Three British cameras and a transmitter hidden on a hillside and looking down on one of the north’s busiest roadside inns are believed to have been used to spy on republicans in the Tyrone area for months or even years.
The devices were discovered dug into a bank overlooking Kelly’s Inn, on the main Derry to Belfast road. The high powered cameras, a transmitter and battery pack, were discovered on a remote ridge overlooking the venue earlier this year.
It is unclear if the surveillance operation was a joint venture involving different Crown agencies, and other devices may still remain in the vicinity.
A popular meeting place in a strongly republican area, the venue is well known for hosting high profile events linked to the GAA. A large function room is often used for weddings and dinner dances.
PSNI district commander Alywin Barton attempted to blame the North’s electricity supplier for the devices, when challenged about the discovery by Sinn Féin councillor Barry McElduff at a meeting this week. However, that was quickly exposed as false when the organisation said the cameras were not theirs.
Mr McElduff said local people are concerned by the development.
Speaking after the meeting he said: “I would like the district commander of the PSNI to make a public statement and to confirm whether or not there has been involvement of the British army or other British state agencies.
“The local community have come to me and they are disturbed and worried about this and regard it as sinister.”
Saoradh in Tyrone said it believed that the British surveillance at the location could have continued for years, and suggested an ‘August 2020’ date on the battery pack could indicate merely when the battery was changed.
“This surveillance equipment was most likely placed there by MI5 agents; the same shady operators who prey on vulnerable people and Irish Republicans in an attempt to recruit them into their midst on an almost daily basis,” they said.
They urged republicans in the area to remain vigilant and to continue to draw attention to any sinister Crown Force activity in the area.