13 May 1999 Edition
MI5 target North Belfast man
Ardoyne man Gerard Martin, in a brave move, came forward at a press conference on Friday 7 May, to publicly highlight the actions of British undercover agents from MI5, who in a prolonged seven-month recruitment attempt threatened to kill him.
The two British agents, who identified themselves as Ian and Jim, threatened to kill him by way of a road accident or a drugs overdose after Martin had refused to cooperate with them when they finally `got down to business' in an Enniskillen hotel on 21 April after nearly seven months of employing him as a taxi driver. The two MI5 agents also told Martin that the ``peace process was going down the tubes''.
Speaking at the press conference, North Belfast Assembly member Gerry Kelly accused British securocrats of preparing for war and said that this was not an isolated recruitment attempt. Kelly said that as ``we are trying all we can to make the Good Friday Agreement work, to move the process on, securocrats are undermining that work''.
Responding to the comments made by one of the British MI5 agents that the ``peace process is going down the tubes'', Kelly called for clarification if this was the view of the British military or the agenda of the securocrats. He also said he would raise the incident with both the British and Dublin governments.
Gerard Martin said that he felt he had been targeted not only because his father had been murdered by loyalists in 1972 but also because the MI5 agents had easy access to him as he worked in Belfast city centre, and that as a father himself financial inducements might be appealing. He added: ``I have seen five of their faces and God knows what will happen to me now. I can't go outside the area and have had to give up my job.''
Seven months ago, Martin, working as a taxi driver from a city-centre depot, took two commuters from the city centre to Belfast International Airport. The two men, from `Corporate Business Services', introduced themselves as Jim and Ian. Over the ensuing months these MI5 agents contacted Martin on a regular basis and he drove them and their `clients' to various Six-County locations and once to Stirling in Scotland. On 21 April at an Enniskillen hotel, Jim and Ian told him it was now time for the `real business'. The two British agents told Martin that they knew a number of details relating to his personal life, indicating that research into his background had been undertaken and that he had been specifically targeted. They threatened to kill him by way of a drug overdose or a traffic accident. They offered to give him a house, a holiday home in the 26 Counties, and a monthly income of between £500 and £1,000.
£100 offered in recruitment bribe
An attempt by MI5 to coerce a Tyrone man into becoming an informer has been highlighted this week by Sinn Féin Assembly member Francie Molloy.
The man from Cappagh in East Tyrone, who does not wish to be identified, discovered the plot to recruit him when he returned from a family holiday last week and found an envelope lying on his mat, posted in South London, containing £100 in Bank of Ireland notes and a letter.
The letter, signed `Terry', offered the man ``secure'' employment and financial reward if he worked for Terry.
The letter also referred to the man's travels to Newcastle in England, where he has gone on business, indicating that his movements have been monitored. This has added to his fear that the letter was an attempt by British agents to recruit him.
In the letter, `Terry' spoke about having meet the Tyrone man previously and of having done business with him, something which never happened, says Molloy: ``Saying that the man worked for and was paid by ``Terry' is sinister as it is intended to put a question mark over this man. It is a threat.''
According to Molloy, the man has been targeted and harassed by the crown forces in the past. The latest incident happened to weeks ago, when the man's car was stopped as he returned from a wedding by plain-clothed RUC members, who tried to drag him from the vehicle.