Friday, April 3, 2009

British Agent Martin McGartland has been shot six times and kidnapped by ruthless killers. (NORTHUMBRIA POLICE COVER UP - MARTIN MCGARTLAND)

Message of hope ... hero Martin McGartland who saved dozens of lives

I was shot six times for spying on the IRA...but today's splinter groups will never win


Published: 03 Apr 2009

HE'S been shot six times and kidnapped by ruthless killers intent on his torture and murder.
Agreeing to spy on the IRA also cost Martin McGartland his wife and children and led to him fleeing Northern Ireland for his life.

But while the Belfast-born Catholic's bravery in working for the British secret service has seen him pay a high price, it has also saved the lives of dozens of servicemen and RUC officers.

Now Martin explains why the surge in terrorism in Northern Ireland - when two soldiers and a policeman were killed by splinter groups the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA less than a month ago - can be defeated.

Martin, 39, who says he is still in regular contact with the secret services, said: "These dissidents are a very, very small number.

"The Real IRA and the Continuity IRA don't have the ability or expertise to launch a real threat to the British economy or establishment. I think it will all be over soon."

He says people want to be senior IRA men for the glamour.

"When they see people getting arrested, there will be a lot of people walking away."

In an exclusive interview with The Sun just days before a new edition of his hit memoir Fifty Dead Men Walking is published, Martin, recounted his remarkable exploits and revealed he doesn't regret becoming an IRA informer.

Martin, who lives in England under a new identity, said: "I have been shot, I have been kidnapped, my family have been beaten nearly to death and as bad as it seems I will never say I regret what I have done.


"I don't know exactly how many lives I saved, whether it was 30 or 50 or 70, but I know I can get up in the morning and look in the mirror and know that I never, ever did anyone any harm.

"I have never understood why anyone has wanted to support a terrorist organisation. They just bring misery and mayhem."

Back in 1987, Martin was a bit of a wheeler dealer living on the Ballymurphy Estate in Belfast, which was a virtual no-go area for the Royal Ulster Constabulary and British Army.

Martin hated the Republican terrorist organisation because they would beat up or kneecap locals who stepped out of line.

He recalled: "People who I grew up with who were into petty crime were beaten, shot and virtually left for dead.

"Most of them were beaten for little or no reason. There were a couple of people I knew who were beaten up simply because they were going out with an IRA man's daughter and he didn't like them.

"When I saw this, I turned against the IRA. I had a real, deep hatred for them."

British secret services needed spies on the estate and the RUC Special Branch asked Martin, then aged just 16, if he would help them.

He said: "I did not hesitate to work for them. I knew exactly what I was doing. And I didn't just do it for the money. Any person with respect for human life would do it."

At first he was identifying IRA men for Special Branch. But after Martin got more friendly with the terrorists, he was invited to join the paramilitary organisation in 1989.

Special Branch told him he should accept the offer and for two years Martin provided information about planned attacks, such as the bombing of British forces heading from Scotland to Northern Ireland or assassinations of RUC officers.

Vigil ... tributes at Antrim base
Those murders were prevented by changing troop movements or moving RUC men to new homes. But his fellow IRA cell members grew suspicious because none of the operations Martin was on ever worked out.

When Martin's information prevented a machine-gun attack on a pub full of British squaddies in Bangor, County Down, in 1991, his time was up.

He was taken to an IRA safe house to be interrogated, but escaped by leaping through a third-storey window.

Martin said: "Felix, who was my handler, kept telling me that if they capture you they are going to torture you really, really badly - they will squeeze your balls with pliers.

"Every minute I was lying on that sofa waiting for the IRA security team to come I knew I was another minute close to death.

"When I jumped out of that window I didn't hesitate. If I stayed I would have two bullets in the head." Instead, the 40ft fall left Martin unconscious for ten days, with a fractured jaw, broken teeth and several wounds to his head and body.

Special Branch arranged for he and his partner Angela, then aged 21, and their two children Martin and Padraig - just two, and nine months old at the time - to move to England.

But his family got homesick and returned to Belfast. He has not seen them since 1992.

Martin commented: "I would love to be able to see my children again, but because of my situation, which I got myself in, I can't do that."

Even his younger brother Joseph was targeted. In 1996, aged 21, he was dragged from his Belfast home, gagged and held at gunpoint by the IRA.

Martin said: "They took him away, hung him upside down from a tree and beat him.

"They smashed all his ribs and left him in a wheelchair.

"He was so frightened he left Northern Ireland with his kids. That was because of me. They are heartless."

The reality of the risk to Martin became clear in June 1999, when an IRA hitman shot him six times in the chest and arms outside his then home in Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear.


He has been left with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder and physical disabilities.

Despite all that, Martin continues to support the peace process.

He said: "I have accepted that the people who shot me could be arrested tomorrow if the authorities wanted to. But I know it wouldn't serve any purpose and I am happy for them to walk the streets if it keeps the peace."

However he believes the Government should stop "turning a blind eye" to the punishment beatings and mafia-style operations still being carried out by the IRA.

'Naive' ... Jim Sturgess plays Martin in film
Martin claimed: "If you are a successful businessman living in an area controlled by the IRA they will say, 'we know you are making £1,000 in profits. Except, now you are not. You are only making £700. The rest of it is going to be given to us.'

"'If you don't, we are going to burn your business down, kill your kids and probably kill you as well.'"

A film "inspired" by Martin's book opens on April 10, but Martin is angry that its director Kari Skogland, radically altered the story in his book of the same title.

There are several fictionalisations of events in the film that annoy Martin.

The main one is that it suggests he was a member of the IRA before joining Special Branch's payroll and that he failed to pass on information about a planned attack.

He said: "The film is as close to the truth as Earth is to Pluto. Although, it is a good film if you are looking at it as a fictional film."

Martin is equally enraged that Surrey-born actor Jim Sturgess, who plays Martin, said the IRA men who chaperoned him while filming were some of "the nicest people" he'd ever met.

He fumed: "The IRA are not lovely people. They are still today, behind the scenes, intimidating people.

"Jim Sturgess is very naive. When his mother was putting powder on his bum, those IRA men were putting powder in their guns."