Belfast Telegraph

Met Police infiltrated Northern Ireland civil rights groups and Sinn Fein, inquiry hears

By Allan Preston

A spy from the Metropolitan Police infiltrated the civil rights movement and Sinn Fein during the Troubles, an inquiry has heard.

The Times newspaper reported that between 1968 and 1974 a now deceased undercover agent known as Sean Lynch was understood to have targeted the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (Nicra), the Irish Civil Rights Solidarity Campaign, the Vietnam Solidarity campaign and Sinn Fein in London.

This meant he was operating at the same time as Bloody Sunday in 1972 when 14 civilans were shot dead by paratroopers at a civil rights demonstration in Londonderry.

A second spy from the Met's Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), known as Alex Sloan, was ordered to target the Irish National Liberation Solidarity Front in the early 1970s.The revelations emerged as part of the Government's Pitchford Inquiry, which is examining the role of undercover police officers in England and Wales since 1968.

The major review was ordered in 2015 after it emerged a number of undercover officers had relationships, and even children, with their targets. There habe now been renewed calls to extend the inquiry to include undercover officers in Northern Ireland.

Darragh Mackin from KRW Law in Belfast is bringing a judicial review to have such an extension granted.

"The time period of 1968 to 1974 falls squarely into the time that Nicra had organised the Bloody Sunday march," he told The Times.

"This is an element of undercover work that has fallen completely under the radar, no one has ever known about it.

"The legacy investigations into the Troubles have been effectively operating with one eye closed."

He said SDS's work here could have implications for other legacy investigations, including the Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday.

KRW Law is seeking the review on behalf of Jason Kirkpatrick, an activist whose group was infiltrated by another undercover officer during the 2000s.

Mr Mackin said: "With these fresh revelations it is clear that an arbitrarily limited inquiry that fails to take account of operations by their undercover police in Northern Ireland is nothing short of a whitewash."

Last year the Metropolitan Police was asked if its officers had acted as "agent provocateurs" during the Troubles.

The inquiry also heard that the Metropolitan Police contacted the family of a Troubles murder victim to tell them its officers attended a related protest.

It had also intended to contact another family for a similar reason.

A further concern was raised that undercover officers had been acting without the sanction or knowledge of the RUC.

In 2016 it emerged that SDS officers had been operating here without the knowledge of local police during the 1990s.

Former Stormont Justice Minister Claire Sugden has already backed extending the inquiry to Northern Ireland.

Last year she said the intelligence the officers gathered and their own actions could have a ripple effect for other legacy investigations.

Belfast Telegraph

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