British military intelligence escalated its efforts to target Irish political activists in border areas over the Christmas period.
The increasingly brazen efforts to recruit informers is thought to be part of a new British campaign to undermine republican resistance in the area.
In one incident near the border town of Strabane, a republican activist was returning from his work when he came across a PSNI police checkpoint. After being forced to pull over, he was ‘boxed in’ by another car before two men approached. They said they wanted a “chat” and that they “could make his life better”.
When they were refused, they threw a small piece of paper with a phone number on it into the vehicle and quickly left.
In Fermanagh, a young member of Republican Sinn Fein was subjected to a raid in which phones and laptops were seized shortly before Christmas. The next day he found himself on the receiving end of an unusual recruitment bid in which a new phone and phone credit were pushed through his letterbox. The items were destroyed.
Meanwhile, a Newry-based Saoradh activist reported that he was on holiday in Spain when two undercover agents approached him at a cafe. They said they wanted to speak with him and they had an “opportunity” for him.
The Saoradh member rejected their offer and then followed the agents to the street where he was stopped by waiting undercover Spanish police. Blocking his path, they flashed police badges and repeatedly asked “what happen” in a confrontational manner.
The incident was captured in a video which has been uploaded to the Saoradh website.
“It’s disturbing that the Spanish authorities were clearly colluding with MI5 in order to target the Republican and helped facilitate this approach whilst preventing the Republican from further challenging and exposing the nefarious British state operatives,” Saoradh said in a statement.
Saoradh also reported that MI5 had made a second failed attempt to recruit a young republican in Derry. A British agent using the name “Dave” contacted the young man by phone for the second time in recent weeks for information about the “bad people” they said he associates with. That phone call was also recorded.
“Over the last number of weeks and months, Saoradh have been alerted to numerous approaches by these shadowy spies. Coupled with the high volume of approaches, we have noticed an upsurge of covert and overt activity by the occupier in the Occupied Six Counties. This also includes more intense home invasions and arrests of Republican activists and their family members.
“It is not a crime to be a Republican. Saoradh encourage anyone who finds themselves facing similar harassment or intimidation at the hands of the British State to contact a solicitor immediately and forward the details to your local Saoradh representative.”