Recruitment attempts in London
BY FERN LANE
Irish activists in London are being approached by the intelligence services in what appears to be an effort to recruit informers.
On 28 April, Scots-born republican Owen Hayes was accosted by two individuals, a man and a woman, as he left home at 7.30am to go to work.
``I heard a voice behind me saying `Owen, can we speak to you?' They said `Do you mind if we walk with you? We would like to hear your views on Ireland and the peace process'.''
Although Owen asked them to leave him alone, they persisted in asking him about a recent social event he had attended, offering him tickets for future Celtic matches ``whenever you want, no problem'' if he co-operated with them. They did eventually go, but told him they would be in touch with him again. They were particularly interested in finding out whether Owen had any friendships with members of Republican Sinn Féin or the 32-County Sovereignty Committee
This approach came after Ray Matthews, a member of the Wolfe Tone Society (WTS), was visited at home recently, again by a man and a woman, who posed initially as plain-clothed police officers. They gained entry to the house under the pretext of wishing to talk about a car which Ray had sold a few weeks previously and which was subsequently involved in a road traffic accident. Once inside, they told him: ``Actually, it's your politics we want to discuss.''
Ray says that they seemed to know a great deal about him already; how often he travels to see his family in Crossmaglen, where he stays and with whom. His inquiry of them as to whether they were from Scotland Yard was met with the response, ``sort of''. They also tried to obtain information about activists who sell An Phoblacht in London, and asked Ray who he ``reports to'' when attending Wolfe Tone Society meetings.
Although members of the WTS are regularly stopped and questioned under the PTA, it was hoped that with the new political situation this sort of nonsense might come to an end. The securocrat element, however, seems to be be resolutely stuck in the mindset of the 1970s and 1980s.