PSNI recruiting in Strabane

A 37-year-old man has revealed that PSNI Special Branch police offered to pay him an escalating sum of money to spy on suspected hardline republicans in the Strabane area of County Tyrone.

The man, who does not want to be identified, claimed he was approached by two Special Branch officers who called at his home.

He said that despite efforts made on his doorstep to persuade him to become a police informant, or risk going to jail, he refused the offer.

The man said that he was asked to provide information on three local republicans, one of whom was a friend of his.

Detailing the encounter which took place outside his home near Sion Mills Police Station at around 10 a.m. last Wednesday, he said: “They came to my house wearing uniforms but weren’t wearing any name badges.

“They said, ‘We’re Special Branch. This is the way it is, either you’re with us, or against us. I said ‘what do you mean by that’? and they said, ‘You know the craic with DNA, you can find DNA anywhere.’”

The remark was a reference to a previous arrest by the PSNI following an incident in Strabane approximately six months ago. Items were removed during a raid on his home, but he was later released without charge.

“They said ‘we want you to become an agent for us.’ I said ‘in other words you want me to become an informer and they said, ‘if that’s the way you want to put it.’ I said ‘I don’t want to be one of them, I don’t want to end up with a bullet in the head.’”

The Sion Mills man, who works in Strabane, claimed that one of the police officers who called himself ‘Declan’ did all the talking, but wanted to give him a new handler’s name “because too many people know about Declan.” “He turned round and said, ‘You’ll be getting 500 pounds a month.’ I joked ‘is that all you’re giving me to risk getting a bullet in the head?’ His next retort was, ‘no, the money does go up if you stay where you are and give us the information we want.

“As far as they are concerned I am involved; I said I’m not involved in anything,” he insisted.

The man continued: “They wanted to come into the house but I didn’t let them. I said I didn’t want to do it and if I was involved, should they not be trying to get me away from it? They said ‘no, we want you to stay where you are.’

When he told them he would be going public to highlight the incident, “they shrugged it off,” he said.

The man said that by highlighting his case, he also wanted to reassure other people who may receive similar approaches to “buy” their co-operation with offers of money and other inducements.

“When I mentioned a person who was shot dead in Strabane for being an informer, they just laughed and said ‘you’ll be all right,’” he claimed.

A spokeswoman for the 32-County Sovereignty Committee condemned the incident and urged “all republicans to be vigilant.” “This insinuation about placing DNA is extremely dangerous; Derry man Seamus Doherty is in jail over the head of peelers fitting him up,” she said.

* The PSNI used CS gas during clashes with a crowd of up to 30 nationalists in north Belfast on Sunday morning.

Trouble started when loyalists entered the Westland Gardens area and began slashing car tyres. Residents confronted the gang to defend their property, but when the PSNI arrived, they attacked local residents and not the loyalists.

The incident has been referred to the Police Ombudsman’s office.

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