A former Sinn Féin bodyguard and driver for Gerry Adams has been exposed as a British agent and informer.

Roy McShane fled west Belfast last Thursday night after admitting to his family that he had been spying on Sinn Féin leaders.

He admitted his role as an informer during a farewell telephone call to his son shortly before he fled his west Belfast home.

He had worked as a driver and bodyguard alongside top republicans for up to 20 years. He had been close to Freddie Scappaticci, another British agent, while they both worked in the IRA’s internal security unit in the 1980s.

Scappaticci fled Ireland in 2003 after initially denying he had worked as an agent and informer. It is thought the duo were the team collectively referred to as ‘Steak-Knife’ by British military intelligence.

Sinn Féin’s Alex Maskey confirmed that McShane had told his family he was being taken into protective custody after his life as a spy looked set to be exposed. He said he and other senior republicans were disappointed but not overly surprised by the news.

He said Mr McShane would have to make his “own peace” with his family. “He’s safe; let’s face it the war is over, I see him under no threat at all from republicans.”

In February 2006, McShane’s position as a Sinn Féin driver was brought to an end when the republican leadership replaced its entire Belfast security team as a precaution against informers.

Mr Maskey rejected suggestions that the driving job would have allowed McShane to listen in on on delicate discussions between republican leader during sensitive negotiations relating to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

“This gentleman was a driver among a team of people and once we believed as a party leadership that there was a doubt about this man’s integrity then he was re-moved from that work,” Mr Maskey said.

Originally from Lurgan in County Armagh, McShane had lived in west Belfast from his early teens, sharing a house in the lower Falls with IRA leader Billy McMillan in the mid-1960s.

McShane was regularly seen at the shoulder of Mr Adams throughout the conflict.

Belfast republicans recalled that McShane had shown strong contempt for Sinn Féin administrator Denis Donaldson after he was exposed as a British agent in December 2005. Donaldson was shot dead at an isolated farmhouse in County Donegal the following April by unknown assailants.

It remains unclear what caused McShane to make a move now, or his current whereabouts.


Speaking in Dublin at the weekend, Mr Adams said: “Certainly he [ McShane] is under no threat from republicans. I don’t know where he is at the moment and whether he is under any threat from the people who have him, that is a question you would have to ask them.

While Sinn Féin downplayed the latest informer revelation, it caused further concern amid newspaper reports that the British-appointed truth panel -- the Eames-Bradley commission -- has examined filing cabinets filled with documentation on past British infiltration of Sinn Féin and the Provisional IRA, including the text of the Stevens report on collusion.

“As far as Sinn Féin is concerned it is business as usual,” said Mr Adams.

“We were wise to the fact that he had been, at some point, compromised. He wasn’t a member of the party, although he did act as a driver. Once we became suspicious we simply moved him out of any activity.”

Ian Paisley Jnr, however, has claimed that the unmasking of Mr McShane “highlights how far MI5 and the police have penetrated republicanism”.

He said the affair was a further indication that republicanism “can never succeed in its goal of a united Ireland and why they eventually had to throw their lot in and accept the British government and policing arrangements in Northern Ireland”.

Mr Adams said he was not concerned about the possibility of other spies, but pointed out that most of the expenditure of the British “security services” goes into the 26 Counties and not the North.

“We can be sure the British have spies and agents within all sectors of opinion makers on this island,” he said. “

The British government actively recruiting, directing and working agents or spies in any part of Ireland is unacceptable.

“It seems to me that elements of the British intelligence services have not yet realised that the war is over and I make the point again, not just in the jurisdiction in the North but in this State also, that you can rest assured that a lot of activities are being undertaken.”

We have a favour to ask

We want to keep our publication as available as we can, so we need to ask for your help. Irish Republican News takes time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe it makes a difference. If everyone who reads our website helps fund it, our future would be much more secure.

For as little as £1, you can support Irish Republican News – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

© 2008 Irish Republican News