29 January 1998 Edition
IRA intercepts British Intelligence documents
British spies operating in 26 Counties
British Intelligence documents which have been intercepted by the IRA show that British soldiers have recently been operating in the 26 Counties. They also show that at no time did British forces call a ceasefire. Indeed, within weeks of the IRA's 1994 cessation, Britain was upgrading its Intelligence war against republicans.
The documents were the property of Sergeant RA Davies from the Intelligence section of the Welsh Guards, who was based in Bessbrook Barracks in South Armagh until recently. They contain personal details of a number of people from the South Armagh/North Louth areas, including information on Pat McNamee, a Sinn Féin Councillor and negotiator at the multi-party talks. Maps and aerial photographs pinpointing the people's homes were also among the documents intercepted.
Pat McNamee described the documents as ``very worrying''. He said: ``Given the history of collusion between British forces and loyalist killers, there is obvious concern that this material could have fallen into the hands of loyalists. If it had found its way to loyalists - either deliberately or accidentally - it would be a ready-made kit to bring killers to people's doors.''
The Sinn Féin talks negotiator said the material had obviously been compiled in recent months. ``This calls into question the commitment of the British government to the peace process,'' he said. ``There is a clear lack of goodwill. It shows once more that the only armed group on ceasefire is the IRA.''
Intercepted along with the information on individuals were training manuals and documents explaining procedures for intelligence operatives in the border area. They show that in October 1994, a matter of weeks after the IRA cessation of August 1994, British Intelligence was stepping up its war against the nationalist community.
One of the manuals - titled ``Operational Intelligence Aide Memoire'' for Intelligence Corps operators - outlines the basic modus operandi for British spies in the field. It describes the main intelligence databases used in the Six Counties. They are CRUCIBLE, for general purpose intelligence and VENGEFUL, for vehicle intelligence.
The operation of the VENGEFUL system is outlined in a separate manual, complete with the classified callsigns for various areas in the Six Counties. The computerised system classifies suspect vehicles into a number of categories. These are shown below.
Among the material intercepted were a number of encoded computer disks. The IRA is currently trying to access these disks, which are thought to contain further classified intelligence information.
This large haul of documents is sure to be an embarrassment to the British Army. They expose the range of intelligence operations in the South Armagh/North Louth area, as well as proving that British forces regularly enter the 26 Counties on intelligence-gathering missions. They also contain a mass of detailed information on Britain's covert war in Ireland. But what will be of political significance is that the documents prove that Britain never called a ceasefire. While republicans have been engaged in a genuine search for peace, Britain has prosecuted war relentlessly.