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Operation Chiffon: The Secret Story of MI5 and MI6 and the Road to Peace in Ireland

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In the context of the “secret war” in Northern Ireland, Operation Chiffon is further proof that “fact” is indeed “stranger than fiction ”.

Oatley and Robert faced dangers, but were crown servants, performing their duty, sometimes going above and beyond. The technical storage or access is strictly necessary for the legitimate purpose of enabling the use of a specific service explicitly requested by the subscriber or user, or for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network. Taylor vividly brings this covert operation to life and in the process chronicles the history of Sinn Féin, rising from obscurity in the early days of the Troubles to becoming the largest political party in Ireland today.

One moment they are meeting someone claiming to be the oldest person alive, the next they are bottle-feeding a baby elephant. When the Londonderry businessman acting as an intermediary, Brendan Duddy, advised Robert that a scheduled meeting in the city had been arranged as expected – just three days after the bomb had claimed the lives of two children – Robert decided to attend without authorisation.

Duddy was no less diligent in endeavouring to understand the “armed struggle” enveloping him and his fellow citizens. The cruxes of the matter, ones Taylor sadly fails to address, are these: Firstly, did the advent of this new era of openness and official accountability ultimately play a role in condemning “Robert”?

Operation Chiffon was the codename of the top-secret MI5 operation of back-channel communications between the UK Government and the leadership of the IRA.

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