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Ira security chief british agent

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Exposure of double agent ‘could destroy IRA’

By Fionnán Sheahan, Political Reporter
THE IRA could be destroyed by revelations its former security chief was a leading British agent, a former member of the organisation claimed last night.

Republicans were left dumbfounded by the exposure of British military intelligence’s most crucial and powerful agent: codename Stakeknife.

The mole, who is suspected of being involved in dozens of murders after being recruited by a secret British Army unit, was believed to be in hiding after being pulled out of the country just before his cover was blown.

Among those believed to have been murdered by him are Co Louth farmer Tom Oliver, whose killing by the IRA in 1991 provoked revulsion.

He also kidnapped, interrogated, tortured and killed other IRA men suspected of being British informers.

The Taoiseach was urged last night to seek answers from British Prime Minister Tony Blair about the revelations.

“The Government needs to make contact with the British and establish the facts,” said Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny.

Labour leader Pat Rabbitte is also expected to raise the matter with Mr Ahern in the Dáil tomorrow. The Government made no comment on the matter yesterday.

Several newspapers and internet sites said Stakeknife had headed the IRA’s internal security unit and was a member of its general headquarters staff.

Last night, Anthony McIntyre, a former prisoner who quit the Provisionals after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement claimed the Republican leadership could be shaken to its core as a result of the revelations.

“This is potentially devastating for the IRA. If it’s true Stakeknife was the head of internal security then it’s a major coup for the British ,” he said.

Yesterday, neither the Northern Ireland Office nor the British Army would comment about the agent Stakeknife is thought to have been involved in the killings of loyalists, policemen, soldiers and civilians to protect his cover.

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