Collins himself was attracted to Marxist politics. After working in a pub for a period, he joined the Customs Service of Northern Ireland. Around this time, Collins also got married. He and his wife were later to have four children together.
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Collins himself was attracted to Marxist politics. After working in a pub for a period, he joined the Customs Service of Northern Ireland.
Around this time, Collins also got married. He and his wife were later to have four children together. At the same time he was also preparing to become a republican paramilitary.
Collins became involved in street demonstrations at the time and was impressed by the left-wing politics of the new generation of republican leadership that had emerged in the late s. This involved gathering intelligence on intended assassination and bombing targets. His planning was directly responsible for at least five killings, including that of Ulster Defence Regiment Major Ivan Toombs.
For example, they destroyed the public library in Newry and a pub where a police choir drank after practice. Collins became noted for his hard-line views on the continuance of armed struggle within the IRA and later becoming part of the nutting squad. The South Armagh IRA wanted a hard-line militarist in the party as they were opposed to the increasing emphasis of the republican leadership on the political over the military wing of the movement.
Despite his militarist convictions, Collins found the emotional strain of the IRA campaign, along with the pressure from the security forces intolerable.
On two occasions, he was arrested under anti-terrorism legislation and held in Castlereagh holding centre for seven days and subjected to hour interrogation. Towards the end of his time in custody, Collins reportedly "broke" and said that he was prepared to co-operate with the police.
In his book, Collins says that the strain of the interrogation exacerbated doubts that he had already had about the morality and direction the IRA campaign. Collins was held with other paramilitary informers in the Crumlin Road Prison in Belfast. After an appeal from his wife, however, who remained a republican supporter, Collins retracted his evidence against former colleagues.
In return, he was given a guarantee of safety by the IRA provided he de-briefed the organisation on his experience. Collins agreed to this. Collins was then transferred to the republican wing of the Crumlin Road prison. As a result of losing his status as a protected informer, Collins was then charged with several counts of murder and attempted murder. When tried, however, Collins was acquitted due to a lack of evidence other than his own confessions, which he had since retracted.
He then spent three months being interrogated by the IRA and was eventually allowed to relocate to the Republic of Ireland , but was not allowed to travel north of Dundalk. At the time, the area was experiencing an epidemic of heroin addiction and Collins volunteered to help a local priest, Peter McVerry , who ran programmes for local youths to keep them away from drugs. After several years in Dublin, Collins lived in Edinburgh in Scotland for a period, where he ran a youth centre.
In , Collins eventually moved back to Newry. The IRA order exiling him from Northern Ireland had not been lifted but with an IRA ceasefire in operation, he judged it safe to move back in with his wife and children. In fact since he had returned to live in Newry his house had frequently been attacked, his family home in Camlough was burned to the ground and daubed in graffiti, threats were made against his children, who were bullied in school, and slander was painted on the walls of the streets in which the family lived.
He was stabbed and beaten so badly that police initially thought he had been hit by a car. It is presumed  that he was killed by the IRA in revenge for public testimony on the activities of the organisation and in particular for his court testimony against Thomas Murphy.
‘Killing Rage’ – A Missing Chapter From The Story Of Eamon Collins’ Life In The IRA