Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Police vow over IRA informer gunman

A masked member of the Real IRA. Police have vowed to catch the gunman who tried to kill an IRA informer 11 years ago.
Masked members of the Real IRA. Police are still trying to trace the gunman who shot and injured IRA informant Martin McGartland 11 years ago.

Police have vowed to catch the gunman who tried to kill an IRA informer exactly 11 years ago.

Martin McGartland was blasted several times at short range in his car in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, but survived.

He was living in hiding having passed on information about the IRA to the British authorities which has been credited with saving many lives.

He wrote two books about his experiences, including escaping abduction in Belfast in 1991 after terrorists realised he was working with Special Branch.

He relocated to North East England under an assumed name until he was shot in broad daylight.

Northumbria Police have made a number of arrests in the years since 1999 but no-one has been charged. The force said the attempted murder investigation was continuing.

Detective Chief Superintendent Chris Thomson said: "Although this was an unsuccessful attack, it was a cold-blooded, calculated murder attempt which caused Mr McGartland serious injuries. Our main line of inquiry continues to be that Mr McGartland may have been shot by a person or people with Irish Republican sympathies, for reasons closely linked to his former life in Northern Ireland.

"Mr McGartland's history as an agent for the then Royal Ulster Constabulary and his supplying of information about the Provisional IRA is a matter of public knowledge, documented in his own books on the subject."

Police have analysed guns found months after the shooting, a van left at the scene and a voicemail message relating to the purchase of the vehicle. The caller had a Scottish accent and the call was made from the Glasgow area. They hope more information about the shooting will leak out, even so long after the shooting.

Mr Thomson said: "People's loyalties can change a lot in 11 years and people may now be prepared to help us. It's a long time for people to keep silent about this."

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