Agents of Influence: Inside Britain’s Secret War Against the IRA


Aaron Edwards

September 2020

Explosive revelations about the hidden agendas of leading republicans Martin McGuinness, Denis Donaldson and Freddie Scappaticci

New insights into the spymasters behind the scenes, as well as the capture of the M60 Gang, targeted killings in Derry, Loughgall and Gibraltar, secret talks between the IRA and the British Government

For the first time, the international dimension of the conflict, with accounts of Britain’s intelligence operations in Germany, Spain, Belgium, Holland, Libya and the United States.



Recruited by British Intelligence to infiltrate the IRA and Sinn Féin during the height of the Northern Ireland Troubles, they were Agents of Influence. With codenames like INFLICTION, STAKE KNIFE, 3007 and CAROL, these spies played a pivotal role in the fight against the IRA. Now, for the first time, some of these agents have emerged from the shadows to tell their compelling stories. Agents of Influence takes you behind the scenes of the secret intelligence war which helped bring the IRA’s armed struggle to an end.

Historian Aaron Edwards, the critically acclaimed author of UVF: Behind the Mask, explains how the IRA was penetrated, with explosive new revelations about the hidden agendas of leading figures like Martin McGuinness, Denis Donaldson and Freddie Scappaticci, and how British Intelligence was able to read the minutes of the IRA’s top-secret meetings before they were distributed to its membership.

With new insights into the spy masters behind the scenes, their strategies and tactics, and Britain’s international intelligence operations in Europe, Libya and the United States, Agents of Influence offers a rare and shocking glimpse into the hidden world of secret agents during the vicious decades of the Troubles.


Dramatis Personae

Prologue: In the Zone

  1. The War Against Terrorism
  2. Inside the Stormont KGB
  3. Operation Artichoke
  4. The Oldfield System
  5. The Spy who came in from the Cold
  6. The Derry Falange
  7. An Honourable Cause
  8. Traffic Analysis
  9. The Assessment
  10. Championing the Bullet and Ballot Box
  11. Fighting Britain in Her Own Home
  12. The McGuinness Half Hour
  13. The Bionic Man
  14. Agents Within
  15. The Man in the Arena
  16. The Button Job
  17. Gripping the IRA
  18. No Military Defeat
  19. Fools Handling Fools
  20. The madness was so real you could touch it
  21. A 3D War

Epilogue: Collecting People

Provisional IRA Structures (circa 1985)

British Intelligence Structures in Northern Ireland (circa 1985)


About The Author:

Aaron Edwards is a Senior Lecturer in Defence and International Affairs at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Leicester. He is the author of several books, including Mad Mitch’s Tribal Law: Aden and the End of Empire (2014) and UVF: Behind the Mask (2017). His work has featured in The Irish Times, Belfast Telegraph, Belfast NewsLetter and The Irish News.


Additional information

Weight 0.7 kg



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Paperback ISBN



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