Kevin Joseph O'Donnell is the leader of the Ulster Liberation Army (ULA), an extreme offshoot of the Provisional Wing of the IRA. He appears in Patriot Games, where he leads two attacks on the Prince of Wales, once in Britain and once in America at the Ryan's home. His goals are to disgrace the PIRA and eliminate its leadership, and achieve the release of high-ranking political prisoners. He is hinted to have Soviet contacts, is extremely professional, and has a highly placed inside source in Geoffrey Watkins of the Home Office.
Kevin O'Donnell was the son of a truck driver. His mother died when he was nine. He enrolled in the university as a political science major, where he took every class offered on Marxism and participated in fringe civil rights group. It is possible that this is when he met Dennis Cooley. He disappeared for a year, perhaps to receive Soviet training, only to reappear around the time of the Bloody Sunday incident. Ryan wonders, when this is mentioned, if O'Donnell was the one to fire the shot that sparked the incident.
He became the chief of security at the PIRA, and was responsible for rooting out and killing informers, which he was reported to have a 50% success rate at--not bad. Unfortunately, he started killing loyal elements within the PIRA who he deemed to have unacceptable political views. This was discovered and he disappeared for two years, at the end of which he founded the ULA. During this time period, he received extensive plastic surgery to change his face (probably in Moscow) and recruited Sean Miller and McKenney to his cause.
O'Donnell is not described, apart from having mid-length sandy hair. He tends to wear disguises and switch accents, and his face has been altered so that former associates do not recognize him.Notable for his professionalism and ruthlessness, O'Donnell has no patience for sentiment or personal vendettas. He despises Americans and sees no need to play to them as the PIRA does. He is extremely careful and patient, and plans things out meticulously
Because of his past with PIRA, O'Donnell is as much concerned with eliminating their leadership as he is with the leadership of Britain. He occasionally tips off Scotland Yard to various IRA agents. He intends to become the new leader of the Organization once Johnny Doyle and the rest of the PIRA leadership is eliminated.
O'Donnell is also dangerous for his resources. He gets a great deal of funding, possibly from Moscow, possibly also from Watkins. He gets insider information from the very top of British government, thanks to Watkins, and also information from the PIRA, from Shamus Connolly. His men train regularly in Libya and are all highly effective.
Patriot Games Edit
In the first attack on the Prince of Wales, O'Donnell is the getaway driver. Ryan gets a glimpse of his face but cannot remember it, particularly as O'Donnell is wearing a wig and glasses. O'Donnell returns to Ulster and plots the rescue mission to save Sean Miller. After rescuing Miller, he and his men go to camps in Libya, where it is hinted they meet with Soviet representatives.
O'Donnell is uneasy with Miller's plan to attack the Ryan family, because he believes it stems from a personal agenda and not a professional one. He approves the plan because it will disgrace the IRA, but when it fails to kill the Ryans he ensures that Miller knows where he went wrong.
O'Donnell leads the attack on the Ryan's home, but he stays outside to eliminate the Secret Service and British security while Sean goes inside. He calls Miller back outside for help, enabling the Ryans to escape. When they return to the house, Miller and Alex report to him that the hostages have escaped.
O'Donnell is never mentioned again. He must have died, for he never appears again in the series, and he is too much a revolutionary to disappear. In the movie, Miller kills O'Donnell when it becomes clear that Ryan is leading them away from his family and Lord Holmes, but this does not happen in the book. It is possible he was on the boat and was captured (and later executed) with the others, but Ryan does not notice him among the prisoners. He might be the terrorist that Beckenridge shoots. It is possible he escaped somehow, but if so, he must have been killed by his Soviet contacts..