Sunday 25 September 2016

Death of skipper who brought Semtex shipments from Libya

Paul Williams

Published 25/08/2015 | 02:30

Adrian Hopkins
Adrian Hopkins

THE man who skippered the ships used to smuggle huge hauls of IRA arms and explosives from Libya to Ireland during the 1980s has died.

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Adrian Hopkins (76), a former merchant seaman from Greystones, Co Wicklow, passed away in St Vincent's hospital in Dublin on Sunday after suffering a heart attack.

The country's most notorious gun-runner passed away "suddenly but peacefully" surrounded by his wife Stephanie and their four children, according to a death notice.

In October 1987, he and three other men were arrested when the French navy intercepted a small freighter called the Eksund off the coast of Brest. On board was an arsenal containing 150 tons of weapons and munitions which were being supplied to the IRA by Libya's Colonel Gadaffi.

The huge haul included 1,000 mortars, a million rounds of ammunition, 20 surface to air (SAM) missiles, 430 grenades, heavy anti-aircraft machine guns and 120 RPG rocket launchers.

Hopkins made the astonishing revelation he had landed another four arms shipments which came from Gadaffi. The huge cache of weapons were hidden in a network of bunkers throughout the country, including Semtex which the Provos used to kill and maim hundreds of innocents.

This was the first time that the security forces realised the Provos had smuggled enough military hardware to equip a small army.

At the time of his arrest, Hopkins told police how he had been recruited to ship the arms by notorious IRA smuggler Thomas 'Slab' Murphy, who also co-ordinated the operation with the Libyans.

The Wicklow man said he had been paid £200,000 and $500,000 in cash by the IRA which was given to him in plastic bags in the White Horse Pub in north Dublin.

In later life, the former sea man slipped into obscurity, living with his wife in Greystones.

His funeral Mass takes place in Greystones tomorrow.

Irish Independent

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