Former IRA prisoner Gerry ‘Whitey’ Bradley has defended a book that lifts the lid on his life in the organisation, insisting he is “just telling my story”.
The well-known republican said graffiti labelling him a ‘tout’ had been daubed on walls in north Belfast within a week of the account hitting the shelves.
There had been allegations by some republicans that lives had been endangered and comrades compromised by the revelations in his book.
He said some republicans had even compared him to ex-Sinn Fein official Denis Donaldson, who was shot dead in 2006 a year after admitting he was a British spy.
“This is a pro-IRA book,” insisted Bradley from Dublin, where he has gone to “clear his head” from negative reaction and to publicise the book.
“I’m still a republican. There has been a knee-jerk reaction to coverage of the book with people jumping to the conclusion that Gerry Bradley is telling the Brits everything.”
‘Insider: Gerry Bradley’s life in the IRA’ details his involvement in military operations from when he was a teenager until the organisation’s ceasefire in 1994.
He wrote that he was involved in a plot to kill former Ulster Unionist leader Brian Faulkner and identifies the IRA’s alleged second in command in Belfast in the 1970s.
The book -- written without permission from the Provisional Republican Movement -- also details his involvement in the attempted murder of senior RUC officer Derek Martindale which led to his imprisonment.
Bradley said ill health prompted him to approach historian and commentator Brian Feeney three years ago to help write the account.
“I was having some medical problems relating to gunshot wounds in my stomach,” he said.
“I wasn’t very well. I had a couple of heart attacks so I thought I’d better do this before I die.
“I wanted to explain to people why IRA volunteers went through all sorts of things.”
He said he had always wanted to tell people outside Northern Ireland what life was like in the IRA and his reasons for staying with the organisation for 25 years.
“I wanted to tell the truth. It wasn’t all guns and glory the way some people try to make it out. There were very difficult times and ultimately you were going to go to jail or be killed.
“I am very proud to be a republican and very proud that I joined the IRA to fight for a united Ireland and a better future for our kids and grandkids, for Protestants and Catholics.”
As well as writing the book without the IRA’s approval - “because I didn’t want the truth censored” - he also refrained from telling his family about the project.
“They were sort of shocked when they found out. My family have totally different views to me. They only found out about the book the same time as everybody else,” he said.
Some people in the republican community of north Belfast have objected to his account and Bradley said his life “completely changed within 48 hours” and “certainly not for the better”.
“I knew when I wrote the book my life would never again be the same,” he said.
“Before, I could have gone to the gym like anyone else but all that has completely changed.
“Now I’m more recognisable and I don’t want to get into a verbal or physical confrontation with anybody.”
Graffiti labelling him an informer was daubed on walls, he was confronted by angry people demanding to know why he had written the book and he has now left the Six Counties temporarily.
“The last thing I wanted to do was hurt people,” he said.
“As far as my story is concerned, it’s my story, what I went through and what hundred and thousands of people my age went through.
“It talks about the unsung heroes and their identities are kept to the minimum.
“It is about what us young guys went through and why. It explains to the outside world why we did this, why we dedicated our lives.
“I stepped out of the ranks to get this book out. I stepped out of line to do this. I don’t believe in censorship - I believe everybody has a right to their opinion.”