The lonely death of an IRA informer has drawn attention to the contempt which British agencies hold for those who have betrayed their own communities to take the queen’s shilling.
Notorious IRA informer Raymond Gilmour was been found dead in his flat in Kent, where he had been lying abandoned and alone. His body was so badly decomposed, he had to be identified from photographs.
His funeral will take place next week. It is not known whether he will be buried under his real name, or the pseudonym under which he has lived in Britain since he fled his native Derry over 30 years ago.
Gilmour ended up as an alcoholic with serious psychological problems, and died this week from natural causes. He was living on social welfare for disability at the time of his death.
Between 1977 until 1982, he was paid up to 200 pounds a week to spy on the INLA and IRA. An 18-year-old friend, Colm McNutt, then also an INLA member, was shot dead by an undercover soldier acting on information supplied by Gilmour.
In 1984, he gave evidence against 31 men and women in one of the North’s best known republican ‘supergrass’ trials. But the case collapsed, with the presiding judge, Lord Lowry, ruling that Gilmour was, “entirely unworthy of belief ... a selfish and self-regarding man, to whose lips a lie comes more naturally than the truth”.
He was resettled in England by MI5 and given a new identity. But speaking this week, another prominent informer Martin McGartland who was in contact with Gilmour, said he had ended up begging for financial and psychological help.
“They [MI5] turned their back on him. He was a broken man, a wreck of a human being, and they left him to die in the gutter,” he said.
The Derry man struggled with guilt and never got over leaving his family, who disowned him. He had no contact with his wife nor their two children. In the end, he lived like a hermit, spending weeks drinking in his flat, refusing to go out or talk to anybody.
His 18-year-old son from a failed second marriage found his badly decomposed body.
“His son rang 999 and the paramedics who arrived wouldn’t let other relatives see Ray because they said it would be too disturbing. They also advised against seeing him in the morgue,” McGartland said.
He said health service officials had written to Andrew Parker, the head of MI5, saying “they couldn’t deal with such big issues” from his time working as an informer.
“As far as I’m concerned, the security services have Ray’s blood on their hands. They had plenty of opportunities to save him but they turned their back on him.
“He gave his all to them to help defeat the IRA but, when they had no use for him, they discarded him. He was treated like a third-class citizen.”
He added: “I would caution any young men and women in Northern Ireland thinking of becoming agents for the security services. They should look at how Ray Gilmour ended up, before they make their decision.”