As New IRA chief Kevin Barry Murphy languishes on remand, comrades on the outside now plan to oust him
Suspected New IRA boss Kevin Barry Murphy is at the centre of an attempted coup waged by rival dissidents trying to oust him as the organisation’s ‘chief-of-staff’.
They have drawn up a dossier of high-profile blunders linked to the 50-year-old, who is behind bars on remand charged with directing terrorism.
Murphy is among 10 republicans secretly recorded by MI5 attending alleged meetings of the New IRA’s army council.
Among the major mistakes his opponents accuse him of, is being duped by MI5 double agent Dennis McFadden - who set up the suspected terror summits – and going on three all-expenses paid luxury holidays with McFadden to a private villa.
One dissident source said: “Kevin Barry Murphy has the support of the majority of New IRA prisoners in Maghaberry, but on the outside it’s an entirely different matter.
“Serious questions are being asked of his leadership, particularly his holidays with McFadden.”
Another bone of contention is Murphy’s decision to banish Joe Barr, who is locked up in Maghaberry Prison charged with directing terrorism, from the dissident republican wing.
This was after the 33-year-old publicly disavowed violence in an effort to be granted bail. Sending Barr into exile has caused further rifts as he is a popular figure. When the hard-line republican had to leave the segregated Roe House unit, some New IRA inmates expressed their anger by shaking his hand.
Gary ‘Musky’ Hayden, who is also facing a directing terrorism charge, is another who indicated he would be prepared to publicly disavow violence in order to get bail. However, the 49-year-old performed a U-turn when told by Murphy he would be kicked off the dissident wing.
“Kevin Barry has made bad decision after bad decision,” added our source. “His holidays with McFadden have left him totally compromised.
"With Murphy kicking Joe Barr off the wing and threatening to do the same with Gary Hayden, when you put it all together it looks terrible, there is no way he can remain in a leadership position either inside or outside the jail.”
Murphy, who grew up near Cookstown but has spent years living in Coalisland, is one of Northern Ireland’s most prominent dissident republicans.
A 2009 government document leaked to Sunday Life described him as having “a long history of active involvement in republican terrorism, having previously been a key member within the East Tyrone brigade of the Provisional IRA”.
It added: “Murphy switched his allegiance to the Real IRA following the PIRA’s ceasefire and is assessed (as continuing) to have a leading role in East Tyrone Real IRA.”
In 2012 the Real IRA merged with the vigilante gang Republican Action Against Drugs to form the New IRA, with Murphy suspected of taking on a leadership role.
A court was recently told that on the Dennis McFadden recordings, he refers to himself as “chief-of-staff” of the terror gang. Murphy has faced several serious charges in the past, but managed to avoid conviction each time.
In 2012 he was acquitted of attending a bomb-making factory in south Armagh. His fingerprints were allegedly found on a coffee grinder, but the case against him ended up being withdrawn after he had served 14 months behind bars on remand.
Ten years earlier Murphy had been accused of involvement in a plot to murder police after being caught “red-handed” with a rocket launcher by soldiers in a field near Coalisland.
However, the prosecution fell apart amid allegations he had been set up by Real IRA agent Gareth O’Connor, whose dead body was later discovered in a Newry canal.
Murphy was also acquitted of membership of the Real IRA after a judge ruled that the terror gang was not an illegal organisation under the legislation at that time. The ruling was later overturned by the Court of Appeal, but that did not reverse his acquittal because the case was taken on a point of law.
Dissident sources told Sunday Life that Murphy leans heavily on the support of two close allies — Davy Jordan (50) and Damien ‘DD’ McLaughlin (45) in order to maintain his leadership position in Maghaberry Prison.
Both men, who are also from Tyrone, are on remand accused of directing New IRA terrorism having allegedly been recorded by MI5 in attendance at the McFadden meetings.