Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

Boston mobster and IRA gunrunner 'Whitey' Bulger meets bloody end in jail

'Whitey' Bulger
'Whitey' Bulger
An early mugshot
Ivan Little

By Ivan Little

They won't be shedding any tears for American murderer and racketeer James 'Whitey' Bulger in the McIntyre household in Boston today.

For they despised the monster of a mobster and IRA gunrunner with the same venom obviously harboured by the killer who ended 89-year-old's charmed life in a West Virginia prison yesterday.

Eighteen years ago, at their neat home in a quiet suburb of that most Irish of US cities, Emily and Chris McIntyre told me that they cursed Bulger for killing their son and brother John.

In September 1984 John had skippered a boat, The Valhalla, which was packed with seven tonnes of guns and ammunition across the Atlantic destined for the IRA.

Bulger, a fanatical republican who sang rebel songs in the Irish bars of Boston, had financed the shipment and the plan was for McIntyre to rendezvous with five Provos who had sailed from Kerry to take their deadly weapons home in a fishing boat, The Marita Ann.

But unknown to the terrorists led by Martin Ferris - now a Sinn Fein TD - the Irish Naval Service was also waiting off the Kerry coast and intercepted the Marita Ann.

I was in Cobh that night with an ITN crew to film Ferris and his four fellow IRA men being frogmarched off an Irish naval vessel onto the quayside.

The next morning An Garda Siochana put on show the awesome cache of 160 guns, dozens of rockets and grenades and more than 70,000 bullets valued at $1 million.

Ruthless killer Bulger, the leader of Boston's notorious Winter Hill mob, and his IRA allies on both sides of the Atlantic were furious.

They thought the mole who tipped off the authorities about the guns was McIntyre and their suspicions were reinforced by the fact that the British and the Irish were briefing journalists that the informer was in America.

But that was a ploy to protect the real informant in Ireland -IRA leader and police agent Sean O'Callaghan, who later told me he was the mole and that John McIntyre had nothing to do with the smashing of the plot. However, McIntyre paid with his life, with Bulger ordering his execution and doing his own vile dirty work.

He and his henchmen tried to strangle McIntyre before shooting him and pulling out his teeth to make any positive identification of his body almost impossible.

The hapless fisherman's remains were found in a shallow grave in Boston in January 2000 after a tip-off.

It was that discovery which took me to Massachusetts to investigate his killing for a UTV documentary

The then-director of the FBI in Boston Barry Mawn told me that they, like the McIntyre family, believed Bulger ordered the hit on the fisherman.

The FBI had Bulger second only to Osama Bin Laden on their 'most wanted' list and believed he had committed dozens of other offences.

But he had been on the run for so long that, privately, officials admitted they might never catch the pensioner Pimpernel or his companion, long-term partner Catherine Greig.

There were even rumours that the ageing fugitives were holed up in safe houses provided by the IRA in Ireland, or that death had caught up with them.

But Bulger and Greig were very much alive when they were found in Santa Monica, California, in 2011.

The notorious gangster, who it emerged was secretly working for the FBI, was eventually tried and convicted of 11 murders, including the slaying of John McIntyre.

Lawyers who argued against the death penalty accepted that Bulger would die in prison.

But they didn't foresee that one of his many enemies would murder him behind bars.

It was an ending that wasn't even foreshadowed by Hollywood, which jumped on the Bulger bandwagon, telling the story of his savagery and corruption in the movie Black Mass.

In one scene, where the practicalities of the IRA gunrunning plot were discussed, Bulger (Johnny Depp) was seen meeting Belfast IRA leader Joe Cahill (Billy Meleady) in a private room in a Boston bar called the Triple O's.

Bulger's death came on the same day that he was transferred to the Hazelton penitentiary, which houses 1,385 inmates, according to reports.

An inmate with Mafia ties is now under investigation for Bulger's killing. The details have not been announced, but a local union official for correctional workers at the prison told CBS that a "homicide" occurred.

It is understood Bulger was savagely beaten to death.

A Department of Corrections statement confirmed his death in custody, and said the FBI had launched an investigation.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph