Witness says his life at risk after mole claim
A KEY witness at the Smithwick Tribunal has said he did not pass information to the IRA but he says his life has been endangered by such allegations from the DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson.
However, former detective sergeant Owen Corrigan yesterday said he withheld information from his Garda superiors about individuals whom he believed had been targeted by the organisation.
Mr Corrigan said he believed his own life had been put in danger when he was named under House of Commons privilege by Mr Donaldson as an IRA mole.
He was aware Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane had been murdered after some solicitors were depicted as being close to the IRA, in a previous statement in the House of Commons.
He said Mr Donaldson’s comments were “incitement to kill and that is what I have to live with”.
The tribunal is inquiring into allegations that a member or members of the Garda Síochána colluded with the IRA in the 1989 murders of two RUC officers.
Mr Corrigan said yesterday he did not pass information to the IRA and repeated his earlier assertions that he was the key intelligence officer in Dundalk for more than a decade from 1975, leading a team of nine detective gardaí in combating subversives.
Under cross-examination by Mark Robinson, for the PSNI, Mr Corrigan acknowledged “a new regime” had taken over in Dundalk in the mid-1980s.
He said the number of detectives increased to about 40 after the Anglo-Irish Agreement and he was effectively sidelined. He said he did not assist colleagues by passing on his sources of information or providing intelligence to them on who were members of the IRA, or identifying where known subversives lived.
He accepted he failed to pass on information about a threat to a northern businessman, John McAnulty, who was later abducted from a pub near the Border, tortured and shot dead by the IRA.
He said he was also aware of threats to a number of people and did not file intelligence reports about the threats.
Mr Robinson said Mr Corrigan had “impeded the flow of intelligence to An Garda Síochána” by failing to pass on intelligence.
“People were at risk and you ignored that risk,” Mr Robinson said. He suggested that “given your position, knowledge and contacts, you were the perfect source for PIRA”.
Mr Corrigan said: “I was not and I find that statement deeply offensive.” He countered that in his career he had “saved more lives than any other member” and detailed how he was able to get a suspect then in RUC custody to reveal the location of a major arms dump in the Republic. The discovery brought a virtual end to a bombing campaign in Belfast, he claimed.
Mr Corrigan said there was a detective sergeant in Dundalk nearly as long as he had been who could help the new detectives. He said after he went out on sick leave in 1989, and after he retired in 1991, he had assisted detectives by “dotting the Is” for them.
The tribunal continues tomorrow.