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16 September 1999 Edition

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Sinister RUC agenda exposed

By Ned Kelly

The RUC's true colours were this week exposed by three men, who gave evidence at a Sinn Féin press conference on Wednesday, 15 September, of the methods used by both the RUC and the British intelligence service, MI5, to recruit informers in nationalist communities.

West Belfast man Kevin Cunningham was approached at Woodbourne RUC barracks on 2 September, exactly one week before the Patten Report into the RUC was published. Cunningham was there because the RUC had told him his life was under threat from loyalists. Three plainclothed officers, who were clearly aware of Cunningham's movements, told him that serious charges in relation to the break up of his marriage would be dropped in exchange for information. He was told that in exchange for ongoing information on members of Gerry Adams' family and other republicans, the charges would be dropped, he would get custody of his children, a house in Andersonstown would be provided, and he would be given money to clear his debts.

Given the history of RUC collusion with loyalist murder gangs there was clearly an intent to put the lives of family members of the Sinn Féin president at risk.

Thomas White (26), originally from Lenadoon but now living in North Belfast, presented himself to the RUC on 27 August after a bench warrant was issued for his arrest in relation to car theft charges. He was told that charges would be dropped in return for information. Bail was arranged and he was immediately released. The RUC then made repeated visits to his home in order to try and arrange a meeting.

White also told An Phoblacht that he knew the RUC man involved. The RUC man had previously been attached to a squad that dealt specifically with stolen cars. ``The RUC are using young people they come into contact with whom they know are vulnerable,'' said Sinn Féin Councillor Michael Ferguson. ``In areas that have seen a number of people killed by joy-riders in stolen cars, for example Maureen Bramble who was killed along with her unborn child by a joyrider - the RUC is giving a green light to commit crime and cause death by giving immunity to criminals. It is then co-opting them into the planning of further murders and the targeting of republicans.''

The story of the third man, Gerard Martin, was highlighted previously by An Phoblacht on 13 May. In an elaborate entrapment procedure, which lasted months, two men who identified themselves to Martin as members of British MI5 attempted to pressure Martin into becoming an informer and when he declined their offer they threatened to have him killed. They also told him that he should line his pockets on the back of the imminent collapse of the peace process and resumption of the conflict.

However, since the MI5 recruitment approach was made public in May, Gerard Martin has received a number of threatening phone calls from the RUC.

In a further development, Martin also produced a letter from the RUC sent to his solicitors, dated 18 June, stating that ``subsequent enquiries revealed members of the RUC were involved in the matter''. This highly unusual step of admitting RUC responsibility is a clear attempt to take British MI5 out of the picture.

``This is the reality of the RUC approach to policing in nationalist areas,'' said Sinn Féin councillor Michael Browne, who was contacted by Thomas White. ``The RUC is preparing for a return to conflict and is prepared to drop serious criminal charges in order to pursue an overtly political and military agenda.''

The Sinn Féin councillor added: ``The best way to remove the type of pressure that the RUC is putting on individuals they want to coerce into informing is for people to come forward.''
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