ASSURANCE: The house where British agent and senior Sinn Fein member Denis Donaldson was murdered in Co Donegal in 2006. Ex-IRA man Gerry Bradley insists he is “no Denis Donaldson”.
FORMER IRA prisoner Gerry Bradley has defended a book that lifts the lid on his life in the paramilitary organisation, insisting he is “just telling my story”.
The 55-year-old said graffiti labelling him a ‘tout’ had been daubed on walls in north Belfast within a week of the account hitting the shelves.
He spoke out last night, saying some republicans had even compared him to murdered 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 paramilitary operations from when he was a teenager until the organisation’s ceasefire in 1994.
He claims 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 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 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 with-in 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 Northern Ireland temporarily.
“I think the graffiti was a knee-jerk reaction to the coverage of the book,” he said.
“There has been some painting on the walls saying things like ‘tout’. That is the farthest thing from the truth.
“Some of the people I’ve met assumed I was being another Denis Donaldson. It’s the way it comes across to people in this area who have been betrayed too many times by British agents.”
He said that while he still has a home in the New Lodge area of north Belfast he “had to get away for a couple of days to get my head cleared”.
“I don’t know when I’ll be back. I also had to come to Dublin to do a bit of work with [publisher] O’Brien Press.
“People have been saying you shouldn’t have said this and you shouldn’t have said that but I’m just telling my story.
“I’d ask people to read the book if they are worried. There’s no-one going to be arrested. I’m not going to go to court to point out anyone. It’s a knee-jerk reaction. I’m not another Denis Donaldson.”
He said he had been careful not to name “people who are still about”, instead using “aliases and nicknames and initials”.
However, he did claim in the book that the IRA’s second in command in Belfast was newsagent James Brown, who was described after his murder in 1994 as “completely innocent” by former RUC chief Sir Ronnie Flanagan.
Last week Mr Brown’s family said they were shocked and upset by the claim, and Bradley refused to comment yesterday on his allegations.
“The last thing I wanted to do was hurt people,” he would only say.
“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.”