Northern Ireland

Former IRA informer Sean O'Callaghan dies in Jamaica swimming pool

 Sean O'Callaghan
 Sean O'Callaghan

A SELF confessed IRA informer, who received a Royal pardon for his role in two murders, has died while swimming on holiday in the Caribbean.

Sean O’Callaghan once claimed to have saved the lives of the Prince and Princess of Wales after tipping police off about an IRA bomb plot.

In his book The Informer, published in 1999, the Kerry-born republican said he worked as an agent, firstly for An Garda Síochána and later RUC special branch since the late 1970s.

The 63-year-old, died this week while visiting his daughter in Jamaica. He is thought to have drowned in a swimming pool.

Author Ruth Dudley Edwards, who was a close friend of O'Callaghan, said he was "a man of exceptional ability and courage and he spent most of his life finding ways of atoning for the crimes he had committed".

In August 1974, O'Callaghan shot dead Peter Flanagan, a 47-year-old RUC inspector in an Omagh pub.

He also took part in a rocket and gun attack on a station in Deanery in Clogher that claimed the life of UDR woman Eva Martin (28).

In the 1990s he walked into a police station in England and admitted to the murders.

He was sentenced to 539 years in jail but was released in 1997 after being granted a Royal Prerogative of Mercy.

At the time he was the most senior member of the IRA to have admitted working as an informer.

Former Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald once called him the Irish state’s most important IRA agent.

In his autobiography, O’Callaghan claimed that in 1984 he was tasked with placing a bomb inside the Dominion theatre in London, close to where Prince Charles and Princess Diana were to sit during a concert.

He said he gave a warning to his garda contacts, who alerted the Metropolitan Police. The royal couple were rushed out by their bodyguards.

He also claimed to have been responsible for the 1984 interception of the Valhalla, a boat carrying several tons of weapons destined for the IRA.

However, senior republicans dismissed O'Callaghan as a Walter Mitty type character whose claims were greatly embellished or untrue.

Kenny Donaldson from Innocent Victims United said the organisation's "core concern" on hearing of the former IRA man's death was "with the families of UDR Greenfinch soldier Eva Martin and Special Branch Detective Peter Flanagan.

"Was Sean O'Callaghan genuinely remorseful for the grievous harms he caused to their families and most probably many others?

"Did he repent for his crimes and sins and did he publicly and privately seek to restitute for the wrongs he inflicted?

"Those are all questions that only he and God our creator know the answer to."

Part time UDR woman Eva Martin died in an IRA rocket attack in May 1974, Sean O'Callaghan later confessed to taking part in the attack.
Part time UDR woman Eva Martin died in an IRA rocket attack in May 1974, Sean O'Callaghan later confessed to taking part in the attack.