‘AA’ RUC Agent Story – Allison Morris Needs To Do Better Than This!

Ed Moloney explains why he thinks Allison Morris of the Irish News is having difficulties convincing readers that she is on the money with her Shankill bombing story.  Ed Moloney blogs @ The Broken Elbow.      

The Irish News’ reporter Allison Morris will have to do better than this if she wants to convince her readers that her story about the IRA agent known only as ‘AA’ is true.

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In recent days ‘AA’ released a statement through his lawyer, Padraig O Muirigh (Paddy Murray, for the benefit of my non-Irish speaking readers), denying that he was an agent for the RUC Special Branch who had tipped off his handlers about an IRA plot to bomb the UDA leadership in October 1993.

Allison Morris’ response, in the columns of today’s Irish News was to lampoon ‘AA’s’ statement, and compare it to the denials made by Freddie Scappaticci when he was accused in the media of being the agent ‘Steaknife’.

She wrote:
Claims that he was being targeted by “scurrilous allegations and reckless journalism” could have came straight from the mouth of the army agent Stakeknife, believed to be west Belfast man Freddie Scappaticci.

Well, my mother was not born on Mars but if The Irish News was to publish a story claiming that, thanks to her, I had Martian blood flowing through my veins and I responded by accusing the paper of ‘scurrilous allegations and reckless journalism’, would that put me in the same category as ‘Scap’, a discredited, lying former Special Branch spy?

Would that mean that my denial was worthless?

I think not.

Here is the text of her story. Enjoy:

Analysis by Allison Morris
05 February, 2016

Denials by IRA man said to be ‘AA’ sound familiar

THE denials issued on Thursday by the man said to be agent ‘AA’ – an IRA commander at the time of the Shankill bomb – sound very familiar.

Claims that he was being targeted by “scurrilous allegations and reckless journalism” could have came straight from the mouth of the army agent Stakeknife, believed to be west Belfast man Freddie Scappaticci.

Back in 2003 Scappaticci, who is now to be subject to a police investigation into his alleged involvement in more than 20 murders, hit out at the media as he insisted his innocence.

“I had to leave my home for a couple of days for safety’s sake and lie low, my family has been tortured by the British media and gutter press,” he said.

Shortly afterwards he fled Northern Ireland and now lives under an assumed identity in England.

This week former Sinn Féin director of publicity Danny Morrison said suspicions about Scappaticci were known to republicans as far back as 1990, 13 years before he was outed by the media.

The allegations about AA were also known by republicans as far back as the end of 2002, again just over 13 years before they were finally revealed in the Irish News.

A team of police officers from outside Northern Ireland will now investigate the Stakeknife case.

The Police Ombudsman will probe allegations about AA.

The investigation will need to establish not just if the RUC had prior knowledge of an attack on the Shankill in 1993, but also why a man known to be the commander of the IRA throughout the 1990s has never been arrested or questioned in relation to the numerous attacks carried out by the organisation’s most active unit.


  1. Maybe she isnt bang on the money at all , she described AA as a former blanketman and this is not the case , so who gave her the story , the i.d in the propaganda video and why?

  2. The story does not have the credibility it did when it first emerged. There have been too many challenges to it since, the most important of which has come from George Hamilton. Would he put his neck on the line so publicly to have his head chopped off down the line? On top of that Ed Moloney is adamant that her earlier story that Winkie Rea told Boston College about the killing of Frankie Curry is hogwash. He is in a position to know what Rea said or did not say. It is also very hard to find anyone on the journalist scene who believes the Irish News saw the Castlereagh files.

    So, the jury is still out but the likelihood of even a majority verdict in her favour is appearing slimmer by the day. Unless the paper produces something compelling, it will have quite a bit of explaining to do.

    That said, I don't think her drawing attention to the similarity between how the Scap case was dealt with post outing and how this one was dealt with, is something to be too critical about. The parallels seem pretty obvious, whatever inference is drawn from them.

  3. I thought it was a bit wreckless, to put the mans very detailed circumstances out there. It wouldnt have been difficult for most in the know to finger him. That's akin to setting someone up, dare I say it "felon setting" if the story is untrue. Even if it is true it was still a highly risky thing to put into print with nothing to back it up. Perhaps this is why the story didn't get the over the top media attention normally given to these type of stories?

  4. You just have to recall her and the irish news reporting after Jock Davison was killed, they painted targets on a number of peoples backs by alluding to them as having been behind the killing..she is certainly being spoonfed information but it is by people with agendas.

  5. More allegations today in regard to an informant being involved in the Birmingham pub bombings , is there a pattern to this , and what next , AA,s reaction to the allegations against him are not unlike Scaps , he mentions his family and the impact its all having on them , its alleged he became an informer in 91 , the maths dont add up for sure so either the Irish News is being spoonfed a pack of lies or its being fed half truths , theories and suppositions.

  6. With the latest reports on the bombings in England and the claim of prior knowledge of such by the British security forces....which I don't believe a word of as deliberately killing people here may have been a necessary action no matter how unpalatable, it certainly wasn't 'acceptable' across the water, we need to ask why now? Why all this 'agent' activity being reported?
    And I don't believe it is to do with legacy issues at all.....there's a lot more to it than that....D Morrison is wrapped up in this somehow!

  7. The Boston Globe are in the media recently, with the release of the film 'Spotlight' and the book Black Mass. In both productions the Globe put their journalistic investigative procedures up for public scrutiny. Spotlight were a small group of journalists within the Globe that dealt with long term stories. They could take their time and do what they needed to do to break a story. They did this with the church and the priests inside of it that sexually abused children. They went after sealed records from courts, knocked on doors and got their facts backed up by various sources. Infact even their own journalists knew they had enough to publish and still editorial control held back to look at the bigger picture. Same with the Bulger story. James Bulger and Stephen Flemmi corrupted the FBI in south Boston. Southie as it is known. I haven't seen the picture but in the book Gerard O'Neill and Dick Lehr tell in the introduction and in chapter 16 about how they went about breaking this story .John Connolly and his supervisor John Morris allowed Bulger and Flemmi to corrupt the FBI, until Morris could no longer tolerate the situation and tried his best to get out of it. Morris met with one of the journalists from the Globe giving him the guts of the story that had been rumoured about for a long time, yet the Globe wouldn't run with the story on one source alone. The Globe had to go outside south Boston to a retired FBI agent in order to get verification of the story before they went to print..

    It looks to me, and I'm no journalist, that the Irish News is no Boston Globe. On the face of it to my untrained eye the Irish News and its journalist has gone with one source, and in order to back up that source, the same source has shown some 'documents' to back up his case. Basically the source was his own back up. Then there is the problem of - did this journalist know what she was looking at? The Irish News could have gone to print without revealing the very particular circumstances of this individual at the centre of the story. They could simply have said that the authorities had prior knowledge of the bombing due to an agent involved, its the revealing circumstances that appal me, almost fingering somebody when it could have been avoided. I've no journalistic experience, the closest I've been inside a newspaper is to place one of the family notices in the Irish News when somebody dies, so I'm in no position to criticise, but I can certainly compare the Irish news standards to other things I've read. All I know is if theres to be a story where risk to life or limb is involved then there should be some responsibility shown by those doing the writing and the publishing. After some of the allegations that came out in the Irish News pieces its lucky there wasn't a lynch mob after the guy. At the end of the day we are all innocent until proven guilty and trial by media, or in this case one journalist sets a dangerous precedent in my book...

  8. Niall,

    Now today yet more rumours in regard to the killing of the two corporals in 88 , some unknown source now claims to know the reason the R.U.C or british army didnt intervene to attempt to save them , i had assumed all along the security forces on the ground actually didnt know who they were , someone in Thiepval obviously did but didnt relay the info to anyone else , again what is the reason for this latest revelation.

  9. Stauffenberg,

    I think the incident with the corporals happened very quickly too, and was due to one of them driving the wrong way. I doubt whether anything could have saved them regardless of Intel being immediately passed.

    A very cynical mind would suggest that these 'leaks' or 'revelations' are part of a whitewashing of the past for the Shinners...to put it peoples minds that all the bad things that were undertaken were secretly under direction of Brit agents.

    Nice little revisionist spin before elections in the South? A spoonful of sugar helps the bullshit go down.

  10. Steve ,

    Driving the wrong way ? , what on earth were they doing there ?

  11. Stauffenberg, they were probably gathering intell and weren't briefed very well. That aside, they were both soldiers. And they didn't die a soldiers death...

  12. Stauffenberg,

    I am not passing judgement but it's quite clear they did not mean to drive into the middle of a IRA funeral, especially given it was for somebody murdered at a previous funeral.

    They would have been aware of the heightened tensions. Obviously a bad error.

    And as frankie said, it was no honourable way to die.

  13. Steve ,

    It was no error , they were there for a reason , the British spin on this has always been a cock up of some sort as one of the corporals was engaging in a bit of bravado as the other corporal was new to the scene , ive never bought it for one second.

    I was sat in a car on Kennedy way in the aftermath of it all and the news bulletin on Downtown radio at 14,30 clearly stated ,The M.O.D have confirmed both men killed today were members of the S.A.S on attachment duties , i have two witnesses who also heard the bulletin as im sure did countless others that day.

  14. Steve

    First BBC reports also said that when they left North Howard Street base they turned right to drive up along the Falls Road and not left toward the west link and M1 Motorway -those reports were not intended for anyone who knows Belfast but for confused minds elsewhere. As everyone in Belfast knows they could have went onto the Motorway from Grosvener, Broadway, or Donegal Roads or at Kennedy Way.

    I think the SAS/14Intel learned a costly lesson that day -not to make plans based on only overhead plans or aerial views -if it was available at the time google street view might have saved their lives -or at least they would have launched their attack someplace else.

  15. Christy ,

    You are not spot on mate , The Provos were expecting an attack and volunteers were deployed within a certain radius around the route of the funeral and indeed Milltown , other S.A.S soldiers escaped that day and not all of them escaped unnoticed.

  16. Stauff

    I think the Provies were just on edge not knowing what to expect after a continuum of events since Gibraltar 3 were killed. They were like headless chickens in the mayhem and not working to any foreknowledge but trying to be alert that's all. They did have a lot of stewards, some of whom stopped the Corporals just before they drove at speed into the cortege. But to say that the attack was expected and volunteers were deployed accordingly is false bravado speaking years after the fact. Most of those imprisoned afterwards were not members of the republican movement and those who were acted on impulse as events unfolded before their eyes and not because they had been deployed in readiness to respond. Whether they were members of the IRA or just joe bloggs anyone who acted in Miltown or on the Andersonstown Road did so spontaneously.

  17. I doubt very much that Wood and Howes were Special Forces. For one they would not have been alone and they would have been carrying H+K MP5s and Glock or Berretta 9mm at the very least. Also one of them is wearing glasses in every pic I have seen of him, an immediate disbar to serving with the Det or SAS. They could possibly have been on attachment to SF in a technical role looking after comms or bugs but they were not operational SF. Hundreds of journeys were made every day by forces personnel between different location in plain clothes and only 9mm Brownings were issued. The vast majority of these missions were very mundane. Not every plain clothes soldier was SF.

  18. Belfast is a city folks but its a small city and a strange face or two will always stand out from the crowd , in some respects you are right Christy , people were simply told to be vigilant and look out for unusual behaviour , strangers and so on , however there was a strategy that day , Peter the M.O.D confirmed they were S.A.S and then retracted it we have been given every reason why they werent S.A.S and even more reasons about how they stumbled into the funeral procession , the choice of weapon is simply another smokescreen.

  19. Stauffenberg
    I understand why republicans would like to think they were SAS but they weren't. Two men from the Signals Corps, aged 24 and 23, armed with only Browning Hi-Powers, one of them being short sighted, with no back up and you think they were badged SAS? They were probably technicians attached to some unit or other but the most certainly were not SAS, nor were involved in any operation that day.

  20. Peter ,

    I dont think either of them were six feet tall either , have you seen their army records , i recall an incident in Cappagh in early 90s when two S.A.S members were killed in a counter ambush by the Provos , no claim though from the M.O.D then all of a sudden two servicemen lose their lives in a climbing accident in Canada , infact they werent carrying any weapons when they died , according to the M.O.D that is.

  21. Peter

    I think they were 14Intel which does not depend on the same physical attributes the SAS do. Also a holdhall was taken from their car not sure if its contents was ever disclosed. And yes they were from the SCorp meaning they had the necessary skills for undercover work and equipment that 14Intell valued above being able to run across the Breacon with a rucksack of spuds on their backs.


    Ok I don't know how reliable Peter is for confirming anything so I am not persuaded about the SAS confirmation. Nor do I know of any complex sun sui military strategy involved in "people were simply told to be vigilant" beyond the dictionary meaning of just being 'vigilant'. People acted on their wits and instincts and nothing more elaborate than that. I don't think the IRA had the technology or personnel to be listening in on the Signals Corps, SAS or be a fly on the wall in the briefing Room to even get a whimpering that there was going to be an attack and 'deployed' its volunteers accordingly -those sort of things have more to do with myth making and not reality. The reality is that the vast majority of those who acted were not IRA volunteers -my understanding is the IRA arrived after both Corporals had been disarmed -the IRA did not recover items taken from the Corporals, service cards etc, because those who acted may have panicked afterwards and destroyed/dumped whatever they took and the IRA never got its hands on most of the stuff.

  22. Christy ,

    It has always been in Britains interests to deny what they earlier confirmed , i dont know if the provos had the capability to listen in but they certainly had numbers there , as for them not turning up until both corporals had been disarmed this is not the case.

    We had several differing accounts from state media in regard to who the corporals were and why they were there not unlike Geoffrey Howes statement to the commons in the aftermath of the killings in Gib , make it up as you go along and the media will do the rest.

  23. You both show some ignorance of the workings of the British Army. 14 Int or The Det as it was known in the Army did require similar physical attributes as the SAS. All Det operatives were given serious anti-ambush drills and advanced driving courses as well as having cars fitted with anti-ambush "flash bangs" below all wheel arches. They always went out heavily armed and in teams with a QRF (Quick Reaction Force) in reserve. The idea that these young men were Det is preposterous. Maybe they were attached from the Signals but they would not have been operational.

    Secondly the SAS did not carry out surveillance in NI at that time. All army surveillance was carried out by the Det. The SAS were only brought in to do ambushes, although all Det units had SAS men on rotation in their ranks. I remember the Cappagh ambush well and would bet my house on it being the Det that got hit. Maybe one or both of the dead men were SAS on rotation. All of this was common knowledge in the army at that time and has been subsequently written about in books. I think Andy McNab wrote about his rotation in the Det in one of his. Given the devestation caused to the PRM by the SAS it is understandable that republicans want to think they hit back but the evidence that they did is scant.

  24. Appears you show some ignorance of the workings of the Provos Peter , they didnt all run around with their chests stuck out advertising themselves , you obviously have a low opinion of P.I.R.A operatives , if they were so amateur then why did Britain need the S.A.S to combat them , the events at the funeral that day were not about hitting back , the corporals presented themselves on a plate believing their back up was there to help them.

    The back up withdrew , operation was a failure , the Provos had laid a trap and they walked [drove] straight into it.

  25. Peter

    I recall the IRA chased of a few murky characters in the St James area and recovered the sort of weaponry your refer to above that you say is trade mark of the SAS. The weapons were in a holdall in the car they abandoned -just like the Corporals they weren't as quick at pulling out H&K's or whatever. I have never said the Corporals were SAS but 14Intel (or more accurately the lesser known 12Intel). Their actions speak more than any of your denials do --I understand the Corporals families have themselves challenged the official line.


    "the Provos had laid a trap and they walked [drove] straight into it." You're really stretching it to the point of bollix. I was in jail with all those convicted for their involvement and none of them have ever said they had been briefed in advance -instead they would tell you straight up that they acted on impulse and automation thinking it was another loyalist attack. And you really think the IRA would use its own supporters attending a funeral of one of its own members to lure the Corporals into an attack? And then launch its well planned attack by using uninformed mourners - most of whom were not even members of the IRA. the IRA at times have been morons, reckless or careless but not completely suicidal.

  26. If you believe that the corporals were SAS and that they had back up which abandoned them then there is nothing more I can say. Have your victory even though it is a very phyric one.
    At what point did I say the PIRA were amateur?

  27. Christy ,

    Ive been in jail myself , enough said
    Peter , there is no victory in killing , those who think there is have a lot of blood on their hands.

  28. Stauff

    For some time I have presumed you to be someone I met before in the Crum. My referring to my own imprisonment was putting in context how I know the IRA, and those convicted of involvement, had no advanced knowledge of the Corporals intentions much less they laid a trap for them.

  29. Christy ,

    I have been in the Crum but i dont believe we were both there during the same period.

  30. This thread has had me recall the as yet fully explained incident where D.M.S.U {R.U.C} and U.F.F member Allan Moore murdered Four people in the Sinn Fein Centre on the Falls Road , this incident was put down to Moore being mentally unstable and a rogue officer , funny the R,U,C shrinks didnt spot this after he was detained and taken home when he was discovered firing shots over the grave of fellow officer and fellow U.F.F member Norman Spratt , strange how all these well disciplined and highly trained members of the security forces used to make such tragic judgements.

  31. Stauff

    As my details are pretty public you are in better position to know if we were in the crum at the same time. Just a few of your posts in other threads tweaked my curiosity/suspicion.

  32. No need to be suspicious at all Christy , Im not Dill Mcgarrigle or anyone of his ilk but im no NBN either so as from an incarcerated point of view it comes a little bit later...#