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Gardaí denied details over British police spy

Ellen Coyne - Sunday Times

Senior gardaí were given no information on the presence of a British police spy in Ireland after seeking a meeting with officers from Scotland Yard, The Times can reveal.

Mark Kennedy, a British police officer who worked undercover, was in the Republic on several occasions between 2004 and 2006. He is now at the centre of an inquiry in Britain about officers who had intimate relationships with women while undercover.

John O’Mahoney, an assistant garda commissioner, travelled with a group of senior gardaí to meet the Metropolitan Police on November 7 and 8, 2016 to discuss Mr Kennedy.

A report on the meeting prepared for the Department of Justice and released under freedom of information law has revealed that the Irish authorities were given no information on Mr Kennedy’s undercover operations in the Republic.

In the confidential report given to the justice minister in December 2016, Nóirín O’Sullivan, the former garda commissioner, said that more engagements with British police were needed before the gardaí would be “fully informed” on the issue.

“The police representatives met with were not in a position to offer information about Mark Kennedy’s deployment,” Ms O’Sullivan said. “Further engagement with the British authorities will be necessary in order to establish a more informed view on the nature and extent of UK undercover policing.”

Ms O’Sullivan claimed that the force would “progress this matter” in early 2017, but no further update was sent to the Department of Justice.

Mr Kennedy had posed as an environmental activist and joined groups under the name Mark Stone, an alias he used from 2003 to 2010. He joined protests against President Bush’s visit to Ireland for an EU-US summit in June 2004 and the Shell to Sea campaign in Co Mayo during 2006. He also attended protests at Shannon airport over alleged extrajudicial rendition flights.

The Metropolitan Police apologised last year after revelations that officers had deceived women by beginning sexual relationships with them.

In March 2015, the UK government set up an inquiry to investigate allegations of misconduct by undercover officers in England and Wales. Last month a separate inquiry in Scotland found no evidence that officers operated “outwith the parameters of the authorisation”.

It first emerged that Mr Kennedy had been working in Ireland in 2011. A report at the time was sought by the Department of Justice from the garda commissioner at the time. It was not published until six years later, when The Times took the Department of Justice to the Information Commissioner in 2017 for refusing to grant a freedom of information request to release it.

The report revealed that Martin Callinan, the former garda commissioner, refused to deny that he gave permission for an undercover British officer to work in Ireland. He defended “confidential” arrangements that the gardaí could have with British police without the Irish government being informed.

Posted Date: 
26 March 2018