Smithwick to consider sitting on Saturdays


Lawyers at the Smithwick Tribunal have been asked to consider sitting on Saturday mornings in a bid to conclude the taking of evidence from a former Garda.

The tribunal, which published its opening statement in March 2006 and began public hearings in June 2011, is currently taking evidence from former detective sergeant Owen Corrigan of Dundalk Garda station.

Mr Corrigan is one of three former garda sergeants in Dundalk who have been granted legal representation at the tribunal which is inquiring into allegations of collusion between members of the gardaí and the IRA in the deaths of two RUC officers in March 1989. The officers, chief superintendent Harry Breen and superintendent Bob Buchanan were shot minutes after leaving a meeting in Dundalk station.

This afternoon Mr Corrigan’s doctor, Eva Fasie of Fair Street Drogheda, told the tribunal Mr Corrigan was suffering from a number of conditions, among them type two diabetes, and had recently developed problems with breathing and sleeping. She recommended he give evidence for no more than two hours per day with a break of a minimum of 24 hours between sessions.

Chairman of the Tribunal Judge Peter Smithwick suggested Mr Corrigan may take a break after each hour of evidence remarking that he himself was “a great believer in a cup of tea".

"If he had tea with sugar would that help” he asked.

Judge Smithwick said the tribunal was “effectively on out last witness” and he was anxious to “move on”. He asked counsel for the tribunal Darragh Hayes if lawyers present would consider sitting on Saturday mornings in a bid to conclude Mr Corrigan’s evidence.

Mr Hayes said he would “dread to answer on [leading counsel] Mr [Justin] Dillon’s behalf” while Jim O’Callaghan SC for Mr Corrigan said the move may present problems for lawyers from outside the jurisdiction. It was agreed the issue would be considered.

Mr O’Callaghan said estimates indicated there remained some ten hours of evidence to be taken from Mr Corrigan and he suggested this might be accomplished by sitting on Tuesday and Thursday this week and on Monday, Wednesday and Friday next week.

The tribunal adjourned until tomorrow morning when Mr Corrigan is expected to resume his evidence.