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Policeman appeared on TV displaying captured IRA weapons after SAS operation

Irish Times
4 Dec 2013

Judge Peter Smithwick said: “Either the IRA did have an extraordinary piece of good fortune, or Harry Breen [above] was the target of this operation. I believe that the evidence points to the latter conclusion.”

The fate of Chief Supt Harry Breen, the most senior RUC officer to be killed in the Troubles, was sealed the day he appeared on television displaying the IRA weapons recovered after the SAS ambush at Loughgall that killed eight IRA members and an innocent civilian.

That was the implicit finding of Judge Peter Smithwick in his monumental 1,652-page report into the murders of Chief Supt Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan in an ambush just north of the Border near Jonesborough in south Armagh on the afternoon of March 20th, 1989.

‘Classic IRA operation’

Three IRA members previously and privately in a statement and without the benefit of cross-examination informed Judge Smithwick’s tribunal that the killings were a “classic IRA operation” that involved “no help from anyone at all”.

Judge Smithwick made clear yesterday he did not believe them. His inquiry did not uncover “direct evidence of collusion” but found that one or more unidentified members of the gardaí operating in Dundalk did collude with the IRA, providing information that helped lead to the deaths of the two policemen.

But Chief Supt Breen was the chief target, Judge Smithwick appeared certain. Between August 1988 and the time of the ambush in March the following year Supt Buchanan had travelled on business to Dundalk station 20 or 21 times and was not targeted by the IRA. The judge could only identify one of those occasions – in February 1989 – in which Chief Supt Breen was with him.

Based on his “pattern of travel” IRA members could have tried to kill Supt Buchanan several times but it was Chief Supt Breen they wanted.

‘Target of this operation’

Referring to March 20th, Judge Smithwick reported: “Either the IRA did have an extraordinary piece of good fortune, or Harry Breen was the target of this operation. I believe that the evidence points to the latter conclusion.”

His central findings kept coming back to Loughgall. He believed “that the vast majority of the evidence suggests that the intention was to abduct and interrogate these officers”.

“In the latter respect, the evidence keeps pointing back to the desire of the IRA to acquire information as to how the British security services had gotten advance warning of the IRA ambush on Loughgall police station in May 1987,” he reported.

An IRA informant is almost certain to have tipped off the RUC or MI5 or British army intelligence about the planned Loughgall attack. That led to the IRA’s single worst loss of life when eight men were killed by the waiting SAS, with an innocent man also killed in the relentless gunfire. Judge Smithwick was of the view that the IRA wanted to interrogate Chief Supt Breen to establish the identity of that informant or possibly informants.

The evidence to the tribunal indicates that the IRA may also have had revenge on its mind. In a written statement to the tribunal in February three anonymous IRA members said the “instructions to the ASU [active service unit] were to intercept the car and arrest the occupants, but if that was not possible then they were to ensure that neither occupant escaped”.

The IRA said the two unarmed officers “died instantly in gunfire”. That account did not quite tally with eyewitness evidence given to the tribunal last year. A scrapyard worker who saw the incident described the gunmen letting out “a big roar like a hurrah” as they left the scene, while a schoolteacher said Chief Supt Breen tried to surrender but he was gunned down. She said he “put his hands up and they shot him”.

Chief Supt Breen went on television after Loughgall displaying the IRA weapons recovered from the scene. The IRA said he was so “very well known that this image was etched on every republican’s mind”. June Breen, the officer’s widow, in a statement told the tribunal she felt it was wrong that he had been asked by his superiors to display the weapons as it exposed him to additional danger.

She recalled how on the morning of his death she was ill in bed and that her husband told her were it not for the fact his deputy was off he would stay at home to mind her.

Two officers came to her door

That evening she remembered preparing chops for their dinner and later how two officers came to her door to say he was dead.

“It was very hard to take at the time and sometimes remains so,” she said. Ms Breen also told how her husband had instructed that were he to be killed, the then RUC chief superintendent Sir John Hermon should not attend his funeral. She did not say why. That was the sad human dimension to the killings.

In terms of fallout it seems unlikely that there will be a major negative political dimension to the Smithwick report.

The judge found there was Garda collusion but that it was localised and, it seems, at a low-ranking level. Such corruption is hard to come to terms with, but will hardly damage British-Irish or North-South relations.

:::u.tv:::
3 Dec 2013
**Video onsite

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.”

–PSNI

“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.

BBC
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”.

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.

By Jennifer O’Leary
BBC
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”.

‘Feared consequences’

“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.

Confidential document

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.

BBC
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.

Anti-smuggling operation

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”.

BBC
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.

News Letter
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.

BBC
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.

TIM O’BRIEN
Irish Times
24 May 2012

Intelligence that a detective sergeant in Dundalk was in collusion with the IRA was considered so unreliable that it was never passed to An Garda Síochána, the Smithwick Tribunal was told yesterday.

Senior counsel Michael Durack for the Garda Commissioner said an RUC intelligence report, known as an “SB50” was categorised as little more than “hearsay” and “gossip” by senior RUC officers.

Mr Durack was cross-examining one of the SB50’s two authors, a former detective constable in the RUC special branch regional taskforce based in Newry.

The former detective gave evidence by video link from a location in Belfast, sitting with his back to the camera. He was referred to only as Witness Q.

Witness Q told the tribunal that he, along with a fellow detective who gave evidence to the tribunal last week, had been told by a usually reliable source that Owen Corrigan of the Garda in Dundalk was keeping the IRA supplied with information.

He said the intelligence report had been drawn up in June 1985. In February that year the IRA had launched a mortar attack on Newry RUC station killing nine RUC officers. In May he said a further four colleagues were killed by a landmine on the Border at Killeen.

He said there was concern about the level of information available to the IRA. This was particularly true in relation to Killeen, as the IRA appeared to know exactly where the van, which had been escorted to the Border by gardaí, would be travelling.

BBC
23 May 2012

Ch Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan were killed in 1989

An RUC intelligence source who was asked for information following two separate atrocities that killed 13 RUC officers later warned of an alleged Garda mole within Dundalk station, a tribunal has heard.

Investigations were ongoing into an IRA bombing of Newry police station in 1985 that killed nine officers, and four deaths in a border bomb attack the following May.

The Smithwick Tribunal is looking into claims a garda mole colluded with the IRA in the murders of two RUC officers.

Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Robert Buchanan were shot dead in an ambush in March 1989 as they returned from a meeting in Dundalk garda station.

Giving evidence to the tribunal in Dublin on Wednesday, former Newry special branch officer, Witness Q, said he met the source, grain smuggler John McAnulty, in June 1985.

Mr McAnulty told him, along with his colleague Witness Z, that a detective sergeant in Dundalk, Owen Corrigan, was passing information to the IRA.

This information was written up as an SB50 intelligence document and passed to his superior officers.

Witness Q, who gave evidence anonymously via videolink from Belfast, said he assessed this information as “credible and believable”.

Mr McAnulty, who was tortured and murdered by the IRA four years later, was not an IRA member but was described by the witness as someone who mixed with “high ranking and the lower echelons” of the organisation through his smuggling and transport businesses.

Despite repeated questioning from lawyers for both the Irish Police (gardai) and Owen Corrigan, the witness could only recall what he had been told by Mr McAnulty and not how the source had got this information.

This was something Mr Corrigan’s lawyer described as “astonishing”.

Counsel for the Garda Commissioner, Michael Durack, said there was a big difference whether McAnulty had learnt this information “from a senior member of the IRA or from a man in a pub at two in the morning”.

He also pointed out that Witness Q’s superior officer had treated the intelligence as “hearsay and gossip” and that it had never been passed on to the gardai.

He said: “To discover a policeman was a traitor and a potential risk to his colleagues and yours, I would expect you to inquire very deeply into the nature of the intelligence and you didn’t”.

Mr Durack also said the tribunal had heard from then very senior members of the RUC who said they had “not been aware” of this intelligence, and if they had, it would have been treated as a matter of great urgency.

Witness Q said that was a matter for the authorities to answer.

Earlier, the tribunal was granted more time to finish its work. It was originally due to end last November, but a six-month extension was granted.

The deadline was due to expire this month, but a fresh extension was granted after tribunal chairman Judge Peter Smithwick wrote again to the Irish government seeking five more months to produce his report.

Irish Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, told the Dail that the new deadline was 31 October.

Judge Smithwick said he had been on course to complete public hearings by the end of May but “in recent days two very significant former RUC Special Branch officers who had previously been unwilling to give evidence have changed their minds”.

Reluctance

The judge had previously been critical of the reluctance of some officers with potentially important evidence to come forward.

He also expressed his pleasure that co-operation had been reached with the British authorities to allow “highly relevant and potentially significant” intelligence information to be put on the tribunal record.

However, the “final substantive witness”, retired Detective Garda Sergeant Owen Corrigan, is ill and will be unable to give evidence for a number of weeks.

Mr Corrigan is one of three former gardaí with representation before the tribunal.

The other two, retired sergeant Leo Colton and former sergeant Finbarr Hickey, have both given evidence recently.

The tribunal has so far heard from 190 witnesses and is approaching its 100th sitting day at a cost of more than nine million euro.

By Michael Brennan and Gareth Naughton
Independent.ie
21 May 2012

JUSTICE Minister Alan Shatter is to give a five-month time extension to the €8m tribunal investigating the murder of two RUC officers by the IRA.

The Smithwick Tribunal has been running for seven years — and had been told that it would have to finish its work by the end of this month.

But Judge Peter Smithwick has now written to the clerk of the Dail asking for this deadline to be extended to the end of October. He said that he would be reducing costs by slimming down the tribunal’s legal team and by “downsizing” its office space in Blackhall Place in Dublin.

Mr Shatter told the Irish Independent yesterday that he would be recommending the time extension to the Cabinet.

“The tribunal hasn’t completed its work. It needs extra time to finish hearing some witnesses — some witnesses that they did not expect to come forward did come forward,” he said.

The Smithwick Tribunal was set up in 2005 to investigate suggestions that gardai colluded in the murder of RUC Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and RUC Superintendent Robert Buchanan in 1989. The pair were ambushed by the IRA minutes after leaving a meeting with gardai in Dundalk.

Mr Shatter had been involved in a row with the tribunal after he told it to finish its work by the end of last November.

But he later agreed to extend its deadline until the end of this month — and is now prepared to give it until the end of October. It has cost €8m so far.

In his letter to the clerk of the Dail, Judge Smithwick said that he had been on course to complete public hearings by the end of this month with the appearance of the “final substantive witness” — former Garda Detective Sergeant Owen Corrigan. But he said that he had agreed to give him an extra two weeks on medical grounds.

“As matters stand, I hope that Mr Corrigan can attend to give evidence in two or three weeks’ time, but this will obviously depend on his medical condition,” he wrote.

Mr Corrigan was named as a garda passing information to the IRA in an intelligence document compiled by an anonymous RUC Special Branch officer.

Judge Smithwick said this officer — known as Witness Z — had given “important evidence” by video link earlier this month. And he reported that he had managed to get “highly relevant” British intelligence information put on the tribunal record with the co-operation of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

The Smithwick Tribunal had been criticised for failing to hold public sittings from the time it started in 2005 until June last year. Since then, it has heard evidence from 190 witnesses over the course of almost 100 days of public sittings.

PM warned speculating about Garda leaks to IRA would benefit terrorists

By Gerard Cunningham
Belfast Telegraph
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.

TIM O’BRIEN
Irish Times

16 May 2012

TWO MEMBERS of a 1989 IRA ambush team that killed two senior RUC officers were yesterday named as well-known Dundalk republican Patrick “Mooch” Blair, and a man identified as Leonard “Hard Bap” Hardy.

Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan were shot dead in south Armagh on March 20th, 1989.

The officers were killed as they returned from a meeting in Dundalk Garda station. The Smithwick Tribunal is investigating suggestions that Garda members based in Dundalk may have alerted the IRA to the presence of the RUC men in Dundalk that day.

Examining a range of documents, intelligence reports and summaries of intelligence reports supplied to it by the PSNI, the tribunal was told by Justin Dillon SC, that one precis of an intelligence document dated March 1989, the same month as the ambush, named Mr Blair and Mr Hardy as being part of the ambush team.

The documents also contained copies of briefing notes for former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and northern secretary Tom King, which were prepared within hours of the murders.

The notes encouraged the then prime minister and secretary of state to set the killings in the context of the wider sectarian murders that were happening that year. This was because “the impression should not be given that we are only really concerned about murders of the British security services”, the notes explained.

But the notes cautioned that questions relating to allegations of collusion should be met with the answer that speculation “plays the terrorists’ game”. The material stressed there was “no shred of evidence to support these allegations, which are extremely dangerous”.

The prime minister, in particularly, was urged to “avoid fuelling dangerous rumours” by responding to such speculation.

The documents were prepared for the politicians to use in anticipation of the issue being raised in the House of Commons.

News Letter
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.

TIM O’BRIEN
Irish Times
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.

TIM O’BRIEN
Irish Times
8 May 3012

SMITHWICK TRIBUNAL: A FORMER Garda sergeant was yesterday named as a trustworthy IRA informer who identified two RUC officers for assassination in 1989.

However, former Garda sgt Leo Colton told the tribunal that allegations he had used hand signals to identify the officers as they arrived at Dundalk were “ridiculous”.

Giving evidence to the tribunal, Mr Colton said he was standing on the steps of Dundalk Garda station shortly before 2.30pm on March 20th, 1989, but did not see the two RUC men arrive and did not signal to the IRA that the men were there.

Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan were killed in an IRA ambush within two hours of arriving for the meeting in the Dundalk station.

They were the highest ranking RUC officers to be killed during the Troubles, and the tribunal is inquiring into suggestions that members of the Garda colluded with the IRA in their murders.

Under cross-examination by Mary Laverty SC, for the tribunal, Mr Colton said he had been leaving the station to go on patrol but had been delayed by a farmer seeking information on regulations covering tractors and trailers.

But in an apparent contradiction in Mr Colton’s oral and written statements, Ms Laverty said that at the time of the killings Mr Colton claimed he had been called back to the station by the station orderly.

It had been the station orderly who asked him to handle the farmer’s query, Mr Colton said. Ms Laverty said there had also been suggestions that hand signals were made to the IRA from the steps of the station while Mr Colton was there. Mr Colton replied that this was “ridiculous”.

Mr Colton acknowledged that former colleague sergeant Tom Byrne had made allegations against him as to his general conduct, including an allegation that he had removed a Garda file concerning Dundalk gaming arcade owner and noted republican Jim McCann.

But he said he had never seen such a file on Mr McCann in the station and he did not believe such a file existed. He said Mr Byrne had “a vendetta against Jim McCann because Jim McCann wouldn’t give his son a job”.

Mr Colton acknowledged a complaint was also made against him for writing a reference for a Brian Ruddy to assist Mr Ruddy in the running of his motor dealing business. He said he was not aware Mr Ruddy was associated with known republicans.

Mr Colton left the force weeks ahead of a disciplinary hearing and subsequently went to work for Mr McCann in his gaming business in Dundalk. He acknowledged he also worked for another noted republican, Eamon Devlin, who was wanted by the RUC.

He also denied he had asked fellow Dundalk sergeant Finbarr Hickey to sign application forms for passports which subsequently benefited IRA members. Mr Hickey was convicted of offences connected with the passport affair and served a prison term. Mr Hickey has previously told the tribunal he had signed the passports as a favour to Mr Colton.

Counsel for the PSNI, Mark Robinson, put it to Mr Colton that he was a “trusted” supplier of documents to the IRA and was the trusted officer who had identified the visiting RUC men. Mr Colton denied the allegations.

BBC
8 May 2012

A retired Dundalk garda has described as ‘ridiculous’ suggestions he used hand signals to notify the IRA of the presence of RUC officers at the garda station.

Former sergeant Leo Colton was giving evidence to the Smithwick Tribunal, which is investigating allegations of garda collusion in the murders of RUC officers Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan.

The men were assassinated by the IRA in a border ambush minutes after leaving Dundalk garda station in March 1989.

The tribunal heard Mr Colton had been standing on the steps of the garda station around the time the officers arrived, however, Mr Colton said he had not seen them or been aware they were due to attend the station.

The retired sergeant was also questioned about his involvement in the production of false passports which ended up in IRA hands.

Former Dundalk sergeant Finbarr Hickey told the tribunal last week he was asked to sign blank passport applications by Mr Colton – an allegation he denied.

Leo Colton retired in May 1991 just over a week before disciplinary proceedings were due to begin against him over the issuing of a trade plate to a known IRA associate, the tribunal heard.

Mr Colton acknowledged he had written a recommendation for Mr Brian Ruddy to enable him to acquire a trade plate for use in his motor vehicle business, but denied knowing anything about him, including Mr Ruddy’s alleged involvement in the importation the illegal angel dust growth hormone.

When informed of the investigation, Mr Colton said he ‘just laughed, I thought it was a complete Mickey Mouse set-up… the most I could have been fined was 10 punts’.

He denied his early retirement was in any way connected to the impending disciplinary proceedings.

By Ed Curran
Belfast Telegraph
8 May 2012

In the spotlight: Martin McGuinness, challenged by an IRA victim’s son during the Irish presidential election

Transparency and openness. So much in public life has revolved around these two words in the past week – from the phone-hacking scandal in Rupert Murdoch’s empire to Cardinal Sean Brady’s failings over child sex-abuse.

In the midst of all this headline-grabbing controversy, one other public figure closer to home has withstood another wave of claims about his past.

The deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, dismissed evidence given to the Smithwick Tribunal as fantasy. He said he totally rejected claims that he was the IRA’s northern officer commanding who approved the use of ‘human bombs’ and other acts of terrorism.

Mr McGuinness has been in outspoken form of late. He told a conference in London last week that the Good Friday Agreement signalled the end of the Union.

He has called for the closure of the Northern Ireland Office and says a Secretary of State is needed no longer. He reveals that Ian Paisley said to him at their first meeting: “Martin, we can rule ourselves … we don’t need these direct rule ministers coming over here and telling us what to do.”

However, whatever the future of the Union or the Northern Ireland Office, it is the questions about the deputy First Minister’s past which refuse to go away. The evidence to the Smithwick Tribunal has resurrected the spectre of Mr McGuinness in the IRA.

A year ago, similar allegations surfaced during the Irish presidential election, with victims of the IRA confronting Mr McGuinness on the streets of the south. Even the interrogatory powers of the Republic’s best journalists and interviewers failed to cast any more light on his IRA background.

It is a measure of the extent to which the community wants to preserve peace and political stability that the dismissive comments made by Mr McGuinness about the Union and with regard to his IRA involvement have not led to any serious fracture in relations in the First and deputy First Minister’s office.

Peter Robinson says the Stormont coalition will remain intact. It would only be threatened if firm police evidence of involvement in terrorism led to charges in accordance with the due process of the law.

In many minds – not least the IRA’s victims – unease and disquiet will probably never abate. More likely than not, Mr McGuinness may live out his life without the full facts of his militant years ever emerging.

When Peter Robinson says it up to people to come forward with evidence, there appears little, or no, chance of that happening.

Martin McGuinness has made an impressive mark as deputy First Minister. He has shown courage in standing up against dissident violence and he has positively and enthusiastically promoted Northern Ireland at home and abroad.

However, as Rupert Murdoch and Cardinal Brady have found to their cost in the past week, openness and transparency are essential requirements of public life today.

Compared to MPs at Westminster, who cheated on their expenses, or ministers in the Irish government, who accepted bungs from corrupt businessmen, those at Stormont who keep their past from public scrutiny belong to a special league.

How, it may well be asked, can they demand transparency and openness in public office if they fail to practice it themselves?

How can they pronounce in moral judgment on such issues as child-abuse in the Catholic Church – as Martin McGuinness did last week – if they refuse to reveal the secrets of their own past activities?

It appears that, unless someone comes up with a formula agreed by all sides which would allow light to be shone on the so-called ‘dirty war’ of the 1970s and 80s, we will never read the full, unabridged, unexpurgated version of events surrounding Martin McGuinness, or many others.

We will continue to hang on every new revelation about child-abuse and phone-hacking, but we will remain in the dark about matters which are even more serious. That is because our unique brand of political stability depends on this imperfect arrangement.

The peace process decrees that boats cannot be rocked unduly and that embarrassing questions are swiftly airbrushed from our minds.

So long as transparency and openness are not taken as seriously here as they are elsewhere, things are unlikely to change.

The real casualty of the Good Friday Agreement is not the Union, as Martin McGuinness claims. The real casualty is truth.

By Alan Murray
Belfast Telegraph
3 May 2012

Martin McGuinness has denied reports circulating in Dublin that he has made contact with the Smithwick Tribunal to discuss the possibility of appearing at it.

A spokesman for the Deputy First Minister said last night that there was “no truth at all” in reports circulating at the tribunal that he had contacted its lawyers.

Last week Mr McGuinness denied suggestions he was Officer Commanding of the IRA’s Northern Command when two senior RUC officers were murdered.

Former army intelligence officer Ian Hurst told the tribunal that he understood that in 1989 Martin McGuinness was the O/C of Northern Command and would have had to sanction the ambushing of Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan at Jonesborough on their return from Dundalk Garda Station.

Bobby Sands mural photo
Ní neart go cur le chéile

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