SMITHWICK: Information linking mole to murders

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GARDA had intelligence that linked an IRA mole within its ranks to both the murders of the two most senior RUC officers to die during the Troubles and also a bomb which killed a senior judge, it emerged for the first time yesterday.

The Smithwick Tribunal was shown a precis of intelligence from garda records yesterday which also included details on how the operation to murder chief superintendent Harry Breen and superintendent Bob Buchanan was carried out.

They were shot dead by the IRA on March 20, 1989 as they returned from a meeting at Dundalk garda station.

The Dublin-based probe is examining claims that a rogue garda helped the IRA carry out the murders.

Report 542 – which was based on double hearsay - said a contact in the garda gave information which facilitated the murder of the RUC officers in 1989 and the murder of Lord Justice Gibson and his wife Cecily in 1987.

This information was given to the garda within two years of the 1989 murders.

Report 567 said a named IRA member had a garda contact who gave short notice of the visit of chief supt Breen and supt Buchanan. It said the source had said there were only four roads that the two RUC officers were likely to take on the journey back to Northern Ireland and the IRA covered all four.

Another intelligence report said that over 20 IRA activists were involved in the murder while a further said that the IRA had teams covering four roads from Dundalk to Northern Ireland.

These roads were the main Dublin to Newry road, the Carrickastickan Road which went to Forkhill, the Omeath to Newry road and the Edenappa Road heading towards Jonesborough which is where the murders took place.

Report 490 said the highest concentration of IRA activists were on the Carrickastickan Road.

Report 247 said that those four roads were covered for a week before the murders of the two RUC officers.

Report 291 said supt Buchanan had been under surveillance by the IRA a short time before his death.

And report 519 said the IRA knew that RUC officers were regularly crossing the border following the Anglo-Irish Agreement, and that the IRA were determined to “smash” the agreement by murdering an RUC officer travelling across the border.

Former garda assistant commissioner Ned O’Dea told the tribunal that as a result of report 542 surveillance was placed on a person – however he clarified that the person was not a member of the garda. He said the surveillance did not yield any results.

Mr O’Dea described the source of the intelligence as “reasonably reliable”.

He also said that as a result of intelligence on a garda in Limerick, a sting operation was set up and the garda was arrested in a telephone box on suspicion of colluding with the IRA and later convicted.

The tribunal has already been shown a precis of an RUC Special Branch intelligence document which voiced concerns about garda detective sergeant Owen Corrigan.

Mr Corrigan is one of three garda sergeants named by the tribunal. All three strongly deny any allegation that they colluded with the IRA.

The hearings continue on Friday.