PSNI lifts secrecy on key police document
THE POLICE Service of Northern Ireland yesterday lifted some of the secrecy requirements it had imposed surrounding a key intelligence document submitted to the Smithwick Tribunal.
The importance of the document is that it purports to suggest that the RUC was warned almost four years ahead of the killings of two police officers that there was a security leak in An Garda Síochána.
Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan were killed in March 1989 within minutes of leaving a meeting with senior gardaí in Dundalk station.
The IRA later claimed responsibility for the killings and the Smithwick Tribunal is inquiring into suggestions that members of the Garda colluded with the IRA in the murders.
The document, known in intelligence circles as an SB50, dates from 1985 and names former detective sergeant Owen Corrigan of Dundalk Garda station as a member of the Garda who was passing information to the IRA.
While the PSNI has previously allowed the tribunal sight of the SB50, key information including how valuable it was considered by the RUC was redacted, being blacked out to make it illegible.
However, yesterday Mark Robinson for the PSNI told Judge Peter Smithwick that the service, which inherited the document from the RUC, would be prepared to reveal some of the redacted information – but only if the public and the media were excluded from the hearing.
Mr Robinson said the exclusion was necessary to protect the modus operandi of the security services in their handling of intelligence reports. However, Mr Robinson did agree to abide by a precedent whereby a transcript of the closed session could be released to the media at a later date.
Mr Corrigan, who was a member of the detective unit in Dundalk at the time, has consistently denied pasing information to the IRA or having anything to do with the killing of the RUC men.
Yesterday PSNI documents officer David McConville answered questions on the SB50, which named Mr Corrigan as someone who was “keeping the boys informed”.
In answer to Michael Durack SC for An Garda Síochána, he said there was no evidence of which he was aware that the SB50 had been circulated to the Garda.
The tribunal has previously been told that the information naming Mr Corrigan as an IRA mole had been supplied to the RUC by John McAnulty, a northern businessman and grain smuggler. Mr McAnulty 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.
Yesterday Mr Corrigan acknowledged that he failed to warn Mr McAnulty of the IRA threat. But he said he had passed the warning to Garda authorities. However, Justin Dillon SC, for the Smithwick Tribunal, said there was “not a shred of a document” to support Mr Corrigan’s evidence. “It was within your gift to save a man’s life and you didn’t do it,” he said.
The tribunal continues this morning.