20 January 2005 Edition

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Fermanagh nationalist exposes British agents

Thomas O'Reilly with the young man who was pressured by MI5 to become an informer

Thomas O'Reilly with the young man who was pressured by MI5 to become an informer

A County Fermanagh nationalist who was targeted by MI5 agents in a 14-month long campaign to recruit him as an informer suffered a nervous breakdown and ended up being treated for depression. He also lost his job as a result of the recruitment campaign.

The man, who is in his late 20s, was initially approached by two men posing as music promoters in a bar along the Fermanagh/Monaghan border where he worked. This was at the end of 2003.

The agents, calling themselves Mick and Al, invited the man to a meeting in the Europa Hotel in Belfast, ostensibly to finalise details of bookings. Instead, they gave him a mobile phone and asked him "to keep his eyes and ears open" and to watch local republicans who frequented the bar.

At another meeting, involving different agents, a gun was placed on a table in front of the man. "I was afraid for my life," he said.

In all, the young man was involved in 15 meetings before the pressure told on his health and he contacted Sinn Féin MLA Thomas O'Reilly to expose the plot to recruit him.

On another occasion, the man was contacted by a second team of MI5 spies who arranged to meet him on the Irvinestown Road out of Roslea. These men introduced themselves as Dave and Sandy.

The man was put into the middle car of a three-vehicle convoy of unmarked cars. He said he was driven around for a while before they transferred him to a blacked out van. "I didn't know where I was being taken," he said.

Eventually the van stopped and the man heard the sound of hydraulic gates, of the type found at British Army or PSNI installations, being opened.

He was taken out and brought into a room that had been laid out to resemble a typical living room.

The agent called Dave came into the room and during the conversation drew his pistol from a shoulder holster and set it on the table between them.

Dave told the man 'they' needed people like him to keep them informed of what's happening out in the streets because it was the only way to help the peace process.

That meeting was the second last the man had with the MI5 agents. After the last meeting at the end of November, he contacted Sinn Féin to expose the plot to recruit him.

Since then the man said he hasn't stopped worrying about his predicament.

The man also saw his doctor, who immediately hospitalised him in the psychiatric unit of the local hospital, where he was treated for a nervous breakdown and depression

O'Reilly criticised the hypocrisy of the British Government, "who on the one hand are calling on republicans to pursue their objectives using purely peaceful methods yet they themselves are allowing their securocrats to terrorise young nationalists.

"This young man found himself in a very scary and worrying position, which is having a detrimental effect on his health," he said.

"He has been in contact with a solicitor and we will be asking the Police Ombudsman's Office to launch an investigation into the sinister tactics employed by British securocrats against the nationalist community in County Fermanagh."

O'Reilly urged anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation to contact any member of Sinn Féin or a solicitor.


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