Northern Ireland

Freddie Scappaticci investigation - brother of Belfast man tells of campaign to find out truth behind sibling's death

West Belfast man Freddie Scappaticci
West Belfast man Freddie Scappaticci West Belfast man Freddie Scappaticci

THE brother of a Belfast man whose murder is part of an inquiry into the activities of Freddie Scappaticci has told of his 40-year campaign to find out the truth behind his sibling's death.

As the findings of Operation Kenova, a seven-year investigation into the activities of Scappaticci are due to be published imminently, Séamus Kearney has spoken about how his younger brother was killed by the IRA after falsely being labelled an informer.

Michael Kearney's murder is one of the cases being looked at by Operation Kenova.

The 20-year-old was shot and his body found dumped on a border road in Fermanagh in 1979.

Séamus tells the RTÉ Prime Time programme, In Brother, Informer, Soldier, Spy, of how a priest visited him in prison to tell him his brother had died.

“I say: 'Is Michael dead?' He says: 'Yes, he's dead'.

"And I said: 'All I want to know is was it the British Army or the RUC?' He says probably the worst news conceivable. He says: 'It wasn't the British Army or the RUC. It was the Irish Republican Army'."

The IRA later issued a statement to say the Belfast man was executed as he was an informer.

"It's a terrible stigma," said Séamus.

"It's the worst stigma in the world to have been labelled an informer, especially on the island of Ireland."

Upon his release from prison, Séamus promised his mother he would establish if Michael really was an informer.

His persistence led to the IRA agreeing to an internal investigation in 2001 and two years later Séamus was asked to go to a house in west Belfast where he met two senior IRA men.

"The army [IRA] read out the report saying he was cleared, he wasn’t an informer," said Séamus.

Scappaticci, who died in April, is the man named in the media as one of the British army’s top agents within the IRA and codenamed 'Stakeknife’ who spearheaded the IRA’s internal security unit, known as the 'nutting squad'.

He always denied being a British agent.

A solicitor representing 12 families of victims of the IRA internal security unit has also told the programme that justice must be done.

Speaking ahead of the imment report findings being published, Kevin Winters said there are many people that should be held responsible.

"Justice here is to find not only the people who pulled triggers and killed individuals before a court, but significantly the people who orchestrated and oversaw this mass process of an informant at the apex of British military intelligence inside the IRA involved in killing people or overseeing the deaths of many, many people," said Mr Winters.

Brother, Informer, Soldier, Spy is on RTÉ One on June 13 at 9.35pm.