Category: Archive

McGuinness threatens suit over ‘Stakeknife’ claims

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

?The substance of ?Panorama?s? program is entirely false,? McGuinness said in a statement. ?My legal representatives have already been in contact with the program makers and have refuted in the most forthright terms these groundless allegations. I am now considering my legal options in this regard.?
The program has re-ignited the whole controversy over the identity of Stakeknife, who in May was alleged to be West Belfast man Freddie Scappaticci. Scappaticci had a long history of IRA involvement and was a member of the organization?s Civil Administration Team, the informer-hunting squad.
On Sunday, ?Panorama? broadcast a 10-year-old interview with a man alleged to be Scappaticci in which he calls McGuinness ?an evil man? who ?one minute would be in a church, and the next would say, ?stiff him.?? He claims nothing happened in the IRA without McGuinness knowing about it.
McGuinness has admitted that he was second-in-command of the Provisional IRA in Derry in 1972. Information from both republican and police sources indicates that at different times McGuinness was head of Northern Command, chief of staff and member of the Provisional Army Council, the organization?s leadership body. Police intelligence claims that at least as late as August 1993, McGuinness was active in the IRA, including the planning of operations.
At that time, some police officers wanted such information used in the hope of discrediting McGuinness, but because of the incipient peace process and the secret contacts between members of the IRA leadership and British officials, it was suppressed.
This is not the first time that McGuinness?s republican background has caused controversy. In 2002, a unionist councilor demanded that McGuinness be questioned about the 34 murders that the Derry Provisional IRA was responsible for during the time he was deputy O/C. In the ?Panorama? interview, McGuinness is linked to the death of Frank Hegarty, an informer who was lured back to Derry with reassurances, given to his mother, that the IRA would not kill him. According to the report, McGuinness played a key role in convincing Hegarty?s mother that her son would be safe. Not long after his return, he was found shot to death.
The interview broadcast on Sunday night in the UK was taped in August 1993 after Scappaticci apparently approached journalists working for the Cook Report ? a hard-hitting, investigative program done in a brash, tabloid style. The journalists did not know who Scappaticci was at the time, just that he was a republican activist. The police asked that the interview not be made public, it was alleged, to protect Scappaticci and it was suppressed until now. The controversy over the identity of the informer code-named Stakeknife made it topical again.
Scappaticci has consistently denied that he is Stakeknife, said to be one of the highest-ranking informers ever to operate within the IRA. Recently, Scappaticci won a court ruling on a motion filed by his solicitor to force the British government minister for security in Northern Ireland, Jane Kennedy, to clear his name by confirming that he is not the British agent known as Stakeknife. The government is currently considering its response. Until recently, Scappaticci has remained in West Belfast. The republican leadership has kept its distance from him, though some, like McGuinness, said at the time the controversy broke that they would give him the benefit of the doubt.
In the interview, the man identified as Scappaticci said: ?It?s not important who pulled the trigger. McGuinness wouldn?t dirty his hands with that.?
McGuinness called it a ?scandalous attack? with ?no basis in fact? and ?entirely without foundation.?

Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter

Click to access the login or register cheese