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Worms are waiting to crawl out of the can

The Haggarty case threatens to open up another can of worms. What we are beginning to read is an ugly chapter in the dirty war in which pages turn long after the ceasefires and then the historic political agreement on 1998.

And, this time, unlike other times such as military intelligence's handling of Brian Nelson inside the UDA or 'Stakeknife' inside the IRA, this is about the police, about Special Branch and their use of a covert human intelligence source inside the UVF.

He is one of many such sources. And this agent faces a record 200-plus charges. When Haggarty is scrutinised so too will the Special Branch.

The questions in this case are not just about the individuals involved. This will stretch into a much wider frame.

The IRA did not disappear with the ceasefires or the political agreements, and nor did the UDA or the UVF. And the dirty war continued with all its trickery and 'spookery'. Inside each of those charges that Haggarty faces is a much bigger story - more people, more names.

And the worms are waiting to crawl out of another can.

As this story develops, watch how it weaves in and out of the loyalist underworld and the Special Branch. See what happens and doesn't happen.

And, then remember a quote from the late David Ervine - a one-time UVF member who became a Stormont politician. He said it wasn't a dirty war. It was stinking.

Belfast Telegraph