Smithwick report strengthens case for inquiry into Finucane killing, says Gilmore
Adams criticised for saying murdered RUC officers laissez-faire about security
Eamon Gilmore: The Tánaiste said he could not get out of his mind the image of one of these men “who when injured outside his car and waving his white handkerchief, was shot in the head by an IRA activist”. Photograph: Eric Luke
Completion of the Smithwick Tribunal will strengthen the Government’s hand with the British authorities in seeking an inquiry into the killing of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane, according to Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore.
He was speaking yesterday during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil following the publication of the Smithwick report into the shooting dead of RUC Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan after they left a meeting at Dundalk Garda station in 1989. The report concluded there was collusion between someone in the Garda and the IRA, which led to the deaths.
During questions Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin called for Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams to withdraw remarks he made on Newstalk radio that the two officers displayed a laissez-faire disregard for their own security. He said it was insulting to the families and “it almost blames by implication the officers themselves” for their deaths.
But Mr Adams said his remarks reflected statements given to the Smithwick Tribunal by the RUC, gardaí and former IRA volunteers.
He said he did not need reminders from the Fianna Fáil leader that there were two bereaved families at the heart of the tribunal. He claimed there was a contradiction in the report’s conclusions. On the one hand Judge Smithwick said the tribunal had not uncovered direct evidence of collusion but he went on to accept on the balance of probability that some form of collusion occurred involving an unidentified member or members of the Garda.
The Tánaiste told him, however, “this is not a day for self-justification by anybody or any political party. It is not a day for muddying the waters, pulling the report apart or finding a flaw in it. Nor is it a day for rewriting history.” He said he could not get out of his mind the image of one of these men “who when injured outside his car and waving his white handkerchief, was shot in the head by an IRA activist”.
Mr Gilmore said he was “appalled and saddened” by the report’s finding.
“On behalf of the Government and people of Ireland I apologise without reservation to the Breen and Buchanan families for any failings identified in the report on the part of the State or any of its agencies. I am truly sorry for the loss and suffering that both families have endured.”
Mr Gilmore agreed to a full Dáil debate on the report and pledged that the Government would pursue inquiries into allegations of collusion in other killings.
He told a sombre Dáil: “Where allegations of collusion by agents of the State were concerned, we have long agreed that the State bears a particular and solemn responsibility.”
He will meet the North’s Minister for Justice, the Garda Commissioner and the Chief Constable of the PSNI shortly to discuss the report.
“We need to see completion of all the work that was committed to at Weston Park,” he said.
Mr Gilmore said he had previously been in contact with his British counterpart about the need for an inquiry into the killing of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.