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IRA arms-smuggling skipper Adrian Hopkins dies aged 76

By Staff Reporter

Published 25/08/2015

Admission: Hopkins
Admission: Hopkins

The man who skippered the ships used to smuggle huge hauls of IRA arms and explosives from Libya to Ireland during the 1980s has died.

Adrian Hopkins (76), a former merchant seaman from Greystones, Co Wicklow, passed away in Saint Vincent's hospital in Dublin on Sunday after a heart attack.

The country's most notorious gunrunner died "suddenly but peacefully", surrounded by his wife, Stephanie, and four children, according to a death notice.

In October 1987, he and three other men were arrested when the French navy intercepted a small freighter called the Eksund off the coast of Brest. On board was an arsenal containing 150 tons of weapons and munitions which were being supplied to the IRA by Libya's Colonel Gadaffi.

There were 1,000 mortars, a million rounds of ammunition, 20 surface-to-air missiles, 430 grenades, anti-aircraft machine-guns and 120 RPG rocket launchers.

Hopkins later revealed he had landed another four arms shipments in Ireland and that the weapons were hidden in a network of bunkers. It was the first time police realised the IRA had enough hardware for an army.

At the time of his arrest, Hopkins said he had been recruited by notorious IRA smuggler Thomas 'Slab' Murphy, who also co-ordinated the operation.

He added he had been paid £200,000 and $500,000 in cash by the IRA which was given to him in plastic bags in the White Horse Pub in north Dublin.

In later life, Hopkins slipped into obscurity, living with his wife in Greystones, where his funeral mass will be held tomorrow.

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