Alleged informer shot dead

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There has been no claim of responsibility for an attack in which a former British soldier accused of infiltrating an IRA breakaway group was killed.

The man known as Daniel McClean was shot a number of times in his car on the Cliftonville Road on Tuesday evening in a carefully planned ambush.

The shooting happened outside McGrath’s pub at around 8.15pm on Tuesday. It is understood that residents in the area heard up to five shots around the time of the incident.

McClean had been facing threats over accusations he spied on Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH), which split from the Real IRA in 2009.

In early 2019, graffiti first emerged in parts of West Belfast, sending out a warning that his background as a British soldier had been exposed. One of these messages appeared on a gable wall on Lenadoon Avenue saying: “Danny McClean UDR RIP.”

It had emerged that McClean was a former member of the UDR (Ulster Defence Regiment) the locally-recruited regiment of the British Army known for some of the worst sectarian killings in collusion with loyalist paramilitaries.

The details emerged when McClean stood trial on IRA membership charges, after being accused of interrogating a drug dealer for Óglaigh na hÉireann. He had been arrested in June 2014 following an MI5 spying operation. When it went to trial, the judge accepted a guilty plea and agreed not to proceed with the IRA charge, releasing him based on time served on remand in Maghaberry prison.

British soldiers who become politically aware have joined IRA groups in the past, but would have been fully debriefed on their activities for the British forces, their inside knowledge and military expertise.

It is understood that throughout his membership of Óglaigh na hÉireann, McClean concealed his five-year military record with the British Army.

In a carefully worded ceasefire statement in January 2018, ONH said it had suspended “all actions against the British State”, leaving open the possibility of actions against informers and drug-dealers.

In December 2018, the ONH was linked to the execution of prominent drug-dealer Jim Donegan.

Last year another man accused of being a British informer inside the organisation, Kieran Wylie, was shot dead in west Belfast. Both Wylie and McClean had been accused of setting up ONH Volunteers for arrest and betraying arms dumps.

Sinn Féin’s Carál Ní Chuilín condemned the killing of McClean and said her thought were with the family of the man who was killed. “It’s important to bear in mind that at the heart of this tragedy is a grieving family,” she said.

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