Govt to get Garda 'collusion' report

Govt to get Garda 'collusion' report

A long-awaited report into allegations of Garda collusion in the IRA murder of two senior RUC men will be handed over to the Government today.

The results of the eight-year probe are expected to be published within weeks once the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) examines his conclusions for legal reasons.

The Smithwick Tribunal has been probing any links between gardai or civilians working in the force and the Provos’ ambush of Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan on March 20, 1989, on the south Armagh border shortly after a meeting with a senior gardaí in Dundalk.

Judge Peter Smithwick’s final report comes almost two years later than expected.

A solicitor for Mr Buchanan’s son William has called on the Government to allow him read the report some hours before it is published online.

Ernie Waterworth said his client has a right to read the details of his father’s death and any findings of collusion ahead of the public.

Mr Buchanan, who sat through several days of the hearing in Dublin, said he hopes to know within weeks if the last eight years have been worth it.

“I’m not sure what my feeling will be,” said Mr Buchanan, who was 25 when his father was killed.

“I just don’t know whether I’ll view it as a lost eight years or whatever it happens to be.

“I will be a lot more open with you when see the content and have time to digest it,” he added.

The inquiry has cost of more than 10 million euro, with legal fees pending.

It was established in 2005, with lawyers spending six years trawling intelligence and witness statements from police forces and officials on both sides of the border.

The final report will be delivered to the acting clerk of the Dáil, Peter Finnegan, who will forward it to the DPP to examine it in detail before its release in the coming weeks.

British undercover agents, Provo bombers, politicians and the island’s most senior officers took the stand at hearings, which sat for over 133 days in public.

Three former garda officers – Owen Corrigan, Leo Colton and Finbarr Hickey - have denied allegations of collusion.

On the last day of public hearings in June, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan launched a scathing attack on the PSNI, with his lawyer accusing it of handing over impenetrable, anonymous and unverified intelligence to the Smithwick Tribunal.

The tribunal was established in 2005 when Canadian judge, Peter Cory, recommended a public inquiry be held in to allegations of collusion by garda officers, or a civilian in the force.

It opened nearly a year later and was adjourned almost immediately to allow for private investigations. Public hearings started in June 2011.

High profile witnesses included Jeffrey Donaldson MP, who named retired detective Mr Corrigan as a rogue officer passing information to the IRA,in the House of Commons in April 2000 under parliamentary privilege, sparking the probe.

Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness was forced to issue a denial when a former British intelligence officer claimed he had been involved in the IRA sanctioning an operation to abduct, torture and murder the senior RUC men.

High profile witnesses from the Garda, RUC and PSNI included former commissioner Noel Conroy, current Commissioner Martin Callinan and PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris who stood over ”explosive” new intelligence which claimed several gardaí were tipping off Provos.

Others who took the stand included British agents Ian Hurst – also known as Martin Ingram – and Peter Keeley – also known as Kevin Fulton.

Elsewhere ex-IRA members have alleged there was no garda involvement in the murders, adding the officers were creatures of habit using the same car and routes on known days, while gardaí maintained the men refused escorts to and from the border.

The final report was initially due in November 2011, but Justice Minister Alan Shatter agreed to several extensions after earlier pressure for the inquiry to be wound up sparked a public row with Judge Smithwick.

The judge has spent five months compiling his conclusions and editing and printing his findings.

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