Frank Thornton describes the methods used by the IRA to counter British intelligence during the War of Independence.
Frank Thornton was a member of the unit of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) set up by Michael Collins and known as The Squad. This group of men were to counter British intelligence efforts during the War of Independence often by the assassination of agents.
Under the guidance of Liam Tobin an intelligence network was established including the handling of spies in Dublin Castle. One of these was David Neligan a member of the G Division of the Dublin Metropolitan police who passed on information to The Squad. Very few of those supplying information were being paid for the service.
A system of double checking was put in place to try and maintain security where suspected or potential double agents were spying on each other.
In 1920 magistrate Alan Bell was sent to Ireland by Scotland Yard to trace Republican funds. Frank Thornton describes how the IRA were able to identify Alan Bell and subsequently kill him.
Alan Bell appeared to be making progress in his investigations into bank accounts held by the republican movement. On the morning of the 26 March 1920, he was taken from a Dublin tram and shot.
There was only one way to deal with Alan Bell and that was to eliminate him.
A squad of armed men who were on standby to assassinate targets identified by IRA intelligence officers.
You see a small country like ours fighting for freedom as we were had to use every and any means at our disposal.to thwart the enemy activities and to eliminate them where possible.
This interview with Frank Thornton was recorded on 26 November 1964 for 'The Survivors'. The interviewer is Brian Farrell.
'The Survivors' was a special project undertaken in the early years of Irish television to record personal accounts of the Easter Rising and the War of Independence.