Sunday Life

Loyalists at war: Nelson mark II
Ned Greer was the UDA's second-in-command in Lisburn...he was also key Army agent

19 September 2004

THE UDA had a SECOND Army agent in its midst, at the same time Brian Nelson was also using military intelligence files to set up republican activists and innocent Catholics for murder.

Ned Greer, who rose through the ranks to be the second-in-command of the organisation's lethal Lisburn 'brigade', helped run the gang responsible for up to a dozen murders in south Belfast, and as far away as Donegal.

He provided the Lisburn and south Belfast brigades with intelligence files from both RUC sources and the Army's NI headquarters, at Thiepval barracks.

But he was also responsible for weapons finds and arrests.

One senior figure in the south Belfast brigade back then, even described Greer as having been as important as Brian Nelson.

"Ned did as much damage to us as Nelson, in fact he may have done more.

"Ned has as many secrets in his head as Nelson took to his grave.

"When he disappeared, there were a lot of worried people in Lisburn."

Greer was a disciple of John McMichael, and joined the UDA in the early 1980s.

Following McMichael's assassination in 1987, he worked his way through the ranks until he became second-in-command.

He impressed his comrades because he was able to provide them with leaked security files, which originated not only from RUC sources but also from the Army.

Greer's sources provided him with high-grade intelligence on IRA suspects, including Padraig O'Seanachain, a 33-year-old Sinn Fein activist from Castlederg, Co Tyrone.

He had been a thorn in the Army's side for several years, and had been behind a series of IRA under-car booby-trap bombs, which killed several members of the UDR. On August 12, 1991, O'Seanachain was travelling to work on a road at Killen outside Castlederg, when a UDA sniper opened fire on his car and killed him.

The murdered man's family maintained that he was just a political activist in Sinn Fein, with no connections to the IRA. But the UDA insisted otherwise - safe in the knowledge Army intelligence files pinpointed O'Seanachain as the booby-trap bomb expert.

He was later claimed by the IRA as one of its own, in a tribute book to dead "volunteers".

Greer's career as an informant for Special Branch and FRU outlasted Brian Nelson's by three years.

He managed to inflict some damage on the Lisburn UDA with operations foiled, men arrested and weapons recovered.

Yet his tenure as the UDA's number two in Lisburn coincided with a hike in UDA activity, with more than a dozen people killed and scores injured.

By late 1992, Greer's handlers had realised from other sources inside the UDA that the organisation had grown suspicious of him, and his time as an agent was effectively over when one of his comrades spotted Greer's car being driven into Thiepval, shortly before Christmas.

In January 1993, when a murder bid on a suspected informer had to be aborted, due to a heavy security presence in a bar in Lisburn town centre, the UDA's fears were confirmed.

But before its internal security department had a chance to 'arrest and interrogate' Greer, his handlers set in motion a plan to move him and his family out of Ulster for good.

Removal vans took everything from their Lisburn home to a secret location across the Irish Sea, and Ned Greer was spirited out of Northern Ireland early one morning in March 1993.

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