Smithwick Tribunal report - The victims

Profiles: Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan


Harry Breen
Chief Supt Henry Alexander “Harry” Breen, from Banbridge, Co Down, was the divisional commander for “H” Division of the RUC. This included the south Armagh area adjacent to the Border and south Down. He was the highest ranking RUC officer to be killed in the Troubles.

He went to Portora Royal School in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, before joining the RUC on May 5th, 1957, beginning a career that would take him to one of the most sensitive and senior positions in the force.

He was seen on television during a police press conference following the Loughgall ambush in which the British army’s Special Air Service shot dead eight IRA members as they attempted to mount an attack on a police base in the Co Armagh village.

A year before he was murdered he was promoted to the rank of Chief Superintendent as Divisional Commander of “H” Division based in Armagh. He was 51 when he died.

He was buried with full police honours in Banbridge.

Bob Buchanan
Supt Bob Buchanan was the driver of the unmarked red Vauxhall Cavalier when it was ambushed by the IRA.

He had been appointed to the post of Border superintendent for “H” Division, a role which was created only four years earlier. In that role he was responsible for all cross-Border liaison and, in particular, intelligence- sharing between the RUC and the Garda.

He was due to have been transferred from this position the week after he was shot dead. The Smithwick tribunal heard that he was looking forward to the move.

Originally from Bready in Co Tyrone, he joined the RUC in 1956 – a year earlier than his senior colleague – and had served as sergeant in Derrygonnelly, Co Fermanagh, and Antrim. He was made an inspector and served in Antrim from 1970 to 1975.

Like Harry Breen, he was buried with full honours on the same day: March 23rd 1989.

He was 55 when he died.