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Second IRA secret agent named

(Sinead King, The People)

A top Belfast republican and IRA intelligence officer was unavailable for comment last night amid claims he was a top British agent who worked inside the Provos for more than 25 years, The People can reveal. Joe 'The Hawk' Haughey is a legendary republican who once survived a UVF murder bid.

Last week, however, he was named on a website as a leading IRA member who had worked for RUC Special Branch and MI5 since the 1970s. Last night, a source close to Haughey contacted The People to deny he was an informer, saying the claims were 'outrageous' and the work of British Intelligence.

Other sources, however, say that the Provisional IRA in Belfast has known for 'some time' that Haughey was indeed an informer but they had not taken action.

He was named on the same website which outed Stakeknife Freddie Scappaticci and carried other allegations on several other alleged touts. There is speculation that the outing is the work of yet another disgruntled ex-employee of the Ministry of Defence.

A source at the website confirmed: "This has come from someone who hasn't been talking before, in that she is new to this game and is apparently able to name other agents.

"She is unhappy at the way she has been treated by the British." The note is signed 'Joan'. The People was first aware of claims that Haughey was an agent for MI5 and Special Branch last May just days after we named Scappaticci. It was only this week that his role as a tout was confirmed by senior republicans.

We understand the Provos have been under pressure for some time to investigate the murder of an alleged informer during Haughey's reign in north Belfast. Charles Bennett was shot in the face after being branded a tout by PIRA in north Belfast. His murder was infamously described as 'internal housekeeping' by an official of the then NI Secretary Mo Mowlam.

It has now been claimed that Bennett was shot to stop him spilling the beans on corruption amongst top PIRA members in the north of the city. Bennett, from Upper Meadow Street, was abducted in July 1999 and taken to a flat where he was tortured and beaten.

His body was found lying on waste ground behind the St Gall's GAA club in the west of the city several days later. He had been hit in the head by a shotgun blast - fired from just two inches - and died instantly.

Now locals claim Bennett's crime was to rip off paramilitary bosses involved in a cigarette heist and point to the fact that two of those involved in the killing have since been stood down by the IRA for corruption. Both had stolen thousands of pounds from the organisation. Their republican friend Joe Haughey is no stranger to such discipline.

He was put out of Belfast in the mid-1970s after being caught with his hand in the Provo till. He was forced to pay back an estimated £2,000 to the IRA before he could return to the city.

The People has been told that he was later re-admitted into the Provos where he has remained ever since.

The top republican - originally from Unity Walk in the city - had his very own self-styled catchphrase: "I'm the Hawk from the Walk and I don't talk." Now there is a suggestion that he has indeed been talking for years...to Branch & MI5 handlers.

One senior republican admitted yesterday: "I don't see any press conferences this time if he's outed. He may well stay and try to brass it out just like Scappaticci - but it won't work."

He was once fined for a series of benefit scams.

His name hit the headlines in a court case in November 1981. Haughey had hijacked a car for the IRA which was then used in the M60 machinegun murder of the deputy governor of Crumlin Road prison. Haughey, then 28 years old, was given a suspended prison sentence after being found guilty of hijacking and false imprisonment. He was also acquitted of IRA membership charges. He would be acquitted again of more serious charges five years later.

In June 1986 he walked free from Belfast Crown Court after a judge acquitted him of involvement in the murder of Mary Travers and the attempted murder of her magistrate dad Tom.

They had been shot after leaving Mass off Belfast's Malone Road on April 8, 1984.

The trial judge ruled that identification evidence from Mr Travers - in which he identified Haughey as one of the gunmen - was flawed. Haughey later ran from the court and was bundled into a silver car before being driven off by supporters.

The father-of-two remained an active republican and was targetted for assassination by the Ulster Volunteer Force five years later.

On June 16 1991, Joe Haughey was returning to his Unity Walk home when loyalist gunmen opened fire from a passing Sierra car. Having missed their target the gunmen then chased Haughey into the then Unity Flats complex and opened fire again. He was hit in the arm.

The shooting came just a year after a British newspaper named Haughey as an IRA intelligence officer and claimed he got a job at EuroDisney. He was later paid off by a construction company.

In more recent times he was involved in helping the IRA's internal security unit and was a very close friend of superspy Stakeknife Freddie Scappaticci.

"He would have assisted Scap during any inquiries by Belfast Brigade staff," said one senior republican.

"He's 51 or 52 now and has been around the Troubles most of his life. He was highly-respected but after Scap was exposed and other allegations were made top people began to suspect he was a tout.

"Haughey - we called him Buck - has been lying low but he must be aware of the allegations. In fact there are couple of sayings going around at the moment.

"One is that the hawk must have squawked; the other is that the Unity bird must have been f***ing singing." Haughey is well-known to the Provisional leadership throughout Ireland.

"We're not talking about small fry," said one republican source.

"He's a big fish, a very big fish. Some would say he's bigger than Scap and certainly as embarrassing.

"It shows the Branch too would use anyone for information."

The author Martin Dillon alleged Haughey was the go-between for the IRA and moneybags UDA racketeer Jimmy Craig. Craig would pass on information on loyalist rivals for IRA units to take out - including Shankill Butchers leader Lenny Murphy.

Special Branch later video-taped Craig and Haughey during one of their meetings at which they divided up building site rackets across Belfast. The tape was later passed by the Branch to the UDA whose special assignment section used it as evidence that Craig was working with PIRA.

The rival UVF later murdered Craig on behalf of the UDA. The gun used to shoot Craig was only used once more - in the murder of IRA security man Martin Doherty at the Widow Scallan's pub in Dublin in 1994.

May 30, 2004

This article appeared first in The People on May 30, 2004.