Former garda before Smithwick inquiry

Fri, Jun 29, 2012, 01:00

A former detective sergeant based in Dundalk failed to warn a businessman that his life was in danger from the IRA.

Former detective sergeant Owen Corrigan this morning denied the reason he did not warn businessman John McAnulty, was because Mr McAnulty had told the RUC that Mr Corrigan was passing information to the IRA.

Mr McAnualty was kidnapped from a public house on the Border at Dromad, Co Louth in the early hours of July 17th, 1989. He was shot dead and his body was found dumped on a roadside the following day.

Giving evidence to the Smithwick Tribuinal this morning Mr Corrigan said he had been made aware in advance of the kidnapping that Mr McAnulty had complicated business dealings involving the IRA, and that the IRA were looking for him.

Mr Corrigan said that had understood Mr McAnulty had sought the assistance of the IRA is scaring off a midlands-based grain supplier who was seeking payment for a lorry load of grain. Mr Corrigan said the IRA had subsequently become aware that Mr McAnulty had been interviewed by the RUC in relation to grain smuggling, but had been released without charge. The IRA had been anxious to find out why the RUC had released Mr McAnulty with out charge.

Mr Corrigan told Judge Peter Smithwick he was aware of this threat against Mr McAnulty and “feared the worst”.

“That was the tone of the message I feared he was going to be executed” he said.

Asked by counsel for the tribunal Justin Dillon SC if he had warned Mr McAnulty of the threat, Mr Corrigan said he had not done so. Asked why he had not done so, he replied: "I don’t know why."

Asked if it was because Mr McAnulty had named him as a member of Dundalk Garda who was passing information to the IRA, Mr Corrigan said Mr McAnulty had said as much to the RUC, but a senior RUC officer had dismissed it as “tittle tattle”, “gossip”, or “bar talk”.

Mr Dillon produced an RUC intelligence document known as an SB50 and said the RUC had thought enough of the information provided by MrMcAnulty to put it into their intelligence system.

“It was very damaging to you wasn’t it” Mr Dillon asked. “What is written on that page is hugely damaging to you. It says effectively that you were an IRA informer…extremely damaging for a policeman”

Mr Corrigan replied that many witnesses to the tribunal at assistant commissioner level and higher had come to give evidence and none had made those allegations against him. He said there were cross border meetings on security at very regular intervals and “my name was never mentioned in that context”.

Jim O’Callaghan SC for Mr Corrigan objected to Mr Dillon’s questions. He said Mr Dillon was trying to link the SB50 with Mr McAnulty’s murder but this was erroneous. He said that at the time of Mr McAnulty’s kidnapping Mr Corrigan would not have known of the existence of the SB50.