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Public Enemy Number One: Mickey McKevitt

Public Enemy Number One: Mickey McKevitt

Public Enemy Number One: Mickey McKevitt

Omagh bomb suspect Mickey McKevitt almost single-handedly ran the Provisional IRA for 20 years, we can reveal today.

Bobby Sands’ brother-in-law who died a few weeks ago was both Quartermaster and Intelligence Officer from the late seventies up until 1996.

He stood down at a meeting of the Army Council when his wife Bernadette disagreed with Gerry Adams’ peace strategy and the abandonment of the armed struggle.

After the ceasefire was called in 1997, the year before the Good Friday Agreement, McKevitt set up the Real IRA and brought a number of dissident republican hardliners with him.

A senior republican source confirmed: “He and Bernadette did not like Adams. They didn’t get on and this is what led to the bust-up.

“Their could have been all-out civil war between the Provos and the Real IRA but Mickey McKevitt, in fairness to him, made sure this did not happen.

“Both sides went their separate ways without any violence and he controlled his people and made sure it stayed that way.

“He may have disagreed with the IRA-Sinn Féin but he wasn’t going to go to war with former comrades.

“Some of the people he inherited were not very good, it was a classic case of quantity over quality.”

The source told the Sunday World how McKevitt defied MI5 and created an international arms network to bring vast amounts of weapons into Ireland.

He revealed: “He had a number of trusted Irish-Americans who would travel around gun shows all across the United States and buy handguns here and there without being noticed, and well below the radar of the FBI.

“They would then be all posted back to Ireland hidden in pop socks and sent to a specific area where the local post office was manned by nationalist sympathisers and wouldn’t ask any questions.

“One fella sent home 96 weapons in three weeks only a month before one of the ceasefires.

“An Post also didn’t have the technology like they have now to detect weapons, so it was much easier to do.

“He also secured Czech-made AK-47s from contacts in South Africa, again each gun was sent back with 100 rounds of ammunition.

“These shipments were smuggled in through England and then brought back hidden in the compartment of cars he had bought at auctions across the UK. British intelligence hadn’t a clue what we were at.

“Mickey McKevitt kept his cards close to his chest, he basically ran the IRA day to day single-handedly.

“You could spend two or three days travelling around Ireland with him and he would tell you nothing.”

It is understood that the biggest problems during McKevitt’s reign were informers – and indeed he was finally brought down by one, American David Rupert who had been working as a double agent.

Our source said: “He took a view that for every IRA volunteer there were three or four informers out there.

“MI5 were brilliant at blackmailing republicans for cheating on their wives.

“More fellas were turned for having affairs with other women and MI5 used it to their advantage.”

The Omagh bomb which the Real IRA claimed responsibility for was the start of McKevitt’s downfall.

A shocking 29 people and unborn twins were killed and 220 injured after a car bomb exploded 300 yards from the town’s courthouse on August 15, 1998, four months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

No one was ever convicted for the atrocity although the victims’ families took a civil action against four alleged suspects including McKevitt and were awarded £1.6 million in damages.

McKevitt became public enemy number one with the security services on both sides of the border and eventually he was convicted in the Republic for directing terrorism and being a member of an illegal organisation – the Real IRA.

He was convicted on the evidence of an FBI informant David Rupert.

He was sentenced to 20 years jail in January 2003 and was released a few years ago. McKevitt was 71 years old when he died on January 2.

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