Belfast Telegraph

Former spy O'Callaghan ultimately helped to defeat IRA, claims MEP

By Jody Corcoran

Provo spy Sean O'Callaghan "ultimate­ly defeated" the IRA and helped to "expose their fascist campaign", it has been claimed.

The former IRA leader turned informer passed away last week at the age of 63. He died while swimming in a pool in Jamaica, where he was visiting his daughter.

The Co Kerry native detailed the inner workings of the IRA in his bestselling book The Informer, in which he also claimed to have thwarted a plot to murder the Prince of Wales and Princess Diana in the 1980s.

O'Callaghan's journey from socialist republican to ally of unionists was momentous and also divisive, with republicans viewing him as a treacherous and deceitful figure.

Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes said O'Callaghan exposed the IRA for what they were.

"I met Sean O'Callaghan on a few occa­sions and remember him as a serious person who desperate­ly wanted the public to know just how depraved the IRA's campaign was," he told the Sunday Independent.

"He literally put his life on the line to tell the truth. I believe his life, after his in­volvement with the IRA, was all about wanting to expose their tactics and their crimi­nality. I believed him.

"Despite the pretence by Sinn Fein that the IRA's terror campaign was a war of libera­tion, Sean O'Callaghan knew from experience that it was a war of subjugation.

"One of the reasons the IRA were ultimately defeated was because from top and bottom they were thankfully infiltrated by informers.

"Sean O'Callaghan was one such in­former, someone who exposed them for what they were. He ultimately defeated them. And in helping to expose their fascist campaign we all owe him gratitude."

Born in Tralee, Co Kerry, O'Callaghan rose through the ranks of the Provos from the early 1970s to become its southern commander in the Irish Republic a decade later.

He was an agent for the Garda and later for the RUC Special Branch.

O'Callaghan was jailed in the 1990s after walking into a police station in England and admitting two IRA murders.

In August 1974, O'Callaghan shot dead Peter Flanagan, a 47-year-old RUC inspector, in an Omagh pub.

He also took part in a rocket and gun attack on a station in Clogher, Co Tyrone, that claimed the life of UDR Greenfinch Eva Martin.

Among those to pay tribute after his death was DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, who said O'Callaghan had ended his life as a man of peace.

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