Spooks at work in Ireland, England, France
A Derry man has revealed how he was approached at a French airport by two men who identified themselves as members of MI5. Another man has said he was recently approached to become an informer by the PSNI in Derry, while another reported recruitment bid took place recently in Manchester.
The incident in France took place in the early hours of Sunday morning last at Nice Airport when the man was returning from looking for work.
The man, who asked not to be identified, said: “As I approached the security desk at the airport, I felt a hand on my arm. There were three French policemen, two in plain clothes and one in uniform, who asked me to go with them as there was a problem with my passport.
“They led me through a few doors into what looked like a police office and then we went into a room with three chairs in it. One of them took my passport, walked out the door and came straight back in and handed it back to me. Then these other two men entered the room - one was an Englishman and the other had a Belfast accent.
“They asked me, ‘What is a wee Derry man doing in the South of France for two days?’
“I told them I was doing a job and then they told me they were from MI5. I asked them what MI5 wanted with me and they said I was a senior member of the new IRA. When I challenged them on this, they said they knew everything.
“They asked me was I willing to work with them. I told them I had never been involved in anything in my life and they then suggested I take a look at a couple of photos. They then produced a folder and showed me a photo of this guy I know who I did work for. They also asked me did I know a couple of other guys and I said no.”
The man said he was also offered money which he refused.
“They then offered me a phone number and said to take it and phone them and ask for Jim or Rob. They told me to phone the number at 12 midday on Tuesday and then they let me go but said they would see me again. I have no idea why they would have targeted me as I have nothing to do with anything.”
On Tuesday of this week, the man took the number to his solicitor Paddy MacDermott and phoned it at 12 midday.
Mr. MacDermott said: “Our client phoned this number and the man known as ‘Jim’ answered. He chatted for a bit asking our client’s travel plans and the like. I then took the phone and identified myself and asked what did they want with my client. There was a bit of a fluster at the other end and then they hung up.
“This is a deplorable attempt to recruit a hard working young man with a clear record who was only seeking employment. Actions like this only put people’s lives in danger and, hopefully, he will now be left alone to go about his business. A complaint will be lodged on his behalf.”
Meanwhile, a Sinn Féin councillor has raied concerns over a separate case after a local man was approached by the PSNI in the Buncrana Road area on Wednesday.
The man, who did not wish to be named, said the PSNI member said it would be “financially beneficial” for him to work for the force.
“I was walking to the shop on Wednesday morning and as I was walking along the Buncrana Road a silver Nissan Micra car stopped alongside me and the driver got out.
“He came up to me and held his hand out for me to shake and then said he was looking for directions to Whitehouse Park.
“I told him the way to go to get there and then he called me by my first name which surprised me because I had never seen him before and did not know who he was.
“He asked me if I was looking for work and I told him it would depend what type of work it is and he just came out and said that it was working for the police.
“I immediately told him I wasn’t interested and he said I must be struggling with money and said it would be financially beneficial for me to help out the police.
“I told him that I wasn’t interested and wouldn’t know anything and didn’t want to end up in the back roads with a bullet in my head,” he said.
The man also said he was held on remand for a time in the 90s but insisted he is not involved in any political activity now.
He also said he was approached in similar circumstances in 1995 on Craigavon Bridge.
“I was pretty shaken by the whole thing and then when I was walking back to my house I saw the car driving up my street slowly and the man was looking at me. There was a woman in the passenger side and she looked to have a big folder on her knee.
“I am now worried about why they were looking at my house and what could be in that folder,” he explained.
The man also said he has been worried since the encounter on Wednesday.
“I have been afraid to leave the house or open the door since then.
“I’m worried if I go outside it will happen again or that they will come to my house.
“I’m also worried that someone may have seen me talking to him and giving him directions and got the wrong idea,” he said.
He added that he decided to go public to appeal to the police to leave him alone.
“I want this to stop because I’m worried about where it could go. That is why I wanted to let people know what happened,” he said.
He also said he intends to raise the issue with his solicitor and the Police Ombudsman.
Councillor Fleming said she raised the incident with the PSNI.
“We raised this case at a meeting in Derry with the PSNI at a senior level and told them what went on here was wrong and that this individual wants to be left alone and free from harassment.
“I would urge anyone approached in a similar situation to go to a solicitor straight away and report the matter to the Police Ombudsman,” she said.
The Gaughan Stagg Cumann of the 32 County Sovereignty Committee said it had been made aware of the actions of two British state operatives who made an overt approach to young people in a Manchester pub.
“They called one by their name, seeking to infer that they knew him. The two men were aged between 35 to 40 years if age, white, one was large in weight with a shaved head, the other was thin, with defined facial contours. The larger of the two had a pseudo Dublin accent that fluctuated into an English accent. He sought to engage one if the group in discussions about an armed group, stating ‘you know who we mean’?
“He dropped names of people in England and made reference to Irish people killing Irish people, naming a Dublin family.”
They said the young man rang his solicitors and gave an account and description of the two individuals.
“On his return the thin male tapped his shoulder and said ‘You’re too paranoid...Trust us.’
“A solicitor made his way immediately to the place in question to witness and record details and took statements from the group about the events.
“The men left almost immediately the solicitor arrived, making their way through side streets before getting into a car that pulled up on Whitworth street.”
The Gaughan Stagg cumann advise political activist to be ‘vigilant’.
“We commend the young man for his immediate action forethought in contacting his legal representative and acquiring I dependent observers and accounts.
“We encourage all activists to record any such events with their solicitor and comrades. Be vigilant, be aware.”