Garda force ‘devastated’ by Smithwick Tribunal findings

Commissioner says there is no specific evidence to warrant Garda investigation

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan speaking to the media at the Garda Reserve graduation in Templemore today. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan speaking to the media at the Garda Reserve graduation in Templemore today. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Thu, Dec 12, 2013, 16:25

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has said the force had been “devastated” at the findings of the Smithwick Tribunal that gardai had colluded in the IRA murders two RUC officers. But he was yet to find any specific information that would warrant a Garda investigation.

He stressed the report, which runs to 1,600 pages, was very long and that it came after eight years of work so would take some time to review in full.

However, on the basis of the review he and has officers had carried out thus far, he could find nothing to warrant a Garda probe into the findings of collusion.

“It is on the balance of probabilities that the Smithwick Tribunal found a person or persons unknown to have colluded with the IRA and I have already expressed my horror that such a finding could be found,” he said.

However, the tribunal had detailed no direct evidence against any named Garda members.

In the past, specific findings made against named gardai by previous tribunals have been investigated by the Garda.

“I do not for the moment see anything there,” Commissioner Callinan said when asked if any of the report’s findings warranted investigation.

“I am studying it, it is a week old. This report was eight years in gestation so we have to be very careful in terms of how we look at these things. If there is anything that needs to be addressed, I and my senior team will address those.”

He made his comments this afternoon while speaking to the media at a passing out ceremony for Garda reservists in the Garda College, Templemore, Co Tipperary.

The tribunal’s final report was published last week and concluded there had been collusion between the IRA and Garda members based at Dundalk garda station in the 1989 murders in south Armagh of RUC Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan.

The murdered men had just left a meeting in Dundalk station and were traveling home by car when ambushed.

Commissioner Callinan has already accepted the general finding of the tribunal that collusion, unspecified in nature and not traced to particular Garda members, had occurred.

However, he said today he did not accept the tribunal’s findings that the force in the current era was one that valued loyalty to a colleague above telling the truth.

“In the narrow, confined context of loyalty of the organisation above loyalty to the truth, I cannot, do not, and will never accept that,” Commissioner Callinan said.

He added there had been no backlash from the public arising from the tribunal’s findings and that the force had received many messages of support since the report’s publication last week.

However, this fact had not lessened the impact on the Garda force.

“The general reaction, in relation to all aspects, as you can appreciate is one of devastation,” he said of his own force.

While the Garda was like other organisations in that it did not have a “perfect cohort” of people, gardai worked very hard under trying and often dangerous circumstances.

He had full confidence in those men and women working under him and would continue to reinforce the message that the Garda force could be trusted by the public.

Later this afternoon when addressing a class of 93 reservists passing out, he said the actions of one person could do “enormous damage” to any organisation through “unprofessional, unethical, immoral or illegal comments or acts”. One person could “taint all others”.

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