Counsel claims Garda didn't act on intelligence


SMITHWICK TRIBUNAL:THE GARDA had intelligence reports that members of the force were implicated in IRA activity before and in the aftermath of the murders of two RUC officers, the Smithwick Tribunal in Dublin was told yesterday.

Counsel for the tribunal Mary Laverty said, however, the Garda had not acted on their own intelligence reports. “It seems that wasn’t done,” she told Judge Peter Smithwick. There had been no investigation into the allegations against any garda, she added.

Outlining the intelligence reports, Ms Laverty said RUC fears that a named garda in Dundalk had inappropriate connections with the Provisional IRA were conveyed to former assistant commissioner Eugene Crowley in Dublin by supt Tom Curran of Monaghan, prior to the murders of two RUC officers in 1989.

The two officers, chief supt Harry Breen and supt Bob Buchanan, were killed in an IRA ambush minutes after leaving a meeting in Dundalk Garda station. The tribunal is inquiring into suggestions that members of the Garda in Dundalk colluded with the IRA in the murders.

In addition to the concern relayed to Mr Crowley before the RUC officers were killed, Ms Laverty said the Garda compiled three separate reports after the murders, which, “on the face of it”, implicated a member or members of the force either in the murders or in intimidation of a witness.

The first intelligence report alleged unnamed members of the Garda were implicated in the 1987 murders of Lord Justice Gibson and his wife. The second document alleged unnamed members of the Garda provided “short notice” information on the movements of the murdered RUC men.

The third document alleged the Provisional IRA had intimidated a witness in a case in which then det sgt Owen Corrigan of Dundalk was a defendant. The witness in the Corrigan case never gave evidence and the case collapsed. Ms Laverty also asserted that an internal Garda review of its intelligence documents, carried out in 2000 after allegations of Garda-IRA collusion emerged in the media, made no reference to the key intelligence reports.

The review, conducted by the late chief supt Seán Camon, aided by then det insp, now Supt, Peter Kirwan, concluded there was no evidence of Garda-IRA collusion.

Former Garda assistant commissioner Dermot Jennings told Ms Laverty he had provided every assistance required and full access to Garda intelligence documents to Mr Camon and he would be “astounded” if the three reports were not seen by Mr Camon in advance of the officer’s report.

“I have no doubt that was examined by Seán Camon and his team at the time,” he said.

Mr Jennings said the documents certainly “had the potential” to be high-grade intelligence but would have had to be subject to rigorous examination.

He said he had not been in crime and security when the intelligence had come in, nor had he been aware of it while serving in the division. He said he was aware of the documents since engaging with the tribunal and could say there had been substantial surveillance on the IRA person named in the intelligence documents.

He agreed with Ms Laverty the intelligence report that the Provisional IRA had intimidated a witness in the case against Mr Corrigan should have been sent to the investigating officer in that case.