Books I have Read – Thatcher’s Spy by Willie Carlin.

This is a book I read (listened to actually) by Willie Carlin who enlisted as British soldier from 1965 to 1974 and on leaving the British army was asked to spy on Sinn fein for the British security service Mi5. He wasn’t asked to spy on the IRA but on the politics of Sinn fein and what they are doing. Being a Derryman he joined the waterside branch of Sinn fein and gradually worked his way in to the organization, becoming branch secretary, working in the Sinn fein advice centres and so on. He was told to get close to Martin McGuiness which he did, he kept Mi5 informed of Sinn fein tactics, electioneering , voter impersonation , membership records and expensives and income. meetings and so on.  He had little time for the local IRA who he described as the “fuckup squad”, riddled with informers as they where but also mentions that he met Martin McGuiness coming out of a Mi5 safe house this was in the seventies ! The author waited till 2019 to tell people about this

The author was a rising star in Sinn fein, he was talked about standing as a councilor in the local elections. One mistake he made was ringing the British army barracks from the Sinn fein advice centre, they checked the phone bill ! They saw the unusual phone number, rang it up and found it was the British army. The author had to be very careful for months after this and resolved not to make such a stupid mistake again.

The author met his “contacts”  in carparks of hospitals, they pull up in a van longside his car and take him to the British army base. He continued to work for Sinn fein whilst all the time being a spy for Mi5/FRU. He carried on till March 1985 when he was pulled out by the British army after a former handler blew him to the provos. His life was saved by none other than Freddie Scapatti of “Stakeknife” fame who told his controllers that Carlin (the author) was to be picked up by the IRA  nutting squad the following morning. The author was told by the British he would be dead by morning and whisked him away to a British army base outside Belfast. Margert Thatcher’s ministerial jet was sent to collect him and his family. He was placed initially outside Cardiff in Wales where he lived happily for years, he received relocation expensive, a new name, new driving license and a lump sum. He recounts meeting Margaret Thatcher who tapped him on the arm and told him “What a great thing he was doing for his country !”

He believes that the British Government was successful in drawing Sinn fein away from the armed struggle and into main stream politics. The author has many regrets on his life as a informer principally being that he was unable to attend his son and daughters funerals, his life was marred by personal tragedy.

 

 

 

 

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