IRA commander at time of Shankill bombing was informer

The IRA 'commander' in Ardoyne was known to police intelligence as 'agent AA'. He is pictured here in a balaclava in a propaganda video in the late 1980s.


The IRA commander who planned the Shankill bombing was a police informant who had told his handlers of the plan to blow-up Frizzell's fish shop in 1993, the Irish News can reveal.

Classified documents stolen during the break-in at Castlereagh, and seen by the Irish News, show the IRA's Ardoyne leader at the time of the Shankill bomb was working as an informant.

The former 'blanketman', now aged in his late 50s, was known as 'agent AA' and calls made to his special branch handlers are logged throughout the documents stolen by the IRA during the raid at Special Branch offices almost 15-years ago.

The files stolen during a robbery on St Patrick's Day 2001 were heavily encrypted and had to be deciphered by the IRA who used a handful of trusted members to decode the information.

The north Belfast man was 'stood down' by the organisation's ruling army council in 2002 after they pieced together the coded information and discovered he had been working as a double agent for almost a decade.

However, the Irish News understands that while he was replaced by high profile republican Eddie Copeland, no explanation was given to the rank and file members as the leadership attempted to keep the information under wraps.

Video - 'Agent AA' appears in an IRA propaganda video

The IRA man has managed to evade the spotlight for almost two decades despite leading the deadly Ardoyne unit of the paramilitary group during a period when they were involved in numerous shootings and bombings.

The most high profile of which, the 1993 Shankill bomb, led to the deaths of nine civilians, including two children.

The Police Ombudsman has now been asked to investigate allegations that police were in possession of information that could have prevented the atrocity.

The complaint has been made by a family member of one of the victims.

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