IRA spy in Garda was open secret, says agent

 

IT WAS an open secret in the IRA that it had a “friend” among the gardaí in Dundalk, the Smithwick Tribunal has heard.

Former British army agent Kevin Fulton, also known as Peter Keeley, who said he infiltrated the IRA in the 1980s, named the “friend” as retired detective sergeant Owen Corrigan.

Mr Fulton told Judge Peter Smithwick the mole in Dundalk was referred to in IRA circles only as “our friend”, but he had met him when undercover as the IRA in north Louth was abducting Cooley farmer Tom Oliver.

Mr Oliver was abducted twice and ultimately killed by the IRA, which said he had been informing gardaí about their activities.

Mr Fulton said he had driven Dundalk IRA member Patrick “Mooch” Blair to a meeting with Det Sgt Corrigan at a “céilí house” pub near the Border. He said Mr Corrigan sat into the car and told Mr Blair that Mr Oliver was informing gardaí about IRA activity.

Mr Fulton also said he had befriended Mr Blair, who had taught him how to make bombs.

He told the tribunal Mr Blair used to grind fertiliser using Bewley’s coffee grinders. On a number of occasions, Mr Fulton said he had notified his handlers that Mr Blair was planning a bombing.

Lives were saved through the action of his handlers, he said. He also gave the tribunal an account of how a tip-off foiled a mortar attack on Newry courthouse.

In addition, he said he had been ordered to shoot a cleaner in Newry RUC station, but following his tip-off to his handlers, the cleaner had retired.

He also said he had informed his handlers a few days before the Omagh bomb that Mr Blair, who was then a dissident republican, was dusted in white powder and smelled of diesel, a sign that he was making a bomb.

He said the Police Ombudsman’s report on the Omagh bombing had referred to a bombmaker, whom he knew to have made bombs with Mr Blair. He passed his information on to his handlers.

He also gave evidence of the involvement in the IRA internal security unit of Freddie Scappaticci, the man who denies he was a double agent known as “Stakeknife”.

Mr Fulton said he thought there might have been a number of informers in the IRA at the time as his handlers preferred to “turn” members rather than prosecute them.

Mr Fulton yesterday also named former RUC chief constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan as the senior security source who confirmed to Jeffrey Donaldson MP Mr Fulton’s status as an informer.

Mr Donaldson named Mr Corrigan as an IRA mole in a speech in the House of Commons in 2000. He has previously told the tribunal that he got Mr Corrigan’s name from Mr Fulton and had checked Mr Fulton’s status with an unnamed senior security source.

In a further development at yesterday’s hearing, Donal O’Rourke SC, for Mr Scappaticci, objected to Mr Fulton giving evidence from behind a screen from where he could not be seen.

He rejected a compromise put forward by Mary Laverty SC, that would allow cross-examining barristers to approach the bench and see Mr Fulton, as he said he wanted to see the witness under cross-examination from other legal teams and when the main body of evidence was taken.

After his objections were overruled, Mr O’Rourke told Judge Peter Smithwick he intended to seek a High Court review of the decision.