26 February 2006

Loyalism - infiltrated to the core

Sunday Life

Alan Murray
26 February 2006

The unmasking of John White as a Special Branch agent underlines just how deeply loyalist terrorists were penetrated by the intelligence services.

Reliable sources have suggested that murdered east Belfast UDA boss JIM GRAY was also a Branch agent.

One security source said 'Doris Day' was "extremely difficult to handle" because his drug habit made him volatile.

Some loyalist informants like the first 'supergrass' witnesses in the early 1980s - JOSEPH BENNETT, CLIFFORD McKEOWN and WILLIAM 'Budgie' ALLEN provided information to save their own skins when they faced charges.

Many others were compromised and "persuaded" to help after they committed minor offences, or because they held grudges against associates.

One former Special Branch officer who handled a number of agents said blackmail or threats were not the favoured method of recruitment.

"Many did it simply for the money, although the Branch could never match the cash the Army's Force Research Unit or MI5 could provide. But we did recruit many top informants and they contributed to the defeat of terrorism," he said.

But he was scathing about the disclosure that White had worked for the Branch since 1994.

"Whoever disclosed that to the media is an absolute moral and professional disgrace and should hang his head in shame.

"I would suspect that the character who did it didn't serve in the Special Branch for all his career, but was seconded, learned some secrets, and is now prepared to trade them for cash, or ramble about them in his cups."

White follows a long line of UDA terrorists who became moles and were then unmasked.

The most notorious, BRIAN NELSON, an agent for the FRU, which allowed him to plot many terrorist attacks before his involvement in the murder of Pat Finucane in 1989 provoked the Stevens Inquiry.

Nelson died in Wales after his release from jail, but fellow UDA informer WILLIAM STOBIE was murdered by the terror group in 2000 after calling for an independent inquiry into the Finucane murder.

Another informant killed by the UDA was notorious racketeer JIM CRAIG who provided details on loyalist terrorists to both the IRA and RUC. He was shot dead months after UDA leader John McMichael was killed by an IRA under-car bomb in 1987.

Fellow UDA leader TOMMY 'Tucker' LYTTLE was was also branded an informer after his death.

In the ranks of the UVF, the most recent allegations concern North Belfast loyalist MARK HADDOCK, who was named as a Special Branch agent in the Dail by TD Pat Rabbitte.

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