Jennifer O’Leary
BBC
14 Mar 2012

A former justice minister in the Republic has responded to claims made at the Smithwick Tribunal about the Narrow Water bombing.

The tribunal was told on Tuesday that in 1980, the Taoiseach, “from the outset of the enquiry decreed” that the killings were a “political crime and no assistance would be given to the RUC”.

Eighteen soldiers died in the IRA attack near Warrenpoint in August 1979.

Gerry Collins said that Jack Lynch was “vehemently opposed” to the IRA.

There was a cross-border element to the investigation because the bombs were detonated from a site in County Louth.

Witness 68, who was the chief investigating officer of the bomb attack, did not specify which Taoiseach he was referring to.

Jack Lynch was the Taoiseach at the time of the attack in 1979. Charles J Haughey succeeded him in 1980.

Gerry Collins was Minister for Justice in Jack Lynch’s government at the time of the Warrenpoint Bombings.

Honour

In a letter to the tribunal , Mr Collins said he ‘”was fully aware of Jack Lynch’s view of the IRA’s campaign of violence and, more particularly, his response to the bombings at Warrenpoint”.

“I have absolutely no doubt in informing you that the suggestion made by Witness 68 is completely incorrect,” Mr Collins said.

“Jack Lynch was vehemently opposed to the IRA’s campaign of violence and he sought to ensure that there was co-operation between the Garda Siochana and the RUC in order to combat that threat to both parts of the island.”

Mr Collins has offered to return to give evidence to the tribunal.

“Jack Lynch and his immediate family have passed away and there is no-one to defend his name and good honour.

“The evidence by Witness 68 has received significant prominence in the media.

“I think the memory and honour of Jack Lynch deserve that someone who knew him and worked with him intimately during these troubled times should be asked to give evidence before the tribunal. I believe I am the most appropriate person.”

The Smithwick Tribunal is investigating allegations of Garda collusion in the 1989 IRA murders of two senior RUC officers, Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan.

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