Northern Ireland news

Who is Colm Murphy?

Colm Murphy has been jailed several times for paramilitary offences
Gareth McKeown

Colm Murphy is a 63-year-old Irish republican and building contractor based in Dundalk.

Born in Belleeks, Co Armagh, he was an active paramilitary from his late teens and in March 1972 was sentenced to two years in prison after gardaí found a loaded revolver in his car.

Murphy was imprisoned in the Curragh military jail but escaped in October that year, and was not recaptured until May 1973.

In June 1976 he was jailed again, receiving a three-year sentence for firearms offences and one year for Provisional IRA membership.

In 1983 Murphy was arrested in the US after attempting to buy a consignment of M60 machine guns to be shipped to Ireland.

He received a five-year prison sentence, but returned to Ireland in December 1985 after being released early.

In the late 1980s he began investing in property, and formed a company named Emerald Enterprises in 1990.

He bought the Emerald Bar public house in Dundalk for IR£100,000, and it later became a meeting place for dissident republicans.

In February 1999 Murphy became the first person charged in connection with the Omagh bombing and three years later was convicted of conspiring to cause the explosion. He was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment.

In 2005 his conviction was overturned and a new trial ordered. Following the retrial he was acquitted.

In 2009 Murphy was also one of four men found by a civil court to be liable for the Omagh bombing in a case taken by relatives of victims.

He and and Seamus Daly were successful in upholding appeals, but the pair were then ordered to face a retrial and were found liable again.

None of the men have paid any of the £1.6m awarded in damages to the victims’ families.

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