Jennifer O’Leary
29 Feb 2012

A former senior RUC officer has told the Smithwick Tribunal that he trusted the retired Dundalk-based Garda sergeant Owen Corrigan “with his life”.

The tribunal is investigating alleged Garda/IRA collusion in the murders of RUC officers Ch Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan in 1989.

Gerry McCann was a former detective inspector in Newry for 10 years.

He told the tribunal that he had nothing but admiration for Mr Corrigan and members of the Garda in Dundalk.

“I never heard any concerns about Owen Corrigan or heard any talk that lead me to think I needed to be careful about what I discussed with him.”

“There was suspicion of collusion between RUC and loyalist paramilitaries, I never heard anything that gave me concern about the Garda and the IRA.”

Mr Corrigan is one of three former gardai under the spotlight at the Dublin tribunal.

Chief Supt Breen and Supt Buchanan died in an IRA ambush in south Armagh only minutes after leaving Dundalk Garda Station.

Mr Corrigan denies all allegations of collusion against him.

Mr McCann said he often discussed his travel routes south of the border with Mr Corrigan and took his advice.

“There were many times over the years when Owen Corrigan knew my travel plans and could, if he wanted, to set me or my colleagues up.”

“In the course of service I never had suspicions, had reason to, or had suspicions expressed to me about Owen Corrigan or any other gardai at Dundalk Garda Station.”
Harry Breen and Harry Buchanan The policemen were the most senior RUC officers murdered during the Troubles

Mr McCann, who had a role in the Narrow Water investigation, said he was “surprised” to hear evidence on Tuesday of a lack of Garda co-operation in the bomb attack.

“I can only speak about the relationship between police officers in Newry and Dundalk in the 1970s and 1980s and that relationship was second to none,” he said

“I was surprised to hear there was any shadow of suspicion.”

The tribunal has previously heard that Harry Breen had expressed concerns to Sgt Alan Mains about travelling to Dundalk because there was an IRA mole among the gardai.

“Where any concern came from I don’t know,” said McCann. “It is unbelievable that information was floating around that I was not aware of.”