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October 17, 2012
AS MI5 ARE ACCUSED OF ABANDONING UNDERCOVER WHAT IT IS REALLY LIKE TO INFILTRATE THE IRA...
For Martin McGartland, a secret agent working for MI5, the thought of breaking every bone in his body seemed like nothing compared to being tortured by the Provincial IRA, or Provos. Between 1987 and 1991, Marty infiltrated the IRA, secretly feeding information back to Royal Ulster Constabulary’s Special Branch and enabling them to intercept violent terrorist attacks. Having worked with some of the group’s head honchos, like Davy Adams and Brian Gillen, when his cover was blown and he was abducted by Padraig Wilson and Paul ‘Chico’ Hamilton, he knew that leaping from the window of the Belfast flat was his only hope of survival. After escaping, Marty was given a new identity and started a new life in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside. But in
WHAT could possibly be worse than throwing your body 45 feet from a thirdstorey window?
By JON LIVESEY
1999, the IRA tracked him down and he was shot SIX times outside his home. A combination of luck and determination saw him survive the attack but now, in his early 40s, he’s still constantly looking over his shoulder in fear of yet another attempt on his life. Last week, MI5 secret agent Raymond Gilmour, who also infiltrated the IRA in the 1980s, revealed he’s taking the British security services to tribunal for abandoning him. As our intelligence service prepares to defend itself against the former mole, Midweek Sport looks at another heroic infiltrator with reason to feel aggrieved. In Marty’s book, Fifty Dead Men Walking – also a major film starring Jim Sturgess and Ben Kingsley – he describes in graphic detail being shot at close proximity by an IRA assassin.
I saw the gun first of all, pointing directly towards me, and then I heard the thud, followed immediately by a second as two bullets slammed into the side of my body. I had lifted my arm to protect myself and the bullets had ripped into my right side just below my arm. The power of those bullets threw me across the driver’s seat. But I knew I had to do something, otherwise I was a dead man. The Provo gunman leaned forward into the car, pointing the gun almost at my head. Before he could fire a third time, I grabbed the gun by the barrel and tried to turn it so that if he pulled the trigger again he would shoot himself. He fired and the bullet ripped through my left hand, all but severing my thumb, and I felt the bullet pass through my hand and embed itself in my stomach. For a second or so I managed to cling on to it but he pulled away, wrenching the gun from my grasp.
turned instinctively, knowing there was someone standing by my car.
NO DANGER: Jack Straw
then we know they’re dead men. And dead men can’t talk. Throughout the shooting I had felt no pain, only the thudding impact of the bullets each time they hit my body, knocking me backwards, knocking the stuffing out of me, preventing me from lunging at him and getting the gun. I guessed at the time it had to be something like a 9mm automatic. After the bastard fled I knew I was a mess, but at least I had survived. Despite having been shot six or seven times I was still breathing, though blood was pumping from my chest, my side and my stomach and my thumb looked as though it had been shot away. My only fear was that I would lie in that garage and bleed to death. I put my arm across my chest to try to stop blood gushing out, but it was everywhere. I wondered if the Provo bastard had hit my heart or a main artery and realised that I had to stay conscious. I tried to feel my heart to see if it was OK and felt it pumping away. But I worried in case all my blood was being pumped out of my body rather than round my arteries. I kept telling myself that whatever happened I must not fall asleep, though I felt like closing my eyes and drifting off into oblivion. I kept talking to myself, saying over and over again, “If you fall asleep you will never wake again. If you fall unconscious you will simply die. Now for f***’s sake keep awake!” And then I felt pain. A minute or so must have passed since the Provo bastard ran off and until
I felt my strength ebbing away and although the adrenaline was pumping I couldn’t hold on to the gun. At that moment I believed I was a dead man. I had lost the fight I had to win to stay alive. Now I feared the next bullet would be fatal, but I wasn’t finished yet. Somehow, from deep down, I found the strength to make another lunge towards him, to grab the gun a second time. I was desperately trying to stop him shooting me in the head. As I moved towards him he took a step backwards and fired four more times, hitting me in the chest either side of my heart. The power of those bullets sent me sprawling backwards across the car seats. Two more shots followed, one hitting me in the stomach, the other in the top of the leg. All his shots were more or less at pointblank range. Then the bastard turned and fled. I realised that grabbing the gun had so disorientated the Provo gunman that he had panicked. I knew the Provo order – always shoot people in the head because
The gunman in the chest, stomach, hand and leg...I believed I was going
STILL A TARGET: Marty McGartland lives in fear for his life every day and (main pic) Jim Sturgess in the film
and saw my neighbours, the Connon family. Jesus it was good to see them. I could have cried when I realised they had come to the rescue, had come to help me. I knew the whole family – they were good, honest people and we had become friends. Somewhere in my mind I recalled that their elder son Adam, aged around 18, had studied first aid and that his mother, Andrea, was something to do with a hospital. I heard them asking me questions and I can’t recall if I replied or not. My memory was going, so was my brain. I think I murmured, “F***ing Provos.” “Keep quiet, stay still,” Adam said. “An ambulance is on the way. Just lie still and you’ll be OK.” Adam took off my T-shirt and someone ran off and returned with cling film which he wrapped around my chest and my side in an attempt to stem the bleeding. I remember him stuffing socks in my wounds trying to stop the flow of blood that was everywhere. I recall his mother cradling my head in her arms, talking to me, soothing me, keeping me conscious as we waited for the ambulance. I owe my life to that family, and particularly Adam. If it hadn’t been for his quick thinking I would be dead. The next thing I remember was waking in hospital some 48 hours later, drifting in and out of consciousness. My mother Kate, sister Lizzie and brother Joseph were there standing around the bed, and I wondered what they were doing there, standing at the end of my bed looking at me. I asked if I was going to live. They gave me the answer I
that moment I had felt nothing. Now the pain wracked my body, my chest, my side, my stomach, my arm, my hand. Sh*t it hurt. I gritted my teeth to try to quell the pain, but I couldn’t. I kept talking to myself, telling myself that I could handle the pain as long as I lived. I tried telling myself that the pain wasn’t that bad, but it was getting to me. I just wanted to curl up and sleep.
I tried to shout for help but the words wouldn’t come. I couldn’t find the strength and only moans came from my throat. Then I heard voices and looked up through the mist in my eyes
also realised that if I didn’t get to hospital quickly I would be a goner.