Man alleged to be Shankill bomb IRA agent breaks silence

The aftermath of the 1993 Shankill bombing

THE republican allegedly identified as agent 'AA' in police files stolen by the IRA has broken his silence almost two weeks after it was claimed he was a high-level informer at the time of the Shankill bomb.

The former commander of the IRA in Ardoyne denied the allegations and said he has had to flee his home after receiving death threats.

Despite not being named by the Irish News, the man said he believes the claims "have been directed at me".

"I deny the allegation that I am or ever was a state agent," he said.

"The allegations made in the Irish News article and related articles are entirely without foundation. I always have been and remain a committed republican. Any suggestion that I was a state agent is abhorrent to me".

Speaking through Ó Muirigh Solicitors, the man did not deny being an IRA commander at the time of the bombing but described the allegations against him as "reckless journalism".

"I have had to leave my family home to protect my family from attack. This situation has been very stressful and upsetting to me and my family," he said.

"I have requested that my identity is not published by my lawyer at this stage as I am concerned that this would increase the possibility of an attack on me and my family.

"My legal representative has contacted the Office of the Police Ombudsman on my behalf to lodge a complaint".

The man said he would also cooperate with an ombudsman investigation based on complaints made by a number of victims of the IRA bombing.

The statement came as PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton used the monthly meeting of the Policing Board to again deny the RUC could have prevented the 1993 attack.

However, he refused to answer questions about the existence of an informer at the head of the IRA unit responsible.

Speaking after the meeting, the chief constable said: "I am 100 per cent convinced that we did not have prior knowledge of the Shankill bombing that could have prevented it happening.

"That is a big enough statement to make. I don't want to expand upon that any further the Ombudsman has their job to do and I don't want to second guess the outcome of that."

The Chief Constable would also not be drawn on questions about why the man in charge of the IRA unit at the time has never been arrested or questioned in relation to the bombing.

"You getting into other territory, if that's the allegation made then it's not up to me to comment prior to a police ombudsman investigation," he said.

While Sinn Féin Policing Board members Gerry Kelly and Catriona Ruane were present at the meeting on Thursday neither made any comment on the Shankill bomb allegations, instead questioning senior officers about delays in the PSNI providing information to legacy inquests.

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