UK agents 'did have role in IRA bomb atrocities'
Henry McDonald / London Observer | September 11 2006
The controversy over claims that Britain allowed two IRA informers to organise 'human bomb' attacks intensified this weekend.
A human rights watchdog has handed a report to the Police Service of Northern Ireland, which concludes that two British agents were central to the bombings of three army border installations in 1990.
Meanwhile the Police Ombudsman's Office in Belfast confirmed it is investigating allegations by the family of one victim that the bomb in Newry on 24 October 1990 could have been prevented.
The British Irish Rights Watch report will also put the focus back on the alleged MI6 agent 'J118'. Army intelligence officer turned whistleblower Martin Ingram has alleged 'J118' was Sinn Fein's chief negotiator Martin McGuinnesss.
The Mid Ulster MP strenuously denies Ingram's allegations and has claimed the speculation is fuelled by the Democratic Unionist Party.
The 'human bomb' tactic involved forcing civilians to drive vehicles laden with explosives into army checkpoints and included deadly sorties near Newry and Coshquin outside Derry. Six British soldiers and a civilian worker at an army base died in the simultaneous blasts on either side of Northern Ireland.
British Irish Rights Watch said: 'This month BIRW sent a confidential report to the Historical Enquiries Team on the three incidents that occurred on 24th October 1990... at least two security force agents were involved in these bombings, and allegations have been made that the "human bomb" strategy was the brainchild of British intelligence.
'Questions arise as to whether the RUC, Garda Síochána and the army's Force Research Unit had prior and/or subsequent intelligence about the bombings. These questions in turn lead to concerns about whether these attacks could have been prevented and why no one has been brought to justice.'
Although British Irish Rights Watch has made no reference to the identities of the informers they allege were involved in the 'human bomb' plot, the group's intervention in the controversy is a significant development.
The group has issued several detailed reports previously outlining cases of collusion between loyalist terrorists and the security forces. These include the Pat Finucane murder and the killing of Raymond McCord Jr by the Ulster Volunteer Force. In both cases, British Irish Rights Watch claim many of the loyalists involved in these murders were agents for the security forces - allegations that were later substantiated.
Speaking from a secret location in Europe this weekend, Ingram (not his real name) said that while the latest report was not decisive proof over his claims about 'J1118', it raised questions about the role of informers in the 'human bomb' killings.
'This report from a very credible source brings up the question of informers working at the top tier of the IRA who were allowed to commit crimes up to murder while working for the state. 'I stand by what I have said in the past about "J118" and challenge anyone to debate it with me in a public forum.'
Ingram, a former NCO with the army's highly secretive Force Research Unit, said he was prepared to expose his own identity in public in any such debate.
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