Panic in dissident Republican ranks as another New IRA state agent flees Ireland

We can reveal alleged senior dissidents Colin Duffy, Harry Fitzsimons and Alex McCrory have cut all connection to the NIRA over fears of complete infiltration

Paula Mackin

A Derry man who has been branded a state agent by a dissident group was a 'low-level' informant, a source has claimed.

Billy Elliot was supposedly 'unmasked' by Saoradh this week who claim he is a police informer.

He has not been seen since in his home town and is now believed, according to reliable sources, to have been moved to England for his own protection.

However, the claims the outing of Elliot as a tout has done nothing to ease the paranoia and concerns of senior members of the NIRA in Derry.

The Sunday World can also reveal alleged senior dissidents Colin Duffy, Harry Fitzsimons and Alex McCrory have cut all connection to the terror group because of fears and suspicion that the NIRA was infiltrated with informers.

We can reveal they believe there is another more high-profile informer within their ranks, a person whose information played a role in Niall Sheerin's conviction last week for possessing the gun used to kill journalist Lyra McKee.

Sheerin was charged with possessing a Hammerli pistol with intent to endanger life or cause serious damage to property, or to enable another person to endanger life or cause damage to property.

The 29-year-old admitted to holding the gun used to murder Lyra McKee, caught red-handed after police received inside intelligence about the location of the murder weapon.

Dissident sources have told Sunday World there is no possibility that Elliot could have been the source of the information, leading them to believe the PSNI and MI5 have recruited another informer similar to Dennis McFadden who brought the alleged NIRA leadership to its knees.

"There is no way in the world that Billy Elliot would have known the location of the gun. No way at all. There is no other conclusion other than there is another rat like Dennis McFadden amongst us.

"It is causing great concern, no one knows who they can trust and that will limit what we have planned. People are wary of moving, doing anything, even meeting," one source told Sunday World.

"Billy (Elliot) is gone, we know that for sure. We know he was just picking crumbs from the table. He was not a Dennis McFadden, but he was, we believe, passing on information about meetings, locations and people's movements.

"He would never have had any access to the running or planning of the New IRA in Derry. He was on the sidelines, he was like a tea boy but he still (allegedly) betrayed us," he said.

Another source said they believe Elliot, who suffered from mental health problems and a dependency on alcohol, was identified as an easy target by super-spook McFadden whose information resulted in the arrests a group of leading IRA suspects.

A source said: "There is an internal (NIRA) investigation into this but what we can gather so far is that Dennis McFadden probably identified him to is handlers as someone vulnerable, easily exploited and he was targeted because of his connection to one of our senior members of Saoradh.

"That's the train of thought at the minute though we know he would not have had anything explosive to tell whoever he was working for. He would not have had access to anything major.

"He was a poor choice, he could not gain the information his (alleged) handlers thought he could. He was low level within Saoradh, a helping hand. He boosted the numbers but in the end he was too weak to cope and had to come clean. His life is ruined and his family are devastated," said another dissident source.

The alleged informer has been defended by his family who said he had been coerced into collaborating with the British forces.

The Creggan man, according to Saoradh, had been used to target local republicans. They say he was not a member of the party.

Saoradh have claimed Elliot was under suspicion in recent months and was exposed after being "challenged" by a family member.

A statement from his family on Facebook said he "disappeared from the family home several days ago after making it known to a family member that he was being pressured by British security services. It now appears that he was coerced into collaborating with these individuals," it said.

"As many will already know, Billy suffered from long-standing mental health problems, addiction issues, and illiteracy.

"In outlining these facts, we do not wish to give the impression that they in any way excuse his behaviour.

"This week has been incredibly challenging and traumatic for our family and we appeal to anyone who finds themselves being pressured in this way to seek help and reach out to a local community representative."

Saoradh said it believed Elliot had fled Derry "and is with his handlers in England. Billy Elliot has now thrown away his life, and for what?

"Saoradh call on anyone who has been compromised or approached by British Intelligence Services to come forward and safely remove yourself from this dangerous activity."

The PSNI said it did not comment on individual security cases. Saoradh said it had a party policy not to speak to the Sunday World.

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