British Security Services MI5 ‘planned to blow up Sinn Fein headquarters’

The British Security Services plotted to blow up Sinn Fein's Dublin headquarters during the height of the Troubles, a former undercover police officer has claimed.

An IRA informer was asked to place the bomb in the offices on Kevin Street in the summer of 1971, according to George Clarke, a retired Royal Ulster Constabulary Special Branch Detective Sergeant.



The counter-terrorism officer, who left the police more than 20 years ago, said the security services eventually decided not to go through with the attack, but not before he had put the proposition to his source.



He made the claims in Border Crossing — his newly published memoir of his time working in the RUC's intelligence unit.



“I was approached by one of the men from the security services who asked if the source would be willing to do a job,” said the retired detective, who is now in his late 70s.



“It would involve leaving a bag in the Kevin Street office. He would get £500 for it. It was to be timed for a Saturday morning, that's when quite a few of the boys (IRA) would be there to pick up their 10 or 20 quid.”



Mr Clarke, who spent more than 40 years in the police in Northern Ireland, describes in the book the unease he felt over what was being suggested.



“This wasn't only agent provocateur, it was conspiracy to murder,” he said.



“I wasn't happy to say the least.” In the event, the alleged plot never got beyond the planning stages. Two weeks after it was first suggested to him, Mr Clarke said he was called to another meeting with the shadowy MI5 agent.



“He said they had changed their minds about it and just to forget it was mentioned,” he recalled.



The story is one of many recounted in the officer's 250-page account of his time working in RUC Special Branch during the worst of the Troubles.



Another involves a republican source presenting himself out of the blue to pass on a tip that led to the arrest in 1973 of current Stormont Sinn Fein Junior Minister Gerry Kelly at Heathrow airport, hours after he had carried out a bomb attack on London's Old Bailey.



“He (the informer) went to the guards (Irish police) in the south and wanted a lot of money for the information,” he said.



“But the guards weren't going to pay him thousands for information about London — if Dublin was the target that would have been different.



“So one of the guards told him to take a trip over the border and get in touch with Special Branch. He did that and I was on call the night he rang. He said London would be hit at noon next day. While we didn't have enough information to stop the attacks, we did know they would be leaving from Heathrow.”



Mr Clarke, who now lives in Scotland, said the episode is just one example of how undercover officers on both sides of the border co-operated with each other at a time when their commanders would not even speak to one another.



This secret link between the RUC and the Garda in the early 70s is a central theme running through the memoir.



“In and around 1971 there wouldn't have been a phone call between forces north and south, not one, no contact at all, even from Newry to Dundalk — they wouldn't even call each other about ordinary crime,” said the ex-officer.



“Things were getting hot and heavy (in regard to the violence) in those days so I decided to go and look for my counterpart across the border. I found him and after a few meetings and a few pints we started to work together.



“So there was this clandestine relationship during those critical years before internment.



“Many of the successes we had can never be told, but we thwarted countless attacks, we were having successes on a weekly basis in those days, either intercepting weapons or explosives.



“The public don't know what went on behind the scenes in the dark days of (the) 70s, but I've no doubt we saved hundreds of lives, maybe even more.”



Though it details a dark period in Irish history, there is room for some lighter anecdotes in the book.



One centres on Special Branch listening devices that former Irish premier Charlie Haughey got his hands on and refused to give back.



Mr Clarke had lent the bugs, which were hidden in pens and plug adapters, to a colleague in the Garda to have a look at.



The officer had in turn shown them to the then Fianna Fail Taoiseach, who apparently started to use them to great effect in his Dublin offices to listen in on conversations between other politicians.



“I kept on at this guard to get the devices back, but he said Haughey just refused,” he explained.



“He told me he had got angry with him on one occasion and said 'I need them back, they don't belong to me'.



“But Haughey said he couldn't have them, that they were so useful to him that they had changed the face of Irish political history.



“Well to that the guard responded: 'Well I hope you realise that it's the RUC Special Branch that's changing the face of Irish political history then!' “



* Border Crossing: True stories of the RUC Special Branch, the Garda Special Branch and the IRA Moles is published this week by Gill MacMillan.



* Source: The Belfast Telegraph.

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

News
i100
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and no-one was arrested

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Concerns raised phenomenon is threatening resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

News
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
i100
Voices
The number of children in relative income poverty is currently 2.3 million in the UK
voices

Environment
A Brazilian wandering spider
natureIt's worth knowing for next time one appears in your bananas
Life and Style
Time and Oak have developed a product that allows drinkers to customise the flavour and improve the quality of cheaper whiskey
food + drink

Sport
football

Peter Biaksangzuala died from his injuries in hospital on Sunday

Life and Style
The final 12 acts will be facing Simon Cowell, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, Mel B and Louis Walsh tonight
fashion

The X Factor's judges colourful outfit was mocked by Simon Cowell

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past