Unite union spokesman was jailed over Real IRA operation


A spokesman for the trade union Unite is a man who last year said that he had no regrets about gathering intelligence from a hospital to pass it on to the Real IRA, it has emerged.

Ciaran Cunningham represented the union on the Nolan Show on Monday as it discussed Unite’s weekend protests outside Sinn Fein and DUP offices in opposition to the parties’ ‘fresh start’ agreement.

But it emerged during the discussion that Mr Cunningham served time in prison a decade ago after being convicted of gathering information from the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Police investigating the Real IRA uncovered the operation at the hospital, where Mr Cunningham was employed.

A BBC report from the time said that Mr Cunningham had refused to acknowledge that he understood the charges against him and stood with his back to the magistrate.

When asked on the Nolan Show if he regretted his intelligence-gathering for dissident republicans, he said: “I’m not here to talk about that.”

Mr Cunningham said he was no longer a member of dissident republican group the Republican Network for Unity and insisted that the protests had been “cross-community”.

When it was put to him that last year in a newspaper interview he said that he did not regret his actions, Mr Cunningham again said: “I’m not here to talk about that.”

When asked if he was against the peace process, he said: “I will not let the debate here be deflected into what my personal political past...”

In last year’s newspaper interview, Mr Cunningham was asked about dissident republican attempts to murder.

He replied at the time: “We don’t endorse or condemn them. We understand the logic.”