Northern Ireland news

The houses at the centre of the MI5 bugging operation

The property at Gortin, Co Tyrone
Connla Young

AN online booking service is believed to have been used to rent a house later bugged by MI5 as part of Operation Arbacia.

The four-bedroom property is located close to Creggan in Co Tyrone, just off the main road between Cookstown and Omagh.

Tourists visiting the rural bolthole could have no idea that it has been at the centre of one of the most significant surveillance operations targeting republicans in recent times.

Kilngate Cottage is located near the banks of the Ballinderry river and commands spectacular views of the Sperrin Mountains in the distance.

It is believed to be owned by a local family who have no connection with any illegal activity and absolutely no knowledge of either the meetings alleged to be linked to the 'IRA' or the associated MI5 operation.

Suspected agent Dennis McFadden is believed to have transported some of those alleged to have attended a meeting in February to the house after picking them up from a car park in Cookstown.

In the days afterwards someone identifying themselves as Dennis posted a review of the property online.

The post described the house as “exceptional”.

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Images of the interior of the house in Creggan, Co Tyrone

“Would definitely recommend this house.”

It is alleged that a second meeting took place near Gortin last month, which was also bugged by MI5.

It took place at an isolated cottage in the foothills of the Sperrin Mountains.

The house, which sits at the end of a short country lane, was empty when visited by The Irish News at the weekend.

It is understood this property was also rented by Mr McFadden and the suspected agent was also responsible for transporting some of those alleged to be in attendance to the meeting point.

The three-bedroom bungalow and around seven acres are currently listed for sale with a local auctioneer.

It is understood the property is not locally owned and that the owner also had absolutely no knowledge of either the meeting or MI5 operation and has no connection with any illegal activity.

Local people reported an increased PSNI presence in the area in recent weeks, particularly in the immediate vicinity of the property.

One also reported an unusual incident several weeks ago when “four or five vans” were seen at the house at around 2am.

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