A County Tyrone man has recounted a “horrific” attempt by British MI5 intelligence to recruit him as an informer.
Marcus Varley said he has been left shaken after being detained by English police just weeks after he was approached by two men who said they were from the “intelligence services”.
The part-time lorry driver, who lives near Dungannon, works for a trucking firm across the border in Monaghan and regularly travels to England at weekends.
The 41-year-old, who is originally from Drogheda, said he has no involvement in politics. He described how he was approached at motorway services near London in August by men who said they wanted to talk to him.
During the encounter the men referred to a friend, who is a member of the republican party Saoradh. Both men are members of a Celtic supporters club in east Tyrone.
He refused to speak to the agents, but weeks later he was stopped as he attempted to disembark from a ferry in his lorry in England.
Aa man who described himself as a member of ‘Special Branch’ asked him to step out of the lorry and attempted to take his mobile phone. After he protested he was grabbed by the arms and “force marched” to a nearby office where his arms were twisted.
He said he was later taken to a police station for further questioning for more than nine hours, while being deprived of his right to speak to a lawyer.
Mr Varley, who cares for his four-year-old autistic son during the week, said he now fears for his livelihood and after the second incident he had to go to the doctor.
“It was horrific,” he said. “It totally caught me off guard, it’s a shock to the system. It does make you nervous and then you are paranoid – are they going to come to my house, are they going to put something on my car?”
Aontú deputy leader Anne McCloskey has called for an end to MI5’s presence in the north of Ireland and for its links to the PSNI police to be ended.
“The level to which the British state, through MI5, conspired with terror gangs to single-out and kill people in the 1980s and 1990s must not be forgotten, nor should MI5 be allowed to continue to operate as if it is a normal, harmless organisation,” she said. “It is long past time that MI5 ceased operating in the north of Ireland.”