News Letter
2 May 2012

THE PSNI has received intelligence in the last year that a probe into claims of collusion between the Garda and IRA has become a “significant issue amongst leading republicans”.

And the Smithwick Tribunal also heard a claim yesterday that some testimony given to the inquiry has been deliberately false to try and end proceedings early.

The claims emerged as PSNI Detective Chief Superintendent Roy McComb gave evidence to the Smithwick Tribunal.

An intelligence precis read by Mr McComb also alleged that since the 1970s a number of gardai and customs officers based in the Republic have provided information to the Provisional IRA, particularly forewarning of searches and arrests.

“The current Smithwick Tribunal has become a significant issue amongst leading republicans,” the precis stated, and added that PIRA members are concerned the testimonies of certain individuals will lead to other material coming to light.

“By this, they mean information about past members and leaks from An Garda Siochana,” it said.

The precis further claimed that the PIRA are anxious that the tribunal should complete its work as soon as possible.

Mr McComb said the intelligence – which was rated as “credible, reliable and accurate” – also claimed that key PIRA members are aware that some testimony to the tribunal is deliberately false and is intended to bring it to an early conclusion.

The Smithwick Tribunal is probing claims of collusion between the Garda and IRA, specifically in the murder of the two most senior RUC men to be killed during the Troubles.

Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan were murdered in an IRA ambush minutes after leaving a meeting at Dundalk Garda station.

Three former Garda sergeants have been named by the tribunal – Owen Corrigan, Leo Colton and Finbarr Hickey. All three deny any collusion.

Yesterday’s evidence mentioned Mr Hickey with regard to Garda officers passing information to the IRA.

A second document, dated June 2009, further maintained that Mr Hickey “was responsible for the passing of information to PIRA, which resulted in the murder of Chief Superintendent (Harry) Breen and Superintendent (Bob) Buchanan”. However, the document also notes that the informer who made this claim about Mr Hickey later denied giving the information.

Mr Hickey – who was jailed for the production of false passports – denies the allegation.

The first intelligence document read to the tribunal by Mr McComb yesterday also said the PIRA’s intention had been to kidnap Mr Breen and Mr Buchanan but that there had been a major dispute among those directly involved as to how the attack was to be conducted.

Last week, the tribunal heard allegations that Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness was the northern commander of the IRA and that he had ordered the capture and torture of Mr Breen and Mr Buchanan.

Mr McGuinness has denied the allegations and said he is prepared to give evidence to the tribunal, but insisted that he is not aware of any information which would be of use to the tribunal.