Northern Ireland news

DUP says Stakeknife probe report must not be redacted to 'save Sinn Féin blushes'

Freddie Scappaticci, who denies being the IRA mole 'Stakeknife', pictured at the 1987 funeral of IRA man Larry Marley

THE DUP has said redacting the contents of a forthcoming report examining the role of the IRA informer known as Stakeknife "will not help us deal with the past".

North Belfast MLA Phillip Brett said Sinn Féin had "most to fear" from the Operation Kenova report but said the party's "blushes" should not influence its final contents.

Mr Brett was speaking following weekend reports that British intelligence agencies are seeking powers to block parts of the report from the investigation headed by Jon Boutcher, former chief constable of Bedfordshire Police.

The probe is examining whether the RUC failed to investigate as many as 18 murders in order to protect the agent codenamed Stakeknife, who led the IRA's so-called Nutting Squad. The agent in question is alleged to be west Belfast man Freddie Scappaticci (76), who denies he is Stakeknife.

The report is due to be published in the new year.

Mr Boutcher told The Times he would resist attempts by government agencies to "amend or suppress unwelcome findings or conclusions”.

The newspaper reported that officials were seeking to block the release of sections of the much-anticipated report if there are "national security disputes".

They also want organisations that may be criticised in Mr Boutcher's report to be offered a response prior to publication.

Mr Brett said that while it was understandable that issues impacting upon national security needed to be protected, he argued that a report "shrouded in secrecy will not help us deal with the past".

The DUP MLA said everyone "should be equal under the law and equally subject to it".

"Any person who broke the law should be held accountable for their actions – this report should help shine a light on the activities of Stakeknife and ensure that families are given answers to some of the many questions they have," he said.


"It is no secret that Sinn Féin have most to fear about the publication of this report or indeed anything which delves into the security services and their use of agents in Northern Ireland."

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said Mr Boutcher had carried out his investigation "diligently, sensitively and in good faith with the support of victims and survivors".

"Any attempt to suppress or censor Kenova reports would be an act of outrageous bad faith designed to protect the interests of the state, its actors and paramilitary gangs over the needs of victims," he said.

Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie said the "front-facing” parts of the report should be made public but that any information that poses a risk to national security should be removed.