Northern Ireland

Co Derry man on jail dirty protest claims MI5 made informer approach behind bars

Dermot Burke wants transferred to republican wing at Maghaberry Prison

Co Derry man Dermot Burke
Co Derry man Dermot Burke is currently on dirty protest in Maghaberry prison.

A Co Derry man who launched a dirty protest in Maghaberry Prison last month has claimed MI5 tried to recruit him as an informer behind bars.

Dermot Burke, from Dungiven, began smearing excrement on his cell walls three weeks ago after prison authorities refused to transfer him to the republican Roe House.

The 58-year-old is facing a series of charges arising from an incident in Dungiven in January when three bars in the town were visited by armed and masked men who claimed to be from the ‘IRA’ and issued threats against drug dealers.

The charges he faces include belonging or professing to belong to a proscribed organisation, namely the ‘IRA’, possessing a handgun with intent to cause a person to fear unlawful violence would be used against them and with possessing a weapon.

It is understood prison authorities say he is under threat in Roe House, which is denied by republicans.

Among those tracked were prisoners released from Maghaberry. Picture by Michael Cooper/PA
Maghaberry Prison

In a statement, Mr Burke said he was approach “by a plain clothed MI5 agent, who proceeded to tell me I was under an imminent death threat from republicans.”

Mr Burke said he “would never become an informer” and described it as “an attempt to try and break me.”

He repeated his call to be transferred to Roe House.

His solicitor Ruairí Muldoon, of McDermott, McGurk and Partners Solicitors, said: “We are concerned about the conditions he is being kept in, the length of time he is being kept in these conditions and the reasoning behind this,” he said.

“It is vital he is moved to Roe House at the earliest opportunity.”

The Department of Justice was contacted.