Northern Ireland news

Murdered mobster Whitey Bulger liked to boast about IRA links

James 'Whitey' Bulger who found murdered in his cell at Hazelton federal penitentiary in West Virginia on Tuesday.

MURDERED mobster James 'Whitey' Bulger, who was killed in prison earlier this week, had often boasted about his links to the IRA.

Bulger, who was from a proudly Irish district of Boston, was said to believe his association with the "struggle" in Ireland gave him legitimacy.

He was found unresponsive in his cell at Hazelton federal penitentiary in West Virginia on Tuesday and it is believed that the 89-year-old was bludgeoned to death with a padlock wrapped in a sock.

Mobster Fotios 'Freddy' Geas is suspected of being responsible for the behind bars killing of the ageing crime godfather.

Bulger, who was serving a two consecutive life sentences for 11 murders, was also known for his part in arranging a failed weapons shipment to the IRA in the 1980s, an alliance that came about following a meeting with veteran IRA leader Joe Cahill.

Cahill was said to have met Bulger and his gangland associates in a bar in south Boston, where he showed the mobsters an IRA propaganda video.

Read more: Book tells story of top Irish boxer and of Boston underworld links to the IRA

Following the meeting a plan was hatched to smuggle several tons of guns and explosives by sea from Boston to the west coast of Ireland, where they would be picked up by the IRA.

The boat used to transport the guns, the Valhalla, was part of a fleet of boats used by one of the gangsters to ferry marijuana up the east coast of the US.

It was later claimed that the FBI, who were running Bulger as an agent, had originally agreed to turn a blind eye to the IRA gun-running activities in return for his agreement to inform on the Italian mafia.

However, in September 1984, the Valhalla was seized by US Customs agents after it was stopped in Boston.

During its voyage it had rendezvoused with the Irish fishing vessel, the Marita Ann, and several tonnes of explosives and weapons were transferred.

The Marita Ann was later intercepted off the coast of Co Kerry by the authorities, with the weapons seized and the crew, which included senior republican Martin Ferris, arrested and jailed.

The gun running plot had been betrayed by IRA informer, Sean O'Callaghan who died last year after drowning in a swimming pool in Jamaica.

One of the crew on the Valhalla, John McIntyre, was later tortured and murdered by Bulger.

His body was buried in a cellar before being moved to a pit in Dorchester where it was found in 2000, along with two other victims.

Martin Ferris has been a Sinn Féin TD since 2002. Joe Cahill, who was one of the founding members of the Provisional IRA, died in 2004 at the age of 84.

Read more: Book tells story of top Irish boxer and of Boston underworld links to the IRA

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