You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘garda collusion’ tag.
3 Dec 2013
Ch Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan were murdered in 1989
The IRA were tipped off by gardaí with information which proved vital in the plot to murder the two most senior policemen to die during the Troubles, the Smithwick tribunal into allegations of collusion has found.
RUC Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan were gunned down on their way home from a high-level meeting at Dundalk Garda Station in 1989.
Questions have long been posed over how the IRA knew enough about their movements to carry out such a detailed plan with deadly accuracy.
Decades later, and after an intensive eight-year investigation led by Judge Peter Smithwick, a damning conclusion has been reached – that there was collusion in the case.
Robert Buchanan’s son William expressed appreciation on behalf of his family for the “diligence and integrity” of the investigation.
“The findings are both incredible and shocking and confirm the existence of a mole in Dundalk station. This led to my father’s death,” he said.
Judge Smithwick was tasked with finding answers, however unpalatable, and was scathing of the state for what he feels was putting itself and political expediency over the pursuit of the truth.
“This tribunal has sought to establish the truth and, in so doing, I hope that it has contributed one small part in changing the culture.”
–Judge Peter Smithwick
Harry Breen and Robert Buchanan were ambushed by IRA men posing as an Army patrol on the Edenappa Road, in what was known as the ‘bandit country’ of south Armagh, on 20 March 1989.
Having travelled to meet with gardaí in Dundalk, they were unarmed as they were not allowed to carry their weapons over the Irish border.
The attack on the two men was planned to such a degree that their vehicle was directed to a specific spot, out of sight of a watchtower, before they were gunned down.
Robert Buchanan, a father of two, was already dead when he was shot again in the head.
Harry Breen, also a father of two, was badly wounded and waved a white hankie as he pleaded for mercy from the gunmen. None was shown.
They shot him dead at close range.
The two officers would have been targets for the IRA, as they had been assigned to a joint RUC and An Garda effort to cut off their funding by smashing the huge smuggling operation in south Armagh.
An Garda Siochána had refuted allegations that there was a mole within the force, while the IRA denied having been privy to insider information.
The intelligence picture seemed to tell a different story though, with conversations recorded by the PSNI during an investigation into dissident republican activity containing claims by former IRA members that gardaí had passed information to the Provisionals.
“On behalf of the Government and the people of Ireland, I apologise without reservation to the Breen and Buchanan families for any failings identified in the report on the part of the State or any of its agencies.”
–Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore
The Smithwick report was handed to the clerk of the Dáil last Friday and then copies were given to the victims’ families on Monday night, with the findings finally made public on Tuesday evening.
Irish Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said he was “appalled and saddened” by the findings and apologised without reservation to the Breen and Buchanan families.
“Their murder deprived June Breen and Catherine Buchanan of their husbands, and Gillian and George Breen and Heather and William Buchanan of devoted fathers,” he said.
I know that members of An Garda Síochána will be shocked by these findings today.
“The actions documented in this report are a betrayal of the values and the very ethos of an Garda Síochána, as the guardians of peace.”
Irish Justice Minister Alan Shatter also apologised.
“Even with the passage of 24 years and the positive developments which have taken place on the island since, our condemnation of their murder should be as strong today as it was then,” he said.
His counterpart in Northern Ireland, David Ford, told UTV: “I don’t think you can say because of the possibility that one or two officers sometime in the past were corrupt, that it’s a tarnished force.
“I think what we can say is that it contains human beings, and things sometimes go wrong with individuals.
“But with what I see when I meet members of the gardai, I believe that they are providing a good service for the people of the Republic of Ireland – and also across the border, in terms of cooperation with the PSNI.”
A statement from the Garda Commissioner welcomed the Smithwick report.
It said: “Given the serious matters under examination by the Tribunal, the report, conclusions and recommendations will now need to be carefully examined by the Garda Commissioner and his senior officers and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”
Meanwhile the PSNI said it will “take time to study the content of the report in detail”.
A spokesman continued: “The murders of Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Robert Buchanan are still open.
“PSNI has fully engaged with and supported the Smithwick Tribunal and any new evidence that comes to light as a result will be fully considered and assessed.”
“We would once again express our sympathy to the families of Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Robert Buchanan and appeal to anyone with information to contact police.”
The Superintendents’ Association of Northern Ireland added: “Without doubt, the conclusions of this report will make stark and challenging reading for many people and whilst we recognise this step towards bringing out the truth in relation to these tragic and horrendous murders, what is now important for us is to see how these findings are acted upon.”
Politicians have also given their reactions to the findings.
Speaking to UTV, Gregory Campbell of the DUP said: “The initial reading of this report does appear to be explosive. But many people will say this only confirms what many of us knew.”
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said: “People will make up their own minds on this when they read the report. Sinn Féin supported these inquires on the basis that families had the right to full disclosure of all relevant information.
“What Justice Smithwick describes as collusion is very different in form and scale from the collusion that occurred in the north. Sinn Féin believes that there needs to be an effective truth process for dealing with all legacy issues.”
Dolores Kelly of the SDLP said: “The Smithwick Tribunal took an independent and fearless approach and this should be a measure of how to deal with the past. Judge Smithwick, through a trying process and painstaking work has gotten to the bottom of this tragedy.”
Tom Elliott of the UUP said: “The Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs said in a recent speech in Cambridge that the Irish Government had to address the perception among unionists that successive Irish governments did not do enough to stop the IRA.
“Judge Smithwick’s confirmation that it is more than a perception will require the Taoiseach to take the next step to address unionist concerns.”
Naomi Long of Alliance said: “I welcome the unequivocal apology from Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter TD, as an important step in acknowledging the Irish State’s role in these events. Clearly, all concerned will need to take time to reflect on the full findings of the report.”
Secretary of State Theresa Villiers said: “The report raises some serious concerns which I will need to consider in detail and discuss with the Irish Government.
“An important point to remember is that levels of cooperation between An Garda Siochana and the PSNI are now at unprecedented levels and are playing a crucial part in combating terrorist attacks in Northern Ireland.
27 July 2012
Ch Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan were murdered in 1989
The families of two murdered RUC officers want a full investigation following the revelation of key intelligence documents at a tribunal.
Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan were shot dead in an 1989 IRA ambush in south Armagh.
The Smithwick Tribunal is investigating alleged Garda collusion in the murders.
This week it heard previously undisclosed intelligence that a “Garda officer now retired” gave the IRA information about the officers.
Chief Supt Breen and Supt Buchanan were murdered shortly after leaving Dundalk Garda station.
The collusion allegations have been focused on three former Irish police (Garda) detective sergeants in Dundalk – Owen Corrigan, Leo Colton and Finbarr Hickey.
However, the intelligence material put forward by the Police Service of Northern Ireland earlier this week cited a fourth Garda officer not previously investigated by the tribunal
In a statement, the family of Supt Buchanan welcomed the introduction of the evidence following their initial “dismay and concern that the PSNI had withheld vital intelligence material for up to seven years”.
The family said the intelligence material “confirms that collusion involving members of An Garda Siochana did exist” and called on the Garda commissioner to investigate “all members of his organisation who may have colluded” in the murders.
The Buchanan family also appealed to the chief constable of the PSNI to re-visit the unsolved murders, “with an examination of all intelligence and evidence available”.
Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan were the most senior RUC officers to be murdered during the Troubles.
In a statement the Breen family said that “from wherever” the intelligence had emerged “it needs to be urgently probed and assessed at this crucial juncture”.
PM warned speculating about Garda leaks to IRA would benefit terrorists
By Gerard Cunningham
16 May 2012
Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her Northern Ireland Secretary Tom King were urged to play down allegations of Garda collusion with the IRA following the murders of two RUC officers.
The confidential briefing note for the Prime Minister warned that adding to speculation about Garda collusion would be “playing the terrorists’ game”.
The notes said that answers to Parliamentary questions about alleged leaks from gardai to the IRA killers of Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan should note “there was not a shred of evidence to substantiate these allegations which are extremely dangerous”.
The confidential notes were among a series of documents relating to the lethal attack which were handed over to the tribunal by the PSNI and read into the record by barrister Justin Dillon SC.
Another document prepared following the publication of Bandit Country by journalist Toby Harnden complained that it was “blatantly obvious the material contained within the publication emanated from official sources”.
“Material content including photographs could only be sourced via the security network,” the document said.
RUC intelligence documents included 1996 reports about the IRA kidnapping and interrogation of former Garda Detective Sergeant Owen Corrigan and Francie Tiernan, a business associate.
The reports noted the kidnapping took place “without authority from senior command”, and that those involved were later subject to “internal disciplinary procedures” with the Provisional IRA.
Mr Corrigan, who is represented before the tribunal, denies allegations of collusion.
Story so far
The Smithwick Tribunal was set up in 2005 to examine the allegations of Garda collusion in the deaths of the the two most senior RUC officers killed during the Troubles. Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan were shot dead in an IRA ambush as they returned from a meeting in Dundalk Garda station in March 1989.
13 May 2012
THE south Armagh informer who told the RUC that Garda Sergeant Owen Corrigan was passing information to the IRA was later tortured and murdered by the republican terror outfit.
Despite the PSNI slamming the identification of police sources in the tribunal, Warrenpoint businessman John McAnulty was named as the informer who told the RUC that he had heard Mr Corrigan was passing information to the IRA.
That intelligence was recorded in an RUC Special Branch document called an SB50. This particular SB50 is one of the core pieces of intelligence in the Smithwick Tribunal that is probing claims of collusion between the Garda and IRA.
It is looking at claims that members of the Garda passed information to the IRA in relation to the murders of Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan on March 20, 1989. They were killed in an IRA ambush minutes after leaving a meeting at Dundalk Garda Station.
Retired Garda sergeants Owen Corrigan, Leo Colton and Finbarr Hickey have been named by the tribunal. All three deny the allegation they colluded with the IRA.
Yesterday the former RUC Special Branch detective who recorded the intelligence gave evidence to the tribunal anonymously as witness Z. He gave evidence by video link from Northern Ireland to the hearing room in Dublin and sat with his back to the camera as he spoke.
Witness Z had been a constable for RUC Special Branch in Newry in 1985. He told the tribunal that in June of that year he had a face-to-face meeting with Mr McAnulty who told him that Mr Corrigan had been passing information to the boys, referring to the IRA.
The SB50 on which witness Z recorded this information was shown to the tribunal. Parts of it, including the rating of how reliable it was, have been redacted.
Witness Z said Mr McAnulty was credible. He was not paid for information although he occasionally received small sums for expenses.
Mr McAnulty was a grain importer, and according to witness Z he was involved in smuggling.
He was not a member of the IRA, but witness Z told the tribunal that he had contact with members of the Provisional IRA at varying degrees and levels within the south Armagh area.
The tribunal heard that Mr McAnulty had been a casual police informer for 17 years.
Mr McAnulty was abducted by the IRA on July 17, 1989 from a pub in the Republic. His body turned up the following day showing evidence of torture at Culloville in south Armagh.
The IRA claimed the shooting and alleged that Mr McAnulty had been passing information to police which had led to the arrest of Raymond McCreesh, who would later die on hunger strike in the Maze prison.
It was reported at the time that Mr McAnulty’s details were found by notes stolen from Mr Buchanan’s car following the murders of the two RUC men four months earlier.
The tribunal also heard that Mr Corrigan had been noted as missing from work without an explanation on the same evening that Mr McAnulty was kidnapped.
No evidence has ever been presented that Mr Corrigan was in any way involved with the kidnapping of Mr McAnulty.
Witness Z also claimed that Mr Corrigan was well known among the Newry Special Branch at the time as someone to be avoided when sensitive information was being shared.
He also said he was present in Dundalk Garda Station on at least one occasion at a meeting with Garda inspector Dan Prenty when Mr Corrigan walked into the room. He said Mr Prenty immediately signalled for him to stop talking.
During cross examination of witness Z, counsel for Mr Corrigan, Jim O’Callaghan, claimed that his solicitor had discovered the reliability rating of the SB50 was C6, which would not be a high rating in terms of reliability.
Mr Corrigan has consistently denied collusion and has defended his good name previously in libel proceedings.
Witness Z agreed with counsel for the tribunal that the intelligence from Mr McAnulty was hearsay. Witness Z said he had not been keen to give evidence to the tribunal but said he had in the end for the sake of justice.
“I have been trying to forget these things for the last 11 years. I didn’t really want to come here but I came here for the sake of justice and to get it out of my system once and for all,” he told the tribunal.
Judge Peter Smithwick paid tribute to the witness as a “courageous man” and said his evidence had been useful and that he was “deeply grateful for it”.
Mr Corrigan had been due to give evidence to the tribunal for the second time next Tuesday, but the court was told Mr Corrigan was unwell.
The tribunal is due to sit again on Tuesday.
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.
2 May 2012
A retired garda sergeant jailed over false passports that ended up in IRA hands described himself as a ‘gobshite’ doing a favour for another garda, at a Dublin tribunal.
Former sergeant Finbarr Hickey was jailed in 2001 for signing eight counterfeit passport applications.
Five went to the IRA, enabling at least two senior members to flee the country.
One was used by armed robber Jimmy Fox, wanted for the murder of post office worker Frank Kerr in Newry in 1994.
Pictures of Fox had been sent to all garda stations, yet Mr Hickey said he had not recognised him in the photograph which accompanied the application “if I had I wouldn’t have signed it”.
Mr Hickey said he had been surprised to discover the passports were for the IRA. “I wouldn’t have thought Colton was working for the IRA like that…if he was, he was only doing it for money”.
Mr Colton denies all these allegations.
The PSNI’s legal representative, Mark Robinson, accused Mr Hickey of knowing “fine rightly” who the passports were intended for.
Mr Robinson said he was “pretending to be stupid” and claimed “any reasonable person would have known the passports were for the provisional IRA”.
The tribunal heard a second passport application benefited Paul Hughes who had been tried and acquitted in Germany of the murder of a British solider. He later fled Ireland on his fake passport, the tribunal was told.
A third passport went to Damien Stanley, who had been found with bomb-making equipment in England. Mr Stanley travelled to the United States on his passport.
The tribunal heard that at the time he was signing the false passports in 1995 and 1996 Mr Hickey’s marriage had broken up and he was drinking heavily.
Former colleagues told tribunal lawyers he was “vulnerable”, “gullible” and “decent”.
The tribunal is investigating allegations of garda collusion in the IRA murders of two RUC officers in 1989.
On Tuesday, PSNI intelligence alleged Mr Hickey had a role in the murders, and was one of many gardai and customs officers who forewarned the IRA of searches – Mr Hickey today denied all these allegations.
24 Apr 2012
NORTHERN IRELAND Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness authorised the killings of two RUC officers in March 1989, it was claimed at the Smithwick Tribunal yesterday.
Former British intelligence officer Ian Hurst – otherwise known as Martin Ingram – claimed the intention of the IRA operation in which the two RUC officers were killed, was to abduct them, interrogate them, remove papers they were expected to be carrying and to ultimately execute them.
Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan were killed in an IRA ambush in south Armagh in March 1989, minutes after leaving a meeting in Dundalk Garda station in Co Louth. They were the most senior RUC officers to be killed in the Troubles.
The tribunal is inquiring into suggestions that members of the Garda in Dundalk colluded with the IRA in the killings.
Mr Hurst who has been given permission by the British Ministry of Defence to give evidence to the tribunal, asserted that the killings involved up to 60 IRA volunteers and supporters and the operation “was authorised at [the IRA’s] Northern command. Mr McGuinness was involved”.
He also said Mr McGuinness was “OC Northern command”, the senior IRA officer in Northern Ireland at the time.
He said he was given this information by his senior officer, known only as “Witness 82”, whose evidence is expected to also be read into the record this week.
Mr Hurst was a member of the British army’s intelligence service force research unit for three years from 1982, before he was transferred to the Ministry of Defence Middle East desk in London. While in the research unit he said he was aware of up to 10 military intelligence source reports which named Det Sgt Owen Corrigan of Dundalk Garda station as a man who had provided information to the IRA.
Some of this information was useful in organising the killings, according to the reports, he told the tribunal.
Mr Hurst also named former Sgt Leo Colton as another officer in Dundalk who was known to pass information to the IRA. He said both gardaí were described in intelligence reports as “rogue” gardaí.
He said Dundalk was referred to in Northern intelligence services as “Dodge City” and a “rat-infested hole” as it was a place where on-the-run republicans went for rest and recuperation. Others were Bundoran and Ballyshannon he said. Dundalk was also the place where the IRA’s internal security unit was based, he said.
Mr Hurst said he was aware of a call to his army unit late one evening from an RUC police officer who said he had in custody an “Alfredo Scappaticci” who had been involved in a drink-driving incident. Mr Hurst said Scappaticci was seeking the protection of the intelligence services, and used a code corresponding to the codename “Stakeknife”. He also said his superior, Witness 82, had subsequently confirmed that Stakeknife and Scappaticci were one and the same.
Mr Hurst asserted that information provided by Mr Corrigan to the IRA had been channelled through Scappaticci, who in turn channelled it to British intelligence through his own handler Witness 82. “Scappaticci was effectively the conduit for information, in other words as the handler of Mr Corrigan.”
Sinn Féin in a statement yesterday evening said: “Martin McGuinness totally rejects these allegations.”
A party spokesman questioned the bona fides of Mr Hurst. “Judge Smithwick has already been critical of the quality and nature of the evidence provided to his tribunal by the British state,” he said.
“This individual who uses a variety of names including Martin Ingram has no credibility. By his own admission he is part of a British security apparatus which played a very negative and malign role in the conflict, including widespread involvement in collusion,” he added.
29 Mar 2012
The gardaí and the PSNI have been criticised at the Smithwick Tribunal for failing to disclose investigations into allegations of garda collusion with the IRA in Donegal in 1991.
Judge Smithwick said the reports into the allegations should have been disclosed to the tribunal at the very start.
Instead they have only emerged as a result of information given by a retired RUC witness.
Former Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy carried out the investigation in the south.
Today he was called back to the tribunal and was questioned about why he never disclosed this investigation to Judge Smithwick when he gave evidence on a previous occasion.
In the conclusion of his report into alleged leaks of information to the IRA, Mr Conroy said he was unable to establish how the garda documents ended up in the hands of the IRA.
He told the tribunal today that he interviewed 240 people, including members of the force, although he did not question them as suspects for the leak.
Mr Conroy said he was stonewalled during his investigation and unable to come to a conclusion.
However retired RUC Witness 68, in his investigation into the same leak, said he was absolutely certain there was a leak to the IRA from several stations.
Mr Conroy said he was never told this by the RUC.
He also said he did not tell the Morris Tribunal about his report because he did not believe it was relevant to the tribunal, which was set up to investigate allegations of garda malpractice in Donegal.
Asked why he did not tell the Smithwick Tribunal about it, Mr Conroy said he was not asked anything about it but he insisted he was being as open as possible.
The witness was questioned at length about not informing the tribunal of the investigation but he insisted he was not trying to hide it.
Counsel for the PSNI, Mark Robinson, said Mr Conroy’s stance was “simply outrageous”.
However, Jim O’Callaghan, counsel for Owen Corrigan who is one of the three former gardaí being investigated by Judge Smithwick to see if he colluded with the IRA, pointed out that the PSNI had their report into the matter and they failed to disclose it to the tribunal.
This led to an exchange between the Judge and Mr Robinson with the Judge saying that the report was not given until the tribunal became aware of it and asked for it.
Instead the PSNI should have volunteered it and they did not.
Mr Robinson argued that people had retired and they were not aware of the report either, but when it was asked for they produced it.
Counsel for the tribunal, Mary Laverty, pointed out that both the Garda and the PSNI had sworn affidavits that the information already disclosed to Judge Smithwick represented everything they had about the issue of collusion.
Now it emerged that was not the case and they were left wondering what else had not been disclosed.
The allegations of collusion relate to the death of suspected UVF member Ian Spoule on 13 April 1991.
He was shot by the IRA, which claimed that he was involved in a bombing campaign in Donegal.
To prove this the IRA produced a copy of a garda record, a Fogra Tora, to a reporter showing that Spoule was wanted for questioning about the attacks.
A second man, Glen Monteith, who was also identified in the record, escaped a shooting attempt by the IRA on the same day.
The RUC contacted the gardaí and on 19 April then Chief Supt Noel Conroy was sent to investigate the allegations.
However, the day before the IRA announced they did not get the report from the gardaí but from a store of information in Spoule’s house.
The Fogra Tora is not only circulated among garda stations but also to other police forces including the then RUC.
The Smithwick Tribunal is investigating claims that a garda passed information to the IRA which allowed them kill two senior RUC officers in March 1989 after leaving a meeting in Dundalk Garda Station.
28 Mar 2012
A former Garda commissioner has been accused of holding an “outrageous position” in terms of the evidence he has given to the Smithwick Tribunal.
The Garda and the PSNI have both been criticised for failing to disclose details of 1991 investigations into alleged leaks of Garda documents.
Ch Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan were killed in 1989
They were allegedly given to the IRA in Donegal.
The tribunal is investigating claims of garda collusion in the murders of two senior RUC officers.
Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan were murdered only minutes after they left Dundalk Garda Station in 1989.
The Dublin-based tribunal heard, for the first time on Wednesday, details of a major garda investigation into alleged garda leaks to the IRA in Donegal two years after the IRA ambush.
The tribunal was only alerted to the investigation in recent weeks when it was mentioned in the evidence of a former RUC officer, Witness 68.
The former Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy gave evidence for a second time to the tribunal on Wednesday.
In 1991, he was the chief superintendent who led the investigation into garda leaks to the IRA.
The case was not mentioned by him when he previously evidence to the tribunal in September.
“This was a major investigation of leaks, which is effectively collusion,” asked counsel for the tribunal, Mary Laverty.
“You would expect it to be one of the first reports given to the Smithwick Tribunal.”
“Yes, it depends what information you requested,” replied Mr Conroy.
The investigation centred on how the IRA had received a 1990 Garda security circular, “fogra tora”, which outlined details of two men from Northern Ireland who were suspected of planting devices in Donegal in the late 1980’s.
One of the individuals, Ian Sproule, was shot dead by the IRA in Northern Ireland on 13 April 1991.
Demonstrating it had copies of the Garda “fogra tora”, the IRA had claimed to media in Londonderry that it had killed Mr Sproule.
Mr Conroy’s report had concluded it could not be established there were leaks from the Garda.
The tribunal was today shown an RUC report by Witness 68 which said he was satisfied “beyond doubt that there was a leak from the Gardai to the IRA”.
In a heated exchange, Mark Robinson for the PSNI, asked Mr Conroy if it was the case that information might not be offered by him unless it was specifically asked for.
“Is it the first time you investigated alleged garda leaks?” asked Mr Robinson.
“Yes,” said Mr Conroy.
“Is it the only time you investigated alleged garda leaks?” asked Mr Robinson.
“Yes, to my knowledge,” said Mr Conroy.
“Why did you fail to refer to the ‘fogra tora’ case in your statement to the tribunal?” asked Mr Robinson.
“If you’re thinking I’m trying to hide something, far be it from the truth,” said Mr Conroy.
The former Garda commissioner agreed that the only reason the tribunal was hearing of the investigation was because of the evidence of Witness 68.
Mr Conroy also conceded that the investigation “probably” was relevant to the terms of reference of the Smithwick Tribunal.
Mr Robinson later described as “unfair” Judge Peter Smithwick’s criticism of the PSNI for failing to provide the RUC document before it was mentioned by Witness 68.
Counsel for the tribunal, Ms Laverty said neither the Gardai nor the PSNI had disclosed details of the investigation into Garda leaks to the IRA in 1991.
“The title is indicative that it relates to collusion, it begs the question what else is there in evidence?” she said.
The chairman of the tribunal moved to clarify that no evidence had been given as to how the Garda document had “ended up in the hands” of the IRA.
9 Mar 2012
Crucial information regarding garda collusion with the IRA is being withheld by the British authorities and will not be put before the Smithwick Tribunal because agreement can’t be reached on if or how it should be done, according to the Tribunal Judge.
In his second interim report published this afternoon, Judge Peter Smithwick said that as it stands he will have to reach his conclusions on the issue of collusion without considering this intelligence information.
“This,” said the Judge, “would be a regrettable lacuna.”
The Judge said the information was given to him orally and informally but he needs it to be put formally before the Tribunal to be able to consider it.
The Smithwick Tribunal is investigating allegations that gardai colluded with the IRA in the murder of two senior RUC officers in March 1989.
Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt. Bob Buchanan died in an IRA ambush minutes after leaving a meeting in Dundalk Garda Station.
Former garda sergeants Owen Corrigan, Leo Colton and Finbarr Hickey all deny allegations of collusion.
Judge Smithwick said he had heard from 172 witnesses, most of whom from the Republic. Most of the 35 witnesses from outside the jurisdiction were former RUC officers.
However, the Judge revealed that a “small number of potentially very important witnesses” who live outside the Republic, including some RUC officers, have told him they will not give evidence.
The families of the deceased RUC officers share his sense of disappointment said the Judge but there is nothing he can do to compel them.
Judge Smithwick also strongly criticised journalist Toby Harnden, the author of the book ‘Bandit Country’ which highlighted the allegations of collusion. The Tribunal made considerable efforts to get him to attend and having agreed to give evidence, Mr. Harnden later changed his mind and said he would not.
As regards a date for finishing public hearings, Judge Smithwick said the Tribunal is now “very much in the final phase of public hearings” and he expected evidence will be completed “within a matter of sitting weeks.”
Fifteen more witnesses are due to give evidence and three others will be called back to finish their testimony although the Judge warned this may yet change.
The Judge also said that negotiations are underway to try and get evidence from Ian Hurst. Also known as Martin Ingram, he worked in the British military’s covert Force Research Unit which ran agents in the IRA and loyalist groups.
The Tribunal wanted to hear his evidence in private and then publish a summary but Mr. Hurst is refusing because he wants to give his evidence in public.
Judge Smithwick said he is anxious to hear from Mr Hurst and efforts are continuing to get him to attend.
2 Mar 2012
THERE WERE heated exchanges at the Smithwick Tribunal yesterday as former Garda commissioner Pat Byrne said he stood over an inquiry into alleged Garda /IRA collusion, which had failed to interview a number of people who claimed to have useful information.
The tribunal was told the inquiry conducted by det chief supt Seán Camon failed to fully explore alleged links between former det sgt Owen Corrigan of Dundalk Garda station and the IRA. Giving evidence yesterday Mr Byrne said he had ordered the inquiry after allegations of Garda/ IRA collusion in the killings of 12 people surfaced in the media, in the Dáil and in the Westminster parliament in 2000.
The media reports were described as a book by author and journalist Toby Harnden and a report in The Irish Times by journalist Kevin Myers. Fine Gael politician Jim Higgins had told the Dáil he had the names of two gardaí implicated in the collusion allegations while DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson named a former member of Dundalk gardaí under House of Commons privilege.
Giving evidence yesterday, Mr Byrne rejected a suggestion by Justin Dillon SC, for the tribunal, that the Camon inquiry was less than “complete and comprehensive” as it had failed to interview those politicians who claimed to have pertinent information.
In a lengthy and at times terse exchange, Mr Byrne said Mr Camon had already known what the politicians had to say. “His report was acceptable in all aspects. It was my understanding he knew the information they had,” he said.
However, Mr Dillon repeatedly asked Mr Byrne how Mr Camon could have concluded he knew what the politicians had to say, without actually speaking to them. “We dealt with intelligence, we dealt with facts. Politicians often say things to other politicians for different reasons,” Mr Byrne said.
In one exchange after Mr Dillon appeared to express exasperation, Mr Byrne responded: “Don’t dismiss me with your hand”.
Returning to his cross-examination in the afternoon, Mr Dillon said the garda named in the House of Commons by Jeffrey Donaldson was former det sgt Owen Corrigan of Dundalk Garda station.
He asked Mr Byrne how the Camon report could have failed to report in detail on Mr Corrigan’s alleged association with the IRA, of which there were Garda intelligence reports. He referred to the “failure” of the Camon report to explore a case in which a witness was intimidated, allegedly by the IRA, and in which Mr Corrigan was a defendant.
Mr Dillon also referred to the Camon report’s failure to explore in detail Mr Corrigan’s kidnapping and beating, allegedly over a smuggling debt of £35,000 to the IRA.
Mr Dillon also referred to the association of Mr Corrigan with Francie Tierney, whom the tribunal has heard was an associate of the IRA. The tribunal continues today.
1 Mar 2012
Former garda commissioner Pat Byrne has faced tough questioning at the Smithwick Tribunal over a garda report on collusion.
A former garda commissioner has told the Smithwick Tribunal that it was acceptable an internal garda investigation into allegations of collusion with the IRA did not question politicians who claimed to have knowledge of the issue.
Pat Byrne asked a senior officer to examine collusion claims in 2000
Pat Byrne said it was acceptable because the senior garda who carried out the investigation knew what the politicians were referring to.
Mr Byrne is being questioned by Justin Dillon SC about his time as commissioner and internal garda investigations into allegations of collusion.
There have been lengthy and heated exchanges between the two men.
“Don’t dismiss me with your hand,” Mr Byrne said from the witness box at one stage.
“You’re not answering the question,” replied Mr Dillon.
In 2000, following claims in the Dáil and the House of Commons about collusion, then commissioner Byrne asked a senior officer to examine them.
That was done by then chief supt Sean Camon, who produced the Camon Report, which has been at the centre of most of this morning’s exchanges.
The Smithwick Tribunal is investigating claims that there was collusion between a garda or gardaí and the IRA, which led to the killing of two senior RUC officers in March 1989.
Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan died in an ambush just minutes after leaving a meeting in Dundalk Garda Station.
At the start of his evidence, Mr Byrne was asked about an earlier investigation by then assistant commissioner Ned O’Dea into Dundalk Garda Station, which was carried out in the days after the ambush.
Mr Byrne denied under repeated questioning that Mr O’Dea had examined the issue of possible collusion. It was, he insisted, a “fact finding mission” to establish who knew about the visit of the RUC officers and when.
Mr Byrne also rejected the idea that the question of collusion involving the gardaí was widespread.
“We dealt with intelligence, we dealt with facts. Politicians often say things to other politicians for different reasons,” he said.
The issue was raised in the Dáil in 2000 by Jim Higgins and Charlie Flanagan, who both said they had information about garda collusion.
It came after the publication of a book, Bandit Country, which made allegations of collusion, as well as an article by columnist Kevin Myers.
On the same day in the House of Commons, Ulster Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson named retired det garda sergeant Owen Corrigan as an IRA mole. Mr Corrigan denies the claims.
A short time later, then commissioner Byrne ordered an internal inquiry headed up by det chief supt Camon.
Mr Dillon put it to the witness that this investigation was “your opportunity to deal with the issue (of collusion). It was the last opportunity to deal with it before the tribunal was established”.
Mr Byrne replied he would not have known that nor would he have considered the issue an opportunity, it was instead a task to be dealt with.
Counsel for the Tribunal then put it to Mr Byrne that several people who claimed to have information about collusion, such as Mr Higgins and Mr Donaldson, were not questioned by Chief Supt Camon.
“Is that acceptable?” he asked.
Former Commissioner Byrne replied that Chief Supt Camon had the names of people the politicians were referring to and so did not need to interview the politicians and in the end he was proven correct.
Mr Dillon asked how could gardaí know what people knew without asking them and he repeated, several times, whether it was acceptable not to question people.
Mr Byrne said it was acceptable and he had accepted the report as Commissioner.
Tuesday December 27 2011
The Irish government should order an investigation into claims a garda officer may have helped target an IRA murder victim more than 20 years ago, the Democratic Unionist Party has said.
Jeffrey Donaldson said his party will be contacting the Fine Gael-led administration after evidence to the Smithwick Tribunal raised questions over the murder of Co Louth farmer Tom Oliver.
In July 1991 the father of seven was kidnapped, tortured and shot dead by the IRA, before his body was dumped north of the border at Belleek in Co Armagh. There was outrage at the time of his killing and his family rejected allegations he had been passing information on republicans to security forces in the Republic.
But a former British agent testifying at the Smithwick Inquiry into alleged garda collusion in the murder of two senior Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) members in 1989, also indicated that a garda officer had identified Mr Oliver to the IRA.
Mr Donaldson said his party now planned to lobby the Irish government on the murder of Mr Oliver following the claims of the agent known as Kevin Fulton.
“Based on the evidence that Kevin Fulton gave to the Smithwick Inquiry, I believe that there have been new revelations that need to be examined to determine whether they would assist the police in apprehending those who were responsible for the murder of Tom Oliver,” said the Democratic Unionist MP.
“I am calling on the Irish government to initiate a review by the Garda of the police investigation south of the border and also involving the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland).”
He said a review of the murder investigation in the south, and of the circumstances of the discovery of the murdered man’s body on the northern side of the border, may determine whether a garda officer had helped initiate the killing.
The Smithwick Tribunal is investigating alleged Garda collusion in the murders of RUC officers Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan in south Armagh in 1989.
The Democratic Unionist Party has recently spoken to Taoiseach Enda Kenny about IRA murders in border areas and claims that the authorities failed to address republican violence at the height of the Troubles.