“It would be a question of the utmost public concern if an undercover officer were effectively permitted to operate without justification, authorisation or oversight in Ireland.”
British spy Mark Kennedy at the spire on O Connell Street, Dublin with Kim Bryan and Sarah Hampton in 2005.
#Spycops: Irish Press Conference in full. Please support independent journalism by using the share buttons at the bottom.
Earlier today three people targetted by members of the UK National Public Order Intelligence Units (NPOIU) in Ireland held a press conference. They want to build pressure on the Irish government to open up about the role of British spies in Ireland.
The three, Kate Wilson, Kim Bryan and Jason Kirkpatrick travelled from Spain,
Wales and Germany. Kate is one of a number of women who brought cases against the Metropolitan police in London because of being decieved into long term relationships with men who turned out to be undercover officers.
Kim Bryan was involved in organising educational workshops and mobilisations around the G8 meeting in Scotland in 2005, and spoke about how an undercover officer with the NPOIU convince her and other to travel to Ireland. The undercover cop paid for the visit and provided the transport.
Jason Kirkpatrick was also targetted by the same undercover cop in Ireland, Northern Ireland and in Germany.
The demand of those present was that the UK Pitchford Inquiry into the working of British undercover political policing units be expanded to Ireland since they operated here, with the first step of this that Minister for Justice and Equality follow the lead of other Justice Minister in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Germany in making representation to the UK Home Office to that effect. At the core of this lies not simply the abuse of human rights of political activists being deceived into intimate personal relationship – which perhaps understandably much media focuses in on. The continued stonewalling of the Irish government in providing answers to those abused and affected – even after admitting that it knows full well about the actions of British political spies working in Ireland, further compound British police violations with Irish police complicity.
The full audio of the press conference is below and I’d encourage people to listen to it all as the quotes that follow are transcribe snippets.
Opening the press conference Kate said
“I found out in 2010 that my partner was an undercover officer and since then information has just kept coming out about the practices of undercover policing in the UK. We now know that since 1968 they have been running top secret political policing units, starting with the Metropolitan police in London but also other forces around the country. Activists have been finding information about those officers. The state hasnt actually yet given us any information that has not be already found out by reseachers and whistleblowers getting that information to the public.
We already know that a large number of undercover officers were involved in the kind of long term intimate relationship that I had. Some of them even fathered children. We know that they were spying on the families of the victims of police violence. People who had been killed by the police or whose murders had not be properly investigated.
And we know that they were working with the Crown Prosecution Service and were responsible for a number of miscarriages of justice. Mark Kennedy alone, who was the man that I was involved with, is responsible for over 56 unsafe convictions. These were convictions that were overturned because of the role of undercover police in those cases. People were wrongfully convicted.
We are all here because our privacy and political rights were violated by these British police officers here in Ireland. We think its really important that people know these things happened in Ireland and affected Irish citizens as well.
There is currently no information and no investigation in Ireland. So we are here to talk about some of the things that happen here in Ireland. Yesterday the Metropolitan police issued a public apology to Sarah Hampton who is a woman who was decieved into a relationship with Mark Kennedy that started here in Ireland.”
A statement from a Sarah Hampton, currently in the US, was then read out by Kim Bryan.
That statement in full is:
“Love is one of the most sacred things we have in our society and I fell in love with Mark Stone. He was supportive, attentive and generous, he behaved like he was in love with me. It tortures me knowing he was paid to be with me and because it was such a loving relationship, it was devastating to find out it was all a lie. I have wondered so many times if his superiors have kids; what would they think if their daughters were preyed upon like this?
I have so much anger inside about this crime against me and it is only exacerbated by the fact that a government institution that is there to protect me is responsible. How do you trust men after this? How do you trust a government? Finding out that Mark was an undercover police officer brought about a deep depression that seemed impossible to navigate, there were times I almost gave up completely. The process of seeking justice on this case has felt at times belittling, intimidating and downright scary. I didn’t know how was I going to stand up to the Metropolitan Police Force. I felt I had been raped. I never consented to sleeping with a police officer.
I kept on fighting the case, using my life as an example of what should never happen to anyone. No one should ever be under any circumstance coerced, invaded, violated and deceived by an undercover police officer through sexual relationships. Despite the apology I have many unanswered questions. I have not received the files the police have on me. I want to know to what extent my private life has been invaded by the UK police and what justification is there for it?
Who gave permission for a British undercover officer to form and have a relationship with a US national in Ireland, in the UK, in Scotland and in Spain? The police have now apologised to me, saying that the relationship between Mark Kennedy and I was wrong, deceitful, manipulative and abusive, that it should never have happened. That it was an abuse of police power and a violation of my human rights It is our responsibility now to make sure that this never happens again. We are continuing to fight for the truth to be revealed in the undercover policing inquiry, but it is currently only looking at events in England and Wales.
My experience shows that the inquiry must be extended to include in Scotland, Nortern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and other countries where we know Mark Kennedy and many other undercover police officers were active. The Police and government are supposed to be here to serve the people and they need to be held responsible when negligent and violating human rights.”
Kim then spoke about her own interactions with Kennedy.
“I came to Dublin because Mark Kennedy paid for me to come to Dublin. I came to Dublin because he organised the workshops that I gave. I probably wouldn’t have come if he hadnt organised that travel.
I dont know what was going on but I think it raises a very serious question because Mark Kennedy was essentially coercing, manipulating and manufacturing situation which meant Irish citizen then took part in things that were being manufacture by a British spy who was operating on Irish soil.
So we have very many question about what Mark Kennedy was doing here in Ireland, what his motivations were. And I think unless we get this inquiry opened up and extended to Ireland then we won’t get answers to them. And certainly from the perspective of Irish activists I know were involved in this there is some very real problem about the control of political dissent”
Mark Kennedy alone worked in 11 different countries. He was involved in stitching people up across Europe, with over 56 cases of people found guilty being overturned in the UK.
Mark Kennedy in Ireland 2005 with Sarah Hampton and Kim Bryan.
The German Justice Minister has asked that the Pitchford Inquiry be extended to include the actions of British undercover police in Germany. As have the Justice Minister in Northern Ireland and the respective counterpart in Scotland.
The Minister of Justice in Ireland is therefore somewhat alone in adopting a position that says the state simply refuses to be open and take responsibility for abuses by British police in Ireland.
It is not disputed by Fitzgerald that Mark Kennedy and other British undercover officer have work in Ireland. Mark Kennedy himself was arrested by An Garda Siochana on the 3rd of Mary 2004 in Dublin. No doubt Kennedy flipped given that his arrest had the likelihood of blowing the cover of an British spy in a top secret political policing unit.
This clearly was a very significant arrest. It not only could have compromised the work of the NPOIU overseas, but caused minor political crisis given the historical context of police collusion in the north, as well as police dirty tricks targetting Irish political activists documented by the Dublin Grassroots Network at the time. See http://flag.blackened.net/revolt//eufortress/dirty.html
Kennedy himself has stated that he know his reports and intelligence gathering landed on the desk of Tony Blair.
As such the demands today are quite limited. That there be an open investigation to exploring the Irish state and Irish police force role in what we already know took place.
Jason Kirkpatrick outline some of these demands.
“Im also a core participant in this Pitchford Inquiry, I’m also one of the people who has started a legal action here in Ireland against Minister Fitzgerald. I first met Mark Kennedy in Dublin in 2005. Since he was outed as an undercover officer in 2010 I’ve spent 7 years just trying to get justice on this. I would like to have access to my police files and I’ve never gotten them. The Minister has said that because of public pressure – that we’ve created – that she has asked the guards to do an internal police report of Mark Kennedy’s operations here.
Is that report gonna be public? Well no, the minister has said its an issue for her, if something come up its up to her to sort it. Well we want answers, and we demand that that report is made public. We have been informing the minister for months now that this British officer created serious human rights violations that the police admit. Kennedy was here five or six times in the Repulic of Ireland. Were there wrongful or miscarriages of justice here in Ireland. That has to be investigated. That has to be made public. And so far Minister Fitzgerald has not even shown that she understands these issues.
We have shared via our solicitor the experiences of Sarah Hampton here in Ireland, as the UK police have admitted and apologised for this. Yet in latest answers in the Dail to questions Fitzgerald says “the need for an inquiry does not arise”
Darragh Mackin a solicitor with KRL Law, the solicitors taking the case against Fitzgerald said
“Its somewhat shocking that people need to travel from across Europe to make a plea to the media to try and encourage support for what has to be an effectove and thorough investigation. That flies in the face of what is, under the European Convention of Human Rights, Ireland as we all know has an obligation to ensure that people within the jurisdiction at that time. Its indisputable that there is an empelling case for an investigation in the cases of Kate, Kim, Sarah and Jason.
Its clear that a British undercover agent came to Ireland. That is not disputed. Its clear that he engaged with sexual relations with a number of individuals in what was clearly an abuse of his power. That goes right to the heart of what is enshired in the constitution and what is enshired in the European Convention of human right in privacy. Its is hard to imagine a greater violation of the right to privacy.”
He then outlined the how most other states have taken it upon themselves to seek to have Pitchford extend to cover the role of undercover spies to where they work. Ireland is sigular and uniuque in its objection. The demand Fitzgerald and then Department of Justice is that it makes representation to the UK Home Office that Pitchford be extended to Ireland.
“Do you think that the situation would be that if in undercover officer of An Garda Siochana undercover officers were operating in London and were having relationships citizens, do you think for one second that the Home Department wouldn’t request an investigation.”
Lynn Boylan MEP has raised questions in the European parliament about the role of British spies working across Europe noted
Just another point to pick up on when you say that Frances Fistzgerlad doesnt deny that these inidividual were active here. In 2011 the gardai were asked to compile a report by Dermot Ahern who was the Justice Minister at the time. Brendan Smyth took over before that report was completed and it was largely expected that the gardia knew of the presence of these individuals.
Since them we have put in FOIs to get the report. Fitzgerald has refused, but what she has done is paraphrased it and she has admitted that the gardia were aware of these individuals presence in Ireland and there excuse was that these relationships between other police force jusisdicttions happen on a regular basis while the police come over to follow “dangerous individuals” that the gardai might not be aware of.
Now that doesnt tally with what we are hearing in that Mark Kennedy is responsible for suggesting this trip [to Ireland in 2005 in the lead up to the G8 in Scotland], he provided the transport for this trip, he provided the funding for this trip. He came here and brought the people he was allegedly supposed to be tracking to this island and Frances Fitzgerald doesnt find that unusual or warrant a further investigation. So its an important point that the gardai have to answer.
And as Darragh has pointed out the Gardai are the only police force who seem to have been aware of these individuals. The PSNI have flatly denied of knowing of there existence in the north, the German police force the same and the Scottish police force. And the PSNI have wrote to the British Metropolitan police saying that they need to have a conversation with the gardia. And again Frances Fitzgerald doesnt find that interesting or warrant a further investigation. So there are a lot of questions for Frances Fitzgerald on this.”
Shell to Sea was represented by Maura Harrington at the press conference and anti war group ShannonWatch also expressed full support for an public open equiry.
Fulll audio here.