The only public inquiry ever to take place in the Republic of Ireland into claims of collusion between the Garda and IRA has not yet concluded, but already heard a number of uncomfortable pieces of evidence.
The Smithwick Tribunal was set up in 2005 to probe claims of collusion between the Garda and IRA in the murders of the two most senior RUC officers to be murdered during the Troubles.
Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan were killed in an IRA ambush on the border on March 20, 1989 as they returned from a meeting at Dundalk Garda Station.
Newspaper headlines at the time of the murders widely reported suspicions of an IRA mole within the Garda, but no firm proof has ever emerged.
Since the tribunal commenced public hearings in June 2011, it has heard former Garda superintendent Tom Curran tell of how he felt then Garda assistant commissioner Eugene Crowley seemed disinterested when he told him of suspicions of an IRA mole within the force; an RUC intelligence document claiming that former detective sergeant Owen Corrigan had been passing information to the ‘boys’, referring to the IRA; that the Garda destroyed evidence at the firing point of the two bombs which killed 18 soldiers at Narrow Water in 1977; and a senior Garda officer told RUC investigators that the Taoiseach had deemed the bombing was “a political crime and no assistance would be given to the RUC”.
Other evidence heard included a claim that former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was urged to downplay rumours of Garda/IRA collusion.
The tribunal heard that ex-Garda sergeant Leo Colton worked for a known IRA man following his retirement from the force, while another officer, Finbarr Hickey, signed passport forms which were used by IRA men.
He said he was not aware of who the forms were for.
The tribunal has also heard that the IRA were so concerned at information coming into the public domain through its hearings that it was aware of intentionally false information being supplied to the probe.
Three Garda officers have been named in the Smithwick Tribunal – Owen Corrigan, Leo Colton and Finbarr Hickey.
All three deny all allegations of collusion and Mr Corrigan has successfully defended his good name in libel proceedings. Public hearings will resume next Wednesday.
The tribunal is due to present its findings to the Irish Parliament on October 31.