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Thursday, June 17, 1999 Published at 11:39 GMT 12:39 UK


McGartland: 'A dead man walking'

Has Mr McGartland's IRA past caught up with him

As an IRA informer Martin McGartland was always going to be a marked man.

He has asked Gerry Adams when could he return to West Belfast - only to be told by the Sinn Fein president that it is a matter for him and the IRA.

On the run since 1991, when his cover was blown, Mr McGartland has been living in England. He has published a book detailing his experiences as a spy, Fifty Dead Men Walking.

The title was chosen because Mr McGartland, 29, believed that he was saving 50 lives by informing on his IRA comrades.

When his cover was blown, he only escaped an IRA execution by jumping from a third floor window. He was later given almost 100,000 to set up a new life and buy a house for himself.

In 1997, his new cover was blown once again when he was caught speeding. A case was also brought against him for holding a number of different driving licences under various identities.

[ image: Martin McGartland, heavily disguised, speaks on BBC Northern Ireland's Spotlight]
Martin McGartland, heavily disguised, speaks on BBC Northern Ireland's Spotlight
Mr McGartland maintained that he held these because he wanted to throw the IRA off his trail.

Since then, he has been given a further 3,000 to help him move from his Newcastle address.

He first came to the attention of the RUC through his involvement with petty crime. He provided the RUC Special Branch with information on the paramilitary group's activities under the codename Agent Carol.

He has said that relatives have been intimidated from their West Belfast homes by republicans.

Since the ceasefire in 1994, and the cessation in 1997, he has frequently appealed to be allowed home.

But a bitter reminder of how the IRA treats informers came recently when another informer turned author, Eamon Collins, was murdered in Newry.

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