Ex-garda 'never asked' by his superiors about IRA rumours
SENIOR GARDAÍ up to commissioner rank never asked former detective Owen Corrigan of Dundalk Garda station to account for rumours that he was assisting the IRA, the Smithwick Tribunal has been told.
The tribunal, which is inquiring into allegations of Garda-IRA collusion in the murders of two RUC officers in 1989, also heard Mr Corrigan had “betrayed” the murdered men by failing to pass on information which could have assisted the investigation after their deaths.
RUC Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan were killed in an IRA ambush as they returned to Armagh from a meeting in Dundalk Garda station in 1989.
Cross-examining Mr Corrigan yesterday, Mark Robinson, counsel for the PSNI, recalled former commissioner Lawrence Wren had given evidence that he had heard rumours about Mr Corrigan’s wealth, specifically the number of properties he owned. Mr Robinson recalled Mr Wren had given evidence that he could not understand how Mr Corrigan had amassed such wealth on a detective sergeant’s salary.
Mr Corrigan acknowledged there were rumours about him. But he said they were spread by the IRA in a bid to discredit him. He said if his superiors “thought there was any suspicion of me or my integrity in Dundalk I wouldn’t have lasted an hour”.
Mr Robinson put it to Mr Corrigan that the former detective sergeant had been extremely active in noting the movements, safe houses and associates of known members of the Provisional IRA in Dundalk over many years but had not noted anything of the IRA preparations – which he said may have involved up to 70 IRA members – to assassinate the officers.
He said after the killings Mr Corrigan had become aware of information that the men had been followed to the South prior to their murders and had been followed into a Garda station by a member of the Provisional IRA. But he said Mr Corrigan had failed to pass this information on to the investigating team.
Mr Robinson said this was a betrayal of the Garda oath that members swear to protect life and property and do their best to bring criminals to justice. He also said it was “a betrayal” of the two murdered officers.
Public sittings of the tribunal resume tomorrow.