But ex-RUC man tells tribunal he wasn’t alarmed by revelation

Belfast Telegraph
28 Apr 2012

A former Special Branch officer has told the Smithwick Tribunal that he was not greatly concerned about an intelligence report sent to him which indicated that a Garda Sergeant was “helping out the IRA”.

The retired Detective Chief Inspector told the Tribunal that he received an SB50 form in June 1985 and sent it to police headquarters in Belfast marked “no downward dissemination”.

The witness who was referred to only as ‘Officer X’ said that the report had been compiled by two Special Branch officers working in the Newry area and had come from a “medium grade” source.

The SB50 form which the Tribunal has been seeking from the PSNI’s archive for years, stated “Owen Corrigan, a Sergeant in Garda Special Branch in Dundalk, is helping out the IRA.”

It continued: “Corrigan is keeping both the boys and the organisation well-informed and, he lets the boys know what the security forces in the North are doing when he can”.

The heavily redacted document pointed out that at the time there was “a Sergeant Owen Corrigan attached to the Garda Special Branch stationed in Dundalk” and recommended that Corrigan’s name be recorded on a ‘White slip’, a document used to indicate the first report of a person’s alleged involvement with any subversive organisation.

The retired officer said that as far as he was aware the SB50 form brought to the Tribunal this week was the only official document ever created, that he was aware of, mentioning alleged collusion between a Garda and the IRA.

But the officer who served in Special Branch in the Newry area between 1981 and 1985 said that he was not overly concerned about dealing with Garda Corrigan.

Witness X said he forwarded the report to Police Headquarters in Belfast but felt at the time it was something that he did not have “to give too much attention to”.

He said he continued to personally meet with Detective Sergeant Corrigan at Dundalk Garda Station after he processed the SB50 warning to Police Headquarters and on one occasion was advised not to return to visit the Garda officer at Dundalk.

”There was one particular evening that I went to Dundalk to see Detective Sergeant Corrigan about matters concerning the border area, and, whenever we had finished our business, he advised me to wait until he checked to see if the coast was clear for me to leave.

“He went down into the entrance area of the station, came back up, and advised me to hang on a while because there was certain people in from Belfast that would probably know me, and I waited until they had left the building.

“Then — whenever he came back, he said, I don’t think it would be wise for you to be coming back to this place again. If we have anything to discuss in future, we will meet either up north or further south, Ardee, Collon, Drogheda, just don’t come back to this place again”, Witness X said.

The retired officer said that thereafter he was wary of travelling to Dundalk Garda station. Like murdered Superintendent Bob Buchanan, Witness X said that it had been his practice to travel to Dundalk in his own car, mostly alone but sometimes with another RUC officer.

Superintendent Bob Buchanan and Chief Superintendent Harry Breen were murdered by the IRA in March 1989 almost four years after the SB50 intelligence report was passed to Special Branch Headquarters in Belfast.


The Smithwick Tribunal was set up to investigate the murders of Superintendent Bob Buchanan and Chief Superintendent Harry Breen, two of the most senior RUC members to be murdered during The Troubles. They were ambushed after a meeting at Dundalk Garda Station in 1989. Chief Supt Breen and his driver Supt Buchanan left their Newry headquarters for what they thought was a routine meeting. But the pair never returned. Later in the day, as they drove back across the border near Jonesborough, Co Armagh, the two senior RUC officers were ambushed in an IRA gun attack.