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By Jennifer O’Leary
20 July 2012
The Smithwick Tribunal has heard details of a British intelligence document suggesting a “senior Catholic RUC officer” was the “likely source of collusion” in the murders of two RUC officers.
They were returning to NI from a meeting at Dundalk Garda station.
The tribunal is investigating allegations of Irish police collusion.
A section of a partially redacted intelligence briefing document for the secretary of state, dated 15 August 2002, was read into the tribunal record.
“What seems to have inspired…..to speak out was……almost divulging in front of……and…..at the parliamentary party meeting, information she had given to ……..a year ago that the likely source of collusion in the Buchanan and Breen case was a “senior Catholic RUC officer”.
“She did not have any more specific information, about the individual’s identity but had been sufficiently impressed by the evidence that she had sought and failed to persuade……not to include the case on the Weston Park list.”
The identity of the person making the recommendation in the briefing document not to include the cases of Mr Breen and Mr Buchanan on the Weston Park list was not made public.
The document continued that “She feared the consequences for the PSNI if the story was to emerge from a review and had talked……..down when he had come so close to blurting it out.”
The chairman of the tribunal, Judge Peter Smithwick, was told that the tribunal had been aware of the document “for some time”.
“Not a shred of evidence has emerged to support the document,” said Justin Dillon, counsel for the tribunal.
The existence of the document was first mentioned on Friday morning by counsel for the Garda Commissioner, Michael Durack, during his cross examination of former Garda Owen Corrigan.
“Were you ever aware of a 2002 document that said the leak came from the RUC?” asked Mr Durack.
“No,” said Mr Corrigan, “I was never aware of that”.
Mr Corrigan, who denies all allegations of collusion, is one of three former garda under the spotlight at the tribunal.
The former detective sergeant earlier this week admitted that he failed to pass on intelligence he learned in the wake of the IRA ambush in which the RUC officers were killed.
On Friday he told the Tribunal that he could “not see any reason” why he would not have told anyone about such intelligence.
“I can’t categorically say that I didn’t pass anything on, I have difficulties with my health, but I can’t see any reason why I wouldn’t pass on anything to them,” he said.
Mr Corrigan also denied an allegation that he was passing information to the IRA saying that “God knows I had enough to do to look after a mad place like Dundalk.”
The allegation was contained in a 1985 RUC Special Branch intelligence document, entitled SB50, the details of which have only been heard during a private session of the Tribunal.
Judge Peter Smithwick said he would take arguments about whether the intelligence document would be read into the public record next week.
Jim O’Callaghan, counsel for Owen Corrigan, said it was “absolutely essential” for his client that details regarding the security grading of the intelligance document should not be redacted.
“If the PSNI is objecting on grounds of national security it has to be substantiated with evidence,” he said.
Mark Robinson, counsel for the PSNI, replied that the Tribunal was “not the Owen Corrigan show” and said Judge Smithwick would be the “final arbiter” of the document.
The Tribunal continues next week.
14 June 2012
Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan were murdered in 1989
A Banbridge solicitor has been accused at a tribunal of trying to promote evidence to “frame” a former garda.
A barrister for Owen Corrigan accused John McBurney of “travelling the highways and byways of Northern Ireland to recruit and coach witnesses” to give negative evidence against his client.
Mr McBurney is representing Chief Supt Harry Breen’s family at the Smithwick tribunal.
He said he deeply resented the allegation and wanted it withdrawn.
The tribunal is investigating allegations of Garda collusion in the IRA murders of Chief Supt Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan in March 1989.
They were shot dead in an ambush as they returned from a meeting in Dundalk Garda station.
The complaint against Mr McBurney was made by barrister Jim O’Callaghan – who is representing Owen Corrigan – during Thursday morning’s proceedings.
Mr McBurney said he had made no secret of his attempts to encourage witnesses from outside the jurisdiction to give evidence, though sadly many had not.
Tribunal chairman Peter Smithwick said the observations made by Mr O’Callaghan were “rather harsh” and that it was “going too far” to say he had coached witnesses.
The exchange came following evidence given by a former customs officer in Belfast, identified only as Witness M, who had a discussion with Mr McBurney prior to agreeing to appear before the tribunal.
Witness M recalled a Christmas gathering in Newry police station attended by Owen Corrigan.
He said the former garda sergeant was pointed out to him by an RUC colleague who warned him that Mr Corrigan was leaking information.
Witness M was due to meet with Harry Breen the day after his murder on 21 March, 1989 to discuss Operation Amazing – a multi-agency anti-smuggling operation.
As part of that operation, the farm of leading republican Thomas ‘slab’ Murphy was to be targeted and Harry Breen had been sent to Dundalk Garda station on the day of his murder to discuss the matter with gardai.
A record of a high level security meeting concerned with Slab Murphy’s farm shown to the tribunal described him as a smuggler who had been conducting his “illicit business” for some years.
It said he had “thwarted concerted attempts” to tackle smuggling and that additional legislation was needed along with co-operation from the south to “remove Murphy from the map”.
8 June 2012
A retired Dundalk garda has accused Jeffrey Donaldson of putting his life in danger by naming him in the House of Commons as a rogue officer.
Owen Corrigan told the Smithwick Tribunal the MP had sought to ensure his “fate would be similar” to that of Pat Finucane.
The Belfast lawyer was murdered months after a Conservative MP claimed, under parliamentary privilege, that some solicitors in Northern Ireland “were unduly sympathetic to the cause of the IRA”.
Mr Corrigan said: “Jeffrey Donaldson set out to achieve the same modus operandi as his predecessor in the House of Commons.
“I was in a very, very vulnerable situation.”
The retired garda also said that “organs of the British government” had decided to blame him for the murders of Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan.
He said there was a “political undertone” to matters before the tribunal.
Mr Corrigan was speaking on his second day of giving evidence to the tribunal, which is investigating allegations of garda collusion with the IRA in the murder of the two officers in 1989.
8 June 2012
THE one-time head of former RUC Chief Constable Sir John Hermon’s close protection team has said he finds claims that retired Garda sergeant Owen Corrigan was on first name terms with the police chief as “absolutely incredible”.
Jimmy Spratt, who is now a DUP MLA for South Belfast, gave evidence to the Smithwick Tribunal yesterday via video-link from Northern Ireland.
Evidence given to the tribunal by retired garda Terry Hynes last July included claims that Mr Corrigan was on first name terms with Sir John because he had escorted him to Dublin Airport so many times.
Mr Spratt, who headed up Sir John’s close protection team between 1980 and 1986, responded to this claim by saying: “I would find it absolutely incredible to believe any garda was on first name terms with Sir John Hermon.”
Mr Spratt said he contacted Banbridge solicitor John McBurney – who represents the family of murdered RUC officer Chief Constable Harry Breen – after seeing Mr Hynes’ claims in a report.
The tribunal is probing claims of collusion in the murders of Mr Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan on March 20, 1989 – minutes after they left a meeting at Dundalk Garda station.
Mr Spratt said he protected Mr Hermon on trips throughout the whole of the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
Sir John’s security team consisted of four officers, including two cars. Mr Spratt said he would travel in the main car with the Chief Constable along with a driver, and there was also a “tail car” which followed with two officers.
On occasions when Sir John travelled to the Republic of Ireland, the RUC tail car left at the border and a Garda tail car, organised via Dublin Castle according to Mr Spratt, joined them.
He said very few were made aware of the exact timings.
It was also put to Mr Spratt that Mr Hynes had told the tribunal Sir John had a son studying abroad and that he visited him, going through Dublin Airport.
Mr Spratt said that Sir John’s son at that time had been studying at the University of Ulster in Coleraine. He said Sir John’s daughter was living in America, but that Sir John always travelled through London airports to see her. He said going through Dublin Airport would have been a “security headache”.
“Never during my five-and-a-half to six years did he fly out of Dublin, all of the trips were via London. He travelled via London because the security headache would have been immense in those years,” Mr Spratt told the tribunal yesterday.
Immediately following the murders of Mr Breen and Mr Buchanan, Sir John ruled out the involvement of a Garda mole – however Mr Spratt said he thought the Chief Constable might have been being political.
“I think he was visionary, there was a process that was taking place, a peace process was taking place,” said Mr Spratt.
“So it doesn’t surprise me but I was shocked. I don’t think that was his real view.”
Mr Spratt added that he felt Sir John had had concerns about the border.
“I believe John Hermon in his heart of hearts knew things were happening in the border area,” he said.
“I can’t say it was collusion or individuals involved, but the bottom line is something was happening, someone was giving information on police movement.
“John Hermon never mentioned any individual, I would find it surprising that he did not think something was happening down there.”
Barrister Richard Smith, acting for former IRA double agent Kevin Fulton, also known as Peter Keeley, asked Mr Spratt if he would name senior RUC officers who had voiced concerns about Mr Corrigan, who has been named in the inquiry into claims of Garda/IRA collusion.
Mr Spratt would not do so in a public session but said he would be willing to provide those names to inquiry chairman Judge Peter Smithwick in a one-to-one meeting.
Judge Smithwick thanked Mr Spratt for attending, particularly as he had recently been unwell with a serious illness.
7 June 2012
A former Dundalk garda has described allegations he colluded with the IRA in the murders of two RUC officers as a “shameful, monstrous and terrible lie”.
Retired Detective Sergeant Owen Corrigan said he was anxious to appear at the Smithwick Tribunal to tell “the true facts in this sorry saga”.
The tribunal is examining allegations surrounding the IRA murders of Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan in 1989.
Mr Corrigan said he would refute “each and every allegation” against him.
A number of allegations about Mr Corrigan have been put before the tribunal:
• An RUC special branch intelligence document stating that Mr Corrigan was “helping out” the Provisional IRA
• A statement by Chief Supt Harry Breen’s staff officer which said Mr Breen was uneasy about travelling to Dundalk because he had concerns about Mr Corrigan;
• Evidence by former British agent Kevin Fulton, also known as Peter Keeley, that the IRA had been helped in setting up the ambush which led to the murders by “our friend” the garda, whom Keely believed to be Mr Corrigan;
• A statement in the House of Commons in April 2000 by MP Jeffrey Donaldson that Mr Corrigan had passed information to the IRA.
Mr Corrigan told the tribunal that when Mr Donaldson made those remarks under parliamentary privilege, he was accompanied that day by Kevin Fulton, whom he described as “a reject from the British army” and “a fantasist”.
Also there was campaigner Willie Frazer, whom Mr Corrigan said had “caused a riot when he came here with his Love Ulster parade”.
Mr Corrigan gave a strong defence of his time in An Garda Siochana.
He said he had served the State loyally for 36 years and claimed he had “contributed more than any other member of An Garda Siochana to peace in our land”.
Under questioning by legal counsel for the tribunal Justin Dillon, he said he took extended sick leave from the gardai in 1989 before retiring three years later because he had been ill-treated following a “change of regime” in the Dundalk station, when his “power base collapsed”.
Mr Corrigan was being investigated for nine alleged breaches of discipline, including unauthorised use of official vehicles and being absent without leave from his duties on two occasions in July and August 1989.
On one of those occasions, RUC informer John McAnulty was abducted from a bar and murdered.
Mr Corrigan said he took “grave exception” to anyone questioning his loyalty.
He said he had been involved in many “very dangerous missions, meeting very, very dangerous people”.
The tribunal also heard Mr Corrigan described as a “talented” garda with a proven track record in tackling subversive activity.
He will continue giving his evidence on Friday.
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.
11 May 2012
The republican source who told the RUC the name of an IRA mole among Dundalk gardaí, was this morning named as Warrenpoint businessman and grain smuggler John McAnulty.
Giving evidence by video link from Belfast, and identified only by the cipher Witness Z, a former special branch detective told the Smithwick Tribunal McAnulty had provided the name of then det sgt Owen Corrigan of Dundalk Garda station as a man who was keeping the IRA informed of Garda and RUC activities. McAnulty was shot dead in 1989.
However, the naming of McAnulty by Witness Z led to heated exchanges at the tribunal with counsel for the PSNI Mark Robinson asking on a number of occasions for a recess, and claiming the naming of McAnulty “beggars belief”.
Mr Robinson said it put the lives of others at risk, and could “seriously damage the flow of information” from existing sources.
Mr Robinson told the tribunal it was “outrageous” that a source, even one who was now dead, could be named and he accused the tribunal of maintaining “radio silence” when he had attempted to find out what was scheduled to happen this morning.
He said this was symptomatic of the tribunal’s attitude to the PSNI since public hearings began last June.
In an unusually tense exchange Mr Robinson was told by chairman of the tribunal Judge Peter Smithwick “there must be a limit to the amount of things the PSNI can cover up and sweep under the carpet”.
Witness Z told the tribunal he was the author of an intelligence report known as an SB50, which he sent to his superiors naming Mr Corrigan as an IRA mole.
He said the SB50 was based on information received from McAnulty four years before was abducted and murdered in July 1989. Witness Z said the IRA had subsequently claimed McAnulty had been an informer for 17 years.
Michael Durack SC for the garda asked Witness Z to confirm the SB50 had been written as “police speak” and not a verbatim report of the source’s own words, as it should have been.
However Witness Z said the SB50 “fully reflects what he [Mr McAnulty] told me, what he meant to say. It may not be in the words he spoke but certainly it is what he inferred, what he said”.
Witness Z said 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 Insp Dan Prenty when Mr Corrigan walked into to the room. He said Mr Prenty immediately signalled him to stop talking.
But ex-RUC man tells tribunal he wasn’t alarmed by revelation
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.
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.
16 Mar 2012
AN INTERNAL Garda review into allegations that members of the force colluded in IRA killings focused particularly on one named officer, the Smithwick Tribunal has been told.
Lionel Mullaly, a Garda sergeant who was detailed to assist the inquiry in 2000, said he was told intelligence documents should be checked for the name of Owen Corrigan, a former detective sergeant attached to Dundalk Garda station.
Mr Mullaly, who was attached to the Garda security and intelligence division, said the instruction was given to him by then detective inspector, now superintendent, Peter Kirwan. Mr Kirwan had in turn been detailed to assist Chief Supt Seán Camon in the review of Garda intelligence.
Mr Mullaly told the tribunal he was told to “look out” for Owen Corrigan’s name in the files.
The Garda review was carried out after a book, Bandit Country, The IRA and South Armagh, by Toby Harnden, as well as an article in The Irish Times by Kevin Myers, suggested collusion between gardaí in the Border area and the Provisional IRA.
The allegations of collusion related to the killings of a number of RUC officers; the Northern Ireland high court judge Lord Justice Gibson and his wife, Cecily; a Cooley farmer, Tom Oliver; and the Hanna family.
The Smithwick Tribunal is inquiring into suggestions that members of the Garda or other employees of the State assisted the IRA in the killings of senior RUC officers Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan in 1989. The review of internal Garda intelligence documents concluded there was no evidence of collusion on the part of the Garda. Mr Kirwan has previously told the tribunal he believed the allegations were the result of irresponsible journalism.
Mr Corrigan denies all allegations of collusion.
The tribunal continues today.
15 Mar 2012
A detective sergeant who was asked to review garda intelligence files for suggestions of collusion was instructed to look out for one name in particular.
Garda Lionel Mullaly told the Smithwick Tribunal in Dublin that he was ordered to search for mention of former Detective Sergeant Owen Corrigan.
The tribunal is investigating claims of collusion in the murder of two RUC officers in south Armagh in 1989.
Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan were ambushed by the IRA.
Sgt Mullaly was working in security and intelligence at Garda HQ in 2000 when an Irish Times article was published alleging garda collusion in a number of IRA murders along the border in the late 1980s.
He told the tribunal he was asked to review all intelligence relating to the murders of Lord Justice and Lady Gibson, the Hanna family and Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan.
He said he was told by then Detective Inspector Peter Kirwan to “look out” for Owen Corrigan’s name in the files.
His review of intelligence fed into a report by Inspector Kirwan and Chief Superintendent Sean Camon into the collusion allegations, which found no evidence to support the claims.
Mr Corrigan denies the allegation of collusion.
Peter Keeley has refused to withdraw his claim at the Smithwick Tribunal that Owen Corrigan passed information onto the IRA which led to several murders.
15 Dec 2011
The former British agent who worked undercover within the IRA has refused to withdraw his claim at the Smithwick Tribunal that a now retired Detective Sergeant passed information onto the IRA which led to several murders.
Peter Keeley, who also uses the name of Kevin Fulton, was asked by Jim O’Callaghan, Counsel for Mr Corrigan, to “withdraw your false statements and false claims”.
However, Mr Keeley replied: “Absolutely not. I can’t.”
The witness has said he believed Mr Corrigan passed information onto the IRA which led them to murder RUC officers, Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan, just minutes after leaving a meeting in Dundalk Garda Station in March 1989. His allegations led to the establishment of the Smithwick Tribunal.
He also claimed Mr Corrigan told the IRA that a Cooley-based farmer, Tom Oliver, was passing information to the gardaí and that he removed evidence to protect IRA members.
During his cross-examination this afternoon, Mr O’Callaghan accused Mr Keeley of making false accusations against his client to further his own agenda and disputes with his former employers.
“Effectively you’ve accused him of being a murderer,” said Mr O’Callaghan, to which Mr Keeley replied “yes.”
During his evidence today, Mr Keeley said Mr Corrigan had also removed fingerprints from a 1,000lb bomb being made in Omeath, Co Louth, when it was found by the gardaí and that he removed evidence from the vantage point used by the IRA in the Narrow Water attack where 18 British soldiers were killed by two large bombs.
Mr O’Callaghan has insisted that his client had no involvement in the first case and only interviewed one person in the second case.
Under cross examination by Michael Durack, Counsel for the Garda Commissioner, Mr Keeley claimed that he was told that the Real IRA had one million Viagra tablets to sell and as it was believed he was now working as a drug smuggler he was asked to try and find a buyer.
He got four tablets from Patrick ‘Mooch’ Blair and it was checked that the tablets were genuine. They sold legitimately for £10 each but he told Mr Blair he would get £5, which would have raised £5m for the paramilitary group.
Mr Durack said there was no record in the Garda Fraud Bureau about anything like this. Mr Keeley suggested there was a problem with the record keeping in the bureau.
He also alleged that when in the IRA he was involved in a deal with the mafia. To ensure that no one had any recording devices on them, they all had to strip naked and jump into a swimming pool before any talks took place.
Mr Keeley claimed that in his IRA unit there was at least one person, or maybe two other people, supplying information to the security forces. Mr Durack asked him did that concern him.
“No,” he replied “why would it?”
“Because you were in the internal security unit. Isn’t that what they’re supposed to find out?” said Mr Durack.
Mr Keeley replied that his only involvement with the unit was to provide transport and other items like food when people were being questioned.
Keeley denies ‘liar’ claim
Earlier, Mr Keeley denied that he is a “pathological liar”.
Mr O’Callaghan accused Mr Keeley of being an “attention seeking, egotistical, fantasist and liar.” Mr Keeley rejected the assertion.
Mr O’Callaghan also put to Mr Keeley another claim he was in a car with IRA member Patrick ‘Mooch’ Blair when Mr Corrigan got in and told them Tom Oliver was passing information to gardaí.
But Mr Corrigan was on extended sick leave when the witness said this happened, so his evidence was that of a “pathological liar” according to Mr O’Callaghan.
The witness was adamant what he said was what happened and he denied lying to the tribunal.
It was also put to him that he was part of the IRA internal security unit who murdered Mr Oliver.
In his book ‘Unsung Hero’, Mr Keeley said he was in Ireland when Mr Oliver was kidnapped and murdered but said in direct evidence he was in Paris at the time.
Mr Keeley said there were inaccuracies in the book.
“You had a man tied up, in your own words, like a chicken in the back of a van and you drove him to his death,” said Mr O’Callaghan.
Mr Keeley insisted he was not involved in what he said was the second “arrest” of Mr Oliver and his subsequent murder.
It was also put to Mr Keeley that his claim Mr Corrigan had helped remove incriminating evidence from a bomb found in Omeath could not be true because Mr Corrigan was not involved in the investigation.
The witness said he was told that “our friend” had removed fingerprints and that “our friend” was Owen Corrigan.
High Court rejects Scappaticci review
The High Court has rejected an application for a judicial review brought on behalf on Freddie Scappaticci, the man who denies he is the British agent known as ‘Stakeknife’.
He brought the action following the decision of Judge Smithwick yesterday not to allow the legal teams observe Peter Keeley while being cross-examined by all lawyers at the Smithwick Tribunal.
Mr Keeley is giving evidence from behind a screen and only when cross-examining him can counsel see him.
Its been alleged at the tribunal that Mr Scappaticci was a member of the IRA and its internal security unit known as the ‘nutting squad’.
Mr Scappaticci has denied the claims or that he was the highly-prized British agent known as ‘Stakeknife’.
16 Dec 2011
A FORMER British army agent who infiltrated the IRA yesterday denied he took part in murders carried out by the organisation.
Kevin Fulton, also known as Peter Keeley, told the Smithwick Tribunal inquiring into claims of Garda collusion in the IRA murders of two RUC officers in south Armagh on March 20th, 1989, that he had helped the IRA abduct Cooley farmer Tom Oliver for “questioning” and had seen him gagged and “trussed up like a chicken” in the back of a van.
He said Mr Oliver had been betrayed by a member of Dundalk Garda station, Det Sgt Owen Corrigan, who had told the IRA Mr Oliver was passing information on them to the Garda.
Mr Oliver was murdered by the IRA in July 1991 but Mr Fulton said this happened during a second abduction, after he had left the country and he was not involved in the killing.
Mr Fulton also denied he was involved in the murder of 34-year-old RUC officer Colleen McMurray, who was killed in an IRA attack in Newry in March 1992. Newspaper reports to the contrary were incorrect, he said.
However, Jim O’Callaghan SC, for Mr Corrigan, said Mr Fulton was a “pathological liar” and “a fantasist” who could not be trusted.
Mr O’Callaghan said that when Mr Fulton had described Mr Oliver bound and gagged in the van, he had in fact been describing Mr Oliver’s “final hours” and not an initial questioning. He said Mr Fulton had been one of the murder gang.
Earlier, Mr Fulton had recounted a series of occasions on which he said Mr Corrigan had assisted the IRA – including the murder of two RUC officers in 1989.
However, Mr O’Callaghan claimed details of these events were inconsistent and inaccurate, and when examined showed Mr Fulton was telling lies. He asked how Mr Fulton could claim to have been out of the country when Mr Oliver was murdered, when his book Unsung Hero had maintained he was in Ireland at the time.
He also said Mr Fulton’s evidence that Mr Corrigan had provided information to the IRA which led to Mr Oliver’s murder was incorrect as Mr Corrigan had left the Garda by the time Mr Oliver was killed. Mr O’Callaghan also took Mr Fulton through a claim that Mr Corrigan had destroyed evidence left by one of the Narrow Water bombers. The bomb at Narrow Water Castle at Warrenpoint, Co Down, caused the British army’s largest single loss of life in the Troubles. It was detonated from the Republic and Mr Fulton claimed Mr Corrigan had removed material, possibly including a firing mechanism.
But Mr O’Callaghan said Mr Corrigan was not involved in the investigation proper and his role was confined to one interview with a suspect.
Mr O’Callaghan also said a claim that Mr Corrigan had destroyed evidence relating to a bomb find in Omeath, Co Louth, was incorrect. He said Mr Corrigan was again not involved in this investigation.
Similarly Mr O’Callaghan said a claim that Mr Corrigan had tipped off the IRA that two RUC officers were in Dundalk Garda station was incorrect. Mr O’Callaghan said the claim was that Mr Corrigan had telephoned the IRA after two RUC officers arrived in Dundalk station for a meeting, at about 2.10pm on March 20th, 1989. The two officers were murdered minutes after leaving the meeting at about 3.25pm.
However, Mr Fulton agreed with Mr O’Callaghan that the timeline envisaged would not have allowed the IRA to carry out the murders.
15 Dec 2011
A former British agent inside the IRA has denied being a “pathological liar” at the Smithwick Tribunal in Dublin.
Kevin Fulton is testifying at the tribunal which is investigating alleged Garda collusion in the IRA murder of two RUC officers in March 1989.
He claimed a senior Garda officer destroyed vital evidence after the 1979 Narrow Water IRA bomb attack which killed 18 British soldiers.
He also claimed some RUC officers set up colleagues for the IRA.
The tribunal is investigating the murders of Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan, who were shot dead in south Armagh shortly after leaving a meeting at Dundalk Garda station.
Mr Fulton, whose real name is Peter Keeley, has claimed Dundalk-based Detective Garda Sergeant Owen Corrigan assisted the IRA on several occasions over the years.
Mr Corrigan denies all such allegations.
On Thursday, Mr Fulton told the tribunal: “After the Narrow Water bombing it was said that Owen Corrigan helped the IRA that time.”
Kidnapped and murdered
The 51-year-old again alleged Mr Corrigan had also been involved in tipping off the IRA off that Mr Breen and Mr Buchanan were in Dundalk, cleaned fingerprints off a 1,000lb bomb found in Omeath and had told the IRA that County Louth farmer Tom Oliver was an informer.
Two months later, in July 1999, Mr Oliver was kidnapped and murdered.
Cross-examining Mr Fulton, Mr Corrigan’s barrister Jim O’Callaghan said he could prove the witness was a pathological liar.
He told tribunal his client had no involvement with the Narrow Water and Omeath bomb factory investigation, and that he was on sick leave when Mr Oliver was killed.
“Owen Corrigan went on certified sick leave on 4 December 1989, 20 months before Tom Oliver was murdered,” Mr O’Callaghan said.
“After going on sick leave on 4 December 1989 he was totally unavailable to An Garda Siochana in 1990 and 1991 and retired from the forces on 4 February 1992.
‘Walter Mitty character’
“He had no access to any Garda information to say who or who was not an informer.”
Mr O’Callaghan told Mr Fulton several former police officers – on both sides of the Irish border – had questioned the agent’s credibility, calling him a liar, fantasist and a Walter Mitty character.
“I have done things that I’m not proud of – things my handlers know I have done and I’m party to that,” Mr Fulton replied.
“Maybe it’s because if I go down the road, they’re coming with me.
“Maybe it’s good to discredit people who can do them harm.”
Mr Fulton was asked on Thursday if the IRA would have had enough time to mount an operation if they were told of the RUC officers meeting in Dundalk Garda Station after 14:10 GMT.
“That would have been too short notice” he said, “they would have to have known well in advance.”
But he said there would have been enough time to mount the type of IRA ambush that killed the officers if evidence showed that the operation started at 11:30 GMT.
Wednesday December 14 2011
A former British agent has accused a retired Garda of being involved in the murder of two senior RUC officers.
Peter Keeley (aka ‘Kevin Fulton’) told a tribunal into alleged Garda-IRA collusion the detective’s friendship with the terror group was the worst kept secret in the unit.
The agent, who infiltrated the IRA in the 1980s, claimed Dundalk-based Detective Garda Sergeant Owen Corrigan also told volunteers that a farmer was an informer.
The man, Tom Oliver from Co Louth, was later abducted and murdered.
The Smithwick Tribunal is investigating allegations of Garda collusion over the IRA murders of senior RUC officers Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan on the Irish border in 1989, minutes after a Garda meeting.
Giving evidence in Dublin behind a screen to protect his identity, 51-year-old Mr Keeley said another IRA activist who told him about the murders mentioned the words “our friend”.
“There was only one friend I knew in the gardai and that was Owen Corrigan,” said Keeley, who is also known as Kevin Fulton.
“The reference that day to ‘our friend’, I took it that it was Owen Corrigan.
“I didn’t know of anyone else in the gardai.”
Mr Corrigan has strenuously denied the allegations of collusion, which he has called a monstrous lie.
13 Dec 2011
A retired senior RUC officer has told a tribunal he was hindered in murder investigations because of alleged Garda collusion with the IRA.
The Smithwick Tribunal in Dublin is investigating the IRA murders of two senior RUC officers in March 1989.
Witness 70 claimed it was “common knowledge” that former Detective Sergeant Owen Corrigan in Dundalk Garda station was actively assisting the IRA.
Mr Corrigan denies all allegations of collusion.
Witness 70 said he had been briefed by Special Branch and warned not to go to Dundalk.
The former CID inspector spoke of his frustration that RUC colleagues were being shot dead by an IRA unit based in Dundalk, but he could not seek assistance from Dundalk Garda station.
The Dublin tribunal is investigating suggestions that a Garda mole passed information to the IRA which led to the murders of Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan.
They were shot dead in south Armagh shortly after leaving a meeting in Dundalk Garda station.
Witness 70 said it was “commonly spoken” following the murders that they were set up by the garda in Dundalk.
Witness 70 also told the tribunal he was introduced to a former British agent within the IRA, Kevin Fulton, in the late 90s.
He described him as a “likeable rogue” who had “a sinister side”, and knew a lot about IRA activists in Dundalk.
He said it did not surprise him that Mr Fulton was described as “an intelligence nuisance” by Special Branch, because he said they did not want an informant of theirs talking to CID.
The witness, giving evidence from behind a screen, spoke of how Kevin Fulton had brought him and a colleague to a remote location south of the border where the Omagh bomb was alleged to have been made.
But they had no authority to enter or inspect the location.