SUSPECTED agent Dennis McFadden used his contacts with Celtic fans travelling to Glasgow for Old Firm games to make connections with dissident republicans.
Named in court as an MI5 agent, McFadden is thought to have been working undercover in Northern Ireland for almost 10 years.
Sources have revealed his links with Belfast date back decades when relatives hosted events for bus loads of Celtic fans arriving in Glasgow from Northern Ireland. It was through these links that McFadden made connections with dissidents travelling to games, offering promises of accommodation to gain favour with particular individuals. He explained his constant trips away by saying he was a hotel safety inspector whose work involved travel.
McFadden was from a respected family in Glasgow and even served as an altar boy in his youth in a parish in the city. He had served as a special constable in Scotland in his early twenties and although some republicans raised suspicions, he was appointed a ‘resource officer’.
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McFadden, who had business interests in a bar outside Belfast and also in Gran Canaria, had been living in in Glengormley until he disappeared a few weeks ago ahead of a major operation against the New IRA.
Eight men and two women are charged in connection with the MI5-led Operation Arbacia, linked to two meetings in Co Tyrone in February and July which were bugged by MI5.
A Palestinian doctor charged in connection with the operation claims he was lured to a meeting under pretences.
Dr Issam Hijjawi Bassalat, who travelled from Edinburgh to Belfast, insists he believed he was attending a public meeting to speak about the political situation in Palestine.