They just got a different tool to use than we do: They kill innocent lives to achieve objectives. That's what they do. And they're good. They get on the TV screens and they get people to ask questions about, well, you know, this, that or the other. I mean, they're able to kind of say to people: Don't come and bother us, because we will kill you. Bush - Joint News Conference with Blair - 28 July '06

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Martin Ingram stands by McGuinness spy claim

Belfast Telegraph - Martin Ingram

Sources say a lot of things. In the Belfast Telegraph on Monday, Brian Rowan quoted political sources as saying a Government probe had found that Martin McGuinness was not a British spy.

As the person telling the other side of the story I have to differ. Brian is a respected journalist and I have no doubt he is accurately reporting what his sources tell him.

But they would say that wouldn't they? Could a political source confirm whether a person is an agent? Could the source be Sinn Fein? If it is, what they're saying is hardly credible. Could it be a Minister of State? Surely not a civil servant?

Cast your mind back a few years to the exposure of Freddie Scappaticci, an event I played a role in. At the time, political and security sources were dismissive about his role - yet the same sources who are dismissive of McGuinness today are now prepared to confirm both Scappaticci's and Denis Donaldson's roles as agents.

The same sources who brief against the McGuinness allegations today also briefed in secret that Stake Knife had been spirited out of Northern Ireland and was safe. Today we know these stories were lies, designed to deflect attention from the real villains.

The agent was relaxed at home in comfort, enjoying the protection of Sinn Fein and, of course, the British Government. It seems some things never change.

I have a pretty good record on these things. And it's not as if I've previously gone out of my way to attack McGuinness. The evidence I gave to the Saville Inquiry three years ago - relying on my time as an Army intelligence operative in Derry - cleared him of being the gunman who fired the first shot on Bloody Sunday.

During that testimony, the inquiry kept reminding me not to name any agents. A policeman was sitting about three feet away from me. I'm sure they were afraid I was going to identify McGuinness at that stage.

The thing is I had suspicions about McGuinness being an agent at that stage, but I didn't see the proof until about two years ago. That's when I was given the transcript of Agent J118 talking to his handlers.

It's true the document doesn't name McGuinness as Agent J118, but my sources have confirmed that's him. I trust my sources, because the information fits.

We're back to relying on sources, but from what I'm being told by republicans, they are investigating McGuinness and consider it a genuine document. And the document is only one strand of it. The fact is that Martin McGuinness is a protected species.

The Government has for some time argued in public and in private to journalists that Martin McGuinness is a real hardline IRA activist who constantly requires reassurance that the political process can deliver real changes, the thrust of the argument being his standing as a military hawk within the IRA.

That doesn't hold up, and republicans know this. McGuinness has no real military credentials and to argue otherwise is simply wrong. Jim Cusack in this paper last week made the very valid point about him winding Derry down to a mute IRA threat well before the peace process took hold. Read more

Mick Hall in The Blanket advises caution regarding Ingram's allegations - whilst not being a great fan of McGuinness himself.