Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 7 August 2020

UK spy chief Richard Moore had relative who 'fought against British rule'

Spy says Jack Buckley fought for IRA at time when Ireland declared its independence from England

Richard Moore CMG was born in Libya and  was a UK ambassador to Turkey. FCO/Reuters
Richard Moore CMG was born in Libya and  was a UK ambassador to Turkey. FCO/Reuters

Britain's Libyan-born spy chief has a grandfather who won a medal fighting against the UK in Ireland, it was reported Saturday.

Richard Moore, the incoming head of MI6, is a diplomat and intelligence officer and he has spoken previously about the Irish connection.

He said Jack Buckley was a fighter who joined the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in Cork, south-west Ireland, in 1916.

The Sun reported he has previously said: "I am of Irish origin. My grandfather fought against the British Government in the separatist Irish Republican Army between 1916 and 1922.

"He received a medal from the Irish president. Now, I am the ambassador of the British government. "

For decades, the island of Ireland has been made up of Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland, which is a separate country.

Buckley was fighting in the period that saw the nation declare its independence from London.

The IRA moniker also became attached to one of the major dissident groups in the second half of the 20th century operating in Northern Ireland. Sinn Fein was widely seen as its political wing, and both had the ultimate aim of a united, independent Ireland.

The National has contacted the Irish government and Sinn Fein, whose political ambition is a united Ireland, for reaction to the story.

Mr Moore, a former ambassador to Turkey, will take up the role of "C", a post made famous by the James Bond films, at a time of continued turbulence with China, Russia, Iran and a resurgent ISIS.

He is fluent in Turkish and has said he will continue his tweets in both Turkish and English despite the top security role as head of the Secret Intelligence Service, also known as MI6.

Mr Moore, 57, was born in Tripoli, studied philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford University and was a Kennedy Scholar of government at Harvard.

He joined MI6 in 1987 and undertook a range of roles both in Britain and in overseas posts, the Foreign Office said in a statement.

He left the service a decade ago to become a diplomat, which included a post as ambassador to Turkey from 2014 to 2017.

Despite his secret background, Mr Moore has a Twitter feed that shows photographs of his wife on holiday. The couple have two children. Previously asked whether he resembled Roger Moore, the legendary, laid-back actor who played James Bond in seven of the 007 films, the real-life spy joked that he was "no relative" and added that Moore was a "wonderfully laconic Bond".

During his time in Turkey, Mr Moore used his Twitter account to respond to an allegation in a Turkish paper suggesting that an Isis bombing was the work of a British agent. The front page featured a picture of the actor currently playing James Bond, Daniel Craig.

Updated: August 3, 2020 04:35 AM

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