Irish Republican News · March 28, 2015
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Britain to send spies, royals for 1916 events
Britain to send spies, royals for 1916 events

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A secret British army undercover unit may be redeployed to Ireland in the run-up to the centenary of the 1916 Rising, according to reports.

It has been reported that up to 60 members of the Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR) have already been returned to the Six Counties in advance of commemorations this year to mark the 99th anniversary of the insurrection against British Rule on the streets of Dublin.

Officially MI5 carries out the majority of intelligence gathering work for Crown-force agencies in the north. However, in the past the British army has also carried out its own military-grade spying operations.

The 14th Intelligence Company, a forerunner to the SRR, was involved in suspected shoot-to-kill incidents and has been accused of carrying out political assassinations with loyalists. Other British army units, including the Military Reaction Force, were heavily involved in directing sectarian killings. Members of the unit are believed to have killed several innocent Catholic men after it was set up in 1971.

Reports of the deployment comes as it appears increasingly likely a leading member of the British royal family will attend one of the major commemorative events in Ireland in 2016.

Sinn Fein has criticised the idea. Earlier this month, party delegates backed a motion against inviting any British royal or government member from attending any official state event during the 1916 Rising commemorations at their annual conference in Derry.

But Dublin government officials have expressed concern that the anniversary of the Rising could spark a resurgence of interest in the Irish national cause.

“Let us seek to ensure that the Ireland 2016 commemorative programme does not become an unnecessarily divisive issue,” the 26 County Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan wrote this week. He said he wanted to invite “international friends and partners” to reflect on the events surrounding the rising.

His comments were echoed this week by Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness, who said centenary commemorations must be inclusive and reflect all perspectives of the event.

The deputy first minister stressed the need for a “mature and inoffensive” approach as he launched his party’s plans to mark the 100th anniversary of the Rising next year.

Noting the colours of the Irish tricolour, Mr McGuinness said: “The orange part of the flag is as important as the green and I think we are very proud to be part of that generation of Irish republicans that is prepared to appreciate that, is prepared to accept that as we face into difficult challenges.”

The publicity event saw uniformed re-enactors dramatise some of the events of 1916, including the declaration of the Republic on the steps of the General Post Office (GPO) in Dublin.

Mr McGuinness said the leaders’ vision of a republic remained “unfinished business”.

“So the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising is a time to build - it is a time to rededicate ourselves to the achievement of the Republic declared in 1916 - so let us imagine and achieve that better future.

“I have been an Irish republican for over 40 years and over that very lengthy period of time this is absolutely the most exciting time to be an Irish republican because of the growth of support for our party because of the desire to use our mandate wisely for the purposes of bringing about our primary political objective, which is the unification of our country by purely peaceful and democratic means. I think all of this is achievable.”

© 2015 Irish Republican News