Controversial IRA Informant Stakeknife Linked to More Deaths than Lives Saved, Demanding UK Government and Provisional IRA Apologies

In a comprehensive report released by Operation Kenova, the seven-year investigation into the activities of Freddie Scappaticci, codenamed Stakeknife, sheds light on a dark chapter in British intelligence history. The report, spanning 200 pages, reveals that Stakeknife, a crucial and controversial agent within the IRA, was ‘probably’ responsible for more deaths than lives saved through his intelligence work. The investigation, costing £40 million, demands apologies from both the UK Government and the Provisional IRA to the bereaved families affected by Stakeknife’s actions.

Stakeknife’s Dual Role: IRA Commander and British Informer

Freddie Scappaticci, widely known as Stakeknife, served as the head of the IRA’s infamous ‘nutting squad,’ responsible for internal disciplinary processes. Simultaneously, he was passing crucial secrets to the shadowy Force Research Unit. Despite official claims that Stakeknife’s intelligence saved at least 180 lives, today’s report challenges this narrative, suggesting that it was ‘probable’ that more lives were lost due to his involvement in the IRA’s internal operations.

Contested Numbers and ‘Fables and Fairy Tales’

While the report does not provide specific figures on the lives lost, it disputes the notion that Stakeknife’s role resulted in significant life-saving. The independent investigation concludes that claims of him saving hundreds of lives were ‘rooted in fables and fairy tales.’ The Army’s defense of using Stakeknife based on the lives saved is contradicted by the report, emphasizing the lack of protection for victims and the absence of criminal justice for terrorists.

Call for Apology and Acknowledgment of Responsibility

Sir Iain Livingstone, the author of the report, calls for a review of the UK Government’s policy of neither confirming nor denying sensitive information related to intelligence matters. While Stakeknife is not explicitly named in the report, there is little doubt regarding his identity, despite his repeated denials. The call for apologies extends to both the UK Government and the Provisional IRA, urging them to acknowledge their roles in this dark chapter of history and express remorse to the affected families.

Legal Outcome and Ongoing Challenges

The Kenova investigation, originally led by Jon Boutcher, saw its conclusion last week when the Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland announced no prosecutions would be pursued after reviewing the final batch of files. Thirty-two individuals, including former police, military personnel, and those linked with the IRA, were considered for prosecution on various charges, but insufficient evidence hindered further legal action. The report highlights the challenges faced by families seeking truth and justice, enduring delays, setbacks, and unfulfilled promises.

Key Recommendations for Change

The Operation Kenova report not only reveals the historical implications but also offers recommendations for systemic changes:

  • MI5’s Policy and Information Access: The report criticizes MI5’s policy of ‘delay’ in providing information, stating that extracting information from it is ‘challenging.’
  • Statutory Framework for Troubles Investigations: Ministers are urged to establish a new statutory framework for investigating cases from the Troubles, providing a structured approach to addressing historical incidents.
  • Review of ‘Neither Comment Nor Deny’ Policy: The policy preventing the confirmation of Stakeknife’s identity is recommended for review to prevent its use as a cover-up for wrongdoing by security services or their agents.
  • Designation of Summer Solstice as a Remembrance Day: The report suggests designating the Summer Solstice as a day to remember all victims of the Troubles, acknowledging their suffering and losses.
  • Apologies from the Government and Republican Leadership: The UK Government is called upon to apologize to families of those killed when it could have been prevented based on known intelligence. Additionally, the ‘republican leadership’ is urged to apologize for the ‘shameful and evil’ actions of its terrorists against its own community.

Victim Perspective: Kenova’s Impact

The daughter of an IRA victim, Shauna Moreland, emphasizes that Operation Kenova has not failed victims despite the lack of prosecutions. She acknowledges the significant impact of the investigation in providing a process that families could believe in, affirming that victims deserved acknowledgment and respect beyond being statistics.

Stakeknife’s Complex History

Born in West Belfast to Italian immigrants, Scappaticci joined the Provisionals in 1971, later becoming part of the Internal Security Unit (‘the nutting squad’) tasked with identifying informers. His involvement with British Intelligence began in 1978, eventually making him a vital asset for the Force Research Unit. Unmasked as Stakeknife in 2003, Scappaticci’s legacy is intertwined with allegations of torture, murder, and collusion with intelligence services.

In conclusion, Operation Kenova’s report opens a window into the complex and controversial role played by Stakeknife, prompting calls for accountability, apologies, and systemic changes in addressing historical incidents from the Troubles.

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