As many regulars of thebrokenelbow.com will know, I have often touted ‘Killing Rage’, as one of the best, if not the best book on the IRA published during the Troubles.
Co-written by former journalist Mick McGovern, ‘Killing Rage’ tells the story of Eamon Collins’s short but eventful life in the IRA during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s which included a spell in the IRA’s spy-catcher unit.
Following an IRA mortar bombing of Newry RUC station in 1985, Collins, a customs officer for part of this time, was arrested and during RUC interrogation agreed to become a ‘supergrass’ witness against former comrades, a decision which he later retracted.
He managed to beat the charges which had motivated his brief ‘supergrass’ career, was exiled by the IRA on his release but, after spells in Dublin and Edinburgh, Scotland, he took advantage of the IRA ceasefire of 1994 and returned to live in his home town of Newry, where he continued to be a thorn in the side of his former comrades, a hostility that was returned with interest by the Provos. Slogans abusive of Collins were daubed on the walls of homes in the estate where he and his family lived.
In 1995 he agreed to tell his life story on British television and two years later ‘Killing Rage’, written with Mick McGovern, who has since sadly abandoned journalism, was published.
Collins also agreed to give evidence for The Sunday Times when South Armagh IRA leader and subsequent Chief of Staff, Tom ‘Slab’ Murphy unsuccessfully sued the paper for libel. That decision may have sealed his fate.
A year later Collins was found beaten and stabbed to death not far from his home on the outskirts of Newry. He was so badly injured that he was unrecognisable and police at first thought he had been hit by a car. While no group admitted responsibility, it is widely suspected that he was killed by the IRA in revenge for giving evidence against ‘Slab’ Murphy.
When Mick McGovern and Eamon Collins submitted the draft of ‘Killing Rage’ to Granta, their publisher, sections, including one whole chapter were removed for legal reasons. Thebrokenelbow.com recently acquired the unpublished parts of the original manuscript.
The missing chapter deals with Dave Ewins, a law lecturer at Queens University Belfast Law Department where he was Collins’ tutor. Ewins was a member of the British-based Revolutionary Communist Group which gave unqualified support to the IRA and as his relationship with Collins deepened, he passed on valuable intelligence to the IRA.
Ewins is given the fictitious name ‘Richey’ in the excised chapter.
Some time ago you posted a link to a blog that was a recount of the same story:
Is it likely then that the other story, about an IRA man being killed on Bloody Sunday, is also a missing chapter from the ‘Killing Rage’?
Could the person who set up that blog be the co-author Mick McGovern?
i think i made it clear at the time that mcgovern was the author of the blog. the bloody sunday story was not included in the manuscript so doesn’t qualify as a missing anything, much less a chapter…….the point is to show that publishers also censor, even though ewins’ role had been made public in the earlier TV documentary….
Understood. Apologies for the mix up, memory not what it once was.
none of us are getting any younger!
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I have to say I liked Eamon Collins. I read his book and felt sorry for him, mostly because of the way his life ended, but then again, he helped end other people’s lives during his time in the IRA, so I guess it’s a case of the old “what goes around comes around.” Still, I think his story is important and he did have a conscience. What he did after being arrested and his subsequent retelling of the events were not just self-serving, although of course he did try to save his own skin.
I’m wondering if Mick McGovern decided to leave journalism out of fear, seeing what happened to Collins. If the IRA killed Collins, partly because of anger at his book, then McGovern as the co-author might also have felt his life was in jeopardy.
Anyway, I’m glad I found your blog, Mr. Maloney. All the best to you.
Hi Colin, thanks for your kind remarks. I am in regular contact with mick and I can assure you that his departure from journalism is entirely unconnected to the fate of mr Collins
Sorry I misspelled Moloney.
You could do worse…….
I figured as much since, with the book published, the damage was already done, so leaving journalism wouldn’t matter. Also, my comments about Eamon Collins were in some sense a response to what Anthony McIntyre had said about ‘Killing Rage.’ He said in an article I read that the book was good but self-serving, especially in relation to Collins becoming a supergrass. Collins strangely never thought of himself as an informer, since he had retracted. Collins was, to me, likeable in that he was so honest in his writing and in the documentary he made. He felt that his story could show how political violence was not heroic, and he wanted to help others see that. That’s what I admire about him.
In reading this lost chapter, I can see how influenced he was by Marxist ideology and David Ewins, who seemed to be amoral and was dedicated to destroying capitalism as opposed to any real concern for the nationalist cause in Ireland. I’m not sure why I’ve become so fascinated by this history. I’m American, but I do have Irish roots. Anyway, I’ll be reading a couple of your books in the future (already bought them), and thanks for the response, Mr. Moloney.