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NET CLOSES ON IRA HIT SQUAD; Police release gunman image.

DETECTIVES hunting the IRA gunmen who shot former RUC agent Martin McGartland have issued an artist's impression of one of the gang.

McGartland cheated death despite being blasted six times by the hit squad outside his home in Whitely Bay, North Tyneside in June.

He is on an IRA death list because he infiltrated the organisation as an RUC agent.

Northumbria police say they are hunting a smartly dressed white male in his mid-30s who masterminded the murder bid.

The man, who spoke with an Irish or Scottish accent, and has short straight light-coloured hair, was seen in the Blyth area in the weeks leading up to the shooting.

He is one of three men who is believed to have stayed in bed and breakfast accommodation in Gateshead before the attempt on McGartland's life.

One of the other two being hunted was Irish in his late 20s, about 5ft 10in, with dark short hair and smartly dressed.

The other was Scottish, with a possible Glaswegian accent, in his early thirties, also about 5ft 10in, with untidy collar length hair.

Security sources believe the gunmen were members of the IRA's Belfast Brigade

Speaking from a secret location in England yesterday, McGartland said: "Everyone knows that the IRA tried to kill me, but no one in the government is prepared to admit it for fear of upsetting Sinn Fein."

McGartland worked as an RUC agent between up to 1992 after being recruited as a petty criminal.
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Author:Carton, Donna
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 21, 1999
Words:244
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