An Irish Catholic man who infiltrated the Irish Republican Army as a spy and informer for MI5, Britain’s intelligence-security network, during the height of the “troubles” in Northern Ireland, now claims that his former handlers have abandoned him.
Raymond Gilmour, now 53 years old and living somewhere in southeast England under a false identity, also claims he is unable to work and suffers from mental health issues.
BBC reported that as one of the most notorious “super-grasses” (informers) of that era, Gilmour fears his life is in constant danger. He also alleges that MI5 reneged on their promises to provide him with a new home, pension, psychiatric counseling, as well as £500,000 (about $800,000).
Gilmour told BBC that MI5 also failed to provide him with a job and that under the pressures of alcoholism and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), he cannot support himself.
However, BBC noted that Gilmour’s local MP (whom it did not identify) will seek to help him by taking the matter up with the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), a government body that deals with complaints against British intelligence services.
Why MI5 appears to have abandoned such a once-valuable spy remains a mystery.
Liam Clarke, political editor for the Belfast Telegraph newspaper, commented: “I would imagine, given this publicity, the security services will probably want to do something to satisfy him, because obviously they have agents working now in Ireland and in Britain in Islamist organizations.”
Gilmour has had a long and torturous journey in life.
Raised in the working class city of Derry in Ulster, Gilmour’s father fiercely supported the Irish Republican Army, while his mother opposed the militancy. In 1972, British soldiers shot and killed Gilmour’s cousin on Bloody Sunday, traumatizing the 12-year-old boy. However, he apparently felt no kinship with the IRA since two other brothers were shot in the knees by IRA gunmen for alleged anti-social behavior.
Reportedly, British Army soldiers tried to recruit Gilmour as an informer when he was only 13 years old, but he did not agree until he was 16 when he served a short stretch in prison for armed robbery. IRA prisoners beat him severely during his incarceration --- an act that severed any possible ties with the Nationalist movement.
Working under the auspices of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), Gilmour (only 17 years old) joined the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), a Socialist group that splintered off from the mainstream IRA in 1972. By 1980, Gilmour joined the IRA – at this point the RUC was paying him a weekly stipend of £200 (a significant amount in those days), plus bonuses based on the arrest of militants and the confiscation of weapons.
After almost a decade as a secret agent, Gilmour’s identity as a mole was revealed in 1982 when he testified at a trial in Londonderry, putting his life in great danger. His testimony led to the arrest of some 100 Irish Republicans.
However, his appearances in court were for naught since the presiding judge in the case dismissed his testimony as "unworthy of belief” and declared he was not a credible witness.
At that point, Gilmour became a fugitive and an exile from Ulster.
"I brought the INLA to their knees in Derry, I brought the IRA to their knees in Derry and I saved countless lives," he told BBC.
"If I'm being treated like this after so many years, what do you think people down the chain are being treated like? I am living on a knife edge because of my mental health, I have no financial stability, which I was promised -- I have nothing."
Gilmour is now trapped in a no-man’s land, apparently discarded by British intelligence and viewed as a traitor to his Irish Catholic brethren.
Danny Morrison, a former official of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA, said of Gilmour: "There will be no love lost for him, no sympathy for him and it doesn't come unexpected that when MI5 are finished with people they discard them."
But Gilmour has at least one powerful Northern Ireland voice on his side.
Ian Paisley Jr, the Democratic Unionist Party MP for North Antrim, and son of the firebrand preacher, said Gilmour deserves protection from the UK government.
"An agent -- that's who we're talking about -- who worked for the government in the dirtiest war ever this side of Kosovo should be protected and given his contractual obligations," he said.
Gilmour is not the only Irish spy stuck out in the cold.
The Belfast Telegraph reported that another infamous supergrass from the ‘Troubles’ era, Martin McGartland, is also taking a case against MI5 for failing to protect him.
McGartland, who worked as an undercover agent in the IRA from 1987 to 1991, has hired lawyers to address his grievances.
“We are pleading breach of the common law duty of care, breach of contract and examining employment law and other options with counsel,” his legal representative told the Telegraph.
“McGartland is seriously injured as a result of [a] gun attack in Whitley Bay and has not recovered fully. He also suffers mental trauma. We have initiated a claim on his behalf for personal injuries arising from the Home Office’s failure to provide medical treatment after he was shot.”