updated 2/10/2008 6:50:36 AM ET 2008-02-10T11:50:36

A man who served as a driver for Sinn Fein leader and former IRA commander Gerry Adams secretly worked as a British spy, a party official said Saturday.

Roy McShane, 58, once was part of the security team that looked after transportation arrangements for the Irish Republican Army leadership.

But he also worked for MI5, Britain's domestic spy agency, for several years. After his alleged role was disclosed, he left his home in west Belfast early Friday, apparently out of concern for his safety, the official told The Associated Press.

The official spoke to The AP on condition of anonymity, saying he had not been not authorized to be the party's spokesman about McShane.

But he confirmed reports in British newspapers quoting Alex Maskey, a Sinn Fein member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, as saying that McShane had told his family Thursday about his alleged role as an MI5 agent. Maskey said the former IRA member left the country early Friday after being taken into "protective custody."

Police refused to comment on the reports, which would be embarrassing for Adams, who has steered his IRA movement from a 1997 cease-fire to 2005 disarmament.

Another ex-Adams aide was a double agent
Two years ago, Denis Donaldson, one of Adams' closest administrative aides, admitted having secretly worked as a double agent for MI5. Five months later, Donaldson, 56, who had led a Sinn Fein support team, was shot dead in Ireland.

As a driver, McShane worked for senior IRA officials, including during the peace process that led to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement 10 years ago.

He would have been privy to highly sensitive information as he drove senior IRA members back and forth to Castle Buildings, where the intense negotiations took place.

McShane would have been on a first-name basis with all the top men and women in Sinn Fein, including Martin McGuinness, who is now deputy first minister in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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