Martin criticises ‘extraordinary slight’ against Lynch over reports on bombing

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has criticised what he said was an “extraordinary slight” on the legacy of former taoiseach Jack Lynch by reports about the Smithwick Tribunal.

His party contacted RTÉ over reports on Tuesday that Mr Lynch instructed gardaí not to co-operate with the RUC in its investigation into the Narrow Water bombing when 18 British soldiers were killed by the Provisional IRA in Aug 1979.

During the tribunal’s hearing, an unnamed witness, who was the chief investigating officer of the attack, said the taoiseach at the time decreed that killings near Warrenpoint were a “political crime” and that “no assistance would be given to the RUC”.

He did not say which Taoiseach he was referring to. However, he said he was told the taoiseach’s position a meeting with Garda chiefs in Apr 1980. Charles Haughey took over from Jack Lynch in Dec 1979.

Mr Martin said he was “genuinely taken aback” when he first heard about the allegations.

“Contrary to reports, Jack Lynch was never mentioned at the tribunal. A number of reporters simply made an assumption that the witness was referring to him.

“This is an extraordinary slight on the memory and legacy of one of our country’s finest taoisigh, who always abhorred violence of any sort, but particularly the savagery of the PIRA.”

Former Fianna Fáil TD and minister for justice in Mr Lynch’s government, Gerard Collins, had earlier written to the tribunal to ask to go back under oath to give evidence about Mr Lynch’s response.

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