A FORMER justice minister of the Republic has rejected a claim that ex-Taoiseach Jack Lynch ordered gardai not to cooperate with the RUC investigation into the Narrow Water massacre.
In August 1979, 18 soldiers were killed in two bombs at Narrow Water close to Warrenpoint, Co Down.
On Tuesday, a former RUC Deputy Assistant Chief Constable claimed that gardai had said they had been ordered not to cooperate with the RUC by the Taoiseach.
Witness 68 did not mention which Taoiseach he thought they were referring to. Jack Lynch was Taoiseach at the time of the bombings and in the immediate aftermath until December 1979 when Charles Haughey took over.
The meeting between the RUC and Garda where Witness 68 said the claim was made took place in 1980.
But former Irish Justice Minister Gerry Collins wrote to the tribunal yesterday rejecting those claims.
The ex-Fianna Fail TD for Limerick West said that as justice minister at the time he was fully aware of Mr Lynch’s attitude towards IRA violence and towards the Warrenpoint bombing. He said Mr Lynch was “vehemently opposed” to the IRA and sought to ensure cooperation between the RUC and Garda to combat the threat to both parts of the island.
In a copy of the letter seen by the News Letter, Mr Collins writes: “I have absolutely no doubt in informing you that the suggestion made by Witness 68 is completely incorrect.
“Jack Lynch was vehemently opposed to the IRA’s campaign of violence and he sought to ensure that there was cooperation between the Garda Siochana and the RUC in order to combat that threat to both parts of the island.”
Mr Collins appeared at the tribunal previously to give evidence on a different matter and in his letter yesterday, offered to return to give evidence regarding Mr Lynch in light of the high level of media attention the claims have gained.
“Jack Lynch and his immediate family have passed away and there is no one there to defend his name and good honour,” he wrote.
“I think the memory and honour of Jack Lynch deserve that someone who knew him and worked with him intimately during those troubled times should be asked to give evidence before the tribunal. I believe I am the most appropriate person.” In recent weeks, the tribunal has heard claims from a series of witnesses claiming the Garda did not cooperate fully with the RUC in the investigation of Narrow Water. No one has ever been convicted of the 18 murders, which represented the worst day for the Army in Ulster throughout the Troubles.
Victims’ campaigner Willie Frazer attended the hearing on Tuesday and said he was not surprised by what he had heard, but it made him more determined to push the Irish government to probe its attitude to the IRA over the Troubles.