Irish Joint Section

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Northern Ireland.jpg This article is part of SpinWatch's Northern Ireland Portal.

The Irish Joint Section was a joint MI5-MI6 unit which operated in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and 1980s.

From 1971 to 1972, primacy appeared to be with MI6 under Frank Steele. In May 1972, the Director General of MI5 and the Head of MI6 agreed to establish an Irish Joint Section (IJS) for the purpose of co-ordinating the operations and intelligence distribution of both bodies. The post of Director of Intelligence at Army HQ was abolished and a new post of Director and Coordinator of Intelligence with an office in Stormont was created. This post was given to an MI5 officer, and from that time on the number of MI5 personnel increased, with a corresponding decrease in MI6 presence. For example, the DCI’s representative at Army HQ was Craig Smellie of MI6. When he left Northern Ireland in 1975, he was replaced by Ian Cameron, an MI5 officer.
The Irish Joint Section continued to exist until 1984, when MI5 took sole responsibility for operations.[1]

According to the Pat Finucane Review, by Sir Desmond de Silva; " In April 1984, the IJS was wound up. The Security Service became solely responsible for its Belfast station and created a new section, F8, in London which assumed management responsibility. The F8 Section was a part of the FX Branch of the Service in London, which became responsible for dealing with counter-terrorism."[2]


  1. Interim Report on the Report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings of 1974 (December 2003), Appendix E: The Report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.
  2. Sir Desmond de Silva, Volume 1 - Chapter 3: Intelligence structures, Pat Finucane Review, 12 December 2012.