According to the author of a new book to be published on 3 September, the County Down base was home to a counter-terrorism group that waged a campaign of kidnapping, murder and car-bombing in an attempt to force the IRA into a final ceasefire.
The revelations come from the mind of Ireland’s newest author – former Downpatrick journalist, Joe McCoubrey, who has just launched his first novel entitled ‘Someone Has To Pay’.
The author is quick to point out that the book is a work of fiction. “I visited the Bishopscourt base on a number of occasions whilst the RAF was still clearly in residence. On those occasions, as a working journalist, I had no reason to believe that it was used for other than its stated purpose as an RAF base. I still have no reason to believe otherwise.”
“However”, said Joe, “in the murky world of counter-terrorism, a base such as that described in my novel would be ideal for the intelligence authorities. If such a base was used at any time during the so-called ‘Troubles’ of Northern Ireland, then I can think of no better, no more versatile location, than Bishopscourt. Hence the literary conjecture.”
It is a matter of record that throughout the seventies and eighties the Bishopscourt base was shared between the RAF and the civilian Air Traffic Control Centre based at Prestwick in Scotland. When the site could serve no further purpose for Air Traffic Control, the civilian staff left. The base ostensibly remained manned by RAF personnel until its final closure in 1995.
It was during that limbo period, the author suggests, that the authorities found an alternative use for the centre.
‘Someone Has to Pay’ is based around the last days of the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’ in 1994. The British Government and the IRA are hurtling towards peace under international pressure, but both sides want one last attempt to win an outright victory.
The British decide to set up a multi-service undercover unit, tasked with bringing the terror organisation to its knees. Hidden away behind the cover of Bishopscourt, the unit sets out on a ruthless campaign to wreak havoc in the IRA ranks.
Meanwhile the IRA has a mission of its own. They know that British public opinion is turning against continued rule over Northern Ireland, and they know that one last major offensive will tip the balance in their favour. Top of their agenda is the assassination of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
Both sides employ their best resources. Heading up the British unit is Mike Devon, their top undercover agent. He’s up against Fergal McSweeney, the IRA’s most notorious assassin. Both men clashed in an operation in Chicago ten years previously and both have the scars to show for it. A final showdown is inevitable.
Standing in the middle is the Royal Ulster Constabulary, trying to make sense of the upsurge of violence on their doorstep. Detective Chief Inspector Martin Vennison is out to stop both sides turning the streets of Ulster into a war zone, but he carries a more personal reason for getting involved. The IRA murdered his boss and he wants the men who did it.
The action swings relentlessly from Chicago to London, and from Glasgow to Belfast, as the three sides collide in a final bloody finale in the suburbs of Dublin.
‘Someone Has to Pay’ is published as an ebook by Masterkoda Select Publishing and is available for download from the Amazon website.