Former garda rejects tribunal findings

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams distances himself from remarks critical of murdered RUC men

Former Garda sergeant Owen Corrigan who rejected the tribunal’s finding that he had “an inappropriate relationship with the Provisional IRA”. Photo: Niall Carson/PA

Former Garda sergeant Owen Corrigan who rejected the tribunal’s finding that he had “an inappropriate relationship with the Provisional IRA”. Photo: Niall Carson/PA

Fri, Dec 6, 2013, 01:00

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

PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott has also spoken publicly about the findings of the tribunal saying they would not damage relations between his force and the Garda. Both forces were strongly criticised by the tribunal for being too quick to dismiss the possibility of collusion in the period just after the 1989 murders of two RUC officers, which the tribunal inquired into. That charge was rejected by Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and his PSNI counterpart.

Mr Baggott said while the Garda would be saddened by the tribunal’s findings, relations between the forces were “excellent”.

“We value their friendship, we value their co-operation and we value their professionalism and they have saved many lives alongside my own colleagues.”

Protecting the State
Mr Corrigan, who is now retired having been formerly based at Dundalk station, said any dealings he had with the IRA were for the purposes of gathering intelligence and protecting the State.

In a 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 murders of RUC Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan as they journeyed 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.

Judge Smithwick’s conclusions relating to his, Mr Corrigan’s, inappropriate relationship with the IRA were based on the acceptance of evidence given by former British agent Kevin Fulton, also known as Peter Keeley. Mr Corrigan had told the tribunal in public sittings that the RUC and Garda regarded Mr Fulton/Keeley as a “compulsive liar, a fantasist and an intelligence nuisance”.

Mr Corrigan added he had served the Garda for 32 years, had been subjected to a hate campaign by republicans in Dundalk, had been beaten by them and he and his wife attacked by them on another occasion. He 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.

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. Also yesterday, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams moved to distance himself from remarks in which he appeared to suggest a casual approach to security by the two RUC officers had contributed to their murders.

RUC officers
“It is nonsense to suggest that I was blaming the two RUC officers for their own deaths,” Mr Adams said. “Everyone knows the IRA was responsible. That was never in question.”

On Tuesday Mr Adams said the men had taken a “laissez faire attitude”to their own safety when travelling into the Republic for meetings in Dundalk station. He added the men “seemed to think that they were immune to attack by the IRA”. He said yesterday he was merely reflecting one of the tribunal’s observations.

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