9 May 2002 Edition

Resize: A A A Print

Special Branch coerced 14-year-old to inform

Sinn Féin councillor Margaret McClenaghan has described as "outrageous" the revelations that Special Branch coerced a 14-year-old boy to act as an informer for them. The youth, now 19, came forward to republicans in the past number of weeks to confess his role.

"This lad was 14 when the RUC forced him to supply them with information on republicans in North Belfast," said McClenaghan. "He has been passing on information for the past five years. It was only when his family realised that something was wrong with his behaviour that they discovered what he had been involved in."

Speaking to An Phoblacht, the boy's father explained that at one point his son slashed his legs with a Stanley knife, an act he believes was due to the pressure his son was under.

The ordeal began for the boy in 1997, when at 14 he was caught shoplifting in Belfast city centre. He was taken to Oldpark RUC barracks and told that any charges against him would be dropped if he supplied the RUC with information on republicans.

Over the years, the boy was given the names of republicans and asked to keep an eye on them. He was paid varying sums of money on the basis of the information he supplied and met his handlers regularly. The three main RUC members who dealt with the youth were known to him as Michael, Paul and Jock, who is known in North Belfast as an "intelligence officer".

On a number of occasions when the boy told his handlers that he wanted to stop working for them, they kept the pressure on him to keep informing. It was only recently, when the youth's handlers began phoning him at work, that he told his father what was going on and they went to Sinn Féin to get the matter sorted out. Margaret McClenaghan advised the family to see a solicitor, who in turn is set to lodge a complaint with the 'Police' Ombudsman's office.

"This boy was a minor yet the RUC forced him to pass on information about local people that could have put these people in danger. It is a disgrace," said Margaret McClenaghan. "It shouldn't be overlooked either that the supposed new 'police service', the PSNI, carried on using this lad as an informer. Obviously not a lot has changed in the way the RUC/PSNI police the Six Counties."

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1