Derry councillor denies telling former IRA prisoner to leave country

Former IRA prisoner Paddy Murray who left Northern Ireland in 2008.
Former IRA prisoner Paddy Murray who left Northern Ireland in 2008. Former IRA prisoner Paddy Murray who left Northern Ireland in 2008.

A former IRA prisoner has claimed he left Northern Ireland amid allegations he was an informer after Derry republican Gary Donnelly, now a city councillor, told him he should leave.

Paddy Murray was this week named in a court case that is to be heard in closed session after a judge ruled it was necessary for the "effective administration of justice".

A man and woman are alleging that the veteran republican entrapped them when they were charged with possession of explosive devices found during a raid on a house in Ballymena in 2005.

The charges were later dropped when the prosecution withdrew all evidence against four individuals.

However, Murray - who was released from prison in 2000 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement - has told the Irish News the case should be heard in open session as he believes he is "not the person being protected".

He also claims he was not 'spirited' out of Northern Ireland by intelligence services in 2008 but left of his own accord after plans to hold mediation to clear his name fell through when he received a phone call from Mr Donnelly advising him to "forget about the meeting" and leave the country

Mr Donnelly, who was elected to Derry and Strabane council as an independent in 2014, last night insisted there was "no such phone call, it never happened"

Murray, who now lives in England with his wife and two children, said: "The Real IRA need to look closer to home for informers. My name is out there, the allegations against me have been made, so why hold this civil case in private? I've no issue with that case being heard in open court, in fact I think it should be."

He said when the allegations were first made it "put a terrible strain on my family but looking back now it was the best thing that could have happened".

"I now go to work, come home and spend time with my family, that's the way life should be and that's all I want out of my life.

"I regret ever getting involved again after my release, it was a waste of valuable years. The war is over and people are in jail for no reason wasting years of their lives."