Northern Ireland

Collusion debate: IRA informers 'in high authority' claims DUP

Edwin Poots
Image caption Edwin Poots told a Northern Ireland Assembly debate that "high level informers could be in places of high authority even as we speak"

Some IRA informers could now be in places of "high authority", according to claims by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MLA Edwin Poots.

During a Northern Ireland Assembly debate on collusion, Mr Poots said informants "didn't end at Fred Scappaticci or Denis Donaldson".

"I suspect some of those high level informers could be in places of high authority even as we speak," he added.

The debate was called after a BBC Panorama programme on collusion in May.

'Very edgy'

The programme, broadcast on 28 May, reported allegations by a former Police Ombudsman that there were "hundreds and hundreds" of deaths as a result of security force collusion during the Troubles.

Baroness Nuala O'Loan also told Panoroma that some paramilitary informants recruited by the security forces were "serial killers" and some killed with impunity.

Monday's Private Member's debate was called by several Sinn Féin members and their motion called for a "thorough and independent investigation" of the issues raised by the programme.

As Mr Poots made his accusations of informants in high places, he addressed the Sinn Féin benches and said: "I haven't named anybody, so you're all getting very edgy and uppity."

'Truth process'

Similar claims were made by another DUP member, Paul Frew, who claimed it was the use of informers which eventually "strangled the republican movement".

"I am sure there are many now in the ranks of political parties that are and were informers in the past which led to the defeat of the IRA," he said.

"And many of you sitting in this room tonight may also have been informers and gave information to the police."

In his speech, Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly accused DUP members of having spent the last 15 years resisting his party's campaign for "truth process" in relation to Troubles killings.

Image caption Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly claimed the DUP had resisted a Troubles "truth process"

Mr Kelly said there was now a "volume of evidence out in open view" that the British government, "through its forces in the military and the police; the intelligence services; in their state agents and informants, that state killings caused hundreds of deaths of innocent citizens".

"That's the truth, if we're talking about the truth, and I am for the truth coming out all over," Mr Kelly added.