MURDERED drug dealer Kevin Kearney was a security force informant who secretly helped bug IRA meetings with Catholic priests.
Belfast Daily can reveal the 46-year-old was a trusted foot soldier in the IRA who provided safe houses.
But the father-of-four was also working as an RUC Special Branch agent deep inside the IRA in Ardoyne.
One house in Etna Drive in the Ardoyne of north Belfast was regularly used by senior IRA and Sinn Fein figures for meetings with priests from Clonard Monastery in west Belfast.
A security source told Belfast Daily: “What they didn’t know was the house was bugged.
“Kevin was a police agent and a specialist MI5 unit went in and planted a number of listening devices in the house.
“The meetings were held in the house in the 1990s in the run up to the ceasefires.
“The talks were to convince leading hardline IRA members to accept the 1994 ceasefire.
“These meetings went on for months. It gave us a good insight into what was going on within the IRA in Ardoyne.
“They needed to be convinced of the benefits of the ceasefire.”
Kearney, a leading cocaine dealer in north Belfast, was gunned down last Tuesday by a dissident republican terror gang.
The ‘New IRA’ claimed it “executed” him in a gangland style hit following “complaints from the local community”.
It also warned other drug dealers to “desist immediately” or face the same grisly fate.
Murdersquad cops believe he was shot dead around 9.15 am and his body dumped in a lake at Alexandra Park off the Antrim Road in north Belfast.
He was approached while out walking his dogs not far from his home at Dunmore Park.
It is understood he was shot several times after sustaining a severe beating.
The alarm was raised when the dogs arrived home without him.
It wasn’t until the following day that police found his body in the lake after conducting widespread searches of the area.
Kearney was buried at Milltown Cemetery yesterday following a funeral Mass at a Catholic Church on the Limestone Road in north Belfast.
A 39-year-old man arrested last week in connection with his “callous and cold-blooded’ murder has since been released without charge.
A 45-year-old man was arrested on Monday and is being questioned about the murder.