Northern Ireland news

Co Tyrone republican Kevin Barry Murphy went on all-expenses paid holidays with MI5 agent Dennis McFadden

Co Tyrone man Kevin Barry Murphy took three all-expenses paid holidays with MI5 agent Dennis McFadden

TENSIONS are high among republican prisoners in Maghaberry, after it emerged that leading dissident Kevin Barry Murphy had been on three all-expenses paid holidays with MI5 agent Dennis McFadden.

Murphy is among 10 people currently charged with terror-related offences linked to two meetings of what police allege was the leadership of the New IRA.

The eight men and two women were arrested following an MI5-led operation which saw meetings arranged by McFadden in Co Tyrone in February and July bugged by intelligence services.

The two houses were fitted with video and audio equipment and those presented recorded talking about what were alleged to be New IRA plans to obtain weapons and target Shannon airport for attack.

It has now emerged that Co Tyrone republican Kevin Barry Murphy travelled with McFadden and their respective partners to Spain on three separate occasions.

Read More: Kevin Barry Murphy the most prominent republican to be arrested after MI5 sting

McFadden paid for the trips, provided a villa and met all the costs.

Murphy, from Coalisland, was once described in court as leader of the Real IRA in east Tyrone.

The trips were said to have been used to 'loosen up' the high-profile republican who was "more relaxed" on the sunshine holidays, and to gather information on other members of the organisation.

The information gathered on the luxury breaks was fed back to MI5 as they closed in on the dissident grouping, which is said to be in a state of total disarray after the arrests.

All eight men arrested, including Murphy, are now being held in Roe House, the republican wing of Maghaberry prison.

Sources say Damien McLauglin - cleared in 2018 of charges linked to the murder of prison officer David Black - and Davy Jordan, previously named as a person of interest regarding the 2009 attack at Massereene army barracks in which two soldiers were murdered, are furious since learning that Murphy was taking trips at the apparent expense of MI5.

It has resulted in tensions in the jail and a possible split among the alleged New IRA prisoners who are turning on Murphy, blaming him for the deep infiltration of the group.

It has also emerged that a Belfast man who provided a vehicle used to transport people to and from the Co Tyrone meetings attended at least one of the gatherings and was present inside the house for a time.

Despite this, the man - who was previously alleged to have been named as an informer in documents stolen from Special Branch headquarters at Castlereagh in 2002 - has yet to be arrested or questioned about his involvement.

McFadden went missing in August, around two weeks before the arrest of nine members of the dissident political group Saoradh and Palestinian doctor Issam Bassalat (62), of Telford Road, Edinburgh.

The Scottish-born agent had been active in republican circles since the early 2000s.

He was a close friend of veteran IRA man Tony 'TC' Catney and stayed with him in his west Belfast home before he died in 2014.

It was this high level endorsement which allowed McFadden to infiltrate the Real IRA, which later merged to become the New IRA.

McFadden claimed he worked as a hotel safety inspector and owned shares in a bar in the Canary islands and used this as a cover for his frequent travel.

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'.

During recordings used in the arrests of the 10 people, McFadden was said to be "cool as a cucumber" throughout.

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