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Terrorists, not security agents, the real culprits

Published 02/12/2015

The debate around high-level informants in both republican and loyalist paramilitary organisations raises a number of issues.

I'm told by senior police officers that, by the late 1980s, a high percentage of planned attacks were being foiled, which suggests that the level of intelligence was of high quality.

If Stakeknife was in place, we need to bear in mind how many lives he may have saved, whatever the motivation. Similarly, he and other informers took risks which eventually contributed to paramilitaries taking a peaceful path.

The republican movement in particular finds it hard to accept that its actions were frustrated by intelligence. Perhaps their anger stems from not being able to kill even more people, although they did manage to murder some 2,000 and maim many more.

It's understandable that a team is put in place to investigate Stakeknife's existence and activities. However, if such an agent was responsible for around 50 murders, the IRA army council was certainly culpable, whether security force handlers share any of the responsibility or not.


Holywood, Co Down

Belfast Telegraph

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