Sunday Life

Gaddafi deal reveals IRA arms shipments

04 January 2004

COLONEL Gaddafi's new-found peace policies mean that the Government now has better information on IRA heavy weaponry, than the Provos' own Army Council.

Part of the recent secret deal, negotiated by MI6 with Gaddafi, resulting in the decision to abandon his Weapons of Mass Destruction programme, included "full and final disclosure" on exactly what arms Libya supplied to the IRA.

Senior IRA sources now accept that Gaddafi's intelligence service has provided British Intelligence with a complete schedule of weapons, shipped by the regime to Ireland over 15 years, when Libya was the Provos' main supplier.

With this detailed information, the security services are now able to calculate precisely how much IRA heavy weaponry and explosives remain to be decomissioned.

And their information about IRA weapons is better than that of the Provos themselves.

As decommissioning boss, General John de Chastelain, said last October, the IRA itself may no longer have a full inventory of its weapons. Formal records were difficult to keep, and many IRA quartermasters are no longer alive or active, in the terror group.

Gaddafi's cooperation is a major boost for British and Irish government attempts to encourage further IRA decommissioning.

Last October, the IRA Army Council halted decommissioning, pending further post-Assembly election talks.

These are now believed to be scheduled for early spring.

Although the IRA imported quantities of weapons from the United States and elsewhere, Libya was the main source of heavy machineguns and commercial explosives.

Gaddafi's supply links with the IRA were first revealed in 1973, when the MV Claudia, heavily laden with Libyan arms, was detained by the Irish navy, off the Waterford coast.

Irish army intelligence suspected that two substantial shipments had gone through previously.

But the major supplies from Gaddafi to the IRA were made between 1985 and 1987, in three huge cargos.

One ship alone is thought to have delivered 90 tons of weapons and explosives to the Provos, before the interception of the Eksund in the Bay of Biscay, in 1987.

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