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solace to victims FBI man who infiltrated the Real IRA speaks out after Michael McKevitt's death

David Rupert, who infiltrated the Real IRA before turning State witness in one of the biggest undercover agent operations in history, added that peace was "the only way forward" for those still hurting from McKevitt's violence.

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Former Real IRA boss Mickey McKevitt

Former Real IRA boss Mickey McKevitt

David Rupert relaxing in protective custody in the United States

David Rupert relaxing in protective custody in the United States

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Former Real IRA boss Mickey McKevitt

The FBI superspy who took down Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt said he hopes his death brings "solace" to the lives destroyed by the dissident chief's reign of terror.

David Rupert, who infiltrated the Real IRA before turning State witness in one of the biggest undercover agent operations in history, added that peace was "the only way forward" for those still hurting from McKevitt's violence.

The 71-year-old former terror leader after a long battle with cancer.

He was diagnosed with the terminal illness while still serving a 20-year prison sentence in the Republic for directing terrorism and membership of an illegal organisation handed down to him after Mr Rupert's supergrass evidence put him behind bars.

The grandfather was buried close to his Blackrock home on Tuesday following a service attended by family and close friends at St Furey's Church in nearby Haggardstown.

Pictures show his family, including wife Bernadette Sands McKevitt - sister of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands - escort his tricolour-draped coffin from the church.

There was a heavy security presence around the area, with two checkpoints set up across the town.

Gardai were visible around the route from the former Real IRA leader's home to the church.

While his coffin was draped in the Irish flag, there were no signs of any paramilitary trappings or reminders of his IRA past.

Among those attending the funeral was Seamus Daly, who alongside McKevitt was one of the four men found liable for the 1998 Omagh bombing.

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Police officers and firefighters inspecting the damage caused by a bomb explosion in Market Street, Omagh, in 1998 (Paul McErlane/PA)

Police officers and firefighters inspecting the damage caused by a bomb explosion in Market Street, Omagh, in 1998 (Paul McErlane/PA)

Police officers and firefighters inspecting the damage caused by a bomb explosion in Market Street, Omagh, in 1998 (Paul McErlane/PA)

The terror chief always denied being involved in the Omagh atrocity, but in 2009 a judge ruled in a landmark civil trial that McKevitt, Daly, Liam Campbell and Colm Murphy were all liable for the bomb.

He ordered them to pay a total of Stg£1.6 million damages to 12 relatives who took the case.

A fifth man, Seamus McKenna, was cleared of liability for the bombing.

No-one has ever been convicted of the 1998 Co Tyrone dissident republican bomb which killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins.

Speaking for the first time about McKevitt's passing, Mr Rupert (69), who is still in witness protection in the US, said he had thought very hard about what he would say about the Real IRA man whose confidence he gained as a double agent.

Talking to the Sunday World from his American hideaway where he remains under Real IRA death threat, he said: "I hope his passing brings some solace to the families of his victims and the victims that have been wounded by his 30 years of IRA activities.

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David Rupert relaxing in protective custody in the United States

David Rupert relaxing in protective custody in the United States

David Rupert relaxing in protective custody in the United States

"To the people of Ireland and the UK that had their lives destroyed by the troves of weapons and explosives imported from Libya and elsewhere, peace is the only way forward."

In 2003 the FBI/MI5 agent's sensational evidence was heard during one of the most high-profile dissident trials in history.

As McKevitt sat in the dock at the Special Criminal Court, it was heard how the bankrupt businessman had gained his trust after climbing the ranks of the Real IRA in the 1990s after being recruited as a paid informant in New York.

Terror

The 6ft 4 tall double agent became so trusted by McKevitt and his terror gang that he was asked to bring in bomb-making equipment and move money to fund terror.

All the while four-times-married Rupert, who had countless girlfriends, was being bankrolled by the FBI - to the tune of $1.25 million - to hand over intelligence on dissidents.

During the trial, the spy claimed the terror chief from Dundalk, Co Louth, admitted 20 per cent responsibility for the Omagh bombing.

He also said McKevitt was "horribly upset" at the August 1998 blast, the worst single atrocity of the Troubles.

The supergrass told the judge-only trial how he first met with McKevitt at the Four Seasons Hotel in Monaghan during the autumn of 1999.

Rupert said McKevitt told him the Real IRA had built the bomb and provided the car - but it had been given to the Continuity IRA to deliver.

McKevitt told him his terror group was claiming 20 per cent responsibility for Omagh and placing the remainder of the blame with its republican rivals.

Rupert, who was 51 at the time, said: "McKevitt was horribly upset at the nature of what happened in Omagh.

"The bomb was to be placed where there was no parking. But it was moved to a place where there was, and that's not where the warning was given for. That created the atrocity."

The New York-born spy said the bomb was a black mark to even the most hardcore of republicans and had posed problems trying to raise funds in America.

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Michael McKevitt

Michael McKevitt

Michael McKevitt

But now the Real IRA had "licked their wounds and gotten by Omagh".

During these meetings Rupert was told to report first to McKevitt, followed by two other close associates.

He said the Real IRA was planning a "campaign against the Brits and in England" that included military and financial targets.

The court heard how McKevitt claimed he had taken 98 per cent of Continuity IRA members, all of the Real IRA, along with some INLA and Provos, into the new terror network.

Rupert's role within the group was to be in computers as McKevitt wanted to use cyber terrorism because car bombs were "off the agenda" after Omagh.

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