The views and opinions expressed in these pages/documentaries are solely intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland. They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors.
After Costello was assassinated, she became chairperson, leading the party for two years. During this time she and her husband James were instrumental in opposing Sinn Féin‘s drift towards federalism.
On 26 June 1980 Daly was shot dead at home, in the Andersonstown area of west Belfast. At the time of her assassination, she was in charge of the IRSP prisoners’ welfare.
According to reports in The Irish Times, members of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) had gained entry to her home with the intention of killing her husband, who was also a republican activist. Daly was captured and tied up whilst they waited for him to return home. However, he was in Dublin at the time and so did not arrive.
After a considerable time, the UDA men decided to kill Daly instead. Muffling the sound of the gun with a cushion, they shot her in the head and cut the phone lines before fleeing. Her body was discovered when her ten-year-old daughter arrived home from school.
Bunting came from an Ulster Protestant family in East Belfast. His father, Ronald Bunting, had been a major in the British Army and Ronnie grew up in various military barracks around the world. Ronnie’s father became a supporter and associate of Ian Paisley and ran for election under the Protestant Unionist Party banner.
Unlike most Protestants in Northern Ireland, Bunting became a militant republican. His father, by contrast, was a committed Ulster loyalist, who organised armed stewards for counter-demonstrations (against civil rights marches) called by Ian Paisley, most infamously at the Burntollet Bridge incident, when his followers attacked a People’s Democracy civil rights march on 4 January 1969. Despite their political differences, Ronnie remained close with his father.
– Disclaimer –
The views and opinions expressed in these blog posts/documentaries are solely intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland. They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors
Membership of the Official IRA
Bunting joined the Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA) around 1970 as he was attracted to their left-wing and secular interpretation of Irish republicanism and believed in the necessity of armed revolution. The other wing of the IRA—the Provisional Irish Republican Army—was seen to be more Catholic and nationalist in its outlook. At this time, the communal conflict known as the Troubles was beginning and the Official IRA were involved in shootings and bombings. Bunting was interned in November 1971 and held in Long Kesh until the following April (see also Operation Demetrius).
Membership of the INLA
In 1974, Bunting followed Seamus Costello and other militants who disagreed with the OIRA’s ceasefire of 1972, into a new grouping, the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA). Immediately, a violent feud broke out between the OIRA and the INLA.
In 1975, Bunting survived an assassination attempt when he was shot in a Belfast street. In 1977, Costello was killed by an OIRA gunman in Dublin. Bunting and his family hid in Wales until 1978, when he returned to Belfast. For the remaining two years of his life, Bunting was the military leader of the INLA. The grouping regularly attacked the British Army and Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) in Belfast.
Bunting called in claims of responsibility to the media by the code name “Captain Green”.
Ronnie Bunting listed, as a civilian, on a roll of honour of republican dead, Springfield Road, Belfast
At about 4:30 a.m. on 15 October 1980, several gunmen wearing balaclavas stormed Bunting’s home in the Downfine Gardens area of Andersonstown. They shot Bunting, his wife Suzanne and another Protestant INLA man and ex-member of the Red Republican Party, Noel Lyttle, who had been staying there after his recent release from detention. According to The Guardian report by David Beresford,
The shots woke the Buntings’ children, age 7 and 3, who ran screaming into the street after discovering their parents lying together at the top of the stairs, covered in blood. Mr Lyttle was shot in bed, near a cot in which the Buntons’ baby son was sleeping.
Both Ronnie Bunting and Lyttle were killed. Suzanne Bunting, who was shot in the face,survived her serious injuries. The attack was claimed by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), but the INLA claimed the Special Air Service were involved.
Upon his death, Bunting’s body was kept in a funeral parlour on the Newtownards Road opposite the headquarters of the UDA. On the day of the funeral, as the coffin was being removed, UDA members jeered from their building. The IRSP had wanted a republican paramilitary-style funeral for Bunting but his father refused and had Bunting buried in the family plot of a Church of Ireland cemetery near Donaghadee
That was the codename given to Alfredo “Freddie” Scappaticci by his spy handlers at the top secret Force Research Unit (FRU).
As chief of the IRA’s Nutting Squad, who shot victims through the head, he is thought to have killed at least 40 people over 25 years.
Yet at the same time Stakeknife — who always taped his victims screaming for mercy as he tortured them — was pocketing £80,000 a year from the Brits for information that led to the deaths and imprisonment of dozens of IRA members.
Families of some of his victims claim Stakeknife was allowed to get away with murder because he was the “jewel in the crown” of informants.
Britain has always said it did not deal with the IRA during the Troubles, but a new probe could blow that assertion out of the water
Gen. John Wilsey confirms: Stakeknife is Freddie Scappaticci
This week Northern Ireland’s director of public prosecutions, Barra McGrory, ordered an inquiry into Stakeknife. He announced he had asked PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton to look into the case.
It comes as three investigations into alleged police and Army collusion in around 24 murders have been collectively examined by Northern Ireland’s Police Ombudsman.
A major Stakeknife investigation promises justice at last for the relatives of his victims, who will finally hear just how much he and British military intelligence were involved in Northern Ireland’s “dirty war”.
People like Shauna Moreland, 31, whose mother Caroline was tortured then executed by Stakeknife and his Nutting Squad in 1994, two months before the IRA ceasefire.
The bloodied body of the 34-year-old mother of three was found dumped on wasteland in Co Fermanagh. She had been held and tortured for 15 days for telling police about the location of a single rifle.
In one of Stakeknife’s sick recordings, released after her death, Caroline is heard pleading for her life.
Remembering the last day she saw her mother, Shauna recalls: “It was just a normal day. She was in the kitchen ironing. She was going off for the day on a bus run somewhere.
“I was going over to my granny’s. It was just the normal getting stuff together, giving her a kiss and a hug and saying ‘I love you, goodbye’.”
She adds: “I was ten at the time she was killed. She was missing for 15 days and I don’t have memories of all that time, it was a hard time.
“She is on my mind always, it is every day. And I have a memory of the day I found out she was dead.”
Shauna believes her mother, like many of Stakeknife’s victims, was “sacrificed” by the British military to protect their agent.
When Stakeknife, now 68, was finally unmasked in 2003, he was allowed to flee Northern Ireland to a safe house abroad amid allegations that the British secret services were protecting him.
Martin Ingram, the former FRU member who first outed Stakeknife, said the double agent was allowed to kill because he was too valuable an agent to British military intelligence.
It is alleged that even when they had prior knowledge of his actions they did not stop him. And his victims are said to have included other military intelligence agents.
Martin says: “He was an agent who killed his own people. Simple as that.”
Shortly after he was outed as Stakeknife, Scappaticci — or “Scap” to his IRA pals — undertook a High Court action in the UK asking the British Government to publicly deny he was an agent. They refused, saying to do so would put other agents in danger.
They have consistently refused to comment on Stakeknife but it was revealed in court documents during another case that Scappaticci was being given security by the British Government at that time.
Since then there have been constant calls for Stakeknife to be prosecuted for the crimes he allegedly committed.
Shauna Moreland says: “Someone, somewhere is sitting in an office and deciding what I can and cannot know about my mother’s murder. That’s hard, really hard.” Earlier this year she confronted former IRA commander and Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, demanding something was done about Stakeknife.
Shauna said McGuinness assured her he was “looking into it” but she has heard nothing since.
Though pleased with this week’s announcement that Stakeknife WILL finally be investigated, she adds: “Justice is going to take a while, it’s not going to happen overnight.
“But I am hopeful we will get there in some way. There will be some sort of closure to this, I have to believe that . . . My hope is that one day the public might be told exactly what happened and wh
Why someone turned a blind eye, despite knowing the identity of those involved in her mother’s murder, before and after it took place.
Talking about why he unmasked Stakeknife, Martin Ingram says: “Certain activities of the FRU sickened me.I believe genuine secrets deserve to be protected, acquiescence in murder does not.”
Martin had not handled Stakeknife but was aware of his existence and what the FRU was doing with him.
He outed him to a journalist in 2000 after picking up Killing Range, a book by IRA member Eamon Collins in which Stakeknife was said to have joked about the killing of an informer. It horrified Martin because he knew Stakeknife had been the FRU’s top grass.
When he tried to whistleblow in the Press he was prosecuted by the British Government, his house burgled and important documents stolen. It was three years later that Stakeknife’s identity was finally revealed in the newspapers.
When Stakeknife was outed Scappaticci was, according to sources, ordered by the IRA to “go on the attack and brazen it out”.
He spoke to reporters on his doorstep. He pointed to the brickdust stains on his shorts and said, matter-of-factly: “Listen, I’ve been building blocks all day. Does it look like I’ve been getting £80,000 a year?”
He also said he was suffering “depression and stress” as a result of the allegations, and told Irish paper the Sunday Business Post: “My life’s been turned upside down.
“I’m not a religious person but I’ve been in touch with the priests. It’s for spiritual help.”
Scappaticci later said: “According to the Press I am guilty of 40 murders. But I am telling you this now, after this has settled I want to meet the families of the people that they said I murdered.
“And when I do I will stand in front of them and say, ‘I didn’t do it. I had no part in it’. And I will look them straight in the eye when I do it.”
But within weeks he had gone into hiding. His whereabouts remain unknown. Among those who would like to look him in the eye is the brother of Robin Hill, who was executed by the Nutting Squad in 1992.
Robin was kidnapped and held for a week before he was shot dead and dumped in a back alley in the Beechmount area of West Belfast.
Speaking of Stakeknife, Randolph Hill, 54, said, yesterday: “If I knew where he was, I would call at his door. It is good that the police are looking into all of this but there is a lot to get through to get to the bottom of it.
“The only thing that would satisfy me is an international investigation, an outside police force, outside the UK or Ireland, looking at it.”
SHORT, stocky and swarthy, Freddie “Stakeknife” Scappaticci is an unlikely looking secret agent.
His Italian grandfather was an ice-cream seller who migrated to Ireland in the 1920s and Freddie grew up in a small, red-bricked terraced house in West Belfast.
In his youth he was a talented footballer who tried out for Nottingham Forest.
A builder by trade, Freddie joined the IRA in 1970 and was interned twice — once with current Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.
A committed republican, he quickly rose through the ranks to become chief of the Nutting Squad, but after falling out with a fellow IRA man he was given a brutal punishment beating.
He approached British military intelligence in around 1976 and was handed over to the FRU, which gave him his codename.
Such was the quality of Stakeknife’s information that soon a whole department, known as the Rat Hole, was set up to handle him. One of his biggest “successes” as far as the FRU was concerned was the “Death on the Rock” SAS ambush of three IRA members, believed to be planning a bomb attack in Gibraltar in 1988.
Stakeknife’s tip led to the three, who included a woman, being killed before they could carry out the murderous plot.
Such coups are said to be why even when Stakeknife warned the FRU he had been asked to target a suspect informer — even requesting the person be moved to the UK — the killing was allowed to go ahead.
Some of the victims are said to have included people the FRU knew were British agents, sometimes working for the Royal Ulster Constabulary.
The FRU is said to have gone to extreme lengths to protect its “golden egg”.
In one case it is said to have set up an innocent 66-year old pensioner to be assassinated instead of Stakeknife.
Having got wind of a plot by the Ulster Freedom Fighters to assassinate the top agent it handed over a fake dossier suggesting the target was actually another Italian — retired taxi driver Francisco Notorantonio, who died in a hail of bullets.
Stakeknife had his own dedicated handlers and agents and it was suggested that he was important enough that MI5 set up an office dedicated solely to him. Rumours suggested that he was being paid at least £80,000 a year and had a bank account in Gibraltar.
On 11 May 2003, several newspapers named Freddie Scappaticci as Stakeknife. Scappaticci denied the claims and launched an unsuccessful legal action to have the British government state he was not their agent. He later left Northern Ireland and was rumoured to be living in Cassino, Italy. There were also reported sightings in Tenerife.
A report in a February 2007 edition of the Belfast News Letter reported that a cassette recording allegedly of Scappaticci talking about the number of murders he was involved in via the “Nutting Squad”, as well as his work as an Army agent, had been lodged with the PSNI in 2004 and subsequently passed to the Stevens Inquiry in 2005.
The former British Intelligence agent who worked in the FRU known as “Martin Ingram” has written a book titled Stakeknife since the original allegations came to light in which it says Scappaticci was the agent in question.
In October 2015 is was announced that Scappaticci was to be investigated by the Police Service of Northern Ireland over at least 24 murders.
The FRU used double agents to infiltrate Irish republican and Ulster loyalist paramilitary groups. Its existence was revealed in the 1990s by the Stevens Inquiries. The inquiries found that—in its efforts to defeat the Provisional IRA—the FRU used these agents to help loyalists to kill people, including civilians. This has been confirmed by some former members of the unit. The unit also mounted undercover surveillance operations.
Because this unit was an Intelligence Corps-sponsored unit, all FRU personnel were trained at a “Top Secret” intelligence facility in Templer Barracks, Ashford, known as the Specialised Intelligence Wing (SIW) (often wrongly called the Special Intelligence Wing). The Specialised Intelligence Wing was part of the School of Service Intelligence within Templer Barracks and was commanded by an Intelligence Corps Lieutenant-Colonel. The Senior Instructor was always an Intelligence Corps officer but Directing Staff (DS) were drawn from a variety of British Army units, including Special Forces. The unit was simply referred to as “The Manor” by soldiers because the unit was based in Repton Manor, a grade 2 listed building. Repton Manor also contained the Photographic Section run by Royal Air Force personnel. There were additional pre-fabricated buildings at the rear of the manor house used by SIW’s L Branch who had the responsibility of re-settling and protecting former high-value Irish informers and agents throughout the United Kingdom and abroad. Much FRU training took place nearby at the Cinque Ports Ranges in Hythe and Lydd (Northern Ireland Training and Advisory Team) and at Overhill Camp, Cheriton, Folkestone (an Intelligence Corps sub-unit). The barn and stables behind Repton Manor were used to keep surveillance-adapted cars and vans which were used by soldiers for surveillance tasks.
In the mid 1980s, the FRU recruited Brian Nelson as a double agent inside the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). The UDA was a legal Ulster loyalist paramilitary group that had been involved in hundreds of attacks on Catholic and nationalist civilians, as well as a handful on republican paramilitaries. The FRU helped Nelson become the UDA’s chief intelligence officer. In 1988, weapons were shipped to loyalists from South Africa under Nelson’s supervision. Through Nelson, the FRU helped the UDA to target people for assassination. FRU commanders say their plan was to make the UDA “more professional” by helping it to kill republican activists and prevent it from killing uninvolved Catholic civilians. They say if someone was under threat, agents like Nelson were to inform the FRU, who were then to alert the police.Gordon Kerr, who ran the FRU from 1987 to 1991, claimed Nelson and the FRU saved over 200 lives in this way. However, the Stevens Inquiries found evidence that only two lives were saved and said many loyalist attacks could have been prevented but were allowed to go ahead. The Stevens team believes that Nelson was responsible for at least 30 murders and many other attacks, and that many of the victims were uninvolved civilians. One of the most prominent victims was solicitor Pat Finucane. Although Nelson was imprisoned in 1992, FRU intelligence continued to help the UDA and other loyalist groups. From 1992 to 1994, loyalists were responsible for more deaths than republicans for the first time since the 1960s.
Allegations exist that the FRU sought restriction orders in advance of a number of loyalist paramilitary attacks in order to facilitate easy access to and escape from their target. A restriction order is a de-confliction agreement to restrict patrolling or surveillance in an area over a specified period. This de-confliction activity was carried out at a weekly Tasking and Co-ordination Group which included representatives of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, MI5 and the British Army. It is claimed the FRU asked for restriction orders to be placed on areas where they knew loyalist paramilitaries were going to attack.
Alleged infiltration of republican paramilitary groups
FRU are also alleged to have handled agents within republican paramilitary groups. A number of agents are suspected to have been handled by the FRU including IRA units who planted bombs and assassinated. Attacks are said to have taken place involving FRU-controlled agents highly placed within the IRA. The main agent to have been uncovered so far was codenamed “Stakeknife“. There is a debate as to whether this agent is IRA member Freddie Scappaticci or another, as yet unidentified, IRA member.
“Stakeknife” is thought to have been a member of the IRA’s Internal Security Unit – a unit responsible for counter-intelligence, interrogation and court martial of informers within the IRA. It is believed that “Stakeknife” was used by the FRU to influence the outcome of investigations conducted by the IRA’s Internal Security Unit into the activities of IRA volunteers.
It is alleged that in 1997 the UDA came into possession of details relating to the identity of the FRU-controlled IRA volunteer codenamed “Stakeknife”. It is further alleged that the UDA, unaware of this IRA volunteer’s value to the FRU, planned to assassinate him. It is alleged that after the FRU discovered “Stakeknife” was in danger from UDA assassination they used Brian Nelson to persuade the UDA to assassinate Francisco Notarantonio instead, a Belfast pensioner who had been interned as an Irish republican in the 1940s. The killing of Notarantonio was claimed by the UFF at the time. Following the killing of Notarantonio, unaware of the involvement of the FRU, the IRA assassinated two UDA leaders in reprisal attacks. It has been alleged that the FRU secretly passed details of the two UDA leaders to the IRA via “Stakeknife” in an effort to distract attention from “Stakeknife” as a possible informer
1969 was a year of rising tension, violence and change for the people of Northern Ireland. Rioting in Derry’s Bogside led to the deployment of British troops and a shortlived, uneasy truce. The British army soon found itself engaged in an undercover war against the Provisional IRA, which was to last for more than twenty years.
In this enthralling and controversial book, Martin Dillon, author of the bestselling The Shankill Butchers, examines the roles played by the Provisional IRA, the State forces, the Irish Government and the British Army during this troubled period. He unravels the mystery of war in which informers, agents and double agents operate, revealing disturbing facts about the way in which the terrorists and the Intelligence Agencies target, undermine and penetrate each other’s ranks.
The Dirty War is investigative reporting at its very best, containing startling disclosures and throwing new light on previously inexplicable events.
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