Garda responds to intelligence claims of IRA collusion

Details of 51-page response to allegations linked to Troubles not revealed at tribunal session

A  Northern security service intelligence report suggested well-known republican Patrick "Mooch" Blair, seen here leaving the Smithwick Tribunal in November 2011,  had claimed there was a Garda spy involved in the murders of  RUC officers. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish  Times

A Northern security service intelligence report suggested well-known republican Patrick "Mooch" Blair, seen here leaving the Smithwick Tribunal in November 2011, had claimed there was a Garda spy involved in the murders of RUC officers. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Tue, Apr 9, 2013, 14:57

One of the State's most senior Garda officers has responded to Northern security service intelligence which points to allegations of Garda/ IRA collusion during much of the Troubles.

Det Chief Supt Peter Kirwan of the Garda's Crime and Security Branch this week gave the Smithwick Tribunal a 51-page response to the allegations which claim named gardaí may have assisted the IRA over more than 30 years.

The tribunal is inquiring into suggestions that members of An Garda Síochána or other employees of the State colluded in the fatal shootings of RUC Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan on March 20th, 1989.

Last October, Assistant Chief Constable of the PSNI Drew Harris travelled to Dublin to tell the tribunal of Northern security service files which detailed subversive Garda/IRA interaction throughout much of the Troubles.

The information which was subsequently read out in redacted form to protect security sources claimed the Provisional IRA "traditionally obtained good intelligence from Dundalk Garda station".

A second Northern security service intelligence report suggested well-known republican Patrick "Mooch" Blair had claimed there was a "Garda spy" involved in the murders of the RUC officers.

Corruption claim

The intelligence also claimed former Garda detective sergeant Owen Corrigan engaged in corrupt activity targeting criminals and was motivated by greed. It also suggested Mr Corrigan provided sensitive information to the Provisional IRA for "reasons of self-preservation".

Mr Corrigan is one of three former Dundalk gardaí granted full legal representation at the Smithwick Tribunal. The others are former sergeant Leo Colton and Finbarr Hickey.

Mr Harris said the intelligence was assessed by the PSNI as being "reliable and accurate".

In an interim report earlier this year, Judge Smithwick told the Clerk of the Dáil the intelligence provided by the PSNI was "central to the terms of reference of the tribunal and cannot be ignored".

At a public hearing of the tribunal this morning, Mary Laverty SC for the tribunal said a 51-page response to these allegations had been received by email from Mr Kirwan last night.

Time required

She said the tribunal needed time to read the response and the tribunal agreed to hold another open session on Tuesday next. Interested parties are to be circulated with Mr Kirwan's response in advance of Tuesday's session.

Details of Mr Kirwin's response were not revealed at the tribunal session this morning.

Mr Kirwan has previously told the tribunal the Garda had intelligence report from the mid-1980s which suggested Mr Corrigan had "a relationship which was not proper" with subversives or their associates. But Mr Kirwan said this was "counter-balanced" by at least one alternative intelligence report which suggested Mr Corrigan was "properly motivated" and delivered "useful intelligence" beneficial to Garda intelligence between 1984 and 1986.

Mr Kirwan told the tribunal he had spent more than 24 years in the Garda intelligence unit, and said he did not believe there was a mole in Dundalk station who had supplied information to the IRA to assist in the killing of RUC officers.