Raymond Gilmour was one of the biggest informers against the IRA. He has now been reunited with his sister who lives in New Jersey, Geraldine Dametz, after 27 years.
Dametz described Gilmour as “the living dead”, believing that for the last 30 years her brother was dead. She lived not knowing what to believe and thinking of him daily for for 27 years in the New Jersey until she saw an article in the Sunday Tribune.
Raymond Gilmour was one of the most high profile supergrasses in Northern Irish judicial history. He gave evidence in a case again 31 men and women involved with the Irish Republican Army (IRA) before being resettled in Britain with a new identity by the MI5.
However, Gilmour's sister, Geraldine Dametz, was spurred into contacting her long lost brother after The Sunday Tribune carried an interview with Gilmour in which he spoke of his problems with alcoholism and depression and of how deeply he missed his 10 brothers and sisters.
The sister, who now lives in New Jersey, told the newspaper how: "The last time I saw Raymond he was in court giving evidence. I was crying because I wanted him to retract for the sake of our family. I didn't see or speak to him for 27 years but there wasn't a day that passed that I didn't think of him and wonder if he was even alive. It was torture."
After Dametz’s children mounted an endless Internet search to find any trace of their long-lost uncle. One of them eventually chanced upon the Tribune’s interview, and thus began the long-awaited reuniting of the family.
Dametz eventually managed to unearth Gilmour’s contact details and the siblings spoke on the phone for six hours: “it was as if we’d never been separated,” the sister told The Tribune.
"He remembered every little detail about us all. Our family never disowned Raymond. When he gave evidence, it ruined our lives. After the trial, I couldn't continue living in Derry. I had to go to the US and my parents went to England. I can't speak for the rest of the family, but personally I'm very proud of Raymond. If he saved the life of even one Protestant, one Catholic, one policeman or one soldier, then he's my hero," said the emotional and overjoyed sister.
She tragically recounted how Raymond had mistakenly assumed that his family hated him, when they were actually deeply worried and concerned for him: "As a child, Raymond was like my mother's shadow, he went everywhere with her. She was very anti-violence and anti-IRA – that's where I think he got it from.
"My mother never stopped loving Raymond. I nursed her for three months when she was dying and all she did was talk about him. She wanted to see him one last time. She was heartbroken and it destroyed us seeing her so unhappy.
"Raymond heard she'd died and sent a wreath. He thought we hated him and told the Sunday Tribune that the wreath was probably thrown in the bin. Nothing was further from the truth. Raymond had written on the card, 'From your loving son', and that card was placed in my mother's hands in the coffin."
Raymond now finds his family scattered all over the world. Sister Geraldine lives in New Jersey, while another sister has settled down in Down. He’s even a grandfather now, as a past wife’s children have in turn given birth. Everything’s changed.
Nevertheless Gilmour keeps his whereabouts a closely guarded secret as he would still be a wanted man for the IRA, INLA, and other paramilitary unites: "I know we won't ever be able to have a big family reunion. I've invited him to my home in New Jersey but it wouldn't be safe for him," says his sister.
Gilmour was recruited by the police as a teenager, first to infiltrate the INLA, then the IRA. Dametz says her family's world fell apart when news broke that he was an informer. "We were devastated. We knew we would never be able to see him normally again. He became the living dead."
The sister finishes the interview with the newspaper by venting her rage at the British police who recruited Raymond aged just sixteen: "Raymond was recruited by the police when he was 16, far too young to be sure of what he was doing, and then when the British had no more use for him, they threw him to the wolves and didn't look after him," she says.