IRA infiltrator denies 'mole lies'

A former British double agent in the IRA has denied being a pathological liar over claims a suspected Garda mole destroyed evidence from one of the worst atrocities in the Troubles.

A former British double agent in the IRA has denied being a pathological liar over claims a suspected Garda mole destroyed evidence from one of the worst atrocities in the Troubles.

Peter Keeley told a tribunal into alleged Garda-IRA collusion that he heard a detective got rid of vital information after the 1979 Narrow Water bomb attack which killed 18 British soldiers.

The agent, who spied on the IRA from the 1980s, has claimed Dundalk-based Detective Garda Sergeant Owen Corrigan assisted volunteers on several occasions over the years.

“After the Narrow Water bombing it was said that Owen Corrigan helped the IRA that time,” said Mr Keeley, who is also known as Kevin Fulton.

Mr Corrigan has strenuously denied the allegations of collusion, which he has called "a monstrous lie".

The Smithwick Tribunal is investigating allegations of Garda collusion over the IRA murders of senior RUC officers Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan on the border, minutes after a Garda meeting.

Mr Keeley, a Newry-born Catholic who joined the British Army in 1979, was giving evidence for a second day in Dublin behind a screen to protect his identity.

The 51-year-old again claimed “a friend” of the IRA – who he alleges was Mr Corrigan – had tipped the IRA off that Mr Breen and Buchanan were in Dundalk the day they were ambushed, March 20 1989.

He also said the detective had cleaned fingerprints from where a 1,000lb bomb was found in Omeath and had told volunteers Co Louth farmer Tom Oliver was an informer.

Two months later, in July 1991, Mr Oliver was kidnapped and murdered.

Under cross-examination, Mr Corrigan’s barrister Jim O’Callaghan said he could prove Mr Keeley was a pathological liar.

He told the tribunal his client had only interviewed a suspect for the massacre beside Narrow Water Castle at Warrenpoint, Co Down – which was the British army’s largest single loss of life in more than 35 years of the conflict.

Two remote-controlled bombs were detonated in the incident on August 27, 1979, the same day the Queen’s cousin Lord Mountbatten was murdered in an IRA bomb attack.

Mr O’Callaghan said Mr Corrigan was also not involved with the Omeath bomb factory investigation and that he was on sick leave for 20 months before Mr Oliver was killed, until he retired in February 1992.

“He had no access to any Garda information to say who or who was not an informer,” he added.

Mr Keeley said he had told his handlers Mr Corrigan was an IRA mole, but that he also knew of RUC officers giving information to units.

But under cross-examination the former agent could not think of any specific incident where he heard of the detective assisting the IRA prior to the ambush of Mr Breen and Mr Buchanan on March 20, 1989.

Mr O’Callaghan told Mr Keeley several former police officers – ex-members of the RUC/PSNI, of security forces and of An Garda Siochana – had questioned the agent’s credibility, calling him a liar and fantasist.

“I have done things that I’m not proud of. Things my handlers know I have done and I’m party to that,” he replied.

“Maybe it’s because if I go down the road, they’re coming with me. Maybe it’s good to discredit people who can do them harm.”

Elsewhere Mr Keeley admitted he was involved in one abduction of Mr Oliver after the alleged information from Mr Corrigan - but maintained the farmer was freed and that he was working in Disneyland Paris when he was murdered.

The witness continuously denied Mr O’Callaghan’s allegations he was there for the last moments of Mr Oliver’s life and drove him to his death, tied up in the back of his van.

Mr O’Callaghan maintained there was only one abduction of Mr Oliver and told Mr Keeley his version that he was working in Paris in July 1991 did not correspond with dates in his book 'Unsung Hero'.

“You were part of the team of thugs who murdered Tom Oliver,” said Mr O’Callaghan.

“No sir, I was not part of the team of thugs who murdered Tom Oliver. I was not present,” said Mr Keeley, adding the book was full of inaccuracies.

The barrister told Mr Keeley there was no basis for his allegations against Mr Corrigan, which he asked the former agent to withdraw.

“Absolutely not sir, that’s correct,” he added.

Mr Keeley, who had infiltrated the IRA by the mid 1980s, said sometimes it was a labour of love being an informer for the military, CID, MI5 and customs until 1997, when he was given participants status.

He said he has a flat and living allowance from MI5, but is taking legal action against the Northern Ireland Office and PSNI, among others, for breach of contract and breaching duty of care by not giving him a new identity and resettlement package.

Mr O’Callaghan accused Mr Keeley of sticking with his stories to ingratiate himself with certain parts of the political establishment and strengthen his court claim.

“That’s not correct sir, absolutely not,” he added.

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