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Declassified files link CIA to IRA gun running

By Nicola Anderson

The CIA kept silent on explosive allegations that they were involved in gun running to the IRA during the Troubles, declassified intelligence files have revealed.

The concerns were raised in a letter to the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from a congressman who warned the organisation to "speak out vehemently", or risk other criminal and terrorist organisations "finding cover under the CIA umbrella".

It followed the 1982 trial of five self-confessed IRA gun smugglers - including Michael Flannery, the 80-year-old founder of Noraid - found not guilty of transporting an arsenal of weapons and ammo into Northern Ireland.

The five claimed they bought the arms from an arms dealer, who was an undercover CIA agent.

The CIA, with a licence to export weapons, had aided their operation in order to monitor the flow of arms to Ireland and prevent the IRA from turning to the Soviet Union for arms, the defence claimed.

It was a defence the jury found credible - with a female juror telling Press they "firmly believed" the operation could not have continued without government sanction.

The letter from Benjamin A Gilman to William J Casey, Director of the CIA, dated November 1982, was contained along with press reports of the trial in a cache of some 13 million pages of documents declassified by the CIA and released on their website.

The move came after lengthy efforts from freedom of information campaigners and a lawsuit against the CIA which culminated in the agency finally releasing the archive.

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