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Title: Informers, agents, the IRA and British counter-insurgency strategy during the Northern Ireland Troubles, 1969 to 1998
Author: Leahy, Thomas Daniel Melchizadek
ISNI:       0000 0004 5372 0933
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis investigates the impact of informers and agents upon Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) military strategy, and British counter-insurgency strategy in Northern Ireland between 1969 and 1998. The importance of this topic was highlighted by revelations in 2003 and 2005 concerning two senior republicans who had both been working for British intelligence for decades. The uncovering of these two senior spies created intense debate within the media and Irish republican community as to whether the IRA ended its military campaign largely because of significant infiltration. Yet, surprisingly, there has been no dedicated academic study of the impact of informers and agents upon the IRA. A few academics have briefly considered this topic in recent monographs and journal articles. Whilst acknowledging other important factors, they argue that intelligence successes against the IRA played a crucial role in influencing that organization to end its military campaign in 1998. This first in-depth study of the influence of informers and agents on IRA and British strategies during the Troubles cross-references new extensive interview material alongside memoirs from various Troubles participants. Its central argument is that the elusive nature of many rural IRA units, its cellular structure in Belfast, and the isolation of the IRA leadership prevented the organization from being damaged to any considerable extent by spies. In fact, the IRA’s resilience was a key factor encouraging the British government to try to include republicans in political settlements in 1972, 1975 and the 1990s. The IRA’s military strength also points towards the prominence of political factors in persuading republicans to call a ceasefire by 1994. The role of spies in Northern Ireland and the circumstances in which the state permitted negotiations with the IRA are key considerations for those interested in other small-scale conflicts.
Supervisor: McBride, Ian Richard ; Readman, Paul Andrew Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available