Home / Lifestyle / British government refuses to release information about Irish spies

British government refuses to release information about Irish spies

The UK government is refusing to release 100-year-old documents that could give us a greater understanding of the events in the late 19th century as well as the build up to the Easter Rising.

The file is titled ‘Paid Informants in Irish Secret Societies 1886-1910’ and was discovered by Cork historian Barry Keane in 2013 as he was carrying out research in the UK National Archive.

The British Home Office and the Metropolitan Police are refusing to release the files.

The UK government is refusing to release 100-year-old information about Irish informants photo copyright Diliff cc2.5

Keane appealed against the decision but his case was rejected by the UK Freedom of Information tribunal by a two to one majority.

A UK counter-terrorism expert gave evidence from behind a screen at the tribunal, despite the fact that the last surviving subject in the file died over 60 years ago.

Keane believes that the documents include vital evidence that would give us a better understanding of some of the key events in Irish history.

Keane told the Irish Independent: “I believe this file is absolutely critical to our accurate knowledge of major events in Irish history and there is clearly no reason why it cannot be released.”

“It is patently obvious that anyone mentioned in this file is now long since deceased.”

However, the British government has said that it won’t give up the documents and that it could cause heartache and trouble for the descendants of the spies.

It said that the descendants could be shunned or even targeted by ‘dissident republicans’. Another reason given was that it would also make it more difficult for the UK to recruit informants.

The majority at the tribunal believed: “It is by no means fanciful to suggest that on revelation that a person’s ancestor was an informer, elements of the local community might choose to shun him or her, causing them distress.”

The minority had agreed with Keane’s argument that it was ridiculous to suggest that members of the Provisional IRA, Real IRA, Continuity IRA and other versions of the IRA would persecute anybody due to information that is over 100 years old.

They said that to withhold the documents, some of which are 127 years old ‘simply fails a very basic common-sense test’.

Do you qualify to become an Irish citizen?

There are three main ways for a person to qualify for Irish citizenship – through birth, through marriage or civil partnership or through naturalisation. Check if you qualify for Irish citizenship

Did you know?

Fans of Game of Thrones can soon visit some of the key filming locations in Northern Ireland, in a move that will provide a huge tourism boost for the area. Find out more.

Have you heard about…

A two-minute film from showcases Irish dancing in all its glory. It sees Cork trio Kieran Hardiman, Alan Kenefick and Ciaran Plummer performing their perfectly choreographed routine around the grounds of University College Cork. Find out more.

What about this…

Female Irish warrior Grainne Ni Mhaile, or Grace O’Malley is one of the most colourful characters in Irish history. Born around 1530, she was a Pirate Queen and became a constant thorn in the side of British Queen Elizabeth I. Find out more.

About Michael Kehoe

Follow Michael at @michaelcalling

Check Also

Syrian schoolboy Mohammed

Syrian boy with a Belfast brogue wins the hearts of people all over the nation

A Syrian boy living in Belfast has warmed people’s hearts across the nation after he …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.