Sean O’Callaghan – Former IRA leader turned informer drowns in swimming pool aged 62
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Sean O’Callaghan – Former IRA leader turned informer drowns in swimming pool aged 62

A FORMER IRA leader who went on to become an informer and best-selling author has died in Jamaica aged 62.

Sean O’Callaghan died while swimming in a pool on the Caribbean island, where he was visiting his daughter.

The Co. Kerry native became a best-selling author after he detailed the inner workings of the Irish Republican Army in his book, The Informer, in 1999.

Among his revelations was the claim he thwarted a plot to murder Britain's Prince Charles and Princess Diana at a London theatre in the 1980s.

Living in London after he went public about his double life as an informer, Mr O’Callaghan lived under constant threat of reprisal from former IRA associates.

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He was jailed in the 1990s after walking into a police station in England and admitting to two IRA murders.

O'Callaghan was released in 1997. Writing in The Irish Times after his release that year, he said: “As a Kerry teenager, I joined the IRA and became a bomber, a robber and a double murderer.

“When I came to my senses and realised I was committing criminal acts for a vicious sectarian organisation I left, but my conscience drove me to re-join in order to work against it.

“I served as an informer for the Irish Government and in the course of six years I helped to stop a huge IRA arms shipment and I sabotaged many ‘violent and criminal plans’.”

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson has praised Mr O’Callaghan as a “brave man who called out the IRA for its naked sectarianism.”

“In the end, Sean O'Callaghan was a changed man and it takes changed men and women to help build peace,” Mr Donaldson said. “That will be his legacy.”

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O’Callaghan supported the relatives of victims of the 1998 Real IRA Omagh bomb in undertaking a landmark civil case that resulted in four republicans being held liable for the attack.

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aiden died in the bomb, passed on his condolences, saying: "My experience of Sean O'Callaghan was always a positive experience."

"He did a great deal to help the Omagh families get some form of justice."

In 2015, O’Callaghan wrote a biography of the Irish republican leader James Connolly, who he said had a massive influence on him joining the IRA at the age of 17.

Earlier this year, he gave evidence from a secret location to a Belfast inquest examining the sectarian murder of 10 Protestant workmen near the south Armagh village of Kingsmill in 1976.

O’Callaghan named two senior IRA members as being responsible for the massacre.

Senior republicans have regularly argued that claims made by Mr O’Callaghan about his time in the IRA were exaggerated, or untrue.

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