Declassified files: Anglo-Irish body put out misinformation about RUC murders

Chief Superintendent Harry Breen was murdered by the IRA  along with Supt Bob Buchanan in March 1989
Chief Superintendent Harry Breen was murdered by the IRA along with Supt Bob Buchanan in March 1989

A body set up under the Anglo-Irish Agreement worked to discredit claims that two RUC officers lost their lives as a result of a Garda mole – even though that allegation was substantiated by a public inquiry in the Republic two years ago.

Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan were murdered in an ambush in March 1989 in south Armagh.

Two years ago the Smithwick Tribunal in Dublin said that the evidence pointed towards a Garda mole. Judge Peter Smithwick said he was “satisfied there was collusion in the murders”.

But a confidential report on the day to day work of the Anglo-Irish Secretariat which has been released at the Public Record office in Belfast under the 20 Year Rule shows that the secretariat put out what now appears to be misinformation about the murders.

However, it may have been that the secretariat did so in good faith, as even after two years Judge Smithwick found no “smoking gun”, although he was clear that from the plethora of evidence before him it was clear that there had been collusion.

The report, dated April 27 1989, said: “On 20 March two senior police officers were murdered in Jonesborough and the provision of prompt information through the secretariat was reflected in early condemnation by Mr Haughey and Irish government sources.

“The secretariat assisted in the effective refutation of the ‘mole’ theory put forward in certain sections of the media.”