Tribunal told of IRA man’s boast

A top IRA activist boasted about how a Garda officer helped them to murder two senior police officers, it was claimed yesterday at the Smithwick Tribunal.

Ex-IRA double agent Kevin Fulton made the claim in a statement to the Dublin-based tribunal, which is probing allegations of collusion between the IRA and gardai in the murders of Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan in 1989.

It was revealed for the first time yesterday that Mr Fulton – who is also known as Peter Keeley – said in his statement that he was at a house in Dundalk following the murders when he claimed Patrick ‘Mooch’ Blair said that “our mutual friend” had helped them to carry out the killings.

Mr Fulton’s solicitor John McAtamney, who revealed this section of his client’s statement yesterday, inferred that Mr Fulton understood Mr Blair had been referring to a Garda officer when he said “our mutual friend”.

Counsel for retired Garda detective Owen Corrigan, Jim O’Callaghan, said he had not been aware of this claim in Mr Fulton’s statement and requested a copy of the statement.

Judge Peter Smithwick said Mr O’Callaghan will be informed of the relevant sections any time his client is mentioned in statements made by Mr Fulton.

Mr Corrigan, along with retired Garda sergeants Leo Colton and Finbarr Hickey, have been named by the tribunal. All three strongly deny all allegations of collusion with the IRA.

A former RUC special branch officer who had been in charge of intelligence in Newry station said that Mr Blair was suspected of a number of murders in the Newry area.

The witness, who has been granted anonymity by Judge Smithwick, is referred to as witness 64. The witness was a detective inspector with special branch in Newry at the time of the murders of Chief Supt Breen and Supt Buchanan.

Witness 64 agreed with Mr McAtamney that Mr Blair had a reputation around Newry for boasting about murders and said that he would even telephone Newry RUC station and taunt officers about officers that the IRA had murdered.

Mr Blair has been granted legal representation at the tribunal, but that legal representation did not appear to be present yesterday.

Earlier in the hearing, witness 64 claimed that Mr Fulton was known as an “intelligence nuisance”.

He disputed evidence that the tribunal has heard that Mr Fulton was a close associate of Mr Blair and said he was not aware if Mr Fulton was one of Mr Blair’s drivers.

Witness 64 said that Mr Fulton had given useful intelligence at the start of his relationship with special branch in 1992, but he claimed Mr Fulton went on to give “inaccurate information and fake and misleading information”.

He said he felt there was a combination of reasons why Mr Fulton might have made up evidence. He said money might have been one reason but also ego.

Witness 64 agreed with Mr Fulton’s solicitor Mr McAtamney that his client had given information that saved lives. He agreed that Mr Fulton had provided information that had saved the lives of workmen in Newry.

Mr McAtamney also said his client gave information which saved the life of a UDR man in Banbridge and said his client gave valuable intelligence obtained at great risk and saved lives.

The solicitor also put it to witness 64 that special branch were angry towards Fulton for information he gave to the police ombudsman’s report about special branch.