Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Martin McGartland of Fifty Dead Men Walking calls for a correction

Martin McGartland of Fifty Dead Men Walking calls for a correction

Posted in Film by Hank Sartin on August 31st, 2009 at 4:04 pm

As editor of the film section, I get some pretty unusual phone calls, like a reader asking about when a movie is coming to Chicago or a guy who made a movie in his basement assuming I’ll want to write an article about him.

But today’s phone call takes the cake. Martin McGartland, in hiding from the IRA for 20 years, just called me for a correction.

Who is he? McGartland grew up in Northern Ireland in an area where the IRA held a lot of power. McGartland was approached by British Intelligence, who knew that he was of interest to the IRA. (Note my cautious phrasing here.) McGartland joined the IRA as an infiltrator and relayed information to the British. Eventually, the IRA worked it out and McGartland had to go into hiding. He has been living in hiding from the IRA for 20 years. Attempts have been made on his life. He wrote a book about his time in the IRA called Fifty Dead Men Walking.

The book was made into a film, also called Fifty Dead Men Walking. I reviewed the film last week. My review, unfortunately, starts off thusly: “As IRA terrorist and British informant Martin McGartland, [Jim] Sturgess…” You can see the problem from Martin’s point of view; I’ve made it sound like he was a terrorist who became an informant. Wrong order of events. He went in under instructions from British Intelligence.

Therefore, Martin called me to ask for a correction. Um, holy shit.

He was very pleasant and polite (”I’m not trying to make any trouble for you, but you have to see this from my point of view…” he said several times) and I was apologetic. We chatted a bit, just long enough for him to restate his point a few times and mention that he’s trying to get another book published, so any public reference to him matters, especially when it makes him sound like he was a terrorist first. Boy, did I feel bad. So, our review online will be corrected, and I’ve asked for a correction on our letters page. And if you’re still checking back, Martin, my apologies for my unclear phrasing.

By the way, Martin also did a very interesting phone interview with our colleagues at Time Out London, in case you want to read his about larger issues with the film Fifty Dead Men Walking.

Link here;-

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Is 'Fifty Dead Men Walking' (Film) really based on truth? 'No, its's as near to the truth as earth is to pluto,' says Martin McGartland.


Is 'Fifty Dead Men Walking' (Film) really based on truth? 'No, its's as near to the truth as earth is to pluto,' says Martin McGartland.


Is 'Fifty Dead Men Walking' really based on truth?

Martin McGartland, whose memoir forms the basis for 'Fifty Dead Men Walking', talks to Time Out about how he believes he's been inaccurately portrayed in the film
Last week saw the release of the film ‘Fifty Dead Men Walking’, a thriller adapted from the book of the same name by Martin McGartland, a working class Belfast boy who became both a respected member of the IRA and an informer for the British secret service. McGartland has been living in hiding for the past two decades, during which time he has been tracked down and shot twice. So it came as something of a surprise when he contacted the Time Out offices to discuss his reactions to the film which, he asserts, crucially misrepresents some episodes from his life story.

‘The best way I can explain it in basic, blunt terms, is it’s as near to the truth as Earth is to Pluto,’ McGartland insists. ‘If a film is loosely based on someone’s life story, how does the audience know what’s true and what’s fiction?’

McGartland cites various specific incidences where the film strays from his version of the truth. ‘I have never drank in my life, I have never smoked in my life and (actor) Jim Sturgess is in pubs getting pissed all the time and smoking cigarettes. All the stuff about me getting shot in Canada, I’ve never been to Canada in my life except for a brief holiday. I never lived there. And I certainly was not present when a suspected informer was interrogated and murdered. That made me so angry.’

But for McGartland, this isn’t just a case of creative licence. ‘Not only is there sympathy for the Republican movement (in the film), but the director, Kari Skogland, has done some kind of deal with the IRA whereby she has allowed them to be consultants and also, this is on record too, they’ve actually been on set when the film was being made, which is unheard of. How can you make a film about the IRA when they’re standing watching over your shoulder?’

Director Skogland angrily refutes McGartland’s claims, though she admits she did consult ex-IRA members when researching the film, and accepts that ex-Republicans were on set during shooting. ‘But so were the army!’ she argues. ‘They were there at the same time. Everyone was getting along, it was really very important, the army was there, the RUC was there, everyone wanted me to get it right, to have a very authentic view. While I would not want to suggest the IRA had any influence on the film because they didn’t, I certainly had to go to people to make sure that if I’m portraying them I’m not portraying them from some Hollywood, ill-conceived, stereotypical perspective.’

She also asserts that she offered McGartland an advisory role on the film and held numerous conversations with him during shooting. ‘I spent hours talking to him, and recognised that he had quite a distinct agenda. I felt because he had such a passionate perspective, his intention would have been to make it a political document, that was not the intention of the movie. This was not an agenda-oriented film. I listened and I was very respectful but at the same time I couldn’t let his voice change the dynamic of the picture that I knew was a truthful story of what it is to be an informer.’

Whatever the respective merits of their conflicting views, the incident highlights the responsibility filmmakers bear when telling real-life stories, particularly when their subjects are alive and eager to speak out. McGartland is concerned that the film will now be the only way people remember his contribution to what he views as a righteous cause.

‘I’ve been kidnapped by the IRA, jumped out a window to save my own life. I’ve been through the mill and back again and I accept all those consequences as a result of what I do… I didn’t want any control over the film, I just wanted them to do it in a fair way.’

Author: Tom Huddleston

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Flawed Northumbria Police Complaints Martin McGartland Shooting Whitley Bay IRA Shooting

Taken From Book, Fifty Dead Men Walking, by Martin McGartland;-

On Thursday morning in June 1999 I unlocked the car door, sat inside the car and started the engine. But before I could close the door I sensed someone was nearby. I looked up, saw this man wearing a green coat with a gun pointing at me. Instinctively, I lifted my right arm to protect myself. A split second later I felt two thuds hit my right side, the shock reverberating through my body.

I knew in that instant that this gunman was a Provo assassin and from the impact the bullets made on my body I guessed he was using a heavy calibre round, probably a 9mm fired from an automatic. But thank God my brain was still working and I knew that I had to stop him shooting me again. I knew he would go for my head; I knew he would have been told exactly where to target and what to do.
The power of the shots had thrown my body across the car seat to the passenger side and the gunman stretched out his arm so that his gun was close to my head. Before he could pull the trigger I somehow managed to grab the barrel of the gun with my left hand and it went off, the bullet ripping through my hand and lodging in my stomach.
I tried to keep hold of the gun. Something inside my head told me that I had to keep hold of that gun if I was to survive. I wanted to turn the gun so that if he pulled the trigger he would shoot himself. But my strength was fading fast. I felt suddenly powerless, almost at his mercy. I tried to hang on to the gun but I couldn’t. With a concerted tug he managed to wrench the gun from my hand. At that instant I believed I was a dead man.
But the will to survive, to live another day, took over and something stirred deep inside me. I wasn’t finished yet. I tried to lunge towards him again, to grab the gun, but I simply didn’t have the strength. He stepped back a pace and fired four more times hitting me twice in the chest, in the stomach and in the top of the leg.
I heard the ‘tap-tap’ of the automatic and two bullets thudded into my chest with real force. The pain surged through my body and the power of those bullets sent me sprawling backwards across the car seats. I thought he had shot me in the heart and I knew that would be curtains. Before I could sit up I heard the sound of two more ‘tap-taps’ and I felt pain in my stomach and in the top of my leg. I could do nothing to protect myself. I couldn’t move. I was now at his mercy. This was the end.
I thought in that split second that I didn’t want to die, sprawled on the front seat of a car, my body punctured by bullets from a Provo gunman. My mind flashed to the number of times I had seen others killed in this way in Northern Ireland over the years, their dead, broken bodies sprawled grotesquely in the cars they were driving. Something told me that I had to survive.
For what seemed like seconds I waited for more bullets but there were none. I looked up and he had gone, disappeared from sight. Convinced that he had carried out his mission, certain that I was dead, the bastard had fled.
I realised that grabbing that gun had so disorientated the Provo gunman that he panicked. I knew the Prove orders – always shoot people in the head because then we know they’re dead men. And dead men can’t talk.
It took me a couple of seconds to collect my thoughts. I guessed he wouldn’t return for he must have thought that with seven rounds inside me from something like a 9mm automatic I hadn’t a hope in hell of surviving. I wasn’t too sure myself at that stage. Now the pain began to take over, wracking my chest, my side, my stomach and my leg. I looked at my thumb hanging by a thread and repeated over and over, ‘fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck’. Somehow, swearing like that helped me get my head together.
I told myself that I was alive and that if I could stay alive until I got to hospital I would be okay. But how the hell could I get to hospital like this? I thought of trying to drive and then told myself I was being stupid. I hoped to hell someone had heard the sound of shots.
As I struggled to get out of the car, to get help, I felt again the thudding impact of the bullets each time they hit my body, knocking me backwards, knocking the stuffing out of me, preventing me from lunging at him and getting the gun. I managed to pull myself out of the car and then I collapsed onto the ground. I knew I had been shot six or seven times, but I was still breathing, though blood was pumping from my chest, my side and my stomach and my thumb looked as though it had been shot away.
My only fear was that I would lie in that garage and bleed to death. I put my arm across my chest to try and stop the blood gushing out but it was everywhere. I wondered if the Prove bastard had hit my heart or a main artery and realised that I had to stay conscious. I tried to feel my heart to see if it was okay and felt it pumping away. But I worried in case all the blood was being pumped out of my body rather than round my arteries.
I kept telling myself that whatever happened I must not fall asleep though I felt like closing my eyes and drifting off into oblivion. I kept talking to myself, saying over and over again, ‘If you fall asleep you will never wake again. If you fall unconscious you will simply die. Now, for fuck’s sake keep awake.’
And then I felt pain. A minute or so must have passed since the Provo bastard ran off, and, until that moment there had been little pain. Now the pain wracked my body, my chest, my side, my stomach, my arm, my hand. Shit, it hurt. I gritted my teeth to try and stop the pain hurting so much but I couldn’t. I kept talking to myself, telling myself that I could handle the pain as long as I lived. I tried telling myself that the pain wasn’t that bad but it was getting to me. I just wanted to curl up and sleep.
I also realised that if I didn’t get to hospital quickly I would die. I tried to shout for help but the words wouldn’t come. Somehow I couldn’t find the strength to shout for help, only moans came from my throat. Alone in that garage, with the blood pouring out of my body and with my chest, side and stomach pumping blood through my clothes and on to the floor, I felt my life was over. The bastard Provos had got their revenge.
Then I heard voices shouting ‘Marty’ and it was the most glorious sound of my entire life. Now there was hope. I managed to open my eyes and through blurred vision I recognised my neighbours, the Connon family, bending over me asking if I was alright.
Jesus, it was good to see them; I could have cried when I realised they had come to the rescue; had come to help me. I knew the whole family. They were good, honest people and I knew in that instant that they would help me and save me. Somewhere in my mind I recalled that their elder son Adam, aged around eighteen, had studied first aid and that his mother Andrea was something to do with a hospital.
I heard them asking me questions and I can’t recall if I replied or not. My memory was going and so was my brain. I think I murmured ‘fucking Provos’.
‘Keep quiet, stay still,’ Adam said. ‘An ambulance is on the way. Just lie still and you’ll be okay.’
Adam took off my T-shirt and someone ran off and returned with cling film which he wrapped around my chest and my side in an effort to stem the bleeding. I remember him stuffing stocks into my wounds trying to stop the flow of blood that was everywhere. I recall his mother Andrea cradling my head in her arms, talking to me, soothing me, keeping me conscious as we waited for the ambulance. I owe my life to that family and particularly Adam. If it hadn’t been for his quick thinking I would be dead.
The next thing I remember was waking in hospital some 48 hours later, drifting in and out of consciousness. My mother Kate, sister Lizzie and brother Joseph were there standing around my bed and I wondered why they were there as though this was all part of a dream. I couldn’t understand what they were doing there, standing at the end of my bed looking at me. I asked if I was going to live. They gave me the answer I wanted to hear and I drifted once more into unconsciousness.
Five days after the shooting I was still in intensive care guarded round the clock by seven armed police officers, all wearing body armour. Ten days later I was moved from hospital to a safe house but I was still under armed guard. For two years I had pleaded with the Northumbria Police and the Home Secretary Jack Straw to give me some protection but they had always refused, saying I was in no danger from the IRA. They even refused to give me any CCTV system to check outside my house for any suspicious strangers.
And yet my former friends in Northern Ireland’s Special Branch knew differently. They knew my life was still under threat even though there was a so-called cease fire, even though peace talks were due to start within days, attended by both Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Irish Taoiseach Bertie Aherne. The Belfast SB knew I was still high on the IRA’s death list. But the Northumbria Police and the Home Secretary chose to ignore their advice.
If they had listened to those senior officers who knew the minds of those hard-line IRA activists, I would never have been shot because I would have had some protection. I was never cavalier about my security. I always knew that sometime, somewhere, they would have another go at me. And I was determined to make sure they didn’t get me.
After the Good Friday Peace Agreement was signed in 1998 I had high hopes that one day I would be able to lead a normal, ordinary life; get a proper job, enjoy my life a little without the constant worry of waiting for the unexpected, the knock at the door, a bullet in the back or a gunman waiting by the garage to kill me. The longer the peace deal was intact the more my hopes rose.
Then Eamonn Collins, a self-confessed IRA killer who turned against the terrorist movement, was murdered by the Provos. At the time of his shooting I made a statement saying, ‘Now I feel like I am waiting for someone to come to my house and shoot me.’
I tackled Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams during a radio talk show earlier this year asking him when Sinn Fein/IRA were going to allow people like me to return in safety to Northern Ireland without fear of reprisals. His answer was evasive. That too made me realise that I had to keep my wits about me.
I heard in May this year that MI5 had warned senior politicians, including several former Northern Ireland Secretaries, to take extra care over security for they feared the Provos were intent on launching a new wave of violence. But no one warned me.
My Ma told me when she saw me lying in the hospital with bullet wounds all over my body, ‘Marty, you can’t go on like this. You’ve got to get away. You know the Provos will never give up trying to kill you, peace or no peace.’
I know she’s right; my ma was always right. Now I must persuade the Home Secretary and the Northumbria Police to listen, take note and give me some protection.


Ps; Within minutes of Martin's shooting, while Martin was fighting for his life, Northumbria Police, Mi5 and British Government began a cover-up and a smear campaign against Martin McGartland, Why? Simple, they did so to save face given it was Northumbria Police and Mi5 who exposed Martin to danger after they, CPS and Mi5, took a failed malicious prosecution against him in 1987. During the case Northumbria Police read out Martin McGartland's name, home address in open court. Those details were published in UK wide newspapers. However, Northumbria Police continued to repeat the lie that Martin was safe. Martin McGartland was not safe, Mi5, Northumbria Police and CPS knew that, and he was shot 6 times by the IRA outside his home on 17th June 1999. Since then Northumbria Police have been covering-up the Martin McGartland case, covering-up for the IRA and refusing to admit in public that the IRA was involved in Martin attempted murder.


Lots has happened since. You can read the whole story in; Fifty Dead Men Walking (Book) and Dead Man Running (Martin's second book). There has, and continues to be a Northumbria Police, Mi5 and British Government Cover-up, Jack Straw and home office have been involved. You can follow Martin on Facebook, Bebo and on the Martin McGartland Blogs.