Tim O’Brien
Irish Times
25 July 2012

The existence of previously undisclosed PSNI intelligence documents which claim a member of An Garda Síochána in Dundalk passed information to the IRA was revealed at the Smithwick Tribunal today.

PSNI Det Chief Supt Roy McComb said the PSNI and British security services had decided to reveal the existence of five new documents, which had been compiled during the course of the tribunal’s inquiries.

The tribunal is inquiring into allegations of Garda and IRA collusion in the murders of two RUC officers chief Supt Harry Breen and supt Bob Buchanan in March 1989.

Mr McComb provided summaries of the new intelligence documents to the tribunal and said the originals were being retained on the grounds of British national security.

Four of the summaries claimed a member of Dundalk gardai passed information to the IRA. The fifth said a Dundalk garda named as Jim Lane had repeatedly warned of inappropriate relationships between members of the IRA and Dundalk sergeants Leo Colton, Finbarr Hickey and Det Sgt Owen Corrigan.

While the first two documents made reference to “a detective” member of the Garda in Dundalk who was said to be passing information to the IRA, Mr McComb’s summary said the detective officer was “not publicly associated with the Smithwick Tribunal”.

Document three referred to separate information that “a senior” member of the Garda in Dundalk provided information to assist the IRA in the 1989 murders of the RUC officers.

Document four referred to “additional information” that a member of Dundalk Garda provided information which “enabled” the murders of the two RUC officers.

Under cross examination by Michael Durack SC for An Garda Síochána, Mr McComb said he was “not in a position” to say why the information had not been provided to the tribunal before its closing stages.

Mr McComb acknowledged an original decision had been taken by somebody unknown “not to share” the information contained in the documents. He had become aware of it in the last few days, he said.

Jim O’Callaghan SC for Mr Corrigan told the tribunal it was clear from the summaries of documents one and two that the PSNI and or the British security services had “exculpatory” information about his client’s alleged involvement in the murders of Mr Breen and Mr Buchanan, and had decided at least initially not to share it.

He said the tribunal had spent about 100 days discussing a previous piece of police service intelligence, which he said had been described as “tittle tattle”, which named his client. But he said here was intelligence described by the security services as “accurate and reliable” which was exculpatory to his client and it had been withheld.