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British bugged Ahern and Reynolds

Successive Irish premiers, government ministers and senior civil servants had their communications bugged by Britain’s secret intelligence services.

Two former Taoisigh have now spoken publicly for the first time about how they employed diversionary tactics when using phones to call British prime ministers.

The Irish Independent has learned that former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds knew that his phones were bugged when he was working on Northern Ireland’s peace process.

Speaking about his experience publicly for the first time, Mr Reynolds said that the question of phone bugging arose when he was speaking to former British Prime Minister John Major.

Mr Reynolds played a key role in securing the IRA ceasefire in 1994 when Mr Major was British prime minister. “It was often John Major who would suggest calling him on a secure number and me not addressing anything sensitive from my office or mobile phone,” Mr Reynolds said.

Bertie Ahern said that he developed a secret system with Tony Blair to prevent Britain’s internal security service MI5 and senior officials in Downing Street monitoring their phone calls.

The revelation comes in tonight’s instalment of RTE’s Bertie series when Mr Ahern talks about how he and Mr Blair secured the historic peace deal 10 years ago. Mr Ahern says: “The British tape everything, which is not our culture. You can be sure when you are talking to the British prime minister that, if it is not being taped by his office, MI5 are.”

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