The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
On the Record
Never go for the limbs, or the head. Always go for the trunk the big target. Never shot to disarm or disable. Your enemy might get up again. Never snatch the trigger. Always squeeze it gently, as if you are stroking a cat. Hold your breath, squeeze the trigger - shoot to kill.
- Gurka Weapons Instructor To The Parachute Regiment
Kathleen O Halloran • 19 February 2004

When you first go to study the Bible they will teach you 'form criticism'. Form criticism looks at how the Bible is put together. The Bible is based on oral tradition recorded by a primitive hand. People in former times witnessed events which have been told and then re-told before being committed to parchment. The oral stories of the events people witnessed, once recorded have survived to this day. It is how history is recorded, and in Northern Ireland many authors have also used oral tradition. The book 'Unfinished Business,' the stories of those killed by plastic bullets, is written in this way. Their families have recorded their stories and the stories have been written down just as they have been told, and this method of writing gives the book a powerful message.

The book 'Stakeknife', by Gregg Harkin and Martin Ingram, is based on oral tradition. The book gives testimony to certain events which have been witnessed by the authors. Gregg Harkin the journalist will tell you of his writings about the agent Stakeknife. Harkin was writing about Stakeknife for at least three years prior to the agent's identity breaking. The identity of the agent wasn't all that secret anyway. Eamon Collins' in 1997 wrote about Scap in his book 'Killing Rage'. On page 236 Collins gives us a description of Scap.

Scap was small and barrel-chested, with classic Mediterranean looks. Olive skinned with tight black curly hair. He was the son of an Italian immigrant.

In many ways Collins admired Scap as he had a regular job as well as being involved in the Republican movement. Later Collins came to distrust and despise him mainly due to Scap's cruelty but he never suspected Scap worked for the British. Who would? As Ingram says would anyone with blood on their hands in the IRA be thought of as a traitor? Collins names the Belfast men involved in the nutting squad - John Joe Magee, Hardbap, Mooch and Scap. As far back as 1997 Scap is mentioned as a member of the nutting squad, part of the IRA security unit. Ingram claims that while Scap worked for the nutting squad there were thirty five murders. All the names of the dead are mentioned yet Scap has never been arrested or questioned about these alleged activities.

When Ulrika Johnson wrote her autobiography she told of how she was raped. The media got wind of this and went into a frenzy eventually finding out who the man was. This man, a top TV presenter was visited and questioned by British police. Yet Scap, named by numerous journalists, now accused in a book of being involved in a squad that murdered thirty five people has never been arrested or questioned. Perhaps there is one law for rape and another for murder. Will Scappaticci be questioned by Stevens? Ingram doesn't think so. Ingram sees the Stevens Inquiry as nothing more than a vehicle of delay. He writes, 'from the death of Stobie, the arrest of Barrett and the timing of subsequent charges and the failure to make any arrest or press any charges against any serving or past members of the FRU or the RUC is hard to justify'.

FRU is the force research unit which is a British army intelligence corps unit working in N. Ireland, recruiting, developing and controlling the army's human intelligence assets in Britain's secret war with the IRA. Ingram asks why are humans still involved in intelligence gathering, when information can be gathered by electronic means? The answer is that humans can seek the answer to a question to track down information. Also bugs are limited by distance and have problems with fuel life etc.

There is no doubt in the minds of the two authors that Freddie Scappaticci is the agent code named Stakeknife, Britain's top mole in side the IRA. They have no doubt that the British intelligence services sacrificed the lives of agents in order to protect other agents. The book claims that Gerard McMahon and his wife were sacrificed to save Fenton, who in turn was sacrificed to save Scappaticci. Ingram claims he was co-handler of Frank Hegarty in Derry. He gives a complete account of what happened to that agent. He tells how the FRU knew that giving up the first Libyan weapons would point the nutting squad directly to Hegarty. The Cook report tapes are recorded in this book and what makes them remarkable is that Scap told the journalists that he informed his handler in the FRU that it was himself that pulled the trigger which killed Frank Hegarty. Clear evidence indeed that the British Army knew this spy was committing murder. In March Nicholas Davies' new book 'Dead Men Talking' will claim that this knowledge stretched all the way up to the then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Ingram claims that the next time you hear her speech in the House of Commons that 'murder is murder is murder', it may sound pretty hollow.

Whistle blowers like Ingram have suffered for telling what they know. He tells of his own run-ins with British security and how he was brought to court under the Official Secrets Act. Harkin says he decided to speak out after reading the book by Eamon Collins, especially its chapter on the nutting squad. This is the puzzling aspect of it, motive for Ingram to speak out. Money would never compensate him for the upset and upheaval to his family, to his wife and young daughter, especially since they have had to move to another jurisdiction into the Irish Free State. Like Frank Serpico why did he make the decision to talk? What made Serpico move from not accepting the money to speaking out on his former colleagues? Did Serpico become disgruntled? Ingram has obviously been disgruntled with his former employers but he claims that he left the British Army on good terms.

History will record what Harkin and Ingram say. It will be recorded that Britain had a top mole within the Provisional Republican Movement, and that he played a part in manoeuvring them towards the peace process. That is to say that those in the leadership of Sinn Fein, who were former members of the IRA were more accommadating to Scap's and his handlers' message. No one from the PRM has come forward to say otherwise, no one has come forward to rubbish these claims and to put anything on record. Republican people are entitled to know whether or not these accounts are balanced and true. The PRM must come forward and put on record their view. History demands it.





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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

20 February 2004


Other Articles From This Issue:


A Malignant Menage a trois

Anthony McIntyre


On the Record
Kathleen O'Halloran


David Lidington
Eamon Sweeney


The Buck Stops Here
Brian Mór


Loyalist Racism and Terror Attacks
Paul Mallon


Foundations for Development Laid as Sinn Fein Goes Unionist
Eamonn McCann


All Are Targets
Mohammed Omer


Calendar of Events
Belfast Anti-War Movement


14 February 2004


GFA in the Toilet
Brian Mór


No Retreat
Glen Phillips


Terrorism and Democratic Society

Anthony McIntyre


SEA: The SWP and the Partition of Ireland
Paul Mallon


The "Free Trade" History Eraser: Honduras, Maquilas and Popular Protest in Latin America
Toni Solo


On A Street in America
Annie Higgins


The BBC and the Quiet Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians
Paul de Rooij




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