Calls for another Smithwick probe

The scene after the shooting of RUC officers Bob Buchanan and Harry Breen.

The scene after the shooting of RUC officers Bob Buchanan and Harry Breen.


A solicitor who represented the family of a senior RUC officer at the centre of a Republic of Ireland collusion probe has called for a further inquiry to examine issues it uncovered.

Last week the Smithwick Tribunal concluded that there had been Garda collusion with the IRA in the murder of Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan in south Armagh in 1989.

On Thursday the Republic’s Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said he accepted Judge Smithwick’s conclusions. But he angered unionists by adding that within “the narrow confined context of loyalty to the organisation above loyalty to the truth I cannot and do not and will never accept that”.

Yesterday, John McBurney, who represented the Breen family at the tribunal, said Mr Callinan’s concerns could be addressed with a further tribunal with more powers to find fresh evidence.

“There clearly needs to be a through investigation and inquiry into the other murders and bombings discussed within the Smithwick Tribunal,” he said.

“For example the murder of the Hanna family in 1988.How did the PIRA know that a senior judge from Northern Ireland was travelling under an assumed name into Dublin airport and anticipate his crossing at the border about the same time as the Hanna family, resulting in their death from a 1,000kg bomb?”

“How did the PIRA know when the RUC murder squad detectives investigating their murder were visiting Dundalk Garda station, which he know from intelligence reports seen during the tribunal?

“These and other incidents may need to be probed to finding if there is a missing mole in Dundalk Garda station. If so he is probably still alive because it appeared that the IRA were trying to protect him.”

Other cases which he believes the tribunal shed new light on and which warrant a fresh, single inquiry include the IRA murders of Lord Justice and Lady Gibson in 1987, Louth farmer Tom Oliver in 1991, grain smuggler John McNulty in 1989, Catholic electrical contractor Terry McKeever in 1986 and the Kingsmills Massacre in 1976.

“It would seem to me that some authorities which look to see inquiries happening in the UK should also be very open to further inquiries into these matters.

“What is considered reasonable and logical in one direction should surely be reasonable and logical in the other direction?”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has pressed repeatedly for a public inquiry into the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.

A spokeswoman for the Garda responded that Commissioner Martin Callinan “fully accepted” the findings in relation to collusion but did not accept that gardai “put loyalty to the force above loyalty to the truth”.

UUP justice spokesman Tom Elliot said yesterday he was “very disappointed” with Mr Callinan’s comments which he said “undermines the value of the apologies and acknowledgements offered to the Breen and Buchanan families by the Irish government” and which “further casts doubt on the whole viability of these processes”. The Taoiseach’s office said they would comment on McBurney’s call on Monday.




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