Tribunal looking into intelligence provided by police
The Smithwick Tribunal requires further information relating to intelligence provided by the PSNI last summer, the chairman has said.
The tribunal, headed by Judge Peter Smithwick and investigating allegations of collusion in the murder of two RUC officers, will hold a public hearing today.
Judge Smithwick wrote to clerk of the Dáil Kieran Coughlan yesterday to give him an interim report on the inquiry, which is expected to conclude at the end of July.
The tribunal is inquiring into suggestions that members of An Garda Síochána or other employees of the State colluded in the fatal shootings of RUC Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan on March 20th, 1989.
Terms of reference
Judge Smithwick said the intelligence provided by the PSNI was “central to the terms of reference of the tribunal and cannot be ignored”.
The intelligence was assessed by the PSNI as being “reliable and accurate”.
He said that during a number of sittings of the tribunal between May and September last year, PSNI officers put into evidence a “precis of intelligence” which was described by Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris as “live intelligence and of the moment”.
He said he was currently engaged with the Northern Ireland Office with a view to achieving further information relating to that intelligence.
“While progress to this end has been slower than I would wish, I am mindful of the particular sensitivities which relate to this intelligence given that it is ‘live’ and ‘of the moment’ rather than historical intelligence,” he said.
Judge Smithwick said he was ultimately hopeful that an outcome which further facilitated the work of the tribunal while protecting life and national security could be achieved.
“I have ensured that the British authorities are conscious of the necessity of concluding these matters in the very near future,” he added.
However, Judge Smithwick said he had concluded there was no material tending to corroborate a single suggestion of inappropriate conduct with subversives on the part of a named former Garda officer.
The tribunal’s legal team last year met with a former officer of the RUC who supplied the name of a former officer of An Garda Síochána, not one of the three former members currently represented before the tribunal, and alleged there were concerns about an inappropriate relationship with subversives.
This did not relate in any way to Chief Supt Breen or Supt Buchanan. The tribunal carried out a private investigation and Judge Smithwick determined the suggestion did not warrant being put into evidence on a public hearing of the tribunal.
The tribunal’s work in relation to the allegation is concluded.
Meanwhile, the evidence of retired Det Sgt Owen Corrigan, one of the former members of An Garda Síochána granted legal representation before the tribunal, is expected to conclude in the spring.
> Investigating allegations of collusion between members of An Garda and the IRA in the murders of RUC officers Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan in March 1989.
> Set up in 2005
> Cost: €11 million up to June 2011