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7 August 2003 Edition

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Belfast journalist rejects 'spy' claim

BY LAURA FRIEL

The editor of North Belfast News, Seán Mag Uidhir, has rejected allegations by British agent known as Kevin Fulton who has claimed that Mag Uidhir acted as an informer. The republican former prisoner angrily dismissed Fulton's allegations as "complete rubbish" and said that his solicitor would be issuing writs against the Sunday tabloids that carried the claims. Fulton is currently in dispute with his spymasters in the British MoD and has threatened on a number of occasions to reveal the identity of other agents if he does not receive the payment and resettlement package he feels he is due.

In May, Fulton named another Belfast man as 'Stakeknife' claimed to be the British Army's most senior mole at the heart of the IRA. His latest allegation appeared on a US-based website last weekend and was reported in a number of Sunday newspapers.

But the journalist named on the site has described Fulton as "a self-confessed liar" and dismissed the accusation as "totally scurrilous". Mag Uidhir said he was "very angry at being dragged into this" and accused Fulton of "putting myself and my family at risk".

The allegation has been greeted with deep scepticism within Belfast. North Belfast parish priest Fr Aiden Troy slammed the murky world of informers for allowing faceless agents to make unfounded allegations.

"I know Sean very well and my sympathy goes out to his family and friends at what must be a terrible time," said Fr Troy.

Andersonstown News Group editor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, of which North Belfast News is a part, said the paper would be throwing all its resources behind Seán Mag Uidhir in whatever steps he deems necessary to vindicate his reputation.

Local Sinn Féin Councillor Gerard Brophy insisted money was Fulton's motive. "Fulton is embroiled in a row with the MoD over cash and he will stop at nothing to line his own pockets, including claiming honest men as British agents," said Brophy.

Sinn Féin Vice President Pat Doherty said the allegations were "the latest in what is a British securocrat strategy of misinformation aimed at damaging the republican constituency and undermining the peace process.

"Mr Mag Uidhir has categorically refuted these allegations, which come from the same people who killed Pat Finucane, who armed the loyalist death squads, who continue to target ands gather intelligence, who at the most sensitive points in the peace in the peace process maliciously brief and leak misinformation to create crises and bolter anti-Agreement elements."

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said the media had a responsibility to stand up for individuals and the British government had a responsibility to take control of their own securocrats, spooks and spies and those who spin in order to cause confusion and disinformation.

"There is nothing I can think of more insulting, dangerous or more annoying for an Irish person, never mind a republican or a nationalist, than to be accused of acting as a spy for British Intelligence," said the Sinn Féin president.

"I know Seán Mag Uidhir as an outstanding champion of the Irish language and as someone who has done great work for the community through his role as the editor of the North Belfast News."

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