Calls are growing in Britain for a wide-ranging inquiry to establish the full extent of undercover British operations within Irish protest movements, following the unmasking of a undercover spy who had spent time with several campaigns in Ireland, including the Corrib Gas protest.
Mark Kennedy, who worked for the London police, visited Ireland on several occasions and attempted to infiltrate several environmental and left-wing campaigns in both Ireland and Britain.
Adopting the fake identity of Mark Stone in 2003, his family has been based in the village of Kilbrin in County Cork for over ten years.
According to Irish environmental activists, Mr Kennedy spent several days in north Mayo in 2006, during which he participated in a workshop for the ‘Shell to Sea’ campaign and visited the home of Willie Corduff, one of the Rossport Five who were jailed in 2005.
“It’s unfortunate that you take people in good faith,” Mary Corduff said. “What we would like to know is who he was working for while he was here?”
In an interview given to a Rossport camp member and published by Indymedia, Kennedy stressed it was really important for campaigns to “work together” internationally.
“We need to network and we need to be working on these issues together, exchanging information and ways of doing things, and looking at the ways corporations are putting the pressure on us and sharing that information so that we can go forward and win our struggles,” he said.
“In the future, when things happen, we can carry on and have a better idea of how to protest against these corporations.”
Kennedy visited the gas terminal site at Ballinaboy, including the protest headquarters. At the time, work by Shell EP on their controversial gas terminal had been suspended.
One activist said he met Kennedy at a protest over former US president George Bush’s attendance at the EU-US summit in County Clare in June 2004.
Another activist, Ciaron O’Reilly, one of five anti-war protesters acquitted of damaging a US military aircraft at Shannon airport in 2006, said he met Kennedy twice in Ireland, including at an event organised by Gluaiseacht, a social justice movement, in Clare in 2005.
Activists in Ireland have been aware of Kennedy’s real identity since last October. “My main concern is not that the police in the UK and Ireland collect information on activists, but that they sometimes act as agent provocateurs in order to discredit the peace movement,” said anti-war activist Ed Horgan.
Labour TD Michael D Higgins has written to the Department of Justice regarding Kennedy’s activities in Ireland. “It is of grave concern,” he said. “This type of activity undermines respect for the law and it is very sinister in that it can damage good causes.”
A spokesman for the department said it had “no information on any alleged activities in this jurisdiction by the person in question”.
However, there are strong suspicions among left wing groups in Ireland that Kennedy operated with the connivance of the 26 County Special Branch police.
In Britain, Mike Schwarz, the lawyer whose request for information on the role played by Kennedy led to the collapse of a trial of six activists in Nottingham earlier this month, has called for a judge-led investigation to establish the full scale of police infiltration of campaign groups. He says he is not satisfied with the Independent Police Complaints Commission inquiry being conducted into the case.
In interviews published this week, Mr Kennedy said he was involved in five major protests, including the G8 summit in Scotland in 2005 when he passed on “invaluable” information to police about the movements of demonstrators.
Mr Kennedy said it was passed straight to then British prime minister Tony Blair and that he was given a commendation for his spy work.