Corrigan rejects findings of Smithwick Tribunal

Former garda says he did not have inappropriate relationship with Provisional IRA

Former garda Owen Corrigan has said he rejects the fidings of the Smithwick Tribunal of Inquiry. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times.

Former garda Owen Corrigan has said he rejects the fidings of the Smithwick Tribunal of Inquiry. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times.

Thu, Dec 5, 2013, 16:37

Former Garda detective sergeant Owen Corrigan has completely rejected the findings of the Smithwick Tribunal that concluded he had an inappropriate relationship with and supplied information to the Provisional IRA.

Now retired, having been formerly based at Dundalk station, he said any dealings he had with the paramilitary organisation were for the purposes of gathering intelligence and protecting the State.

In a written statement released via the Dublin-based firm of solicitors Lawlor Partners, Mr Corrigan welcomed the fact Judge Smithwick had reached no finding of collusion on his part relating to the Provisional IRA 1989 murders of RUC Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan as they travelled home from a meeting in Dundalk Garda station.

“I do not accept, however, his finding that I had an inappropriate relationship with the Provisional IRA,” he added.

“All my dealings with the Provisional IRA were for the purpose of gathering information and/or intelligence to support An Garda Síochána in defending this State and its people during the troubles.”

Mr Corrigan said Judge Smithwick’s conclusions relating to his inappropriate relationship with the IRA were based on the acceptance of evidence given by former British agent Kevin Fulton, also known as Peter Keeley.

However, Mr Corrigan said he had given extensive evidence to the tribunal as to why the testimony of Mr Fulton/Keeley should not be accepted.

Mr Corrigan had told the tribunal in public sittings that the RUC and Garda regarded Mr Fulton/Keeley as “compulsive liar, a fantasist and an intelligence nuisance” who had tried to sell information to the RUC about subversives.

He said in his statement today that he had served the Garda for 32 years and had been based in the border region at a time of “unprecedented troubles”, doing the best he could in a period when the Provisional IRA’s violent campaign was at its height.

“I suffered considerable violence and intimidation, with ‘wanted for treason’ posters of me being erected by Republicans in Dundalk and surrounding area.”

He continued: “My wife and I were attacked by so-called republicans whilst socialising in Dundalk. As Judge Smithwick noted in his report, I was also severely beaten by members of the Provisional IRA.”

While rejecting the findings that he personally had an inappropriate relationship with the IRA, he also said he did not believe there was any collusion between any Garda personnel and the IRA in relation to the murders of the two “brave RUC officers”.

However, because of Judge Smithwick’s findings, a “cloud of suspicion” hung over all former Garda members of Dundalk Garda station despite there being no direct evidence of collusion.

Mr Corrigan appeared twice at the tribunal to give evidence. He was named by Jeffrey Donaldson MP in the House of Commons as Garda X - alleged to be a mole for the IRA in Dundalk.

Garda X was the unidentified figure referred to by journalist Toby Harnden in his book Bandit Country.

The tribunal also heard that RUC special branch intelligence had a document stating Mr Corrigan was “helping out” the Provisional IRA. It further heard Chief Supt Breen had misgivings about going to Dundalk for the meeting with gardaí because of concerns harboured about Mr Corrigan.

The inquiry also heard evidence from former British agent Mr Fulton/Keeley that the IRA had been helped in setting up the ambush which led to the murders by “our friend” believed, by Keeley to be Mr Corrigan.