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20 March 1997 Edition

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MI5 in sophisticated recruitment attempt

A County Armagh man who has admitted that he worked for British intelligence for two years while living in London has been ordered by the IRA to leave the Six Counties.

In a statement released to AP/RN the IRA has confirmed that former Sinn Fein councillor Seamy Harte from Armagh City has been expelled from the Six Counties and reiterated their position that informers who come forward and admit to their actions will not be executed.

Seamy Harte, an ex-POW and former Sinn Fein councillor who left Sinn Fein some years ago went to London in 1994 and got into serious debt. According to the IRA Harte said he was approached, while in a pub, by a businessman with an Australian accent calling himself John. John said he was putting package tours together and needed help in piecing it together and asked Harte if he would be interested in checking out bars and restaraunts around London. Harte agreed to show John around and was paid for his work. This occured in 1995.

John then said he had ideas for package tours to Ireland asked Harte to work on this. Harte then travelled to Ireland for two trips to Belfast, Derry, the Antrim Glens and Newgrange and put some details together.

When Harte next met John he said that the man who financed the operation was living in Strasbourg and they would have to go there and meet him, which they did. This man was called Peter.

Peter claimed to work for a multinational company that was considering investing in the Armagh area and needed insights into the North of Ireland before committing itself to the investment. Harte was asked to provide these insights which he agreed to do and was paid for this work.

At a later meeting with John, Harte was told Peter's company needed a good overall view of the political situation in Ireland which he again was asked to provide. Harte was then asked to solicit the views of named republican activists on the state of the IRA ceassation and he travelled to Ireland and met republicans he knew in Armagh, Tyrone, Dundalk and Belfast. While here he tried to elicit information and profiled a number of IRA members for his handlers.

The IRA named Harte's MI5 contacts as John, Peter and Christine and say he was given a mobile phone and telephone numbers for contact and say that over a two year period Harte met with his handlers at least 30 times and stayed overnight in hotels in Strasbourg, Luxembourg, Barcelona, Nice and Milan. Initially when Harte became suspicious he thought they wanted generalised information and agreed to go along with it as the money would solve his debt problems. As his involvment became deeper and deeper and the information they wanted became more specific Harte became scared of the consequences for himself if his activities were discovered, so he came forward to the IRA.

The text of the IRA statement is: ``We confirm that Seamus Harte from Armagh City has been ordered to leave the Six Counties. Harte has admitted working for MI5 for a period of two years while living and working in London. On the instructions of his handlers he travelled periodically to Ireland, gathered information on republican activists and passed it to MI5 at secret meetings in London and other European cities. He was paid sums of money at regular intervals for this information. While the information passed on was essentially political this was nonetheless a sophisticated intelligence gathering operation. Clearly British intelligence had much wider expectations from their manipulation and use of Harte in the longer term. Had Harte not come forward when he did the information he was gathering and passed on would have eventually led to the death of IRA Volunteers. We take this opportunity to reiterate our position that anyone who comes forward and admits their involvment with British intelligence will not be executed''.
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