Myers appears before Smithwick

 

Newspaper columnist Kevin Myers has told the Smithwick Tribunal he believed there were at least two IRA moles and possibly an IRA cell working within Dundalk Garda station in the 1980s.

Giving evidence to the tribunal this afternoon Mr Myers said that at the time he wrote a newspaper article in March 2000, alleging Garda collusion with IRA assassins, he believed at least 12 killings were carried out with the aid of a single IRA mole.

He said the primary sources for his article, which appeared as a column in the "Irishman’s Diary" series in The Irish Times, were a former senior garda and a reformed “terrorist”. He also based some of his understanding of events on the book “Bandit Country” by a former Daily Telegraph journalist Toby Harnden.

But he told the tribunal he had assumed both his primary sources had been talking about the same mole, when in fact he later discovered they had been talking about separate members of an Garda, whose surnames both began with the letter "C".

He told Judge Peter Smithwick his Garda source had named “Colton”, a now retired Sgt Leo Colton who was serving in Dundalk Garda station in the 1980s. Mr Myers said his terrorist source had used the letter C, and he believed Colton and C were one and the same. He later came to understand that letter C was meant to indicate Det Sgt Owen Corrigan who also served in Dundalk Garda Station.

Mr Myers said in his initial article and in subsequent interviews with the RUC he had refused to reveal any names as he was “not an informer, not should be thought to be one”. But following the publication of the names of the gardaí in tribunal business and because these names had been put to him by the RUC, he acknowledged both names.

He said he believed there were at least two gardaí working for the IRA in Dundalk and possibly a whole “cell”.

Under cross-examination by Jim O’Callaghan SC, for Mr Corrigan, he said: “Cell suggests a coherence that might not have existed.”

He told Mr O’Callaghan he knew almost nothing about Mr Corrigan and had not been responsible for Mr Corrigan’s name being publicly linked to the allegation. It was a shocking allegation to have made, he said - “but I did not make it”.

In the article written as part of his "Irishman’s Dairy" series in The Irish Times Mr Myers had argued much was made in the Republic of RUC collusion but vital information that led to IRA killings had come from Dundalk Garda station.

These included four RUC officers killed in an attack on a Brinks Mat security van after it crossed the Border into Northern Ireland in 1985. It also included the killing of Lord Justice Gibson and his wife Cecily as they crossed the Border on return from Dún Laoghaire in 1987; the killing of the Hanna family who were said to be mistaken for High Court Judge Eoin Higgins in 1988; the killing of chief supt Harry Breen and supt Bob Buchanan in 1989; and the killing of Tom Oliver in 1991.

Mr Myers told the tribunal he was inspired to write the article because “there was too many cross-Border operations going wrong without something systemically wrong”.

Retired Sgt Leo Colton and and retired Det Sgt Owen Corrigan have both denied collusion.