The only public inquiry ever to take place into allegations of collusion between the Garda and IRA is expected to enter its final stage at the end of the month, it emerged yesterday.
The Smithwick Tribunal is probing claims that the IRA received assistance from members of the Garda in the murders of the two most senior RUC officers to be killed during the Troubles.
Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan were shot dead in an IRA ambush in south Armagh on March 20, 1989 as they travelled back to Northern Ireland following a meeting at Dundald garda station.
Yesterday, Judge Peter Smithwick submitted what he termed as his final interim report to the Irish Parliament.
In this report, he described how in recent months the tribunal has been investigating “of-the-moment” intelligence supplied by the PSNI and British security services last autumn.
“This intelligence is highly relevant to the work of the tribunal and warranted further investigation,” he said.
“Over recent months, the tribunal has had a lengthy engagement with a number of the relevant authorities, including the Northern Ireland Office, the PSNI and the British Home Office. Unfortunately, these authorities are not in a position to put any further information in relation to this intelligence material into evidence before the tribunal. I reserve any further comment on this for inclusion in my final report.”
Judge Smithwick said the final stage of the inquiry will be the completion of evidence by retired Garda detective sergeant Owen Corrigan, who is one of three Garda officers named by the tribunal and who denies any wrongdoing.
Judge Smithwick said he anticipates hearing the remainder of his evidence at the end of May.
“Once Mr Corrigan has completed his evidence, I will receive written submissions from the parties represented before the tribunal. A number of these parties have also asked for an opportunity to make oral submissions ... I intend to give appropriate direction to ensure that such submissions are made in an expeditious manner so as not to delay unduly the completion of my task.”