The family of Harry Breen have said all their fears have been realised by the tribunal’s devastating findings.
Lawyers for the respected officer’s widow June, now in her 70s, and their children, David and Gillian, said the findings of Garda collusion are a truly remarkable expose and indictment of wrongdoing.
They said the officer and his trusted colleague Superintendent Bob Buchanan were betrayed by their counterparts in the Republic’s police force.
“An Garda Siochana as a body was held in high regard by Chief Superintendent Breen.
“He enjoyed a good professional working relationship with various members over the years of his service,” solicitor John McBurney said.
“It is tragic that he was betrayed in the manner established by Judge Smithwick whilst he was engaged in significant policing endeavours of importance to the RUC and An Garda Siochana and the jurisdictions both served.”
The lawyer for the Breens said the Smithwick report details in the most stark and dramatic fashion the failure by state systems to address the allegations of collusion.
“The family of Chief Supt Breen and many others held deep fears and concerns about the circumstances surrounding the tragic murder and his esteemed colleague Bob,” Mr McBurney said.
“Those abiding fears and concerns have now been fully realised with collusion firmly established after eight years of painstaking investigation, 132 days of public hearings and evidence from 198 witnesses.”
The Breens said they deeply appreciated the courage of some Garda officers and members of the security forces in bringing key evidence to the tribunal.
They asked for time to reflect on the extensive findings the tribunal has uncovered.
“The report has brought enormous clarity to what has been a very shrouded set of circumstances for so many years,” Mr McBurney said.
“The knowledge gleaned from the work of the tribunal has brought significant consolation to the family as they come to terms with the treacherous realities, now laid bare, which surrounded the dreadful murder of their loved one.”
Banbridge-based solicitor Mr McBurney issued the lengthy statement on the family’s behalf and said the tribunal had been faced with a most complex and difficult task.
He praised Judge Smithwick for tireless and painstaking efforts.
Mr McBurney said the Breens deeply appreciated the work the judge had undertaken along with the work of the legal team, administration staff, researchers and investigators.