Naturally, some republicans interviewed during the filming promote the IRA view but that’s to be expected.
For the first time on television, the story of Motorman is recounted – from its planning and execution, through to its impact in shaping the outcome of the conflict. The one-hour programme includes interviews with key players like terrorist Martin McGuinness, Baroness May Blood, Sir Kenneth Bloomfield and Billy Hutchinson, as well as a number of soldiers involved in the operation. (UTV)
Dr Aaron Edwards who I have known for several years is well known for his ground-breaking research on the intelligence war in Northern Ireland (Operation Banner) and his last publication UVF Behind the Mask has become widely recognised as an important addition to the written history of the ‘troubles’.
Agents of Influence Britain’s Secret Intelligence War Against the IRA
Recruited by British Intelligence to infiltrate the IRA and Sinn Féin during the height of the Northern Ireland Troubles, they were Agents of Influence. With codenames like INFLICTION, STAKEKNIFE, 3007 and CAROL, these spies played a pivotal role in the fight against Irish republicanism. Now, for the first time, some of these agents have emerged from the shadows to tell their compelling stories. Agents of Influence takes you behind the scenes of the secret intelligence war which helped bring the IRA s armed struggle to an end.
Historian Aaron Edwards, the critically acclaimed author of UVF: Behind the Mask, explains how the IRA was penetrated and betrayed, with explosive new revelations about the hidden agendas of leading figures like Martin McGuinness, Joe Haughey, John Joe Magee and Freddie Scappaticci, and how British Intelligence was able to read the minutes of the IRA s top-secret meetings before they were distributed to its membership.
With extraordinary profiles of Britain’s top spy masters, their strategies and tactics, as well as the role of MI5, the RUC and SAS in deadly covert action missions, Agents of Influence offers a rare and shocking glimpse into the hidden world of secret agents during the vicious decades of the Troubles.
Robert Nairac was born in British
Mauritius in 1948, not in Ireland as some journalists have stated, and his only
connection with Ireland before joining the army was during his time as a postgraduate student at
Trinity College Dublin where he studied Irish
Nairac was not an SAS officer, as some journalists have also wrongly stated, he was a Captain in the Grenadier Guards and served at least three tours of duty in Northern Ireland with his regiment before volunteering to undertake selection and training for intelligence work.
As the disappearance and murder of
Robert Nairac continues to be surrounded by myths, conspiracy theories and speculations
the following is based on what is generally regarded as facts.
Robert Nairac was an intelligence liaison officer based at Bessbrook Mills which like Forkhill and Crossmaglen were the most dangerous parts of Northern Ireland where roadside bombs were common and travelling in and out of the area had to be by helicopter. In these remote areas near the border with the Irish Republic strangers were not welcome and were viewed with suspicion.
Whilst travelling alone in this hostile area and meeting contacts Robert Nairac was using the name Danny Mcalevey from the Ardoyne in Belfast which was also an IRA stronghold. According to several writers he was happy with his cover identity and was seen visiting various places in South Armagh and the surrounding area which journalists at the time called Bandit Country because of the bombs and snipers who sometimes operated from the safety of the Republic.
On Saturday 17 May 1977, it is
thought Nairac planned to meet a contact at the Three Steps Inn at Drumintee
which was another dangerous area close to the Irish border and some writers
claim he had made several visits to this bar.
Robert Nairac was wearing a black
donkey jacket, a pullover, flared grey trousers and scuffed down suede shoes
and took with him his Browning 9mm pistol and two additional full magazines.
Although he also had an SLR and 80 rounds of ammunition he left this in the
Whilst signing out of the base he
said he would only be going out for a few hours and would return by 23.30 hrs. He then drove out of Bessbrook
Mill in a red Triumph Toledo at 21.30 hrs.
His car had a radio concealed under the seat and using his call sign ’48 Oscar’ he told the operations room at Bessbrook he was travelling towards Drumintee.
At 21.58 hrs he reached the pub
and told the operations room he was closing down radio contact.
Several eyewitnesses recall Nairac
drinking and speaking to customers but how his cover was blown may never be
Several customers recall Nairac fighting in the carpark with five to seven men and was holding his own before eventually being overpowered, thrown into the back of a car and driven away at speed.
It is known Robert Nairac was
driven over the border and tortured for several hours but refused to divulge any
information and stuck to is cover story of being Danny Mcalevey from the
Later the IRA said he was a brave
man till the end and never spoke and was eventually shot in the head. Robert Parker in his book Death of A Hero, makes
the valid point that if Robert Nairac had talked all his contacts would have been
killed by the IRA and they owe their lives to his bravery.
According to a report by the Irish Times the Garda (Irish Police in the Republic) found blood, teeth and hair but could not find his body and after the Good Friday Agreement the IRA refused to tell the Garda where the remains of Captain Robert Nairac are buried.
Citation for the award George Cross
“The Queen has been
graciously pleased to approve the posthumous award of the George Cross to:
Captain Robert Laurence Nairac (493007), GRENADIER GUARDS.
Captain Nairac served for four tours of duty
in Northern Ireland totalling twenty-eight months. During the whole of this
time he made an outstanding personal contribution : his quick analytical brain,
resourcefulness, physical stamina and above all his courage and dedication
inspired admiration in everyone who knew him. On his fourth tour Captain Nairac
was a Liaison Officer at Headquarters 3 Infantry Brigade. His task was
connected with surveillance operations.
On the night of 14/15 May 1977 Captain Nairac
was abducted from a village in South Armagh by at least seven men. Despite his
fierce resistance he was overpowered and taken across the border into the
nearby Republic of Ireland where he was subjected to a succession of
exceptionally savage assaults in an attempt to extract information which would
have put other lives and future operations at serious risk. These efforts to
break Captain Nairac’s will failed entirely. Weakened as he was in
strength-though not in spirit-by the brutality, he yet made repeated and
spirited attempts to escape, but on each occasion was eventually overpowered by
the weight of the numbers against him.
After several hours in the hands of his
captors Captain Nairac was callously murdered by a gunman of the Provisional
Irish Republican Army who had been summoned to the scene. His assassin subsequently
said: “He never told us anything”. Captain Nairac’s exceptional
courage and acts of the greatest heroism in circumstances of extreme peril
showed devotion to duty and personal courage second to none.”
John Parker, Death of a Hero:
Captain Nairac GC and the undercover war in Northern Ireland
John Parker, Secret Hero: The
Life and mysterious death of Captain Robert Nairac