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pounds 1.5m TO KEEP RUC AGENT MARTIN ALIVE.

THE cost of protecting RUC agent Martin McGartland and tracking down his IRA would-be-killers has topped pounds 1.5 million.

Wages for 12 armed officers working round-the-clock has so far cost the Home Office around pounds 500,000.

And Northumbria Police have spent close on pounds 1 million since they launched their investigation into the Provo assassination bid on McGartland at his hide-away home in Whitley Bay last June.

The inquiry was classed as "category A status'' which is normally reserved for serious terrorist crimes or serial killers.

Initially, 60 local detectives were assigned to the investigation under the command of Supt Chris Simmonds. Officers from Scotland Yard's Anti-Terrorist Branch were also drafted in to add assistance in hunting down the gun gang.

The inquiry team has now been scaled down to around 15 detectives. but the costs have continued to mount.

The British Home Office is footing the running cost of a top-of-the-range saloon car which has had a pounds 40,000 armoured upgrade for added security. Police officers have been sent to Scotland and Belfast to liaise with police forces on possible suspects for the shooting.

Two detectives spent almost three months in Northern Ireland liaising with the RUC's Serious Crime Squad trawling intelligence data on the movements of known IRA personnel.

The painstaking investigation led to the arrest of convicted IRA bomb-maker Harry Fitzsimons at his Belfast home.

Also detained under special powers was convicted Provo bomber Scott Monaghan, who was lifted following a raid on his Glasgow home.

Both men were questioned but later released on police bail pending further inquiries.
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Author:Cassidy, John
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 9, 2000
Words:265
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