A Most Reliable Man: The Superspy Who Betrayed The IRA by Gerard Murphy
- Gerard Murphy
- Publication Date:
Probably the most explosive book to emerge from the decade of centenary commemorations of the Irish revolution, A Most Reliable Man details the career of the most important agent British Intelligence placed in the IRA between 1914 and 1922 and outlines the many instances in which his activities undermined the IRA.
Based on a forensic examination of British military and police intelligence records on Ireland, it shows how the British authorities were provided with information that led to widespread arrests of rebel leaders, the interception and prevention of arms smuggling and IRA units being into traps in which they were wiped out. This led to a situation where the Cork Number 1 Brigade of the IRA, ostensibly one of the most active units in the country, was effectively being run by British Intelligence. Described as ‘reliable and trustworthy’ and ‘beyond reproach in his information’, this agent betrayed two successive republican Lords Mayor of Cork and had himself placed – with British help – in a leading position both in the Volunteers and the IRB. It is not possible to deal with all of his activities, or that of his closest associates, in one book. Nor is it possible in this volume to deal with the full implications of his activities.
These will have to wait for a final volume which will provide further evidence on this most extraordinary and successful career in espionage, not to mention treachery. This is part 2 of The Years of Deception trilogy. Volume I, The Great Cover-Up, examined his role in attracting Michael Collins to his death at Bealnablath but gave no hint at where his true allegiances lay. This book lays the groundwork for his exposure as a spy and the final volume, due out next year, will shed more light on this. This book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the Irish revolutionary period, where the wrong people were often shot as spies, while the real spies remained undetected at the very heart of the independence movement. It may not make comfortable reading for some but it goes a long way to explaining a wide range of anomalies in events that took place during the Irish War of Independence .
This is the first time such an important British agent has been discovered in the top echelons of the republican movement in that period and his activities exposed. So why did nobody see any of this before? The author’s view is that much of it has been under everybody’s noses for decades if they only had eyes to see.