Slugger O’Toole, a superb blog about Northern Ireland politics, opines that recent stories about a double agent named Stakeknive high in the IRA are less than credible and may be disinformation.

“Quite a few senior members of the NI press corps may have been sucker punched into believing the Stakeknife story in all its gory detail.

A golden rule in life is that if something’s too good to be true, then it probably isn’t.

It was said that he was to be exposed by a disenchanted British agent in the pro-British loyalist paramilitary forces. But just how would such an agent have known about someone who was often said to be the crown in the jewels of the British intelligence operation against the IRA?

Stakeknife would have been a closely guarded secret and yet the newspapers have been chock-a-block full of details of his life. Any self-respecting member of the intelligence services would have cringed if such information about a genuine agent was released into the public domain.

The plot has thickened. It’s now possible to construct all sorts of conspiracy theories to explain what has happened. The Home Affairs Editor of the Daily Telegraph, Philip Johnston posits a few in a paper that’s normally reliable on security issues:”

Around the dangerous and murky world of counter-terrorism nothing is ever quite as it appears. In order to protect agents and informers, false stories abound, fake identities are created and black propaganda is disseminated.

One school of thought has it that Stakeknife does not exist but is a deliberate construction to discomfit the IRA.

Stakeknife does exist but is not the man identified. There is a mole at the very top of the IRA but in order to protect him, the Belfast man named at the weekend has been thrown to the wolves.

Stakeknife does not exist. There is no senior agent at the top of the IRA but since the terrorists think there is, what better than to sow total confusion by pointing the finger at a nasty piece of work who has been involved in scores of killings without being brought to justice.

The story is not true but is being used by the IRA to embarrass the Government. It is possible IRA leaders know the Stakeknife story to be a fabrication but are using it to discredit the Government.

Through the looking glass indeed. Stay tuned while this sorts itself out. And check in with Slugger O’Toole for updates, as this is one of the best news and analysis sources I’ve seen for what’s happening on the ground in Northern Ireland.