. This is what he tells Smithwick about the role of PIRA’s ISU:

    Briefly the role of the security unit is no different that within the British Army or indeed Irish army:

    a. vetting new members
    b. Investigate compromised operations
    c. Interview suspected members
    d. Remove potential threats
    e. Maintain Intelligence upon units/individuals
    f. Cultivate Intelligence sources

    The alleged Garda moles in Dundalk were controlled by PIRA members who were controlled by the British state.

    The odd aspect about the two murders is why the British state allowed PIRA to murder senior RUC officers when PIRA had only murdered RUC members of low rank prior to that. Was it because the two officers were protesting about a Garda mole that the FRU were de facto controlling via control of his controller?

    Incidentally, Lord Stevens was speaking as a witness to the Joint Committee on the Draft Detention of Terrorist Suspects (Temporary Extension) Bills when he let it slip that virtually all of the 203 people his enquiries arrested were state agents in loyalist murder gangs. That is where Hurst got the comment, as Clarke seems unaware of the source.

  • Alias

    “so I’l take Ingrams bean spilling with a pinch of salt”

    And with which savoury will you take Lord Stevens’ bean spilling?

    “We were over there during a period of time in what were very difficult circumstances, physically and mentally, when RUC superintendents would be blown to bits by cars, and we actually had some threats against us. Yes, the rule of law must appertain wherever you are and whatever you are doing, and that rule of law must be absolutely locked into and deal with the processes as they stand at that time. What I am saying is that certainly what we discovered—and some of it may never see the light of day, I don’t know — as we have 100 tonnes of documentation now over there — and that is not a matter for me, it is a matter for other people—is that there has to be a proper, transparent process and there has to be a meeting. There was the RUC, MI5 and the army doing different things. When you talk about intelligence, of the 210 people we arrested, only three were not agents. Some of them were agents for all four of those particular organisations, fighting against each other, doing things and making a large sum of money, which was all against the public interest and creating mayhem in Northern Ireland.”

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    The interesting thing for me is to try to get my head around what we mean by ‘agent’ – how under control could they be while retaining a credible double life – and what the intelligence services’ medium term strategy was. You can see short term it was very messy and long term there was a clean goal, but what was their strategy for getting there.

    There’s an implication in some of the posts above that the intelligence services were fully in control of everything the terrorists were doing during this period because they had these agents. But presumably they were building a network gradually with the ultimate goal of being able to stifle terrorist operations. To do that medium to long term, presumably they had to leave these agents in place in the short to medium term.

    I get all that. I think what’s less clear is (1) did the intelligence services have an end-game in mind and if so, how was this all to end? and (2) what level of penetration were they waiting to achieve before closing in? What would be concerning would be if the strategy was merely to contain the terrorists and effectively play to the “acceptable level of violence” analysis – that this was the best that could be hoped for.

    The other alternative is that the infiltration worked as planned – that the ceasefires and GFA came about as a direct result of the intelligence services’ work. Perhaps it will be some time before we know this. If this is what happened, perhaps we could then judge the “preventable” deaths that happened against the lives saved and come to some kind of judgment as to the morality of it all.

  • TwilightoftheProds


    Ha Ha!

    I’ll move straight on to humble pie and then my just desserts.

    I’ll believe Stevens on Loyalism certainly…whole team at work there. Re Ingram’s estimate -I’ve now read the statement to Smithwick – fascinating, terrifying, …just reluctant to pin everything on the one source. Habit of a lifetime. I’ll go ‘B2’ rather than A1 to borrow the jargon.

    But that is still pretty terrifying…although the reference to Corbett and Sooty and Sweep had me in kinks.

  • Cynic2

    “Wonder what the percentage was of r.u.c members who worked for the Provos”

    Probably very low. They had too much integrity.

    Well, you did ask (for it)!

  • Cynic2

    Can someone remind me of the huge numbers of these agents that Stephens actually prosecuted ie that he had evidence on. I don’t seem to remember the cases.

    Did the PPS quash them all on public interest grounds or was there evidence against them at all?

    The fact that he arrested people who were agents was one thing. What evidence he had that they committed serious crimes is another

  • Decimus

    Did the intelligence agency’s tactics in defeating terrorism work?

    Are hundreds of people alive today who might otherwise not have been because of their efforts?

    Is Northern Ireland now a better place because of what they did?

    Is the Pope a Catholic?

  • Mark

    Could the Intelligence services have stopped Le Mon , Enniskillen ….?

  • Decimus


    I very much doubt it. Could Martin McGuinness or Gerry Adams have stopped them?

  • Mark

    Well obviously not but they weren’t suppose to . Intel services were !

  • Jimmy Sands


    Is that supposed to be a different question?

  • Decimus


    An excellent point, but again one based on assumptions. I think that perhaps at this remove folks are adding two and two together and coming up with five.

    British intelligence, SB, FRU etc were well oiled machines by the late eighties and early nineties, but in the seventies they were finding their way and it was a hard way. The notion that they were running the Troubles is bollocks.

    By the end they had managed to place the right people in the right places in order to give the British government PIRA on a silver platter. That is something which saved countless lives and is to be applauded.

    International intelligence agencies will study their tactics in the future.

  • Decimus

    Well obviously not

    Such nonsense.

  • Alias

    “Are hundreds of people alive today who might otherwise not have been because of their efforts?”

    As it happens, the Stevens team answered that question too. Contrary to the propaganda, the answer was negative.

    The head of the FRU, Gordon Kerr, used that propaganda to get the only loyalist agent on his books, Brian Nelson, a lenient sentence at his trial for multiple murders that his agent organised after he was placed by the FRU into the role of the UDA’s director of intelligence. This is what he told Judge Kelly from the witness box:

    “There were several occasions when targets for assassination were brought to our notice by Brian Nelson. You wish me to quote statistics? In a period from 1985 to 1990, or up until his arrest, we produced on Brian Nelson’s information, something like 730 reports concerning threats to 217 separate individuals?”

    Lord Stevens had already informed Kerr that no lives were saved as a result of his activities, so Kerr knew that he was perjuring himself in proffering that propaganda to Judge Kelly for the express purpose of assisting a state agent to evade justice – an agent of the British state who organised an estimated 29 murderers for his employer.

    The perjury duly impressed the judge in passing a lenient sentence: “I give, of course, considerable weight to the fact that he passed on what was possibly life saving information in respect of 217 threatened individuals.”

    Nicholas Benwell of the Stevens team had this to say about Kerr’s perjury: “I was incredulous. It just wasn’t right, it wasn’t correct. Afterwards I went through all the documents I could only find maybe two cases where the information given by Nelson may have been helpful to the Security Forces in preventing attacks.”

    Clearly then, the state’s purpose in controlling the murder gangs was not connected to the purpose of saving life.

  • Well as Pete Paker would say:

    “Well he would say that, wouldn’t he…”

  • latcheeco

    The elephant in the room might suggest that there is a question mark over how and why the one (or was it two?) chuck who apparantly wasn’t a tout during this latter period of his organisation’s existence managed to arm and train himself better than he ever had been in forty years and become more technically and operationally efficient than he ever had been, despite the aforementioned Mr. Hurst & Co. clearly having sewn him up so badly that they claimed to know the chemical makeup of his urine because they had already removed some for forensic evidence.

  • Rory Carr

    What next? Revelations by republicans of IRA double-agents agreeing to recruitment by enemy intelligence agencies in order to plant misleading information and report back to IRA intelligence gleaned of enemy operational methods?

  • babyface finlayson

    It looks like that bus has finally arrived. Ding Ding.

  • lover not a fighter

    In fairness, the goings on in Ireland are/were complicated.

    Perhaps the “troubles” should have been called the “complications”.

    Unfortunately a lot of people died or were maimed during these complications.

    Could the “complications” not have come to a reasonable settlement sooner ?

    Sadly, it did’nt evolve that way or are we lucky that it was’nt even worse. Damn, complications.

  • OneNI

    “1) did the intelligence services have an end-game in mind and if so, how was this all to end?”
    The way it did?
    “and (2) what level of penetration were they waiting to achieve before closing in?”
    The level they achieved by 1998?

  • What on earth do you expect other than chaos and mayhem whenever you have muppets and puppets at the helm imagining that they are running things for the public good, whenever all that they are really doing is destroying any and all credibility in the systems which so foolishly support them without question.

    And things haven’t changed a jot over the years either, for today are there still the same sort of psychotic and paranoid intellectual pygmies heading up clueless fools in regimented agencies playing such idiotic games for the same failed and failing government and security systems ……. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/britains-new-year-resolution-intervene-in-somalia-6280391.html

    There are changes afoot though, and more para-virtualisation than para-military, that fortunately are able to address the problem without the need for the participation of such excess baggaged lightweights chasing resultant shadows rather curing root causes.

  • Cynic2

    “more para-virtualisation than para-military”

    Oh God. Do I need my tinfoil helmet for this one?

  • TwilightoftheProds


    Half of slugger has been popping on the tinfoil hat to evade the conspiracy of the ‘conflict resolutionists’ for a couple of years now, so we’d be in good company if we reached for the bacofoil.


    That’s what I don’t get about the Ingram/Hurst estimates. That doesn’t sit right. What does ‘half the officer class as agents’ translate as -half northern command? half the army council? Half of the officer class in east tyrone, south armagh? Never mind squeezing the IRA like toothpaste, they could have been rolled up into a little ball and flicked away if that was true. It didn’r happen like that.

    In partial support you could say that there might have been a very uneven geographic spread of touting in the latter stages of the troubles…urban areas realtively quiet-tyrone and armagh very bloody.

  • Cynic2

    “It didn’r happen like that.”

    that depends on the objective. Destroying PIRA would have just left a vacume to be filled by the dissers. The Brits needed a political solution so SF were the vehicle for that.

    Ourselves Alone – not quite – we had a little help

  • keano10

    The one in two leadership infiltration statistic is probably the hardest to justify when one examines the scale and organisation of attacks even in the six year period leading up to The Agreement in 1994, when the march towards peace was at the summit of most agenda’s.

    If it is claimed that many lives were potentially saved, then one could also point out that many lives were also lost. Perhaps way too many, if the 50% command infiltration is to be believed. It seems that at least some of Ingram’s claims are part of the ongoing propoganda war which has now evolved into a revisionist war. We see the revisionist conflict being played out daily here on Slugger…

    As also alluded to in the piece, the intelligence war worked both ways and the scale of Republican infiltration in many areas of the government and establishment within the North is also recognised here, but curiously the exact suspected numbers are not even alluded to. That in itself, probabaly tells it own story.

  • 241934 john brennan

    It has been quite obvious for quite some time that many senior PIRA people were/are working hand in glove with RUC/PSNI and MI5.

    Reminiscent of the old joke – Patrick Fitzgerald and Gerald Fitzpatrick.

    The only openly unanswered question – what did “Half of IRA leadership” get out of it?

    The obvious answer is: A get out of jail free card.

    The icing on the cake is pensionable jobs in government and cushy community jobs , conflict resolution posts etc

    So what about the poor proles? Let them eat cake – if any crumbs are left.

    And everyone lived happily ever afterwards

  • Is the term ‘intelligence services’ something of a misnomer?

    To get to the point, Miss O’Brien,” he said, “Whitehall is now so worried (about leaks) that they are going to send the vital information necessary for running this outpost of our Empire in code, and we have decided, because of your dedication… that you will be the person to decode all of these messages.” Nancy had done such a good job the British were promoting her to decode all of their secret messages, completely unaware that everything she typed went directly to her second cousin, Michael Collins. .. Spying for Ireland.

    Presumably our public services are still leaking like a sieve – deliberately or through incompetence – when it comes to the protection of personal data. I occasionally solicit documents under the Freedom of Information banner and I’ve redacted such data – eg addresses and phone numbers – prior to publishing on NALIL blog.

  • “more para-virtualisation than para-military”

    Oh God. Do I need my tinfoil helmet for this one? ….. Cynic2 22 December 2011 at 9:25 am

    Just keeping you abreast of the novel AIMethodologies now freely available to SMART Forces to counter both primitive and dissident threats which challenge those with precious little and not much else either between the ears and who would also be stuck in a rut and the past, Cynic2.

    There’s a lot to learn today if you want to be in any way concerned with steering the future in a specific direction.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Yes I tend towards that explanation too – that the infiltration basically worked in screwing up the terrorist machine. But I think we’ll never know, as I doubt Republican pride or ideology would ever allow them to corroborate such an explanation.

  • Alias

    Incidentally, a few days after Ian Hurst’s statement to the Smithwick Tribunal first appeared on the Internet on the 10th of September, the Tribunal released this statement: “Any material published relating to Ian Hurst did not emanate from the tribunal, and it is our policy that any comment would be inappropriate pending the completion of public hearings.”

    The leak of the statement is significant because it violates the terms of the variation of the ‘gagging order’ imposed on Mr Hurst by the High Court in London which prevents him from revealing information about his military service.

    This Order was variated by the High Court in January to allow Mr Hurst to meet with members of the Tribunal’s legal team for (a) the purpose of determining if he had any information relevant to its terms of reference, and (b) on the absolute condition that any information he provided during that meeting relevent to its terms of reference would not be provided by that team to any party other than Peter Smithwick.

    The Tribunal later requested a second variation of the Order to allow it to persue lines of enquiry opened up to it by Mr Hurst. That variation was granted in April, and Mr Hurst submitted his statement (which may or may not be this leaked statement) to the Tribunal in June.

    It looks like the leak of the statement has the prupose of undermining the disposition of the High Court to grant further variations of ‘gagging orders’ that are imposed on members of the British army, either on Mr Hurst or other parties. The High Court can not now be assured that the Tribunal can guarantee that any condition of confidentiality that the High Court imposes on information provided to the Tribunal can be met by the Tribunal.

    It is obvious that the Tribunal should seek to distance itself from the leak of the document, but less obvious is that such distancing is an ineffective means of damage limitation. Even if Hurst leaked it, the damage is done to the liklihood of securing further variations.

    A thrid Variation Order would have been required to allow Mr Hurst to give evidence to the Tribunal.

    The Tribunal, acting on the statement, has requested to interview two people outside of its jurisdiction and has also requested documents from the British Ministry of Defence.

    Since we know that one of the two people is the long-term British agent who controlled PIRA’s internal/security unit, the other is highly like to be his FRU handler. How likely is it that this handler will be allowed to give evidence now that the High Court would be concerned about leaks?

  • Alias

    A bit of clarity: “Since we know that one of the two people is the long-term British agent who controlled PIRA’s internal security/intelligence unit, Freddie Scapitticci, the other is highly like to be his FRU handler, David Moyles.”

  • Cynic2

    “There’s a lot to learn today if you want to be in any way concerned with steering the future in a specific direction”

    Alternatively you could just take them down the pub and buy them drink

  • There’s a lot to learn today if you want to be in any way concerned with steering the future in a specific direction

    Alternatively you could just take them down the pub and buy them drink …. Cynic2 22 December 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Indeed so, Cynic2, and a much preferred and appreciated and simply sophisticated way of doing real business with true natives. Mine’s a pint, what yours?

  • Mary Anna

    _____ Tree Hugger_______ fisher man______ I rest my case! There all in it together_________ sink or swin. Its funny that so many informers were shot to protect the godfathers______ Frank Hegarty knew to much so they got rid of him!

  • Decimus

    “Are hundreds of people alive today who might otherwise not have been because of their efforts?”

    As it happens, the Stevens team answered that question too. Contrary to the propaganda, the answer was negative.


    They were not counting the people who are alive today post 97 who would not have been if the special forces, secret services and security forces had not defeated PIRA.