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Intelligence failures led to deaths of informers

Investigators working on the Operation Kenova inquiry identified a number of examples where IRA informers were killed because of failings by British Army handlers and RUC Special Branch.

One concerns an IRA member who was interrogated for a number of days before being shot, despite the security forces knowing where he was being held.

The report says the British Army gave RUC Special Branch details of the address where the man was being held and the identities of those conducting the interrogation.

But it says Special Branch did not pass the intelligence on to investigators “in an apparent attempt to protect the source of the information”.

The report also reveals that police failed to inform the family of a man abducted by the IRA that he had been murdered within days of his disappearance, with the result that they spent years searching for him with no idea what had happened.

“They did not inform his family,” it says.

“They made no efforts to find him. The RUC did not carry out a murder investigation.”

In another case, the security forces failed to properly warn an agent that they had been compromised and that the IRA knew he was working as an agent.

They did not tell the agent “and simply advised him that PIRA might be on the lookout for agents and he should be vigilant and take suitable precautions. PIRA subsequently abducted and murdered this agent”.

The report also gives an example of an occasion when RUC Special Branch prevented detectives investigating the murder of an alleged IRA agent from conducting a proper search of an address he had been observed entering shortly before his murder.

“Decisions of this kind, preventing searches and other investigative steps from taking place, were made to protect and maintain sources of intelligence at the expense of recovering evidence which could have allowed the prosecution of those responsible for murder,” it states.

There are also examples of instances when IRA members were identified as agents and killed as the result of actions by their handlers.

In one case the report says an agent handler “visited an agent at an inadvisable and indiscreet location” which aroused the suspicions of the IRA’s internal security unit.

The agent was later abducted and murdered.

Read more: A British agent inside the IRA: Who was Freddie Scappaticci?

Operation Kenova: Shadowy world of intelligence and the ‘Dirty War’

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