Ciaran Barnes


My name is Ciaran Barnes. I am the Chief Reporter with the Sunday Life newspaper in Belfast specialising in crime and security.

My first submission reveals how MI5 shut down the New IRA terrorist gang in the wake of its murder of journalist Lyra McKee. It reveals how, in the days after the April 2019 killing, a decision was made at the highest levels of government to arrests its leaders. Fourteen men and women were subsequently charged with terrorism offences, and ‘Operation Arbacia’ was put in place that involved MI5 agent Denis McFadden infiltrating and depleting the New IRA. The second submission explained how in the days after some of the worst rioting seen in Northern Ireland the government was using £10m of public money to help terrorist gangs ‘transition’ into community organisations. The revelations caused huge anger across the political spectrum and led to claims paramilitaries, who had organised the rioting, are being paid to keep the peace. The story also identified some of the loyalists and republicans whose groups were set to benefit from the £10m handout. My final submission is an expose of the international drug dealer who police believe is responsible for importing 90% of cocaine into Northern Ireland from his base in Dubai. I revealed how crime gangs from Belfast had travelled to the UAE to meet Sean McGovern to arrange huge shipments of cocaine. It also named the alleged drug barons in Northern Ireland who he supplied on behalf of the notorious Kinahan cartel which is now the focus of a major international FBI investigation.