Colm Murphy Interview - MI5 agent in plot to frame me: dissident

1 June 2010
The Irish News
Allison Morris

Leading dissident republican Colm Murphy has alleged that a suspected British agent on trial in a MI5 case was engaged in an elaborate plot to frame him.

Dermot Declan Gregory (41), also known as Michael Dermot, is standing trial at Belfast Crown Court in a gun-running case in which MI5 witnesses are giving evidence in an Irish court for the first time in decades.

Along with John McCaugherty and Desmond Kearns, Mr Gregory is charged with raising funds for paramilitaries and trying to procure weapons for the Real IRA.

Murphy alleges that Mr Gregory gave a full account of his spying activities and agreed to give a press conference outlining the details.

However, on May 7 Mr Gregory voluntarily attended Antrim serious crime suite in relation to a number of unrelated paramilitary offences.

He appeared in Newry courthouse on May 10 charged with a further two offences including having ammunition in suspicious circumstances.

Mr Gregory's bail was revoked and he is being held in isolation for his own protection in Maghaberry prison.

It is claimed that prior to this Mr Gregory - who believed he had immunity from prosecution - had been working alongside another agent - a man known as 'White Paw' - who had been working for intelligence agencies in the Republic.

Murphy told The Irish News that Mr Gregory had admitted his role as a double agent to him and had given him a hand-written account of his covert activities.

The second alleged agent involved in the plot is believed to have fled Dublin and to be in a witness protection programme, possibly in Cardiff, Wales.

He is said to have fled Ireland after becoming nervous that his cover had been blown following the Real IRA murder of one of its own members, Kieran Doherty, in Derry in February.

Murphy said Mr Gregory had not only been acting as a spy but had been involved in orchestrating paramilitary activity in order to get more money from his handlers.

"In the run up to my retrial Gregory was actively trying to implicate me in some sort of activity to scupper the court case," Murphy said.

"He has admitted this. He was ready to go public before he was pulled back into Maghaberry."

It is claimed that more than £500,000 was paid to the two agents who were acting as a team.

Murphy says a lorry packed with material to build a 1,000lb explosive device, found under a flyover in Newry in December, was the work of Mr Gregory.

In the letter, purported to be Mr Gregory's confession and seen by The Irish News, the alleged agent admits that he had been paid up to £4,000 a time for information provided to his MI5 handlers.

"They don't tell MI5 everything, they don't trust each other," Mr Gregory allegedly says of the Republic's intelligence agencies.

"Information is pooled into London and analysed, same with branch in the south."

In the letter, supposedly written by Gregory, he also alleges that EUR15,000 had been paid to release his prosecution file so that evidence implicating him in paramilitary activity could "go missing".

When the agent's handlers started putting pressure on him to provide more detailed information, the letter writer claims that he and the second agent made up false information to make themselves more valuable to the intelligence agencies.

They told their handlers that a car dealer in Co Louth who drank in Murphy's former bar, The Emerald in Dundalk, was a senior paramilitary figure.

A decision was taken to provide the car dealer with a "bugged" vehicle on the pretext that he would be driving Colm Murphy around in it.

The letter writer also told his handlers that Conan Murphy, Colm Murphy's 23-year-old son, was a "big shaker" and seemed to be "flavour of the month."

Conan Murphy was arrested in Dundalk last week and charged in connection with an alleged bomb-making factory.

The letter writer also admits to having played a role in the claimed "setting up" of south Armagh man Turlough McAllister, son of former Sinn Fein councillor Jim McAllister.

In February McAllister was jailed for 12 years for possession of explosives.

In the alleged written confession Mr Gregory says: "I didn't want to get anyone else burnt and I felt that either (name withheld) or Conan Murphy were next."

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