Northern Ireland

Former IRA man with links to Freddie Scappaticci flees Belfast home

Suspected IRA informer Freddie Scappaticci died last month
Suspected IRA informer Freddie Scappaticci died last month Suspected IRA informer Freddie Scappaticci died last month

A suspected informer and ex-member of the IRA’s notorious internal security unit with links to Freddie Scappaticci has fled his west Belfast home.

It is understood the man, who is believed to be in his late 60s,  disappeared with his wife from a property in west Belfast last week.

It is understood the property has been cleared out.

It is believed the former republican was an associate of suspected British agent Freddie Scappaticci, who died while in hiding earlier this month.

Originally from the Lower Falls, sources say the man was active with the IRA in the district and later rose through the ranks of the Provisional  IRA to join the organisation’s ruthless internal security unit in Belfast.

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The former prominent republican prisoner also had links with the Turf Lodge area of west Belfast, where he lived for a time.

He was a well-known member of the republican movement in Belfast until he fell under suspicion after the IRA broke into Castlereagh police station in 2002 and took a large amount of intelligence documents.

The IRA took files from Castlereagh RUC Station in 2002
The IRA took files from Castlereagh RUC Station in 2002 The IRA took files from Castlereagh RUC Station in 2002

It is understood the man was later sidelined by the republican movement along with several others under suspicion.

In 2003 it was claimed by the media that Scappaticci was the British agent known as Stakeknife, although he denied the allegation.

It was also claimed he was a senior member of the IRA’s internal security unit and was involved in interrogating dozens of suspected informers.

Some of those questioned were later killed.

In 2016 Operation Kenova was set up to investigate the activities of Stakeknife and is headed by former Bedfordshire Police Chief Constable Jon Boutcher.

A report of the investigation's findings is expected to be published in the coming months.

Suspicions about the man who fled last week are said to have come to light after the IRA seized files during a break-in at RUC Special Branch offices in Castlereagh, in east Belfast, on St Patrick's Day 2002.

It is believed documents taken during the break-in were later studied by the IRA resulting in a number of informers being identified.

The recent death of Scappaticci has renewed the media focus on his activities and those of other suspected agents in the IRA.

It was reported at the weekend that another member of the IRA's internal security unit was working for the RUC while it has previously been alleged that senior member John Joe Magee was also an informer.

Last year The Irish News revealed details of a suspected agent - known as ‘Christine’ to his RUC Special Branch handlers - who was also exposed after the Castlereagh break-in.