AP front 1 - 2022

5 March 1998 Edition

Resize: A A A Print

Elaborate informer plot uncovered

By Brian Campbell

A South Armagh businessman was offered £10,000 as part of an elaborate attempt to get him to work as an informer. The offer of money was made two weeks ago at the end of a six-month long Crown Forces operation. The businessman - who does not wish to be named - refused the money and has contacted his solicitor.

The recruitment attempt began last September when a man walked in to the South Armagh business, introduced himself as ``Kevin Gallagher'' from Castlewellan and asked for some work to be done for his home.

Gallagher was friendly and talkative and he was soon talking about sport, an interest shared by the businessman. He said he was a salesman for Lucozade and could get All-Ireland tickets and tickets for rugby internationals. ``He was completely plausible and before long we were getting on like two mates,'' the businessman told An Phoblacht.

Two weeks later Gallagher gave the businessman two O'Neill's footballs for his GAA club and refused to take any money for them.

He also gave his mobile phone number which the businessman rang when the work was ready. Gallagher said he would pick up the work but he would be late and asked if the businessman would wait behind for him.

The businessman agreed but his wife happened to be with him when Gallagher arrived. Two men sat outside in Gallagher's car as he went in and paid for the work in cash.

Gallagher kept in touch, again promising to get tickets for big sporting occasions. Shortly before Christmas he rang again and asked for more work to be done. Two weeks ago, when the work was ready, Gallagher again said he would be late and asked the businessman to wait behind for him. Gallagher called along with two men who sat in his car. The businessman was alone when Gallagher called. After paying for the work Gallagher asked, ``Can I be frank with you?'' He said he worked for the government and joked that it had nothing to do with VAT. He spoke about the peace talks and then said, ``I can make you a lot of money.'' He asked him to keep an eye on local republicans. ``I'm not asking for anything big,'' he said.

Gallagher signalled to one of the men in the car, who got out, approached Gallagher and handed him a wad of banknotes. ``There's £10,000 there,'' Gallagher said. The frightened businessman told him he wasn't interested. ``You're talking to the wrong man,'' he said. When it was clear that the businessman was not prepared to work as an informer Gallagher and the two men drove off.

An Phoblacht phoned the mobile phone number which Gallagher gave to the businessman and left messages on the Vodaphone message service. The messages have not been answered.

SmithKline Beecham (the manufacturers of Lucozade) have confirmed that they have no-one called Kevin Gallagher working for them in Ireland.

Sinn Féin negotiator Pat McNamee has warned nationalists to be very wary. ``The British forces have never declared a ceasefire. In particular, they seem to be going to greater and more elaborate lengths to force people into becoming informers. I would urge anyone who finds themselves pressured in this way to follow the example of this businessman and contact a solicitor immediately.''

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1