Ronan McGreevy, the author of The Irish Times article on the alleged MI5 letter claiming spookish involvement in the 1987 Enniskillen bombing, has made the full text available on his Twitter feed.
You can read the letter, which runs to two pages, below.
It makes for interesting reading and as you might expect the letter produces more questions than answers, the most puzzling question being the letter’s authenticity.
Was it a genuine cri de coeur from an disillusioned spy, or a dirty trick perpetrated – perhaps by the IRA’s intelligence department – to confuse an Irish government under pressure to respond to the twelve deaths at Enniskillen with stepped up security co-operation with the British?
First of all here is the letter which runs to two pages:
The alleged agent wrote that he joined MI5 in 1976 and for the last year and a half – since May 1986, if my maths is correct – was attached to a section of the security service which specialised in infiltrating and manipulating groups like the IRA.
He – or she (the gender of the author is not known) – adds that he knew Michael Bettaney, the MI5 agent who was convicted of spying for the Russians, and was friendly with him, although until now, he didn’t believe all that Bettaney told him about the dirty tricks that MI5 employed in Northern Ireland.
In that paragraph lies enough biographical evidence for MI5 to narrow down the number of suspects who wrote the letter, assuming that the letter was genuine.
So the first question that jumps out of the letter is this: would a trained intelligence agent reveal so much about his or her background, knowing that if his masters in MI5 acquired a copy of the letter, this detail would considerably shrink the range of suspects and greatly increase the chances of discovery?
Or are the details deliberately false, designed to send the hounds chasing after a false scent?
He – or she – had become more and more ‘disaffected’ by his unit’s work, the letter continues, and MI5’s tinkering with the Enniskillen bomb made him/her decide he/she ‘must do something’. Hence the letter.
But what was the purpose of the letter? What did the author expect Irish Foreign Affairs minister Brian Lenihan to do with it, except to think twice before conceding to Britain’s demands for better security co-operation? Therein lies a motive, perhaps, to send a bogus letter.
He – or she – then lists a series of dirty tricks that his section of MI5 had played on the IRA, but principally against the INLA.
These included continuous monitoring of arms dumps particularly in Derry, Belfast and Sligo (why Sligo?) with a view to placing tracking devices or booby traps. The MI5’s unit manipulation of the INLA took the form principally of encouraging a vicious feud during 1987. This was done, the author claimed, by playing on Dessie O’Hare’s infatuation with his wife and child, but how this was achieved is not explained. The goal of all this was to create an atmosphere in the Republic conducive to extradition and other harsh law and order measures.
My disaffection started with the shooting of Mary McGlinchey in Dundalk and I became very frightened and horrified with the treatment of Dr O’Grady.
Dr O’Grady was the Dublin dentist kidnapped by Dessie O’Hare. During his kidnapping ordeal two of Dr O’Grady’s fingers were amputated and posted along with a ransom demand sent to Gardai.
The author of the MI5 letter does not say how, but implies that MI5 were somehow complicit in O’Hare’s activity. Nor does he/she say what part, if any, MI5 played in the death of Mary McGlinchey, wife of the INLA leader Dominic McGlinchey.
On the Enniskillen bombing, the author writes:
Our section became aware through the use of Technical surveillance of the plans by the local I.R.A. in Enniskillen. Having gained the knowledge of where and when this I.R.A. gang was going to place this bomb, (we also knew of its size and technical make-up), our section decided to change the timing device and let the explosion take place so that the I.R.A. would score an own goal and create a massive backlash against itself. Our section also calculated that in the climate of a backlash against the I.R.A., all kinds of security measures could be implemented, including Extradition.
So there is the alleged MI5 letter. Is it a genuine expression of disenchantment with MI5, or a clever hoax designed to make the Irish government think twice before implementing tougher cross-Border security measures?
I have to say that the part of the letter that most causes me to question its authenticity is the biographical detail given by the author. There are too many clues there pointing to the writer’s identity. A more careful writer would have excluded such detail or invented a false curriculum vitae to distract and confuse his or her trackers.
But then again, perhaps that is exactly what the author of this letter did. I guess we will never know.