A one-time leading member of the Irish Republican Socialist Party has denied he was a top-level informer.
Kevin ‘Bap’ McQuillan parted ways with the organisation almost a decade ago. Recently he has been acting as a spokesman for the newly formed group Republican Network for Unity.
Mr McQuillan denied allegations by the INLA that he worked as an informant around the time that LVF leader Billy ‘King Rat’ Wright was shot dead by the INLA inside Long Kesh prison in 1997.
“There are few things worse than a tout you can call any republican,” he said.
“I think there is a more sinister, conspiratory element at work here.
“The first I was even aware these allegations were being levelled at me was in July when the cops arrived at my door.”
Mr McQuillan said he would not leave his west Belfast home.
This week a spokesman for the republican socialist movement said: “The INLA leadership of 1997 and indeed the current leadership are convinced Kevin McQuillan was working for British intelligence during the period of interest, namely during the period under scrutiny by the Billy Wright inquiry.
“We are now in a different place politically and so there is no threat to him.
“However, the INLA leadership have made it clear, had this information come to light a few years ago that would certainly not be the case.”
While the INLA has not actively participated in the public inquiry into the shooting of Billy Wright, it has closely followed the hearings.
On one occasion the inquiry was told that a member of British intelligence received a phone call from an informer telling him of a “live hostage situation” taking place in Maghaberry prison.
It is this statement that sparked an internal INLA investigation and led to allegations that Mr McQuillan -- once a prominent spokesman for the IRSP, the group’s political wing -- had been working at the time as a paid informer.
During later evidence to the inquiry a former prison governor said he had alerted an IRSP person on the outside to the hostage situation as it was unfolding.
INLA sources say internal inquiries concluded that this person, referred to separately as an agent and an IRSP contact, could only have been Mr McQuillan.
The INLA has claimed that more evidence of informing by Mr McQuillan exists.
However, a spokesman for the paramilitary group said it could not make any further details public due the risk of “compromising methodology and personnel”.
An INLA source claimed that Mr McQuillan had been at two lengthy meetings with the organisation and failed to give an explanation for his actions during the period.
However, he categorically denies the informer allegations.
“The republican socialist movement is calling for an independent inquiry into allegations surrounding the 1981 Hunger Strike,” Mr McQuillan said.
“Well you would think that in the light of such serious allegations being levelled against me that I would be entitled to a similar inquiry.
“I have nothing to hide. I am open to scrutiny at any level.
“Would some of the people who are levelling these allegations at me open themselves up to similar scrutiny?
“I would seriously doubt it.”
Mr McQuillan has most recently been aligned with the Republican Network for Unity (RNU).
A spokesman for the RNU said last night: “Members of the network met the Irish republican socialist movement leadership on a number of occasions.
“After examining the information and after consultation, the position of the RNU is that the information presented was not found to be compelling and Kevin McQuillan remains a member of the RNU.”