An attempt to boost the reputation of the former Fianna Fáil leader Charles Haughey with an allegation that former IRA leader Seán Mac Stiofáin was a double agent has been rejected by a former colleague.
The allegation arises from a book by David Burke, which addresses the many claims made against the late Fianna Fáil Charles Haughey (pictured, left) that he helped boost the Provisional IRA in the late 1960s.
Most of the book, ‘Deception and Lies’, focuses on the duplicitous actions of the Fianna Fáil government at the time, particularly former Taoiseach Jack Lynch, under whom Haughey served as Minister for Finance.
In 1969, Haughey and other authority figures quietly planned to resource nationalist communities in the North who were at that time facing potential civil war, including the provision of arms for self-defence.
Burke backs arguments these efforts had been approved by the Dublin government as a whole, and his book looks at the “smears and dirty tricks” when shambolic exercise was exposed and collapsed in scandal.
Lynch denied knowledge of the project and turned on those directly involved, some of whom were tried in 1970, including Haughey, who was found not guilty. Rancorous divisions continued within Fianna Fáil for at least a generation.
Despite near-constant smears by British military intelligence and his political enemies in Ireland, Haughey eventually became Taoiseach of Ireland. One of the most extreme of the accusations repeatedly levelled against him by unionists is that he ‘helped found the Provisional IRA’ on the basis of his actions in 1969.
Burke’s book rails against the actions of Lynch and others in Fianna Fáil, including one individual identified as ‘the Deceiver’, as well as the black operations of the British intelligence agencies as they sought to damage Haughey and mainstream Irish nationalism in the process.
Among the allegations made by Burke is that Mr Mac Stíofáin (pictured, right), who went to become a leader within the Provisional IRA, passed details of an impending arms shipment to Gardai in a bid to undermine his rivals within his own organisation before it split in two.
Sean Haughey TD, son the late Fianna Fáil leader, this week claimed the book had ‘exonerated’ his father of the claim that he was closely linked to the Provisionals. He has called for all historical state papers on Mac Stíofáin to be released to support the claim he acted as a Garda informer.
Mac Stíofáin was sidelined within the Provisional movement in 1973 and finally parted ways with Sinn Féin in 1982 in a dispute over the party’s political direction. But a former IRA Executive member, Des Long from Limerick, denied that Mac Stíofáin was a double agent.
Mr Long noted that, as IRA intelligence officer, he “had contacts” in the Gardaí but these would have had the knowledge and approval of the IRA Executive.
Mr Long, who once served as Mac Stíofáin’s driver, was himself an IRA Executive member and later a vice-president of Republican Sinn Fein.
According to a post on Facebook, he said: “Any good intelligence officer would make contact wherever he could. He was not a double agent and I can say that for a fact.
“He had contacts in the police, how high up I don’t know. We were aware. I would and did put my freedom and life in his hands. He never betrayed me. It’s anti-republican propaganda.”