Ex-IRA man disputes claims Stakeknife was ‘stood down' in 1990

Gerard Hodgins said he was not informed Freddie Scappaticci had been 'stood down' from the IRA in 1990.
Gerard Hodgins said he was not informed Freddie Scappaticci had been 'stood down' from the IRA in 1990.

A FORMER IRA prisoner, jailed along with former Sinn Féin director of publicity Danny Morrison, has disputed claims that double agent Freddie Scappaticci was stood down from the organisation in 1990 under suspicion that he was an informer.

Gerard Hodgins was convicted along with Mr Morrison and three others of IRA charges linked to the alleged kidnap of police informer Sandy Lynch.

The convictions were quashed in 2008 with no explanation offered by the prosecution but at the time, however, it was speculated it was to protect the identity of senior informer.

Writing on his blog this week Danny Morrison says he was told back in 1990 that it was Scappaticci, the agent known as Stakeknife, who had insisted he be lured to the house in Andersonstown where Lynch was being held by the IRA.

Now an author, Mr Morrison says while on remand in Crumlin Road jail he was told Scappaticci "had been stood down along with others involved in the Lynch affair".

"To this day I believe the IRA's version of events. Given current claims about Scappaticci, it is thus extremely important to make this statement," Mr Morrison added.

However, Gerard Hodgins said the first he knew Scappaticci was a British agent was when he was outed in the media in 2003. Scappaticci at first denied he was Stakeknife before fleeing Northern Ireland days later.

Mr Hodgins said; "There was never any word sent in to the prison that Scap had been stood down and never any suggestion he'd been the informer in our case.

"When the news about Scap did eventually break I read it in the paper like everyone else, it was a bit of a relief to finally know because I'd always been sure that there was at least one informer involved.

"I've no idea why these claims are only surfacing now, but you can be sure someone, somewhere has decided it would be politically advantageous to claim Scap was out of the loop by 1990," he added.

The claims by the former Sinn Féin spokesman came just days after the Chief Constable said he plans to bring an outside police force in to investigate the activities of the agent known as Stakeknife.

Frank Mulhern, whose son Joseph was murdered by the IRA in 1993, has given a statement to police that Scappaticci told him details about how the 22-year-old was murdered.

Four other families have made similar statements to police saying the military agent also told them graphic details about how their loved ones died.

Mr Morrison has said while he does not dispute Mr Mulhern's claims that Scappaticci told him how his son died, he does not believe the double agent was involved in any IRA operations after 1990.

Mr Mulhern said: "I would seriously question why this is being said now just as we've been told we'll get a new investigation, given all the years that have passed and how many opportunities there were to say this before. I would also point to how four other families have made similar statements to mine.

"My only interest is getting Scappaticci to stand in front of a judge and answer to his crimes, right now we've a small degree of hope that might actually happen, if that day does come it'll be the judge and not Danny Morrison's opinion I'll care about", Mr Mulhern added.

Shauna Moreland, daughter of single parent Caroline Moreland who was murdered by the IRA in July 1994, has also called into question claims that Stakeknife was stood down in 1990.

"I've spoken to people, who for obvious reasons at this time don't feel able to go public, but they've told me my mother was brought to a house in west Belfast to be questioned by Scappaticci in June 1994, she was abducted a few weeks later.

"I would not only doubt that Scappaticci was stood down in 1990 given what information we have about our mother's death but also ask why this is only coming out now," Ms Moreland added.