UK-IRELAND: Undercover policing: fresh questions over Mark Kennedy's activities in Ireland


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"GARDA CHIEFS and Scotland Yard commanders allowed British undercover policeman Mark Kennedy to spy on environmental groups in Ireland, including the Shell to Sea campaign in Mayo. Dublin Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan wants Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald to get some long-overdue and straight answers from her British counterpart when she meets Home Secretary Amber Rudd this month...

Belfast solicitors KRW Law, acting for Sarah Hampton, have written to the Department of Justice, asking it to confirm whether the Garda has ever investigated the actions of British police officer Mark Kennedy in Ireland...

The Department of Justice replied:

'To the extent that and for so long as the person in question was present in this jurisdiction, he would, naturally have been subject to Irish law...

Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan (pictured above) wants Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald to ask Amber Rudd:

  • Who authorised Mark Kennedy’s trip to Ireland?
  • Who sanctioned the list of Irish campaign groups that were to be targeted?
  • Were any convictions in Ireland secured on evidence or actions carried out by undercover British police officers?'"

See: British police spy at Shell to Sea in Mayo – MEP wants Justice Minister to get answers from counterpart (An Phoblacht, link)

Questions have, unsurprisingly, previously been raised over Kennedy's role in Ireland. There is a report by the Garda written after the scandal first broke that remains beyond the public eye. An August 2013 article published in the Statewatch Journal included the following information:

"A report drawn up by the Garda Síochána in the months following Kennedy’s exposure as a spy has never been published. Kennedy spent a significant amount of time in Ireland, participating in workshops and demonstrations, including those against the EU summit in May 2004. In January 2011 the Irish Examiner reported claims that, for the summit, Kennedy 'brought a van from Britain containing crash helmets and offered to purchase broom handles to be used in combating gardaí.' An activist who played host to Kennedy said that 'he was always very supportive of ‘direct action’ protest. It’s disturbing that he would seem to have been acting as a ‘agent provocateur’ attempting to get people into trouble.'

Days later, the Examiner again reported on Kennedy’s activities. Despite repeatedly telling the paper that they had 'no information' on the case, it was reported that 'Garda bosses will admit in a report to Justice Minister Brendan Smith that they knew about [Kennedy’s] presence [in Ireland].' The Examiner revealed that “senior Garda intelligence officers - attached to the Crime and Security Branch - had known all along about Mr Kennedy after being informed by the British Metropolitan police. Crime and Security did not inform local senior gardaí in the areas where Kennedy was active for fear of blowing his cover.' In April 2011, a Sinn Fein representative in the Dáil, the Irish parliament, complained that “we have still to receive a report on what exactly he was doing in this country, on whose behalf he was working and whether the Gardaí were aware that he was here.' It appears that this report reached only a very limited number of officials."

See: Secrets and lies: undercover police operations raise more questions than answers by Chris Jones, Statewatch Journal, vol 23 no 2, August 2013

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