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 Thebrokenelbow.com recently acquired the unpublished parts of the original manuscript.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.