Does British Army Document Confirm Kevin McKee’s Role As IRA Informer?

From The Broken Elbow Ed Moloney and James Kinchin-White examine some British Army logs.

The document below is an extract from a British Army ‘watch-keeper’s log’ which appears to show that Kevin McKee, killed and disappeared as a British spy in 1972, and whose body may have just been found in a bog in Co Meath, betrayed a significant IRA arms dump containing five weapons and some 1600 rounds of ammunition.

A ‘watch-keeper’s log’ was a record of all incidents, searches, arrests, lifts, finds or contacts reported by military patrols during a tour of duty. Such logs were kept at each level of the British Army from company level, which this extract appears to be, to Battalion level, Brigade and HQNI, i.e. at Thiepval Barracks in Lisburn.

Kevin McKee – did he tell British Army to raid arms dump in Ballymurphy?

This post will be updated later with more complete details, including dates (although this event appears to have happened on February 7th and my recollection is that the year was 1972), but from memory this was a ‘watch-keeper’s log’ kept by a company of the Kings Own Scottish Borderers, then stationed in Ballymurphy

The relevant extract reads: “Kevin McKee gave info to search 57 Westrock Drive.” The log then goes on to say that a search was made at seven minutes past midnight and then lists the weapons and ammunition discovered.

It is important to retain a degree of caution about the identity of the informer. There may have been more than one Kevin McKee acting as an informer at this time but as it stands, the document appears to suggest that the IRA may not have been wrong in accusing him of being a spy.

Here is the extract.


We can now confirm that this ‘watchkeeper’s log’ was kept by ‘C’ Coy, 1st Btn, Kings Own Scottish Borderers (KOSB) which served in Ballymurphy between 28 December 1971 to April 24, 1972. The asterisk at the top of the page (see below) indicates that everything on that page should be sent to Brigade, i.e. 39 Brigade which included Belfast-based military units. This may have been because McKee was a member of the MRF (Military Reaction Force) and anything concerning that unit would have been of interest to the Brigade staff. CS 37 (call sign 37) is the codename for the officer who led the raid.

The cover page of the watchkeeper’s log with instruction to send pages marked with an asterisk to NIREP 1, i.e. report to 39 Brigade


  1. He may have deserved a bullet behind the ear but his family did not deserve the torment and torture

  2. Marty,

    but if we look at the type of people who would have been putting the bullet behind his ear it is hard to say he deserved it.

    My own view? He was a kid at 16, succumbed to the power of the state and all it had at its disposal. And it was a callous, cynical state with no regard for people like him. His understanding of life was extremely limited. There was a war and these things happened but even in war there has to be constraints. Had he been called Kevin Adams rather than Kevin McKee he would have survived.

    The torture and torment of the family was unforgivable. I listened to his sister on the Marian Finucane show the other day (although it was recorded a month or two ago) and the mental hell their mum was put through was something else. How could we as an organisation have perpetrated such a pitiless act?

    Disappearing people is a war crime in my view: unnecessary and cruel.

  3. AM,
    Total agreement with the above post. Someone at sixteen years of age,who either was involved in the republican or loyalist military side basically no matter how they bluff and blow they display with all the street knowledge, they simply in my opinion cannot really fathom what the hell the whole conflict is about.

    If they do and it is not from some sort of a tribal sectarian outlook, which we all start at, they are perhaps a decade ahead of themselves.

    It explained the massive army recruitment drives across the world based on the young and impressionable. To disapear someone is out of USA gangland mafia 1970's, so in my opinion it is a war crime. It is beyond cruel for the families involved and anyone to develop such a strategy.

    The blame in my opinion lays with the leadership or the person giving out the orders.

  4. James,

    I know the Americans will execute people for things they did as kids but for me it is hardly a civilised form of behaviour, savage in essence.

    Unfortunately, militaries are about bravado and balls; a macho culture where weakness is concealed within oneself and despised within others. There was little understanding within the IRA or other militaries for that matter of the vulnerability of youth. Kids were beaten senseless in the barracks by the cops, signed statements, maybe implicating others, maybe not, and were then looked upon with less favour in the jails. Militaries breed elitism rather than equality.

    War, because it is so terrible, should be avoided where possible. This is a problem I have with physical force republicanism: it worships war.

  5. I agree with your comments Anthony re some touts are more privileged than others, this has been well born out by how many well connected have simply been allowed to walk away proving if needed how dysfunctional the movement really was.and when we see how easily the Green book was discarded by the elite cin their headless headlong rush to be accommodated in a Brit solution my judgement is that if young MC Kee deserved a bullet then so to does those who violated green book rules simple as .

  6. Marty,

    it is just such a tragic outcome to such a young life. When I was 16 I thought I knew everything. Now I am just glad not to be young enough to know everything. I was in jail at 16 but what is there to say given how vulnerable we are at that age that I could not have ended up another Kevin as a result of a different turn of events?

    One of the guys mentioned in Dixie's thread, Eamonn MacDermott, was beaten into signing a statement. I knew Eamonn very well during my first stretch in jail as teenagers. We went through out stretch together. Neither of us had signed and we could not understand how so many had signed. When Eamonn was later battered into signing next time around (I didn't next time either but then I was not battered) I later spoke to him about it and felt "there for the grace of dog go I". If he could be made to sign then most of us could.

    Since then I have sought to remain non judgemental about people breaking and signing. As an "offence" it just does not register on my richter scale.

    We now have the benefit of hindsight which we did not have during the war. We denied people their dignity and frequently their lives because of it. Now that we have a chance to restore their dignity we should. They lost their everything, no point in adding to that loss by labelling them pariahs.

  7. AM,

    This is true, as you say people were simply battered or tortured into it and then had the indignity of losing face amongst their peers, therefore after the physical pain has erased then the mental pain of letting the side down would begin. Thats the whole rationale behind brutally and torture by any establishment. It really sounded like russian roulette to who was going to get it or not, which in opinion was another torture tactic based on fear.

    After reading Cruel Brittania by Ian Cobain, the british have no bottom line, I am sure it is going on somewhere as we speak, so it simply came to no surprise that many did sign to whatever, just to get the hell out of there.

    I know for a fact I am no hero, and have often wondered how would have I reacted to torture while under arrest.

    I also detest the macho physical force attitude from any side, and I am no tree hugging ghandi by any stretch of the imagination. I have to admit a good percentage of the hard men I have witnessed that were affiliated to these organisations basically had very little to offer society in a positive way.

    For example, when I look at east belfast loyalists, I immediately think of UK postcode gangs based on affiliation of people the same age, in the same local, looking after there own patch. The whole trappings of status, power, purpose, focus, identity are somewhat simplified under the label here of local and whether they claim to be loyalist or Republican. This is by no means being derogatory towards these people, I just wondered did anyone else think like me?

  8. James,

    injustice produces conflict; conflict in turn produces people not always motivated by the just resolution of conflict but thrown up by it nonetheless. The conflict is political even if the motives of everyone involved are not. Courage is a very finite resource and should be used sparingly with as much of it reserved as possible for future emergencies rather then being expended on the immediacy of the moment. Fuck heroics. They are only for when others are looking LOL. Get through it as best you can without stabbing your buddies in the back.

  9. McKee was just a school kid. The person who ordered his death placed no value on his life but placed a great deal on his death and the miss-conceived effect it would didn't stop informers!

    That's the sad thing about informers, killing them doesn't stop them.

  10. More than likely Kevin McKee was executed to cover for someone else.

  11. The last comment unfortunately did not make it through. TPQ does not publish comments from "Unknown". It leads to too much confusion when there are multiple users posting as "Unknown". If your comment is for publication and you wish to maintain your privacy use a pen name at the very bottom of your comment.