Callinan: any garda who helped IRA betrayed force

Shatter describes Adam’s remarks about the double RUC murder as ‘nauseating’

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said he is "horrified" by revelations from the Smithwick Tribunal that there was collusion between members of the force and the Provisional IRA.

Mr Callinan said the findings of the report that gardaí in Dundalk Garda station passed information to the IRA which may have lead to the deaths of RUC superintendent Bob Buchanan and chief superintendent Harry Breen were "beyond belief".

Speaking for the first time since the report was published yesterday, Mr Callinan described the Provisional IRA as a “terrorist organisation” and said any garda who assisted them had betrayed the force.

“I know I speak on behalf of every member of the force. It was a betrayal,” he said.


Mr Callinan said people should not lose sight of the fact that members of the force had risked their lives combating the IRA.

But he said it was a source of “intense disappointing for me as the commissioner to learn that on the balance of probability that people in my organisation betrayed us.”

However, he defended gardaí against allegations contained in the report that they were more interested in defending the reputation of the force than giving truthful evidence to the tribunal.

“I have read those comments. I have to say that the police force that is described is not the police force that I lead,” he said.

"Everything we do An Garda Síochána is designed to establish the truth. An Garda Síochána seeks to establish the truth. That is our raison d'être and that will continue to be the case."

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter described Sinn Féin president Gerry Adam’s remarks about the double murder as “nauseating”.

Mr Adams said this morning that the men had taken a “laissez faire” attitude to their own safety.

Speaking with Mr Callinan at a press conference in Farmleigh House in Dublin this afternoon, Mr Shatter pointed to sections in the report relating to Mr Adams.

The Minister said Mr Adams had appeared at an event in Crossmaglen shortly after the double shooting when a man wearing a hood gave an explanation for the murders.

Mr Shatter said it was “very unlikely” Mr Adams did not know more about what happened to the two men.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin called for a full Dáil debate on the report and also criticised Mr Adams over his statement about the two murdered RUC.

He said the statement should be withdrawn and it almost by implication blamed the officers themselves for their killing.

Mr Adams responded that his public statement reflected the views of the Smithwick report. He described the two RUC officers as brave men doing their duty as they saw it in the same way that the IRA did their duty as they saw it.

Chief superintendent Harry Breen and superintendent Bob Buchanan were shot dead on March 20th, 1989 near the Border in south Armagh shortly after a meeting with gardaí in Dundalk, Co Louth.

The Smithwick Tribunal report published yesterday found someone in Dundalk Garda station tipped off the IRA before they were killed.

In the interview on Newstalk radio Mr Adams said the officers failed to show due regard for their safety and added he was not aware of collusion involving gardai in IRA killings.

“If you read the evidence (to tribunal lawyers) by the former IRA volunteers and I say this with as much sensitivity as I can muster - these two very prominent RUC officers were sailing in and out of Dundalk Garda station, (and) were doing so in quite an open way,” Mr Adams said.

“The former IRA volunteers said that one of the officers was spotted coming from the station, that they then used a house overlooking the station to monitor comings and goings, that they were able to trace - I think there was also a pattern in terms of meetings.”

Mr Adams said: “When you have that type of laissez-faire disregard for their own security, by both An Garda Síochána in relation to these two officers, and more importantly these officers themselves - here they were in the heart of south Armagh in the middle of a very, very severe conflict at that time, and seemed to think that they were immune from attack by the IRA, and tragically as it turned out for them that was not the case.

“When you have that type of failure to protect the RUC operatives in the middle of a war then what happened happens.

“I’m sure the same thing has happened with IRA volunteers who were killed, that it was not necessarily intelligence or inside information but simply that they made a mistake. This has happened tragically in all conflicts.”

In the interview on Newstalk radio Mr Adams said he was not aware of collusion involving the Garda force in IRA killings.

As well as confirming long-held suspicions of the IRA mole in Dundalk Garda station, Judge Peter Smithwick said there was collusion in the killings but was unable to point the finger at an individual and said he suspects there could have been another person passing information to the IRA.

He also accused current Garda senior management of trying to protect the reputation of the force by undermining a retired superintendent who testified that he passed intelligence on a death threat against Mr Buchanan to the highest ranks in the force.

Additional reporting PA

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times