23 October 1997 Edition
£5000 to become informer
In a concerted attempt to recruit informers the RUC in Lurgan have offered cash inducements to each of six Lurgan men who were arrested in the past two weeks. One man was told by a plainclothes RUC man, ``there's an open wallet, money is no obstacle''. He then offerred him £5,000 to supply information about republicans from the Kilwilkie area. This man also believed the RUC were following him as he spotted two men watching him as he collected his girlfriend from work the week before he was arrested.
The six were arrested in two batches of three and told they were to be questioned about rioting and hi-jacking in the town during July after the Garvaghy Road crisis, however none was actually questioned about this during the 36 hours they were in custody. All were offered cash to work for the RUC, or as one Branchman put it, ``to help us''.
One 19 year old was offered £1,000 but the RUC said he could only collect the money after he supplied information.
The RUC threatened one man within minutes of offering him money, ``you'll be getting into your car one day with your wife and two kids and you'll all be blown to bits'', he was warned.
Sinn Fein councillor John O'Dowd said he has been inundated with complaints from local people about the behaviour of the crown forces in the area in the past month. He added, ``these attempts to recruit informers are sinister in the extreme. People should be aware it's happening and should they be approached in this way be sure to contact a solicitor, councillor or priest to highlight the incident. It needs to be exposed''.
South Belfast Sinn Féin Councillor Sean Hayes has disclosed that two of his constituents were approached by the RUC last week to work as informers.
He said, ``a young man was pressurised by the RUC to spy on republicans using the Sinn Fein advice centre on the Lower Ormeau Road. He was also offered money.''
He continued, ``another man travelling from Short Strand to Liverpool for a soccer match was also approached to act as an informer.''
Hayes pointed out that ``these attempts to coerce people into informing, the continued saturation of nationalist areas by the British Army and RUC, raids on homes, harassment of people, the reinforcement and fortification of military bases and the continuing military agenda are in stark contrast to the Mitchel principles that the British government signed up to.''
RUC trawl North Belfast for informers
By Mick Naughton
The RUC tactic of trying to recruit informers was again exposed this week in North Belfast.
Sinn Féin Councillors Paddy McManus, Mick Conlon, Bobby Lavery and Danny Lavery have all documented details of approaches over the past four weeks and have urged anyone approached to contact their local office, priest or lawyer if worried about being targeted by the RUC. As part of their budget the RUC are having to justify a `slush fund' for informers and have recently been extremely active in ensuring this money is kept at its existing high level.
20 year old Gary Hutchinson from the New Lodge Road area told An Phoblacht on Wednesday of his ordeal at the hands of his RUC persecutors.
``A few weeks ago the RUC stopped me on the Woodvale Road, which is a loyalist area. They began to caution me regarding minor traffic offences and told me someone would `be in touch soon'.
One of them signed a form under the name of a Constable Finley of Oldpark RUC barracks. He then gave me a ``producer'' to give into Oldpark barracks within seven days.
``I phoned up looking an extension while my insurance agency provided me with up-to-date documents and the RUC must have got my telephone number by using the 1471 British Telecom system. Meantime I was facing rioting charges regarding trouble in the area in July.
``The phone rang last Monday night, and a voice said, `this is Antrim Road RUC. Regarding your court case, we can sort all that out, as well as the motoring charges. Gary, we can get all this forgotten about. My name by the way is `Constable Brian'. Can you talk OK? Is anyone sitting there with you?'
``I told him to go away and I was going to see my lawyer who has since told me he knows no RUC member in that barracks by that name.''
More worrying for the Hutchinson family is the fact that just the next day his partner spotted a red car parked in Spamount Street containing two uniformed RUC men and three in plain clothes. She was then followed with her children down to Donegall Street and Upper Library Street. From that incident earlier this week their phone has been ringing in the early hours but no one answers, yet Gary Hutchinson is convinced it is `Constable Brian' probably using a mobile phone as he cannot get the number from BT.
``I am asking the RUC Chief Constable is he aware of his forces' activities and their sinister threats about loyalists killing me and my family and their intention to mark me out as a possible undercover agent. With an IRA ceasefire in place I would have thought this harassment would have ended. Obviously the RUC are still on a war footing and as out of control as they ever were.''