Sinn Fein election agent was an IRA spy with a post-Good Friday Agreement conviction for targeting politicians

The News Letter can reveal that the election agent for Sinn Fein MLA candidate Caral Ni Chuilin’s was a former IRA spy who targeted elected politicians.

By Adam Kula
Thursday, 19th May 2022, 6:30 am
Updated Thursday, 19th May 2022, 10:43 am
An IRA mural in north Belfast
An IRA mural in north Belfast

John Joseph Jude O’Hagan of the New Lodge, north Belfast, was convicted in 2003 of gathering intelligence on top Conservative Party figures.

In 2004 he was sentenced to three years and four months in jail for two counts of possession of articles for use in a terrorist act and five counts of possessing documents useful to persons planning an act of terrorism.

However he was released the same day because of time already served while on remand.

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Mr O’Hagan was previously jailed for 16 years in 1993 for possessing explosives, but released early under the Good Friday Agreement.

In addition, Sinn Fein’s other successful North Belfast candidate Gerry Kelly also had a former Provo as his election agent – Shauneen Baker, also from the city’s north side.

The former Belfast councillor was caught as a teenager trying to take a bomb to Belfast International Airport.

This all means that not only were Mr Kelly and Ms Ni Chuilin formerly active IRA members, but so were both the people who were tasked with running their campaigns.

(Ms Ni Chuilin was caught planting a booby-trap bomb in Crumlin village in 1989, whilst Mr Kelly was jailed for the 1973 Old Bailey bombing.)

Asked for comment, the DUP sent the following in the name of Peter Weir: “For Sinn Fein, the interests of a small republican clique will always be placed ahead of the wider public.

“Details such as the appointment of these election agents are a clear demonstration of Sinn Fein’s real priorities.

“These former ‘volunteers’ aren’t interested in fixing the NHS, helping working families or growing the economy.

“I will never stop reminding SF personnel of their past. Their victims still live with the scars.

“These terrorists should be in jail, not on election trails. They should be behind bars not knocking doors.”

Election agents are essentially in charge of candidates’ paperwork and expenses, and are entitled to observe certain aspects of the vote-counting process.

Sinn Fein was contacted for comment repeatedly, but none had been received at time of writing.

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