Ex-garda 'respected' IRA man's loyalty


A former detective sergeant who described himself as the “jewel in the crown” in the Garda fight against the IRA this morning said he respected convicted republican Patrick Mooch Blair for being “loyal” to the IRA and having never passed information to the security services.

But former garda Owen Corrigan told the Smithwick Tribunal that British army undercover agent Peter Keeley who infiltrated the IRA would “say and do anything for money” and was “living in an imaginary world”.

He said Mr Keeley was a “paid agent” of the British security services who were “well known for this kind of operation and were “not exactly amateurs in that field”.

Mr Corrigan said a number of people from Dundalk travelled to Northern Ireland “to take the queen’s shlling every week". He said the instances of this happening was "so common they [the IRA] didn't know who was the tout. That was the Provisional IRA's problem".

Mr Corrigan said such people who sold information were “the lowest forms of life”.

However, Richard Smyth, counsel for Mr Keeley, told Mr Corrigan his views displayed a remarkable “anti-British sentiment” and his views on “grasses” and “touts” were remarkably similar to those of Mr Blair and the IRA.

Mr Smyth put it to Mr Corrigan that in his own words he had described himself as one of the Garda’s best intelligence officers. He said sources of information were “what you dealt in, and here you are describing them as the lowest forms of life”.

Mr Corrigan replied: “Oh yeah, that was what they were.”.

But Mr Smyth said : “You respect Mr Blair for being loyal?”

Mr Corrigan replied: “Yes”.

Mr Smyth asked: “And you think less of Mr Keeley?”

Mr Corrigan replied: “Yes”.

Mr Corrigan said: “Mr Blair had a certain amount of seniority in the IRA” and that on the date of a significant bombing Mr Keeley was in Mr Blair’s house all day but had later shown “no allegiance”.

He said Mr Keeley “will say and do anything for money. . . . The man is living in an imaginary world and has made a living out of it”.

Mr Keeley has previously told the tribunal that during his time as a British army undercover agent in the IRA in Dundalk he became aware that Mr Corrigan was assisting the IRA, effectively being an IRA mole. Mr Corrigan denies the accusation.

The tribunal is inquiring into allegations that members of An Garda or other employees of the State colluded with the IRA in the murders of two RUC officers in March 1989. Chief supt Harry Breen and supt Bob Buchanan were killed in an ambush in south Armagh minutes after leaving a meeting in Dundalk Garda station.