Bulger supported the Irish Republican Army in Ulster
When Whitey Bulger was in Alcatraz he was submitted to several psychological studies and appraisals. These found him to possess a highly elevated estimation of his own intelligence and character. The reports routinely noted his extreme vanity, and his over-developed sense of his own importance in the eyes of others. Simply put, he believed himself to be of superior moral character than others, and this belief helped him justify much of what would be considered amoral behavior by others. For example, he could justify murder if it was for a cause.
During the 1970s and 1980s the Irish Republican Army conducted what today would be called a terror campaign. South Boston was during that time a mostly Irish Catholic enclave, where neighborhood bars often contained donation jars which were used to collect funds to be sent to the families of IRA members being held in British jails and prisons. When Bulger was convicted of racketeering it included conviction of eleven charges of murder, one of which was for the killing of John McIntyre. McIntyre was murdered after an attempt at gun smuggling to the IRA was stopped by federal authorities.
In 1984 a fishing boat named Valhalla left Gloucester in Massachusetts and rendezvoused with an Irish fishing boat named Marita Ann. Several tons of explosives and weapons were transferred by the Massachusetts crew to the Irish vessel. When the Marita Ann neared its home port in Ireland it was stopped and boarded by the Irish navy which confiscated the cargo and arrested the crew, one of whom was a known IRA member (now a member of the IRAs political wing, Sinn Fein) named Martin Ferris. Notified by the Irish, the US Coast Guard inspected the Valhalla as it attempted to return to Boston.
John McIntyre was arrested for drunk driving a few weeks later and offered to provide information regarding drug and weapons smuggling by the Winter Hill Gang, run by Bulger. With the help of US Customs, who supplied the money for McIntyre’s share of the deal, a raid on an at sea drug transfer from a Norwegian vessel was arranged, and 36 tons of marijuana being purchased by the Winter Hill gang was seized by Customs. Aware that the authorities knew of the smuggling of guns and drugs, the operations were suspended. The raid led to McIntyre’s murder, with his body not being found and identified for 16 years.
One of the Winter Hill associates who had been in on the deal, and the gun running operations, was Patrick Nee, who later detailed the activities in a book. Nee wrote of Bulger’s association with the IRA and its legitimization of his criminal activities, as money raised and weapons sold cast him in his own eyes as a freedom fighter and defender of liberty. Bulger’s support of the IRA was not simply patriotic though, the guns and weapons he provided were for profit.