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Paddy Murray: Denies informer allegations and is 'on minimum wage'

Homebase on the Boucher Road was one of the buildings gutted by a RIRA firebomb attack.

FORMER IRA prisoner Paddy Murray has denied "entrapping" a man and woman charged with having incendiary devices in a case that later collapsed amid allegations he was an MI5 agent.

Earlier this week a High Court judge ruled that a civil case against the Chief Constable, taken by a man and woman who had been arrested in a house in Ballymena in 2005, could be heard in closed session in the interests of the "effective administration of justice".

The pair allege Murray deliberately planted explosive devices in their home and that their arrest was unlawful and the prosecution malicious.

The former IRA prisoner left Northern Ireland in 2008 after it was claimed he had been working as an informer and had given explosive devices to alleged Real IRA members to be used in a bombing spree that caused millions of pounds worth of damage to commercial properties, including a blaze that gutted a Homebase store on Belfast's Boucher Road.

Murray had been arrested in connection with the Ballymena bomb factory but was released without charge, despite his DNA being found on DVD cases that the devices had been placed inside.

The 52-year-old was serving a seven year jail term for the kidnap and assault of a Co Antrim man. While he was in prison charges against a number of people arrested at a house in Ballymena were dropped after the prosecution withdrew all evidence.

He denies this was because he was an informer but says he wasn't charged because the only forensic evidence against him was Low Copy DNA, rendered inadmissionable by Mr Justice Weir during the trial of Sean Hoey, who was cleared of involvement in the Omagh bomb.

Speaking to the Irish News from his new home in England, Murray says that the allegations against him were "farcical" and didn't stand up to scrutiny.

He also said he "regretted" becoming involved in militant republicanism following his release from prison in 2000 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, saying those still involved need to accept that "they've lost, the war is over".

Originally from west Belfast he was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 1994 for possession of a Provisional IRA bomb but after being released disagreed with the political direction of Sinn Féin and became involved in dissident republicanism.

"The Real IRA, or whatever they call themselves now do what? Kill someone once every few years, what does that achieve?

"That's not a campaign, it's pointless, people are going to jail for no reason.

"They need to accept the fact they've lost, the war is over, give it up and build a life."

Denying he was an informer he said that he was working a "minimum wage job" in England where he and his family have settled.

"I'm not in protective custody or witness protection, I've already lost two jobs because I was security checked and my record came back showing my convictions.

"The job I have at the minute pays minimum wage, I work days and my wife works nights so we can look after the children without having to pay childcare.

"I don't live in a mansion, we just about make ends meet, I'm lucky to have good family and friends who have helped me out", he said.

Denying he was an informer he added: "I was jailed for seven years and served three and half, everyone else has had charges dropped, I'm the only one went to jail and yet I'm the alleged informer?", he added.

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