State Violence and Collusion Timeline 1986

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Events related to state violence and collusion in Northern Ireland in 1986.


  • 3 - An FRU contact form states that loyalist: "[L/28] … admitted that the 'Int' had 'gone down hill' since source's departure. In actual fact the UDA are still unable to use the Intelligence files created by … [Nelson] on the computer because he withheld part of the password."[1]
  • 15 - A Security Service internal note recorded that Brian Nelson could provide the Service with "top level access" to the UDA. The intelligence that he could potentially provide was seen to be particularly important given the "increasing political links between unionists and paramilitaries".[1]
  • 23 - In an internal Security Service note, F Branch responsible for dealing with Irish-related terrorism suggested that "ASP [Assistant Secretary Political] take soundings of the FRU to establish their willingness to handover … [Nelson]."[1] .


  • 24 - The FRU's half-yearly report states: "At present there has been no exploitation based on his [Nelson's] information, although he had been informing the office for some time that the UDA were targeting Sinn Fein members/workers. In Sep 85, [T/27] was shot three times by gunmen from the UDA, previously reported by source during Aug - Sep 85."[1]



  • c. 21 - FRU and Security Service officers flew to West Germany in May 1986 to seek to meet Brian Nelson. One of these officers, A/11, noted that the FRU's rationale for re-establishing contact with Nelson was the "deteriorating attitude of certain loyalist elements within Northern Ireland towards the British Government as well as the RUC". Nelson's potential as an agent was described as "enormous" and he was thought to possess "the potential to go far should he return and carry on from where he left off".[54] However, the meeting was ultimately aborted when the intelligence officers unexpectedly encountered Nelson's family.[1]


  • 3 A note produced for the Joint Intelligence Committee Chair entitled Loyalist Paramilitary Activity stated that: "… staff [in the Security Service] have commented that if the UDA had obtained these weapons, it would have represented a significant increase in its available arsenal and operational capabilities."[2]
  • 26 - 'Directive for the Force Research Unit (Northern Ireland)' promulgated by Major General A. S. Jeapes, Commander Land Forces.[3]


  • 11 - a report of the Joint Intelligence Committee states that RUC and Security Service action had frustrated a number of further loyalist arms procurement operations, with Ulster Defence Association (UDA) members and sympathisers - including three members of the Territorial Army - having been arrested. According to this report, the seizure "represents a severe setback for UDA efforts to procure arms on the mainland, disrupting a hitherto safe route from Scotland to Belfast".[2]
  • 20 - A/07 of the Force Research Unit called Brian Nelson in Germany. Nelson was invited to visit Northern Ireland at the FRU's expense but he declined the offer, apparently saying that he had "no intention of returning in the immediate future". The FRU handler commented in a contact form that Nelson seemed "settled" but that a "face to face meeting with … [Nelson] may result in an early return or at least a rough idea of when to expect this". The OC of East Det FRU endorsed the plan and noted that the visit would take place at the end of January 1987.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Sir Desmond de Silva, Volume 1 - Chapter 6: The recruitment of Brian Nelson, Pat Finucane Review, 12 December 2012.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Sir Desmond de Silva, Volume 1 - Chapter 5: Action taken by the security forces to tackle loyalist terrorism, Pat Finucane Review, 12 December 2012.
  3. Sir Desmond de Silva, Volume 1 - Chapter 4: Agent-handling, Pat Finucane Review, 12 December 2012.