Smithwick Tribunal may seek further extension

Thu, Oct 11, 2012, 01:00

THE SMITHWICK Tribunal is expected to tell the Clerk of the Dáil it has no option but to seek a further extension of its deadline following evidence that one of its key witnesses will be unfit to return until next year.

At a specially convened hearing yesterday cardiologist Niamh Murphy of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda said key witness Owen Corrigan required a heart bypass and would be unable to resume evidence for another five to six months.

The tribunal is investigating allegations of collusion between members of An Garda and the IRA in the 1989 murders of two RUC men. Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan, who were killed in an ambush minutes after they left Dundalk Garda station.

Mr Corrigan, a retired detective sergeant, is one of three former sergeants based in Dundalk in the 1980s who have been granted legal representation at the tribunal. The others are Finbarr Hickey and Leo Colton.

Giving evidence on Mr Corrigan’s medical condition yesterday, Dr Murphy said her patient was currently at home but was at risk of a heart attack if he resumed his evidence before having a bypass.

The tribunal has also been pursuing new evidence gleaned from the PSNI in July.

This evidence, described by lawyers at the tribunal as “potentially significant”, related to the possibility of a fourth member of An Garda in the Border area being able to assist the tribunal in its inquiries.

Assistant Chief Constable of the PSNI Drew Harris has been giving evidence on this new material in closed session in recent weeks.