Ex-garda claims 'nobody suffered more than I did' in fight against terrorism

Sat, Jun 9, 2012, 01:00

A FORMER detective sergeant who was accused under House of Commons privilege as being an IRA mole has told the Smithwick Tribunal that nobody suffered more than he did in the fight against terrorism.

Former detective sergeant Owen Corrigan of Dundalk Garda station said his life was put at risk and he had been vilified in the media, since being named by Jeffrey Donaldson MP as an IRA informer. Mr Donaldson the MP for Lagan Valley, named Mr Corrigan in the House of Commons in April 2000.

Mr Corrigan said Mr Donaldson had “set out” to put his life in danger by describing him as an IRA mole. He likened the incident to the previous identification in the House of Commons of some Belfast solicitors as people who were of assistance to the IRA. Mr Corrigan recalled that the comments “by a Conservative MP”, had been followed by the shooting dead of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane by a loyalist gang.

Mr Corrigan said: “Mr Donaldson set out to achieve the same. I was in a very vulnerable position given where I was living.”

He told Judge Peter Smithwick: “I never discounted my fate could be similar”. He said Mr Donaldson had “set out to achieve the same modus operandi as his predecessor in the House of Commons”.

Mr Corrigan said this was part of a “double attack” on him by organs of the British government and the IRA. The Government have been pressing the British government for an inquiry into the Finucane killing and in response he had been described as a rogue garda in a bid to deflect attention.

He said he was the “jewel in the crown” in the Garda fight against terrorism, and the IRA had vilified him as that organisation was keen to “discredit the enemy”. He also said he and his family had suffered from local pressure, due to his Garda role.

Under cross-examination by senior counsel Justin Dillon, for the tribunal, Mr Corrigan asserted “nobody suffered more than I did”.

Mr Dillon said: “You weren’t shot.” He added that some members of the Garda had been shot at by subversives, while some had had their houses burned down, but such attacks had not been suffered by Mr Corrigan.

Mr Corrigan also told the tribunal he had applied in 1979, 1980 and 1982 for promotion, and despite the opposition of former chief superintendent Richard Cotterell, his name had been included in a list of officers for promotion by then assistant commissioner Joe Ainsworth. However, he said his name had been removed from the list subsequently.

Mr Dillon also asked Mr Corrigan how the former garda could have bought an investment property in Dundalk in 1983 for £19,000, when at the time his salary was just £18,000 per year.

Mr Dillon asked how Mr Corrigan had financed the property. Mr Corrigan replied he had found the deposit “through savings”.

The tribunal is adjourned until next Wednesday or Thursday pending the availability of witnesses. Mr Corrigan is due to resume his evidence on June 19th.