News Letter
29 March 2012

A CONFIDENTIAL garda document containing photographs and personal details of two alleged loyalists ended up in the hands of the IRA, the Smithwick Tribunal heard yesterday.

The IRA later killed one of the men and unsuccessfully attempted to kill the other.

Photographs and details of alleged UVF men Ian Joseph Sproule and Glen Monteith were contained in a garda intelligence document, known as a Fogra Tora, dating to 1990.

The two men had come to the attention of garda who were investigating a series of incendiary attacks at business premises at Ballybofey and Castlefin in Co Donegal during February 1987.

The tribunal heard that Mr Sproule was shot dead by the IRA outside his home on April 13, 1991 while an attempt to kill Mr Monteith on the same day was unsuccessful.

However, it was pointed out they were not living at the addresses contained in the document when the IRA attacked.

The IRA told a Derry Journal reporter several days after the murder that they were in possession of the Fogra Tora alleging Mr Sproule had been suspected of being involved in attacks on businesses in Donegal, and showed the reporter a photocopy of the document.

The IRA issued a warning to loyalists that they would target anyone who attacked nationalist areas.

As the story entered the public domain, former Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy, who was a Detective Chief Superintendent at the time, was tasked to Donegal to investigate how the document had come to be in the hands of the IRA.

A day later the IRA contacted another journalist claiming that the information had not come from the garda, but had been found in a “dump controlled by loyalists”.

Mr Conroy said he has “no doubt whatsoever it is a photocopy of the Fogra Tora”.

He made his second appearance at the Smithwick Tribunal yesterday to discuss the investigation he carried out.

He said around 1,550 copies of the Fogra Tora had been printed and circulated to the RUC, Scotland Yard and Interpol as well as around the garda.

In investigating how the IRA obtained a photocopy of the document, Mr Conroy said he interviewed 240 people, including garda officers – however, he didn’t interview any garda officers as suspects.

Mr Conroy described the idea of a garda document ending up in the hands of the IRA as a “troubling experience”.

He said he had been unable to establish how the IRA came into possession of the document.

Mr Conroy said he made a number of recommendations, including that in future Fogra Toras be printed on paper which could not be photocopied.

An RUC report into the same incident, written by a former Deputy Assistant Chief Constable who gave evidence to the tribunal earlier this month, and is known as Witness 68, was also heard by the tribunal yesterday.

The report claimed a number of garda stations in Co Donegal were helping the IRA: “The IRA is in possession of a great deal more information on alleged loyalist group members in Co Tyrone. Recent IRA statements would confirm this.”

Mr Conroy responded saying that information had never been shared with him at the time when he was carrying out his investigation. He said he found it “hurting to read”, and added: “Stations don’t talk.”

The tribunal also heard that another Fogra Tora dating to 1987 was discovered during the search of a house belonging to a person described to the tribunal as a “UDA chief”.

The Smithwick Tribunal is examining claims of collusion between the garda and IRA in the murder of the two most senior RUC officers to be killed during the Troubles.

Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan died in an IRA ambush minutes after leaving a meeting at Dundalk garda station on March 20, 1989.

The hearings will continue in Dublin tomorrow.