British intelligence knew in advance about the Enniskillen bombing of 1987 and altered the timing to kill civilians and create a “massive backlash” against the IRA, according to an anonymous letter by an MI5 agent, written 30 years ago and declassified this week in Dublin.
Twelve people were killed when an IRA bomb exploded prematurely, for reasons which have never been explained. Six days after the bombing, an anonymous, typed letter was sent to then Tanaiste and 26 County Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Lenihan. It has now been released as part of the 1988 State papers.
The letter was sent by a man who wrote that he was an MI5 agent operating in the North of Ireland for 18 months and that he worked in the special section which was set up to infiltrate republican armed groups.
He stated that his section of MI5 knew in advance of IRA plans to plant a bomb in Enniskillen on Remembrance Day. He said British intelligence knew when and where the IRA gang were going to plant the bomb, its size and technical make-up.
“Our section decided to change the timing device and let the explosion take place so that the IRA would score an own goal and create a massive backlash against itself,” he wrote.
“Our section also calculated that in the climate of a backlash against the IRA all kinds of security measures could be implemented including extradition.”
The self-admitted MI5 operative also revealed that MI6’s involvement in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, which had killed 33 civilians in 1974 and were blamed on the UVF, had been “well established” in his agency.
He listed ways in which British intelligence sought to target republicans, including the covert bugging of arms dumps. British ‘dirty tricks’ had included efforts to manipulate Irish National Liberation Army leader Dessie O’Hare through his wife, and the murder of Mary McGlinchey, the wife of another INLA leader.
He said he had no concern for “terrorists”, but that “the results of our interference with the Enniskillen bomb absolutely shocked and horrified me.”
He added: “I am not even sure that I am doing the right thing, but I feel I must do something to make people aware of what is happening, and get it stopped. If I had more courage I would come out openly and prove with more detail what I am now saying.”
It is not known what investigation took place into the claims, if any. No official documents on the allegations have ever been released.