Senior gardaí may have helped IRA, PSNI tells tribunal


THE PSNI has gathered intelligence that senior gardaí, not yet named at the Smithwick Tribunal, may have been passing information to the IRA at various stages over the past 30 years, the tribunal heard yesterday.

At its resumed public hearing, the tribunal heard some 17 summaries of new intelligence information received from the PSNI since July confirmed the force had new information relevant to its inquiry.

The tribunal is investigating allegations of collusion between members of An Garda and the IRA in the murders of RUC officers Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan in March 1989.

Assistant Chief Constable of the PSNI Drew Harris gave evidence in a closed session and his evidence, partially redacted in the interests of protecting the lives of informants and of national security, was read out in open session yesterday. A precis of the first intelligence report claimed the Provisional IRA “traditionally obtained good intelligence from Dundalk Garda station”. A second suggested well-known republican Patrick “Mooch” Blair had claimed there was a “Garda spy” involved in the murders of the RUC officers. The intelligence also claimed former Garda detective sergeant Owen Corrigan engaged in corrupt activity targeting criminals and was motivated by greed. It also suggested Mr Corrigan provided sensitive information to the Provisional IRA for “reasons of self-preservation”.

Sources had also revealed a senior member of the IRA had claimed Garda members were passing information to the IRA, including at least one officer more senior than Mr Corrigan. The reports further alleged a senior member of the IRA acknowledged a Garda leak contributed to the murders of Northern Ireland High Court Judge Lord Justice Gibson and Cooley farmer Tom Oliver.

Tribunal lead counsel Mary Laverty SC told Judge Peter Smithwick that while the PSNI had not passed some of this information to the Garda, the Garda had similarly not, in a timely fashion, passed some of its intelligence relating to the killings of Lord Justice Gibson and the two RUC officers to the PSNI.