The secret conspiracy to destroy peace in Ireland

Pictures of an ex-minister with two attractive Yugoslav women popped up in gossip columns

NO MP ever forgets their maiden speech in the House of Commons. In my case the memory was deeply reinforced by press coverage the following morning, with The Sun leading the press pack with a full front-page headline: "Red Ken smears heroes".

At Prime Minister's Questions that afternoon, Mrs Thatcher denounced my speech and then rounded on Neil Kinnock for not doing the same. Poor Neil made the fatal mistake of equivocating that "while the allegations are most probably not true...", thus prompting a Tory MP to claim that Kinnock sounded "like Klaus Barbie's defence lawyer". As Barbie was on trial for helping organise Hitler's genocide, this was a trifle over the top.

The allegations I made back in July 1987 read like a Frederick Forsyth novel. If true, they were a time bomb ticking away at the heart of Mrs Thatcher's government, involving her closest colleagues. But Labour's front bench wouldn't touch them with a bargepole.

Rumours began to circulate that Kinnock had been warned by MI5 that if he did pursue these claims, then damaging stories about Labour MPs' sexual and financial peccadilloes would be leaked to journalists. MI5 wasn't joking. Pictures of a married former Labour cabinet minister in the company of two extremely attractive Yugoslav women popped up in the gossip columns.

My allegations were that a small group of MI5 and MI6 officers conspired to wreck the cease-fire negotiated between the Labour government and the IRA in February 1975. Captain Robert Nairac led a group of loyalist paramilitaries across the border into Ireland to assassinate John Francis Green, a leading IRA figure. A few months later, in July 1975, Nairac again led loyalist paramilitaries, disguised in Ulster Defence Regiment uniforms, in an attack on the Miami Showband, who were at that time Ireland's most popular group. Three members of the band were killed and one of the guns used at the scene was the gun used to kill John Francis Green. When arrested, one of the loyalist paramilitaries was revealed to be a sergeant in the UDR.

Nairac was not at that time implicated in the incident, but the MI5 plotters were successful. The IRA reacted to the Miami Showband killings by slaughtering five people in the Bayardo Bar the following month, unleashing a wave of tit-for-tat killings that escalated until the Northern Ireland Secretary, Merlyn Rees, terminated the cease-fire on 12 November.

Making such allegations brought down upon my head a wave of condemnation, not just from the Tories and the press, but also from the Labour leadership. In the years that followed, I submitted more than 300 questions about the "dirty" war in Ireland and after years of denial, the government was forced to admit that the intelligence services had engaged in a covert black propaganda campaign, code-named Clockwork Orange.

Colin Wallace, a former Army intelligence officer who had been one of my two key sources of information, was found to have been framed for manslaughter and was eventually compensated. My second source, Captain Fred Holroyd, who worked for MI6, was discredited by being committed to a psychiatric hospital and has never received the compensation that is his due.

This has become relevant again because the Sunday Mirror has published letters purportedly from Nairac to Oonagh Flynn, the mother of his son. She recounts how Nairac told her he had killed Green and gave details of the Miami Showband killings. His letters also recount his fears that he is being set up: "I know they are shitting me up big-time, boxing me in." Some have claimed that an Army unit was operating near the Three Steps pub where Nairac was captured by the IRA, and did not intervene to save him.

It will be a simple matter to determine whether the handwriting in these letters shows that they were really penned by Nairac, and DNA tests could confirm Oonagh's claim that he was the father of her son.

Most of the key players in these events have died or are no longer in positions of power, but what they tell us about the operation of the security services is so important that Oonagh's claims must be investigated officially.

The current cease-fire and peace process in Northern Ireland hang on a thread in part because of republican suspicions that the security services are not impartial. The allegations of shoot-to-kill policies were investigated by the Stalker and Sampson inquiries but never published. This poisonous history bedevils Chris Patten's investigation of the RUC and the issue of whether it should be reformed or abolished. The way to create an Ireland at peace with itself is to create something like South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, examining the horrors of recent years irrespective of who committed them. Only then will it be possible for the people of Ireland to build a peaceful future.

It would also mean that we can finally pass judgement on Robert Nairac. When carrying out his orders, did he know they were issued by people trying to undermine the elected Labour leadership of the day? There is also the much more explosive issue of the trail leading to the outer office of Mrs Thatcher.

The spymaster Peter Wright, of Spycatcher fame, makes no mention in his book of the extensive work he undertook in Ireland, yet he was the central figure among the group of MI5 officers trying to bring down the Labour government. I believe that the most likely scenario is that Wright and others directed the murder of Green and the Miami Showband killings in order to deny the minority Labour government the popularity that would have followed from its concluding a peace deal with the IRA.

Wright met the former MI6 officer Airey Neave MP, who was not only Mrs Thatcher's shadow Northern Ireland minister but the head of her private office, her closest friend and the man who personally introduced her to MI5 and MI6 officers. Did Wright brief Neave on what was going on, to destabilise the Wilson government? Neave himself privately employed Colin Wallace to spread disinformation and black propaganda.

A full investigation could reveal that Airey Neave, the man who organised Thatcher's seizure of the Tory party in 1975, was also guilty of treason and an accessory to murder.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

film
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment

film
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...