Intelligence war between British Army and IRA is focus of fascinating BBC documentary

BBC documentary, Spotlight on The Troubles: A Secret History

A BBC documentary about the Troubles is set to focus on the intelligence war between the British Army and the IRA.

The programme – Spotlight on The Troubles: A Secret History – is receiving rave reviews.

The most recent episode focuses on the Loughgall ambush which took place on 8th May 1987.

BBC documentary, Spotlight on The Troubles: A Secret History

It saw eight members of the Provisional IRA’s East Tyrone Brigade killed in Loughgall, Armagh.

They had stolen a digger and used it to transport a 200lb bomb into the RUC barracks in Loughgall. The bomb destroyed huge sections of the base.

However, the British SAS had been aware of the plan and returned fire on the IRA men from their positions both inside and outside the base.

The SAS fired around 1,000 rounds and killed all of the IRA attackers. The European Court of Human Rights would later rule the men’s human rights were violated by the British as there had never been an investigation into their deaths.

A member of the public, Anthony Hughes, was also killed and another innocent bystander was badly injured.

The documentary presenter Jennifer O’Leary will look at how British intelligence agents were able to infiltrate the IRA and anticipate the attack.

The synopsis for the episode reads: “One weakness in the IRA’s internal security was exploited to unlock many of the group’s secrets.

“She charts how Britain used informers and combined that advantage in secret intelligence with the use of special forces to take on one of the IRA’s deadliest units – a strategy that culminated with the Loughgall ambush, when the SAS killed eight IRA men attacking a police station.

“The programme shows that the aftermath of the attack only made the IRA’s informer problem worse.”

Future episodes of the series will look at the links between the British state and the Ulster Defence Association.

The episode five synopsis says: “Unionist anger grew as IRA attacks on the security forces killed members of their community. When Margaret Thatcher signed the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985, giving the Republic of Ireland political influence in the North, the anger spilled over into talk of insurrection.

“The programme reveals how loyalist groups rearmed and used intelligence leaks from soldiers and police to boost their campaign of killing, including new information about MI5 agents operating inside the largest loyalist group, the Ulster Defence Association.”

Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcallingJoin our community