This is the IRA bomber who became so popular at a Conservative Club in England that true blue members lowered the Union flag to half mast when he died.
Sunday Life today reveals how convicted terrorist turned police agent Gerry McGivern escaped the clutches of IRA spy hunter Freddie Scappaticci’s ‘nutting squad’ in Belfast and began a new life in Devon where his Tory club friends knew nothing about his violent Provo past.
To fellow drinkers at a Conservative social club in the seaside town of Torquay, the popular, colourful character from Belfast was known affectionately as “Irish Gerry”.
A local Tory party councillor last night admitted it was “embarrassing” that the Union flag was flown at half mast in tribute to the convicted terrorist when he passed away in July 2014 and said he was shocked to learn the ex-IRA man had been living in Torquay.
McGivern’s remarkable story is only starting to emerge as betrayed republicans come forward with fresh information about the multitude of informants in their ranks.
Their decision to go public follows the launch of a fresh PSNI probe into the activities of British agent Scappaticci who has been linked to 50 murders carried out by the IRA’s ruthless internal security unit.
Among the suspected Provo informants on the serial killer’s radar was Gerry McGivern, who escaped being abducted by Scappaticci when he gave himself up to police in 1991.
The west Belfast man ended up pleading guilty to a litany of terror offences and was jailed for six years.
After getting out of prison McGivern eventually settled in the south of England resort town of Torquay, famous as the birthplace of master crime novelist Agatha Christie.
When he died, aged 46, from a massive heart attack at a friend’s funeral in July 2014 the local Hele Conservative Club, which held him in high regard, lowered its Union flag to half-mast and his death made headline news in the local press.
But the true blue Tories in the seaside town had no idea about the brutal terrorist past of ‘Irish Gerry’.
McGivern’s true blue friends were unaware he was a Provo gunman at the same time his republican cohorts murdered the party’s MP Ian Gow in a car bomb blast at his home in Eastbourne on the south coast.
They were also unaware about how:
Torquay Conservative councillor Robert Excell said he was disturbed to learn the man known in the town as “Irish Gerry” was a convicted terrorist and drug lord.
“This really concerns me, surely the police would have known about his background.
“This breach of security should have been flagged up, we don’t want terrorists living in Torquay,” said Mr Excell.
“I’ve no idea why the flag at Hele (Conservative Club) was flown at half mast when Gerry McGivern died, as this normally only occurs when dignitaries have passed away. I must admit, it is embarrassing.”
Republican sources told Sunday Life that Gerry McGivern joined the Provos in the late 1980s after being recruited by Paddy ‘PM’ Mulligan — a trusted IRA internal security unit gunman who worked under Freddie Scappaticci. Like his boss Stakeknife, the now deceased Mulligan is also suspected of having been a double agent.
In May 1989 McGivern, keen to prove his worth to his Provo bosses, detonated a beer barrel filled with explosives that nearly killed a British soldier on the Falls Road.
Steve Gill, then aged 19, lost both legs and an eye in the no-warning blast.
In 2010 the ex-squaddie achieved national fame when he appeared on reality TV show Big Brother.
It was after the murder bid of Gill that republicans suspect McGivern started working as an informant for the RUC.
They also believe he provided information that led to the army finding a bomb in west Belfast in 1991.
By that stage McGivern had been kicked out of the IRA for breaking into and ransacking an elderly woman’s house armed with a baseball bat.
He was later kneecapped by the Provos for robbing £6,000 from a supermarket on the Springfield Road while holding the owner and staff at gunpoint.
Knowing that he was the subject of an IRA ‘Nutting Squad’ investigation led by the feared Freddie Scappaticci a terrified McGivern gave himself up to his RUC handlers.
In 1992 he was jailed for six years after pleading guilty to IRA membership, armed robbery, criminal damage and aggravated burglary.
What McGivern was careful not to admit to though was his role in the 1989 bomb attack that cost soldier Steven Gill his legs — an offence which would have landed him with a 20 year sentence.
After getting out of prison the ex-Provo moved to Liverpool, where he became a leading member of a heroin dealing gang.
In 1998 he was caged for a further three years for supplying the Class A drug.
McGivern was released in 2000 and headed south where he settled in Torquay.
It was during trips from there to Glasgow to watch his beloved Celtic play football that he met partner Anne Mackay, who later moved to England with him.
She, like his Tory party pals in the Hele Conservative Club, had no idea Gerry was a former IRA bomber and gunman, convicted heroin dealer and police informant.
They would also have been repelled by the fact that during his time in the IRA his republican pals murdered Conservative MP Ian Gow in a car bomb attack along the south cost outside his East Sussex home.
McGivern’s partner Anne Mackay did not respond to Sunday Life requests for an interview.
But speaking after his July 2014 death, she said: “He was a charmer, well-liked by everybody and had a heart of gold.
“He was a colourful character in the village. Everybody knew Irish Gerry.”