Witness seeks time-limited sessions due to poor health
ONE OF the chief witnesses at the Smithwick Tribunal, former Garda detective sergeant Owen Corrigan, has told Judge Peter Smithwick he wishes to confine his evidence to sessions of a maximum of two hours.
Mr Corrigan said he was “a serious diabetic, on insulin injections each day, with a total of 12 tablets, in addition to the injections”. He said he had been advised he should not be attending the tribunal but was anxious to do so “albeit on a limited basis”.
The tribunal has heard Mr Corrigan was on duty in Dundalk Garda station the day two RUC officers arrived for a meeting to discuss cross-Border co-operation in an anti-smuggling operation aimed at noted republican Thomas “Slab” Murphy.
RUC Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan were killed in an IRA ambush minutes after leaving Dundalk Garda station.
The tribunal is inquiring into allegations that members of the Garda colluded with the IRA in the killings and has been holding public sittings since June of last year. It is currently taking evidence from Mr Corrigan on a part-time basis due to concerns for his health.
Addressing the judge at the start of yesterday’s hearing, Mr Corrigan warned of the “serious consequences” for his health and said his solicitor would be sending a report from his doctors later in the day. “This is my sixth day giving evidence,” he said. “Unfortunately my health is seriously deteriorating because of the length and the duration I have been obliged to come here.”
However, as Mr Corrigan resumed his evidence counsel for the tribunal, Justin Dillon, accused him of “deception” in relation to a previous illness – nervous exhaustion – in the period before he retired from the Garda.
Mr Dillon said: “You weren’t suffering from nervous exhaustion, it was a deception.”
He also put it to Mr Corrigan: “Your conduct as given in evidence by you and documents supplied to us show you were not suffering from nervous exhaustion and you were well able to work.”
Mr Corrigan said his illnesses had been medically certified and his counsel Jim O’Callaghan SC said if Mr Dillon wanted to question the validity of the illness he should call the medical practitioners as witnesses. “That’s a very serious allegation. There has never been any suggestion before today that this man was engaged in a deception,” he said.