There is no longer any room for serious doubt that the degree of penetration was extensive. As Ed Moloney argued about the state of the IRA prior to the 1994 ceasefire:
Without compromising any sources I can say with complete confidence that at this time British intelligence’s own estimate was that one in three IRA members were working for one or other branch of Britain’s spying apparatus, either MI5, British military intelligence or the RUC Special Branch.
At what level, in what capacity or who the actual agents were, we can only speculate. On the back of the Irish News report on Agent AA, Brian Rowan reported on the supposed existence of Agent Zulu 15. The term Zulu is not without significance given the role of the Zulu undermining the struggle against Apartheid, collaborating with the Racist white regime along the way. Although 15 might be the more interesting part of the code name, the inference we may draw being that there has been a whole tribe of Zulus operating within the Provisional IRA.
A number of years ago at an event in West Belfast, Brian Rowan expressed the view that the most senior British agent in the IRA had not yet been unmasked. In the audience eager to disabuse him of this view was Danny Morrison, who suggested that the story most likely emanated from the British security services eager to manipulate Provisional paranoia and sew suspicion. Yeah, right. Morrison, despite knowing about No 10 Downing Street’s Murderer, had nevertheless sought to dupe the public into accepting that Freddie Scappaticci was the victim of a British hoax.
Down here in the South where few seem to care one way or the other about the North, citizens would be ill advised just to shrug their shoulders and mutter “Black North” in the view that it is not something likely to impact on them in any way.
On the contrary it could have a very big effect on them. There is no evidence that any party in the Dail other than Sinn Fein has so much of its membership on the payroll of the British security services.
The upshot is that in the year that marks the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising, through its penetration and infiltration of the Provisionals, the British state may have more direct influence over Irish affairs than it has had at any time since 1922. With a Sinn Fein presence in Dail Eireann, it is safe to assume that MI5 is there too.
In that context we can better understand the British Ambassador to Ireland, Dominic Chilcott, when he said last December that he had no worries about working with Sinn Fein were it in government in Dublin.
Republicans should strive to make the centenary of the Easter Rising mean something by keeping MI5 out of the Dail. Don’t vote Sinn Fein.